Authors: Chacelyn Pierce
THE CHRISTMAS KEY
ISBN # 9781301806386
© Copyright Chacelyn Pierce, 2013
Edited by Tara Chevrestt
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the author/publisher.
Dumped before vacation, Shalaine Harper goes to Alaskan to drown out her sorrows on wine, watching Xander Christian films, and using a toasty fire to burn away the hurt. As one of Xander's biggest fans, fate deals her a strange hand when the Hollywood star is blown in before a snow storm.
Xander Christian finds himself stuck in Alaska and the closest safe haven is a cabin occupied by a woman dealing with heartache. Since neither bear gifts, they'll have to find other means for sharing the holiday spirit.
Shalaine Harper swiveled in her office seat after making the last editorial note on the article she’d penned on the opening box-office hit,
. The A-list movie starred Xander Christian, the exotic Adonis who made any sane woman's panties drop when he licked those kissable lips. He caused heart palpitations for the millions of horny women across the globe. Though his movies as of late hadn't been his best work, she still gave him an A for effort.
Diehard fan that she was,
Shalaine couldn't help but give him high marks on her movie reviews. Even if they deserved a lower grade, she couldn't bring herself to scribble anything lower than a B. Her eyes drifted to the hanging poster for
on her office wall. It was now her favorite face shot of Xander. His blue-green eyes captivated her first; they always did. It was no wonder teenage girls fantasized about him more than any famous teeny-bopper. Though she wasn't a teenage girl, she couldn't help but sigh like a lovesick puppy. Her mind recollected the steamy scene he'd had with Jess Gilmore in the hayloft. His raciest scene yet. The supporting actresses didn't know how good they had it, to kiss X. Chris and taste his mouth.
That's what it had to be like. Pure heaven.
he tore her gaze way from the framed beauty and got back to work on making him look as good on paper as he did onscreen.
was a very prestigious magazine that focused on box-office hits and celebrities. They looked toward her to cover all X. Christian-related movie releases. Everyone in the office teased her and nicknamed her complimentary articles on him as Shalaine's X. Chris or Double-X articles. Adding a few more raunchy words into her reviews would lead many women into an orgasmic state and mean a quick firing on her part. She was just a few words shy of making it a XXX feature worthy of
. Might be worth it though.
out of time, Shalaine. Get the article done.
She looked at
a photo on her desk for inspiration. It was a sketchy shot of Nathan and her in Cozumel. There was lots of sizzling sex in the air that week and to date, it was the best time they'd ever had together. Three years had gone by fast and she expected Nathan to pop
any day now. Maybe he'd do it when they arrived at the small rental cottage in Alaska. Shalaine enjoyed their vacations together; it was the only time they could be uninterrupted. Since they rarely got to spend time together, it was a set plan for them to have quality time a few times year. While in Alaska, neither of them would let work dictate their schedules and they could work on their relationship. She glanced at the clock. Three more hours and she'd leave New York for a full week. Overjoyed didn't even cover it; she was stimulated.
She jotted that
word on a sticky note to fit into her article somewhere just as her office phone rang.
Shalaine Harper," she said wistfully, thinking of snow, cabin sex with Nathan, and fire cuddles. She could almost smell the woodsy scents and hear the wildlife.
Shay, it's me." Nathan's glum tone set off warning bells.
up?" She tried to convey her good mood to him over the phone.
Three hours, baby, don't crumble on me now
"I can't go to Alaska."
She lost her breath at his words. "
Nathan, we've planned this trip for months! Go tell your boss to get over not seeing you for a week; it won't kill him." She threw her pen across the desk but reached for it again, needing something in her hand.
and paused for a minute, leaving open air on both their lines.
Non-refundable tickets, Nathan," she reminded him.
"I know, I know. Let me rephrase then…I can't go to Alaska with
." He mumbled the last part as if he had to muster the strength to get the words out.
A lot of things filled
Shalaine's head at that very moment, none of them good, but in a small voice, all she could ask was, "Why?"
I can't do this anymore!"
Nathan?" She tried not to grit her teeth, a bad habit she'd been trying to break. "What are you talking about? You can't do what?"
Seems like all you have time for is just our vacations. You're either at a big movie premiere in L.A, an interview in some exotic destination I'll never see, or having drinks with movie stars. I can't…I just can't anymore. It's not the same as it used to be, plus…plus, I've met someone else. I want to spend my Christmas with her."
almost dropped the phone when he uttered those last words. Her fist tightened, bending the pen in an arch and cramping her knuckles. A fog settled into Shalaine's mind as she searched through her memory for any sign of blatant disloyalty. Was he really so callous? Had the signs always been there and she was too blind to see?
"I can't fucking believe you,
Nathan! You wait till
to tell me this!" She thought they were doing okay. What a lie. "After everything we've been through."
"Well, it's a mistake on my part for the timing. As far as
all the things we’ve been through, you were hardly there. Our relationship is based off of texts, emails, Skype, and phone calls. I still love you, just not the same."
What the hell did he mean by that?
His measly declaration of love enraged her. "Love? How long have you been cheating on me?"
"Don't say it
like that, Shay."
"Why not? That's what
!" A part of her was scared to hear the truth. Who knew how long he'd been dipping out behind her back. She liked to believe she tried to move the stars for him, but Nathan did have some valid points. Things had been a bit dull as far as the relationship went.
She’d been fooling herself, obviously. Here she was expecting a ring on winter break, but what she got was dumped. "How long have you been seeing someone else?" she rephrased, inwardly rolling her eyes.
Dear Lord, he was liar, cheater,
a prick. She glared at the phone in disbelief, her grip causing her knuckles to hurt. "Who is it?" she asked even though she had a sneaking suspicion exactly who.
, as if the conversation had become boring for him. "No one you know. It's not important. This is about me and you. Not me and her."
"You vindictive asshole!"
Shalaine slammed the phone down and waited to see if he would call back. The phone sat in silence and she removed her shaky hand from the receiver after a couple of minutes. Why would he call back? He'd said his piece and now he could frolic off with his new girlfriend and though he didn't say, Shalaine had a sneaking suspicion of who it was. He'd mentioned his neighbor down the hall a few times more than she cared to hear. He'd helped the lady move her couch, her TV, jump-start her damn car. Plus, there was that night after the Halloween party when the two of them had ogled each other in the hall. She’d had to all but hit Nathan upside his head to get him to snap out of his trance. He’d been pretty intent on little Ms. 1B in her Catwoman suit.
he wasn't crying yet, which came as a surprise. She expected after three years for there to be a few tears shed for Nathan. Her body was shaking and she had to flex her hands from them being clamped so tight. Six months of cheating. Why hadn't she known? Were the signs always there and she just turned away in denial? She tried to think back and remembered asking him if they should think about getting a place together. He always said they should wait just a little longer. No doubt he enjoyed being a bachelor on the same floor as Ms. Catwoman and had no intentions of leaving the kitty behind.
thought of the last time they’d had sex and cringed. It had been awhile. Her Aunt Claire's fiftieth birthday party to be exact. That was…well, that was two months ago. She sighed. It had been going down the crapper even then. Two months… She got furious at him all over again.
. He’d been seeing his new girlfriend during their last sexual endeavor. However sparse their sex may have been, he should've tried harder, or she should have tried harder. No. His infidelity was not justified and now she tried to make excuses for him and blame herself.
He should have broken up with her long
before dating someone new. It would've been the respectable thing to do.
would've done it. She glared back at their vacation picture on her desk again, this time with irritation.
She pushed it with one finger into the trash bin that sat beside her desk. With their picture being in that particular corner of the desk, it
had fallen into the trash a lot of times. She should've taken it as an omen. She stared back at the article in front of her. No way could she finish it now. The misery and anger radiating through her mind would cause her to give
a big fat F. Xander deserved better than that, so she'd let Tia finish it.
Shalaine summoned her by sheer thought alone, Tia walked into the office. Her boss always wore a skirt and blouse set and took pride parading around the office like a zesty cougar. Her soft brown hair fell in thick spiraling curls that cascaded down her plump backside. Tia never chose anything but hot bright pink for her acrylic nail color and her fashion sense kept up with whatever was in season at the time. Tia opened her rosy-glossed lips to speak but stopped when she caught sight of Shalaine's face.
"What? Is the article not going good?"
Tia came to stand at the side of the desk and peered down at the scribbled red marks on the page.
almost finished, other than a few places that need touching up." Shalaine's face hardened. "Nathan just broke up with me."
"He didn't! You guys are supposed to go to Alaska
tomorrow." Tia put her hands on her round hips.
"Yeah, well I guess I'll be here next week."
Shalaine shrugged. There were always winter movie releases that could use a good review or two. She could lose herself in a few films.
"No, you won't.
Go to Alaska by yourself. I always tell you girls, you don't need a man to have fun." Tia looked at Shalaine, probably surprised that no tears had formed. Shalaine was shocked that the flood gates hadn't hoped herself.
wasn't the agenda; a holiday romance was: a cozy fire, spiced eggnog, mistletoe make-outs, things like that."
"That cozy fire
can be your furnace. Burn
, photos, clothes, stuffed animals. Take it all and pour it into the flames. Cry your eyes out while chugging the alcoholic eggnog. Yell and scream, break stuff, and in a week from Monday when you come back, things will be a whole lot better." Tia gave a wink with her heavily mascaraed eye and snatched the X. Christian article off the desk. In a jolly mood, Tia closed Shalaine's office door behind her as she left.
Tia had always been
a bit scorned after her husband left her five years before, but she knew better than anyone about heartache and how to overcome it. Her advice didn't seem like something Shalaine would take, but right now she had no other alternatives. The trip shouldn't go to waste, plus there was the fact that the cabin caretaker had gotten everything on her food list, for two. She'd hate to call him up and cancel at the last minute. She could just gorge herself while watching Xander Christian films; she'd bawl her eyes out and burn photos too. Seemed like the perfect Christmas vacation, for one.
The cabbie dropped her off in front of the petite snow-covered cottage that
seemed like it was a mile from the small road. It sat alone in a wilderness, looking welcoming and romantic, and sickening. Shalaine thought about asking if the cabbie knew of any bear caves so she could walk into one and wake up a sleeping grizzly. Then she thought,
Nathan isn't worth something that tragic
. The gruff, four-foot-nothing cabbie unloaded her three heavy suitcases and Shalaine was proud that she'd done as Tia suggested. She'd brought the album and her thirty romantic movies, all ranging from the classics of
Barefoot in the Park
. Of course her romance movies weren’t complete without her favorite Xander films:
Tennessee Rain, Forever in Love,
My Love, from Venice
, just to name a few.
She looked down at the cabbie and a smile parted his shabby beard, showcasing his coffee-stained teeth.
, miss, that's all of it. I'll be here to pick you up on Friday, if the weather permits it." He started toward his car door.