I love Christmas surprises. For most of my married life, my husband has managed to surprise me with something special every Christmas. Usually because he did a lot of travelling and would find unique presents from whatever city he was in around North America or Europe. But since his job changed and he’s been chained to the same stores as me, he’s taken to doing his Christmas shopping by taking me out and saying “choose something.” It takes a lot of the fun from my Christmas morning.
Oh, now mind, I’m not complaining. I know too many others who hand their wife money and so “go buy it yourself.” If they give them anything at all. But still, Christmas to me has always had that childlike fun of watching the presents appear beneath the tree, of going to bed on Christmas Eve wondering what I’ll find when I open them the next morning. Now that our sons are all grown up, there seems to be no more “fun” to Christmas. It’s almost just another day. Only with a Christmas tree standing in the living room.
Which may be why we started several new traditions – one being the scavenger hunt. A different target is chosen from within the family each year and they find a note either wrapped in a box or tucked in a stocking. A Yes, you may know what I’ve bought you, but now I’m making you search for it note.
But that surprise is still missing, and it’s not the same. So when I wrote I Need You For Christmas, my hero and heroine are desperately trying to keep their gift a secret, so they can surprise the other on Christmas morning.
Ryan and Meg have been in love for almost eight years. But just at the time they were planning on making things permanent, a car accident leaving Ryan in charge of his siblings changed everything. Meg went on to follow her heart and joined the Mounties. Which meant she had to leave Ryan in Ontario while she trained in Saskatchewan then moved to Nunavut, 1600 miles away. Though they never married, they’ve stayed in love ever since, snatching short visits a few times a year. But now Meg is tired of life up north. She’s decided to change directions with her career and join the Ontario Provincial Police and move south. Unknown to her, now that Ryan is finally free of his family obligations, he’s made a decision about his career too. And both are planning to surprise the other on Christmas morning…
Have you ever been given a present that surprised you? Or have you ever given one? Tell me for a chance to win a digital copy of the Red Hot Holiday anthology from Carina Press, that has not only I Need You for Christmas, but also has K.A. Mitchell’s Wish List, and Anne Calhoun’s Breath on Embers.
Then pop over to my website and leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle in my “I Need A Kindle for Christmas” contest.
I Need You For Christmas
Copyright © 2012 Leah Braemel
The scent of bacon and cinnamon and coffee penetrated Meg’s consciousness long before she convinced her eyelids to open. Accompanied by Ryan’s off-key warbling of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, she stretched beneath the duvet and planned out her day. Which consisted of…what? Staying in bed all day was tempting, but that probably wasn’t an option, especially since she’d promised Amy she’d help her do her annual Christmas-cookie-making marathon.
Grumbling about having to get up, yet excited to be spending the day with Ryan, she tossed back the covers and padded to the washroom. Once she’d had a shower and dressed, she wandered out to the kitchen where Ryan was frying bacon wearing only a T-shirt and butt-hugging briefs. Standing in the doorway, she stayed quiet, appreciating the sight of his long legs with their muscular thighs and calves from miles of riding his bike over the hilly gravel roads in the area. Legs that had clenched around her the night before, the rough hair tickling her cheeks when she’d gone down on him. Then later, they’d brushed the insides of her thighs when he’d ridden her until they were both out of breath, sweaty and sore and thoroughly satisfied.
The music changed to “Silver Bells”, or as he sang it, Silver Balls. Guys. For such a talented artist, talk about tone deaf.
“Aren’t you worried about grease splatter?” She grabbed a mug and filled it with coffee.
Ever the wise man, he waited until she’d had her first full hit of caffeine before taking the cup and placing it on the counter. As she was about to protest, he wrapped his arms around her. With one hand firmly cupping her butt, he kissed her until they were both breathless.
“I wasn’t expecting you to wake up so early. You were sleeping like a log when I got up.” Ryan’s satisfied smile told her he knew full well he was the reason she’d slept soundly. “I was planning on bringing you breakfast in bed.” His hand squeezed her behind then released her. “But now you’re up, you sit your butt on the couch while I finish here.”
“You spoil me.” She picked up her coffee and headed to the couch, but not before stopping off to admire the seven-foot live pine taking over the corner. Nestled among the original blown glass ornaments and metal pieces Ryan created were a dozen or more embroidered pieces. They’d been his mother’s creations—he’d told her that until his father remarried and his new wife moved in, his mother’s needlework adorned just about every surface in the house.
She stroked the long needles; the scent of pine brought memories flooding back. “Do you remember our first Christmas tree?”
He chuckled. “Not the tree itself, but I remember trying to impress you by driving you out to Shewchuk’s tree farm and getting stuck in the ditch. Not my finest moment.”
“I was remembering what happened after we brought it home.” How they’d made love after they’d decorated it.
“I’ll never forget that part of the day, babe.” His voice was soft.
While she’d always loved the spirit of Christmas, she’d seldom found it at her family’s home. For some reason her parents fought more over the holidays, and the Christmas carols she’d play seldom drowned out the shouting matches. Though she hadn’t told him, she suspected Ryan had when he had invited her to his family’s place for Christmas their first year together and included her on the tradition of picking out the family’s tree.
If she hadn’t already been falling in love with him, he’d sealed the deal when he’d said he loved her that afternoon.
*HARLEQUIN COVER ART: Cover Art Copyright© 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. © and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.
You can buy I Need You for Christmas from Carina Press, or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple. You can also buy the entire Red Hot Holiday anthology, with stories by KA Mitchell and Anne Calhoun. Or you can listen to the entire Red Hot Holiday anthology as an audio book from Audible.
The only woman in a houseful of men (even the cat and dog are male), Leah Braemel loves hiding away from all the testosterone to let the dust bunnies fend for themselves. You can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or on FaceBook and Goodreads. Don’t miss her upcoming print release of Private Deceptions from Samhain Publishing, an anthology containing Private Property and Deliberate Deceptions from her Hauberk Protection series.