Monday, July 25, 2016

Welcome LYNDI LAMONT #RomanticIdea #romance #author

2016 Summer #RomanticIdea: Ilona’s Wolf by Lyndi Lamont

Ilona’s Wolf buy links in HTML: Ilona's Wolf is available from, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and Smashwords.

Lyndi’s Summer #RomanticIdea

“A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou” - The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

I love that quote, and it makes me think of romantic summer picnics—at the beach, by a lake, in the mountains or a park—whatever location works best where you live or vacation. But what to pack? Wine, bread, meat and cheese are a given, but don’t forget the summer fruit—ripe red strawberries, lush juicy peaches or crisp apples. There’s nothing like a taste of fruit to sweeten a kiss.

Ilona's Wolf

by Lyndi Lamont

Steamy Paranormal Romance


Imagine a world filled with magic, a tormented knight, a damsel in distress, an evil sorcerer...

While picking herbs in the woods, Princess Ilona is rescued from a woodsman by a wolf. When the creature licks her wounds, it is suddenly transformed into a man. A very handsome, very naked man who makes passionate love to her in a glade.

Cursed by an evil wizard, Rolf was trapped in wolf form until he tasted the blood of a royal. Now he must escort the princess on a hazardous journey back to the castle to stop an ill-fated wedding.

Passion flares between them, but both know there is no future for Ilona and her werewolf. Or is there? In a world where magic and passion combine, anything may be possible.

Buy links:


She sat frozen, her back to the tree. Oh, gods, don't let it see me. She tried to cast an invisibility spell, but to no avail. The wolf looked at her, golden eyes gleaming, mouth open, showing off large, sharp teeth. She closed her eyes and gripped her throat with both hands. Quaking with terror, she listened as the animal padded toward her. She felt its hot breath on her cheek.

Opening her eyes a slit, she stared into the face of the wolf. Sad eyes stared at her, and her fears receded. Perhaps he'd been tamed. She reached out with what was left of her powers, but sensed no immediate danger. "Good wolf," she stammered.

She held out one shaking fist, and the wolf sniffed it before licking her knuckles. It moved closer, sniffing her clothing. To her surprise, the animal hunkered down beside her and laid its head on her leg. Carefully, she touched it, stroking the soft fur.

Relief flooded through her. Saved by a wolf, of all creatures. "Thank the gods you showed up when you did. I'd no wish to be ravished by the likes of him."

The wolf lifted its head and seemed to smile up at her, mouth open, tongue lolling.

She smiled at the canine as she continued to pet it. "Grateful I am for you rescuing me, but 'tis not exactly what a girl dreams of. Where's my knight on a white steed? 'Tis he who is supposed to do the rescuing."

When the wolf lowered his head, sniffing between her legs, she laughed and pushed it away. "Rude creature."

The animal responded by sitting up and resting its head on her breast. She put both arms around it and hugged it close, dropping a kiss on its head. "Do not misunderstand, Sir Wolf, but I still wish you were a knight. A strong, handsome knight like my Werner."

The familiar sadness filled her at the memory of her husband. "I miss him so much, you know. Dagmar says another knight will come for me, a handsome knight to protect us and make sweet, passionate love to me."

The wolf whined and raised his head to lick her cheek. Laughing, she tried to push him away, but he licked her full on the mouth. She closed her eyes, stunned when her powers came rushing back, like a flood of magic coursing around her.

Turning aside, she summoned her basket to her side. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the wolf jump up, staring at the basket. Her vision seemed to blur as the wolf's face slowly became humanlike, then shifted back. She must have hit her head harder than she'd thought if she was seeing things. She closed her eyes and shook her head, but the aching had receded.

When she peeked again, the wolf was gone, and a naked man crouched in front of her. A handsome, well-built man with shaggy brown hair and golden brown eyes.

Interview with Sir Rolf of Klosterlupe:

Thanks for sitting down with me today, Sir Rolf. I just have a few questions for you. What can you tell us about your birthplace?

All I know is that I was born somewhere in the Kingdom of Velosia. When I was but a small cub, er, lad, my parents dropped me at Klosterlupe where the monks took me in. Apparently small werewolves are unable to control their shifts. People without magic have no idea how to deal with a situation like that. Still, I would like to learn who my people are some day.

What schooling did you have?

I was educated at Klosterlupe, home to the Brotherhood of the wolf, a chivalric order, where I was  trained in the knightly arts.

What is your job?

I am a knight in the King’s Guard.

What is your most important goal?

Protecting my princess and her family, of course. I owe her a great debt, not to mention she is the love of my life.

What is your worst fear or nightmare?

Being trapped again in animal form and unable to shift. That was most disconcerting!

Author Bio:

Lyndi Lamont is the racy alter ego of romance author Linda McLaughlin. Writing sexy stories gives her a license to be naughty, at least between the pages of her books! She has written several full-length novels plus numerous short stories and novellas, ranging from historical to futuristic. She believes that love is unending and universal, and enjoys transporting her readers into a different world where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.

Find her online at:

Twitter: @LyndiLamont

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#Author Mari Manning is Visiting #RomanticIdea

#RomanticIdea from Mari Manning:

This is my favorite #romanticidea. On a clear summer night, swathe yourself in bug repellant, spread a blanket on the back lawn or your deck or the sand of a nearby beach, and count the stars. And while you’re counting the stars imagine you are on a giant spaceship traveling through the solar system at 66,600 miles per hour. Imagine the miracle of you, that out of all the billions of stars and planets and the infinitesimal bits of matter, you are.

If you are with a loved one, grab their hand and squeeze.

About Stranger in My House by Mari Manning

When Officer Kirby Swallow’s half-sister is threatened, Kirby assumes her sister’s identity and journeys to the remote Texas ranch her sister calls home to catch a killer. Kirby confronts a growing list of suspects and a rising body count, not to mention the ranch manager, Seth Maguire, who sees past the charade to the warm, generous girl beneath. But can Kirby trust a man who rejects the one thing she holds dear: family? Her love dares all, but as the killer closes in, will it also be blind?

Self-reliant Seth Maguire is manager of the struggling Shaw Valley Ranch. His future appears empty until the ranch’s wild, unpredictable heiress suddenly morphs into a very hot lady cop. What starts out as just another seduction turns into something deep and, for him, frightening. Then the killer is revealed and Seth is faced with an impossible choice. Will his fragile, uncertain love be enough to save Kirby?

Buy links to all the major electronic sites  CLICK HERE

An excerpt from Stranger in My House
Maguire rubbed his chin and studied her. A dangerous gleam lit his eyes. “Never seen you so nosy before.”
Panic squeezed her, then it was gone. He couldn’t prove she wasn’t Frankie, and in a few days she’d be in Tulsa, and Frankie would be back in Shaw Valley. There was nothing more to learn here, and by the looks of him, Maguire needed time to cool down.
“I should go,” she said, stepping back from him.
“Stick around, Frankie. The new you is sort of growing on me.” His gaze swept down her body and landed on her ballet flats. “Maybe you’d like to help me clean the lavender screens. Seeing as you got your sensible shoes on today. You liked feeding the horses, didn’t you? This will be fun, too.”
Her heart thumped. “I’d just be in the way.”
“You helped me last year.” He studied her. “Remember? It was your first week at the ranch, and you came wandering in here. Just like now. Said you wanted to work at my side.” His eyes bored into hers. “You were wearing those ridiculous shoes. You remember them, don’t you?” Something in his gaze and the way he moved closer made her throat constrict.
“Uh, yes. Of course.”
“What did you call those shoes again?” He took another step. The heat of his body closed around her. The scents of detergent and perspiration and anger assaulted her nose.
She pulled out of his reach and said, “Heels?”
They were eye to eye now. Sparring for answers neither of them was willing to provide. The words hardly mattered.
Maguire shook his head. “No. Something else. Sounded Italian.”
Slowly, carefully, steadily, he kept coming. A hunter closing in on his prey. He breached her personal space, hovering over her. The toes of his boots pressed against her ballet flats. Her eyes were even with his thick chest. If she ran, he’d know. Guilt always ran.
 She held her ground. “What do you think you’re doing?”

About Mari Manning
Let’s start with the fun stuff. I love small towns, mysteries, quiet men, laughter, old-fashioned spaghetti dinners. I love boots and shopping and jokes and Hershey’s dark chocolate and white wine. I love lots of things. But my first love is reading.

I love to read. Just about anything, but it has to be well-written. I go through periods where I am into historical novels or romance or mystery or history or biography. I never know when my desires will suddenly change.

Now for the writer-ish, official stuff: Mari Manning is the author of several contemporary romances and three romantic suspense novels set in the Texas Hill Country. Stranger at My Door is the first in her A Murder in Teas series. The second, Stranger in My House will be released by Entangled on June 13. The third book in the series is Stranger in My Bed. Currently Mari is working on a series of cozy mysteries.

She and her husband live in Chicago.
Contact Mari at

Visit my website HERE
Follow me @mari_manning on Twitter

Friday, July 15, 2016

Welcome Tina Gayle #RomanticIdea - *New Release* STORMY

Please help me welcome Tina Gayle! She's here to tell us about her newest release "Stormy".


With the beautiful weather outside, what better time is there to be outdoors?
So why not go to the park and take a picnic?

Spread a blanket out on the ground, talk, eat and enjoy. By spending quality with the ones we love, we grow closer and form a stronger bond.

Stormy by Tina Gayle

A widower, a divorcee, co-workers, lovers... a future together... marriage? 

Consoling each other for years over each other’s misfortune, Karen and Daniel turn a friendship into a weekend of unbridled red-hot passion.  The heat between them leads to thoughts of a future together.  That is…

Until children, an ex-husband, an unexpected heart attack, a conniving trophy-wife, guilt and personal choices come between them.  Will the heat of their passion, let them break from the past and move into the future?

“Damn it, Daniel, if I find you with a young chickadee like I did my ex-husband,” she growled as she trudged up the staircase. “I might be tempted to...”   
Her gaze immediately fell on the empty king-size bed. Exasperated by her inability to find him, she quickly scanned the entire room...desk area, open closet, bathroom... the door closed. Light glowed through the seam between the floor and the bottom edge. “Daniel, if you’re in the bathroom come out this minute.”
The entrance opened, and he stood in the doorway.
Problem, he wore only a towel.
Awe, shit... she didn’t need to see his bare chest covered in crisp dark hair, the sculptured muscles of his arms and shoulders, developed pecs, and thick thighs.
Damn, how was she supposed to resist such temptation?
Desire added to the anxiety she’d already experienced on her drive here, lit her anger. “Why the hell didn’t you answer your phone? I’ve been calling and texting you for the last two hours.”
A confused frown passed over his handsome face. Instead of responding, he stepped to the bedside table. He lifted his cell phone and clicked a few buttons.
Unable to contain her impatience, Karen stalked forward.
He glanced up when she grew closer and showed her the phone. “I don’t understand it. I don’t show receiving any messages or calls. The signals must have gotten lost because of the storm.”
She’d suspected as much. Still, she refused to let him off the hook because he could’ve contacted her before he left town. “You should’ve called me. But no...”
Having endured his inability to communicate for months now, she stabbed her finger through the air at him. “You never call. You always expect me to phone you. Well, I’ve had it.”
The distance closed between them and she stood inches from him. Her fingertip tapped his chest. Static electricity sparked between them and her fist unfolded. She stumbled backward.
“Whoa.” Daniel caught her around the waist with one hand and held her close. His phone landed on the bed before he circled his other arm around her. His strong grip held her steady and didn’t allow her to step away. “You’re right. I guess I’m just use to...”
“Don’t say it. I’ve heard it too many times. Sharon might have resented the interruptions, but I’m not her. I’m never in any type of meeting that you could possibly disrupt.” Karen spread her hands over his chest and worked to maintain a smidgen of distance. Nevertheless, with him so near, his warmth surrounding her in a seductive cocoon, she had to fight the urge to melt against him.
“Yes, but if I called you whenever I wanted we’d never get off the phone.” The husky tone of his voice pulled her gaze upward.
Spying the silly grin on his face, she shook her head. “Don’t play with me, Daniel. I was worried that something bad might’ve happened to you.”
He cupped the back of her neck and guided her head to his shoulder. “You worry too much. Nothing’s going to happen to an old dog like me.”

Now Available at Amazon

Author Bio:
Tina Gayle grew up a dreamer and loved to escape into the world of books.

After years of working in the business world doing a variety of jobs, she decided to try her hand at writing. Her books touch the heart and show the true joy of being a woman.

Read the first chapter of any of her books by visiting her website.

Find Tina Gayle everywhere
Author Web Site
Author Blog
Amazon Author Page

Thanks for visiting today, Tina! Here's hoping for lots of success with Stormy and all future writing projects!

~ Keta ~

Monday, July 11, 2016

Welcome #Author Marianne Rice #RomanticIdea

I’m a romance author and am married to a man who is as romantic as…a doorknob. He likes to joke about his idea of romance, “You’re so beautiful. Did that turn you on? Want to get naked now?” After twenty-three years together (we met as freshman in college) I’ve learned to be thankful for what I have: a loyal, faithful, honest, hard working, and funny father and husband, who is not the least bit romantic. 

My husband isn’t into dinner out; he’d rather cook up a feast at home (we both enjoy cooking). He’d rather do projects around the house or do something active/productive. So, the only way to get him out of the house is to go on little adventures. Sometimes we go four wheeling (there are trails all around our house), or go on hikes, big and small. A backpack full of food and cozy snack and lunch breaks along the way, these are the little adventures we enjoy doing that add fun, memorable moments in our relationship. Romance doesn’t have to be big and fancy. Flowers, chocolate and wine are absolutely lovely, but sometimes getting down and dirty can be pretty spectacular as well.

Sage Wilde’s idea of romance falls into the same category as my husband’s, but Luke Riley has other ideas. Here’s a peek at my latest release: 

Event planner Sage Wilde has lots of lists and no time for a relationship… 

Precise to a fault, Sage plans everything—meetings, meals, and sex. But when she learns her youngest sister can’t carry a child, she steps up and commits to the role of a surrogate mother. It’s not out of sentiment, because Sage doesn’t do love or touchy-feely, but out of practicality. She doesn’t plan on marrying or having children, so why not rent out her unused space, right? 

Luke Riley is a sexy firefighter who’s looking for love in all the wrong places… 

Luke’s morning gets a little brighter when he’s called to a clinic and spots a blonde beauty wearing killer red boots. Though she doesn’t seem interested, he manages to introduce himself. It’s unusual for a woman to push away his advances, but Luke is attracted to her confident nature and strong personality. It’s not long before he wears her down, and she finally agrees to a date. 

Who says you can’t mix work with pleasure? 

Sage blames her growing affections for Luke on pregnancy hormones. But one last hurrah before her belly swells sounds like a well-deserved thrill. After a few passionate nights, the line between love and lust begins to blur—leaving her more confused than ever. 

Luke is mesmerized by her keen wit and social charm. She may claim not to want children, but when she befriends his troubled foster sister, it proves there’s a heart inside of Sage waiting to be loved. 

Will Sage’s surrogacy unlock her willingness to commit? Or will Luke stand by as the woman he loves plans a future without him? 

“I have a reservation. Sage Wilde. I’m a few minutes early. Should I wait at the bar?”
The hostess looked down at her podium. “Your dinner companion is already here, Miss Wilde. Please follow me.”
Punctual. She already liked Ms. Smith. Only the person sitting at her table wasn’t British. And wasn’t a woman.
“Seriously? You’re crashing my meetings again?”
Luke’s hair looked freshly cut, cropped close to his scalp and neat. His eyes brimming with laughter, not the least bit ashamed. “Hardly.” He picked up her hand and kissed her knuckles. “You look beautiful.”
She didn’t think her navy pantsuit was beautiful. Her silver Molono Bahiks with fuschia stilheto heels, however, were stunning. Luke’s eyes hadn’t left hers, so he surely hadn’t noticed them.
“Luke, it’s lovely running into you again, but I’m meeting a client in a few minutes. You’ll have to leave.”
The hostess stood awkwardly between them. Luke didn’t seem to be bothered by her. “Lucy couldn’t make it so I’m here in her place.”
“What? You…you sabotaged my meeting?”
“Thank you, Haley, we’ll let you know when we’re ready to order.” He dismissed the hostess and pulled out a chair for Sage. “Please, sit. I would have ordered you a drink but I wasn’t sure what you preferred.”
“Nothing. I prefer to meet with my client.”
Luke pulled out his chair and sat close to Sage, his knees casually bumping against hers. “I’m meeting in her place.”
“Really? And what will we be meeting about, Mr. Riley?”
“My mother’s sixtieth birthday party. I believe Lucy already told you that.”
So maybe this was for real. Since his brothers and sisters were all adopted, most likely they had different last names as well. “Why didn’t you call me instead?”
“I believe I did. Quite a few times. And you never returned any of my calls. Not a very effective way to run a business.”
“I…You never said you wanted to discuss business. You implied…I thought…”
“You assumed.”
“Yes, well.” Sage picked up her water and scowled. Once again Mr. Sex-on-a-Stick had the upper hand. Very well. She could be professional about it. Pulling out her iPad from her bag, she clicked on to her favorite app and started a new spreadsheet while she talked business.

PURCHASE LINKS: Available on Kindle Unlimited!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, cuddling with her husband, a drink in one hand, a romance book in the other.

Social Media Links:

Thanks so much for visiting today, Marianne! Lovely cover.
~ Keta ~

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome #Author Merry Holly - MORE THAN I WISHED FOR Trilogy

Please help me welcome Merry Holly and her trilogy More Than I Wished For...

June is considered the premier bridal month.  And I still remember ours. For us it was a snowy October day. My mother blamed me for snow, because I always said it’d be a cold day in hell if I got married. This year my husband and I celebrate thirty-seven years of marriage. That’s a long time, yet most days it seems like yesterday when we met, and fell in love. I’d definitely marry him again. He’s my one true love. Though we are opposites it has worked out well. I was the glam girl-disco, always dressed up. He was and still is the jeans’ guy. He had dress jeans, work jeans and just hanging around jeans. Even in our wedding album we have a picture of me in my bridal gown and him in his jeans wearing a navy tee shirt. The photographer added a blue clip on tie to his shirt. He set my left hand on top of my honey’s right hand, his arm extended. It reminded of me of the stance photographers used in the eighteen hundreds. To this day it’s one of my favorite pictures from our pre-bridal shots.

How do you make a relationship last? I say compromise, respect and true love. A love so deep, no matter what, you’ll be there for each other. Yes, there are times you want to brain him. Times you want to hug him. And times you want to jump him, even now. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Love is nothing if not ups and downs. Remember intimacy comes in all forms, like a smile, a simple touch, the birth of a child, sharing a great moment and of course making love.

At each decade we are confronted by a different set of problems and obstacles that need to be overcome. A set of problems you can’t see beyond in that moment. It is during this time that you need to step back and look at your partner with the eyes and heart you fell in love with him with. Love isn’t blind, but it’s darn forgiving at times. Except for that ultimate sin, that Meatloaf sings about in ‘No I Won’t Do That’. Big grin here, as I amuse myself. Boy, did I get off track.

Can you keep the magic alive?

Most definitely—if you look at the recent posts here, several authors have given great ways to keep it exciting. I’ll add a few of my favorites:

Taking a simple walk together gives you alone time and lets you converse. Sometimes we work out in a gym, but really, you’re on machines so no talking, as you huff and puff with that bar over your head.

Dinner with another like-minded couple can relax you both for later when you’re home alone with each other.

Simple things like grocery shopping—though it can be frustrating—most times, it’s great and you have someone there who carries the packages—it also makes him feel needed. Don’t forget, need, want and love are all tied together.

And my favorite is packing a lunch and hanging out on the beach with him. I see the stress fall away as the ocean air clears his head and the rhythmic sounds of the waves hitting the shores lulls him into complete bliss. Also the touch of his hand as he applies my sunscreen to places I can’t reach…well, you know where I’m going here.

For all these reasons I love to read and write romance at all stages for a couple’s life.

I’m sure you have your places and things you like to do with your special someone. I’d love to hear what you do to keep the magic alive. Share below and enjoy your summer.


From a whirlwind holiday romance, to a rushed wedding, to the heated life on the tropical Island, Chase and Noelle adjust to each other and life as a couple. For the first time in one book, Chase and Noelle’s trilogy comes together.

Included in this trilogy are Noel Noel Noel, A Wedding and a Promise, and Noelle’s Surprise. All stories previously appeared in the Season of Series… 

Noel Noel Noel by Merry Holly
Season of Magic
Dumped and lonely, Noelle finds love at the most surprising place, her local mall.  A chance encounter with Chase Clayborne while Christmas shopping has her rethinking her rigid set of rules as sparks flare between them.

A Wedding and a Promise by Merry Holly
Season of Love
After a whirlwind romance, pressure from the groom to marry immediately has Noelle’s questioning her decision. Deep inside her heart she knows Chase is the one, but why rush the wedding?
Chase never intended to get engaged on his trip home for the holidays, but chance didn't give him a choice. One he laid eyes on Noelle his heart was gone forever. But he has a secret. One he's afraid to tell Noel for fear she'll break the engagement.

Noelle’s Surprise by Merry Holly
Season of Surprises
Noelle has a secret of her own. One she doesn’t quite know how to tell Chase. It will ruin all the plans they’ve made for the future. Married and isolated on the tropical island they now call home, it’s not what Noelle imagined their life would be. To complicate matters, one of the client’s he’s introduced her to has made her intentions toward Chase public. Noelle believes Chase wouldn’t cheat, yet the doubt has been planted. Added to her worries the women from that very same group have elected her to the Christmas in July committee.

Frustrated at Noelle’s unhappiness, Chase has tried everything to combat it. But her mood swings are driving him crazy. When he finds a brochure on plastic surgery, he flips out. His beautiful wife doesn’t need it, nor does he want her to look like the “plastic wives,” of his clients. How can he finish the job and keep her on the island until its completion?

Setup and Excerpt from the first novella in More Than I Wished For: Noel Noel Noel

Wednesday night
Sitting at a small round table inside the mall food court, Noelle sipped her latte and watched as people hustled and rustled by.  This was a mean indulgence on her part.  The first week of November she’d finished all her Christmas shopping.  To keep in the spirit of the holiday, she visited the mall twice a week, gloating at all the stressed-out shoppers.  Yes, her life was pathetic.

Dumped on Thanksgiving night, she'd yet to return Ken's gifts.  The bastard cheated on her with his secretary—his married secretary, for crumpet's sake.  She’d thought he was the one.  She had their lives all planned out.  Two-point-five kids, a house in the ‘burbs', and romance to last a lifetime.  It only lasted nine months.  What was wrong with her that men didn't hang around? Was she too boring? Was it her clothes, her job, her dog? If it was her dog, there'd be no discussion.  The dog stayed, the men left.  Heidi was the best dog ever.  A blond German Shepherd who stood guard over her and loved her unconditionally.  Yep, Heidi stayed no matter what.
"Is this seat taken?"
Looking up through her lashes, she spied the most wonderful present a girl could receive.  Down girl.  Just because the gift is wrapped nicely doesn't mean what’s inside is what you want.  His deep, emerald green eyes and chiseled face weren't a bad start.  The grin dancing on his full sensuous lips spelled trouble with a capital T.  Suddenly, she was in the mood for a large dose of trouble.  She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. "No," she finally answered.
"May I?"
Glancing around the food court, she noticed for the first time that all the tables had filled up since she’d sat down.  But there were a few seats scattered around the court.  So why mine? Didn't she just hear on the news that she should be careful of pickpockets and scam artists this time of year?
"Chase," he said, extending his hand.
Staring down at his hand like it might burst into flames, she debated whether to take it or not.  Darn, she'd lost the moment to touch him as he pulled his hand back and shrugged.  Hot, burning fire shot from him to her across the gap.  Soon she'd have to call nine-one-one if her body didn't cool down.  For lack of anything to say, she sipped her latte and watched him over the rim of her cup.
"I can leave if I make you uncomfortable."
How cute is that? His brow furrowed, giving her the sudden urge to trace the lines with her fingertip.  Whoa, Earth to Noelle, this isn't one of your romance books and you're not the heroine.  But he could definitely be the hero.  He placed a large strong hand over hers.  She was right.  It was hot.
"No, I'm sorry.  I get tongue-tied sometimes." Oh, great, why'd I have to bring my tongue into this?
"You like that sweet stuff?" He pointed to her cup.
"I do.  You?"
"No, I like mine strong and straight up." Pointing to his bags, her lip tugged up at the corner. "Let me guess. Shopping for your wife?"
Ah, he's going to make me work for this. "A girlfriend?"
"Same answer."
Now he had her curiosity piqued.  The purple bag was definitely from Lynn's Lingerie Shoppe.  Noelle’s sense of humor got the better of her. "A cross-dresser?"
A deep, loud bellow had her laughing with him.  He was a good sport.  Some men would have been insulted.  Most didn't understand her humor.  
"Now there's an idea, but no." A rakish grin had her heart pounding. "Would you still love me if I was?"
Love him.  Lordy, who is this guy? "Maybe."
"Would you like to know what's in the little purple bag?"
He shook it to entice her.  Now she needed to know what was inside.  Hmmm! Methinks he's played this game before…
"I do.  I thought it was obvious," Noelle smiled.
"Lynn's signature perfume for my mother.  It's her favorite."
Oh yeah, who's the dummy now, Noelle? He’d bought his mother a personal gift, not a toaster.  Why is this guy single? Heat cooked her cheeks.  Where was the extinguisher when you needed one?
"I don't see any bags for you."
"That's because I'm an early shopper and it's all done."
"Cripes, that’s not fair.  I bet you even have them all wrapped?"
"Where's the fun in that?"
Chase reached over, wiped her lip with his thumb.  A million bolts of electricity raced through every nerve ending in her body causing sparks to ignite and jump in the air.  Her nether region reached five-alarm status. 
"What?" She jerked back.
"You had some froth on your lip.  It was kind of cute." He winked.  Down girl.  The man's only flirting.
She picked up her napkin and wiped her lip. "Is it all gone?"
"Yes.  You haven't told me your name.  Is it a secret?" His head tilted to the side, his eyes narrowed. "Let me guess... Peyton…no.  How about Paige? Nope, I'd say Charlie.  You look like a Charlie."
"All wrong.  Give up?"
"Nope.  Lizzy, Loretta, Georgie?"
"Okay, I give up."
"Noelle.  Noelle Barnes."
"Ah, a Christmas baby?"
"Christmas day?"
"Christmas Eve."
"A special gift.  I bet your parents were thrilled." She'd been waiting for his next question. "Are you married?"
"No." Grinning, she said, "I'm saving myself for Santa." She picked up her cup and sipped, hoping he ignored her last statement.  Not able to help herself, she giggled.  This was fun. 
"So… if I show up at your house tonight in a full Santa suit you’re mine?" He started humming the Christmas carol, “No-el, No-el, No-el."

Author Bio
Marian Lanouette/Merry Holly is the creator and one of the authors of the bestselling Season Of anthologies. It’s a series that shares her love of the holidays, romance and special moments with family and friends. Marian also penned the Jake Carrington Mysteries.
In her past life she was an accountant by day writer by night. Now she’s thrilled to write full-time. Until recent years she was an avid snowboarder and boater. She lives in New England with her husband.


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