CHRISTMAS, MISTLETOE and ME: A Christmas Romance Novella

PROLOGUE

 

Kirsty Holloway was on the sidewalk, arms dripping with shopping bags and packages, waiting for the next available cab to pull into the rank. Christmas in New York was the busiest time of the year and she knew how difficult it would be to get a taxi at this time of the evening. The holiday season was her favorite celebration, so at least she could admire the twinkling white lights and other colorful festive decorations while she waited in the winter chill. The gutters were overflowing with slushy mounds of gray snow and, if she wasn’t careful, when a cab pulled in she’d be sprayed with the murky freeze. Her body gave an involuntary shiver as she waited and Kirsty hoped a taxi would come by soon.

     She spotted a cab heading her way and awkwardly thrust out her overladen arm to hail it, but as the vehicle pulled into the curb a guy in a dark gray overcoat whipped open the back passenger door and climbed in, mouthing ‘sorry’ and giving her a handsome grin through the window as the taxi merged back into the Christmas traffic chaos.

     “Well, of all the nerve.” Kirsty couldn’t believe how inconsiderate he had been. Couldn’t he see she needed the cab more than he did? And hadn’t she hailed it in the first place? He’d had no shopping bags. Where was his Christmas spirit?

     Kirsty could feel the flush of angry frustration spread across her icy cheeks warming them to a rosy glow. Now she’d have to wait for who knew how long for another available taxi before she could arrive home to her cozy apartment and begin the happy task of wrapping the gifts she’d bought for her family and friends. She let out a sigh and shook off the feeling; she wasn’t going to allow one rude gesture to ruin her holiday cheer.

     After waiting another thirty minutes for a cab, and traveling the extra half hour to her building (which should have taken ten minutes, but the traffic had been chaos), Kirsty finally stepped into her warm apartment and dropped the bundle of Christmas goodies on the floor by the front door. She’d take a hot shower to freshen up, change into her pajamas, robe, and slippers, and make a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows before getting started on the presents.

*

As she sat on the sofa beside her brightly twinkling tree, Kirsty felt elated as she wrapped the gifts her family would love. She always made a point of buying something she knew they wanted and couldn’t wait to see the excitement on their faces when they opened their presents on Christmas morning. She gave a contented sigh and continued her task. It was going to be a wonderful holiday… she could feel it.

     The guy who’d stolen her cab popped into her head and she frowned. Why had he been so inconsiderate? It was the season of giving, after all. Her mind conjured up a picture of him. He was handsome, no doubt about that. Dark hair, blue eyes and a smile to die for, but he obviously had no manners at all. Chivalry was indeed dead. She wondered what his name was. Was he a New Yorker or in the city for the holidays? Maybe he was here visiting family. It didn’t really matter because she was never going to see him again.

CHAPTER ONE

Two weeks later: A week before Christmas

Kirsty stepped into the crowded elevator heading for the fifteenth floor. She worked for Dress to Impress Magazine, a fashion exposé for the fuller-figured woman to complement their voluptuous curves, and she loved her job. Flattering women who weren’t stick thin made what she did seem worthwhile. Why should slim women be the only ones to have fun with their clothes? She believed any woman should be comfortable in what they wore and enjoy the feeling of looking great no matter what their size.

     Today, they would meet their new editor and chief, Sean Donovan, who was renowned for taking a once successful publication and skyrocketing sales with his innovative and creative approach. Everyone in the office was excited to see what plans he had for the magazine, and she, for one, wanted to work closely with him to learn from the best. His reputation preceded him and she couldn’t wait to meet him.

     When the elevator stopped at her floor only she and another passenger remained inside. As the doors slid open the man standing behind her said, “After you.”

     His deep, masculine voice poured over her like the warmth radiating from a burning fire and her body tingled.

     “Thank you.” She turned to look at him and the smile on her face stopped mid-motion. “You!”

     His amazing blue eyes met hers and his smile widened. “Well, hello, I never expected to see you again.”

     “No, I imagine you wouldn’t after hijacking my cab.” She could hear the tightness in her voice and felt her spine stiffen. Of course he never expected to see her again and that’s the reason why he had taken her cab in the first place.

     “I’m sorry about that. I was late for an appointment. I guess I should have offered to share it with you but I was in a hurry and only thought about it after we’d driven away.”

     “You should’ve offered to share my cab with me? The cab you stole?”

     “I am sorry. Won’t you accept my apology considering we’re going to be working together?”

     Her eyes widened along with her mouth and she snapped it shut. So this was the famous, or infamous, Sean Donovan. Her new boss. Kirsty didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. How could this happen? “I suppose I don’t have a choice, do I?”

     “People always have choices, Miss Holloway.” The gorgeous smile disappeared from his handsome face and he motioned for her to step out of the elevator ahead of him.

     Kirsty’s elated mood deflated. How could she work with a man who had no consideration for other people, especially at Christmas time? He may have offered an apology, but that was only because they’d be working together and he realized it would make the situation awkward. The incident may have been a small thing; well, actually, it wasn’t such a small thing. Who steals someone’s taxi when they can see you’re struggling with packages and bags? She stepped out of the elevator without another word and made her way to her desk, knowing it was going to be a long, difficult day.

     When she reached her cubicle, Allie popped up from her seat and came around the partition. “Hey, you.” She greeted with a smile. When she saw the scowl on Kirsty’s face she said, “What’s up?”

     “You remember that guy I told you about, the one who stole my cab?” Kirsty dropped her purse under her desk, peeled off her coat and scarf, and sat down.

     “Yeah, why?”

     “He’s Sean Donovan.”

     Allie’s mouth and eyes widened. “Our new boss? No way.”

     “Yes way.”

     “Did he recognize you?” Allie sat on the corner of Kirsty’s desk and folded her arms.

     “Yes. And he apologized.”

     “Well that’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

     “Is it? He only did it because we have to work together. He said he never expected to see me again.”

     “Oh.” She reached out and touched her friend’s shoulder. “Don’t let it get to you, hon, we have to keep things professional around here, right?”

     “You’re right. I know.” Kirsty gave a heavy sigh. “But it isn’t going to be easy.”

*

Later that morning, everyone was called to a meeting in the boardroom. Sean had arranged a meet and greet. Kirsty’s stomach squirmed as she entered the room with the eighteen foot, maple table in the center and found a seat as far away from her boss as she could. Allie came in shortly after, her eyes roaming the room, spotted Kirsty, and took the seat beside her.

     “How are you doing?” she asked.

     “Like you said, we have to be professional.”

     Allie patted her friend’s knee. “Good girl. You got this.”

     Sean entered the room and closed the glass door. “Welcome. Thanks for being here.” He remained standing. “I’d like to start by telling you a bit about myself even though I’m sure you’ve all Googled me.” He smiled and his gaze moved to Kirsty.

     She blushed and diverted her eyes.

     People in the room chuckled and Kirsty ran her gaze around the smiling faces. Why hadn’t she thought to do that so she wasn’t blindsided when she came into work today? Damn it!

     “But before we begin, I’ve placed some sticky labels and markers on the table. I’d appreciate it if you could write your first name on one and stick it somewhere on your front so I can address you personally during the meeting. I have looked through your personnel profiles, but right now I’m not going to immediately remember everyone’s names. Thanks so much.” His gaze moved briefly to Kirsty again before returning to the notes in front of him.

     Allie reached over and slid a sheet of labels across the table towards her, wrote Kirsty’s name on one and passed it to her, then one for herself which she peeled and stuck on the right-hand breast pocket of her pale blue blouse. “You probably don’t need one, hon. I’m sure he remembers who you are.” She gave her friend a wink and a cheesy grin before turning her attention back to the eye candy at the head of the table.

     Kirsty felt her cheeks flush and knew she was blushing even more than before. The meeting was going to be more difficult than she’d anticipated. “I’m pretty sure I’m not that important.”

     “Mm, really? Then why does he keep looking along the table at you?”

     “He isn’t looking at me as such. We didn’t get off to a great start in the elevator and he’s probably considering ways to fire me.”

     Allie waved her friend’s comment off. “Don’t be ridiculous. He’d be a fool to let you go. This place would fall apart if you weren’t here. You know more about this magazine than anyone else I know.”

     “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Al, but I’m pretty certain I’m just as dispensable as the janitor.”

     “OMG! Let’s hope they never get rid of Frank. He’s a gem.”

     “That he is.” She shrugged. “Even so, if the budget called for it…”

     Allie gave Kirsty a stern stare. “You are in-dispensable. And don’t you forget it. What would we do without you?”

     Kirsty shrugged. “No one is indispensable, Al. No one.”

     Sean clapped his hands together twice to get everyone’s attention. “Ok. All done?”

     The team around the table nodded and responded with a unified yes.

     “Great. Moving along. I’ll give you a quick brief of where I’ve worked and what I’ve done previously and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them at the end of the session. We’ll have a Q and A then.”

     Sean Donovan had impressive credentials indeed, and, for someone as young as he, had traveled extensively for business and pleasure. He also spoke five languages: German, French, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian. Kirsty didn’t want to admire him but she couldn’t help it. He was the complete package, in more ways than one.

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© 2021 M. A. Anderson

Bella Luna Books, Australia

 

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