I’ve been doing a lot of talking about my mystery debut, but I am still writing Harlequin Romances as well. I’m so excited that this year I’m doing a continuity series with one of my closest friends. I know, I know I say that every time I’m doing a continuity. This time, however, it’s especially true.
Nina Singh and I have been friends for almost a decade. What’s more, we’re critique partners. She was one of the original readers of The Cinderella Bride – my debut novel – and I was thrilled when she decided to join the Harlequin Romance stable.
Together, we’ve created a mini series called The Men Who Make Christmas. It’s the story of the Hammond Brothers, James and Justin, two men who hate Christmas. Ironically, they are also the heirs to Hammond Toys, the company known the world over for making Christmas magic. The brothers are about to discover Christmas isn’t as terrible as they think.
In my book, Christmas with her Millionaire Boss, James Hammond finds himself stuck in the tiny town of Fryberg, where Christmas is celebrated 365 days a year. Clearly, he’d rather be anywhere else. A sentiment his reluctant host, Noelle Fryberg shares. Having been thrown together, the two of them will spend four days letting go of Christmases past….and falling in love.
Here’s a small sample of what you can expect:
“Noelle watched the muscle twitching in Hammond’s jaw. Clearly, he preferred being the one who dictated the schedule, and not the other way around.
“Let me get this straight.” Whether his voice was low by design or discomfort, Noelle couldn’t guess. His tension came though nevertheless. “I’m not allowed to fly home for the next twenty-four hours…”
“At least,” the nurse said.
The muscle twitched again. “At least twenty-four hours,” he corrected. “Nor will you meet with me for the next five days?”
“That’s correct,” Belinda replied. “We can meet first thing Monday morning, and conclude our preliminary negotiations.”
“I see.” He nodded. Slowly. Anyone with two eyes could tell he didn’t appreciate this change in plans at all. Noelle would be lying if she didn’t say it gave her a tiny trill of satisfaction. Payback for his wanting to toss Fryer.
“Fine,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “We’ll talk Monday. Only because my head hurts too much to argue.” Noelle had a feeling he wasn’t kidding. “What was the name of that hotel?”
“The Nutcracker Inn,” she replied.”
“Right, that one. I’m going to need a room, and something to eat. What did you say that soup was?”
“Gingerbread.” It was the third time he’d asked. She looked at the nurse who nodded.
“Temporary short-term memory loss can happen with concussions. It should recede soon enough. However, I think you might have a more pressing problem.”
The two of them spoke at the same time. “I’m not sure the Nutcracker has any rooms,” the nurse replied. “You know how booked it gets during the holidays.”
“Wait a second.” James tried to look up at the nurse, only to wince and close his eyes. “Please don’t tell me there’s no room at the inn.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” the nurse replied. “Did you know that once we even had a baby born—”
“I doubt Mr. Hammond will have to do anything quite as dramatic,” Noelle interjected. No need for the conversation to head down that particular road.
The nurse offered a tight-lipped smile. Apparently, she didn’t appreciate being cut off. “Either way, you’re going to need someone to look in on you. Doctor’s orders.”
“The concierge will love that request,” Hammond muttered.
“We could arrange for a private duty nurse.”
“Good grief,” Belinda said. “That doesn’t sound pleasant at all.”
“Pleasant isn’t exactly on the table right now.” Hammond’s eyes had grown heavy lidded and his words were slurred. It was obvious the entire conversation was exhausting him, and Noelle couldn’t help but feel bad.
Although she doubted he’d appreciate the compassion. A man like Hammond, with his disregard for sentiment and tradition, would despise showing any hint of vulnerability.
“Of course pleasant is on the table,” Belinda said. “This is Fryberg.” The meaning behind her emphasis was obvious.
Hammond let out a low groan. Still feeling compassionate, Noelle decided the noise was coincidental.
Her mother-in-law continued as if the noise never happened. “We’re not going to let you spend your weekend in some hotel room, eating room service and being attended to by a stranger. You’ll spend the weekend with me. That way you can recuperate, and enjoy a proper Thanksgiving, as well.”
The strangest look crossed Hammond’s face. Part surprise, part darkness as though her mother-in-law’s suggestion unnerved him. Noelle didn’t picture him as a man who got unnerved. Ever.”
“I don’t want to put you out,” he said.
“You won’t. I have plenty of room. I’ll even make you some…oh, shoot.” A look crossed her features, not nearly as dark as Hammond’s, but definitely distressed.
“What is it?” Noelle asked.
“The Orion House Dinner is this evening. I completely forgot.”
In all the craziness, so had Noelle. Fryberg’s was being honored for its fund-raising efforts on behalf of homeless veterans. “Would you mind?” her mother-in-law asked. “I don’t want Orion House to think I don’t appreciate the honor. The project meant so much to Ned.”
“I know,” replied Noelle. After Kevin’s death, her father-in-law had channeled his grief into helping as many veteran programs as possible. Orion House had topped the list. “He was very passionate about wanting to help.”
“That he was,” Belinda said, getting the faraway look she always got when they discussed Ned. The family had been through a lot these past years, and yet they continued to channel their energy into the community. Their dedication in the face of grief made her proud to bear the Fryberg name.
“Would you mind stepping in instead?”
“Not at all,” she told her. “I’d love to.” It’d be an honor to accept an award for them.
“Thank goodness.” The older woman let out a long sigh. “I was afraid that because of our words earlier… Never mind.” Whatever her mother-in-law had been about to say she waved away. “Let me pull my car around. I’ll help you get Mr. Hammond settled, and then go home to change.”
Help her…? Wait… What exactly had she agreed to do?
Noelle opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it again. Nothing came out though. That’s because she knew what she’d agreed to. As surely as the sickening feeling growing in her stomach.
Somehow, James Hammond had become her responsibility. She looked over to her mother-in-law, but Belinda was busy fishing through her purse. And here she thought she would be free of the man. Talk about your sick karmic jokes. If only she’d been the one hit in the head.
“Do you need an extra copy of the discharge instructions?” the nurse asked her.
“No,” Noelle replied with a sigh. “I know what to expect.”
There was only one consolation, if you could call it that. Hammond looked about as thrilled over this change of events as she was.
Goodie. They could be miserable together.
CHRISTMAS WITH HER MILLIONAIRE BOSS
Available November 1. Pre-order your copy by clicking on the links below.