A warm December welcome today for the wonderful Justine Elyot, who has some Mistletoe Kisses to keep us warm.
Over to you Justine…
‘It’s a time for family.’ Whenever I read this, I always think ‘faaaamly’ as pronounced by Barbara Windsor playing Peggy in EastEnders. In her case, the family is a bucket of poisonous little toads whose Christmases unfailingly end in murder or divorce.
Bella’s Christmas in Under The Mistletoe doesn’t end in either of those things, but it’s certainly not the cosy, twinkly, supermarket-ad ideal – at least, not at first.
The family fireside is in an unfamiliar house, and the people gathered round are Bella’s aloof mother and her mother’s new boyfriend – a man Bella barely knows. Even worse, Bella has recently split with her fiancé, but doesn’t want to cope with her mother’s disapproval over the festive season, so is pretending he is working overseas.
Could it get any more awkward? Yes, it could – with the arrival of the boyfriend’s son, a police detective, on Christmas Eve.
But awkwardness soon turns to something altogether more warming – and it isn’t just down to the mulled wine. Here’s an excerpt:
Christmas Day. No stocking on the end of the bed for me. Obviously I’m on the Naughty List.
And so I should be, given the naughty thoughts I was thinking before I dropped off to sleep. Naughty thoughts about Guy, about handcuffs, about his big manly hand on my bottom… Oh God, don’t start thinking them again…I don’t know how I’m going to face him over breakfast as it is.
I’m hoping he might be wearing a Christmas jumper of such ludicrous dimensions that all remnants of wanting to jump the man’s bones leave my body and mind forever. No such luck. He has on a plain black v-neck sweater with a shirt underneath, the collar just rumpled enough to be sexy but not starchy. And he hasn’t shaved yet.
He’s done this on purpose, to torture me.
Marie has done eggs benedict and gorgeous mini-brioches and all sorts. I’d fall on this and attack like a ravening wolf if it weren’t for DS Hotstuff over there.
“Good morning, Bella,” sings mum, all bright and glittery and dressy. “Merry Christmas.”
The men echo the sentiment, and I return it, sliding into my chair and reaching for the coffee. Coffee is very much needed this morning.
“What did Rupert get you? Have you opened it yet?”
The coffee scalds my hand.
“Oh. God. I don’t know. I left it at home.”
“You left it at home?” Both mum and Piers are frowning with incomprehension, while Guy seems about to crack a broad smile.
“Forgot to pack it. I spoke to him on the phone just now, though, wished him a Merry Christmas and all that. He’s fine. Hot. You know, because it’s hot there. In Dubai. Would you pass the milk, please?”
I can barely breathe and I know that Guy is watching me with his detective eyes.
“Oh, but Bella, why didn’t you call him so that we could all speak to him?” grumbles Mum. “I want to wish him a Merry Christmas too. Poor boy, all the way out there on his own. Don’t you care?”
“Of course I care. Just wanted to, y’know, have a private conversation.”
“Well, you’ve had one now, so why don’t you call him again after breakfast and I can have a word with him too.”
“He said he had meetings. All day. Really important meetings.”
“Well, let me leave a message then.”
“It costs a fortune to send a voicemail to Dubai, mum!”
“I’ll give you the money. Good gracious.”
I shrug and reach for some food, but somehow I’m not very hungry.
“Eat up, Bella, we’ve put presents under the tree in the drawing room,” said Piers.
I have half a piece of toast and marmalade then follow the others into the big room. The fire is lit and the tree is twinkling and it’s altogether such a perfect Christmas scene that I forget my angst for a little while and join in the gift exchange.
If you’d like to know whether any of Bella’s Christmas morning fantasies come to fruition – well, the story is available in two ways.
You can buy it as part of the Mistletoe Kisses anthology, and get two fantastic bonus festive romances from Elizabeth Coldwell and Sallyanne Rogers too.
Or you can buy it as a standalone story.
Thanks so much to Kay for the eggnog and the mince pies – but most of all for being her wonderful self. And thanks to you for reading!
Awww- thanks Justine!! You are always welcome- especially if you come by with kink. mince pies and eggnog!!!
Happy Reading Everyone!