And the winners are:
Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes winner - Beaded Holiday Key Chain - Dawn Hagan
The Hop Grand Prize winner - $75 Amazon Gift Card— Stephanie Osborn
Congrats Dawn & Stephanie!!
Winter Warm-Up Blog Hop
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday season so step on through the garden gate and spend some time with me and a few of my characters during this festive time of year. Then scroll down to the bottom of the post and enter the giveaways. Merry Christmas!
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“Can we make snow angels?” Scott hollered over bantering voices.
“Yes, please,” Young Iain begged too.
Laurie urged the lads into jackets and the entire family trudged out into the snowy garden. Patrick flicked a switch. Light illuminated the area, making the snow sparkle. The lads fell onto their backs in the snow, waving their arms and legs. The imprints left behind were the images of angels. Laurie made a large one. Patrick’s even larger.
If a once powerful warrior could display a playful side so could she. Isobell dropped onto her back to make an angel of her own. To her utter surprise, Archie threw off his plaide and plopped beside her in naught but his trews and leine. As they spread their arms to make angel wings their fingers touched. Their gazes met. A thrill shot through her.
Archie’s eyes flared. He must have felt it too.
She couldn’t let the moment pass without making one last memory with him. Isobell squeezed his fingers. “Come with me. I ken a special place.”
Archie grabbed his plaide and they slipped away from the others frolicking in the snow. She guided him through the inn’s garden, along the well-trodden woodland trail, through the meadow and into Laurie’s garden and the privacy of the orchid room. Was doubtful the family or guests would visit on this most special of nights—Christmas Eve.
“Why have you brought me here?” he asked.
“Why do you think?” She hoped her smile appeared sensual.
He raised a brow. She pressed against him, grasped his hands and pulled his arms around her, placing them on her bum. His response, a firm squeeze, urged her on. Stretching up onto the balls of her feet, she leaned in and kissed him as sweetly, as passionately, as her heart demanded.
A rough sound erupted from deep within his throat, a growl, a demand, and the kiss intensified into a meeting of mouths and tongues, wet and wild. Isobell’s breath came from Archie and his from her. When the fever calmed, forehead resting against forehead, they gasped for air.
“So, that is your answer, lass?”
“Oh, aye!” She melted against him.
He glanced around the small glass chamber then stepped away. He grabbed a cushion from one of the chairs and tossed it on the floor. Then another and another. Using all the cushions, he made a fine bed.
Archie dropped onto the cushions, tested their comfort then offered an inviting hand. “Join me.”
She fell on knees on the cushions beside him. Suddenly feeling shy, she tentatively touched his smooth cheek. She had no experience seducing a man.
Archibald wrinkled his nose in the sweetest way. “What?”
“You have been with so many other women. I dinnae ken…”
“Nae so many.”
“But Da said—”
“He said a lot of things that were not true. Aye?”
“Aye.” She lowered her gaze embarrassed for having believed all the lies.
Archie slid a palm over her hair and down an arm. “I will be gentle.”
Ahhh. Romance on Christmas eve. So nice. Oh, look, another couple has joined us.
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A drunk banged into the table and broke the steamy spell holding Kimberly and Robert enthralled. She choked on a flat laugh. He cleared his throat.
The awkward moment thickened the air. Made it hard to breathe.
Kimberly twitched her nose. Now would be a good time to find a hidey-hole to crawl into. Perspiration glazed the skin between her breasts. God, her face must be the color of a ripe strawberry.
“I overheard you,” Robert said.
“Did you?” Just great.
“Aye.” His gaze dropped to the tabletop. He picked up a drink stirrer and fiddled with it.
Mesmerized, she watched large fingers nimbly tie the thin strip of plastic into a bowline knot. The naughty image of him using the same knot to tie a silk scarf around her wrists flashed in her mind. Where had that idea come from?
“What the rest of the crew has been trying hard not to tell you is I have a rare blood disease.” Her wayward thought splintered at the unemotional statement of fact.
She gazed into his eyes, searching for something empathetic to say.
“I have to take it easy until my doctors find a donor with the right DNA makeup to help me. That is why I sleep a lot.”
“I’m sorry.” Oh, that sounded lame. Worse yet, she’d been thinking about sex. Kinky sex. My God, what had come over her lately? She’d never thought of having that kind of sex with Jason. Heat rose from toes to face. Thank God Robert couldn’t read minds. She reached for her mug, but it was empty.
“Dance with me?” He grasped her hand.
She nodded, and followed him onto the dance floor. “When they find a donor, will they be able to make you well?”
His eyes clouded. “I hope so.”
So did she.
He tucked her close, held her tight, smooth cheek against the rasp of whiskers, as they swayed with the other couples to the sweet melody of an Irish love song. She embraced hard muscle as she wrapped her arms around him.
How could a virile man like Robert be critically ill?
When the song ended, she pulled away, feeling awkward. He seemed uncomfortable too. They returned to the booth at the same time as the twins.
The moment Robert sat, his cell phone buzzed. He grabbed it from his belt. “Aye.” A dark expression hardened his features. “Do what you can. Tell Colin to be ready to motor out and set sail as soon as we arrive.”
Alarm pinched. Something bad must have happened.
He returned the phone to his belt and pulled her to her feet.
“What’s up?” Davey asked.
“We have trouble.” Robert pushed Kimberly through the crowd toward the back door. Davey and John followed. Once they were out in the night air, Robert answered Davey’s question, “It appears Miss Scot is wanted by the sheriff’s department.”
Kimberly wanted to explain, but he cut her off.
“Colin is stalling the deputies, which will buy us some time but not much. You two…” He directed an intense stare at the twins. “Go to the boat and make ready to cast off on Colin’s order. I will borrow a launch, and we will rendezvous offshore.”
John and Davey disappeared into the shadows.
“Come.” Robert tugged on her arm.
They ran down the back alley away from the Christmas gaiety. By the time they reached the outskirts of town, Kimberly panted for breath. She still hadn’t figured out how to explain the situation. “Captain, I—”
“Just answer one question. Did you break the law?”
“No.” She shook her head with force. “Definitely not.”
“Then you can explain later. Now, we need to hurry.” He led her behind a waterfront hotel. They jogged across the manicured lawn to a private dock with a Zodiac tied to it. Luck was with them. Keys dangled from the ignition.
The inflatable boat raced out into the dark night. When the town with its twinkling lights looked like a miniature holiday village, Robert idled the engine, and they drifted.
“I’m sorry. I’ve done nothing wrong.” Kimberly found it hard to believe the mess that had caught up with her.
Perhaps not the best Christmas eve, but romance is in the air and their happily-ever-after is coming. That is the thing I love about romance novels. There is always a happily-ever-after. Thanks for visiting with me and my characters. Now for a contest...
Dawn Marie's Holiday Giveaway
For a chance to snag one of these lovely holiday key chains crafted by Nicole Laverdure, just leave a comment below with your favorite holiday activity. One name will be drawn after the hop has ended. Good luck!
Grand Prize GiveawayHops with Heart for future blog hops. Now, hop along to some of the other participating blogs...