Gabriel Juarez has only one wish for Christmas, uttered moments before midnight on Christmas Eve: a hug. He wakes up the next morning to find his wish being haphazardly granted in the form of an insecure elf called Felix, who works as a wish augur and couldn’t bring himself to let Gabe’s wish go unfulfilled.
When he wakes with someone else wrapped around him from behind, Gabe’s first instinct is to snuggle back into them and enjoy the warmth and comfort. It takes him probably a full thirty seconds to realise that there absolutely shouldn’t be anyone else in his bed, no way in hell, and he cries out before scrambling away from whoever it is, pressing his back against the wall. His heart thuds in his chest and his breath comes in desperate gasps.
The person he’d just been sharing a bed with sits up. He—or at least, Gabe’s guessing it’s a he—has a ruffled mop of bright blond hair, but darker skin and a wide face with a sweet little button nose. He blinks huge blue eyes a few times, yawns, stretches, and then scratches his stomach before looking over at Gabe with a soft smile. He’d be really cute if he hadn’t broken into Gabe’s home and climbed into his bed.
“What the hell, man?” Gabe stares at him.
The intruder blinks again. “Merry Christmas?”
He looks as confused as Gabe feels, which could mean anything, but he doesn’t seem like he’s there to hurt him. He’s just sitting up in the bed, looking at him like he’s the only thing in the universe. Which, again, would be nice if it wasn’t creepy as hell.
“Don’t you ‘Merry Christmas’ me. What’re you doing in here?”
His face falls. “You said you wanted … I volunteered … it was your Christmas wish? You wanted a hug.”
Gabe frowns. He vaguely remembers thinking—maybe even stating out loud, to himself—that he just wanted a hug for Christmas. A total stranger shouldn’t know about it, though.
“How did you know that?” Gabe eyes him suspiciously.
“Santa hears everything.” He smiles fondly. “He listens to all his children. Especially the ones he didn’t get a chance to visit when they were little.”
“Are you trying to tell me Santa’s real?” Gabe raises an eyebrow in disbelief. “And you’re supposed to be what? A Christmas gift?”
“I’m an elf.” The guy—the elf, apparently—bounces a little as he says it, and Gabe thinks he hears the faintest jingling sound. Maybe he’s just going completely crazy.
“Right.” Gabe wets his lips. It’s totally implausible, because someone would have noticed Santa and elves and stuff at some point, but he’s inclined to believe it all the same. Something about this elf guy seems too earnest for Gabe to completely doubt him. “From, like, the North Pole?”
The elf nods. There’s a faint jingling sound again, so Gabe either is really losing it or this guy?
Actually an elf. Or something non-human, anyway.
He’s not sure he cares which one it is any more. The clock at the side of the bed tells him it’s just gone six a.m. and he could really use at least two or three more hours’ sleep before he faces the world. It’s Christmas morning, he deserves that.
“So do elves have names?”
The elf pauses and narrows his eyes, looking away. Gabe can practically see the hamster wheel turning in his head as he thinks.
“Felix.” He nods decisively.
“Like the cat?”
Felix tilts his head sideways. Gabe takes that as a no.
“Did you just name yourself?”
“Well, I can’t give you my real name. It’s too dangerous.” He draws his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around them. “Do you not like Felix? You can call me something else if you want.”
“Uh, no, Felix is fine. You picked it.” It hits Gabe again that he’s talking to a guy who claims to be an elf. “This is insane.”
Lauren is in trouble. Only the adoption agency lady knows the heartbreaking decision she’s making. But every baby deserves a father and Lauren’s ex isn’t stepping up to the plate. Without a dad for her child, Lauren doesn’t feel she can give her baby what he or she deserves. When her mother sends her to the Castillo resort in Castle, Alaska to help with a holiday celebration, Lauren jumps at the chance to forget her worries.
Jorell’s career is soaring. In charge of development for the Castillo Resorts Caribbean region, the only thing on his mind is pursuing a vice presidency. Not romance. But a forced transfer to the frozen north throws him—and his prospects off-kilter.
Zachary lives near Castle, Alaska, but the fishing guide has had little success finding a social life and fears his interest in both men and women may be too wild for the wilderness.
Two men and one pregnant woman…in charge of the holiday activities at the Christmas Extravaganza at Castle Lodge. Friendship and intense attraction blooms between them. But Madame Eve has her work cut out for her…will Jorell and Zach provide enough reasons for Lauren to change her mind?
Your aunt and uncle love you very much and, as a special Christmas gift, they’ve allowed me to arrange a unique evening for you. Your date will meet you at the large cabin behind the lodge, for a night you will never forget.
Perfect. Might as well get it over with—although it would have been simpler to give the guy the slip in the coffee shop or another public area. Kathryn and Nick met through Madame Eve and shared a world-class romance, even now that they were married and parents. Sweet looks, private jokes, stolen kisses…everything any girl could want. She stuffed the paper into her bodice with a sigh.
But she’d already set her course and, if it weren’t for her previous poor judgment and the fact that she’d already fallen hard for two men who had eyes only for each other, it could indeed be a night to remember. Instead, she cut through the gleaming kitchen, smiling at the late night staffers, and out the back door. A light beamed from the front window of the cabin where, according to Andie, she’d spent her first night with her true loves. For just a second an image flashed through her mind—of Jorell and Zach, their nude white and mocha bodies in a four-poster bed, arms outstretched to her in invitation.
But the single tear froze on her cheek along with her dreams as she plodded up the path to the cabin and lifted her hand to the door.
It jerked open, and she gasped. Christmas music poured out on a gust of warm, pine-scented air. A tall spruce decked for the holidays glittered in a corner. Low laughter from somewhere near the flickering flames of the fireplace did not come from the auburn-bearded man who greeted her in the open doorway. It came from Jorell.
And Zach’s hand was the one that tugged her inside, when her feet became one with the doorstep. Lauren’s heart thudded so loud in her ears, it drowned out the Carol of the Bells. Her hopes rose to the high rafters then crashed down when she realized….
“I’m so sorry to interrupt your evening. I must be at the wrong cabin.” And she’d be going back to her room after that, date be darned.
~About the Author~
Kate Richards lives with her wonderful husband and menagerie of adopted pets in sunny SoCal. She loves the beach, the High Sierra, where she has a very tiny cabin, and spending her days making sure all of her characters—eventually—get to have a happily ever after.