Just In Time: An Alaskan Nights Novel

PRAISE FOR
THE
ALASKAN NIGHTS SERIES

Come Fly with Me

“A sexy, emotional journey of the best kind.”


New York Times
Bestselling Author Carly Phillips

Baby It’s Cold Outside

“A fun, sassy, well-written, hysterical, heartfelt, and entertaining book.”

—Fiction Vixen

“Refreshing . . . this was a great book that had me laughing out loud.”

—Night Owl Reviews

“A cute, funny, fast-paced romantic novel filled with humor [and] heartwarming moments . . . a great read on a cold night in front of a warm fire.”

—Manic Readers

“Addison Fox charmed the heck out of me with her first Alaskan Nights novel. I cannot wait to return to the wonderful town of Indigo, Alaska.”

—Romance Junkies

“Steamy encounters . . . keep the blood pumping all the way to a sweet ending.”


Publishers Weekly

“Heartfelt. . . . Readers will eagerly await the next novel in Fox’s series after reading this poignant romance.”


Booklist

“[A] fun, sexy story.”

—The Romance Dish

“Fox does a fantastic job. . . . The characters are dynamic and interesting. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this sexy new series!”


RT Book Reviews
(top pick)

“With plenty of humor mixed in with some sizzling sex,
Baby It’s Cold Outside
proves that you better cuddle up with a hot man and a good book to keep you warm while it’s cold outside. Grab this gem of a book before winter settles in too deep.”

—Romance Reviews Today

 

PRAISE FOR

THE SONS OF THE ZODIAC SERIES

Warrior Betrayed

“A terrific tale.”

—Alternative Worlds

“Ms. Fox is definitely an author to watch.”

—The Romance Readers Connection

Warrior Avenged

“Everything I love in a book: a sexy, enigmatic hero, a strong, capable heroine who is his match in every way, action, surprises, and plenty of steam! It’s a fantastic series, and trust me, you won’t want to miss a single moment!”

—The Romance Dish

“Another powerfully sexy and exciting entry in this dynamic series.”

—Fresh Fiction

“An exciting series.”

—Risqué Reviews

“[A] superb . . . urban romantic fantasy.”

—Genre Go Round Reviews

Warrior Ascended

“[A] powerful romance.”


Publishers Weekly

“A delightful twist to the Greek Gods . . . will keep you turning the pages and begging for more. A great start to a promising paranormal series!”

—Fresh Fiction

“[A] blast to read, combining paranormal romance, enjoyable heroes and heroines . . . kept me turning the pages until I finished it.”

—Errant Dreams Reviews

“Promise[s] plenty of action, treachery, and romance!”


RT Book Reviews

ALSO BY ADDISON FOX

THE ALASKAN NIGHTS SERIES

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Come Fly with Me

THE SONS OF THE ZODIAC SERIES

Warrior Ascended

Warrior Avenged

Warrior Betrayed

Warrior Enchanted

 

An Alaskan Nights Novel

Addison Fox

SIGNET ECLIPSE

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, USA

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group visit penguin.com.

First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Frances Karkosak, 2013

Excerpt from
Baby It’s Cold Outside
copyright © Frances Karkosak, 2011

Excerpt from
From This Moment On
copyright © Frances Karkosak, 2013

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

SIGNET ECLIPSE and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ISBN 978-1-101-61573-7

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

     The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

Contents

Praise

Also by Addison Fox

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Epilogue

 

Excerpt from
Baby It’s Cold Outside

Excerpt
From This Moment On

For Holly Root

From our very first call, I knew I’d found a business partner who lives and works with the qualities I admire most: integrity, hard work and thoughtfulness.

You champion the work and you nourish the creative soul with an unfailingly kind hand.

You are equal parts sounding board, negotiator, ledge-talker-offer and cheerleader.

You are a friend.

Our partnership has enriched my career in a myriad of ways, but it is our friendship that has enriched my life beyond measure.

Chapter One

W
eddings were a big fat pain in the ass.

If she didn’t enjoy them so much—or love the couple who’d be standing at the end of the aisle even more—Avery Marks knew she’d have taken the weekend off and run for the hills.

“Did the champagne arrive?” Sloan McKinley, the bride-to-be and one of Avery’s closest friends, asked as upswept oversized blond ringlets bounced with every movement of her head.

“It arrived last week.” Avery barely looked up from where she made a last-minute adjustment to a slight rip in the underskirt of her bridesmaid dress as she sat on the end of her bed.

“And the bouquets?”

“This morning, right on schedule. Mick picked them up himself on his morning run to Anchorage.”

Avery hesitated to add she’d already confirmed this three times already. A bride was entitled to a bit of the crazies, especially with her walk down the aisle less than an hour away.

“My mother’s driving me bat-shit.” Sloan sat down with a hard thump in a small wing-back chair Avery kept in her room. The minuscule, stiff-backed torture device was too impractical to be good for much, but Sloan seemed unaware as half her frame got lost in a sea of crinoline.

Avery did look up at that as she cut off the dangling thread from her repair. “Doesn’t she always? Even about the littlest things?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So today isn’t exactly the definition of a little thing.”

“Right again.”

A long sigh floated toward Avery and she couldn’t help but smile at the melodrama. Boy, had she missed this. She’d loved her four glorious months in Ireland on a professional exchange program, but she couldn’t deny how much she’d missed her friends.

“Besides, focus on the outcome. Marriage to Walker and two weeks in Fiji.”

The lines of frustration smoothed out across Sloan’s face, replaced with a bright glow and a warm, distant smile. “There is that.”

“And lots of sex,” Avery added with a philosophical nod before standing to hold her dress out before her. “The tropical kind.”

“You have a one-track mind.”

“Pretty close.” Avery stood before her dresser mirror. “And as your designated friend who’s not getting any, I have to say quit your bitching.”

Sloan laughed as she stood up in her frothy bundle of underskirt. “Here. Let me help you get into that.”

Avery dragged off her shorts and button-down shirt—a nod to the mass of hair that was currently arranged atop her head like a well-pouffed bird’s nest—and stepped into the thin silk Sloan held out in a circle.

“Aren’t I supposed to be helping you?” Avery took the dress from Sloan and shimmied it up her body. The dark red silk was particularly flattering and she settled the beaded fabric against her torso.

The bright smile faded quickly as tears welled in Sloan’s perfectly made-up eyes.

“Oh, oh.” Avery reached for a tissue on the dresser as she held the front of the dress against her chest. “No tears.”

Sloan clutched the tissue. “I’m sorry. I can’t seem to stop doing that.”

“Come on, don’t cry. Save that for the ceremony.”

“They just won’t stop. Every time I think I have a handle on it, I think about how different my life is from a year ago and how happy I am and I can’t stop them.”

Avery pulled Sloan in for a hug, mashing her dress and Sloan’s underskirt between them. “I know.”

“And it’s wonderful.”

“It is.” She ran her hand in large circles over Sloan’s back before stepping away. “Which is why you’re going to quit blubbering like you just failed ninth-grade English and help me into this.”

“You are such a slave driver.”

“And you’ve got a hot man waiting at the end of a long white aisle.” She swatted in the general direction of Sloan’s ass—it was hard to tell through the layers of material—and turned back toward the mirror. “Let’s get cracking.”

The tears vanished as quickly as they’d come and Sloan moved to stand behind her. Avery felt light fingers on the small row of buttons at her back as Sloan did up the dress.

“Speaking of bitching, the dry spell is all your own fault if the almost-daily calls from Ireland are any indication.”

Avery saw her own eyes widen in shock as she stared at herself in the mirror. “Who’s been telling?”

“Sandy Stringer’s beside herself to share the news. Says he sounds like a dream, with this deep, seductive masculine voice that sounds like a cross between James Bond and Gerard Butler.”

Avery shook her head at the report from their summer front desk clerk and made a mental note to suggest Declan call her cell phone from now on.

And no matter how much she wanted to fault Sandy, the woman had described Declan’s voice to a T.

“I didn’t go to Ireland to get laid.”

Sloan stood up after fastening the last button. Avery appreciated the warm, comforting hands that gripped her shoulders. “I didn’t come to Alaska to get laid but it didn’t stop me. And, for the record,” Sloan added before placing a quick kiss on Avery’s forehead, “it’s not getting laid if you really like the person.”

Avery knew that. Knew it with every fiber of her being. She also suspected that for all her talk about being a lonely single girl not “getting any,” it was the fact that she wanted it to be special that kept her waiting.

Not that Declan O’Mara wasn’t awfully special. But it just hadn’t been right, no matter how many times she’d tried to lose herself in his kisses before the big fireplace in his B and B in County Clare.

Perfect location.

Perfect timing.

Perfect man.

And still, she’d held back, a memory of vivid green eyes, dark hair and a mischievous smile she could remember since roughly the age of five haunting her thoughts and holding her back from taking the next step with Dec.

Shaking it off, Avery ran her hands down the fitted bodice. “Sandy’s got a big mouth. There’s nothing going on between Declan O’Mara and me.”

“But there could be.” Sloan’s voice singsonged next to her as she reached for a small, silver hair clip on the edge of the dresser. “That’s part of the fun.”

“She’s blowing it out of proportion.”

“And I love the fact that there’s something to blow.”

Avery caught Sloan’s wry expression as her words registered to both of them.

“You know what I mean.” Sloan giggled.

“Oh I do. I’m also thinking with thoughts like those, maybe you shouldn’t be wearing white.” Avery winked at her, unable to hold back her own laughter.

The door slammed open as Grier Thompson—the third member of their self-proclaimed Musketeers—walked through. “I hate both of you. I’m stuck downstairs calming Winnie’s nerves and the two of you are in here having a grand old time.”

“How’d you escape? Did my mother finally pass out in a fit of the vapors?” Sloan glanced sideways from the dresser mirror as she positioned the silver clip in her hair.

“Or did you just come up here to retrieve my crucifix?” Avery added as she began the hunt for the strappy heels that completed her outfit.

“She’s mental, Sloan.” Grier dropped into the small chair Sloan had recently abandoned. “Scary mental.”

“You were only with her for fifteen minutes.” Avery spotted the sexy shoes on the far side of her bed. “How bad could she be?”

“You do not want to ask that question. In the fifteen minutes I was with her, she made the caterer cry, sent the florist off to redo her corsage, and she went toe-to-toe with Sophie. And we all know that’s saying something.”

Sloan whirled from the mirror, her vague air of concern shifting into a clear case of bridal jitters. “She’s fighting with Walker’s grandmother? Oh God, I need to get down there.”

Avery sensed Sloan’s intention and beelined for the door, closing it with a firm snap. “You don’t need to get in the middle of things. It’s your wedding day.”

“Avery’s right. I made my escape because Sophie wanted to have a little conversation with
Winifred
. She shooed me out and forbade me to allow you anywhere near your mother until the photographer arrives for pictures.”

“There will be no pictures if the mother of the bride and the grandmother of the groom end up having a cage fight in the bridal suite.”

Grier was already up and out of the chair as Avery reached Sloan’s side. The two of them pulled Sloan toward the edge of the bed, and Grier put a soothing hand on Sloan’s back. “Come on, Sloan. Calm down.”

“But it’s my wedding day.”

“Which means both women will come to their senses and refrain from engaging in said cage fight.” Avery hoped like hell she was right about that one.

“Avery’s right.” Grier patted Sloan’s back. “They’ll wait and save that for the baby shower.”

A powerful laugh escaped Sloan and she leaned forward and clutched her stomach as several more giggles followed.

Avery caught Grier’s eye over the top of Sloan’s head.
Are we out of the woods?
flashed between them as clearly as if they’d spoken to each other.

“Some bridesmaids you two are.” Sloan gave each of them a teary smile before wrapping an arm around each of their waists.

Avery hugged the two of them back, Sloan’s earlier words echoing in her ear. Her life had changed over the past year. In ways she’d never imagined.

And two of the biggest reasons it had changed were the women sitting right here.

For the first time in her life, she had good girlfriends whom she trusted implicitly. Women who had her back. Women who believed in her. Women who wanted the best for her.

Sloan and Grier were her family, and she hadn’t realized quite how much she missed having one until the two of them arrived in Indigo, Alaska, and raised its population to 714.

A light knock on the door broke the spell.

“It’s Lou. Can I come in and take a few pictures?”

“I’m not dressed!” Sloan’s gaze shifted quickly to the dress.

“Hang on!” Avery hollered toward the closed door as she and Grier worked in unison to remove Sloan’s gown from its hangers. “Okay, Sloan. It’s time to put on your wedding dress.”

Avery didn’t miss Grier’s misty smile as she held the other side of the silk confection open for Sloan to step into. Nor could she miss the way her own throat tightened as they buttoned up the back of the dress.

“Gorgeous,” Grier sighed.

Sloan pulled both of them into a hug before her gaze drifted toward the door. “I’m ready.”

“Come on in!” The three of them hollered in unison.

In an act that ensured Sloan would have a day of photographs full of the most spontaneous memories, Lou came through the door with his camera up and caught the three of them wrapped up in one another’s arms, bright smiles reflecting their joy.

•   •   •

Roman Forsyth reached for another round of longnecks from the small cooler his mother had kindly thought to provide. He made quick work of the metal caps and handed the bottles to his two best friends, Mick O’Shaughnessy and the groom-to-be, Walker Montgomery.

Walker took the bottle midpace across the hotel room they were using as a groom’s suite. “Did everything get here?”

“I left all of it in Anchorage.” Mick took a long drag off his new bottle as Walker’s mouth fell. “Oh for God’s sake, I put everything in the damn plane myself this morning. And I was out of here at six a.m. The least you could do is believe me when I tell you I have everything. Again.”

Walker scrubbed a hand over his freshly shaven face. “Damn it. I’m sorry. It’s like I can’t keep anything in my head.”

“Name the Bill of Rights,” Roman suggested. The finger gesture he got in return pretty much told him what Walker thought of that idea, but it did give him an opportunity to poke his friend a bit more. “You were able to name them, along with all the other amendments in the sixth grade. If you’ve forgotten that, Sloan McKinley has really gotten you good.”

“Legs like that’ll do it every time,” Mick added as he raised his beer.

“Yeah, but the brains, the smile and the open welcome for everyone she meets were the clincher.” A funny, lopsided grin spread across Walker’s face. “And she wants to marry me.”

“There’s no accounting for taste,” Roman offered as he took a seat, careful to select just the right one.

“Isn’t that the truth.” Mick nodded.

Walker glanced up at that, the dreamy haze evaporating from his gaze. “You’ve got room to talk. Grier let you put a ring on her finger.”

“And I count myself the luckiest of men,” Mick intoned, his voice solemn. “I count myself even luckier that she wants a wedding that’s small and intimate, with a minimum of fuss.”

“Which is an improvement over her wanting you to drag her to Vegas,” Roman couldn’t resist adding. “I still don’t understand why you turned her down.”

“I’m a romantic fellow, and Elvis officiating just didn’t fit the bill for what I have in mind.”

Roman shook his head, a subtle sense of bemusement humming in his veins. He was happy for his friends’ leap into the married phases of their lives, but couldn’t quite understand when things had gone so sideways.

They were the eternal bachelors.

And now he was the only one left.

“What time is it?” Walker’s voice pulled him from the maudlin thoughts that had dogged him with uncomfortable regularity these last six months.

Roman stuck out his arm in an exaggerated gesture and dragged up his tuxedo sleeve to look at his wrist. “He’s improved, Mick. It’s been six minutes since the last time he asked.”

A good-natured round of “You’re an asshole” later—a standard response the trio had practiced since middle school—ended with the three of them sitting in quiet solidarity.

Walker broke the silence first. “You and Avery were awfully distant last night.”

Roman chose his words with care, but couldn’t stop the slight edge of resentment that coated them. “I barely saw her. She was so busy flitting around the room talking about Ireland.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve got sour grapes about the Irish, Boy-o.” Mick affected the lilting notes of his heritage in his tone. “Our fine lass was simply regaling our townsfolk with tales of the Emerald Isle.”

“It’s more the Irish asshole who can’t seem to leave her alone.”

The words were out before he could stop them, and as Roman took a reflective drag on his beer, he had to admit he didn’t want to.

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