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Authors: H.M. Ward

Christmas Kisses

BOOK: Christmas Kisses
10.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub







H.M. Ward








Laree Bailey Press






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


Copyright © 2012 by H.M. Ward

All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduc
ed, scanned, or distributed in
any printed or electronic form.


Laree Bailey Press

First Edition:





















We’ve been creeping along the parkway much slower than usual, because of the snow. It falls from the sky in big chunks and sticks to the windshield of my old car, blinding me. The wipers don’t seem to think that seeing is important. They swish slowly
smearing the melting snow back and forth, barely clearing the haze before another coating of white clings to the glass. My heart is racing and it has nothing to do with the weather.

This is a bad idea. My stomach churns like I ate a glass sandwich and I grip the steering wheel tighter.
“What if Ryan’s there?
” I glance at my best friend. Everything about her is small and compact, except for her attitude and huge hair.

Mandy gives m
e a look that says I should hope
boy is
. She taps the wi
dow with her finger, and looks out at the snowy road. “What if you talked? I mean, would it be so bad? You know how I feel about
and sometimes I think that it wouldn’t be so bad if we talked.
It’s better than neither of you saying anything forever, right? And i
t might make things t
ake whatever course they’re going to
take. Why delay the
I glance at her out of the corner of my eye. Mandy’s
my best friend and has been since middle school,
but she doesn’t understand

It’s Ryan Darcy.
It’s like this—if there is one guy that you really want, but know you should never have—it’s Ryan.
The guy has had
dreaming about him since we were
He’d flash me a smile and say something witty. I’d flirt back, but it could never go anywhere, not with him. I’m all heart and he’s all testosterone
looking to
the next girl with a curvy body. At the same time, we have a connection—at least I think we do—I feel it when we talk. I’m just drawn to him. Whenever I’m around him, I have to constantly remind myself that it’s all part of the game, that I’m just another piece of ass, which is hard because it feels real. I want it to be
real, but that’ll never happen. It’s not who he is. And j
ust being around him will screw with my brain for the rest of winter break.
I’ll wonder if the things he says
genuine or just another shot at my panties.

I shake my head.
“Mandy, no.
, please do this for me
. If you see him talking to
me, just come interrupt and pull me away
. Otherwise my brain will melt and I’ll do something stupid.”

I know exactly what I’ll do. Ryan is too hot to ignore. His eyes have a way of sweeping over my body that makes me feel
like I’m
naked. And that’s not
worst of it.
That connection I feel around him is toxic
, making me gulp him in until I’m reeling. For some unholy reason,
guy can see right through me
, like
knows everything I think just by glancing at my eyes
It scares the hell out of me. He could turn me inside out and leave me slobbering on myself, if the mood strikes him. I’m not up for that, not now.

It’s five days before Christmas and I feel like an emotional lunatic. I have no boyfriend, no presents, and no clothes since the airline lost my luggage. I’m wearing the only thing I had in my closet, which was supposed to be for a New Year

s party that I’m not even going to
since my loser boyfriend cheated on me while I was at college
Long distance relationships don’t work. Real life experience taught me that. Anyway, I got the New Year’s Eve tickets to some swank place on Vet’s Highway before I left this summer. Things didn’t turn out
the way I hoped. Now, I have no desire
to hang out with a bunch of happy
couples waiting to kiss
And r
andom slobber
turn me on, but Ryan does
. I
f he comes near me, I know I’ll cave in and do something stupid. I feel too strung out, like my string is going to snap and pop me in the face.
I can’t take another heart break, not now.

“So, there’s no way you want things to end where you two are together?”
Mandy sounds like she doesn’t believe me.

I shake my head. “
He’s the wrong guy for me
Ryan’s t
he love ‘
and leave ‘
. He won’t
convert into boyfriend material.
He’ll rip my heart out, Mandy.

I stare at the gobs of white flakes as they race toward me in the inky night. There aren’t many cars out. We’re the only idiots who’d drive in
toward the city
ght to see a no-name band
. It’
s an easy way to see everyone from high school.
been gone for five months at college in Texas. I arrived in New York this morning and by this evening Mandy had
dressed to kill and in my Dad’s commuter car
The Beast) driving west, straight into the snow. When Mandy invited me to this
, it seemed like a good idea.
A few of our friends a
re in the
band, while others we know will be there to cheer them on.
It’s the first time I’ve been
ome since leaving Long Island at the end of
the summer. It’s
the first time that
re’s a
ty of seeing Ryan again
. I do
n’t know if I
bear it.

Ryan’s the kind of guy that makes a great friend, but doing anything more would be suicide, mainly because of his roving lips. He
pick a girl a
nd stay with her long. Ryan leaves
a trail of jilted blondes in his wake. Even so, knowing that isn’t enough to deter my mind from thoughts of
until my lips
The guy rots my brain. He’s like crack,
addicting and deadly. My heart w
be able to
take it if something happened between us. I need Ryan to stay in the friend zone, friend with a capital F.

Mandy seems to catch my mood, that I’m not changing my mind about this. She nods confidently. “If that’s what you want, then I’m your
wingman. He won’t talk to you. I’ll drag you away before he’s got a chance to say anything.”

She smiles at me and my
-puke-level drops back to normal. Maybe tonight won’t suck after all.



guys are playing at this tiny Irish bar across from their University. The college campus is across the street, glistening white with the newly fallen snow. When we step inside, the place is packed. The
house light
s are down by the time we arrive and the band is already playing
. Mandy and I grab
s at a tiny table toward the back of the room
There was a RESERVED sign on it with her name. If it wasn’t there, we’d have no
place to sit. The pla
ce i
s cra
wling with twenty-
. I
sit down opposite Mandy. A partition blocks my view of half the band, but I can still see if I lean forward.
I glance a
round trying to see if Ryan is
re, but I don’t see him. Scanning the crowd
, I see a few fri
ends that I’ve been
looking forward to talking to and
settle back into my chair.

Ryan doesn
’t come. His best friend
isn’t here
. My heart stops pounding and I feel my nerves melt like a snowman in sauna. I finally relax.

y continue to play
and I actually
get to enjoy it
. I watch the
musicians on stage and
recognize Matt and L
uke from high s
chool. Matt is singing
and has gotten so much better than the last ti
me I saw him. H
insanely good. His voice
plus his stage presence
is larger than life.
I whisper
as much to Mandy and she nods at
me in agreement.

When they stop playing, the bar
fills with applause. We all s
tand and the band bows, saying that they are going to take five, and
the house lights come up.

She leans in to me, “Hole-E-Crap. I had no idea Matt had that in him.” Her eyes have that look she usually has around Matt. She loves him and he has no idea.
I don’t know how he can’t tell. Or maybe he can and doesn’t want to hurt her. Matt’s a great guy. He puts others before himself, he always has.

“Me neither,” I reply candidly, still clapping. “Wow. Just wow.”

Mandy, stops clapping and moves to the
right as the applause dies down. “I’m going to go talk to him.”

I smile sadly. This will drive her insane for months, and yet, I can’t tell her
. “I’ll be here.”

I smooth my black dress and look down at my dark boots. The heel
s are
killing me, but I stand for a moment, mostly because everyone else is. I’m smiling, and see a friendly face when I glance up. It’s Katie. She
a year ahead of me, and I hardly see her anymore. She waves at me and I wave back. She holds up a finger to me, saying she’ll be over in a second. I nod and glance around the room.

The same thing happens with a few other friends. They all have new lives, new friends, and are chatting. I stay where I am, at the back of the
and see Mandy walk up onto the stage and head toward Matt, who is surrounded by people. Mandy has no fear.
She glances at me
before shouldering her way through the crowd, and grins. Her fingers do a gir
lie wave, where they bend
a time, and then she turns to Matt and starts talking.
What was that about? I look around, but I have no clue.

I’m about to sit b
ack down, when I feel eyes on the side of my face
The hairs on my neck prickle and my heart clenches. It’s like my body senses him before I even see him. Turning slowly, I lift my gaze and my eyes lock with Ryan
. I feel lost, like I’m falling into a
n abyss. It consumes me whole. It’s like t
here is no one else in the room, no one between us. At first he seems surprised to see me, but then
something changes. His eyes sweep o
ver me quickly, soaking in my
thinner body and the tighter clothes.
He walks toward me with that boyish swagger and crooked grin.


BOOK: Christmas Kisses
10.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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