Authors: Diane Leyne
Home for the Holidays
Nelly O'Malley is heading home for Thanksgiving. As the only unmarried child, she is facing a lot of pressure to get married and start producing grandchildren. She'd told her family she was bringing her boyfriend, but they've broken up by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.
Jack O'Dell is a widower who has been concentrating on his business after losing his family years earlier.
When Nelly's car crashes on the slick roads, Jack rescues her and drives her to the family home. She persuades him to join them for Thanksgiving dinner as a thank-you, not realizing her family will mistakenly believe he is the boyfriend they've been told about, and they love him. Luckily, Jack agrees to play along and the heat rises between them.
But when she finds out that the car accident was no accident, she has to discover if Jack was her savior or trying to kill her.
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IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Copyright © 2013 by Diane Leyne
E-book ISBN: 978-1-62242-663-8
First E-book Publication: March 2013
Cover design by Christine Kirchoff
All cover art and logo copyright © 2013 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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Home for the Holidays
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To everyone who faithfully goes home for the holidays.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Copyright © 2013
The sun was going down and the rain was starting to come down harder, and she was tired, and it seemed like the drive would never end. But she was only half an hour from home. She saw an O’Dell’s Garage and Service Station coming up on the right, just at her exit. Perfect. Better gas up. Last thing she wanted was to run out of gas and get stranded. She pulled up under one of the covered gas bays and went to get out of the car to fill up, but one of the staff came out to pump the gas. She barely glanced at him as she took the opportunity to use the restroom.
Jack watched the driver practically run past him after shooting him a quick look of gratitude for manning the pump. He’d actually come out to tell her they were closed, but then he saw the anxious look in her pretty eyes and did what any red-blooded man would do in those circumstances. He pumped her gas while trying to get a look at her ass when she headed round the back.
Luckily, the restroom was unoccupied and surprisingly clean, so taking care of business didn’t take long. When Nelly came back to her car, she already had her cash out so she didn’t have to bother with the hassle of a credit card.
She saw the service station fellow was standing by the car and got a good look at him for the first time. She had to look up at him, as he was tall. Handsome, too, she noticed, with the most amazing green eyes, but she was in a hurry and would probably never see him again, so no flirting with the green-eyed hunk for her.
The hunk held her car door open and closed it behind her. She wondered if this was prompted by good manners or to make sure she didn’t drive off without paying.
“You’re lucky. I was just closing up for the holiday weekend. That’ll be twenty dollars.”
It was all she could do to pay the twenty dollars. He took the cash and smiled. Her stomach did a funny flip. Reluctantly, she pulled out. Maybe she’d stop for gas here on the way home.
Jack watched her drive away. It had been a long time since he’d met a woman that he had such an intense response to. They hadn’t really even exchanged more than pleasantries, yet he found himself wishing he could spend more time with her. He gave himself a mental shake and went back into the office to put away the money. He hadn’t really been in the mood to date in a long while, but maybe it was time to get back in the saddle, so to speak.
* * * *
Nelly drove quickly. She was looking forward to being home and seeing the entire family. Her sister Kelly would be there with the new baby, her other sister Caili, and Caili’s husband Mark, of course. And her other sister Justine would be there, with her twins and her cardiologist husband Matt. There were so many of them. Her brothers Michael, with wife Shawn and two kids, and Ned, with wife Chris and three kids, and even baby brother Alex, with his new wife Michelle, who was seven months pregnant. In some ways, she was sorry she could only stay a few days. But she had a whole trunk full of work to do. She knew she wouldn’t get much done at her parents’ house, but she’d told the office she’d be spending the following week working from home and then loaded up two boxes of papers into her trunk along with a company laptop so she could access the her office computer from her home.
The papers weren’t originals. She’d spent two hours printing out or copying everything she’d need to work on the legal brief, and what she didn’t have she could access through the office computer network. This was the most important legal brief of her career. If it went well, she would be on the partner track. She worked for one of the biggest law firms in the city, and she’d worked hard since she graduated from law school. This was so important. The fact was, something seemed to be missing, and she didn’t feel quite as excited as she thought she would by this opportunity. Well, she just wasn’t going to think about it. She was going to leave all her work stuff in the trunk of her car and enjoy the next few days with her family, and then she was going to drive to the nearest large grocery store and stock up on supplies. Once she was done, she was going to lock herself in her condo and get that brief done.
In the meantime, she just had to get through four days with her family. Now, she really did love her family, but they were expecting her to bring home a boyfriend.
Oh, god. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to go home for Thanksgiving. The pressure from her parents would start again. You’d think with eight and a half grandchildren her mom would be satisfied, but no, she wanted more. And she especially wanted her oldest daughter settled and preferably popping out three or four grandkids in quick succession.
Which is why she hadn’t told them she and John had broken up. It had only happened a few weeks ago, but in her heart, she knew they had never really gotten started. She had started dating him because he seemed like just the kind of man her mother wanted to see her with. He was kind, gainfully employed, loved his family, and wanted lots and lots of kids. Those were pretty much the only qualities required to make her mom happy He was nice looking, too. He wasn’t drop-dead model handsome, but still easy on the eye with a long, lean runner’s body. He was very smart as well, with a master’s in accounting, and was a partner with a local firm.
But as much as she tried, Nelly just couldn’t find that chemistry with John. They had dated for almost three months and hadn’t even gone to bed. They’d done some heavy making out by the third month, but Nelly just couldn’t go that last step with John, and he didn’t seem inclined to push the matter.
It was only when she was having brunch Sunday before last with her best friends Kat and Mandy that she finally admitted the truth to them and herself. He was great on paper and would totally make her mom happy, but he wasn’t the right guy for her. She also admitted, even if she didn’t want to acknowledge it to herself, that part of the reason she was dragging her feet with the breakup was that she kind of wanted to bring him home for Thanksgiving to get her family off her back for another year.
But once she admitted that, she had to acknowledge that it wasn’t fair to John. He was clearly more into the relationship, and she didn’t want to get his hopes up and then break up before Christmas, so she invited him to lunch at a very nice restaurant, figuring that a public place to deliver the bad news would prevent a scene. Of course, John was not really the scene type. He’d probably just accept her decision and wish her well and leave. He was that type of guy, which was one of the things that drove her crazy. Not that she wanted a guy who would boss her around and think he was in charge rather than an equal in the relationship, but with John, sometimes she felt like he had deferred all control to her. She had a highly stressful job as a corporate lawyer, and sometimes it would be nice to sit back and let someone else take charge occasionally, but John was a “modern guy” and never made a decision without consulting her.
Her face turned red as she remembered that lunch. It hadn’t gone at all according to the script in her head. In fact, John finally took charge. She was sitting at the table, composed and full of resolve. She’d ordered them both a glass of wine since it was a Saturday and neither of them had to work. She figured she could give him the bad news before they ordered and then once he left, she could have a nice light salad, but no cheesecake for dessert. It was her favourite, but she had splurged a few times that week.