Relentlessly hounded by the media since her bitter and very public divorce, Miranda Kelly has retreated to the sanctuary of her hometown. There, in addition to opening a flower shop, she has taken a second job as a lounge singer in the Inn at Snow Falls’ Club Crimson… and done so under an appropriate stage name: Candy Cane.
Journalist Caleb McGregor is haunted by ghosts of his past, too, and is working to banish them. He’s certain he should recognize the redheaded chanteuse but he pushes aside that sense of past familiarity for the present one consuming him. It’s hard to keep his mind on the work that has brought him to Mistletoe, Colorado with the gorgeous Miranda in his bed.
But Caleb is hiding a big secret of his own. And when Miranda discovers the cruel truth, she knows living in a lovers resort won’t keep what they’ve built from falling apart… unless each can trust the other not to kiss and tell, making their first Christmas together one to remember.
Fluidly, the red-headed chanteuse rolled herself up and off the table, pivoting with an elegance that left him breathless – and therefore, thankfully, unable to groan and give himself away – as she slid to sit in his lap.
It wasn’t his lap as much as one leg, but the move put the swell of her bottom against the swell of his fly, and he could only hope the two parts of them making intimate contact weren’t as apparent to her as to him.
She seemed comfortable, in her element, looping her arm around his neck, looking into his eyes, drawing the song to a close with a breathy, bluesy, brush of words against his cheek as the pianist wrapped up his accompaniment, holding the final notes.
That was when the applause began.
And that was when she kissed him.
He hadn’t seen it coming.
He knew the soft teasing press of her mouth to his was part of the act, but he hadn’t expected it, and he wasn’t thinking straight, and he was running way low on resistance, so he did what any healthy red-blooded male would do with a healthy red-blooded female wanting to lock lips.
He kissed her back.
He caught her off guard. She was bargaining on compliance, thinking he would accept her doing her thing without interfering, interrupting, or doing his back. But Caleb wasn’t cut from a compliant cloth. And kissing Candy Cane was fun. Or it was until he realized he was the one who was stirred.
Lips on lips was one thing, but this was more. Way more, and his blood heated and rushed. He opened his mouth to taste her. She gave in, letting his tongue inside to flirt and slick over hers.
He had a vague sense of people around them clapping and whistling, cheering them on, of the pianist’s fingers lingering over his instrument’s keys, drawing out the moment that had already gone on too long.
But mostly he was aware of Candy’s scent like a field of sweet flowers around him, and the touch of her fingers against his nape, the tiny massaging circles she made there too personal for a public display.
He had to let her go before things got any further out of hand, he realized, realizing, too, that he had sobered. He pulled his mouth away, tilted his head back to get the best look that he could into her eyes.
He saw her surprise, then her fear. The first he anticipated; he felt it himself. The second emotion shocked the pump on his snoop-and-scoop machine to maximum. Fear? What the hell did she have to be afraid of?
“Who are you?” he asked as she got to her feet, the smile she gave him reaching no further than her mouth and as much for the crowd as for him.
“I’m the woman you’ll never forget,” she told him, blowing him a parting kiss before returning to the stage.
Once there, she took her final bow with a flourish, gave props to the pianist, then vanished behind the curtain that came down to swallow the stage.
She had it right. He wouldn’t forget. But what she had no way of knowing was that, impending retirement or not, big time screw up or not, he planned to dig up a whole lot more stuff to remember. Stuff he was pretty damn sure Ms. Candy Cane didn’t want anyone to find out.