A limited-time preview of "Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas" is available on Heroes and Heartbreakers to members. Please log in or register at right to read the full story.
As part of H&H's Hot for the Holidays program, we're thrilled to share a limited-time peek at 12 special holiday stories! All 12 e-novellas are on sale now (you may have seen us talk about this H&H-St. Martin's Press program before), but we're offering H&H members the exclusive chance to read the whole story for free—it's our gift to you. But here's the thing: Stories will be available for ONE DAY ONLY over the next two weeks, so grab a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and get reading before they disappear with a wink and a smile!
On the first day of Christmas, former wild child Dina Gregory returns home to New York on a mission: To find the father of her young son. Making him take responsibility for the child he helped create is the only thing on Dina’s wish list. Instead, she finds herself in an awkward run-in with his stuffy older brother, Ben.
Ben has never liked Dina. But he can’t help but admire her tenacity—and her bold beauty. Being trapped together during a holiday blizzard offers him a glimpse into what it would be like to have a family, and to fall truly in love. Could it be that Dina has reignited his Christmas spirit? The only thing Ben knows for sure is that her heart is a gift to behold…and he will never let go.
I Don’t Want a Lot for Christmas . . .
Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?
Dina Gregory had heard that song no less than twenty-six times on her five-day bus ride from California. Twenty-six. Freaking. Times and now it was stuck in her head like some kind of brain-eating ear worm.
A beautiful sight. We’re happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland.
She had never thought about winter being wondrous. Or beautiful. She had always thought it cold and dark and depressing. That’s why she had escaped to LA for two years. But as she walked up the steep driveway to the Windermere mansion she had to amend her thought. A fresh snow had just fallen, leaving the trees and ground covered with beautiful, shimmery snow. There were no footprints or tire tracks to muddy it. It was beautiful. The stuff that Christmas cards were made of.
And if she weren’t cold, pissed off and carrying a twenty-pound baby, she might be able to enjoy her surroundings more.
“Ma?” Her ten-month-old son, Dash, touched her cheek, pulling her out of her head for a moment.
“It’s okay, lovey,” she said to him as she held him a little closer to shield him from the wind. “We’re almost there. Just a couple million more feet until we reach the top. Hopefully Mommy won’t have a heart attack before we make it. I’m not sure what these people were thinking when they built this place. Surely a moat would have been good enough to keep the riffraff out. Or a dragon. I think building a house on top of a mountain was just a way to keep chubby people out. They should just have a sign that says: ‘No Fat Chicks Allowed.’ But they don’t know your mommy, do they, baby? They’re not keeping me out.”
Her son grinned at her, one of those happy baby grins, like he knew what she was babbling about, and it kicked her in the heart. Good God she loved him. He was the reason she was here. He was the reason she had spent five days on a bus with people who looked like they had just been released from mental institutions. He was the reason she was huffing and puffing her out-of-shape ass up this steep hill. He was the reason she kept going.
There were just thirteen days until Christmas. Normally the holiday would pass as just another day to her, but this year was different. This year was special because it was Dash’s first Christmas. She didn’t want anything for herself. Somewhere along the line material things stop mattering. If she had one wish it would be to give her son the world.
That’s why she was back in New York, a place she had been too afraid to show her face in the past year and a half. Her family lived just a few towns over, but she couldn’t face them. Not after what she had done. The best gift she could give them was to never darken their doorstep again. But she would gladly darken Windermere’s doorstep.
She was here to face Dash’s father. Virgil Worthington Rowe. The man who knocked her up and disappeared the day after she told him about it.
At first she didn’t bother tracking him down. The pregnancy had been a wake-up call for her. The thirty-four years of her life before she became pregnant with Dash had been spent partying too much, destroying too much, not caring enough. Dash had changed all that. He made her want to become a better person. He made her want to stand on her own two feet.
But Dash didn’t deserve to live in squalor just so she could prove a point. He was innocent in all of this. And his father had more money than he knew what to do with. She was going to get some of that money. And if she couldn’t she was going to kick his no-good ass. With the fifty pounds she had put on during her pregnancy she was pretty sure she could take him.
Another blast of icy wind smacked her in the face, reminding her that her poor nose was going to fall off if she didn’t get inside soon. She wished she could have taken a cab right to the front door to save them from some of this brutal cold, but in the tiny village of Sleepy Ridge there were none. Virgil had to be here, because it was too damn long of a walk back to town to leave with nothing.
She had looked for him all over LA. She called around to the hotels he liked to stay in, checked in all the bars they used to frequent. But he wasn’t there. Nobody had seen or heard from him in months. The coward was probably hiding from her.
She finally came to the front door, her hand raised to knock, and she froze.
She was nervous.
Nerves were the one thing she hadn’t planned on. She had been too pissed to be nervous before, but now that she was facing the front door of this huge mansion nerves snuck up on her and grabbed her by the throat.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” The southern-accented voice that came through the intercom caused her to jump.
Duh, Dina. They probably saw you coming as soon as you stepped foot on the driveway.
“Ma’am, is there something I can do for you?”
“Um . . .”
“Ma?” Dash called to her, reminding her of her purpose. Reminding her that this trip was about him.
“Yes. My name is Dina Gregory. I’m here to see Virgil. ”
Log in or register on right to read the full story.