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At twenty-five, Grace Evans is steadily picking up the pieces of everyone else’s life. So, when her younger sister decides to turn into a runaway bride just four weeks before the wedding, Grace, drops everything to chase after her and bring her back home. Only, when the trail leads to Mistletoe, Washington, she finds herself at the mercy of the town’s most handsome and emotionally unavailable bachelor.
Ex-Army officer, Ayden McCabe, has three creeds in life: never make the first move, never fall in love, and never take anyone to Mistletoe’s Christmas Dance. Wanting nothing more than to keep his matchmaking sister from meddling in his personal life, he agrees to help Grace if she agrees to play his girlfriend. Too brunette and meek for his taste, Ayden believes Grace can’t tempt him enough to break any of his creeds. He could not be more wrong.
Page Count: 290
Word Count: 72410
Yanked out of her reflection, Grace glanced up at Neil and followed his gaze to a man who stood about six feet tall with wavy light brown hair. She blinked, realizing the flyer did not do him justice.
In person, he was dressed in a pair of Timberland boots, Levi’s jeans, and a blue and white flannel shirt under a rugged Sandstone jacket. His shoulders were broad and masculine, as if they could withstand a hefty stack of 2x4s with little effort.
He stepped forward, pausing only to rip the flyer off the post on his way by. She pressed her back against the leather cushion, finding his expression unreadable, his gait purposeful.
He stopped a few inches from where she sat. “I’m afraid you’re wasting your time, Miss…”
“Evans. Grace,” she said, surprised by his slight Irish accent and unfriendly tone. She wondered what Neil had said to him to cause such a reaction. Then again, maybe the flyer had something to do with his curt introduction.
Well, she didn’t care. Too much depended on her staying in Mistletoe, with or without Ayden McCabe rendering a smile or a pleasant hello. Too late for polite conversation, she stood. “You could at least hear me out,” she said, straightening to appear taller, although she barely cleared the bottom of his chin.
His face softened, but not enough for her to relax. Then the corners of his mouth lifted, and her pulse sputtered. “Look, I’m flattered, but I’m not interested.”
She opened and closed her mouth but was unable to say a coherent word through an entire verse of “Jingle Bell Rock.” When he began to saunter away, she panicked. “Okay, I can pay you three hundred dollars for three nights.” She really couldn’t, but she had nowhere else to go.
He swayed back toward her, his dark brown eyebrows raised, one higher than the other. “Three nights?” he repeated, his gaze sweeping over her like a sweltering Mediterranean wind. He grinned, a curious and secretive expression that sent a hot tendril down her spine. Although they had barely enough daylight between them, he managed a step closer.
“Don’t you think you’re being just a little pretentious…Miss Evans?” He lifted his hand, his thumb and index finger pressed close together for visual effect.
Pretentious? Grace hoped beyond all reasonable expectations, she didn’t need more than four days to run into Danielle or find someone who knew of her whereabouts. Their mother’s frail sanity depended on Grace bringing Danielle home. First, though, Grace needed a place to stay that didn’t require taking out a small bank loan to get her home.
“All right, two nights, but for that price, I do expect breakfast,” Grace said, hands on her hips and believing if she needed more time to find her sister and drag her back to San Francisco, she’d figure out a way to convince him then. “A full-sized bed is fine, and I can be very quiet. You won’t even know I’m there.”
He canted his head, amusement dancing in his arresting blue eyes. After a moment of disconcerting silence, he finally whispered in her direction, “If I’m making you breakfast afterward, I better damn well know you’re there.”
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