Title: Santa Claws
Author: Kris Pearson
Genre: Contemporary City Romance
From dark start to delicious ending, this unusual Christmas tale is romantic and uplifting. Nothing will ever be the same again after Jeff is accused of threatening to murder his wife. Or Evie is bruised one time too many by her abusive boyfriend. Or Santa Claws the cat starts howling under the house.
This delightfully different novella brings eventual happiness for everyone – including added joy for Christian and Fiona who you first met in Kris’s novel THE WRONG SISTER. Come and spend a sunny summer Christmas in Wellington, New Zealand. You could even adopt a kitten….
Jeff breathed out quietly. “Thanks, but no thanks. Not yet anyway. I’ll get by.”
There was a short silence. “You’ve got time off over Christmas?”
“Yeah – a fortnight.”
“Well, this is a crappy offer, but it’d be a roof over your head. Our rental in Kilbirnie got trashed. I ordered a dumpster for today, and was going to get cleaners onto it sometime in the New Year.”
“Happy to help.”
“You might not be when you see it, but if you don’t mind taking on the job, and doing a bit of repainting, I’ll swap your labour for a few weeks’ rent to preserve your pride. It’ll cost me plenty to get anyone else in, and leave me free to spend more time with Fiona and Nicky over the holiday. I was hoping for a few days out at the river.”
Jeff could have sworn his panicked heart-rate was slowing. “You’re a life-saver, Chris. Thanks.”
Christian made a noise that was half laugh, half sigh. “You might not think so once you’ve seen it. It stinks to high heaven, and there are mice and God knows what else.”
“If it’s somewhere to hole up for a while, it’ll do me fine.”
“It comes complete with a spade, a lot of Mr Muscle, air freshener, and a big pack of garbage bags I left in the kitchen. There’s a key under the brick beside the shed.”
Jeff heard a childish squeal in the background, and Chris muttered, “Okay Nic, coming now.” Then he added, “Knock yourself out, bro, and I’ll see you here for the Christmas barbecue.”
“A spade?” Jeff asked as the word finally registered in his over-stressed brain.
“You’ll need it, buddy. I’m not joking about it being bad.”
On the last day of the working year, Evie wore her blonde hair low to hide her face, and had a lot of peachy makeup smeared around one eye. Jeff couldn’t help but notice. They sometimes sat together in the staffroom, and today was one of those days.
“He’s hit you again?” he asked in a low voice.
She frowned and shook her head. Her hair fell even further forward and she fiddled with her ever-present silver charm bracelet. “Only a bit.”
“Why don’t you get out?” He slid his gaze sideways to her, trying not to draw any attention in their direction.
“Nowhere to go. No money to go with. I gave him my Christmas bonus to stop him bashing me more.”
Jeff closed his eyes and clenched his fists. How he’d enjoy giving the bastard some of his own medicine. “There’s another thirty minutes of lunch break,” he muttered. “If I took you home now, could you grab your clothes and bedding? Store everything in the car for the rest of the day. It’s a long story, but I’ve left Monica.”
He heard her indrawn breath. “I think I’ll go for a walk,” she said loudly to no-one in particular. Jeff drained the last of his coffee and followed her a minute later.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” he said as he drove. “The house is bad. It’s been trashed. I spent last evening throwing stuff in a dumpster, and then slept at my brother’s. There’s a long way to go yet.”
“I’d be an extra pair of hands.” She glanced across at him, jaw tight.
“There are no beds.”
“I’ve slept on the floor before.”
“Yeah, me too, but it was a long time ago, and it’s no fun.” Then he told her about Monica, and the money, and the mess that was now his life.
“So you’re not planning a family Christmas?” she asked with a lift of her eyebrows and a sudden flinch.
His heart lurched. “With my brother’s family, but not with her. That eye’s bad, isn’t it. Do you need a doctor?”
Evie shook her head. “It’s not cut.”
Jeff pressed his lips together. “How have you stood it so long? For the last year at least, from what I can see.”
“He wasn’t so bad to start with.” She hitched a shoulder up and avoided his gaze.
“I can give you one good thing to look forward to, anyway. The barbecue at my brother’s house on Christmas Day. It’ll give us a rest after all the cleaning up. And a decent feed.”
She pushed her hair back over her shoulders and looked at him doubtfully. “I’d be intruding.”
“No you won’t. There’ll be quite a crowd, and you’re very welcome. He’s younger than me. Dad married twice. I’m the older black sheep son.”
Evie snorted at that. “Like I’m the older black sheep daughter. The one who lived a gypsy life and never married or had kids.”
Jeff laughed without humour. He slowed, parking two houses down from where she lived – his usual practice when dropping her home.
“I don’t know if this will work,” she said, peering ahead. “If anyone’s there I’ll just say I need my migraine pills and then I’ll get out in a hurry. If you see me put a bag outside the door, come and grab it, and I’ll go in again for more.”
One suitcase, one sports bag, and a big armload of bedding later, Evie squealed at him to hurry as a glowering, leather-clad man with a bull terrier on a leash ambled round the corner. The man froze for a moment as he assessed the situation, then broke into a sprint and sent them a far from friendly signal with his free hand as they roared away.
“He was out walking Devil,” she said, with a giggle that did Jeff’s spirits good. Then she floored him by adding, “We could see if the church shop has a bed?”
One bed, he noticed. For her, or for them both? He didn’t dare hope, although a prickle of anticipation threaded itself the length of his body.
Why is your featured book a must-read?
It’s romantic, heartbreaking, and very realistic. You’ll be living in a wrecked house with two people who really deserve a better life – and they get it!
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 41 books featured in the 99 cents Book Sale Event:
Runs April 16 – 19, 2020.
Winner will be drawn on April 27, 2020.
I love words, and I use them to make the world a happier place by creating people who are perfect for each other – although maybe they can’t see that to start with!
I began writing at my local radio station in New Zealand. After living in Italy and London I returned home and worked in TV, radio again, several advertising agencies, and then spent happy years as a retail ad manager. Totally hooked on fabrics, I followed this by surprising everyone and going into business with my husband as a curtain installer and working for some of the capital city’s top designers. Good for my body, and it freed up my brain to write fiction. In twenty years I haven’t fallen off my ladder once through drifting into romantic dreams, but I’ve certainly seen many beautiful homes and met wonderful people, and I may just have stolen glimpses of them for the books. (I didn’t say that, did I?)
If you love contemporary romance in exotic settings, that’s what I write. They're mostly sexy stories about couples who fall in love and into bed along the way, just like real people do. I’m the author of eighteen novels, three of which were finalists in New Zealand’s Clendon Award. Each can be read as a stand-alone, but some make up linked series. I hope you enjoy them all.
These include the billionaire beach stories about the wealthy Wynn family in Scarlet Bay - Summer Sparks, Summer Secrets, and Summer Spice. And now I’m having fun with cozy mysteries! I’m onto the third of these. My lady sleuth Merry Summerfield leads a fun-filled life in Drizzle Bay with a cast of eccentric characters and some not-too-gory murders.
Social Media Links: