Harlequin NCP #8 by Anne Stuart\Day Leclaire released on Sep 24, 2002 is available now for purchase.
About the Author
Anne Stuart (b. 1948) is an American romance novelist who has written more than 100 books and is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award, among other honors. Her first book was Barrett's Hill,a gothic romance published in 1974 when she had just turned 25. In addition to numerous stand-alone novels, she is the author of the series House of Rohan, Ice, and others. A native of Philadelphia, Stuart lives with her husband in Vermont.
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By Anne Stuart Day Leclaire
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Winter Solstice Watson Hole, Wyoming
"All right, what are we going to do now?" Megan McGraw demanded, staring out over the frosty, moonlit scene in front of them.
Nadja Commorski blinked owlishly through her oversize glasses. "What do you mean?"
Meggie shrugged. "We've eaten too much pizza and ice cream, drunk too much wine, cried over that stupid movie, lusted over Brandon Scott, and it's still not even midnight. I thought we were going to celebrate our latest disaster. All we've done is make ourselves sick."
"Maybe Roebuck will change his mind?" Nadja suggested, in her soft, timid voice.
"I doubt it. My natural-foods restaurant and your new-age store don't bring in the kind of money he'd make if he bulldozed our building and put up condos. Which is exactly what he'll do, as soon as we depart."
"He can't make us leave."
"Sure he can," Meggie said bitterly. "We had a gentleman's agreement with him, not a lease. Unfortunately, none of us are gentlemen. Which leaves us up an icy creek without a paddle. And at the advanced age of thirty-two, I'm getting tired of wandering around. It's time I settled down."
"I thought you had."
Meggie glanced fondly at her young friend. "My biological clock is ticking, Nadja. Iwant a baby. I want a docile, nonthreatening, handsome husband to pay the bills and keep me in style. Is that so much to expect from life?"
"Not for most people," Nadja said. "I wouldn't have thought you'd settle for something so tame."
"I can do tame," Meggie said in a meditative voice. "So what have you got in your bag of tricks?"
Nadja looked faintly guilty. She was almost ten years younger than Meggie, with a skinny, sparrow-like body, a small, pointy face, frizzy hair, and an air of gentle anxiety. "What makes you think -?"
"Come on, Nadja, we've been sharing business quarters for a year and a half now, struggling together. I know that somewhere among your crystals and potions you have a magic spell or two. You've already told me that tonight's the night of the winter solstice, a night when magic happens. Let's make some magic."
"Meggie, I sell these things, I don't use them. At least, not most of them," she added, endearingly honest.
"You must have something to summon forth a man. A love potion?"
"There are dozens of them in the shop," Nadja said wryly. "They're my biggest sellers, though they've never worked for me. Besides, you've kept away from romantic entanglements for as long as I've known you. Who did you want to summon?"
It was a cold, frosty night in the tiny ski town of Watson Hole. The town was decorated for the Christmas season, and each shop had lights, ice sculptures, wreaths and trees galore. Even Nadja's and Meggie's. Meggie sauntered across the snow-packed street to the corner of the alleyway, where a huge, somewhat disreputable-looking snowman she'd helped build early that afternoon sat. He was suitably rotund, but there was something about the composition of his coal eyes and his carrot nose that suggested a certain cynicism. "How about we find a magic hat and turn old Frosty into the perfect mate?" she suggested, slinging her arms around his icy middle.
It took her a moment to realize that Nadja hadn't responded. She turned, one arm still around the snowman, to see her friend's speculative expression.
"There is an incantation," Nadja said slowly.
Meggie pulled away. "I'm kidding, Nadja. He'd melt in bed."
"No, I mean he could be used as an oversize poppet. Something to transfer energy. It wouldn't do any harm to try."
"What are you talking about?"
"We can use Frosty to summon your true love. If you've got something belonging to him."
"Nadja, I don't have a true love. Maybe Brandon Scott, if he weren't five years younger than I am, and much too pretty ..." she added with a laugh.
"I don't think you really want to marry a movie star, Meggie," Nadja said disapprovingly.
"Probably not. Still, he is awfully nice to look at. And there are plenty of pictures in that old People magazine you have under the counter. Where they call him the sexiest man in the world. Let's use that."
"I don't want to rip up my magazine," Nadja protested. Her face screwed up as she thought about it. "Oh, what the hell ... it won't do any harm to try."
"That's the spirit," Meggie said. "Shouldn't we do it by midnight? That only gives us fifteen minutes."
Nadja sighed. "You get the picture, I'll get the stuff. Just promise me you'll invite me to Hollywood and introduce me to Tom Cruise."
"Well, find someone who isn't," Nadja said. "Or I'll take Brandon, if you get tired of him."
"Who could get tired of someone who looked like him?" Meggie said soulfully.
It took them less than ten minutes to get what they needed. They searched through Nadja's new-age shop, giggling like naughty children, and when they were finished, Nadja was loaded down with candles, herbs and unguents and Meggie had a photograph torn from a magazine. "I didn't have to defile your People magazine," she assured Nadja. "I found a picture of him in an article about the Oscars."
"Pin it to his chest," Nadja said, lighting a dark blue candle. The flame shivered in the cold night air, but, fortunately, there was no wind.
Meggie did as she was told, vaguely hoping that the police wouldn't choose this moment to patrol the narrow Swiss-style streets for mischief-makers. Not that they'd be arrested - they'd lived in Watson Hole long enough to be known. But Meggie didn't relish the thought of explaining exactly what fool thing they were doing.
"Okay," Nadja said, setting the candles in the snow at various points around the rotund snowman. "Now step inside the pentagram and put your arms around Frosty."
"Brandon," Meggie told her, doing as she was told. "He's cold, Nadja. Maybe you better hurry this up."
"Hey, I'm not experienced at this sort of thing. If you'd thought of it earlier, we could have called one of my customers ..."
"I have some dignity," Meggie said, resting her head against Frosty's. The packed snow was icy beneath her cheek, and the chill soaked through her clothes. "Go ahead."
Nadja sighed. "Close your eyes and kiss him," she said, lighting a tiny pile of leaves that smelled like sausage. "I'll take care of the rest."
Meggie closed her eyes. Frosty was too fat for her to reach all the way around, and the chill of his packed form, instead of numbing her, felt oddly burning. She pressed her lips against the icy face, and for a strange moment it felt as if she were kissing real lips. A man's mouth, firm and hard. She tried to summon forth the celluloid features of the world's sexiest man, with his mane of streaked blond hair, his pouting lips, his gloriously sorrowful eyes. But someone else kept interfering, a shadowy figure, dark and disrupting. "It's done," Nadja said abruptly. Meggie opened her eyes and released her grip on Frosty. She glanced up at him speculatively, but he didn't move. "I don't think it worked, Naddie," she said doubtfully. "He hasn't turned into a movie star."
"These things take time," Nadja said reprovingly. "You can't expect instant results."
Excerpted from Kissing Frosty by Anne Stuart Day Leclaire Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kissing Frosty was a cute story with interesting characters, although it couldn't compare to The Boss, the Baby and the Bride. Day Leclaire's story was fantastic, as usual. I loved Reed and Angie and the younger brother Joel. This author's got a great wit, as evident when Angie returns to the restaurant where she once worked. The story was so entertaining I was able to overlook the awful title.