Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Road to Christmas Past by Kathi Daley Excerpt

Road to Christmas Past by Kathi Daley
$2.99 or FREE for Prime Members

Holly Thompson’s life changed forever when she received an early Christmas present from her dead Aunt Meg. Prior to her death, her former foster mother won the gorgeous PI during one of her Tuesday morning poker games. The only survivor of a tragic automobile accident when she was only days old, Holly grew up never knowing who she was or where she came from. When Ben Holiday claimed to have a clue about her past, Holly set out on a Christmas road trip in the hope of finding the family she never knew she had. Road to Christmas Past is a tender romance that will remind you of the power of love and the importance of family.


“Four shots, nonfat, extra hot, no foam.” Holly Thompson’s tall, dark-haired assistant, Jessica Stewart, set a latte in front of her. “Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese on the side and today’s letters.” She set those next to the cup. “My favorite is on the top.”
Holly, a petite blonde with blue eyes and a sunny smile, tucked a lock of her long hair behind her ear, adjusted the glasses on her nose, and picked up the letter from the top of the stack. She glanced at the letter while Jessica perched on the side of her desk, sipping from her own coffee.
For the past three years, Holly had worked as an advice columnist for a popular weekly women’s magazine. Her commitment to offering practical solutions to complex situations set her apart from other advice columns, sending her reader share to the top of the charts.
“Looks good,” Holly commented after scanning the handwritten note. “Get me the woman’s contact information and we’ll see where it goes. Do I have any messages?”
“Actually, yes.” Jessica set down her legal pad and pulled a note out of her pocket. “Phillip wanted me to remind you that he needs your copy early this week due to the holiday weekend.”
“Holiday weekend?”
“Thanksgiving,” Jessica reminded her.
“Oh, yeah. Go on.”
“Kira wants to know if you got the tickets for the benefit next month, and Derek left a message asking if you wanted to do lunch.”
“Tell Phillip he’ll have next week’s column by the end of the day. Call Derek and tell him I’ll have to take a rain check on lunch, then call and get four tickets to the PETA benefit next month. If you’re able to get the tickets, call Kira, see where she wants to have dinner, and make the reservations. Things tend to get busy in December. Oh, and see if you can find me a date.”
“A date? What kind of date?”
Holly shrugged. “The benefit is black tie, so preferably someone who has a black tie. Other than that, use your discretion.”
“You don’t want to go with Derek?”
“Derek?” Holly frowned.
“Derek Quinn,” Jessica reminded her. “The man you’ve been dating for the past five months.”
“Derek and I aren’t dating. We’re just . . .”
“Colleagues,” Jessica said, anticipating her response.
“Friends,” Holly countered.
Jessica smiled patiently, as she would at a child who was a little slow. “I’m sorry to break this to you, but you’re dating. Ask anyone.”
Holly frowned as she tried to digest what Jessica was telling her.
“For someone who gives absolutely brilliant answers to others concerning their love lives, you are totally clueless when it comes to your own,” Jessica teased. “For future reference, when a very eligible single man takes you to dinner several times a week, showers you with gifts for absolutely no reason, and sends flowers on a regular basis, you’re dating.”
“Derek gave me one necklace he brought back from his trip to Paris. He doesn’t shower me with gifts.”
“Maybe not, but trust me, as far as he’s concerned, you’re dating. In fact, the entire third floor is involved in a pool to predict when he’ll pop the question.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Holly snorted. “We haven’t even . . .” Holly paused, and Jessica simply smiled at her boss’s discomfort. “Well, you know. Still, I guess I should talk to him.”
“I think that might be a good idea.”
Holly sighed. She hated to ruin the friendship she thought she had with Derek by pointing out to him that she was in no way interested in any type of serious relationship, but she supposed she owed him some clarification. It wasn’t that Derek wasn’t perfectly datable. He was indeed quite the catch, but Holly didn’t have time to date. She had goals, ambitions, and a timeline that didn’t account for a serious relationship for at least another five years.
“Anything else?” Holly asked.
“Noel’s on line three and Warren just called up from the lobby. I gather we have a very interesting delivery on the way up.”
“Interesting how?”
Jessica shrugged. “I don’t know. He didn’t say, but he was snickering, so I’m guessing it isn’t your normal brown box.”
“Okay.” Holly picked up her latte. “I’ll talk to Noel while I drink my coffee. Buzz me when the delivery gets here.”
“Hey, Noel,” Holly greeted Noel Davis, her best friend in the entire world. Leaning back in her chair, she swiveled around so that her back was to her door and she was able to look out of the window. “Hope Jessica didn’t keep you waiting too long.”

… Holly took a sip of her latte as Jessica opened the door connecting her office to the reception area and ushered in the most gorgeous man Holly had ever seen. She almost choked on her coffee as she stared speechlessly at the tall, dark-haired man, who had eyes bluer than her own, was dressed all in black, and had a huge red bow taped to his chest.
“Can I help you?” she croaked as she stood up from behind her desk, straightening the short skirt of the gray business suit that had cost her a month’s salary.
“Ms. Thompson, my name is Ben Holiday.” His eyes crinkled as he beamed a lopsided smile and introduced himself. “I’m your Christmas present from Meg.”
“Meg?” Holly nervously tucked her long blonde hair behind one ear as she tried to wrap her mind around what the beautiful man was talking about. “Meg’s dead,” she informed him.
“I know. She made the arrangements before she . . . passed.”
“Meg bought you for me?”
“Actually, she won me. In a poker game.”
“She won you?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Holly stared at the strange man in front of her, then started to laugh. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Afraid not.”
“Did Noel send you?” Holly laughed harder.
“No. Like I said, Meg made all the arrangements.”
“She won you in a poker game?” She grinned.
“Yes, ma’am.”
Holly studied the man in front of her. Broad shoulders, an apparently flat stomach behind the red bow, long legs, and the warmest smile she had ever seen. Thank you, Aunt Meg.
“So now what? You said you were my Christmas present. Are you going to wash my dishes and vacuum my rugs?”
“Not exactly. More like you have use of my professional services between now and Christmas, free of charge, thanks to Meg and a straight flush.”
“Services?” Holly choked.
“Perhaps you should open the box.” The beautiful man handed her a small box wrapped in bright green paper. “It’s the second half of the present. Although . . .” He hesitated. “Maybe this isn’t the best time.”
“Now’s as good a time as any.” Holly shrugged as she took the box and ripped open the shiny wrapping paper. Inside were a DVD and two matching necklaces that looked old and expensive. They each prominently featured a large sapphire surrounded by diamonds that were placed artistically on a latticework of intricate gold design. Holly picked up one of the necklaces, then looked at the man, who had sat down on the chair opposite her desk.

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