READ AN EXCERPT
“I really need to learn to switch the station before I go to bed,” she mumbled with her face pressed into the mattress as her pillow did little to suffocate the racket blaring from her alarm clock. Her morning was starting the same as it had the day before. Finally, she was able to reach over and smack the snooze button, ending the musical torture.
Just as she settled back into her pillow, the doorbell rang, and a guttural moan escaped from deep within her chest. January rolled out from under the covers and began shuffling at the pace of a sloth away from the bed still calling her name. The front door seemed farther away than she remembered.
The delivery driver usually didn’t drop off at her house until the afternoon, but she supposed that with the holiday season he needed to start delivering earlier.
Without a single thought paid to her appearance as she passed the hall mirror, January ignored the way her bare legs were left exposed from beneath the oversized T-shirt that barely skimmed the underside of her butt. She didn’t even care that her hair hung in a lopsided ponytail at the top of her head or that there were black smudges under her eyes from the makeup that never seemed to wash off completely.
Nope, she just didn’t care since the only visitor she expected was the seventy-year-old delivery driver that had been with his partner longer than she had been alive. He wasn’t going to ogle her. Plus, he had definitely seen her worse off. Like the time she had woken in a vomit-induced hangover after drinking herself silly the night before. Which was justifiable considering she had learned that her previous boyfriend was engaged three weeks after their breakup.
Her eyes remained closed as she twisted the knob to her front door, the cold metal against her palm doing little to wake January from her sleep-deprived mind.
“You’re here early today, Chuck,” January moaned as she opened the door wide and greeted the delivery man.
“Not a morning person?”
Her eyes flew open in a flash at the sound of the voice on the other side of her porch. That sleep-deprived mind started flickering with memories of her attire, or lack thereof. January attempted to step back behind the door to cover her exposed legs, but her brain was still filled with haze. She ended up stumbling around her own feet until she tripped and landed on her backside, giving the attractive man from yesterday a spectacular view of her navy blue panties.
“You’re a funny little thing, aren’t you?” he joked as he tucked the small box under one of his arms and extended the other to help her off the floor. Not wanting to embarrass herself further January accepted his help, but as her palm settled against his she couldn’t ignore the spark of awareness that zinged through her body at his touch. She wondered if he felt the same flicker of electricity, but January was too timid to ask. But when their eyes met, his darkened gaze gave her the answer.
“Um. . .yeah. . .mornings and I don’t really get along. No matter how many hours of sleep I get, it always feels like zero. I even had a sleep study done and. . .I’m babbling.” She tended to prattle on endlessly when she was nervous, which wasn’t something that happened often, but with Deckard standing this close to her in her home and very little separating them, her mouth went off with a mind of its own.
Nervously she reached up to tighten the ponytail drooping on the side of her head but instead knocked her elbow into Deckard’s chin.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry,” she apologized as she tried to grasp his chin between her two palms. Not wanting additional injuries, Deckard clasped her wrists in one of his large hands.
“It’s okay. I came by to bring your ornament. If I shipped it, the package wasn’t going to arrive until Monday. This seemed like the easiest solution at the time. Though I wasn’t prepared for bodily injury.”
“You should always expect the unexpected with me.” A stiff wind kicked up outside, hurling chilled air into her house. Shivers shot down January’s limbs. “Um. . .do you want a cup of coffee or tea?”
Deckard let go of her wrists and stuffed his hands into his front pockets as he scanned her face, searching for something that left January’s skin heated even with the cold air swirling around them.
“Yeah,” he said, shocking her back into the moment. “That would be great, thanks.”
She reached around him to shut the door, ignoring how her body was only a few inches away from his at the moment, and then gestured for him to follow her toward the kitchen. With an extra sway in her step, knowing that he was looking at her backside, she stepped down the hallway at a leisurely pace.
“Is this your family?” he asked.
Apparently, he wasn’t looking at her bottom, after all, she thought.
“Yeah, that was from Christmas two years ago.” Her parents had bought them all matching sweaters, even for the babies, and hired a photographer to snap a few hundred photos. She looked at the image over Deckard’s shoulder, trying to see it from his perspective. Everyone looked perfect, happy, excited - except her. She looked. . .
“You look miserable.”
Yes, that was exactly right. She looked miserable because she was.
“I hate Christmas.”
That had him spinning on his feet to look at her in astonishment.
“What? No one hates Christmas.”
“I do,” she told him as she turned away and walked back to the kitchen, hoping that the handsome but inquisitive man would follow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Renee Harless is a romance writer with an affinity for wine and a passion for telling a good story. Renee Harless, her husband, and children live in Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She studied Communication, specifically Public Relations, at Radford University.
Growing up, Renee always found a way to pursue her creativity. It began by watching endless runs of White Christmas- yes even in the summer – and learning every word and dance from the movie. She could still sing "Sister Sister" if requested. In high school she joined the show choir and a community theatre group, The Troubadours. After marrying the man of her dreams and moving from her hometown she sought out a different artistic outlet – writing.
To say that Renee is a romance addict would be an understatement. When she isn’t chasing her toddler or preschooler around the house, working her day job, or writing, she jumps head first into a romance novel.
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