Authors: Erin McCarthy,Donna Kauffman,Kate Angell
Tags: #Romance, #Fiction, #General, #Contemporary, #Anthologies
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
Table of Contents
anta can suck it.” Blue Farrow kept an eye on the highway and tried to hit the buttons on the radio to change the station. She was going to grind her teeth down to nubs if she had to listen to Christmas songs for another twelve hours. It was like an IV drip of sugar and spice and it was making her cranky.
Was she the only one who thought a fat dude hanging around on your roof was a bit creepy? And why were those elves so happy in that Harry Connick Jr. song? Rum in the eggnog, that’s why. Not to mention since when did three ships ever go pulling straight up to Bethlehem? She wasn’t aware it was a major port city.
Yep. She was feeling in total harmony with Scrooge. “Bah, Humbug,” she muttered when her only options on the radio seemed to be all Christmas all the time or pounding rap music.
Blue had never been a big fan of Christmas, never having experienced a normal one in her childhood since her flaky mother (yes, flaky considering she’d named her daughter after a color) had done Christmas experimental style every year, never the same way twice, disregarding any of her daughter’s requests. The trend on feeling tacked onto her parents’ Christmas had continued into Blue’s adulthood, and this year she had been determined to have a great holiday all on her terms, booking herself on a cruise with her two equally single friends. She had turned down her mother’s invitation to spend the holiday with an indigenous South American tribe and her father’s request to join him with his barely legal wife and their baby girl, and instead she was going to sip cocktails in a bikini.
The road in front of her was barely visible, the snow crashing down with pounding determination, the highway slick and ominous, the hours ticking by as Blue barely made progress in the treacherous conditions. Planning to drive to Miami from Ohio instead of flying had been a financial decision and would give Blue the chance to make a pit stop in Tennessee and visit her old friend from high school, but the only thing heading south at the moment was her vacation. It was Christmas Eve, her cruise ship departed in twenty hours, and she’d only made a hundred miles in six hours, the blizzard swirling around her mocking the brilliance of her plan as she drove through the middle of nowhere Kentucky.
She was going to have to stop in Lexington and see if she could catch a flight to Miami, screw the cost. Not that planes would be taking off in this weather, but maybe by morning. If she flew out first thing, she could be in Florida in plenty of time for her four o’clock sail time. All she had to do was make it to Lexington without losing her sanity from being pummeled with schmaltzy Christmas carols or without losing control of her car in the snow.
When she leaned over and hit the radio again and found the Rolling Stones she nearly wept in gratitude. Classic rock she could handle.
But not her car. As the highway unexpectedly curved and dipped, she fishtailed in the thick snow.
Blue only managed a weak, “Oh, crap,” before she gripped the hell out of the wheel and slid sideways down the pavement, wanting to scream, but unable to make a sound.
She was going to die.
If there hadn’t been anyone else on the road, she might have managed to regain control. But there was no stopping the impact when she swung into the lane next to her, right in the path of an SUV. She wasn’t the only idiot on the road and now they were going to die together.
Blue closed her eyes and hoped there were bikinis and margaritas in the afterlife.
Santa was the man. Christian Dawes sang along to the radio at the top of his lungs, the song reminding him of his childhood, when he had listened carefully on Christmas Eve for the telltale sound of reindeer paws. Tossing the trail mix out for the reindeer to chomp on, putting the cookies on a plate for Santa, the magic and wonder and awe of waking up to a ton of presents, those were some of his best memories.
Someday when he had his own kids, he’d create all of those special moments for them, but right now Christian was content to play awesome uncle, arriving on Christmas Eve loaded down with presents for all his nieces and nephews. His trunk was stuffed with spoils, and he’d brought enough candy to earn glares from his two sisters and potentially make someone sick. But it wasn’t Christmas until a kid stuffed his face with candy then hurled after a session on the sit and spin. That’s what home videos and infamous family stories were made of.
Unfortunately the lousy weather was slowing him down on his drive from Cincinnati to Lexington. He’d left work later than he’d intended anyway, then by the time he’d hit Kentucky, he’d been forced down to thirty miles an hour because apparently the road crews had taken the holiday off and had decided not to plow. He hoped his family wasn’t holding up dinner for him at his parents’ house.
If he wasn’t gripping the steering wheel so hard he would call someone and let them know he still had a couple of hours ahead of him, but he had no intention of reaching for his phone. A glance to the right showed a car next to him, but other than that, he could barely see the road in front of him. He needed Santa to dip down and give him a lift in his sleigh or it was going to be midnight before he arrived.
What he didn’t need was a car accident.
In his peripheral vision, he saw the car next to him slide, spinning out so fast that Christian only had time to swear and tap his brakes before he hit the car with a crunch and they went careening towards the guardrail. When his SUV stopped moving a few seconds later, despite his efforts to turn the skid, he had the other car pinned against the railing.
“Shit!” Christian turned off his car and leaped out, almost taking a header in the thick snow, but terrified that he’d injured someone. “Are you okay?” he asked, yelling through the howling snow as he peered into the driver’s side window.
The major impact of his SUV’s front end had been in the backseat and trunk, so he hoped if there was an injury it wasn’t serious. But with the snow smacking him in the face and the window plastered with wet flakes, he couldn’t really see anything.
He knocked on the glass and when it started to slide down, he sighed in relief.
“Are you okay?” he said again now that the person in front of him could hear him.
“Are you okay?” she said simultaneously.
And Christian became aware that he was staring at the most strikingly beautiful woman he’d ever seen in his whole life.
lue sat in her car chest heaving, nodding rapidly to the man staring at her in concern as she tried to calm down. She was alive. Not dead. Everything on her body was intact and she had no pain.
“I’m fine. God, that was scary. I’m sorry, it was my fault, I skidded.”
He leaned forward into the window, his face coming inches from hers. “Say that again, the wind is really howling.”
“I said I’m sorry,” she repeated loudly, suddenly aware that the guy she’d collided with was damn cute.
Wearing a knit winter hat and a camel colored jacket, he looked very rugged and outdoorsy, his chin sporting some scruff that matched the color of his coat. He had deep brown eyes and when his mouth spread into a grin, he had a warm, crooked smile.
“Well, you don’t have to yell at me,” he said, tone teasing.
Blue felt her heart rate returning to normal and at his words she felt her shoulders drop in relief. She laughed. “Okay, I’ll leave that to your wife.”
It was a comment she would have made to any man under the circumstances, but she had to admit she was a little curious what his answer would be.
“No wife. No girlfriend. No one at all to yell at me.”
. Not that it mattered. At all. But she could hear the flirt creeping into her voice. “Then I guess this was a thrill for you.”
He laughed. “Totally. I’m going to move my car then we’ll just have to back yours up, okay? Let’s see if we can get you back on the road.”
Right. The car accident. The fact that he was standing in the middle of a blizzard. Her crunched vehicle. Those were relevant. Not his dimples or broad shoulders.
“Wait for me to move before you try to back up.”
Blue became aware that her teeth were chattering. “Got it.” As soon as he walked away, she rolled her window back up and turned up the heat. She wasn’t wearing a coat and it was finger-numbing, nipple-raising cold outside.
For a split second as he pulled his SUV back onto the road in front of her, heading in the correct direction, Blue wondered if he would just take off and leave her there. But her cynicism, while well honed, didn’t even last a full minute before it was obvious he was walking back to her car, pulling gloves onto his hands. His bottom half, which hadn’t been visible before, was just as hot as the top. Those were nice jeans, hugging in the right places.