Unlucky-in-love PR manager Kate Braithwaite doesn't think her Christmas could get any suckier. Until a trip into work on Christmas Day leaves her snowbound in the Fifth Avenue department store with her boss’s far-too-tempting playboy son Ryder Sinclair. Ryder’s rugged, reckless and none too pleased to be stuck in a place he hates with an uptight workaholic like Kate—but as the night draws on, the lights go out and the temperature rises, until they’re both wondering is this the season to get lucky?
Excerpt: ‘Tis the Season to Get Lucky by Heidi RiceThe blackout continues, and Ryder tries to talk the phobic Kate out of her hysteria, and get her to release her death grip on his arm:
Her teeth chattered as the quaking terror charged through her body.
“When you let go, put your arms around my neck,” he soothed. “Then you’ll know where I am, okay?”
She nodded, and the top of her head butted his chin.? He grunted again, but didn’t say anything.?“S-s-sorry,” she said on a rattle of teeth.
“Let go, Katherine. Now.” The demand snapped out, and her fingers released instinctively. Fear shot through her, but he folded both arms round her waist, drawing her close as she flung her arms around his neck.
Her whole body shook, the tremors raw and uncontrollable. She squeezed her eyes shut, moisture seeping out of the corners. The only sound was the rat-a-tat-tat of her teeth, echoing like machine gun fire in the still dark.
A slow breath gushed out against the top of her head. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.” Large hands stroked the slope of her back, sure, certain, safe.
Her fingers clutched at his nape as she pressed her cheek against his collarbone and felt him swallow against her ear. The frantic punch of her pulse finally began to slow a little, as did the pitch and roll in the pit of her belly.
“The store’s got a backup generator,” he said, the gruff, matter-of-fact tone more soothing than any lullaby as his hands continued to stroke. “It’ll kick in any minute.”
“T-thank you,” she stammered, her teeth still refusing to cooperate.
She flattened herself against the hard planes of his chest, trying to push closer. To take more of the comfort he offered and stop the shaking.
“It’ll stop your teeth from chattering.”
“O-okay. What s-should I h-hum?” she asked, only to recoil when he laughed.
What was wrong with her? Had she regressed into childhood and lost the ability to make the simplest of decisions?
“How about ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’?” he suggested, cutting neatly through her panic attack. “I’ll sing, you hum along.”
The seasonal song came out in a husky baritone, not particularly strong, but pitch-perfect. She couldn’t say the same for her humming.
His large hands bracketed her hips to hold her steady while they stood together in the inky blackness, and he chanted the silly lyrics while she hummed tunelessly along. A wave of strong emotion washed over her as her teeth finally lost the stuttering chatter: partly relief that the horror had begun to retreat into the black hole it had lurched out of, but mostly bone-deep gratitude, that Ryder Sinclair with his big hands and rough baritone had managed to catch her before she’d tumbled down the black hole after it.
USA Today bestselling author Heidi Rice lives in London and is married with two teenage sons (which gives her rather too much of an insight into the male psyche). She also works as a film journalist but loves being a romance writer because it involves sitting down at her computer each day and getting swept up in a world of high emotions, sensual excitement, smart feisty women, sexy tortured men and glamorous locations where laundry doesn’t exist … Not bad, eh.
Then she gets to turn off her computer and do chores (usually involving laundry!)