Read Kissa Under the Mistletoe Online
Authors: Courtney Sheets
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Kissa Under the Mistletoe
Copyright © 2014 by Courtney Sheets
Cover Art by Leah Kaye Suttle
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Also by Courtney Sheets
Betting on a God
The Hooded Man
Kissa Under the Mistletoe
To Rona, for believing in the Nazir Triplets
“I need a favor, love.” His voice was rich and deep, like whiskey wrapped in velvet.
Kissa shook her head and smiled into the cell phone at her ear, knowing full well she would give him anything he desired. “Whatever you need,” she said, letting her amusement flavor the words. Christmas was coming, and she had a pretty good idea about the favor he needed. This was a difficult time for him, being so far away from his family in England. She’d bet her favorite vintage handbag he was going to ask to spend the holiday at her house, watching cheesy Christmas movies and eating junk food. With her own family spread out over the globe like a tribe of nomads, Kissa wouldn’t mind having someone around.
“Come to London with me for the holiday.”
She almost dropped her phone in surprise. “What the hell are you talking about, Lucas?” The words came out sharper than she intended, but his shocking request was a little much for her this early in the morning, the emotion causing her Arabic accent to flare up.
“Calm down. Don’t get all Egyptian princess on me.”
“All right. I’m calm.” She grinned at his apt comment. “Why do you want me to go to London with you? It’s kind of nuts.”
“My mum pesters me constantly to come home for the holidays, but I don’t want to face the family alone. I haven’t been back in two years. Mum’s in full guilt swing. Come on, Kissy, you’re my best friend. I need you to protect me.”
“Don’t call me, Kissy. I hate it.” She heard him sigh into the phone and shook her head again, the laughter no longer present. “Why don’t you take Heather or Heidi or whatever the heck her name is?”
“Heather was over three months ago, Kissa. Remember, we marked the occasion by eating a large pepperoni pizza on your couch and you making me watch
Bridget Jones’s Diary
She could picture him playfully rolling his eyes at her as he did when she did something to annoy him.
“You loved it, and you know it.” She laughed, before turning serious once more. “I’m not sure I can afford a trip to England right now. Besides, don’t you think it will seem odd to my family if I don’t spend Christmas with them?”
“Not to worry, love. We’ll stay at my parents’ home, and my mum will feed us until we explode. As for your parents and your lovely sisters, you can tell them you’re saving me from a fate worse than death, and you’ll see them after Boxing Day. Your mum is a fellow Brit. She’ll understand.” He sounded so confident she would say yes.
“What about your classes?”
“Winter break. Spring semester doesn’t start until the second week of January. Plenty of time for Christmas in London.”
She’d forgotten all about winter break for Ohio State University. His position as a professor of English Literature and Creative Writing afforded Lucas more flexibility in his schedule. She dug the brainy side of her friend. His academic background lent him an air of sophistication. Kissa loved sitting up nights chatting movies, politics, and the classics with him. Heck, she even enjoyed his rants on books like
Fifty Shades of Grey
. But he wasn’t some tweed-covered, stuffy professor. Kissa reckoned at least half of his female students took his class to gaze longingly at his intense jawline and dreamy eyes. She never got tired of teasing him about the coeds who giggled and whispered to each other when she strolled the campus with him.
“London misses you. How long has it been since you’ve been back? Don’t you want to walk Trafalgar with me?” The pleading tone in his voice whittle at her defenses.
Truth be told, her parents would be in Monte Carlo until the New Year, and her sisters would be stuck in their own towns doing their own thing this year. Since her father’s retirement from NATO, her parents were indulging their travel bug for their personal pleasure. Her sisters’ smiles—and her own—greeted her from the framed photo next to her. Taken in front of the Great Pyramid at Giza the summer they turned nineteen, their closeness was evident to the naked eye.
Fraternal triplets, identical in every way except for their eye color and their temperaments. Suhaila, the middle sister, possessed eyes the deep blue of Egyptian lapis lazuli. She was a history professor at Northern Arizona University.
Desari, the baby’s eyes blazed a deep purple. Shy and sweet, she worked in a department store in Mansfield about an hour away. It had thrilled Kissa to no end when Desari recently found love with Kanin Reeves. She waited for the call about a wedding and her fate of a horrid bridesmaid’s dress.
Her own eyes mirrored molten quicksilver, and her temper matched their fiery nature. All of which suited her well in her position as Associate VP of Marketing for the Columbus Advertising Agency.
Kissa glanced at the other picture on her desk, taken at a party a couple of years back. Lucas had his arms wrapped around her waist, and she wore a big grin. Right after the shot, he’d thrown her into the pool, clothes and all. Darkly handsome and oh so yummy with his deep West London accent and snapping blue eyes, Lucas got her blood flowing in more ways than one. But, sadly, the sexy Brit remained off-limits in any way but as a friend.
“Airfare, Lucas. Money is tight for me right now.”
“Yes. That snafu with your condo and your car accident have you strapped. Not to worry. I’ve got you covered. The trip is my Christmas present. Please come. I need you.” He whispered the last words, almost an afterthought, as if she wasn’t supposed to hear them. They shot straight to her heart and other parts lower. He’d won. Worn down and willing to give in, she sighed. The bastard knew her too well.
“Fine.” She groaned. “I’ll come. But I’m paying you back for the ticket. Don’t argue with me about it, either.”
“Yes! I’ll e-mail you all the information. Thank you, Kissa. You’ve made me very happy. I love you.” She could almost see him punching the air in delight.
Shaking with a little laugh, she looked at the picture on her desk once more. “Oh, Lucas. What am I going to do with you?”
“That’s a loaded question, chicken.”
Kissa stood shivering in the opulent lobby of the Savoy Hotel. Just beyond the glass doors at her back, the London rain howled and lashed. The choppy flight across the Atlantic Ocean had almost made her lose the contents of her stomach on more than one occasion. A screaming baby had kept her awake for most of the seven hours, and a splitting headache had plagued her the entire length of the cab ride from Heathrow to the hotel. But none of it mattered. She’d arrived and, in few short hours, he would, too.
The text had appeared the second she turned on her phone upon touching down. Lucas had asked her to meet him here, something about his parents not having enough room for them at the house and having to find alternate accommodations. Glancing around the lush hotel, Kissa couldn’t believe this was the only place he could come up with. So rich and decadent, she couldn’t remember the last time she laid eyes on something so lovely, even when she and her sisters traveled with their father on one of his assignments. Being the daughter of an Egyptian diplomat and a British mother had made for a very interesting childhood.
Taking a deep breath, she shouldered her bag and approached the reception desk. A natty-looking metrosexual man with slick blond hair gave her a genuine smile, a port in the storm. She returned his smile and breathed a sigh of relief, despite fearing she looked like a drowned cat from the storm outside.
“Madam, you appear to be in desperate need a hot shower and some sleep on thousand-thread-count sheets.” With a smile full of warmth and a touch of mischief, the man greeted her. A shiny silver name tag read Arthur.
“You read my mind. I think I have a reservation.”
“What’s the name?” he asked, fingers poised over the keyboard of his computer.
“Slate, Lucas Slate. He told me to meet him here.”
As soon as the name brushed passed her lips, a shiver slid down her body. This time, the sensation wasn’t the result of the cold rain still clinging to her, but the thought of Lucas and his piercing blue eyes. Mentally slapping herself, she pushed down the sudden feelings of lust and concentrated on Arthur. Jet lag was wreaking havoc on her hormones. The decadent surroundings apparently gave her tired brain free rein to think forbidden things she usually kept in check. Lucas Slate, with his thick black hair, shoulders so wide she often wondered if they’d fit through the door, and lips she ached to kiss, had consumed her thoughts for all seven hours of her flight. No way her sex-on-a-stick best friend would want his size-fourteen pal fawning over him like some teenager. She’d dealt with rejection enough in her life. Despite being hailed as an exotic beauty or novelty, as a triplet, Kissa had little success with members of the opposite sex. Best to concentrate on work. So, she shoved Lucas firmly in the best friend column and never let him out of it.
“Ah, yes. Mr. Slate already checked in but has stepped out. He left this for you.” Arthur held out an envelope bearing her name in Lucas’s crisp script. A moment later, he handed her a plastic key card with her room number on it. “Up the lift to the ninth floor. Room 976. River side. You’ll have a luscious view of the Thames.”
She took the proffered items and shoved the letter in her front pocket. Flashing him a smile of thanks, she gathered up her single carry-on, purse, and small rolling bag containing everything she needed for her London adventure. She’d prepared for Christmas with his family and some casual dining. She wouldn’t need anything too fancy.