Holidays Ever After – Day 2

Holidays Ever After: Contemporary Romance Holiday Boxed Set
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance

Which holiday hottie will you unwrap first?

No matter the time of the year, it’s always the season for seduction!

From Spicy to Sweet and everything in between, this sizzling boxed set of TWENTY contemporary romances from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors will give you tons of holiday hunks to fall in love with.

Inside these pages you’ll find everything from sexy strangers and brooding billionaires to marines, firefighters, and the guy next door.

Whether you’re in the mood for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a New Year’s celebration, this limited edition Holiday Ever After anthology is packed with exclusive, full-length titles to lift your spirits. From Halloween to Kwanzaa, Valentines Day, Norooz, and the Fourth of July, these stories will give your holiday season extra spark and will be the best romantic holiday bundle to hit your ereader this year!

Get ready to heat up your holidays when you treat yourself to Holidays Ever After!

Including stories from…

Colleen Charles

Monica Corwin

Amy L. Gale

Becca Fanning

Victoria Pinder

Alexa Padgett

Tuesday Embers

Khardine Gray

Holly Dodd

Liz Gavin

Jillian Quinn

Courtney Hunt

Vivi Holt

Kristen Luciani

Astrid Arditi

Rebekah R. Ganiere

Jessica Gray

Ja’Nese Dixon

Teresa Roman

Angela Corbett

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

SNEAK PEEKS:

Light Me Up

By: Kristen Luciani

Prologue

Maya

“Please tell me you didn’t wear those gross and holey granny panties, Maya.” My friend Ang rolls her eyes and picks up her shot glass from the bar.

“I absolutely did.” I grin and grab my glass and one for my sister Leslie. Even if my self-control wanes, reality will smack me right in the face once I remember what’s under my short denim skirt. Besides, it’s not like I had much of a choice since I’d mistakenly under packed and this was supposed to be my spare emergency pair. Whatever. It’s our last night, and it’s not like any guys have even raised my eyebrows this whole week. Jesus, we’re in Cancun. If you can’t get laid here…well, then you’re just not drinking enough.

Kelly takes the fourth glass and holds it up. “Here’s to Maya not getting laid tonight. Nobody needs to see what’s under that skirt. You’d scar some poor schmuck for life!”

I giggle and my glass tips, golden-colored liquid spilling over the top of the full glass. “Okay, enough about my undies. Let’s toast to an amazing vacation! And a promise to come back next year so we can do it all over again!” I sway a little, my hip banging against the bar, but I barely feel the impact. It’s safe to say that, at three shots in, my body is nearing the numbing point.

We shoot the tequila and suck on the limes the bartender set down with the glasses. I lick my lips. So salty and tangy. So fucking good. I’ll miss this when reality kicks in.

“Next year?” Kelly smirks. “Like you’re gonna be able to fit this into your big-time Wall Street career once your new boss gets your ass chained to his desk. You’ll be like Princess Leia in that metal bikini thing with that big dog collar around your neck.”

“Kelly, it’s an investment banking firm, not a BDSM club. Besides, I’ll get vacation time.” I pick up my Dos Equis and flip my hair over my shoulder, put it to my lips, and drag the somewhat cool liquid from the bottle. Good God, it’s hot in here. The air is stagnant, and I’m pretty sure my flat-ironed hair is rapidly approaching poodle-like resemblance. I’d love a drink with some ice in it, but fuck no. Not in Mexico. You just don’t. Ever.

Kelly flashes a smirk. “But what about your five-year plan?”

“What about it?”

“You have a pretty strict schedule for yourself. Are you sure you’ll be able to fit us in?”

I ruffle her messy bun. “You’re such an ass. I love you guys. You’ll always fit into my life. Unlike jerkoffs like Eric.”

“Aha! So you finally speak his name! Does that mean you’re over him?” Leslie cocks an eyebrow.

“Do you have to overanalyze me all the time?” I let out a sigh. Sometimes I feel like I’m the subject of her thesis project. I guess that’s what happens when your sister is a psychologist-in-training. “Yes, I’m over him. You know I’m done with men for the foreseeable future, anyway. No time for relationships if I’m going to make it to Vice-President by the time I’m thirty. Anyway, I’m glad that we broke up. It’s good that he cheated on me with that skanky whore from Jersey. I didn’t need to waste another second on that tool. That was college.”

“And you’re a grown-up now.” Ang snickers.

“Well, not right this second.” I grin and take another gulp of my beer. “But yeah, once we get on the plane tomorrow, it’s time to adult.”

“Mom is already on my case about getting married and having kids.” Leslie points her beer bottle at me. “She’ll be on your ass soon enough.”

I cringe. All I hear is one word. Kids. “Oh God, please do it first so she leaves me alone. Kids. Why would anyone have them? And if they do, why do it more than once? They’re loud, sticky, and annoying as hell. I was in the bathroom by the pool earlier, and while I was in the stall, at least three little monsters kept coming in and asking if I was pooping.”

“Were you?” Ang grabs her beer bottle and takes a sip.

“Yes, thanks to what the hell ever was in my tacos last night. But that’s not the point! Who does that? Annoying little kids!” I shudder. “No, thank you. Mom will have to deal.”

Leslie chuckles into her bottle. “Yeah, I’m sure that’ll go over well. Because Mom isn’t any bit overbearing and controlling.”

I grimace. My mother has been a constant thorn in my side, and she’s only gotten somewhat bearable since I’ve moved away. No matter what I’ve accomplished, it’s never been quite good enough. I graduated in the top 10% of my class instead of the top 5%. My internships haven’t been at the right companies. My college boyfriends haven’t come from the right families or been smart enough to provide a proper future for me. Hell, she even complained that the signing bonus for my new job wasn’t high enough. Meanwhile, most of my friends will barely scrape by on the salaries they’ve accepted. It’s never good enough for my mother, and it’s fucking maddening. Leslie handles her much better than I do because she can apply all of that psycho bullshit magic she’s learned. Me? I just get pissed off and bottle up all of my feelings of inadequacy – a perfectly unhealthy reaction to her constant criticism. I have no idea how my kind-natured father has put up with her for so long, but at least one of my parents has faith in my abilities. “Thank God I got an apartment in Manhattan. I don’t think I could be in the same house with her again. She’d be breathing down my neck twenty-four-seven to find myself a nice Jewish boy and run him down the aisle. Sorry, Mom. Not in the five-year plan.”

“I wish I had my shit together the way you do,” Kelly muses. “You’ve got your whole life mapped out. I can’t even remember what I’m supposed to do at my new job.” She snickers and sways closer to me. “Well, in all fairness, I can barely remember my last name right now after all that tequila.”

We all laugh, but Kelly’s point hits home. I’ve always known that I’ll accomplish great things in my life, regardless of my mother’s soul-crushing critiques. I know it sounds silly and naïve, but deep down, I just feel it. This job is a stepping stone. I don’t know for sure where it will lead, but I know I’ll be a success. It’s just how I’m built. I don’t let shit get in the way of my goals, which is why I cut Eric loose. He begged me to take him back, and other girls might have given him another chance, but not me. He might be hot as hell and hung like an ox, but I don’t need the aggravation. Of course, my mother urged me to give him another shot since his father is a powerful state senator with eyes on the White House. But, unlike my mother, I’m not one to ride coattails. Screw me once, shame on you. Period. There is no second chance given.

Besides, I don’t have time for men right now. The only way to be successful is to live, eat, sleep, and breathe it. That means no distractions in the form of romantic entanglements, which suits me just fine – especially since the one guy I really wanted to tangle with walked out of my life without so much as a hey-see-ya-later-have-a-nice-life fist bump. Maybe that’s why I picked up with Eric; maybe it’s why I didn’t really care when he cheated. He wasn’t what I really wanted…who I really wanted…

Anyway, that’s all in the past. I have a clean slate. My destiny is under my control, and I’m ready to kick some ass.

“Well, let’s have one more so that you forget your first name, too! It’s a double!” I giggle, grabbing another glass from the bar. “Okay, guys. Last toast, I promise! Here’s to—“

My next words are swallowed by a loud yelp when a large hard body plows into me, knocking me off-balance in my very insensible wedge sandals. I feel myself tipping over in slow motion, the double shot of tequila splashing out of the glass and all over my tight white top. The sticky, sawdust-covered wooden floor is close, too close, and the thought of face-planting on it makes me want to hurl.

A strong arm snakes around my waist just as I’m about to crash and yanks me up to a standing position. I glance down at my shirt and groan. Wet t-shirt contest and it looks like I’m the only contestant. Fabulous.

I fold my arms over my chest and twist to glare at my assailant. He may have saved me from contracting tetanus, but he still made me drop my booze. Asshole. “You owe me another sh—”

Oh.My.God.

Zane Brandis.

A distant memory accosts my mind, making me cringe. The beginning of my sick obsession with the guy I would never have. Suddenly, it was September of my senior year. I’d crashed at my friend Todd’s fraternity house after their famous back to school rager and stumbled out of his bedroom to use the bathroom. It was dark, and things were still pretty fuzzy after all the Jell-O shots I’d sucked down. I smacked right into Zane as I rounded a corner. I’d never forgotten those deep blue eyes, the ones that rooted me to the spot all those months ago…the same ones that make me forget my own name as I drown in them now.

We shared one class together. It was two hours of pure bliss every week, followed by coffee shop dates to discuss assignments, and then library dates to study. I quietly obsessed over him until I’d finally gotten the nerve to make a move, but I was too late. Zane had left campus suddenly…something to do with a family issue, from what I could gather, since he never said goodbye. I’d wanted so much more than he gave, but at the least, I’d thought we were friends. It was all bullshit. I never saw him again, even though I’d heard he finished out the semester and graduated early.

A shiver zips down my spine under his heated gaze until realization clicks. His full lips curl into a smile, and I have the sudden urge to bite them. I am completely lost in eyes that are so blue, they almost look purple in the dim bar lighting. For a second, I forget that my shirt is plastered to my damp skin and that I reek of tequila. His tanned skin glows, his t-shirt stretching tightly across his muscular chest. He’d always been big into sports, and he played football before blowing out his knee as a sophomore.

It’s so hard not to swoon. I’m fucking weak.

Zane’s gaze is so intense, it can probably melt the granny panties from my very aroused body.

Granny panties.

Fuck.

“Maya Golding. Of all the girls in Cancun to crash into. I’m really sorry about that.” The way he says my name makes me giggle like an idiot.

“Hi, Zane.” I bite my lower lip and my gaze catches that of my sister’s. She starts making orgasm faces behind his back, and I have to swallow a laugh. “Don’t worry about it. I probably shouldn’t have drunk that last shot, anyway.” I clear my throat. “It’s, um, it’s been so long. How have you been?”

His smile wanes a bit and he looks past me toward the opposite end of the bar. “Okay.”

I follow his gaze, even though I’m afraid of what I’ll find…probably some huge-boobed blonde with big red lips and a tiny waist. Instead, I see a group of guys huddled around a pool table. They must be his friends. No date. Whew. There’s still a chance, if I didn’t screw things up with my innocent question. Jesus, I’m a glutton for punishment.

His hand grazes my arm. “You look good.”

“Thanks,” I whisper, smiling like a fool. I run a hand through my hair and grimace when they get caught on the sticky ends. Whatever. I’ll deal with them later. “What have you been up to? Are you working now? I’d heard you graduated early…”

He rubs the back of his neck. “Yeah, I’m working at a company in Manhattan. Been there for about six months now. I’d left campus to help out at home because my dad got sick. I finished the semester while I lived off-campus. It was just…easier.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” I don’t want to press; the look in his eyes begs me not to probe. And I don’t want to say anything that’s going to run him off, not when he’s just appeared back in my life, even if for only one night. I missed my chance months ago. One person can make me challenge all of the bullshit I’d just spouted about not wanting to get tied down, having no room for relationships, and he’s standing right here in front of me.

I can’t let him slip through my fingers again. Not this time.


Someone Special

By: Teresa Roman

“What can I do?”

I lifted my head, looked into his troubled eyes and then, without thinking, said,” Kiss me.”

For a moment I wasn’t sure he would. Not after our stupid fight and my bullheaded refusal to pick up the phone and apologize. Only moments ago, he’d referred to himself as a friend. Maybe that’s all he wanted us to be. But then he leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine. One hand came around the back of my head, the other pulled me closer to him. My heart raced as his lips pressed harder against mine. His tongue slid into my mouth and I reached up to circle my arms around his shoulders.

The heat from his kiss and the way his body pressed against mine chased away the cold that had felt like it settled inside my bones, but it was still raining, and though the heat in my car had helped to dry my scrubs a little, they were soaked again from standing out in the rain talking to Jude.

I pulled away from him and reached into my purse searching for my keys. “Let’s go inside.”

Jude followed me without saying a word. After I closed the door behind him and flicked the light switch on, I turned around and kissed him again. He ran his hands through my dripping wet hair moaning gently as he pressed me against the door, pinning me between it and his body.

“You have no idea how much I’ve missed you, Dawn.”

He lowered his lips, kissing the sensitive skin on my neck. My breathing quickened. “I missed you, too. Badly. I was so stupid. I shouldn’t have—”

Jude pressed his finger over my lips. “Shhh, let’s not talk about that right now.”

He was right. Talking could come later, right at that moment the only thing I wanted was him. I needed this connection. And not just because it had one of the most heartbreaking days I’d had in a while, but because not seeing him or talking to him for all those days made me realize that I did have feelings for him, feelings that were stronger than I’d cared to admit. Feelings I desperately wanted to show him because I sucked at finding the right words.

Blissful Valentine

By: Amy L. Gale

Dean jumps over the top of the couch in a Dukes of Hazard move and lands on the cushion next to me perfectly seated. It’s like he practiced the move a million times. He slides his arm around my shoulder. “Sorry bud, she’s with me.”

I fight the urge to stand up and cheer from his flawlessly choreographed stunt. Soft fingertips graze the skin under my collar bone.

The man squints and tips his head. “She can be with you later,” he slurs and pulls at my arm again.

I yank my hand backward breaking his loose grip. “I’m a one-man kinda woman.” I shrug. “Sorry, there can be only one.”

The man holds up his hands and backs away. He trips on the coffee table on his way out.

Dean wrinkles his forehead. “Where’d you come up with that line?”

I sip my drink. “A line from a cheesy 80’s movie.”

He slowly slides his hand off my shoulder. “No way, Highlander?”

I raise my cup.

He leans back and looks me up and down. “Yep, you’re perfect. Marry me.”

I set my cup back on the table. “Wow, a marriage proposal because I know a line from a movie where the character’s main goal is to cut the other’s head off… It screams romance.” I smile.

“Hey, everyone ends up dead in Romeo and Juliet so decapitation in Highlander works too.” He winks.

I chuckle. Guess he’s got a point. Romeo and Juliet is a classic. If poisoning can be romantic then so can beheading. “Flowers and candy don’t stand a chance next to decapitation.”

He shakes his head. “I get it, all girls want is expensive jewelry, fancy dinners, and a white knight on a horse.”

Yeah, like anyone actually gets that. I press my lips together and hold back a smile. “I’ll take John Cusack holding up a radio and blasting a ballad outside my bedroom window.”

He flashes a sexy half-grin. “Nice, a girl who knows her 80’s flicks.” He tips his chin toward me. “Theater major?”

I scrunch my eyebrows and move my head back. “Do I look like I want to be a star?”

He scans my body, from my black, high-heeled boots, to my fitted, white, now-stained, shirt. “Hell, yeah.”

My skin scorches from his heavy gaze. “I’m a double major, business and marketing.” I grab my cup and slug down the rest of my drink. “How about you? No. Wait. Let me guess. Undeclared until junior year and until then it’s all about frat parties and bagging chicks.” Oh my god, what the hell am I saying? Real cool, Brooke.

I cover my mouth with my hand and slowly lower my fingers down my chin, dropping my hand at my side. “I’m sorry, looks like I had a bitch hiccup. I’m blaming the drink.”

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