'Tis the season to be daring!
This Christmas Olivia Wishart is determined to throw off the shackles of her past and have fun. And nothing says fun like a glamorous Christmas party! So, wearing a brand-new red dress and some seriously high stilettos, nervously clutching a glass of champagne, she's finally ready to start living life to the max .
Olivia had thought that pre-party nerves would be the only thing to get her heart racing until a view even more spectacular than the glow of Sydney Harbor catches her eye. The drop-dead-gorgeous man with the steely black eyes is everything Olivia has ever wantedand this Christmas she's not going to wait meekly under the mistletoe!
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Olivia Wishart slicked ruby gloss on her lips, then checked her strapless cocktail dress in the mirror and frowned. 'Red lips, red dress, red hair.' She reached for her standby little black dress. 'I don't care if everyone's decked to the halls in Christmas finery, it's'
'Lovely, but not for tonight.' Her best friend, Bre-anna Black, whipped the garment from her hand. 'And not another wordyou look sensational.' She eyed the cleavage on display and nodded. 'Wise choicemen will look.'
'So long as they listen.' Olivia wasn't a fancy dress fan but the opportunity to talk up her charity to her fellow competitors in this year's Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was too good to pass up. And a little flesh never failed to get attention.
'Try to remember, it is Christmas.' Brie shimmied into a short mulberry all-in-one playsuit with a fur-trim neckline then tossed Olivia a white feather boa. 'Here. It'll put you in the mood.'
Olivia's lips twitched as she slung the silky feathers around her neck. 'I assume you're referring to the festive mood.'
'That'd be a start,' Brie suggested, brightly.
Raising the Pink Snowflake Foundation's profile was the reason for Olivia's entry into the race. Being invited by yachting royalty to celebrate the festive season at the mega-million-dollar mansion overlooking Sydney Harbour was a bonus, but anything else well, it wasn't going to happen.
Brie unravelled a luscious strand of silver tinsel. 'You're sure you don't mind if Jett shares our suite?' she asked for the umpteenth time.
'This mysterious brother you've managed to keep out of the way for How long's it been?' Stepping into red stiletto sandals, Olivia reassured her, 'I told you I don't mind. I'm interested to meet him actually.'
Brie paused in her task of twisting the tinsel into her hair. 'Half-brother. And it's a slow, fraught process. Jett's a hard guy to get to know. I'm not sure he even likes me.'
Olivia smiled. 'What's not to like? And he accepted your invitation, didn't he?'
'Only because his initial plans fell through.'
'You don't know that for sure.' But Olivia was pretty sure she did. Classic irresponsible, egocentric male behaviour. Yes, she was absolutely interested to meet him, even if it was only to make certain he knew how much he meant to Brie.
Sighing, Brie flipped her reef of long black hair over her shoulder. 'It makes me feel bad that I'm going away for New Year's Eve now, but he told me not to alter my plans on his account.'
'And why should you? If you're right about his plans, he's the one who changed his mind and decided to come at the last minute.'
It was obvious Brie cared but apparently the lost sibling she'd spent three years looking for didn't give a toss. Even though they were as close as sisters, Olivia had decided it was a sensitive issue and none of her business unless Brie opened up to her. 'When's his flight due in?'
'Any time. I'll let the front desk know to expect him before I leave' Brie's mobile buzzed and she checked caller ID. 'That's him now. Hi, Jett '
Olivia saw her friend's smile fade, and the temptation to snatch the phone and give him a piece of her mind was overwhelming. She had to turn away. None of your business, remember.
'Oh Uh-huh. Okay. You've got the party's address? I'll meet you there. Text me when you're here,' Olivia heard her say before she disconnected. 'His flight's been delayed. Christmas rush; he hasn't even left Melbourne yet.' She flicked through the contacts on her phone, her smile returning. 'Which gives me a spare couple of hours to meet the Horizon Three's sexy skipper for a drink downstairs at the bar after all.'
'Good for you,' Olivia enthused, reserving judgement on Jettfor now. She slipped a wad of business cards into her evening purse, handing one to Brie. 'Give him this and highlight our cause. And just remember, sexy skipper or not, he's the enemy come Boxing Day.'
Brie nodded, mobile attached to her ear, obviously waiting for Mr Sexy Skipper to pick up. 'Don't get smashed or pick up any strange men before I get there.'
As if. Olivia preferred to wake up with a clear head and no regrets. Brie, not so much. Differences aside, they made a good team, trusted and looked out for each other. She flipped the end of the boa over her shoulder. 'I promise not to get smashed.'
'Hey, it's a party for yachties, there'll be men. And I don't care if they're strange so long as they're rich and I can persuade them to part with large sums of money. It's Christmas Eve and I'm hopeful.'
'Good luck, then, and be careful, okay? Hi, Liam ' Brie's voice instantly switched to smooth sensuality.
'Back at you,' Olivia murmured as she slipped out of their suite and headed downstairs to summon the driver they'd organised exclusively for the entire evening.
As the chauffeured vehicle made its way across the bridge, Olivia's thoughts weren't so much on the harbour's glittering light show, but on the session she'd attended as a mandatory part of the genetics testing she'd undergone last week.
Her counsellor had said it could take weeks before she had the results. A chill ran deep through her bones. She'd never have taken the test if her mother hadn't made her promise to have it before her twenty-sixth birthdaythe age her maternal grandmother had been when she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer.
So she'd done it. Two months late, but she'd done it. Fulfilled her mother's death-bed request. She'd been so busy, it had been easy to push aside her own needsor as Brie had said, to bury her head in the sandbut now it was real and she could no longer deny the probability that she'd inherited the same mutant gene.
She wrapped her boa tighter around her shoulders. At least the result, whatever the verdict, would bring relief from the uncertainty she'd lived with as long as she could remember. And she'd deal with it in her own wayshe had control of that at least.
Until then she refused to think about it. It was Christmas, she had a yacht race to win, a charity to run.
A life to live.
He was late but Jett Davies skirted the massive gold Christmas tree dominating the black marble foyer as he made his way up yet another sweeping staircase. The third level was an outdoor entertainment area and he caught a waft of briny harbour and freshly mown grass. Winking party lights cast a muted kaleidoscopic blush over the elite guests wearing anything and everything from a token nod to the festive season to the full Christmas get-up.
The guest list included the Who's Who of the yachting world from all over the globe, along with their glammed-up wives, lovers and/or mistresses. Seemed anyone with money to throw at Australia's prestigious Sydney to Hobart, one of the world's top and most difficult off-shore yacht races, was partaking of the evening's merrymaking.
A force-field of inquisitive eyes found him as he took a beer from a circulating waiter's tray. Eyes dead ahead, he cut straight to an antique spiral staircase he'd spotted in the corner. He hoped its steep and winding steps would discourage stiletto-heeled females from venturing up. He wasn't looking for an available woman. He was looking for his sister. Or had been until she'd texted him ten minutes ago to say she'd been caught up. Car problems, she'd told himshe'd let him know when she was on her way.
The stairs opened up onto a small viewing platform above the main outdoor entertainment area. Desertedthe way he liked it. Leaning on the rail, he watched the ferries track across the twinkling harbour.
Car problems. Breanna. He didn't know her well but he knew her well enoughthere was no car and a man was definitely involved. He chugged back on his beer. Perhaps they had more in common than he'd thought.
The band below fired off a set of rocking Christmas tunes and his head throbbed. He didn't do the festive seasonall that Kris Kringle nonsense, mistletoe madness and nostalgia.
So why had he agreed with Breanna's suggestion to meet her here instead of the hotel bar? Or them as it happened, because Breanna was sharing the suite with a girlfriend. Which had him wondering about the wearer of the strawberry lace panties and matching D-cups hanging over the shower rosette in the second bathroom.
Don't even think about it. He shook trouble away, checked the time. Ten more minutes, Breanna, and I'm gone.
Guests were starting to leave when Olivia finally found a moment alone and a semi-secluded spot to sit. She sucked on the straw of her Christmas Jones cocktailher first alcoholic beverage for the eveningand leaned towards the balcony watching the incandescent candles amongst the garden shrubbery.
Hurry up, Brie.
She'd networked all evening to promote Snowflake and was delighted with the responses and promises for donations. But she and her crew had just come off five days' intensive training on the harbour, her feet were killing her and she was ready for some shut-eye.
Except Brie wasn't answering her phonebut she'd texted a winky face.
Did that mean she'd forgotten their arrangement to be there for each other at the end of the evening or what? Pushing up from her plastic party chair, she considered texting a response to say she was leaving but they'd made a promise to watch out for each other years ago and that had never changed.
Then, as if fate stepped in, her eyes snagged on the lower half of a man descending a pretty spiral staircase that she'd not noticed earlier. Even if men weren't a priority for Olivia, a little blip of pleasure registered on her radar. Black trousers covered legs that went all the way upand upthe fabric lovingly clasped around muscled thighs, a firm, rounded, superhero-in-tights butt. Nice. A girl deserved a little lust blip every now and then and this blip was brightening by the second.
He reached the bottom step and the full-frontal, full impact hit with a wow. It was as if a flashbulb went off and Olivia blinked. There he was. A fully formed, three-dimensional, reach-out-with-both-hands-and-touch example of prime masculinity.
The stranger she'd not promised Brie she'd stay away from.
A mouth-watering stranger with bronzed olive skin that tempted any woman with a pulse to lick her way across that shadowed chin and linger awhile at the perfectly sculpted mouth.
His gaze met hers as if she'd summoned him to look her way. And he didn't look pleased about that. His eyebrows lowered, his mouth firmed and a muscle clenched in his jaw.
He looked kind of familiar but she'd totally have remembered a guy like him. She'd revelled in that initial instant of feminine power but now somehow he'd reversed the situation and that cool control she could always count on, and was so proud of, was disappearing like ice on a barbecue grill.
Steely black eyes with the power to tempt. To persuade. A shiver rippled down her spine. The power to take her will and flex it between his long slender fingers like so much overcooked spaghetti.
And Olivia felt hot, as she did when standing on the steaming deck of her yacht on a midsummer's day in Barbados. In the eye of a tropical storm even, because her usually strong sea legs were wobbly.
She was still looking at him and he was still looking at her and she swore she saw him mouth, 'Trouble'.
Oh yeah, absolutely. Double trouble in flashing neon lights. She'd never met a man who'd affected her this waythis hot, itchy, melty way. Not that they'd met Had they?
Her pulse took off and her heart raced to catch up. He'd moved so subtly she hadn't noticed that he stood between her and the only route to the lower levels via the marble staircase. Intentional or notshe couldn't be sure and the anticipation hummed through her body like a build-up of static electricity.
Fight or flight? In yachting there was only one option. Unexpected and dangerous situations were dealt with in a calm, rational manner. Dealing with men was no different. Whatever happened, she would not run away.
With feigned indifference, she tossed her bedraggled twist of feathers over one shoulder, a silky strand catching on her lip as she drew in a wheezy breath to say, 'Hi.'
Jett knew it was time to leave when Trouble with the most eye-catching, reddest hair he'd ever seen spoke to him in that husky, breathless voice. But he couldn't tear his eyes away from the feather stuck to her pouty lower lip as she made little puh-puh noises to try and blow it off. He had the weirdest image of her blowing those little noises on his belly while her fingernails raked over his nipples and her hands swirled over his chest, his hips. Lower.
Just say hi back and walk away. Fast. But his feet obeyed only that rapidly hardening part of his anatomy, and before he knew it he'd crossed the space between them, reached out and plucked the feather from what was a very pretty mouth. He felt a sensation of warm static before he snatched his fingers back.
'Thanks.' Eyes the colour of his signature Blue Mint Lagoon cocktail sparkled.
He curled tingling fingers into a fist. Another damn. Trouble with a sense of humour.
He saw something behind the fun and she looked away quickly, as if she hadn't meant to share. Her gaze flicked upwards and behind him. 'Anything interesting up there?'
There could beif you want. 'Nope.'
'There has to be something, or why the staircase?'
He shrugged at her logic, stuck his hands in his trouser pockets. 'Just a couple of telescopes.'
'Really? I love stargazing.'
Even in the dimness he could see the fairy lines fanning out from the corners of her eyes and a splash of freckles over her nose. She enjoyed the outdoors whereas he rarely had the time for such indulgence. No doubt another spoiled socialite with plenty of time to waste. 'Too much light pollution in the city,' he told her, rocking back on his heels. 'I'd say they're for watching the harbour.'
'Oh, yes, why didn't I think of that?'
She walked to the bottom of the spiral stairs and peered up, one slender hand on the rail. Sun-kissed skin. Neat unvarnished nails. A nice flash of abundant cleavage. Man, he had to stop staring like some pre-pubescent teenager
'Did you sneak a peek?'
'What?' His guilty gaze shot somewhere over her shoulder, then he realised she was talking about telescopes. 'Ah no.'
She cast him an unreadable look then started up.
'Because Hey, you won't want to go up like that.'
In one stride he was there, his fingers closing firmly over hers. The contact sent a zing up his forearm. All that static build-up discharged in one hit.
She must have felt it too because her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. 'Like what?'
He yanked his hand away. 'Those heelsyou'll break your neck.'
'Only if I' On cue, one stiletto slipped and caught in the iron lace doyley tread. She yanked it free. 'Cripes. I see your point.'
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mistletoe Not Required by Anne Oliver: Olivia Wishart is juggling a lot of things during her holiday season. Most of them involve carrying out plans she'd made with her mother, who passed away earlier in the year. As head of the Pink Snowflake foundation, she needs to raise enough money to build a retreat for cancer survivors and their families. Having grown up sailing, that seems to be the natural course to take. Publicity taken from being an all-girl crew helps to raise at least a little bit of the cash she'll need to get the ball rolling. Before they can set sail, Olivia needs to attend the Christmas party being thrown for all those invited to sail in the race. Jett Davies had plans for his holidays, and they didn't include is long-lost half sister, Brie. But to be fair, she wasn't the person he should be mad at, she was just a baby when his father shunned him and sent him off to live in a dozen foster homes. Now that the old man had passed away, Breanna Black was given the information that she had a sibling, and she was determined to get to know him. Now that his Christmas plans had fallen through, he figured he should man-up and go to meet the woman to get things over with. Olivia doesn't really want to be at the party, but figures it's a good enough time to have a carefree night - and if she can find some trouble to get into, all the better. That plan hadn't really come to fruition a few hours in, and Brie had even blown the party off to leave Olivia there alone. Just as she's about to chuck it all in and leave, she sees *him*. Or well, at least the bottom half of him, descending the stairs in front of her. Now if the top half's anywhere near as good... and wow, it sure is. Jett and Olivia have an encounter right there - but neither of them want to know names or details about the other. Until Jett is left holding her shoes and in a state he definitely wasn't prepared to deal with. As Olivia runs off to meet her friend, he realizes that "Brie" is the woman he's come to meet, and that Olivia is her BFF. Someone he'll be seeing the next day over a holiday meal. Jett has obligations that come with his notoriety, but the more he learns about Olivia, the more he wants to ignore them - or use them to help her. Olivia can't get close to Jett because with closeness comes honesty, and honesty - in her case - might not be very pretty. Too bad fate has something more in store for them. I liked Brie as well, and it looks like she's getting her own story very soon. I'm looking forward to hearing more about her - there were quite a few tantalizing passages that make her very interesting indeed. Olivia's backstory was sketchy and I felt like it had a Deux Ex Machina-type resolution, where things resolved very quickly, but seeing Jett change to get there was satisfying. This wasn't my favorite KISS of all time, but it was fun and flirty - and it held my attention just fine through the entire story.