Tom wants to move their relationship to the next level, but will Jackie’s past get in the way of their future?
Jackie Davis is no stranger to hardship. After a strict upbringing, her parents abandoned her when she got pregnant out of wedlock. Years later, she’s the co-owner of a successful café, mother to a beautiful six-year-old daughter named Abby, and dating a man who makes her heart race. For the first time in a while, she’s actually excited for the holidays.
When Tom Molsem applied as a cook at the local café, he wasn’t looking for a relationship. Haunted by demons from his military service, he was just happy to have a job he could handle. Now he’s the co-owner of that same restaurant and dating a woman who helped lay those ghosts to rest. With the past buried, he wants to build a future with his newfound family.
Tom and Jackie are eager to celebrate Christmas, but when Abby goes missing, the two must band together and discover the true gifts of the season: love, forgiveness, and new beginnings.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 5 – NC-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This is a holiday novella that is based on the side characters in my first novel, Secret Hunger. Tom and Jackie get together behind the scenes in Secret Hunger. With this novella, I pick up with them one year later. Tom would like to take their relationship to the next level, but Jackie's past rears it's ugly head and makes it difficult for them.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I liked the idea of writing a romance where the couple is already together. So often in romance novels, the couple will get together and then the book ends. It was exciting to explore the concept of an already established relationship and how the two characters navigate the challenges they face together.
I also wanted to delve into the concepts of redemption and forgiveness. I thought a holiday novella would be the perfect backdrop for these themes!
The beeping of the coffeemaker promised caffeine and lucidity. Jackie brought down the oversized red mugs she liked to use during this time of year because they had a snowflake pattern. As she began to pour, two strong arms snaked around her waist.
“You’re lucky I’ve got a steady hand,” she said, leaning against the hard chest behind her.
Tom moved her closer and nipped her earlobe. “Mmm, you’re right, I am.”
It took a little more concentration not to spill the strong brew when he kissed down the length of her neck, but she didn’t mind. Sometimes, it was difficult to believe she got to wake up with this man every morning.
If anyone would have suggested she’d be here a year and a half ago, she would have told them they were crazy. She and Tom had worked together for years, but she had no idea he’d harbored romantic feelings for her the whole time.
She’d always assumed that such a quiet and intense person wouldn’t possibly be attracted to someone like her. Her life was loud and hectic and crazy and completely disorganized. Half the time, she didn’t know what she was doing or what she was feeling. How could a man who kept his emotions so contained want a life like that?
Jackie turned and ran her hands up Tom’s arms, stopping to revel in the strength of his biceps before looping them behind his neck. His eyes were the color of her favorite dark roast and currently warm with desire. They shot a jolt through her system that was stronger and hotter than any cup of coffee. His hands traced the sides of her waist, sending shivers down her spine, and she raised her mouth for another kiss.
Maybe they should have stayed in bed.
Pounding at the front door made them jump. Tom’s muscles tightened beneath her hands as he raised his head. He rushed toward the door as another spate of knocking blasted the morning’s peace.
After checking the peephole, Tom opened the door, his large frame blocking the person from Jackie’s view.
“Can I help you?” She suppressed amusement at the way Tom’s voice had deepened with irritation. If this was a missionary or political canvasser, they certainly had their work cut out for them.
“I want to speak to Jackie.”
What? Who would want to see her so badly that they’d pound on the door this early, especially on a Monday morning? Any of her friends would know better. She peeked past Tom’s shoulder, but he didn’t move. If anything, his stance grew broader.
“Who are you?” Tom asked.
“Let me talk to her. I know she’s here.” Something about the other man’s voice scratched at her memory, but she couldn’t quite place it. Then it hit her.
Tom glanced back over his shoulder at her. “You know him?”
She bit her bottom lip, trepidation sitting in the pit of her stomach. At one time, she thought she knew him.
She’d been mistaken.
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