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Oh please! Blitz

Falling for Another Darcy P
Love Manor, #3
Kate O’Keeffe
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Women’s Fiction
May 5th 2021

Don’t miss this laugh-out-loud, heart-warming final instalment in the Love Manor romantic comedy series for fans of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, Sinéad Moriarty, and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage. Right?

That’s the way the song goes, anyway. For Emma Brady, marrying her Mr. Darcy was a road to happiness that is about to take a sharp turn to trouble. Creating a tiny Mr. Darcy isn’t exactly proving to be easy. Sure, being newly-weds mean they’re more than happy to give it a good shot, but as time ticks along, Emma and Sebastian’s efforts come to nothing.

It’s time to call in the big guns.

For Emma, that means mood swings, hot flashes, ovulation kits, and more needles than a haystack. Add that to an increasingly-disapproving granny, and Sebastian and Emma’s love is being put to the test in a way they never saw coming.

Will they get the family they so desperately want? And will their love survive? Or will Emma’s fairy tale ending with her Mr. Darcy slip between her fingers?

Excerpt 1

“You looked so sexy in those wellies,” he murmurs, referring to my rubber boots. “Do you think I could get a private viewing of you in those and…let’s say nothing else?”

“Nothing else? Sebastian Huntington-Ross, I am deeply outraged.”

“Are you now?” he asks with a laugh that rumbles through me.

“I didn’t know you’ve got a thing for gardeners.”

“Actually,” he says with another kiss that has my head spinning, “I’ve got a thing for my hot Texan wife.”

“I’m guessing you’ll want me to team a ten-gallon hat with those wellies, huh?”

“Now we’re talking.”

As he reaches under my top and slides his hands up my bare back, sending a jolt of anticipation through me, I hear the creak of the door and look up in surprise to see not only Sebastian’s mom, but his granny with disapproving look on her lined face.

Not that this is anything new. The day that woman gives me a look that’s not disapproving I think I might faint from shock.

I instantly dismount Sebastian and readjust my top in an attempt not to appear as though we were about to engage in, well, marital activity. We might be a newly married couple who do what newly married couples do, but getting caught out by my mother-in-law and judgmental grandmother-in-law still puts a halt to proceedings pretty quick. As you would expect.

“Mother, Granny,” Sebastian says in a surprisingly steady voice as he rises to his feet. I’ve had to get used to that here. Sebastian always stands whenever his mom or grandmother enter a room. It’s super formal and weird to me. Where I’m from, you only got up to go fetch another Coke.

“Don’t let us interrupt, you two,” Jemima trills in an unnaturally high voice. She must be feeling about as comfortable as I am right now. “Come, Geraldine. Let’s, err…go for a stroll in the garden.”

Geraldine scoffs. “Jemima, it’s after nine at night and it’s raining cats and dogs out there. Have you gone completely mad?” She clunks her way across the room with the aid of her cane and sits down carefully on one of the seats facing us. “It’s fortuitous that we found you in such a position.”

I blink at her in disbelief. It is?

Jemima is still hovering by the door, clearly uncomfortable. “What about the library, Geraldine? There’s a book collection I thought you might be interested in. I only came across it a few weeks ago, and I think you’ll find it quite fascinating. It’s about the history of bridges in the British Isles, which is a thoroughly enthralling topic—”

“Oh, Jemima,” she scolds. “I haven’t got the least interest in bridges. Take a seat, will you?”

“But—”

“Now.”

Defeated, Jemima replies, “All right.” She slinks into another one of the armchairs and shoots us an apologetic smile.

“We thought you were both out for the evening,” Sebastian begins.

“We’re back,” Geraldine replies, pointing out the obvious.

“How are you this evening, ma’am?” I say to Geraldine as she steadily lowers herself into a seat by the fire with the aid of her cane. It has a brass handle in the shape of a wolf, which appropriately casts her as a Bond villain. All that’s missing is the hairless cat.

“I’ve told you before, Emma. In England ‘ma’am’ is what we call the Queen. Please remember to call me ‘Granny’ now that you’re family. You’re no longer on your Texas ranch here.”

I open my mouth to reply and shut it again. Having grown up in a modest house in inner-city Houston, the only time I’ve been on a Texas ranch was when I was filming Dating Mr. Darcy. “I forgot…Granny. Habit, I guess. You can take the girl out of Texas, as they say.”

Geraldine purses her lips in obvious distaste. “Quite. Now. I have something I must say to you both.”

Must she?

“It’s gratifying to see you’re still engaging in what is characteristically considered the honeymoon phase of a marriage.”

Sebastian’s eyes find mine briefly before he replies, “Thank you?” Because what do you say to that? Yes, we’re at it whenever we get the chance. Can’t get enough of it, actually. We’re at it like the proverbial rabbits. Our room, the living room, the garden, even your room when you’re out at the opera (okay, we’ve never actually done it in Geraldine’s room, and nor do we plan to, but you get the picture).

She steeples her fingers, fixing us with her glare. “An heir. That’s what we need.”

“An heir?” I swallow. She’s already made it abundantly clear that as Lady Martinston, it’s my duty to provide the family with the next generation. The first time she mentioned it, in fact, we’d literally been married less than three minutes. You’ve got to admire the old girl’s tenacity, I guess.

“Yes,” she snaps, “an heir. How often are you engaging in marital relations?”

“Mummy, I hardly think—” Jemima protests as Sebastian’s eyes widen at me.

“Let them answer, Jemima,” she quips. “It’s been a year and still not even a sign. You’re not getting any younger, you know, Emma. I’m certain your fertility has already begun to wane. When I was your age, I’d finished having my children.”

I offer her a weak smile. That was because it was the 1800s and there was no TV.

“Granny, we haven’t even had that conversation yet,” Sebastian says. “Give us a chance, please.”

“What’s the delay? You’re clearly raring to go if that little display earlier is anything to go by. Make it mean something, my dear boy.”

I suck in air, every part of me cringing. The mood has gone from sexy rubber boot fun to creating an “heir” in two minutes flat.

Could this get any more awkward?

“Thank you for your concern, Granny, but when Emma and I decide we’re ready to start a family, we will be sure not to tell you until we actually have something to tell you.”

“Does that mean you’re already trying?” Jemima asks, a healthy dollop of hope in her voice. “Because we can leave right now and let you get on with it if you like.”

Oh, no. Awkward!

Jemima rises to her feet. “Can’t we, Geraldine?”

“I suppose,” Geraldine grumps.

I squeeze my eyes shut, fantasizing that I’m not in the living room with my mother- and grandmother-in-law, my clothes and hair disheveled next to my husband as they discuss our sex life.

“Good-bye, you two,” Sebastian says with a tone of finality in his voice.

Jemima bustles over to the door, clearly keen to get far away from this whole thing as quickly as possible, while Geraldine rises from her seat onto her creaky bones as though she’s an arthritic sloth in no hurry to get anywhere.

It takes forever, stretching the awkwardness out to a breaking point.

Eventually, she reaches the door and turns back to us. “Missionary position. That’s the best for procreation. That’s all your grandfather and I ever did, and we had all the children we wanted.”

Why did she have to put that image into my head. Why?

“Good-bye, Granny,” Sebastian says firmly, and thankfully, she leaves the room, closing the door after her.

Alone once more in the cavernous room, we catch one another’s eyes and instantly dissolve into peals of embarrassed laughter. Catching his breath, Sebastian says, “I’m so sorry about that, Brady. The word awkward doesn’t even begin to describe that exchange.”

“Missionary position?”

Sebastian’s shoulders shake as he laughs. “Granny can be very direct when she wants to be.”

I think of the way in which she announced that I wasn’t good enough for her grandson and that I would be doing everyone a big favor if I just simply disappeared. “Ah, yes. That’s very true.”

He laces his fingers in mine and claims my lips with a kiss. “Brady, I have an idea. How about we grab those wellies of yours and head up to our bedroom away from any prying eyes.”

“And lock the door?” I ask.

His eyes sparkle as his face pulls into his sexy grin. “Lock it, bolt it, and hide the key.”

AUTHOR BIO:

Visit kateokeeffe.com and sign up to her newsletter so you never miss out on new releases and great book deals again! Follow her on Bookbub to learn about deals on her books. Just cut and paste this link into your browser: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kate-o-keeffe

Kate O’Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he’s a scruffy dog too. He’s not: he’s a cat. When she’s not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), traveling to different countries, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.

Visit kateokeeffe.com to sign up to her newsletter to keep up to date on new releases, great deals on books, and more.

Author links:

http://kateokeeffe.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kateokeeffeauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/kateokeeffeauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8195990.Kate_O_Keeffe

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Perfect? Not in my opinion. Book Review

The Perfect Bet Book Cover The Perfect Bet
Perfect Series
Anita Lemke
Fiction, Contemporary Romance,
Anita Evensen
September 18, 2020
195

Will she open her heart to her perfect husband and win the bet? She’s afraid to love anyone… Solely focused on her career, ambitious Megan Rhodes never gets close to anyone – let alone a boyfriend. When her wealthy aunt offers her $200k to find the perfect guy, the goal is to draw Megan out of her shell. But Megan is determined to win the bet and start the ad agency she’s always wanted to run without risking her heart. … when the perfect husband captures her heart. Megan convinces her teenage crush, outdoorsy Alex Whitmore, to become her husband for hire. Alex will do anything he can to help Megan win her bet – and he has own reasons for doing so. But when Megan’s feelings for Alex become all too real, she must face her fears surrounding love while facing the very real possibility of losing the bet and the perfect husband. A modern-day contemporary romance

Perfect Plan/Bet

Anita Lemke

I thought both these books lacked depth in characterisation of the main protagonists. And, to be candid, the endings would have been better start points for the stories.

These are stories that follow the trope too closely and don’t give enough angst and emotion. The writing was ‘nice’ rather than good; lacked humour even though there were plenty of opportunities for it; and I never quite got past instant lust into a meaningful relationship. Shame really as there was a good opportunity to plot well and provide readable and interesting books.

This review goes for both books as they are by the same author and her ‘failings’ are evident in both.

2-3 stars.

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Wickedly we… Book Blitz

Something Wicked
Lockhart Legacy, #1
Emery Nicolson
Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
March 1st 2021

Something wicked this way comes…

You’d think being the descendant of powerful witches would grant me the power to sort out my life, right? But you’d be wrong. I’m stuck in a rut, disdained by my family, and my romantic life is a disaster. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I have no magic?

When a cursed heirloom is stolen, I should stay out of it and leave the retrieval to those better equipped but everything seems to lead back to me…

With the help of an enigmatic bounty hunter, I may be able to clear my name and retrieve the artefact before death and chaos are unleashed upon my beloved city but doing so could cost me everything — including my life.

Excerpt

My apartment is not too far from the family offices, below which the brig is located, but Rhea’s uncharacteristic kindness seems to be holding and rather than march me through the city she calls a cab to transport me to jail which I am immeasurably grateful for given the circumstances. 

The cab drops us outside the tour offices and Rhea quickly hops out, dragging my case with her, as I follow her at a much more sedate pace being in no hurry to go to jail and even less of a hurry to put weight on my feet again. To my surprise, Rhea heads for the tour office and not the brig which is a little bit further down the hill. 

“We’re going through the office?” I ask, as she unlocks the door and gestures for me to enter.

She rolls her eyes at me. “Delays the scandal this way.”

I snort, for of course it does. 

I had barely hobbled two steps into the dimly lit space when a furious screech echoes throughout the room. “COLM WALKER! Really Millie? Have you lost your goddamn mind!” 

“Hello to you too mum.”

“Don’t take that tone with me! What were you thinking? Colm Walker! How could you do this? How could you get involved with that – that man!”

Fury simmers through me at her words. I knew when I went home with Colm that it would not be well received by the family – and that was before The Widow’s Ruby was stolen – but her lack of priorities is shocking. Not to mention that I am a grown woman! My family have no right to try and dictate who I date, fuck, or spend time with! 

“Calm down mum,” Rhea interjects, before I can open my mouth and rile my mother up even more. Unfortunately, listening has never been my mother’s strong suit, so she continues ranting.

“Calm down? Calm down! You cannot be serious?” My mother points a furious finger at me. “She’s involved with a felon! A Walker no less, and you expect me to calm down?”

I’m curious when Rhea rubs her forehead looking utterly exasperated, with our mother, and not me, for a change. She looks like she’s praying for patience when she chides, “We don’t know that mum.”

Yep, something is definitely wrong with Rhea. She is never nice to me. She is typically the chairman of the ‘let us beat up on Millie’ committee, and she is an epic parental kiss ass, yet this is the second time in twenty-four hours she’s stood somewhat with me. It is unnatural. I suppose if us supernaturals exist, then it is perfectly logical that aliens do too and, in that case, I fear my sister has been swapped out for a pod person. At the very least she has had something knocked loose by thorough probing; there’s really no other explanation for her sudden humanity.

AUTHOR BIO:

Emery Nicolson is a wife, mother and mad cat-lady living in the South West of England. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, baking or out walking through a forest. 

Emmy (or Nics, as she’s more often referred to) loves hearing from readers and you can find her online via Twitter (@EmmyNicolson), Facebook (@EmeryNicolsonAuthor) or her website (emerynicolson.co.uk). 

Author links: 

https://www.facebook.com/EmeryNicolsonAuthor/

https://www.emerynicolson.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/861820904638137

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Enemies that are? Book Blitz

My Sweet Enemy Book Cover My Sweet Enemy
Jenny Hartwell
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Entangled Embrace
Publication date: February 8th 2021

The only thing tempering their insta-hate is delicious attraction.

Sunny chocolatier Charlotte Beecher is unemployed, in student debt, and on the verge of hawking her beloved copper pots just to make ends meet. So when a gourmet chocolate factory chooses her as one of five candidates to help re-launch the company in their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired competition, Charlotte begins to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Fellow contestant Luke Wells complicates her plans to win by a landslide with his flow charts and marketing projections. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Haughty is all about the bottom line and is as bitter as she is sweet. And when he snubs Charlotte in the first challenge, misunderstanding or not, she transforms from cream puff to jawbreaker. Bring. It. On.

But when these two rivals find themselves distracted by delicious attraction, will they let their passion get in the way of winning the competition?

Tour Excerpts – My Sweet Enemy by Jenny Hartwell

Excerpt

She opened the door and stepped inside.

“Oh!” She started at the sight of another person inside the fridge, and her foot rammed into something on the floor. “What are you—” she began to ask.

The other person turned. “The door!” Luke shouted. Charlotte gasped and pivoted, pushing out with her empty hand to stop the door from closing, but she was too late. It closed with a heavy clank.

She glanced down, and in the dim light inside the cooler, she saw a brick near the door. It must have been propping it open while he was in here, and she’d accidentally kicked it out of the way.

She set her chocolate molds on a shelf and pushed on the door handle. It didn’t budge.

“Damn it,” Luke growled, striding across the small space. He rattled the handle, but the door didn’t open for him either.

Crap. “We’re locked in,” she said.

He nodded.

“Inside an industrial refrigerator.”

He nodded again.

“The two of us.”

Luke slowly pivoted to face her. “Did you do this on purpose?” he asked, his voice hard.

“What?” Charlotte stared at him. “Are you freaking kidding me?” She shivered. It was damn cold in here, and about to get colder.

“No, are you freaking kidding me?” he retorted, leaning toward her. In the dim light, his eyes glittered with barely suppressed fury.

Charlotte shivered again. “Of course I didn’t do it on purpose,” she shouted. “If I wanted to trap you in an icebox of death, don’t you think I’d make sure I was on the other side of the door?”

She glared, and their eyes dueled for what seemed like an eternity. Charlotte’s neck began to protest her sustained glare with someone a foot taller, so she dropped her eyes and stepped back. Shivering, she wrapped her arms around herself. She’d left her light jacket in the interns’ office and didn’t even have the extra protection of her apron, since that was sitting at her workstation in the main part of the kitchen.

Damn, it was wickedly cold in there.

Luke banged on the door with his fist and hollered. They both waited in silence to see if anyone would come. Aside from the whir of the fridge’s motor, there was no sound.

“They’re all downstairs, eating lunch,” Charlotte murmured. It was unlikely anyone would be back in the kitchen for an hour since Simone had told them to take their time after working so hard during the morning session.

“Damn,” Luke said, still facing the door. His breath puffed out in a cloud. It had grown even colder once the temperature stabilized with the door shut.

Charlotte’s teeth began to chatter. “I’m s-sorry.”

He turned around.

“I d-didn’t realize about the b-brick,” she added. Damn, it was painfully cold. Her fingertips were growing numb.

His eyes scanned her body. “We could freeze to death.” He sounded almost clinical, but she shivered in response to the heated look in his eyes anyway. A shiver on top of a shiver. God, she was pathetic.

“W-what do we do?” she asked. “Jog in p-place?”

They both trotted where they stood. Luke rubbed his hands together. Charlotte tucked hers under her arms. Their breaths came out in white puffs.

“It’s not enough,” he said grimly after a moment. “I think there’s only one option.”

“You’ll s-sacrifice yourself so I c-can pull a Luke Skywalker and climb inside your steaming abdominal cavity?”

He narrowed his eyes.

She shrugged with a whatcha-gonna-do expression. If you couldn’t make Star Wars jokes as you were literally freezing to death, when could you?

He took a step closer, his arms opening.

Charlotte’s eyes widened, and she took a step back. “W-what are you d-doing?”

“We h-have to share body heat.” Now Luke’s teeth were chattering too.

Charlotte swallowed. Could she do it? Could she wrap herself in the embrace of her sworn nemesis, the evilest man on the planet? Well, there were convicted murderers locked away for life, so the evilest man in the building perhaps?

She shuddered with cold. A sharp ache worked its way through her skin and muscle into her sinew, her veins, her very bones.

Even her brain began to feel frozen.

It seemed her options were to either allow this sexy man to wrap her up in his strong arms or to perish from turning into a human icicle. So…she supposed she would take the sexy, evil man.

Author Bio

Jenny Hartwell has a confession-she loves People magazine as much as Pride and Prejudice. Her fun, pop culture adoring side shines in her contemporary rom-com novels set in a gourmet chocolate factory while Jenny’s Regency romances feature strong damsels and swoony lords. Her writing has won or finaled in numerous contests including the Golden Heart, The Emily, Four Seasons, Fool for Love, and The Catherine. Jenny lives with her family in the verdant Pacific Northwest. She loves movies, travel, and staying up late with a good book. And, of course, chocolate. Jenny is represented by Lesley Sabga of The Seymour Agency.

Purchase:

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/my-sweet-enemy/id1549580901?at=1010l9S2&uo=4&mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/my-sweet-enemy

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=EusUEAAAQBAJ


Author links:

https://www.instagram.com/jennyhartwellauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/Jenny-Hartwell-Author-1836625003030438/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21083514.Jenny_Hartwell

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A Christmas to Die For
Jessica Frances
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Science Fiction
Independent
Publication date: December 4th 2020

Drink way too much tequila at the office Christmas party? Check.
Get fired after doing something stupid at said Christmas party? Check.
Hallucinate flying reindeers in the sky? Check.
Watch those flying reindeer turn into naked people …? Check?
Discover magical elves are trying to kill you? Um … Wait! I don’t want to check that one!

Either I’m having the most epic blackout or my hangover has thrown me into the craziest world that has ever existed. I just found out that Santa is not only real, but he and his people can shapeshift into reindeer. I also just discovered that elves are real, which would be cool, except they’re evil and want to kill me! If that wasn’t bad enough, the elves and reindeer are at war with each other. So, not exactly like the cheery, heartwarming stories we’ve been told.

If a war between elves and reindeer isn’t shocking enough, it hardly holds a candle to finding out that I’m supposed to be the one person who can save an entire planet. Yeah, talk about being totally unqualified for the job. At least that overshadows the fact that I might now have a Santa kink when the young, hot, white-haired warrior is sent to protect me. But can I really help save Santa and his people? Can I stop the elves? Or is everyone doomed to suffer the deadliest Christmas ever?

To find out if this will be a Christmas to die for, buckle up in your sleigh, pour yourself an eggnog, and sing a Christmas tune, because this tale is about to get jolly and insane.

Excerpts: A Christmas to Die For

#1

For some reason—probably because I’m drunk—I feel more alone tonight than I have in a long time. I worry that maybe I won’t bounce back as easily as I have before.

When am I going to feel secure? Safe?

“Ru …” I whine, moving back to the front of my imaginary friend and staring at his bright red nose. This has to be the most ridiculous thing in the world, but I still grab some of his fur in the front and tug. “Come down here.”

My six-foot two stature isn’t tall enough for my new fake, furry friend, but I need a hug. Hell, I can’t even remember the last time I felt like I needed this, or the last time I had a hug. How sad is that?

Given this isn’t real, Rudolph is surprisingly stubborn. In fact, I have to use every bit of strength I have to get his large face to come near me, and I get the distinct impression he’s not happy. But I don’t care. He’s from my imagination, and I need a damn hug.

I wrap my arms around his too-wide neck and attempt to pull myself together, finding a comfort there that would likely get me put in a mental institution for life.

Whooshing noises sound around us, but I barely hear it over my deep breathing.

Why do I feel like crying? Men don’t cry. Well, not unless they have just thrown their guts up over their naked body from stage fright after attempting a career as a cam boy. I gave myself a pass that day.

But, even though I’m in complete denial about crying, tears wet my face as I give in to the feeling of despair and loneliness. Why do I have to be such a fuckup? Why does everything and everyone I touch turn to shit?

Heat overwhelms me, soaking away the cold that crept into my body after lying on the icy ground, and though the breeze is chilly and promising a future snowstorm, I suddenly have the urge to take off my jacket.

“You’re like a furnace,” I grumble at Rudolph, not removing my grip.

For some unlikely reason, this hug with my fake reindeer is the best thing to happen to me since the two weeks I was able to get a signal on my TV at home and could stream unlimited shows for that entire fortnight. I’m not ready to give it up yet, even if I’m probably just hugging a tree while picturing my fake reindeer.

I keep my eyes closed, my breathing finally calming down, when I notice something moving against me—perhaps Rudolph trying to shake me off. Either way, at the feel of something hard against the entire length of my body, I open one eye to find I’m no longer hugging a supersized reindeer.

Huh?

I’m hugging a man!

“Shit!” I gasp, dropping my hands from around the neck of a strange man who must be over eight feet tall, given he still has to bend over for me to hug him. Then I promptly fall on my ass, not feeling the impact since I’m still in shock.

I wipe my eyes, first to get the wetness out of them, and then because what I’m seeing can’t be real.

At first, all I notice is that every bit of hair on this giant’s head is white, and he has a lot of hair—a mane on his head and a crazy huge beard any biker would be proud of. It’s so odd to see such prominent white hair on a man who looks my age, because this giant is not old, even given the wizened color of his hair. No, I would put money that he isn’t older than thirty. In fact, every person here has the same stark white hair as my Rudolph, though they all look similar in age to him.

That’s odd, right?

Okay, scratch that, the weird part is clearly the changing from animal to human. Not the hair situation. Still …

#2

Unfortunately, just a few feet from reaching what I hope will be freedom, several arrows—which look to be on fire!—shoot down from the sky. They miss me, but most become embedded against the walls and roof of my house.

I have one moment to wonder what the hell they are before the building explodes.

An invisible, heated shockwave hits me, taking me off my feet and pushing me backward. I slam into a tree trunk and crack my head, giving me an instant headache.

Arms wrap around me, gripping tight enough to cut off my breathing, and my view of my exploding home instantly changes to the tree line surrounding my property as I’m shuffled away from the wreckage.

I look up to find Rudolph holding me. So … not a tree, then.

Then I realize he’s still naked!

This can’t be happening.

He shields me from the debris flying through the air; all my worldly possessions becoming nothing more than burning embers and rubble.

“No!” I groan while the pounding in my head worsens.

I need to wake up. I need to get away.

A growl has me looking back up at Rudolph, the vibration of it rumbling through my own body while I’m still tightly held against him. He turns us back to the crater that used to have my house sitting there.

Rudolph’s gaze is fierce, and I notice the men and women from before are turning back into reindeer. As in, their bodies are changing shape until they are no longer human!

What the fuck?

“Ru?” I gasp, my entire world now shaken to its core.

I barely have time to process that everything I owned, everything I have collected over the years, is now gone before someone lands over the rubble. In fact, many beings land. Dozens of them.

Somewhat belatedly, under the light of the moonlit clouds and glowing embers that used to be my house, I register that these beings barely look human. Their ears are pointed, their teeth sharp as they hiss at us, and their eyes are black. The clothes they wear are a dull green, and they each have dozens of arrows and spears at their backs in a pouch. Actually, some of them already have arrows and spears in hand, moving their arms back in the same way a javelin thrower might.

Are these the elves Rudolph mentioned earlier?

Okay, reindeer and elves? This has to be some sort of cosmic joke on me. Then again, the destruction of my house is no joke. And the deadly intent on the elves’ faces, as they look to be preparing an attack, is definitely no joke.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m screwed. And crazy.

Can’t forget the crazy part.

#3

“So, you like the milk, but what about the cookie?” He slides a plate that has sat off to the side of us the entire meal. On it is a large, round object with dark spots. My human called it a chocolate chip cookie when he asked for it. It’s large enough to take up the entire plate.

“You expect me to eat that?” I can’t even muster up any sort of enthusiasm for it. It looks like hard dirt with specks of dark mud in it.

“Yep, but only after you get a refill. The best way to eat a cookie is to dunk it in milk.”

I eye the cookie again, wondering why I’m even considering putting myself through all of this for my human.

“Are you sure this is important? We could be back in the hotel room …” I remind him, hoping the nudge will push him in the right direction, which would be any direction away from this cookie at this point.

Unfortunately, a waitress refills my glass, and then my human rips off a small chunk from the cookie.

“Please?”

I’m the Santa of Christmas, the highest rank in our military, the wartime leader of my people, and one of the most feared foes of the elves, yet here I am, succumbing to my human, who is force-feeding me rubbish.

What have I become?

Scrounging together whatever bravery and fearlessness I hold during battles, I take the offered poison and dunk it in the milk. Then I close my eyes as I shove the entire thing in my mouth.

I consider just swallowing it whole, figuring my body can save me from the taste, but already my body heat helps to melt whatever ingredients are in this cookie so it crumbles into my mouth.

And … I have to say, it’s not that bad.

AUTHOR BIO:

Jessica lives in Adelaide, South Australia. When she is not writing, you can find her reading, napping or watching excessive amounts of TV. Connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.


Author links:
http://jessicafrancesauthor.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/JessicaFrancesAuthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7236316.Jessica_Frances

https://www.instagram.com/jessica_frances_author/

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