Blazing Little Christmas: Holiday Inn Bed, His For The Holidays, Dear Santa... [Harlequin Blaze Series #363] [NOOK Book]

Overview

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a very, very hot night...

"Holiday Inn Bed" by Jacquie D'Alessandro

When Eric and Jessica decide to spice up their Christmas engagement, they play out their favorite fantasy--Do Not Disturb. They'll be a little tied up for the weekend in their private hotel room...

"His for the Holidays" by Joanne Rock

Watch out--Heather Dillinger and Jared Murphy are back in the sack for some holiday sex! And this time they ...

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Blazing Little Christmas: Holiday Inn Bed, His For The Holidays, Dear Santa... [Harlequin Blaze Series #363]

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Overview

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a very, very hot night...

"Holiday Inn Bed" by Jacquie D'Alessandro

When Eric and Jessica decide to spice up their Christmas engagement, they play out their favorite fantasy--Do Not Disturb. They'll be a little tied up for the weekend in their private hotel room...

"His for the Holidays" by Joanne Rock

Watch out--Heather Dillinger and Jared Murphy are back in the sack for some holiday sex! And this time they find that sweet revenge makes their reunion the hottest gift they never expected...

"Dear Santa..." by Kathleen O'Reilly

When a secret Santa invites Rebecca Neumann for a holiday getaway, she jumps at the chance. And when a sexy blast from her past appears, she's tempted to jump him, too...

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426809545
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Series: Harlequin Blaze Series , #363
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 417,837
  • File size: 209 KB

Meet the Author

Bestselling Harlequin author Joanne Rock writes sexy contemporary romances and medieval historicals that have been reprinted in 22 countries and translated into 16 languages. A Golden Heart winner and RITA nominated author.

Kathleen wrote her first romance at the age of 11, which to her undying embarrassment, was read aloud to her class. After taking over 20 years to recover from the profound distress, she is now proud to announce her new career— romance author.

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Read an Excerpt

Jessica Hayden gratefully absorbed the delicious warmth emitting from the snapping fire, which danced in the huge stone fireplace in the lobby of the Timberline Lodge. She wasn't certain how long it would take Eric to get them registered, but after braving the two-hour drive here—the last few miles at a crawl due to the sudden heavy snowfall—then the blustery wind that hit them on their walk across the parking lot, she didn't mind lingering near this heated coziness, at least for a few minutes. But more than thawing out by the fire, she was anxious for her and Eric to get to their cabin, where they'd generate their own heat.
Which couldn't happen soon enough for her.
God help her, she couldn't wait to get her hands on him. It had been so long…way too long, since they'd made love, and now that their much-needed weekend was upon them, she was about ready to burst. The stress and problems that had been wreaking havoc with every aspect of their lives—including their love life—didn't exist in this rustic lodge. Here they would have the time and privacy to get themselves and their relationship back on track.
She pulled off her gloves and her gaze rested on the sparkling round diamond adorning her left hand. When Eric Breslin had slipped the engagement ring on her finger four months ago, it had been the happiest, most magical moment of her life. She loved him deeply and she'd believed, they'd both believed, that everything was going to be perfect.
They'd both been dead wrong.
Everything was, in a word, a disaster.
Little had they known their engagement would spark a family feud that made the legendary Hatfields and McCoys look like rankamateurs. After much discussion, she and Eric had reached compromises regarding the big issue—her managing Hayden's, her family's upscale restaurant in her hometown of Marble Falls, and Eric's opening last year, less than a mile away, a Chop House, a national restaurant chain known for excellent food at reasonable prices. Even though Chop House was technically the competition—a fact that had caused them some difficulties at the onset of their relationship—Jessica had discovered that Eric was everything she'd ever wanted in a man.
She hadn't believed in love at first sight until she saw him. That first instant spark of attraction in the cheese aisle at her favorite gourmet food shop had all but fried her where she stood. The fact that he'd chosen her favorite Brie and knew the subtle differences between Gorgonzola and Stilton had piqued her interest. They struck up a conversation and by the time they made it to the wine aisle she knew, in her heart, he was The One. And the next six months had only proven her correct.
He was kind, loving, patient, honorable and generous. He made her laugh. Made her happy. Sure, he had his faults—but hey, what man didn't leave his socks on the floor and coffee cups all over the place? Growing up with four older brothers, she didn't let silly little "guy things" bother her. And best of all, Eric loved her as much as she loved him.
Unfortunately their families mixed about as well as oil and water. Jessica's mother and four overprotective brothers considered Eric not only business competition, but looked down on his franchise restaurant, considering it fast food compared to Hayden's. Marc, Andy, Robbie and Carl all glared at Eric at every opportunity, resenting both his opening the restaurant and him "stealing" their little sister, whom they ridiculously felt was way too good for him.
To make matters worse, Jessica's mother had dreamed about her only daughter's wedding since the day she'd finally given birth to a girl after four sons. Maybe, just maybe, Carol Hayden could have gotten over the fact that Jessica was marrying "the competition," but she simply could not accept that Eric's sister, Kelley—who was more like his mother since she'd raised him and their two younger sisters after their parents' deaths when Eric was twelve—was a wedding planner. A very successful wedding planner whose recent clients included an Olympic gold medalist, a daytime television actress and a state senator's daughter.
Kelley had very definite ideas about her only brother's wedding. Ideas that did not in any way mesh with Jessica's mother's ideas for her only daughter's wedding. Indeed, Carol Hayden viewed Kelley's expertise as a threat to her own plans for Jessica's wedding. Toss into that volatile mix Eric's sisters' resentment toward Jessica's family for looking down their noses at their beloved brother, and the entire situation was as explosive as a powder keg piled next to an open flame.
Holy family feud.
The bickering had spilled over into Jessica and Eric's relationship, even in the bedroom where they hadn't even ventured during the last several weeks. These last four months, instead of being joyous, had brought them both to the breaking point. They desperately needed this long weekend away from the relentless arguing, needed this time alone, to put their relationship back on track. To reignite their currently nonexistent sex life. To recapture the magic that had surrounded them right from the beginning. And they would. They had to. Because the alternative—not being together, not sharing their lives—was a concept she simply couldn't wrap her mind around.
Yet there had been times since they'd announced their engagement when she wondered if they'd actually be able to rescue themselves from the quicksand they'd stumbled into and make that walk down the aisle together. She wanted to marry him, wanted to spend her life with him. But…how could she ignore all the shrapnel hitting them from the family fallout? And even though he'd never said so, she knew Eric wondered, too. And she couldn't help but worry that he'd grow so disgusted with the whole situation, he'd just walk away.
Well, she couldn't worry anymore. She needed to know. She loved Eric and knew he loved her. But, as she'd unfortunately learned over the past four months, the adage that sometimes love isn't enough was sadly true. She also knew, in her heart, that this weekend was going to either make them or break them. At the least, it would result in some drastic changes. Because they simply couldn't go on any longer the way they were. For the past four months she and Eric had tried to keep everyone happy and the result was that no one was happy. Something had to give.
Shoving aside all thoughts that even hinted at sadness, Jessica focused her attention on her surroundings. The rustic inn definitely lived up to the color brochure that had enticed them to choose the Timberline Lodge for their desperately needed getaway—that and an enthusiastic recommendation from Eric's best friend, Dave. Rustic, yet boasting every modern convenience, the lodge and its recently added cabins were the perfect winter wonderland-type location for a sexy, romantic holiday away from it all.
A huge, gaily decorated Christmas tree, its branches glittering with garland, soared upward in the far corner of the A-framed building. Knotted wood beams lined the ceiling from which antler chandeliers hung, casting the room in a warm, golden glow. Swags of fragrant pine boughs dipped along the wooden mantel accented with cheery red stockings and thick candles that resembled candy canes. Comfortable leather and Adirondack-style chairs dotted the room in intimate groupings, and colorful braided rugs—the sort she used to help Nana Sophie make—were strewn about the hardwood floors.
The deep, familiar rumble of Eric's laughter caught her attention and she turned toward the reception desk. The mere sight of Eric, his thick, dark hair gleaming with dampness from the snow, made her pulse jump and her throat go dry with longing. He was smiling at a man and woman standing behind the reception desk, a couple Jessica judged to be in their sixties. They must be the owners, Helen and Roland Krause, she decided. The brochure had given a history of Timberline Lodge, how the historic building had been in the Krause family for generations. They reputedly treated their guests like family and were continuously working to further upgrade and improve the facilities. Dave had told them the place was a labor of love and based on what she'd seen so far, she agreed.
Mrs. Krause glanced toward her and offered a grin and a friendly wave, both of which Jessica returned. Eric shook both their hands, then walked toward her while the Krauses gave their attention to the young woman who was next in line to check in.
Jessica watched Eric striding toward her and everything female inside her came to immediate attention. With his parka unzipped, sturdy snow boots, his favorite Levi's that hugged his long legs, and a thick, cable-knit sweater that stretched across his wide chest and exactly matched his dark blue eyes, he looked rugged and masculine and absolutely delicious. That same whammo of attraction that had all but knocked her unconscious the first time she'd seen him almost a year ago slammed into her now—as it did every time she looked at him. She'd dated some very attractive men over the years, but Eric was the first one who could knock the breath from her lungs with a mere look.
A look like the one he was giving her right now.
The one that curved up a corner of his gorgeous mouth and resulted in a totally sexy lopsided grin that dented a shallow dimple in his cheek and made her knees feel like freshly kneaded bread dough. The one that made his eyes glitter with that wicked gleam and sizzling sensuality she loved.
Heat that had nothing to do with the roaring fire poured through her. Looking at him now, it was impossible to believe their relationship could ever teeter on the brink of imploding. Or that their sex life was suffering. How was it possible that for weeks she hadn't found a way to wade through the morass of stress and make love to this man who could make her nipples hard by just standing there? Surely with this time alone, away from everything and everyone that had been conspiring to pull them apart for the past four months, she'd be able to relax. And together they'd find a way to solve their problems. All they needed was a break. And here, at the Timberline Lodge, that's exactly what they'd have.
Thank God.
When he reached her, he didn't say a word—he just pulled her into his arms and kissed her. A deep, lush kiss that tasted of pent-up frustration and anticipation. One that revved her pulse and ended way too soon. After he lifted his head, his eyes were smoldering. "We're all set. Our cabin is just a short walk and overlooks the lake. You ready?"
"Absolutely." She lightly bumped her pelvis against his. "Are you ready?"
A half laugh, half groan escaped him. "God, yes. Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about it until I get you alone. But once I do—" he yanked her tighter against him, making it very obvious that he was indeed ready "—you're in big trouble."
Good Lord, she hoped so. She wrapped her arms around his neck and lifted up on her toes to brush her lips over his. "Oh, yeah? Watch it, big guy. Maybe you're the one who'll be in trouble."
"Sweetheart, I've been in trouble since the first moment I saw you."
"You make it sound like that's a bad thing."
He shook his head, framed her face between his large hands that still bore a hint of chill from outside and looked at her through suddenly serious eyes. "Best damn thing that ever happened to me."
Jessica's heart flipped over and she swallowed around the sudden tightness in her throat. He leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers. "Everything is going to be okay, Jess. I promise. Have I ever broken a promise to you?"
She shook her head and their noses bumped. "No."
"And I'm not going to start now. We'll work this out. All of it."
She leaned back and looked at him. There was no doubt he believed what he said, and that confidence, along with the love shining in his eyes, bolstered her belief that he was right. And here, in this cozy setting, where it was just the two of them, free from all the outside pressures that constantly bombarded them, the way it had been for those first six glorious months they were together, before they'd announced their engagement and all hell broke loose, all seemed right with the world.
"You are, without a doubt, the sweetest, kindest, most patient—not to mention the sexiest—man I've ever met."
"Can't tell you how glad I am to hear you say that," he murmured, punctuating each word with a nibbling kiss along her jaw. "Now about that 'sexiest' bit…I'm dying to give you a personal demonstration."
"Hmmm…a tempting offer, but my fiancé will be arriving any minute now and he might object."
"Damn. I might have guessed you were taken." He slipped his hands inside her coat and ran his palms down her back, leaving a trail of heat in his wake. "Your fiancé is one lucky guy. I hope he tells you that every day. Right after he tells you that you're the most beautiful, sexy woman on earth." He nuzzled her neck. "And that no one smells better than you. And that he loves you so much he can barely think straight most of the time." He lifted his head. "Does he tell you that every day? Because if he doesn't, I'll have to hurt him. Bad."
The wave of love that washed over her nearly drowned her. "He tells me."
"Good. Then he can live to see another day."
She shot him an exaggerated leer. "Now, about that personal demonstration you mentioned—"
Her words were cut off when he grabbed her hand and started across the lobby with such a brisk, long-legged stride, she had to jog to keep up. Laughing, they half ran, half skidded across the parking lot to Eric's SUV, which was already covered in snow. After retrieving their overnight bags, they held hands and headed down the tree-lined path leading toward their cabin. Snow fell in a white silent blanket, coating the roofs of the cottages dotting the trail. Smoke puffed toward the slate-gray sky from the chimneys, indicating the occupants were enjoying the intimate warmth of a fire. Their progress was slowed by catching snowflakes on their tongues and exchanging lip-warming kisses, each one lengthier and deeper than the one before, notching up their arousal. She hadn't felt this carefree since they'd announced their engagement, and she offered up a silent thank-you that they'd decided to take this weekend for themselves. Everything is going to be fine, her inner voice whispered.
By the time they reached the cabin, they were both breathless from their last tongue-dancing kiss and the stunning cold. Eric unlocked the door and they practically tumbled into the warmth. Before she could even glance around the room, her back was pressed against the door, Eric's lips were on hers and his clever hands were unfastening her coat. Clearly he was as anxious to make up for lost time as she was. Thank God. He hadn't even touched her yet and already she felt like a bomb on the verge of exploding. Every thought fled except getting all of him on all of her.
"Are you trying to melt my knees?" she asked against his yummy mouth.
"Absolutely. Is it working?"
"Absolutely."
Their heavy parkas hit the floor at the same time and Jessica's hands immediately plunged beneath Eric's sweater to run up his smooth back, just as his palms cupped her breasts. They both groaned.
"Damn, it's been so long," he muttered.
"Too long," she murmured, nipping kisses along his jaw.
"Thirty-two days, seventeen hours and nine minutes—not that I'm counting. How the hell did we let that happen?"
"I don't know. Clearly we're insane. Eric…I love that you're so warm."
"I love that you're so soft."
She rubbed herself against his erection. "I love that you're so hard."
He flicked open the button on her jeans and eased down the zipper. Slipping his hand beneath her lacy underwear, he stroked a long finger over her already swollen folds. A moan escaped her. "I love that you're so wet."
"All your…ah…fault."
"God, I've missed you, Jess."
"I've missed you, too…" Her words evaporated when he slipped two fingers inside her and slowly pumped, his tongue matching the lazy rhythm as he kissed her. An edgy pressure quickly grew inside her, one that demanded relief. This…this magic was the way it was supposed to be between them. The way it had been before their families had gotten involved. She reached out, intending to unzip his jeans and show him two could play at this game, but he changed his rhythm, quickening and deepening his strokes, touching her in exactly the way he knew would drive her over the edge. Her climax was roaring down on her, the sweet, hot pulses of pleasure just a heartbeat away when a knock sounded on the door, right next to where her head lolled, startling her. And chasing away her orgasm, leaving her panting and frustrated.
"Ignore it," Eric whispered.
Before she could reply, another knock sounded, then a muffled voice came through the door. "Eric, open up. It's me, Kelley."
They both froze.
Kelley? His sister? Here? She squeezed her eyes shut and swallowed the scream that threatened to strangle her.
Looking as angry and thwarted as she felt, Eric muttered a curse then slipped his hand from her.
Fighting to regain her composure, Jessica quickly zipped her jeans, scooped up their parkas and walked toward the closet, while Eric opened the door. "Kelley?" she heard him say in a stunned, tight voice. "What are you doing here? Is something wrong? Are Lara and Chloe okay?"
"They're fine," came Kelley's familiar, clipped voice. "What's wrong is that your wedding is only two months away, Eric. There are a thousand details we need to discuss."
Several long seconds of silence passed and Jessica, still clutching the parkas and standing like a statue near the closet, looked at Eric. She could almost see the waves of tension rolling off him. "We can talk about them when Jess and I return to Marble Falls on Tuesday," he said with a hint of impatience.
"We need to talk about them now."
Jessica pressed her lips together. Good God, could this get any worse?
She walked to the door, intending to greet Kelley and stand firm with Eric that anything that required discussion could take place on Tuesday, but the words died in her throat when she saw that, good God, things could most definitely get worse.
Striding up the snowy path toward the cabin were Jessica's mother and her brother, Marc, both of whom looked extremely displeased.
Yes, this could definitely get worse.
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