As a lover of holiday romances, I couldn't pass up the chance to join these six other amazing authors in the box set, ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT SOLSTICE. And I'm glad I didn't. Because I ended up writing one of my favorite characters to date.
He's grumpy, moody, and a bit of a slob. But underneath that rough exterior is a drop-dead gorgeous man with a heart of gold.
All Kellan Archer wants for Christmas is peace and quiet as he learns how to adapt to this new life. But that’s the last thing he gets when his pretty new neighbor shows up. She keeps dropping by, showing off her sweet treats and even sweeter curves. She’s driving him and his wolf insane. The only answer is to make sure she and her son leave. The sooner the better.
Joanna Mackay and her son Cameron have just moved into their new home a few short weeks before Christmas. Though it’s their favorite holiday, this year a heaviness surrounds the small family. They lost so much over the last year, but Joanna does everything she can to show Cam that there’s still hope.
As Joanna slowly brings joy back into her son’s life, she also works on the grouchy neighbor. Behind that tough facade is a teddy bear. She just knows it. All she has to do is remind him.
Keep scrolling to read the first chapter from
THE WOLF WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS.
“Oh, my God! No! Please. No. Kellan, talk to me. Kellan? Kellan! Please!”
Heart pounding, Kellan Archer jerked wide awake, his head darting left then right. Just a dream. He rubbed a hand across his face. Always the same damn dream.
“Touchdown!” The deafening sound of a crowd caused him to wince. “What a pass, Stan. He was wide open.”
Swinging his legs around, Kellan sat up and grabbed the remote, clicking mute. He sure as hell didn’t need the noise to send another round of pounding to his skull. He threw the remote down onto the coffee table. Wherever that was. Somewhere underneath the mess of beer and soda cans, paper plates, half-eaten pizza, and chips. Basically, the sole contents of whatever groceries he’d had left in his kitchen last night. Eh, who cares? He let out a despondent sigh. He sure didn’t.
While scratching at his beard, Kellan searched for a beer can that still held its contents. Picking up one, he shook it. Empty. The can crunched in his fist, then hit the wall with a metallic slap as he reached for another. After a few more, he finally heard a swish of liquid. He drank the last two swallows before crushing the can and tossing it into the pile across the room. He stared at the pile for a few minutes. Beer leaked out of one of the cans, staining the carpet. Kellan shrugged. He’d clean it up later.
He stretched the kinks out of his neck—damn, he hated falling asleep on the couch. Then he rose from the sagging cushions and made his way to the bathroom. Once he relieved himself, he shuffled toward the kitchen. Then he just stood there, one eye shut as he surveyed the empty room looking for... something. Something to do. Not cleaning. Or something to eat. Like the moldy cheese in the bottom of the fridge? That damn lumpy couch was looking more appealing by the minute. He could watch the game. Volume on low. He rubbed at his temples. Or muted. Yeah, muted sounded better.
Grunting, he flopped back down on the old couch. His heavy eyelids drooped as he stared at the screen. But numbing himself with the television wasn’t working. That, or it was the most boring football game he’d ever watched. The camera zoomed onto the overtly happy faces in the crowd, throwing that theory into the trash.
It wasn’t the game. It was him. He needed something else. Something easy. Simple. A mindless distraction to keep him from thinking about the way his skin itched. And no, it wasn’t because he couldn’t remember the last time he showered. Although… Kellan took a big whiff of eau d’armpit and pulled back sharply. His lips curled in disgust. Okay, that could be part of the problem, he admitted. But not entirely. His problem was internal, and not the week-old pizza that had his stomach twisted in knots. It was the damn mutt that kept trying to escape. Kellan could give in to the thing. Not like he had anything better to do. But then he’d have to get up. He’d already done that and hadn’t found anything of interest. So, why bother? Plus, his head throbbed like a sumbitch.
Cursing under his breath, Kellan rubbed his temples. He was going to have to call Doctor Cline. He didn’t want to. He really didn’t want to dial that number. But the headaches were getting worse. The opposite of what he’d been promised.
It appeared there’d been some sort of accident and Kellan had taken a blow to the head. Something about falling out of a tree. Though, he couldn’t remember a damn thing about the whole incident. All he knew was that he’d woken strapped to a hospital bed, his head splitting in two, and no clue where or who he was. The doctor wasn’t sure if he’d get his memory back, and so far, he hadn’t. All he had was a name. His name, they’d said. And a house his social worker had helped him rent. Oh, yeah, and he was a werewolf.
Kellan shook his head. The first time the wolf had made his presence known, he’d freaked out. Claws had shot out of the tips of his fingers when a nurse had tried taking away his jello. But the doctor had acted like it’d been no big deal. A world where people changed into animals? He never knew. Or maybe he had.
Since that day, two months had passed. And here he was, putting up with a persistent animal that wanted to run every freaking day. It was exhausting. He was exhausted.
Closing his eyes, Kellan leaned his head back. At least it was quiet. He liked that. The weeks spent in the hospital had been pure hell for Kellan. The noise. The smells. His lip curled just thinking about it. He’d much rather be alone. Even if his house smelled like shit.
His skin tingled, the wolf reminding him that he hadn’t run that day. Kellan groaned, and with a reluctant sigh, slowly pushed off the couch. “Fine,” he grumbled. “Let’s get this over with.”
Mumbling to himself about pushy mutts, Kellan pulled off his T-shirt. He choked on air as the sweat-soaked garment rubbed against his face. “Ugh!” When was the last time he’d done laundry? Shaking himself, he began to unzip his pants when the sound of an engine interrupted him.
Moving to the window, Kellan pushed back the curtain. His eyes narrowed against the blinding afternoon light. A car had pulled up to the house next door. After a few minutes, the driver’s side door opened and a woman stepped out. Kellan’s gaze wandered over the curvy brunette. She was a tad on the short side, but what she lacked in height, she made up for with those curves. Damn! She had an ass that didn’t quit! Kellan might prefer to be alone, but he’d never claimed to be a monk.
He let his mutt know it was going to be a minute before they could get running. He had to appreciate the view first. To his surprise, the wolf didn’t protest. Which was bizarre. Showing his dissatisfaction was the beast’s favorite past-time.
Shrugging it off, Kellan watched the woman. Maybe she was a real estate agent. He grunted his displeasure. He hoped the house next door didn’t go on the market. Right now, it sat empty. Whoever owned it didn’t live there and had never rented it out. Which was perfect for Kellan. Neighbors were nosy, friendly, and talkative. The three things he hated most.
As Curves walked around the back of the car, he took in her gray ribbed sweater and dark blue jeans. She’d paired them with worn tennis shoes. Not exactly an outfit a realtor would wear. He scratched at his beard. This wasn’t going to be good.
Just as she popped the trunk, one of the back-passenger doors opened, and a boy climbed out. Maybe eight or nine, he had brown hair with natural blond streaks. A little too long in Kellan’s opinion. Running a hand through his own hair, Kellan shrugged. Not like he had any room to talk.
His attention immediately returned to the woman. Bent over as she reached into the trunk, Curves gave Kellan a perfect view of that ass he’d been admiring. His fingers fisted in the curtain. Visions of gripping her hips and pulling her against him danced in his head. But the lustful thoughts came to an abrupt halt when she stood up and handed the boy a cardboard box. A box? A box! Kellan’s eyes narrowed on the scene. The woman grabbed another box, hefting it around the car and up the steps of the house. They both disappeared inside before coming back for more. They were moving in.
Cursing, Kellan let the curtain drop as he backed away from the window, his mind racing. Neighbors! Not what he needed. He hoped they weren’t the friendly sort. Or the needy kind, who always wanted to borrow a cup of sugar. Not that he had any, but even if he did, he wouldn’t open the door. It was best if they kept to their own property. And if they didn’t, he’d be sure to let them know he didn’t appreciate trespassing.
Running a hand through his rumpled hair, he made his way to the kitchen where he dropped his jeans to the floor. The mutt inside him had become more restless than usual. The best thing for him was to give in to the damn thing. Then maybe he’d get some peace.
ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT SOLSTICE is a multi-author box set that will warm you from the inside out. It's sure to bring a smile to your face and fill your heart with the holiday spirit.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from THE WOLF WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS. It releases tomorrow, December 13th, along with this beautiful set.