I’m not going to lie, this is probably one of my favorite Christmas romances. I re-read it every year and smile the entire time. So when I asked Shannon to give us a snippet from her latest holiday anthology she gave me this one. Si grap a cup of your favorite holiday drink and enjoy Chloe and Scott. Oh and did I mention that this anthology is currently .99 at Amazon? I’ve included the link below the excerpt.
“No way! Chloe freakin’ Burke?”
Scott nodded, his mouth full of hash and cheese omelet. He and Freddy Baker met at the diner almost every morning for breakfast before Scott went to pull wire and Freddy went to open his family’s hardware store.
“Is she still hot? I saw her a few years ago, just from a distance, and she still looked hot.”
Another nod. Damn straight she was still hot. He swallowed and took a swig of coffee. “Even better now, I think. Her face isn’t all covered in makeup and crap, and her hair’s not crunchy from hairspray.”
“No way could she get hotter than high school.”
Scott shrugged and forked another bite of eggs into his mouth. She was definitely hotter than in high school.
“I wouldn’t mind sticking my plug into her socket.”
It was close, but Scott managed not to choke on his omelet. “You’re a bonehead.”
“Just speakin’ your language, dude.”
Unlike Scott, Freddy hadn’t evolved much since high school. He was still overweight, his clothes never fit quite right and grooming wasn’t his strong suit. But they’d been friends since the Bakers moved to town halfway through their sixth grade year—the two of them alone against the world.
Scott had hidden behind the dumpsters, awkwardly patting Freddy’s back while he cried after the eighth grade pantsing episode. Freddy had done the same for him after even the girl nobody talked to turned him down for the Winter Carnival dance. As adults they might have grown into opposites, but Scott would walk barefoot across live wires juggling freshly sharpened jab saws for Freddy. Even when he was being a bonehead.
“The only thing I’ll be getting my hands on is John and Anna’s wiring,” he said when the thought of sticking his plug in Chloe’s socket passed enough for him to speak. “I’m going there to work, not get into her pants.”
“But you want to.”
“Of course I want to.” He wasn’t dead. “But she’s a big city girl and we already know how that works for me.”
“I didn’t say you had to marry her. Just a temporary hook-up.”
So Freddy could live vicariously through his kissing and telling, no doubt. “Getting a little old for the temporary hook-up. And I don’t really have a lot of interest in starting a dead-end relationship.”
Freddy cast a mournful look at his half-eaten stack of blueberry pancakes. “Getting old sucks. Especially when you’re not even thirty yet.”
“Close enough.” Especially since he’d already passed into that looking for a wife and kids phase of his life. He’d come close once but, after four years, Janie had decided she wanted bright lights more than a family, so he was still looking.
But Chloe Burke? If anybody could make him throw relationship maturity out the window and go for the temporary hook-up, it would be her. And not just because he’d spent countless hours wanting just that ten years ago.
Sure, she’d been smoking hot as a teenager. But now, as a grown woman, she was beautiful, with a warm smile and a sense of humor and obviously a heap of generosity when it came to her family.
“Crap, I’m running late and it’s Monday.” Freddy pulled a crumpled ten out of his wallet and downed the rest of his coffee in one big gulp. “Mrs. D’Onorio will have a cow if she can’t get her birdseed at exactly eight o’clock.”
After Freddy was gone, Scott paid for his half of the meal and went out to his truck. After tossing Kojak the plain doughnut the waitress always gave him, he pulled away from the curb and headed toward Chloe’s house.
In the almost three years Chloe had been working from home, she’d learned discipline equaled steady paychecks. Procrastination, daytime television and distraction equaled Ramen soup for supper again.
But Scott Quinn was one hell of a distraction. He’d spent the bulk of the day either in the basement or outside, but there was no bulkhead entrance, which meant numerous trips through the house. Even though he tried to be quiet, she hadn’t yet managed the discipline not to watch him walk by. Hugging that man’s ass was what jeans had been created for.
It didn’t help that her current web design client was a romance author, so she’d spent the morning inundated with images of glistening pecs and clinching couples. It was all too easy to imagine Scott naked from the waist up, sweeping her into a passionate embrace as he wielded his weapon to keep their enemies at bay.
She snorted, unfortunately just as Scott happened to pass by. He stopped and quirked an eyebrow at her.
“You could pose for the covers of romance novels,” she said, a split second before her brain got the message not to say that out loud.
He looked perplexed for a moment, then he grinned. “Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind in case this electrical thing doesn’t work out.”
Rather than come up with some way to explain away the most ridiculous thing she’d ever said, she changed the subject. “Your apprentice makes a great foot warmer.”
He looked at Kojak, who’d gotten bored with watching Scott and curled up at Chloe’s feet, and shook his head. “If he bothers you, tell him to find me and he’ll leave you alone.”
She nodded, then watched his ass until he’d gone out the front door. Once he closed it behind him, she face-palmed herself.
Maybe working from her condo, where she lived alone, had put a little dent in her social skills, but when had she become so rusty she couldn’t help but make an ass of herself in front of a guy?
So what if he was a good-looking guy? So what if he was funny and charming and looked at her like he’d like to back her up against the wall and kiss her until her knees wouldn’t hold her up anymore? He was just a guy. A guy she didn’t know very much about, at that.
“You’re a lucky dog, Kojak.” The dog’s ears twitched and he cocked his head sideways. “You know what kind of music he listens to and what kind of movies he likes.”
Since he had her attention, Kojak rolled onto his back, presenting his belly for a scratch. Chloe leaned over and obliged, laughing when his hind leg started twitching. “I bet you get to see him naked a lot.”
When he rolled back to his stomach and gave her a look with his head cocked sideways, she realized just how far she’d sunk.
She was jealous of a dog.
The door opened again and this time, even though it almost killed her, Chloe kept her eyes on her computer screen. Time to stop screwing around and get to work. It was bad enough trying to translate a complete stranger’s desire for something “representative of my personality” into a concrete design theme without being distracted by images of a half-naked Scott waving his weapon around. She’d drink her coffee and keep her mind on the work.
She barely avoided dumping the lukewarm liquid down the front of her shirt when the silence was broken by the loud blare of a Christmas song. Not only a Christmas song, but a cheap, electronic version of a Chipmunk yearning for a hula hoop.
“Sorry,” Scott muttered. He checked the display, then silenced it and hooked it back on his pocket. “I’ll call back later.”
“My niece put it on there and I can’t figure out how to change it back. God only knows what I did with the owner’s manual.”
“Technologically outsmarted by the next generation. How old is she?”
He threw a sour look in her direction. “Six.”
“Smart girl.” She did her best not to laugh at him. “Do you want me to fix it for you?”
“No, but thanks. As annoying as it, Bethany loves it. She laughs and claps every time she hears my phone ring. I’ll make her change it after Christmas and then I’ll for damn sure keep my phone out of her reach before Valentine’s Day.”
“That’s very sweet.” So sweet, in fact, she thought maybe her heart fluttered a little, and that wouldn’t do. There were parts of her body she could handle reacting to Scott Quinn. Her heart wasn’t one of them.
“Sweet. Great.” He rolled his eyes at the unmanly adjective. “Just a head’s up, I’ll be cutting the power in a few minutes and it’ll be an hour and a half or maybe two hours before it’s back on. Are you sure you don’t want to leave?”
Since sitting at the diner with her laptop didn’t appeal to her and the library closed early on Mondays, she really didn’t have anywhere else to go. “I’m all set. Battery’s charged. I’ve got a water bottle for when my coffee’s gone and Kojak to keep my feet warm.”
An hour later, she was starting to regret being stubborn. Her feet might be warm, but her hands weren’t. With the well pump off, she could only flush the toilet once, so she was trying desperately not to think about how much water she’d drunk. And every time she thought about being chilly, her thoughts naturally turned to all the ways Scott could warm her up.
Just about the time she’d made up her mind to throw the laptop in her car and head to the diner, her cellphone rang. And, big surprise, it was her mother.
“I hear Scott Quinn’s truck has been spending a lot of time in our driveway,” Anna said when the hellos had been dispensed with.
“Yeah, he’s…” Crap. She wanted the rewiring to be a surprise, not only because it was a Christmas gift, but because there was a good chance her father would jump overboard and swim back to Maine if he thought his do-it-yourself manhood was being questioned. “He’s visiting me, Mom.”
“Oh?” That same oh that had elicited many a confession in Chloe’s youth.
But not today. “Yes, oh. We’re spending a little time with each other. You know, seeing each other…a bit. That’s all.”
“That’s wonderful!” Her mother’s excited undertone triggered the guilt, but it was too late now.
It wasn’t until they’d chatted a few minutes and said their goodbyes, including Chloe promising to give Scott her best, that she realized he was leaning against the doorjam, watching her.
He gave her a slow but somehow very naughty smile. “Only very bad girls lie to their mothers.”
She was in so much trouble.
Now Chloe Burke thinks upgrading the electrical system of her childhood home while they are away would make the perfect Christmas gift. Fortunately, there’s an electrician in town who can get the job done by the holidays.
Scott Quinn has wanted to get his hands on the Burkes’ wiring for almost as long as he’s wanted to get his hands on their daughter. Chloe didn’t notice Scott back in high school, but she’s noticing him now, and soon they’re indulging in a little festive fun: no strings, no expectations. After all, Chloe plans to get out of this goldfish bowl of a town and back to her real life in Boston by New Year’s.
But Chloe and Scott discover they enjoy each other’s company just as much out of bed. Could their holiday fling turn out to be the real thing?