Do you love Christmas? How about when it's nowhere even close to season? That's the true test of a holiday lover: to keep loving it all year long!
I absolutely love the winter, the snow, and Christmas. My husband is of the bah-humbug variety… But that's okay, because it gave me the idea for one of my most fun stories, Must Love Mistletoe!
Yup, our heroine loves the holidays, but our hero definitely does not. They find themselves forced together on Christmas Eve–and if that wasn't an awkward enough, a life-or-death situation makes them get really close.
Will they see past their differences to survive and maybe even find love?
You'll have to read it to find out. Enjoy!
Must Love Mistletoe
Riley McKinley adores Christmas. But this year, instead of decking the halls, she’s chasing a career-defining deal away from home.
Sebastian Rockwell, on the other hand, is a total grinch, who'd rather be out playing in the snow than taking part in a frenzy of festivities.
When a devastating avalanche traps them together, it will have them questioning the meaning of the holidays. Could an unexpected romance redefine the spirit of the season for them both?
This delightful holiday tale from New York Times bestselling author Melissa Storm is sure to thaw even the coldest of hearts!
Sebastian Rockwell slammed his finger down onto the stereo button—once, twice, three times for good measure. “It’s way too early for Christmas music,” he muttered to himself.
But somewhere on the other side of the airwaves, the Little Drummer Boy continued his pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, completely unmoved by this particular driver’s lack of holiday spirit.
“Spare some change for the poor?” a tightly bundled gentleman mouthed through the car window.
Sebastian looked up at the traffic light, which was still stuck—rather unhelpfully—on red, then rolled down his window and handed the stranger a twenty.
“Merry Christmas,” the volunteer said, his smile growing wide and bright. “God bless!”
“Yeah, yeah, you too.” Sebastian couldn’t roll his window back up fast enough. It wasn’t that he hated Christmas… well, not exactly.
He loved the winter season—a good thing since he was born and raised and still continued to live in Alaska. And he liked getting and giving gifts well enough. Drinking cocoa and watching the nativity play at church was nice, too.
Actually, he did love all the little things about the holiday season when taken separately. It was the way they came together all at once, like a giant avalanche of merriment, that he just couldn’t bring himself to be happy about.
Back when he’d been a kid, each holiday was enjoyed separately, one at a time.
Sometimes the Christmas decorations were up even before Halloween had its moment in the seasonal spotlight. And from then on out, it was planning and lists and obligations. He had to be merry and bright. Otherwise, he was seen as being cold, cruel.
It was enough to make any warm-blooded guy go “bah-humbug.”
Of course, the very worst part of everything by far was how very opposite his mother felt about this particular holiday.
Secret Santas, white elephant gift exchanges, giving trees—they did it all each and every year, and each and every year they heaped yet another tradition onto the giant mountain of rubbish that had already taken over the better parts of both November and December. His poor dad had even needed to construct a second shed in the backyard to hold the overflow of all the accumulated decorations.
Unfortunately, he knew this year would be the absolute worst Christmas yet.
Now that his brother Oscar had gotten himself married like a good son and Noah had moved out of state with his new lady love, that meant only Sebastian was unhitched and thus subject to his mother’s zealous matchmaking efforts. Because if there was one thing that woman loved more than a good Christmas cookie recipe, it was trying to find love for each of her strapping, not-so-young-anymore sons.
He gritted his teeth as he pulled the car to a stop outside his parents’ quad-level Anchorage home. Thanksgiving had come and gone, and his mother had already bought and wrapped all their gifts for the year. The big day was less than a week away, and he still didn’t have an exit strategy.
“Dear God,” he prayed from where he sat in his idling car. “Please, could you send me a Christmas miracle or two to help me make it through?”
“Yoo-hoo!” his mother called from the now open doorway of his childhood home. “Are you going to come in now, or would you rather wait for the frostbite to set in first?”
“Nice,” Sebastian muttered to God. “Couldn’t even let me hold on to that hope for like a day? A minute?” He gritted his teeth and headed into his mother’s waiting arms.
Just a few more days to go.
But could he manage to survive that long?
* * *
Riley McKinley smiled as she walked through downtown Seattle. All around her, the streets were decked with garlands, lights, and banners wishing its inhabitants season’s greetings. She stopped in at Starbucks for a minty hot cocoa before continuing the rest of the trek toward her office.
“Merry Christmas!” she sang to the barista both when she ordered her drink and when the spiky-haired college boy handed her the steaming beverage in a festive red cup. Riley snuggled into the big, chunky scarf her grandmother had hand-knit for her several years ago and headed back into the busy streets.
This was her last working day before taking an entire ten days off to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Taking so much time off at year’s end meant shorter summer vacations, but it was worth it. Riley could think of no better way to spend her free time than baking cookies with her nieces and nephews and decorating every square inch of her parents’ home with hand-strung cranberry chains and freshly cut pine branches.
Yes, today would be a good day, and the days to follow would be even better.
Unfortunately, the moment she crossed through the door to the office she shared with a few other area realtors, everything changed.
Rather than cheery holiday jingles, she was greeted by the sound of arguing and the sight of her most particular client, Mr. Evers.
“Look, she’s here now.” The receptionist, Gloria, motioned toward Riley and mouthed “Sorry!” once Mr. Evers had turned his back to her.
“Mr. Evers, what a pleasant surprise,” she greeted him with a sincere smile despite the dramatic scene unfolding before her. If you expected good things to happen, they usually did. Especially around Christmas. The season itself was a kind of magic, as if God granted extra miracles this time of year as his way of celebrating Jesus’s birth.
“Not pleasant for me,” Mr. Evers grumbled, cutting off her stream of positive thoughts at the quick. “I’ve finally found the perfect investment property, but your assistant tells me I can’t go to see it until the new year. We both know it will be off the market by then.”
“Of course, of course. I’ll be happy to take you now, if you’ll just follow me. I can—”
He raised his hand to cut her off, a slight smile appearing now that he was on the path to getting his way. “Not today. Tomorrow, though.”
Okay, so she’d have one showing on her day off, but then nine uninterrupted days of holiday bliss. That wouldn’t be so bad. “Yes, okay. I’ll set up the showing. What’s the property’s address?”
“The Frosty Peak in Fairbanks.”
Riley was taken aback by the unfamiliar name. As a realtor, it was her job to know every street, subdivision, and home around the greater Seattle neighborhood—but she hadn’t heard of this one. Certainly, there was no way her client could mean the Fairbanks up in Alaska.
Mr. Evers continued undeterred. “I’ll cover the cost of your flight, of course. Next one goes out bright and early in the morning. Should give us enough time to get a good look before nightfall.”
“How else will we get there? On foot?” He chuckled.
“Mr. Evers,” Riley started slowly, afraid of how he would answer the next question. “Is this property in Alaska?”
“That’s the only Fairbanks I know. I thought your assistant already gave you the details by phone.”
At that precise moment, Riley’s phone buzzed with a text that had been sent at least fifteen minutes ago. Ugh, she definitely needed to switch cell carriers. She forced a laugh and waved the phone before her client’s eyes. “There it is now.”
“Like I was saying,” Mr. Evers continued, “it needs to be now. This resort just went on the market, and I know I can’t be the only one eager to grab it right up. Don’t want to lose out on a beauty like this.”
Riley wracked her brain for some kind of solution to this sudden crisis. “Maybe I could put in a few calls to the offices around the area. See if anyone there would be able to help arrange the showing.”
He shook his head adamantly, and Riley felt all her cheerful holiday plans slipping back into nothingness. “It has to be you. You handle all my acquisitions. You know what I need. Anyone else will just waste my time.”
What about my time? Riley wondered, doing her best to suppress the sigh that so desperately wanted to escape her lips.
Mr. Evers placed a conciliatory hand on her shoulder and waited for her to look him directly in the eye. She’d seen him use this negotiating tactic before, but never on her. Oh, she was a goner now for sure. “I know it’s the holidays, and I’m prepared to raise your commission. It will be a big one.”
When he told her what the asking price was and offered to raise her commission on the deal by a full three percent, all of Riley’s doubts were at last silenced. With this kind of windfall, she could afford to send her parents on a cruise for their thirty-fifth anniversary coming up this year.
Yes, it was decided. If everything went smoothly once they were up in Fairbanks, she could still make it home before the end of Christmas day.
That just left one question. “What time do we leave?” she asked while inwardly reminding herself that it would be okay.
Christmas wasn’t a place. It was a feeling, and she refused to leave it behind.