Baby it’s cold outside…but things are about to heat up.
I missed the last bus to my sister’s for Christmas, and now I'm stranded in a bus station—in the middle of a blizzard—with a giant package covered in naughty wrapping paper.
Then he shows up: Kalen Welles, the football star from my high school fantasies—and offers me a ride.
Just when the car is getting cozy, the roads get shut down due to snow.
Luckily there’s a nearby cabin where we can hole up for the night.
A warm fireplace, cozy blankets, pent-up longing we both spent years ignoring… maybe I’ll be able to unwrap Kalen's big package before Christmas morning.
But when the snow clears and the ice melts, will the former football star and the shy nerd finally get a happy ending?
Unwrap this sexy holiday story from Opal Carew!
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||1000 KB|
About the Author
Opal Carew is the author of Total Abandon, Pleasure Bound, Twin Fantasies and other erotic romance novels. “So why do I like writing erotic romance?” she asks. “I like being able to push beyond traditional boundaries.” Opal loves crystals, dragons, feathers, cats, pink hair, the occult and all that glitters. While she writes, she listens to inspirational music, lights candles and keeps crystals near. Before devoting herself to her passion as a writer, Opal spent 15 years as a software analyst, and she has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. She lives with her husband and two sons in Ontario, Canada.
Read an Excerpt
By Opal Carew
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Opal Carew
All rights reserved.
Holly stood beside Jim's van, snow falling around her in big fluffy flakes that clung to her hair and jacket as Jim plunked a large gift-wrapped box on the snow-covered ground.
She brushed the snow from her hair as she stared at the large present wrapped in garish paper with elves doing ... well, embarrassing things together. Leave it to Jim to buy his Christmas wrap at the same store where he bought his porn. Of course, he probably intended it to embarrass her. He liked to do things like that.
But yesterday, he surprised her.
After she broke up with him last week, he'd been angry and a bit verbally abusive, but last night he'd called her up and offered to give her a ride to the bus station. She was going to visit her sister and brother-in-law for the holidays.
Her first reaction had been to turn him down, but she didn't want to be ungracious. If he wanted to get past the bitterness between them, she was willing to give it a try.
He'd been standoffish on the snowy drive to the station, but as soon as they got there, he surprised her again by presenting her with this big gift.
Despite the erotic elf wrap, it was a nice gesture.
"Jim, I appreciate the gift, but I can't really take it on the bus with me. Do you think you could hold onto it for me and I'll pick it up after I get back?"
"No way." His face took on that smug expression she hated so much. "You can do what you want with it, but I'm not taking it back."
He walked to the driver's door of his van. "And in case you're thinking of just ditching it, I want you to know that your locket is inside, along with some other stuff. The one you left at my place and have been bugging me to give back to you."
The locket had belonged to her grandmother — Holly's namesake — who had been born on Christmas Day. The locket was a gift from her father — Holly's great-grandfather — on her sixteenth birthday, and she had bequeathed it to Holly. It represented four generations of memories and Holly would always cherish it.
Now she realized this wasn't a gift Jim was giving her in the spirit of friendship. He was doing this to make her life difficult. He'd picked her up late and now it was five minutes to departure, so she had no time to find an alternative to dragging it on the bus with her. And with her locket inside, there was no way she'd leave it behind.
He drove off and she stood there staring at the gift. It was about three feet by two feet and about a foot thick, now covered with a light smattering of snow. She tested how heavy it was by lifting a corner. It wasn't too bad.
She picked it up and propped it on her suitcase, then tipped the suitcase so the gift leaned against the handle. It was awkward, but she was able to negotiate her load along the snowy pavement and get it inside the station with the help of a woman who held the door open for her.
Holly brushed the snow off herself and the package, then hurried through the terminal and out onto the platform. The last of the passengers were climbing aboard her bus.
The driver, who was placing passengers' baggage in the luggage compartment beneath the bus, turned around. He eyed the box sitting atop her suitcase.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, that gift is going to be a problem. You can't take something that big on the bus with you unless you were to buy an extra seat. But we're full up."
"Can't you just put it in with the luggage?" she suggested.
In fact, that's what she'd prefer because the erotic gift wrap was getting a few stares from other passengers. She'd be much happier with the gift out of sight.
"Only one bag allowed. But even if I was willing to make an exception, we don't put fragile packages in with the luggage."
"It's not fragile." She didn't know what Jim had decided to wrap up in this box for her, but she didn't care if it got broken. She only cared about her necklace.
"Then why is there a big label right there saying it is?"
She glanced at the side of the box nearest the driver and saw a big white sticker with the word FRAGILE written across it in red.
Of course. Jim did not want to make her life easy.
"Okay, then I'll just leave it behind. I just need a minute to open it and pull one small thing out of the box."
He shook his head. "I'm sorry, you can't just leave it here. And I don't have time to wait for you to reorganize things." He closed the luggage compartment door and stepped to the door of the bus.
"You're not really going to leave me stranded, are you?" she asked as he went up the steps to the driver's seat.
"No choice, lady. I have people here with connections to make."
In horror, Holly watched as he closed the door, then the bus pulled away.
Kalen hugged Jennie tightly. She squeezed him, then stepped back.
"I'm going to miss you," she said, getting tearful. "It'll be so strange not spending Christmas with you and Mom and Dad."
Kalen felt the same way. But that's what this past week had been all about. The four of them spending an early family Christmas together.
"You know how much Mom and Dad are going to enjoy themselves on the Christmas cruise with the Watsons."
Jenny smiled. "I know. And I'm happy they're going."
He smiled. "And Don must be happy you'll be spending Christmas Day with his family for a change."
"He is. It's just ..." Her eyes glittered and she threw her arms around him again. "I'll just miss being with my big brother. You know?"
"I know. But don't worry, we'll talk over the holidays. Okay?"
She nodded, wiping away an errant tear. "Sure."
"Now get going before the bus driver decides to leave without you."
The driver had already stowed her luggage. She turned and got on the bus, giving Kalen one more glance over her shoulder before she disappeared down the aisle. A moment later, she waved to him from one of the windows in the bus.
Kalen watched as the bus with his little sister drove away. She was going back to her home with her husband in Tampa, Florida. It was too bad Don hadn't been able to get the time off work to come for their family gathering. Kalen liked Don, especially knowing how happy he made his sister.
Kalen turned and walked along the platform, past other buses, on his way to the terminal. As he walked, he couldn't help noticing a woman sitting on a bench with a large wrapped gift beside her. And there was something about the bright gift wrap. There were elves with wicked grins frolicking across the paper and they were ... A smile stole across his face. The little creatures were fucking. And not just missionary style, but doggy style, and various pretzel-like positions that probably wouldn't be possible in real life. There were also threesomes and more-somes going on.
"I didn't choose the paper. It's a practical joke by ... a friend," the young woman said morosely.
Up until now, his attention had been on the gift, but now it shifted to the woman.
She was beautiful. Her long dark hair cascaded past her shoulders, and her deep brown eyes, fringed by long lashes, were large and soulful. Her lips, full and dark red, looked wonderfully kissable.
"A boyfriend?" he asked, hoping she would say no.
"Ex. He got it to embarrass me."
He sat on the bench beside her. "Well, from the flush on your cheeks, it seems mission accomplished."
"Yeah, not only that, it caused me to miss my bus."
He raised an eyebrow. "Because the driver was incensed by nympho elves?"
She laughed and something about that laugh was familiar.
"No, it was just too big and ..." She sighed. "It's a long story."
"So where are you headed? Is there another bus soon?"
He didn't have to rush back home. In fact, with the snowstorm getting worse, he was thinking of staying in town tonight and spending the night at his parents' place. Maybe he could talk her into joining him for dinner.
"I'm going to Ottawa and this was the last one today." She frowned. "I'm going to miss Christmas morning with my sister. She's going to be so disappointed."
"Ottawa? That's where I'm headed. I just dropped my sister off to catch a bus to Tampa and I'm driving back to Ottawa now. I could give you a ride."
Her eyes lit up and she sat up straighter. "Really? I don't believe it. That would be wonderful."
He patted the box. "I even have room for your big package."
Her eyes glittered. "Shouldn't I be saying that?" she asked. She covered her mouth, her eyes widening and her cheeks turning bright red. "Oh, God. I can't believe I said that. My mouth gets away from me sometimes."
He laughed and suddenly realized that her gaze had settled squarely on his crotch. When she realized where she was looking, her gaze darted away again, her cheeks turning even redder.
"Well, between your mouth and the big package, the trip promises to be fun," he said.
At the wicked grin on his face, her cheeks flushed a deeper red.
"Look, really. I'm not coming on to you. I just ... it was a silly joke. Nerves overcoming my stupidity censor."
He smiled warmly. "Don't worry about it. I don't think you're coming on to me." Actually, he did. But from her blazing cheeks, he realized this was out of character for her.
He held out his hand. "My name is Kalen Welles."
She shook it. "I'm Holly Benson." She tipped her head. "I assume you don't remember me, but we went to high school together. I mean, not that that's a surprise." There was only one high school in River Rapids. "We knew each other. Sort of."
He stared more closely at her face. "Were you one of the cheerleaders?" He'd been on the football team and knew most of the cheerleaders — even dated a few — but he didn't remember her.
She practically snorted. "No. I definitely wasn't a cheerleader. I was a little too ... heavy. I've lost a lot of weight since school. You and I were in a few classes together. Sometimes you'd say hi."
"I remember. You used to sit in front of me in calculus. And physics, too."
He'd always thought she was very pretty, but she'd been so shy around him. He used to say hi, hoping to start a conversation, but she'd just answer quietly, then drop her gaze and hurry away.
"Well, this will give us a chance to catch up."
He stood and picked up the gift. It wasn't very heavy, so he tucked it under one arm and took the handle of her suitcase.
She stood up. "Um, I can take the bag."
"Don't worry about it." He walked toward the terminal door, Holly by his side.
"I remember that after graduation, you went to college in Ottawa," she said. "So you live there now?"
A number of people from River Rapids, which was just south of the Canadian border, had gone to college in Ottawa, Canada. The city was in a different country, but it was only an hour and a half away by car and it was a beautiful place. There were two universities there. And it was a bit exotic since it was on the border of Quebec, which was mostly French-speaking. Hull, Quebec was five minutes from downtown Ottawa, across a bridge. And the fact that the drinking age was only nineteen in Ottawa and eighteen in Quebec attracted a lot of River Rapids's students.
Kalen hadn't gone for the drinking. The Internet Security program at Carleton University had attracted him. When he graduated, he accepted a job with the federal government, and was now head of cyber security for a major department.
"Yes, I was offered a job straight out of school. Turned out to be my dream job, so I've been there ever since."
He opened the door to the terminal and gestured for her to step inside ahead of him. She wore jeans and a short jacket, and the sway of her hips as she walked ahead of him sent heat thrumming through him.
It was noisy in the terminal, so they barely spoke as he guided her to the parking lot exit. Soon they approached his car. He unlocked it, opened the passenger door, and she got in. He opened the back passenger door and placed the large gift on the seat, not wanting to cram it into the trunk with the suitcases and bag of gifts his family had sent back with him.
The snow was heavier than when he'd arrived at the bus station with Jennie. It was going to be a slow drive, which he didn't mind at all now that he had such delightful company.
He opened the trunk and placed Holly's suitcase on top of his. Next, he walked to the driver's door and got in, then turned on the car so it would warm up. He grabbed the brush from the backseat and got out and cleared away the accumulated snow off the car. He had to use the scraper on the other end of the brush to clear ice off the windshield.
He stomped the excess snow off his boots and got into the car again. He put the car in reverse and pulled out of the parking space and soon they were on the highway. The border crossing was about twenty minutes away.
"So you said you're going to Ottawa to visit your sister for the holidays?"
She nodded. "June went to college in Ottawa, too, and met her husband there. She's lived there for about eight years now."
"You still live in River Rapids? What do you do there?"
He increased the speed of the windshield wipers to keep up with the snow.
"I work at a flower shop. Pretty Plants on Main."
"I take it your family still lives there. Other than your sister?"
He saw the light in her eyes fade. "My parents died in an accident several years ago. I inherited the house and I live there alone."
"I'm sorry to hear about your parents."
"My sister, June, she wanted me to move closer to her after that." She shrugged. "But River Rapids is my home. And I love the house. It has so many happy memories."
"It can be hard to leave, but you should do what makes you happy. Whether it's staying or going. I'm happy where I am, though my sister Jennie insists that going south, away from the snow, is a better idea." He glanced through the thick snowfall at the white road ahead. "Sometimes I think I should have listened to her."
She peered out the windshield. "It is getting bad."
"No worries. This car will get through pretty much anything."
The exit for the border crossing was ahead and he took the turn.
"Do you have your passport handy?" he asked
She opened her purse and pulled it out. "Right here." She set it on the console on top of his.
The sound of the tires as they drove over the long metal bridge was loud and grating, but soon they were on smooth pavement on the Canadian side. He pulled into the second of four lanes, behind the shortest lineup of cars.
The line moved pretty steadily. The border guards seemed to be waving most people through. The car in front of them moved ahead to the kiosk while they waited their turn. The guard talked to the driver for a couple of seconds, checked the passports, then handed them back and the driver pulled away.
The light turned green, indicating Kalen could proceed. He pulled up to the kiosk.
"Citizenship?" the uniformed woman asked as Kalen handed her the two passports.
"I'm a Canadian/U.S. citizen and she's a U.S. citizen."
"Where are you traveling to?"
"We're going to Ottawa," he answered.
"How do you know each other?"
"We're both from River Rapids. I'm giving Holly a ride to visit family in Ottawa."
The guard peered across at Holly. "How long are you staying in Ottawa, miss?"
"I'll be there for ten days," she answered.
The guard peered in the backseat. "What's in the big box?"
Holly's eyes widened. Oh, God. This was not good.
"I ... don't know. It's a gift someone gave me."
"You have no idea what's in it?" The guard's businesslike expression grew stern.
Her heart sank as the guard told them to pull off to the side so someone could check it out.
Kalen drove forward, then turned off into one of the bays they had for examining cars. After a few minutes, a guard came out to greet them.
"Both of you step out of the car," the guard said. He was big and steely-eyed, and the sidearm he wore made Holly nervous. "Sit on the bench."
There was a bench a few feet from the car.
"Is the package heavy?" he asked.
"No, not really," she answered as she sat beside Kalen.
The guard lifted it out of the car and set it on a table off to the side.
"Ma'am, I need this opened. If you'd like to do it to preserve the gift wrap...."
She shook her head. "I don't care about the wrap. You can just rip it off."
"Please just come and open the package, ma'am."
She gazed at Kalen as she stood up, then approached the table. She tore at the embarrassing gift wrap and peeled it away. Then she ripped the clear packing tape holding the top flaps together.
Excerpted from Big Package by Opal Carew. Copyright © 2016 Opal Carew. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s pretty clear from the cover of this story, that you’ll be in for a fun, erotic holiday treat in this latest novella from Opal Carew. It’s my first story by her and won’t be my last, as I quite enjoyed this cheeky lighthearted and very sexy second chance romance! An unwelcome gift from a recent ex-boyfriend has left Holly stranded at the bus depot in River Rapids, a small town just south of the Canadian border. She’s supposed to be heading to Ottawa to spend Christmas with her sister, so when former high school acquaintance Kelan happens to be there seeing a family member off and heading to Ottawa himself, he’s happy to offer her a ride. Their plans get derailed by a big snowstorm however, forcing them to take shelter at a cabin Holly’s sister owns that is midway between Ottawa and River Rapids, a convenient midway point for them to meet for holidays. Resigned to spending the night with the man who once was her high school crush, Holly is shyly pleased to discover that the feelings at that time were mutual and that Kelan had been interested in her too. With the help of the contents of the Christmas package gag gift from her ex, Holly and Kelan make the most of their time together. But will their holiday tryst lead to something more once they are back in the real world? If you’re thinking that the title of the story and the cover are leading towards a ‘package’ of large proportions, you are right! Kelan’s member is well, big, to be blunt, which has resulted in more trouble than you’d expect - great for a porn star maybe, but not for an average guy. Women tend to hear about his generous size, but then back off when they see the real thing, resulting in a depressing lack of real relationships. Being big isn’t all its cracked up to be. While Kelan’s high school football career (and his reputation for being well endowed) made him one of the more popular kids in school, Holly faced the opposite as an overweight and shy young woman. Kelan had seen past her physical attributes at the time, but Holly was too self conscious to respond to his overtures of friendship then, and nothing ever came of it. Now though, stuck together on their way to Ottawa, the truth comes out and with it the chance to explore the attraction. The ‘gifts’ from Holly’s ex, designed to be more embarrassing than anything else at a customs search, come in handy for this couple as they explore their sexual fantasies together. Once they finally reach Ottawa though, they both admit to wanting to see more of each other. The sticking point is the reality of their living situation – with Kelan living in Canada and Holly in the U.S., a 2 hour drive to see each other might be a deal breaker. Thankfully these two find a compromise that enable them to make their insta-love relationship doable. There are some brief bits of relationship drama that are thankfully short lived since the whole story takes place over only a few days. It’s heavy on the sex, a bit eye-rolling at times with the descriptions of Kelan's attributes but also contains some sweet scenes and some humorous bits too. All told, an erotic Christmas treat! 4 stars.
Kalen was the high school football player that was popular. Holly was the shy, slightly overweight girl in high school that had a crush on Kalen. Years later, they both run into each other at the bus station. Due to circumstances, Holly now needs a ride to her sisters house and Kalen is more than happy to help her out. There's a snow storm and these two get stuck overnight at a cabin. Now I have to say, I did really like this couple. The beginning of the book was great! I'm totally invested in these two, but then they decide to act on their attraction while being stranded at the cabin and this is when the story just got really silly for me. I'm going to try and keep this PG. You see, Kalen has a problem. He's known for having quite the big package. Poor Kalen has women flocking to him wanting to experience the ride he can give them only to have most of the woman back away before the deed is done. Apparently ladies, it can be too big. But don't worry, Holly is up to the challenge. Now, this would have been a really cute Christmas novella if we didn't have to focus so much on Kalens big package. To me, that just made the whole story silly. It was probably what the author was aiming for so if you go in with that mindset, you'll enjoy this. I personally would have loved this story if the "big package" was a bit more believable. ARC provided by NetGalley.
This was just downright sexy and hilarious, in all the most perfect ways. It starts with a bang - with a "big package" that is dropped off by the ex-boyfriend. This package is just the best thing ever - in all the wrong ways. I was cracking up every time it was brought back into the story. Full of great opportunities for our characters to re-connect, a snowstorm and a cabin are the perfect place to get it (and I mean all of it) done. There's some fun toys and lots of great one-liners. But in the end, it's still a really great romance. Just enough comflict to make it a worthwhile read, but lots of hot smexiness to make it all better. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
I voluntarily reviewed this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.This book is such a sweet and sexy novella you can read curled up under a blanket.I have read Miss Carew's other books,but this one was a definitely little different.I think I enjoyed this book a little more.I definitely recommend this book to my friends.I loved the characters.