Holidays Ever After – Day 3

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:

A Moonlight Serenade

By: Alexa Padgett

Playlist for this book:

I have to say, I adore music and I really try to listen to a wide range of it.

My favorite song, that I listened to often while writing this book, is Reason Why by Ron Pope. Other songs include:

Closer by the Chain Smokers, featuring Halsey

Not Easy by Alex da Kid, X Ambassadors, and Elle King

If We Were Vampires by Jason Isbell

Animals by Alex & Sierra

Million Reasons by Lady Gaga

Wild Irish Rose by George Jones

The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles

Patience by Guns N Roses

The question my ARC readers asked most often is how I came up with the idea to make Ryn an early child music teacher. Well…I spent ten years taking my girls to these classes. We’re a musical family, and I wanted to make sure each of my kids had a strong foundation–and the ability to sing to pitch. It’s paying off, too! (Though, if I ever hear that hello song again, I might curl up in a ball. Did you not read I did this for a DECADE? Every week…ten years…that song gets OLD.)

But I digress…My oldest daughter learned “Hallelujah” on the piano last week and she and my middle daughter put on an impromptu concert. I love hearing them make a song their own. Yeah, kind of like Ryn (but I have WAY less music talent).

Excerpt:

“I have a surprise for you, Mercer Island. One of my favorite female singers is here, just waiting to sing you my favorite carol.”

I stiffened, but it was nothing compared to the tenseness radiating from Ryn. Mila’s face lost its smile. She touched Ryn’s arm.

“He didn’t tell me. I would’ve told him not to.”

“He doesn’t mean me,” Ryn said, voice faint.

“You know why it’s my favorite?” Murphy winked. “Because she’s singing it.”

The crowd hooted and howled. Small children screamed and clapped. Probably the best tree lighting concert they’d ever have.

“Join me, Ryn Hudson. The folks here need some more Christmas spirit.”

Ryn turned to me, wide-eyed. Murphy boxed her in, and I wasn’t happy about it. And by the pulse beating in her throat, she wasn’t either.

“I don’t perform in front of crowds,” she whispered, her voice as desperate as her eyes.

Murphy beckoned her up, beaming like he’d just handed her a huge cash check. The areswipe! I might just bloody his face for this.

“It’ll be all right,” I said, keeping my voice soothing. “It’s just like performing for your babies. You’re so good with them.”

“Because they’re babies! And they don’t care, really.”

The crowd began to grow impatient, craning to see who Murphy was waving to. The smile slid from his face as he caught a glimpse of mine, then Mila’s. Ryn’s was buried in my chest, as she shuddered through another breath.

“I’ll come up with you. You can do this.”

She tipped her head back and met my eyes. “What if I suck?”

I smiled as I swiped her cheek with the pad of my thumb. “You won’t because you can’t. That voice of yours is mesmerizing.”

She sucked in a breath and nodded. “Okay. But don’t leave me.”

I turned her toward the stage and clasped her hand. “Promise.”

She climbed the steps to the stage, her hand gripping mine. The crowd clapped politely but they already shifted, unsure of the newcomer who took too long to respond. My heart rose into my throat. The crowd needed to accept her, love her, like they had Murphy.

“Whatcha gonna sing for us, love?” Murphy asked.

She looked out over the audience, gauging their reaction to her. “Well, I didn’t really have anything planned.”

Murphy raised his eyebrow, as if his douchery finally settling over him. “Jake here says you like ‘Jingle Bells.’” Murphy smiled for the crowd, who hadn’t heard Ryn’s response, but this time his grin was strained.

Ryn took a deep breath and let go of my hand. She removed her mitten and held out her hand for the mic. Murphy handed it to her as trepidation built in his eyes. If Ryn bombed, Mila and I would ream his arse.

Before any of us could say anything, Ryn started singing. Those first few notes were midrange but powerful. “The First Noel…” As she continued to sing, Ryn closed her eyes and let the lyrics take her. I’d heard multiple stars sing this song. None gave me goosebumps like Ryn had when she hit the pure, high note in “Israel.”

The woman sang. And she did it without any accompaniment, without earplugs. Her talent overwhelmed me, and I stood as enraptured as the crowd as she finished the second verse.

She lowered the mic from her mouth and glanced back at me, where I stood in the shadows. “How was that?” she asked.

I stepped forward and wrapped my arm around her shoulder, pulling her close enough to whisper in her ear, “Amazing.”

She smiled and did a small wave before handing the microphone back to Murphy.

Murphy grinned and bowed.

She turned to leave, but the crowd booed, then began chanting, “More, more!”

I hissed out a breath, thankful and a bit overwhelmed by their reaction.

“How about one more song?” Murphy asked, wiggling his eyebrows. His piercing caught and flashed in the lights. “Give us a mo’ to confer. We’ve not sung together before.”

He turned off the mic and walked over to us. His face morphed onto the pained look I knew well. “I’m a bloody arse.”

“I don’t really like to sing for crowds.”

“Why not?” Murphy’s surprise built. “Bloody fucking Christ! With pipes like those, I’d sing my way through life. And make some fine quid doing so.”

“She doesn’t, and that’s all that matters,” I growled, stepping closer to my brother.

Murphy met my gaze, his features austere in the lights. “Got it. Won’t happen again.” He blew out a breath. “Any song we all know so the crowd doesn’t riot?”

“‘Jingle Bells,’” Ryn and I said in unison. I grinned down at her, excited that we were already sync—excited to share my love of music with her.

Murphy turned on and raised the mic. “We need two more microphones and a stand,” he said, buying us a few more seconds. He dropped the mic back to his side.

I smiled down at Ryn. “We can ask the kids to sing, which the parents will like.”

“Smart, mate,” Murphy said. “But I haven’t played that one in years. A bit rusty on the chords.”

“I’ll play it,” Ryn said. “That is if you don’t mind me taking your instrument.”

“No worries.” Murphy handed it to her, and she took off her other glove, shoving it into her left pocket. Once the microphones were in place, we turned toward the audience, almost in perfect synchronization, and smiled.

“We’ve got a classic for ya,” Murphy crowed. The crowd hollered.

Ryn strummed the notes and all movement in the audience stopped. “All right, boys. Let’s jingle some bells.”

Murphy and I joined her, letting Ryn’s guitar chords set the pace. I went to stand next to her while Murphy hammed it up with the crowd.

“Remember how I did it with the kids?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Okay, that’s how we’re playing this audience.”

She began to play and Murphy stepped back, letting her own the limelight. Once again, Ryn’s voice was killer—precise yet meltingly sweet. Murphy kept time on his thigh, joining in for the chorus. I added some deeper bass as Ryn worked her way up to harmonize with Murphy. He grinned at her as she met him note for note. By the last verse, we owned the song. The crowd clapped and sang along. This was one of the best highs I’d ever gotten while performing.

“Your turn!” Murphy called to the crowd. “Jingle Bells…”

Their voices filled the cold night air, the festive mood building with each note.

“Fair dinkum!” Murphy yelled when it ended. “What did I tell ya? Ryn Hudson, everyone.”

We took our bows and headed off the stage. As the crowd surged forward, no doubt wanting our autographs, Claude and the rest of the security team stepped in front of us, a human line just behind the metal barricade.

Mila latched on to Murphy’s arm and from the set of her lips, I doubted Murphy would like her next comments. He hung his head and nodded as Mila led him away.

“You ready to be off?” I asked.

“She does have him in hand, huh?” Ryn said, her gaze lingering on Murphy and Mila, who was still giving him an earful.

“I’ll make sure he apologizes for putting you on the spot like that.”

Ryn laughed, and I realized she was still on the high from a great performance. “It’s fine. Mila’s dealing with him, and I had fun. Lots of it.”

I brushed her hair back and pulled out her mittens from her pockets, holding them up so she could slide her reddened fingers back inside. “I’m glad.”

“Ryn!” The voice was female, urgent. We both turned to see the sheila from her flat. Sam, Ryn had said. Her dead husband’s twin. Not bloody likely this would go well.

Sam plowed forward, chest heaving and cheeks stained with tears. “What were you thinking? You never perform for crowds!”

“I didn’t plan to, Sam. Murphy blindsided me. If he’d asked, I would’ve said no.”

“Please.” Sam’s voice dripped with scorn. “Clearly the limelight suits you.” She looked me over, her face crumpling. “Why are you here—with him?” Sam pointed at me. “What about Dez?”


The Virgin and the Kingpin

By: Allyson Lindt

The December cold bit into Andrew’s face when he stepped into the evening. It was a nice change from the hot air blowing inside. The salt on the sidewalk crunched beneath his shoes, sounding louder than it should in the still night. He wandered the frozen path, past iced-over bushes and pine trees.

Susan stood near a balcony overlooking the mountainside. She didn’t look up as he approached, but when he reached her, she spun in the other direction and brushed past him. “I’ll leave you alone.”

He grabbed her arm harder than he intended, and she let out a half-groan, half-hiss. It wasn’t an irritated noise. She liked it? He dropped his hand away quickly. “You wanted to talk?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Her tone was dismissive. “You’ll enjoy your evening more if you find someone who doesn’t rattle whatever skeletons you and Mercy have, to keep you company.”

He rolled his eyes. “It’s not what you think—I almost guarantee it—but you don’t want to hang out with a guy like me.”

“Because…?”

“I’m a bad influence.” That was as close to the truth as he cared to get. He didn’t mind weaving a tale, but he wasn’t fond of the one where he almost lost Mercy’s friendship.

“‘Kay. ’Cause I’ve never heard that before. I wanted to talk for a few minutes. It wasn’t like I was proposing we set up our gift registry.” A gust sliced through the night, and she shivered and rubbed her arms.

He shrugged out of his jacket and draped it over her shoulders. And now she was a petite miss in an oversized coat, and that was more tempting. Damn it. He needed to remind himself why this fascination was unhealthy, prove to her she should be disgusted by him, and abide by Mercy’s request. “You’re not offering the kind of company I prefer.”

“And yet, you haven’t left.”

Good point. Why didn’t he let her walk away? Better question—why were they having this conversation outside? “You’ve got me curious as to what this is about.”

“You said you’ve helped people deal with performance issues.” She cringed and bit her bottom lip. “You know what I mean.”

Because sometimes he didn’t know when to shut his mouth and walk away. This time he’d do it consciously, though. He’d deter her once and for all. “I do know. And I was talking specifically about fucking on camera.”

She didn’t flinch. “You also said there was more to it. How does it work?”

“You don’t want details, Suzie-Q. It’s all about debauchery and fetish and getting off in public.” This way he could convince himself he’d warned her. It was hard to tell if the pink on her cheeks was embarrassment or from the cold. Either way, she’d ask for more information, then realize her mistake, and the discussion would be over.

“And there’s got to be a universal principal in there somewhere. Something I can use. I’ll filter out the screwing and process the rest,” she said.


Title: Candles and You

Author: Ja’Nese Dixon

Website: www.janesedixon.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ja’Nese Dixon writes tales of romance laced with strong women and stronger men. My happily ever afters are meant to inspire. So, if you’re looking for a page turner that will leave you blushing, with your heart racing, and lying to yourself about reading “just one more chapter” then grab a book.

Get four free short stories and access to early copies of my books. Sign up here: http://www.janesedixon.com/subscribe.

EXCERPT

“Stop staring at the man and say something?”

Imani found working with Adrianna at the bar was worse than working at the studio. At least at the studio she could pull rank and kick her out the office.

“What man?” She let out a long audible breath.

“The man that has you spilling drinks and stepping on my toes.”

“Ouch!” She stomped on Imani’s foot and wiggled out of reach.

Imani had been preoccupied with trying to see the features of his face. The booth he selected was tucked away off to the side. The overhead lights barely illuminated the table top. It was the table repeat customers chose when they wanted to partake of the live music and robust menu and have privacy.

It was public yet private. So private they’d witnessed more than one heated exchange going on in that booth over the length of her employment. It wasn’t called the make-out booth for nothing.

Imani stole glances at him for most of the afternoon. She could see the top of his arm covered in a white dress shirt and the swirled tattoo on his forearm. That must be his girlfriend. She reasoned as the olive-skinned brunette took her seat across from him.

“You think that’s his girlfriend?” Imani whispered. Adrianna topped off the customer’s soft drink and walked over to stand beside her.

“If she’s not, she wanna be.” She dried her hands on her apron.

Imani faced her, “What makes you say that?”

“That man is a sexual magnet, paid with a Titanium Card, and his eyes,” she shook her head and raised her hand in the truth, “panty droppers.”

“For real?” Imani hissed. The forced air behind panty made curiosity dance through her veins.

“For. Real.” She glanced over at the table as if validating her statement. Her face twisting in agony and she nodded.

Imani glanced back over there. The last thing she needed was to stare into his panty-dropper eyes. She wanted to ask Adrianna more but a warning voice in her head warned her to leave it alone.

There was no room in her life for men. Life was hectic enough without adding sexy, magnetic, panty-dropping men to the equation and her panties needed to stay in place. The last man she’d given her heart passed her up for a bigger fish and left her without so much as a blink of an eye. Her time was better spent trying to find another job.

“Have you heard from your landlord?”

“I got a letter about a new owner. But they didn’t mention the balance and I didn’t either. I sent what I could, hoping it will hold me over.”

$1250 a month times six months left her owing the new landlord at least $7,500. It might as well have been a cool million because she didn’t have a hundred dollars to her name. She hated owing people.

She was ashamed to admit what she sent barely covered the late fees but she still had to pay the utilities at the studio on top of her own household expenses.

“How long you think that’s going to last? You can’t keep doing this to yourself. This dance studio is like a leech draining you dry.”

“Why would you say that? What’s wrong with giving my students culture?” Imani stiffened at her harsh analogy.

“Ain’t nobody got time for that!” She turned to Imani tossing a towel in the sink. “Culture won’t feed you and pay your bills.”

Tears stung her eyes. But she didn’t have time to cry or feel sorry for herself. She needed a plan.

“Is he cute?” It was better to talk about the panty dropper than her landlord.

It was Adrianna’s turn to shrug, “He’s alright for a white boy. You know I like my papi chulo sun kissed, bilingual, and Spanish in his blood. Can’t have my momma passing out on me.”

“Indeed, your mom would pass out if you brought anything but a Hispanic man home.” Imani laughed.

“That’s why I keep my business my business.” She tossed her blonde hair and headed to the other end of the bar to check on a customer.

Adrianna talked a good game but she had a man. Her traditional ways went to her core from cooking authentic Mexican food to Salsa dancing every Thursday night. Imani looked back at his exposed skin, it didn’t look white but not brown either. More like a warm beige. His head turned in her direction and she felt trapped. Unable to look away, but unable to see his face either.

The young lady returned to the table and Imani spun around, facing the mirrored wall behind the bar. She glanced up into the reflection and watched him lean forward. The light caught his profile with his thick wavy dark brown hair. He smiled up at his companion.

Imani’s stomach clinched. He had a deep dimple.

She watched the young lady leave the table carrying her purse and shoulder bag. They must be done for the afternoon. She wanted to see this mystery man for herself.

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