a 2-in-1 holiday romance
Kissing Under the Mistletoe & A Soldier’s Christmas in one novel!
Kissing Under the Mistletoe — Gabe has been brought up with Bree, since he was nine years old when his parents died. Now he’s twenty six and been in love with Bree for the past seven years. She’s coming home for the holidays and has him so tied in knots he can’t think straight.
Bree avoided going home for the holidays last year because she didn’t think she’d be able to handle being around Gabe, the man she’s in love with, who she thinks she can never be with. Or can she?
To begin with both Gabe and Bree sneak around together and eventually Bree’s mother finds out and accepts them as a couple, but announcing it to her father causes heartache with the bombshell he drops.
Join Gabe and Bree in a Christmas story where love conquers all…. and were Bree discovers Gabe knows just how to use a red ribbon…..
A Soldier’s Christmas — Back Stateside after a three-year absence, Staff Sergeant Logan Richards is lacking any enthusiasm for the holidays looming ahead of him. With a heavy heart he unpacks his kitbag and comes across a bundle of letters. Logan is instantly struck by their significance and his head is quickly filled with sweet words, expressions of comfort and pages of hope. He starts to think of the woman behind the neat script, would she be happy to meet him?
Emma struggles to find any seasonal spirit. It has been months since she received a letter from the soldier she has been writing to and it has left her with a persistent empty feeling, her heart aches with thoughts of what could have happened to him. In one last hopeful gesture, Emma sends him a special care package and wishes for contact.
They met as strangers across the miles, letters forging a tentative friendship. Now can the Christmas spirit weave it’s seasonal magic and bring two lonely hearts together.
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling author, Lexi Buchanan, brings you a story of friendship, love, and the magic of Christmas.
Kissing Under the Mistletoe ~ Chapter One
Traveling home for the holidays squished between a man who smells of a nauseating blend of day old sweat and cigarettes, and an adolescent boy who can’t stop grinning at me certainly isn’t my idea of fun.
I’ve been on the go since four am, which was when I left for the airport to catch my flight, filled with excitement to see my family after so long away. While I was making my plans, I’d talked to my dad on the phone. He’d seemed just as excited as I was and he’d suggested traveling to meet my flight, but I’d told him not to make the journey. It would have been a six hour round trip and I don’t have a problem taking the bus. He’d eventually been talked out of it.
The bus is now fifteen minutes out from town and the butterflies in my belly have started. It’s been two years since I’ve been home. Two very long years spent trying to get Gabe out of my head and heart, but I have a really bad feeling he’s there to stay.
I sigh and turn toward the portion of window that I can see past my fellow passengers, but I’m not looking at the view in front of me. Instead, I’m looking back several years and miles away. Back then, I’d gone home for the holidays and stepped right off the bus in town to be greeted by Gabe, all six-foot-three inches of him, only to be hit with a surge of lust and love so strong, it had frightened the life out of me. It had stopped me dead in my tracks, because Gabe, to all intents and purposes, is my brother.
He had been nine when my parents, Martha and David, had taken him in to live with them; his parents having been killed in a car crash. So, although we’re not related, we’d grown up in the same house as brother and sister.
Having always been aware of him, it wasn’t until two years ago that I realized just how much he means to me. Now, I’m stuck on this godforsaken bus going home again to the man I’ve fallen in love with, who I can never be with, and it hurts.
The sudden jerk of the bus draws me from my memories and I glance around at the familiar buildings outside the window. The bus is idling with its doors open at the stop in town. I struggle through the throng of people blocking my way to the exit; the congestion caused mainly by people with kids restless in their seats, or bags that haven’t been placed in the compartment to the side of the bus.
Finally, descending the steps, I collect my bag, which I leave to the side while I take in some much needed fresh country air. “Mmm. Home.”
Even better than the fresh air is seeing the town I haven’t realized I missed until now.
With a lung full of fresh air, I stand to one side and drink in the sights of the small town square, which is always wonderfully lit at Christmas. This year is no exception. The general store is covered in colored lights with a Santa and his reindeer lit up on the roof. Jacy’s Pharmacy has small Christmas trees along the front of the roof with holly-shaped lights in the windows, and the trees around the town square are decorated with gold lights.
“Are you going to stand around all night, sis?”
Jumping, I spin around to find my brother, Travis, standing a couple of feet away with a huge grin on his face. He’s just as I remember; tall with broad shoulders, wearing his usual attire of jeans and boots with his winter jacket, gloves and the hat, which hides his sandy-blond hair.
Without a thought to the ice, I run the few feet separating us and throw myself straight into his arms for a really big hug.
“You look good, sis,” Travis tells me with a catch to his voice.
“You got one of them for me?”
My heart flips at the voice. Gabe.
Not wanting him to notice how much his presence means to me, I turn and start to walk toward him with a smile on my face. Over my shoulder, I catch Travis mumbling about grabbing my bag.
When I reach Gabe, he opens his arms. Without another thought, I walk straight into them and wrap my arms tight around his waist. His jacket is open as I bury my face against his chest and breathe in the scent of him. I’ve missed him so much, and being in his arms brings tears to my eyes. He seems to be holding on to me just as tight, as though he never wants to let me go. “I’ve missed you, Gabe,” I whisper. God he feels so good, and the delicious smell of his sweet cologne almost unravels me with desire.
“I’ve missed you too, Bree.” He leans down, kissing me on the top of my head, while he smoothes his hands down my back, causing shivers to follow.
He starts to pull away, so I reluctantly let go of him and step back. Looking up into his face, I’m sure it’s longing I briefly see reflected in his eyes. Or, perhaps, it’s just wishful thinking on my part.
Gabe clears his throat. “You better get in the truck before you freeze to death.” Reaching out, he opens the door for me while keeping a tight hold on my elbow, making sure I don’t slip on the ice.
Sitting in the warm cab, I watch Gabe climb into the passenger seat to wait for Travis, who is on his way over with my one piece of luggage.
Travis throws my bag into the back of the truck, and climbing inside, he pulls out of the parking lot.
I find it hard to take my eyes from Gabe, who keeps catching me staring at him through the rearview mirror. He seems to be doing some looking of his own. I wonder what he sees when he looks at me; whether he sees a sister or a woman?
I quickly check my reflection in the rearview mirror, a silent sigh of gratefulness filling me—I didn’t look too travel worn and look pretty good considering the long flight and bus ride. I’m of average height with a slim figure, and long dark hair, that curls down my back. My skin is flawless with a tan, thanks to the California sun.
Gabe still looks as handsome as always and staying away hasn’t helped with my feelings toward him. Not one bit. I’m still in love with him and guess I always will be. Why can’t he just be a friend of Travis instead of my brother? My parents have never adopted him, they’d told him that his parents had loved him and they wanted to honor their memory by letting him keep the name they’d given him. If he’d wanted them to, all he’d had to do was say the word, but he never had.
As Travis pulls the truck up to the front of the house, I spot my parents waiting by the door—no sign of my sister Emma, though. She’s probably around somewhere with Simon, the boyfriend of the month; or so Travis had told me on the phone when I’d called the other day.
Climbing out of the truck, I feel close to tears. I’ve been an idiot for staying away so long. They’re my family and no matter how I feel about Gabe, and how much it hurts to be close to him and not be with him, I can’t stay away again. Running to the porch while trying not to break my neck on the ice and snow, I throw myself into my parents’ arms.
There are tears in my eyes as my mom holds me tight; a hug only a mother can give. “I’ve missed you and Dad, so much.”
“Then you shouldn’t stay away so long, honey. Now, come inside and warm up,” Mom murmurs.
Mom leads me through to the kitchen, which smells of cinnamon. I’m not sure how she always does it, but every Christmas, the kitchen has the Christmas scent. Whenever I’m elsewhere and I smell the same scent, I’m reminded of home.
“You planning on standing there all night?”
“Sorry, Dad. It’s just nice to finally be standing in the kitchen again with that delicious aroma…and I don’t mean the beef, which I can also smell.”
I pull out a chair at the kitchen table, but Mom stops me. “You look exhausted, honey. Why don’t you go upstairs and rest before dinner?”
“I’ve only just arrived.”
Mom pulls me in for another hug. “We have plenty of time to catch up. You go and rest up. It’s fine, honey. Go on with you.” She grins while shooing me out of the kitchen.
“Thanks, Mom.” I lean in and place a quick kiss to her cheek just as Gabe makes an appearance.
“You leaving already?” he asks, not taking his eyes from mine.
I smile, shaking my head slightly. “No. I’ve been ordered upstairs to rest for a while.”
He returns my smile. “Then, I’ll carry your bag upstairs for you.”
I’d forgotten all about my bag, which I’m perfectly capable of carrying myself, but because I’m happy to spend a little bit more time with him, I’ll allow him to carry it for me. “Thanks Gabe.”
I follow him upstairs to my room while trying not to gawk as his tight rear. It sure as hell doesn’t stop me from becoming hot and bothered; imagining him naked and what his fine ass would look like without clothing.
Reaching my room, he opens my door and stands aside while I walk into the bedroom that’s been mine since I was a small child. Gabe walks in behind me, placing my bag on the chest at the end of my bed before going over to look out of the window. I stop in the doorway and take in the room—it’s exactly how I’d left it two years ago.
He moves the curtain to the side. “It’s started snowing again.” After his statement he doesn’t move and just continues to watch the snow fall.
I walk over to him touching his arm as I look out through the curtains. “I love the snow.” I turn my head to look at him, but Gabe is already looking at me before he quickly looks away. It feels really good standing so close to him. All I want is for him to turn around and take me into his arms. Not going to happen.
“I remember…I better go.” He moves away from the window, walking toward the door and then turns back to find me watching his retreat. His eyes seem sad, almost as if he feels the same longing for me that I feel for him. Could he? Could we ever be anything other than brother and sister?
A Soldier’s Christmas ~ Chapter One
He was dying. He had to be. Nothing good could hurt the way that Logan’s head did, or the way his body did for that matter. Then, as he turned over in bed, it all came rushing back to him.
Last night he’d been out with some of the guys from his unit before they headed home for the holidays. All the married or attached ones had made their way home to reunite with their wives or girlfriends. One of his buddies had invited him to tag along and meet his family, but Logan hadn’t accepted. He knew how important this leave was since he’d been deployed as long as his friend had been. The last thing Logan had wanted to do was be a third wheel. Though, perhaps if he’d accepted, he wouldn’t have felt like shit now.
Groaning, Logan rolled onto his back and caught his breath as it hissed between his teeth. Unmoving for a few minutes, he peeled an eye open and caught sight of the bottle of water and painkillers he’d had the sense to leave on his night table before he’d passed out cold.
With the one eye still closed, he grabbed the water and painkillers, and managed to get them down without gagging.
He was an idiot. At thirty-seven, he should be old enough to know not to over do it, but not being in the spirit for Christmas, he’d decided to drown his heartache in a bottle of Jack. It had felt good at the time; he just wished that he’d remembered how he’d felt the last time he’d drowned his sorrows in a bottle.
He needed to get cleaned up because lying in his own sweat, which was mingled with stale beer, Jack, and cigarette smoke, made his stomach roll.
With another groan, he crawled out of bed and staggered into the bathroom. He relieved his bladder first before he scratched his balls—they ached just like his heart did.
A heavy sigh and ten minutes later, he was back in the bedroom with a towel around his hips looking for his kitbag.
He’d checked into a small, pay-by-the-hour hotel near the base last night. He’d dumped his belongings inside before he’d headed out to meet everyone at the bar. A stupid thing to do the minute he was back on U.S. soil, but it was done and his only consolation was that his friends were probably suffering as much as he was.
He did feel marginally better after the shower, but the throb in his head hurt tenfold as he bent to grab his kitbag, which was propped up next to the dresser.
One day he’d have somewhere to actually call home. Most people, at least, had a town or state that they’d call their home, but he didn’t even have that. He always did a short term rental when he was stateside, and then he’d let the rental go when he was deployed. It worked for him. But after this last deployment, he wanted something permanent.
Upending his bag on the bed, he watched everything tumble out…the last to fall was a bundle of letters. The letters had become his most valued possession, which was why they were at the bottom—no chance of them falling out.
He dropped his ass to the bed and picked the letters up, a slight shake to his hand. He turned the bundle over in his hands, and smoothed a finger over the return address, which was written in her handwriting.
Every time he thought of Emma his heart thudded loudly in his chest. For two years she had written to him, but there had been silence for the last six months, which hurt. It hurt a lot to think that she just stopped without even a letter to tell him there’d be no more. Her letters had been the only thing to keep him going. They’d given him hope, and made him long for her to be the woman that he returned to.
She’d admitted to him that he knew everything about her, even her biggest secret that not even her family knew. Her words didn’t just give him hope, they made him feel loved as though he had to go on and stay safe because she was waiting for him back in the States. Which was why he’d been devastated when no more letters arrived from her.
It was like a claw in the gut not knowing why she’d suddenly stopped writing. He’d continued to send letters to Emma, and hoped that he’d get a response. But there had been nothing.
How would she react if he turned up in her town in Vermont? He’d lost his Christmas spirit somewhere along the way, but maybe, he would find it again if he had Emma to share it with. Would she be happy to see him? What if she was married with two-point-five kids that she’d forgotten to tell him about? He knew that he wouldn’t be able to settle until he knew the reason for her silence; he only hoped it wasn’t because something had happened to her. That wasn’t an option he wanted to think of.
The more he thought about it, the more the idea took root in his head. She probably wouldn’t recognize him from the photograph that he’d sent her two years ago. He looked so different, and the only resemblance now was his eyes. Should he follow his heart, and go and get his girl?
His indecision didn’t help his headache, or perhaps the alcohol still played havoc with his body—either way he felt like shit.
With a sigh, he finally rooted through his belongings for underwear and jeans. It was more difficult finding a clean shirt, but he found one that had more creases in it than the bed sheets. It would have to do until he could get some laundry done.
He felt lighter with the decision made to spend Christmas in Vermont, and he only hoped he wasn’t heading toward an even bigger disappointment.