Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe

BOOK: Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe
2.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Praise for Maureen Child

“One of the stars in the ascendant…poised for the next big step.”

—
Publishers Weekly

“Maureen Child always writes a guaranteed winner…. Sexy and impossible to put down.”

—Susan Mallery,
New York Times
and
USA TODAY
bestselling author

“Maureen Child infuses her writing with the perfect blend of laughter, tears and romance….Well-crafted characters…. Her novels [are] a treat to be savored.”

—Jill Marie Landis, author of
Heartbreak Hotel

“Maureen Child…has a sharp, witty voice that will leave readers begging for more.”

—Katie MacAlister,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Playing with Fire

Praise for Sandra Hyatt

“Hyatt has a charming story line with witty dialogue and characters who are easy to root for.”

—
RT Book Reviews
on
His Bride for the Taking
(4.5 stars)

“A riveting story.”

—
Romance Reviews Today
on
Having the Billionaire's Baby

“A charming romance that you won't want to miss.”

—
Romance Reviews Today
on
The Magnate's Pregnancy Proposal

MAUREEN CHILD

is a California native who loves to travel. Every chance they get, she and her husband are taking off on another research trip. The author of more than sixty books, Maureen loves a happy ending and still swears that she has the best job in the world. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children and a golden retriever with delusions of grandeur. Visit Maureen's website at www.maureenchild.com.

SANDRA HYATT

After completing a business degree, traveling and then settling into a career in marketing, Sandra Hyatt was relieved to experience one of life's eureka moments while on maternity leave—she discovered that writing books, although a lot slower, was just as much fun as reading them.

She knows life doesn't always hand out happy endings and figures that's why books ought to. She loves being along for the journey with her characters as they work around, over and through the obstacles standing in their way.

Sandra has lived in both the U.S. and England and currently lives near the coast in New Zealand with her high-school sweetheart and their two children.

You can visit her at www.sandrahyatt.com.

MAUREEN CHILD
&
SANDRA HYATT
UNDER THE MILLIONAIRE'S MISTLETOE

Dear Reader,

Holiday parties, snowball fights, kisses under the mistletoe…Christmas really
is
the most wonderful time of the year, just as the song promises! This month,
USA TODAY
bestselling authors Maureen Child and Sandra Hyatt reveal what happens
Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe
in two novellas.

Enjoy this powerful, passionate and provocative read!

Krista Stroever

Senior Editor

THE WRONG BROTHER

MAUREEN CHILD

For my mom, Sallye Carberry,
who loves Christmas more than anyone else I know.
You always made the magic for us, Mom.

One

A
nna Cameron ducked behind a tinsel-draped potted plant and peeked through the lacy fronds at the mingling crowd. The Cameron Leather company Christmas party was in high gear. People she'd known most of her life were here, laughing, talking, drinking. She wished she were out there in the middle of them enjoying herself.

Instead, she was hiding from her stepmother. Not that Clarissa Cameron was an evil woman or anything. But she'd had a little too much to drink and now all she wanted to do was corner Anna and try to convince her to win back her former boyfriend, Garret Hale.

“As if I'd take him back,” Anna muttered, pulling aside a tinsel-decorated frond to scan the crowd in front of her.

They'd gone out only a few times when Garret's older brother Samuel told him to drop her. He'd actually had the nerve to suggest that Anna was doing exactly what
Clarissa now
wanted
her to do. Using Garret to help her father's company. Okay, fine, a merger with Hale Luxury Autos would probably save Cameron Leather, but she wasn't a bargaining chip. And even if she had been, it wouldn't have worked.

Because Garret had backed away from her so fast that he'd left sparks in his wake. He hadn't stood up for her to his snooty, suspicious older brother. He'd called Anna to tell her they couldn't see each other anymore because the Great Sam Hale had decreed it. He'd threatened to cut Garret off financially if he hadn't stopped seeing Anna.

“No loss,” Anna reassured herself. So despite what Clarissa wanted, Anna wouldn't have Garret back on a platter. She hadn't even been that interested in the man in the first place. One kiss had told her everything she needed to know about him. She hadn't felt the slightest tingle of expectation when he kissed her. Hadn't seen a single star. She had known then that he was not the man for her.

She wanted the
magic
.

Of course, the fact that he'd wimped out for the sake of his big brother and his wallet didn't exactly endear him to her either. And her life might have been easier if she could just admit to Clarissa what had happened. But she had a
little
pride after all.

Clarissa kept urging her to do exactly what Garret's brother had assumed she was up to in the first place—marry the man and bring a nice merger to the family business.

“Anna, honey, is that you in there?”

She jerked, startled and turned to look guiltily into her father's eyes. “Um, hi, Dad.”

“What're you doing behind a plant, sweetie?” Dave
Cameron's green eyes were smiling, but Anna couldn't help but notice that there was a glimmer of worry there, too.

How to explain that she was hiding from his wife? Nope, couldn't do it. It wasn't anyone's fault, but Clarissa and Anna had never been as close as her dad wanted them to be. Until ten years ago, it had been just her and her father. Her own mother had died when Anna was two, so all she really had were photographs and her dad's stories.

When Clarissa came into their lives, Anna was seventeen. She hadn't been interested in acquiring a new “mother,” and at the time had really resented having to share her father's affections. She and Clarissa had finally gotten to the point where they could be friends, if not mother and daughter, but Anna knew her father still worried about their relationship.

So, instead of blurting out the truth, Anna ran her fingertips across the top of the big blue ceramic pot. “Just checking to make sure everything's tidy. Yep, no dust.”

He laughed and took her arm, drawing her out from behind the palm. “Housekeeping has never been one of your interests, so what's really going on?”

The music was too loud for any deep conversation and Anna wasn't interested in having one anyway. So she simply smiled, kissed her father's cheek and said, “Nothing, Dad. Everything's great. The party's wonderful.”

“So wonderful you're hiding in the shrubbery?”

“Honestly?” she said, mentally crossing her fingers for the tiny lie she was about to tell, “Darren Shivers has had one beer too many and wanted to tell me all about how he won the high school football game back in the seventies.”

“Oh, he's not telling that story again, is he?”

“You know Darren,” she said, telling herself that really, it wasn't much of a lie. Any time the man had more than three beers, he cornered someone and forced him or her to relive his glory days with him. Still, couldn't hurt to change the subject. “Looks like everyone's having fun.”

“Seem to be,” he mused, swiftly scanning the crowd that was even now dancing to the music and gathering in knots to try to talk. “Your stepmother's done a fine job.”

“Yes, Clarissa's very good at this sort of thing,” she said, meaning it. She and her stepmother did have common ground after all. They both loved Anna's dad.

Her dad sent her a sidelong glance. “Is there something going on between you two?”

“Absolutely not,” she said, unwilling to put her father in the middle of all this. Besides, Anna knew that Clarissa's tipsy attempt at matchmaking was only because she was worried about her husband.

Hard to fault her for that when Anna was worried, too.

Cameron Leather company was in trouble and despite this wonderful party, the truth was, if something great didn't happen soon, her dad was going to lose the company he'd built up from nothing. But Dave Cameron was an “old school” kind of man. He treated the women in his life like princesses and didn't want them “fretting” about company concerns. Her dad was sweet and old-fashioned and she loved him fiercely.

She forced a smile on to her face and said, “Don't worry about Clarissa and me. We're fine. And it's a great party, Dad. Why don't you go enjoy it?”

“Good idea.” He took a step, stopped and asked,
“You're not going back behind that plant are you? You're too beautiful to hide away.”

She held up one hand. “I swear. I will have a good time. Now go, dance with your wife.”

And keep her off my trail,
she added silently.

By the time her father had slipped back into the crowd, greeting old friends with a forced holiday cheer, Anna had disappeared from the ballroom. As a child, she'd explored every inch of the big house, so she knew all the nooks and crannies to disappear into.

She was stopped a dozen times to talk to someone or answer a question from the catering staff. The music jumped into a wild dance beat with a tune from the forties and the drumbeats seemed to echo in the headache behind her eyes.

“Clarissa's looking for you,” someone said and Anna smiled and kept moving.
Just nod,
she told herself. Smile and keep walking.

She was almost at the long hallway leading to the front door when she heard, “Anna!”

She stopped again with a barely restrained sigh. Not an easy thing to do at all, she thought, slipping out of a party where she knew everyone. She turned to chat yet again with one of her father's employees.

Eddie Hanover was short, round and sported a wispy gray comb-over. He was one of the guys Anna had grown up around and she loved him like a second father. “Hi, Eddie. How's it going?”

“Going great, Anna. Trust your dad to hold to traditions even when times are hard,” he said with a grin.

True. Her father hadn't wanted to even discuss canceling the annual Christmas party. The company might be in trouble, but her dad wouldn't “cheat” his employees out of something they looked forward to all year.

“Have you seen Clarissa?” Eddie's wife Trina asked. “She's been looking all over for you.”

“Well, I'll go look for her.” In the driveway. Inside her own car.

“Just wanted to say howdy, let you know we all appreciate the Camerons throwing the party,” Eddie told her, then grabbed Trina's hand and dragged her off in the direction of the music.

She nodded, but the pair were already lost in the mingling crowd. Then she caught a flash of something bright red out of the corner of her eye. When she glanced over, she saw it was Clarissa, headed her way.

Think fast,
she told herself. If only she were dating someone else, she thought frantically. Then Clarissa would have to give up on the whole “marry for the sake of the family” idea and she'd drop the subject of Garret Hale for good.

Unfortunately, there was no man in Anna's life and no prospects for one anytime soon. Her gaze scanning the room, frantically trying to find an escape route, she eventually spotted something even better.

A tall man with no woman clinging to his arm, standing beneath a red ribbon–bedecked sprig of mistletoe.

With Clarissa hot on her heels, Anna sprinted toward him, moving in and out of the ever-shifting crowd like a race car driver on a complicated course. When she was right behind him, she tapped him on the shoulder and shouted to be heard over the pounding music.

“Kiss me and save my life!”

BOOK: Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe
2.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Wish List by Myrna Mackenzie
Bound to Them by Roberts, Lorna Jean
Infandous by Elana K. Arnold
Ryder: #4 (Allen Securities) by Madison Stevens
One Hundred Years of Marriage by Louise Farmer Smith
Deadly Sky (ePub), The by Hill, David
Ross 04 Take Me On by Cherrie Lynn