2017 Holiday Countdown Collection by Various Authors (listed with titles)
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Overview: Short stories to heat up your HOLIDAYS!
1. A Bear’s Christmas by Liza Kay: It was supposed to be one night of fun—no strings attached. But four months later, bear shifter Shea Everett finds himself with a bun in the oven! Alone, pregnant, and half-frozen in the middle of Michigan, he has no recourse but to seek out the unsuspecting father of his cub. Merry Christmas, and guess what? Alpha Viktor Vasiliev has three grown sons and no illusions he’ll ever find true love. But he can’t forget the sweet omega he hooked up with on a business trip to California. Right before Christmas, a pregnant Shea shows up on his doorstep, having no place to go. He refuses to name the cub’s other father, but Viktor takes him in, even if it isn’t his child. There’s more to a family than blood, though. And even uncertain beginnings can have happy endings, since Viktor is determined to be the mate and father Shea and his cub deserve.
2. A Jaguar for Christmas by Caitlin Ricci: Jackson is a photographer looking for a big cat model for his new calendar. Instead of a wild animal he gets Peter, a shifter with no Christmas plans and all the time in the world to give him. (This short story has been previously published and was expanded.)
3. A Lemon Flavoured Christmas by Ann Mickan, Jo Tannah (Boys Next Door): Lemonade can be an acquired taste. After recently meeting again over Ian’s twin sisters’ lemonade stand, Michael Alexander and Ian Hamilton have given in to an attraction that Ian had been fantasising about for years and Michael couldn’t resist. With big decisions to be made and family responsibilities and expectations to be taken into account, how will these two young men navigate the beginnings of an intense and consuming relationship? Will Michael’s maturity and steadfastness outweigh Ian’s insecurities and tendency to play games? As the holiday season quickly approaches through the Australian summer heat, the boys must address the heat that is constantly simmering between them, threatening to explode like a Christmas cracker at any moment. (Please note: To maintain the authenticity of the characters and setting of this story, the authors have made a conscious decision to use Australian English and terminology.)
4. A Ring for Christmas by Adriana Kraft (Meghan’s Playhouse #4): A ring for Christmas? Sometimes what you hope for and what you fear are one and the same. In Las Vegas for a brief stint in a musical revue and ready for some uncomplicated sex with a kindred spirit, Meghan Keenan is only too happy to resume connections with her sometimes lover, Lisa Perkins. But Lisa’s in a quandary. Her most recent boyfriend has suddenly become serious, with hints of a diamond ring in her future—and she’s never told him she’s bisexual. What if he freaks? What if he makes her choose? Professional photographer Bryce Henry spends his days up close and personal with beautiful models and actresses. Now he’s deeply in love with Lisa and ready to pop the question, but even he wonders about long term fidelity. What does he want, and how bad does he want it? What will happen when Meg takes hold of Lisa’s problem and runs with it?
5. A Touchdown to Remember by Seelie Kay: It takes more than a hard knock on the head to keep running back Tim Wheezer Douglas down. When life pelts him with the proverbial lemon—a career-threatening concussion—he simply runs the other way, right into the arms of litigator Laura Adler. When a second concussion sidelines Milwaukee Greyhound running back Tim Douglas, the rest of his life continues full-speed ahead. A some-time law student, Tim is faced with a classic Catch 22: Whether to continue to play football and risk a third and possibly life-altering concussion or quit the game altogether to pursue a career as a sports agent. He loves the game, but his priorities change when he meets Laura Adler, a sassy, sexy young attorney and rabid Greys fan. Their sizzling romp of a romance turns serious and Laura demands that he make a decision about football before she accepts his marriage proposal. Will Tim choose football or the law, and what role will Laura play in his future?
6. All Tied Up by Jon Bradbury: Casey Jones is about to get the Christmas he’s always dreamed of, just not the way he expected. Casey Jones thinks he’s pulled one over on his wife, Lisa, and she doesn’t know about the three-week-old affair with his assistant. After all, she’s traveling half the time, anyway, and is always out and about when she’s in town. He has needs. Where else is he going to have them satisfied? Lisa Jones is upset and hurt that her husband, Casey, has been having sex with his assistant, the beautiful Latina Danielle Lima, right under her nose. But on a trip to the salon, Lisa learns a few things about Dani. Like her desire for a threesome. Lisa has needs. Where else is she going to have them satisfied? (Warning: Cheating)
7. An End and a New Friend by Sam Magna: A strangely potent connection lies beneath the surface of a new friendship. When Aaron is just about to plan his Christmas holiday with his girlfriend, an overzealous client begs for his help. James is an erratic pop star eager to get rid of a bad memory before he can think about moving on. He refuses to let a man he thought was close to con him. Aaron finds that there is a strong connection developing between him and James. The feeling is forbidden to him, but he continues to wonder if James is aware of it.
8. An Unexpected Christmas Gift by Cameron Allie: A holiday party. Two lonely people. Can one night of passion change what started out as a miserable night? After a recent breakup, Brent is dragged by his cousin to the Fuller’s Annual Christmas Party. There’s plenty of food, good music and lots of pretty women. Brent’s only problem is his mood. He has no interest in partying. That is, until he meets Amy. Upset with one friend and missing another, Amy is suffering through what is normally the best party of the year. Trying to solve a problem for her friend, Amy is distracted and frustrated when she encounters Brent. She wonders if she can fix her problem and walk away with the sexy stranger from the patio, or will the evening end the way it began?
9. An Xmas for Xo by H. Beryl: A cat caught in a Christmas tree, a rich CEO, a photographer who makes sexy posters, and one Vet’s aide who is right in the middle. Can this lead to Xmas love? Xo is a cat that even a cat whisperer can’t calm down. A busy business CEO who is as cantankerous as his cat that attacks him whenever he has a board meeting meets a young vet’s aide who can calm Xo but insists the problem is with the owner. Sparks fly like Christmas lights plugged in the wrong way. Xo needs a HEA Christmas, and so do these two men.
10. Captain Zenny and the Redemption of Vaughn Riegler by Sari Shepard: Vaughn could redeem himself if only he could see his precious Lydia one more time. Detective Vaughn Riegler is facing his first Christmas since Lydia, his wife of twenty-five years, died in a tragic accident. Zenny Stoughton, a vagrant brought in for assaulting Crazy Mary, a local beggar woman. At the behest of his commanding officer, Vaughn attends a Christmas Eve meeting run by Cal Willis, a counselor who won’t take no for an answer. What Cal has in store is no traditional group session. Vaughn finds himself between dimensions at a reunion of the living and the dead. He listens to admissions of guilt and negligence from beyond the grave and finds the chilling truth behind Zenny’s interaction with Mary. But the night of redemption is only beginning. Vaughn comes to understand that salvation is a two-way street. Though he feels Lydia owes him no apology, he realizes he may owe one to her—one that will save him from his self-consuming remorse. Christmas is the light of promise, and Lydia’s love is a promise kept.
11. Christmas with a Demon by Renee Matthews: Could this be a Christmas miracle or disaster? Jiraiya had no desire to be a part of the Christmas season. He planned to do his job and protect his people from the monsters that lived across the border. The last thing that he expected was to have a monster fly into his arms or the feelings that would come with it. Now, Jiraiya must decide if the monster that declares a soul binding connection to him is a Christmas miracle or a disaster. Does love stand a chance for two enemies even around this magical time of the year?
12. Love in the Key of C by Daryl Devore: Can a slice of pizza and a flute erase the ravages of life and allow Giselle and Ethan to fall in love by Christmas? Collapsing in front the biggest department store in the city on one of the busiest days of the holiday season was not how Giselle imagined her day. Cold and hungry, she trudged through her daily existence wondering if she’d ever find happiness again. Teenagers. Ethan loved working with them and turning their raw musical talent into something beautiful and rewarding, but that didn’t fill the black void in his soul. Like fate, the songwriters’ muse nudged Giselle and Ethan together. But can Giselle overcome her fears and can Ethan get past the darkness that surrounds him, so they can find love?
13. Mountain Christmas by Kathy Kalmar: It’s Christmas, and the Weathers girls are separated from each other and the men they love by more than just mere miles with no way they can connect in time for Christmas or is there an angelic solution waiting in the wings? Not one of the Weathers girls thinks it feels like Christmas. This is the first Christmas without their beloved Gram whose death they are processing. A change in plans, work, and the wacky, wild, winter weather separates them this year. With Skye in Scotland, Storme in Michigan, and Sunny in Tennessee, it didn’t look likely that they would even be together, let alone, home for Christmas. Not even the magic of Christmas can make that happen. For that, they need a Christmas miracle. Is that miracle in the hands of a stranger named Gabriel? Are a man called Luke and another named Craig, not to mention Jesse—someone for whom Sunny admits she may have more than the hots —part of the miracle? Can these men help the sisters find some peace on Earth and feel goodwill in their childhood home at their lodge in the Smoky Mountains, or will it be a blue Christmas?
14. Santa Slept Here by Tim Smith: Two former high school classmates revive an unrequited crush over a lonely holiday. Scott Burke wasn’t looking forward to spending his first Christmas alone after his divorce. His family was scattered over different parts of the country, his friends had plans, and he didn’t really want to partake of the annual community Christmas dinner with strangers. Add to that a general malaise he was feeling about a career that was going nowhere and you had all of the elements for a miserable holiday. A chance meeting with a former classmate on Christmas Eve changes things, when Scott runs into Lisa Berger, stranded on her way home due to a car breakdown. Can the two high school friends rekindle a flame that died out years ago, or will they say Auld Lang Syne when the holiday is over?
15. Yeraki’s Promise by A.C. Ellas (Rovani Chronicles): A Rovani will do anything for his family. As Christmas approaches, the baby growing in Elefteria’s womb fascinates Yeraki. He and George do their utmost to pamper and protect the expectant mother, but once Leonides is born, Yeri’s fascination with the baby grows rather than fades like his humans thought would happen. Enraptured by the infantile charm of his future master, Yeraki swears an oath that makes George’s and Ellie’s hearts sing carols of joy.
16. Who Is Jacob S.C. Smith? by Wayne Greenough: Jacob S.C. Smith is a mean man who lives in isolation on his private Asteroid. But there is a secret about him that he himself doesn’t know. The question is, will he ever know, and how will that secret, if and when it’s finally revealed, not only affect him, but all of Earth?
17. Song of the Siren by Deja Black: A broken soldier, a siren, and a pastor. Sounds like an intro to a bad joke, but it’s the Christmas story of how a siren’s song can heal. Graham is a broken soldier in body and soul. With no place to go, he moves to the coast to live with the only relative who loves him. Lost and without hope, Graham is not sure how he can get his life back. That is until he hears the song of the most gorgeous man he has ever seen. Kamau is a siren who lives part of his life with his siren mother the other part with his human father. Dutiful son to mother and father but never true to himself. That is until Graham walks into the church and Kamau realizes he has found his mate. Jonah Anderson is the pastor who relies on his son’s gift to grow his church. All is going well for him and the church. That is until he sees the way Kamau looks at Graham. At a time when Christmas presents are given for the holiday, will Graham and Kamau receive the gift they’ve dreamed of for a lifetime? Each other.
18. Unwrapping His Mate by Ellen Cross: If Blain’s inner beast would just quit biting his rescuer, he might actually escape the death his mother has planned for him this Christmas. Blain has never received a single kindness from his mother. Her hate for her own child has run deep, since Blain was born a shapeshifter in a society that has made it a mission to eradicate the impure shifter gene. When she signs his life away three days before Christmas knowing he is headed for certain death, Blain knows his only option is to run and hope for a Christmas miracle. He just never imagined his salvation would come in the form of Maggie and Azzy, a grandmother and grandson intergalactic smuggling duo. There is just one problem. Azzy’s scent drives Blain’s White Raccoon Dog self into a biting frenzy. If he can’t get his inner animal spirit under control, escaping his mother’s plans may be the least of his troubles. Azzy just might launch him out the airlock!
19. Stealing the Christmas Mouse by Lee-Ann Wallace: Stealing was never meant to be this much fun. Life is going just the way Sienna Faulkner planned. Christmas is right around the corner, and she’s almost ready to open her new florist’s shop in Summerton, Australia, the town she and her friends have moved to. The move was just what she needed to get back on her feet after a nasty breakup. Only there’s one large hiccup in her plans. Wade Thomas. Summerton’s sexy mayor keeps asking her out on dates, but Sienna’s not ready to step off the deep end into another relationship yet, or so she thinks. Frustrated with Sienna’s continued refusals, Wade takes matters into his own hands and resorts to stealing what he wants.
20. Twelve Nights by Stefan Angelina McElvain: Holly’s all work and no play. A trip, a fall, a coma…can three spiritual visits turn the tide, or is Holly doomed to a life void of feelings?
21. Stocking Stuffer by Dorothy Kane Liddle: No stocking was ever hung better than his… Forty-one year old Edie Lansdale had no idea her best friend’s nineteen year-old son Greg shared the same hot fantasy she did. When the opportunity came to turn that fantasy into reality, t’was a night before Christmas Edie would never forget.
22. Tumbleweeds by Matthew Angelo: Nothing makes Christmas better than having a loved one return from overseas. Being alone for the holidays isn’t good for anyone. Riley is spending Christmas alone as his partner Jaxon is serving overseas in Afghanistan for six months. His bar, Tumbleweeds, offers no respite and Riley finds himself missing his partner more and more as the holiday approaches. Jaxon has been relieved of his duty and has managed to get stateside in time for Christmas. He wants to surprise Riley, but the weather may not hold long enough for him to make it. As Christmas approaches, both men realize that the thing they want more than anything is to be with each other for the season. As Riley closes his bar, he gets a present he’ll never forget and be forever grateful for.
23. Temptresses in the Dark by D. Cooper: A woman returns home after ten long years and plans on reuniting with her former lovers. When Irene Feltwynne left Ridgeline Country to pursue a career as a doctor, she left behind her two best friends and never looked back. Fast forward ten years, Irene returns to honour an oath they had sworn which was to remain lovers, forever. Her plans become derailed when she finds out that Travis and Candace are now engaged to be married. There is a Christmas dance coming up at the Black Lodge where Irene hatches a plan to win back their hearts. Is it too late for Travis and Candace to let her back in?
24. Too Hot for Santa by Val Francis: Santa’s never brought Mathew gifts until Justin, a flight attendant scared of flying, drops into his life. It’s bad enough entertaining a total stranger for the Christmas holidays, but when that stranger turns out to be as loud and obnoxious as Justin Peasbody, Mathew knows he’s in for a rough time. Coming on the heels of Mathew’s year of self-imposed seclusion following his previous disastrous relationship, maybe Justin is precisely what Mathew needs to help him celebrate a really hot Christmas.
25. The Bed, the Blindfold, and the Belt: A Christmas Eve Game by R.B. O’Brien: Christmas is a time for presents. But presents need to be earned… “Now pay attention. I will only tell you the rules once.” Natalie was no stranger to games with her husband, Michael. She liked his games. Even when she lost, she somehow won. When Michael buys Natalie some gifts for Christmas, a game of denial ensues on Christmas Eve. Can Natalie submit and follow directions? Or will she be left on the edge, without an end in sight? Romantic, fun, and sexy, the wait for Christmas to come has never seemed so long.
26. Tied Up in Tinsel by Lark Westerly: Tied up in tinsel…and a fairy in the bed. Young George Dark wants his dad to be happy, so he gives him the best Christmas present he could possibly wish for. Felicity Echo is happy to service a wish for George, but does it have to involve being all tied up in tinsel?
27. The Cookie Man by Dorice Grey: Baking cookies can get you many satisfactions. Baking cookies with my mother had always been fun. That’s why, after my mom and my stepdad died I sold everything I had and opened a bakery. At first everything was okay, and I didn’t feel like I was missing something, but when I met Aisha the loneliness took over. I fell in love with her. Even knowing that she’s married, I still loved her. Feeling guilty, I planned to stay away from her and hope it would pass. But that’s until I find her half frozen on the streets.
28. The Sub Clause by Kellie Kamryn, P.D. Cathal: When you’re a ho-ho-ho for Jolly Old Saint Nick, not reading the fine print of your contract is a no-no-no. The Naughty Toy Workshop is the kinky toy factory for people who hit Santa’s naughty list, and Kandy Kane loves her job as Supervisor. The coveted position includes personally testing sex toys, observing those under her command as they research and test new items for this season’s fetish crowd, and the best perk—being The Big Guy’s submissive for the year. Jolly Old St. Nick has never had a better sub than Kandy to supervise his naughty workshop or fulfill his most kinky desires. With glee, he can’t wait for the night of her performance review, where he has some special plans to reward his sub once the busiest night of the year is complete. As the big night draws near, Kandy looks forward to her performance review with a mix of exhilaration and sadness. According to the sub clause in her contract, she has to choose her successor from one of the sub-elves in training in the workshop. Little does she know she’s misread the clause, and Santa is about to school her on the finer points of her contract.
Other books in the collection:
A Bit O’ Holiday Magick by Charlie Richards