Title: Snowbound with Mr. Wrong
Author: Barbara White Daille
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Worst. Day. Ever. After Lyssa Barnett’s sister tricks her into reprising her role at Snowflake Valley's annual children's party, she doesn’t think anything can be worse than squeezing into her too-small elf costume. Then tall, dark, and way too handsome Nick Tavlock shows up to play Santa…and an unexpected storm leaves them snowbound in the isolated lodge.
The last thing Nick wants is to spend a cozy Christmas Eve with a trio of kids and the woman who dumped him. But as much as Lyssa frustrates him, he can't stop thinking about her. And soon, he's fighting very un-Santa-like thoughts of kissing a certain sexy Miss Elf under the mistletoe. As Nick starts to fall for Lyssa all over again, he knows it will take nothing short of a miracle to have Lyssa in his arms on Christmas Day.
That afternoon, after they had eaten their fill of the popcorn they’d made in the fireplace, Lyssa took the first step in her plan to keep the kids occupied by making decorations. She presented the idea of popcorn garlands under the pretense of asking for their help.
“We’ll string the leftover popcorn to decorate the mantel over the fireplace, and maybe put a few strands on the Christmas tree.” Thanks to Amber, Michael’s tree was a work of art, but Lyssa knew neither of them would mind a few embellishments for a good cause. Besides, neither of them would see the tree again before Christmas.
“Are you helping, Mr. Nick?” Mollie asked.
Not trusting his answer, Lyssa said quickly, “He certainly is.”
“Everyone’s going to help,” Mollie announced.
“Even Brent?” Tommy asked her.
“Yes, Brent. He ate so much popcorn, he has to help.”
They all laughed, including Brent.
“And we’ll need him to help with the tree,” Lyssa said, “because he’s tall enough to reach the highest branches.”
“Mr. Nick can reach, too,” Mollie said.
Lyssa smiled. Nick definitely had made a conquest there. “As you said, Mollie, we’re all going to help. We can make some paper chains to decorate the room, too. So let’s get to work.”
She plopped the large bowl of popcorn in the middle of the coffee table and distributed the thread and needles she had found in the linen closet upstairs. At this rate, she would have to make a list of items to replace for Amber.
Mollie and Tommy went to work enthusiastically, and even Brent pitched in without a word of complaint. It was watching Nick, though, that made her heart melt. Making Christmas decorations might not have been his “thing,” but he definitely had some skill at working with kids.
He helped Tommy thread a needle, guiding the little boy’s hand until he had slipped the thread through the needle’s eye. Flushed by his success, Tommy proudly insisted upon threading everyone’s needle himself.
When Mollie groaned in frustration after trying to add a half-dozen kernels to her thread, Nick showed her how to pierce the thickest part of the popped corn to prevent it from breaking.
And when it came time to drape the strands on the tree, he asked Brent’s opinion as to the best placement. She had never heard the quiet teen talk and laugh as much as he had in this short time.
She could so easily see Nick with children of his own…and hers… But she had already decided there was no point in dreaming about a future with him.
Considering his single-minded focus on work, he could never be the man for her.
She got to her feet and, forcing a smile, said, “I think it’s time for some hot chocolate.”
Four voices rose in agreement, and she escaped gratefully to the kitchen. The more she saw of Nick connecting with the kids, the harder it was for her to watch and the more she wanted to stay away. Yet she knew this trip to the kitchen was only a temporary reprieve.
She just hadn’t realized how temporary.
She had barely started heating the milk in a pan on the stove when Nick entered the kitchen. He came to lean against the counter beside her. “Need something?” she asked brightly.
“Yeah. To tell you I forgot how much fun it is being around you. It’s been a great afternoon.”
She flushed. “No thanks to me. That’s all on the kids. They’re quite a bunch.”
“And you’re quite a woman.”
He reached up and touched his finger to her lips. “Don’t do that, Lyssa. Don’t sell yourself short.” He moved his hand to trace her chin. A shiver tickled along her jaw. “You know what else I need?”
“That, too. And this.”
He leaned down and brushed his mouth against hers. He tasted so like the man she had fallen for months ago. His kiss was so tender, so sweet, she couldn’t help but want more. Another thought hovered at the edges of her mind, a thought she felt sure she didn’t want to know. Not now. Not here. Not when his taste and his touch and his total concentration on her were all exactly what she needed.
One dizzying kiss led to another and then another, until she had to curl her fingers in the fabric of his T-shirt to keep herself standing upright. But finally she forced herself to come to her senses. She tilted her head back and whispered, “Stop.”
“Why?” he murmured.
“What would we say if one of the kids walked in?”
“That the chocolate will be ready as soon as I’m done kissing the cook.”
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What I love most about the holiday season:
When it comes to this time of year, I love all the things. But for now, I’ll narrow it down to this: one of my favorite parts of the holidays is when everyone gathers around the table for the big turkey dinner, the green-bean casserole, and all the rest of the trimmings. And of course the desserts—lots and lots of desserts!
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Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. Barbara also loves writing, reading, and chocolate. Come to think of it, she enjoys writing about those subjects, too!
Barbara wrote her first short story at the age of nine, then typed "The End" to her first novel many years later...in the eighth grade. Now she's writing contemporary romance on a daily basis. Sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest in her writing life: https://barbarawhitedaille.com/newsletter.
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