Read A Fool's Gold Christmas Online

Authors: Susan Mallery

Tags: #Romance, #Fiction, #Contemporary

A Fool's Gold Christmas

New York Times
bestselling author Susan Mallery brings you a heartwarming tale for the holidays!

The unrelenting cheer in Fool’s Gold, California, is bringing out the humbug in dancer Evie Stryker. She learned early on that Christmas miracles don’t happen, at least not for her. And this year seems like no exception. An injury has forced her to return to the family fold, no matter that they’re estranged. She won’t add to the awkward scenario by being seduced by the bad-boy charms of her brother’s best friend, the last man she should ever want to date. Even when she’s recruited to stage Fool’s Gold’s winter festival, she vows to do as promised, then move forward with her life anywhere but here.

Jaded lawyer Dante Jefferson is getting used to the backwater town he now reluctantly calls home, but the pounding of little dancers’ feet above his temporary office is more than any man should have to take! When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he’s unprepared for the attraction that sears him down to the soul. Evie is his best friend’s sister—off-limits unless he’s willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is the most dangerous force in the universe, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles do seem to happen….

Also available from Susan Mallery
and Harlequin HQN

All Summer Long
Summer Nights
Summer Days
Only His
Only Yours
Only Mine
Finding Perfect
Almost Perfect
Chasing Perfect
Hot on Her Heels
Straight from the Hip
Lip Service
Under Her Skin
Sweet Trouble
Sweet Spot
Sweet Talk
Accidentally Yours
Tempting
Sizzling
Irresistible
Delicious
Falling for Gracie
Someone Like You

 

 

 

 

Dear Reader,

’Tis the season in Fool’s Gold, a time of sparkly lights, warm holiday greetings and, of course, romance. Although reading may seem like a solitary activity, we romance readers are as much a community as the small town of Fool’s Gold. Our first reaction when reading a great love story is to tell a friend about it. We want to share that happy feeling.

I’ve been blessed with the most enthusiastic readers a writer could ever hope for. Last year, I invited my fans to try out for the Fool’s Gold Varsity Cheerleading Squad, to earn prizes simply for telling people about Fool’s Gold and the books they love. The women selected for the team took my breath away. They drove to their local bookstores with Fool’s Gold car magnets, wearing Fool’s Gold T-shirts, hats and pins, and handed out bookmarks, placed the books in readers’ hands and said, “You will love this!” Yes, they won lots of prizes along the way—including the dedication in this book—but I could never thank them enough for their generosity.

This book is for those of you who love romance, love to read and then tell your friends about the latest, greatest book you just finished. It is also for my wonderful cheerleaders.

If being a Fool’s Gold Varsity Cheerleader sounds like fun to you, be sure to join the Members Only area at
www.susanmallery.com
so I can email you the next time we hold cheerleader tryouts.

In the meantime, from my heart to yours, Merry Christmas! May all your dreams come true.

Susan

To the 2011 Head Cheerleader, Char,
who has such an amazing heart that she wanted to share
this dedication with the entire
Fool’s Gold Varsity Cheerleading Squad
in the spirit of Christmas. This one is for you.

Contents

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 One

T
he sound of eight tiny reindeer had nothing on a half-dozen eight-year-olds clog dancing, Dante Jefferson thought as he held the phone more closely to his ear.

“You’ll have to repeat that,” he yelled in to the receiver. “I’m having trouble hearing you.”

The steady thudding above his head paused briefly, then started up again.

“What’s going on there?” Franklin asked, his voice barely audible over the banging that nearly kept time with the damned piano music. “Construction?”

“I wish,” Dante muttered. “Look, I’ll call you back in a couple of hours.” The stupid dance class would be over by then. At least he hoped so.

“Sure. I’ll be here.” Franklin hung up.

Dante glanced at the bottom right of his computer screen. The ever-present clock told him it was seven-fifteen. In the evening. Which meant it was eleven-fifteen in the morning in Shanghai. He’d stayed late specifically to speak to Franklin about an international business deal that had developed a few glitches. The clog dancers had made the conversation impossible.

He saved the spreadsheet and went to work on his email. He and his business partner had plenty of other projects that needed his attention.

Just before eight, he heard the clog dancers going down the stairs. They laughed and shrieked, obviously not worn out by an hour of misstepping practice. He, on the other hand, had a pounding pain right behind his eyes and the thought that he would cheerfully strangle Rafe first thing in the morning. His business partner had been the one to rent the temporary space. Either Rafe hadn’t noticed or didn’t care about the dance school parked directly above. The offices were in an older part of Fool’s Gold and had been built long before the invention of soundproofing. Rafe didn’t seem to mind the noise that started promptly at three every single afternoon and went well into the evening. Dante, on the other hand, was ready to beg the nearest judge for an injunction.

Now he got out of his chair and headed for the stairs. He made his way to the studio. He and whoever was in charge were going to have to come to terms. He had to spend the next couple of weeks working out the problems of the Shanghai deal. Which meant needing access to his computer, contracts and blueprints. Some of which he couldn’t take home. He needed to able to use his phone, in his
office
, while speaking in a normal voice.

He paused outside the door that led to the studio. It was as old-fashioned as the rest of the building, with frosted glass and the name of the business—Dominique’s School of Dance—painted in fancy gold script. He pushed open the door and entered.

The reception area was utilitarian at best. There was a low desk, a computer that had been old a decade ago, backless benches by the wall and several coatracks. He could see through into the studio itself—a square room with mirrors, a barre that was attached to the wall and, of course, hardwood floors. There wasn’t a piano, and he realized the endless, repetitive song that had driven him insane had come from a compact stereo.

He rubbed his temples and wished the pounding would stop, then walked purposefully into the studio. He was a coldhearted bastard lawyer, or so he’d been told endlessly by those he bested. He planned to reduce the dance instructor to a blob of fear, get her to agree to lay off with the dancing and then go back to his phone call. All in the next ten minutes.

“We have to talk,” he announced as he came to a halt in the center of the room.

He realized there were mirrors on three walls, so he was seeing himself from unfamiliar angles. His shirt was wrinkled, his hair mussed, and he looked tired, he thought briefly, before turning his attention to—

Dante swore under his breath as he took in the tall, slender woman dressed in nothing more than a black leotard and tights. Despite the fact that she was covered from collarbone to toes, the clinging outfit left nothing to the imagination. He almost felt as if he’d walked in on a woman undressing. A sexy woman with big green eyes and honey-blond hair. A woman who was completely untouchable, for a host of reasons.

He ground his teeth together. Why hadn’t Rafe mentioned that his sister was now working here? But even if his business partner didn’t kill him for looking, Dante had a firm list of rules that were never broken. Not getting emotionally involved was number one. Anyone who taught little kids to dance had to be softhearted. Nothing got him running faster than a hint of emotion.

“What are you doing here?” Evangeline Stryker asked.

Yes, he thought as he stared at her. Rafe’s baby sister. She was responsible for the nightmare that was his life. She and those unbelievably loud mini-dancers she taught. So much for reducing the dance instructor to anything.

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