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Missing Christmas

Missing Christmas

Baca pratinjau

Missing Christmas

peringkat:
3/5 (1 peringkat)
Panjangnya:
108 halaman
1 jam
Penerbit:
Dirilis:
Oct 27, 2020
ISBN:
9781420153453
Format:
Buku

Deskripsi

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE ANTHOLOGY A SNOWY LITTLE CHRISTMAS!
 
From the acclaimed author of Love Lettering comes another unforgettable story of modern love, as Mother Nature steps in to help turn two friends into much more . . .
 
It’s all work and no play for longtime friends-turned-business-partners Kristen and Jasper—until an unexpected kiss turns things personal. Will it mean the end of something, or the beginning? With a major contract in the balance, Christmas around the corner, and a lot of unspoken feelings, it may take an unpredictable blizzard in New England to seal the deal . . .
 
 
 PRAISE FOR KATE CLAYBORN
 
“I can’t wait for the whole world to fall in love with Love Lettering!”
—Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal

Love Lettering is . . . a novel of lush complexity, one bursting with humor, a tender melancholy, and meditations on love, friendship, and life any reader can find solace and inspiration in.”

—A+, Entertainment Weekly
 
Penerbit:
Dirilis:
Oct 27, 2020
ISBN:
9781420153453
Format:
Buku

Tentang penulis

Double RITA® nominee Kate Clayborn lives in Virginia, where she spends her days reading and talking about all kinds of great books. Kate loves to hear from and connect with readers—follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook. Visit her at www.kateclayborn.com to sign up for her newsletter.


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Missing Christmas - Kate Clayborn

Clayborn

Chapter One

J

ASPER

December 14

Here’s the long and short of it: I kiss her because I miss her.

I know how it sounds. If she’s close enough to kiss, she’s not far away enough to miss.

But I’ve seen or talked to Kristen Fraser almost every day of the last six years, and I think, deep down, I have missed her for every single one of them.

Only I’ve never—not until tonight—dared to kiss her. With Kristen, I’ve always, always followed the rules.

It’s not how I would’ve pictured it, my first kiss with her. That’s probably because the only way I’ve ever allowed myself to picture it, in my weakest moments, is in scenarios that would never actually happen: Me and her, under a blanket of starlight, nothing fluorescent or LED or otherwise unnatural. The clothes between us soft and comfortable, easy to pull off—none of the tiny, tyrannical enforcers usually kept between us, belts and buttons and zippers. No phones ringing or computers pinging, no appointments or negotiations or closings.

Nowhere to be but with each other.

But maybe it’s right, that it’s this way. The end of an endless day in a small conference room, working on a recruit Kris has been pursuing for weeks, her first solo approach. The deadline firm, our last job before we close down the office tomorrow for the holidays. Three hours of calls, two in-person meetings with our client, four frantic hours of typing, each of us on our laptops staring at the same shared document, one hour of sipping coffee and staring anxiously between our phones, our computers, each other. The way our eyes locked when the call came in, the way unspoken words passed between us: this is it; good luck; whatever happens, we did our best; I’m proud of you; I’m glad we’re here together. The way she’d tapped her knuckles on the table quietly when Dr. Nhung said he’d read the contract, the way I’d punched a fist in the air when he’d said yes. The way we’d both stood from our chairs while we each tried to sound casual, expressing our pleasure, our promises to finalize details soon.

It’s the way we’ve always worked together. Fast, close, in sync.

Electric.

So when she presses end on the call, I think I know what will happen next. I think she’ll set her hands on her hips and smile at me for a second or two, letting some of that electricity crackle out and away. I think she’ll say something brief but celebratory, efficient but powerful. All business Kristen, more so now since we’ve opened this firm, and I’ll love it but I’ll get that familiar pang of missing her, and I’ll clear my throat and gather my things and congratulate her and go home to have a drink.

Alone.

But she doesn’t do that, she isn’t any of that, not tonight. Instead she turns to face me, and even in the heels she wears she’s got to look up at me, a disadvantage she’s never much liked, though I think she knows by now—as smart and kind and capable and funny as she is—that it’s the only one I’ve got over her. Her light brown hair, fine and straight, has started to sag a little from the tight ponytail she’d had it in when she’d entered this room this morning. Her gray-green eyes are tired but her smile is huge, so big I can see a flash of the bottom row of her teeth, a little crooked.

She closes her eyes and tips her head back and the noise she makes—it’s a half laugh, half sigh, and I think I ought to sit right back down in my chair and take a deep breath to get over it but I can’t do it; I can’t sit down, because Kristen does the most unexpected thing.

She hugs me.

I make a noise, something between an oh and a mmph, and maybe someone else, someone who hasn’t wondered about this exact feeling for years, would stand stiffly out of shock. Maybe that’s what even I’d do in literally any other circumstance like this that didn’t involve Kristen Fraser—Jasper with a heart of stone, Jasper who barely bothers with a handshake, Jasper who’d do anything for the job, who’s always on to the next one. I don’t even hug my family, not that any of them would try it.

But as soon as I feel her against me I wrap my arms around her, not like I’ve been wondering about it for years but like I’ve been doing it for years, and she’s warm and soft and perfect and she says, "I did it and I can feel her breath against my skin and I say roughly, You did," even as I’m tipping my hips back slightly so she doesn’t feel what she does to me.

You are an absolute bastard, Sorenson, I’m telling myself, trying to ignore the way the edge of her ponytail is resting against the back of my hand, cool and smooth and perfect.

And then she pulls back but she stays holding on and she’s just looking at me, right into my eyes, and her face is flushed in the exact way it gets every time we have a win together—the day we finally told our former boss we were going out on our own, the day we signed the lease on this space, the day we landed our first recruit under our new firm’s name, the day we’d finally made enough money to hire an admin to run the office.

Her breath hitches and she says, Jasper, and I have to close my eyes at the way it sounds. Breathy and surprised and wanting.

Kris, I . . .

My voice trails off when she moves a hand to my cheek, my evening stubble rough against her smooth palm. I open my eyes and she’s watching that hand; she watches, almost dazedly, her own thumb as it moves to stroke over my cheekbone, and—holy hell. Unless I can move my lower half into the next state she’s going to know about the situation down there, and I try to focus on other things while she works out, works off whatever this uncharacteristic form of affection is. There’s a tinkling echo of holiday music coming from outside the conference room, something Carol must’ve left piping out of her computer speakers when she took off a couple hours ago. That alone ought to be enough to dull this buzz, since I hate this holiday. I hate that every year it takes me away from the things I’m best at and the people I care about the most.

I hate that it takes me away from this office.

From her.

Jasper, she says again, and she moves that thumb enough to press it, lightly, on the curve of my bottom lip. I feel like I live a lifetime in that second of pressure, like I see every fantasy I’m not allowed to have about her. Starlight, soft clothes, silence. Kiss me.

It’s a demand she’s given me, but I can hear something living beneath it, a little question in the words that makes my shoulders tighten. There can’t be a question there; there can’t. I’ve followed the rules for this, for us working together and being friends, starting this business together and making it a success. I can’t ever have Kristen regretting me. I’d never recover from it.

Kris, I say warningly, even though I don’t let her go. I take a breath, gathering the will I need to stop this. It feels beyond my considerable, long-honed resources

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  • (3/5)
    Fun to read, but very short book with a pretty hallmark standard plot.