Tag Archives: Katherine Garbera

Celebrate Eve Gaddy’s book release with a conversation featuring Katherine Garbera + Giveaway

GIVEAWAY: Giveaway sponsored by Eve and Katherine. Win ebook copies of their new titles, more information located in the text below.

*****CLOSED***** Congratulations to Lori R — Lori, please email us at info@thetulegroup.com so we can send your eBooks of Eve and Kathy’s latest releases

Living in two different countries with widely differing time zones can be a challenge. When Kathy moved to England we had a hard time figuring out when was the best time to try to talk for both of us. With seven (sometimes six) hours difference, that was a challenge. Thank goodness for the World Clock App and FaceTime. One of the benefits of Eve being a night owl is that sometimes we can chat when it’s the end of her writing day and the beginning of mine.

Kathy and I have been friends a long time. Before she moved to England we talked on the phone a lot. Now that she’s in England and I’m in the US we FaceTime. We try for once a week but that doesn’t always happen.
Here’s one of our typical conversations about Whiskey River—well, mostly Whiskey River.)

Continue reading

Read about Lane Scott, Katherine Garbera’s latest hero!

herchristmascowboy-300dpiLane Scott. Sometimes a character just sort of walks onto the page and you know that he needs a story.

That was what happened with Lane. Originally I thought he’d be the hero of The Cowboy’s Reluctant Bride, but Lane wasn’t ready for romance or a happy ending so soon after being injured in Afghanistan and his story had to wait. But Monty had his part to tell, his guilt to get over so he could find some happiness. And seeing Monty get his happy ending helped Lane.

He’s settled down in Marietta as much as he can. He uses it has his home base as he goes out in the world and proves to himself that being a double amputee isn’t going to hold him down. He does everything he could before, rides his horse and helps his older brother on the ranch, skis, rides in cycling races and he talks. Through this he’s gotten pretty darned good at showing the world he’s recovered. He’s back to the old Lane. But the old Lane is gone and it takes a special, shy woman from Marietta to make him realize that is finally home and finally ready to move on. Continue reading

Let’s talk “Crushed” with USA Today Bestselling Author Katherine Garbera!

Katherine Garbera is here with us to discuss her new release, Crushed, of the brand new Sons of San Clemente series!

I love high-octane movies such as the Fast & Furious franchise and hard-edged books with strong alpha heroes like JR Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood, so when I heard Tule was doing a series called Sons of San Clemente my imagination went wild.  I had this character in my head called Con.  He’d grown up on the street and as a teenager had been taken in by a man with a strong moral code along with three other juvenile delinquents.

Con’s natural instinct is to protect whatever he considers his, and after serving three tours in Afghanistan as a SEAL, his skills have been honed.  He’s back in San Clemente working in Preach’s bar, breaking the California beach rules by bringing his rescue pug Buttercup into the surf with him and trying to mind his own business when he notices Mia Santos.

She’s just as beautiful as she’d been in high school even with that big black eye.  She shrugs it off but Con can’t help poking around and figuring out what’s going on.  Once he realizes Mia is caught up in a drug turf war, Con can’t walk away.

This book is edgy, a little violent and very sexy.  Con and Mia are both strong willed people who’ve made mistakes.  They live in a grey area between the law and lawlessness but they live by a code.  Each of them.  Mia would rather live totally in the light but every time she tries she gets drawn back into the underworld.

The book is different than my more recent titles and more like my acclaimed Savage Seven series.

Do you  have a favorite action movie franchise? Tell me about to be entered to win an e-copy of one of my back list titles of your choice.

Sons of San Clemente:

Book 1: Crushed by Katherine Garbera
Book 2: Wrecked by Sinclair Jayne – Pre-order!

Get to know the Amalfi Night Billionaires Authors!

We’re celebrating the Amalfi Night Billionaires with all five authors in the series! Keep reading to learn more about a few of your favorite writers and the latest stories from Holiday Books.

What’s your favorite place and time to write?

KatherineGarbera-Amalfi-300dpiKatherine Garbera: I love to write first thing in the morning.  When I’m in the middle of a book I usually wake up around 4 or 5, hop out of bed, go downstairs and settle into my recliner.  It’s super comfy and I write on my iPad using an app (Hanxwriter) that makes a typewriter sound.  I love it.

Nancy Robards Thompson: Any place except my office. Unfortunately — no, let me rephrase that, fortunately, that’s where I get the best writing done, but sometimes it feels like a cave. It can feel cozy or like a prison depending on the day. I’m a night owl by nature, but I’m trying to get on a regular work-days and sleep-nights schedule. I just can’t pull the all-nighters like I used to.

Kathleen O’Brien: My back porch, in the rain, late afternoon. Unfortunately, I also have to write inside, when it’s dry, morning and sometimes late into the night.  Deadlines are like that.MimiWells-Amalfi-300dpi

Eve Gaddy: My favorite time is when the words are coming. My favorite place is wherever I am when the words are coming. (Seriously, I’m so erratic I don’t have a favorite place or time!)

Tell us something personal that not many readers know about you?

KG: When I worked at Disney as  VIP tour guide I got to meet Dan Marino (my teenaged crush) and got a picture with him. :)

Mimi Wells: There’s not much people don’t know about me (I’m quite the talker), but I will say that I’m quite good at movie dialogue. And when it comes to movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona, or Better Off Dead, you can listen with the sound off. I’ll be sure you get everything!

NancyRobardsThompson-Amalfi-300dpiNRT: When I was in college, I worked as a stand-in on the New Mickey Mouse Club television show, which filmed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was such fun and I made a nice wage. Also, I met George Burns, Bob Hope, Annette Funicello and Milli Vanilli, among other celebs when I worked on the show. (KG: insert I worked on the New Mickey Mouse Club as well but our paths never crossed!)

KOB: I’ve never lived anywhere but Florida.  Tampa, Miami, Orlando.  I belong here.  I’m not a “bloom where you’re planted” kind of person.  I need to look around and see the trees I love, smell the flowers I’m used to, watch the same old birds.  Vacations, yes.  Relocate, probably not. :)

EG: I’m a sucker for happy endings.

What is your life motto?

KG: My life is full and blessed.  I love those words because they make me take stock every day in all the good things that I have in my life.

MW: Don’t panic, and always know where your towel is.

NRT: The race is long, and, in the end, it is only with yourself.

KOB: The person who enjoys the most stuff wins.  I’m not big into  pooh-poohing anything automatically.  The family I grew up in believed that, if you couldn’t find something to appreciate in a person, style or idea, you weren’t trying hard enough.KathleenOBrien-Amalfi-300dpi

EG: Enjoy your family and friends. They are your rock that will get you through the bad times and make sure you remember the good ones.

Name five items on your desk right now.

KG: 1) My Jane Austen quote mug

2) Sally Hansen Hard As Nails (writing is tough on my nails)

3) Over the Moon candle

4) Framed photo of my hubby & kids

5) Pop Vinyl figures (Wonder Woman and Luminaire) given to me by my kiddos.

MW: 1) My UCF Knights Tervis cup full of iced tea

2) A pile of CDs

3) Pictures of me and my Puffs (Katherine and Nancy)

4) Way too much paper

5) My tiara.

NRT: 1) A stuffed corgi that my daughter gave me.

2) A glass dish from Murano, Italy.

3) A small bag of lavender.

4) A tube of Burt’s Beewax Lip Balm.

5) An acrylic cell phone stand

KOB: 1) A Ferdinand the Bull figurine, to remind me to stop and smell the flowers, just quietly.

2) A wretched mound of papers waiting to be filed. I try not to see this, ever.

3) Winston Graham’s ROSS POLDARK, in paperback, rippling from a recent dousing on my porch, in the rain. :)

4) My fat, furry cat, Purrsia, who thinks she should sleep where my keyboard should go.

5) A Mary Englebreit desk calendar, torn off to today’s date.  Today’s quote is, “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

EveGaddy-Amalfi-300dpiEG: 1) Several medium sized notebooks with notes

2) TV remotes

3) Cell phone

4) Charger cords

5) Nail file

6) Pens! Oops, that’s six! (KG: that’s because EG is a rebel!)

What makes your billionaire different from the others?

KG: Rocco is a man who goes through life determined to conquer all things. His fears, his competition, Steffi! But really he lives for the challenge and as he gets older he finds the challenge isn’t conquering and moving on as much as it used to be.

MW: Shel’s a bit of a tortured artist underneath all that testosterone that makes him take crazy risks and drive too fast. He made his fortune as a writer/producer and composes improvised jazz piano pieces.

NRT: Matteo De Luca is the oldest and probably the most responsible of the five De Luca brothers. He’s also stubborn, laser focused on what he wants and very passionate.

KOB: Declan Muldoon has recently discovered that much of his family’s fortune was built on corruption.  He has no interest in being a part of all that anymore. As he tries to start his own landscape design business, he’s living down-to-earth, literally and figuratively.

EG: Luke is first generation Italian American and lives in Texas. He got out of the family real estate business to become a private investigator.

Thank you for joining us, ladies! Find the Amalfi Night Billionaires series at your favorite  online retailer.

auth_KathyGarberaKatherine Garbera is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 70 books. She’s the mother of two fabulous kids who make her feel blessed every day to be their mom, the wife of one dynamic games producing husband and chief-treat-giver to one demanding miniature dachshund.  The misplaced Florida girl lives in the midlands of the UK.  Find her on the web at www.katherinegarbera.com, FB: KatherineGarberaAuthor, and on Twitter: @katheringarbera.

unnamedMimi Wells worked as a mother’s helper, an aerobics instructor, an arts magazine editor, a project typist, a grammarian, a graphic designer, a waitress, a lingerie saleswoman, and a soda jerk before finding her niche as an award-winning high school English teacher and writer of young adult and Southern women’s fiction and romance. Mimi reigns as Empress of the Barefoot Domain in sunny Central Florida with her husband, two children, and two Brittanys—all of whom are spoiled completely rotten. Visit Mimi online at http://www.mimiwells.com, like her on Facebook (Mimi Wells Author), or follow @mimi_wells on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

auth_NancyRobardsThompsonNational best-selling author Nancy Robards Thompson has worked as a newspaper reporter, television show stand-in, production and casting assistant for movies, and in fashion and public relations. She started writing fiction seriously in 1997. Five years and four completed manuscripts later, she won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award for unpublished writers and sold her first book the following year. Since then, Nancy has sold 30 books and found her calling doing what she loves most – writing romance and women’s fiction full-time.

auth_KathleenOBrienKathleen O’Brien is the bestselling author of more than forty-five books.  She lives just outside Orlando with her former newspaper-editor husband.  Their two terrific grown children–and their own great spouses–live nearby, which, for her, constitutes the perfect world.  She’s a five-time Rita finalist, and the winner of the Maggie, the Holt and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence.

auth_EveGaddy3Eve Gaddy is the Bestselling, Award Winning author of more than twenty-three books. She’s the mother of two great children and the grandmother of three absolutely adorable girls. She lives in East Texas with her husband of many years and her Cocker Spaniel, who her husband says is incredibly spoiled and who thinks she is the Queen of the Household.

An Interview with “Whiskey River” authors Katherine Garbera and Eve Gaddy!

K and E photoKatherine Garbera and Eve Gaddy
take over the Tule Blog!

WTAW-300dpiSerendipity brought the two authors together more than 15 years ago when they were assigned to room together at a writers conference in Savannah, GA.  Their friendship was cemented by arriving late to a publisher get-together and being forced to drag chairs across the lobby to join the gathering.  It was the kind of thing that has happened more than once to the two friends.

Eve is a lifelong native Texan and Katherine moved there in 2005.  Their love of the south has always been one of the many things the authors have in common.  The best-selling, award-winning authors had long wanted to collaborate on a series and so Whiskey River was born.

They have filled the town with all the things they love about Texas.  Sexy Texan tycoons and cowboys with smooth southern drawls, feisty women who go toe to toe with magnates and know how to keep those smooth talking cowboys in line. Experience the beauty of the Texas Hill Country and the sexy men who live there with them.

How do you come up with your heroes?

Eve: I think about what they are, what they do, their profession, hobbies, background and a general idea of what they look like starts forming. Then I pick pictures on Pinterest, but sometimes I’ll think it’s one picture but the hero winds up being another. Sometimes I’ll know their backstory, but often it comes to me as I write.

Kathy: I always start with what I find attractive in a guy.  I like them strong, a little-bit alpha, and determined to have the woman they want no matter the cost. Because family is at the core of every story I write I sometimes am mean and make the hero feel responsible for the loss of his family—trying to give him an extra barrier to overcome while he is falling for the heroine.

How has Pinterest influenced your writing?

Eve: 1)Pictures of good-looking men. What’s not to like?

2)Time sink—pretty pics, animal pics, funny things, clothes, houses, cakes, sand sculptures . . . hot guys . . .

3)Helps me visualize my characters, helps a lot with the setting and   descriptions of the characters’ houses, place of business, etc. For instance     I had to go looking for my hero’s horse in the next book. That was great. Now I have all sorts of horse pictures. I love all sorts of animal pictures.

4) Sometimes I’ll get an idea from some random picture on Pinterest.

Kathy:

  • I love to find photos that really capture the emotion of my characters and then I pin them to the board.
  • Then I add in quotes that capture what I think of as the core of my characters.
  • I think Eve already covered this, but good-looking, hot guys. :)
  • I love finding places that I didn’t know existed. Like for Whiskey River we found fields of lavender in Texas even though normally you think of fields of bluebells in Texas. :)

How do you get the ideas for your stories? (Yes, that question!)

Eve: Sometimes it’s a movie, or a TV show, or a song, or an article from a newspaper, or a conversation with a friend, or a conversation overheard:), or when I’m looking for something specific for one book something will catch my eye that I think might be interesting, so I put it in a file for later. Or there’s always surfing the web and clicking on links that lead to strange stories that you find when you click on each link and it sends you to more links and before you know it (usually hours later) you’re looking at an article on alien babies birthed by celebrities with bad plastic surgery results. What, I haven’t written that story yet? Well, I might. You can’t tell.

Kathy: The ideas of my stories come from everywhere.  Usually from a combination of interesting news stories I’ve read, conversations with my hubby and kids, movies I watch, TV shows…pretty much everywhere.  I have written a lot of books and so sometimes people are surprised I still have stories to tell, but I don’t think I’ve even come close to telling them all.

I’m also really nosey about people so I will watch them from behind my dark sunglasses and try to figure out why they are doing whatever they are doing.  I have spent hours just watching people and being inspired by my version of their lives.  :)

Where do you work?

photo eveEve: Sometimes in my office. A lot of the time in my chair in the den. But if I really need to work and get a lot accomplished, then my office is the best place. With a laptop, though, you can work anywhere. I’ve written in the car while my husband drives when we go to Colorado. A long trip as I’m in Texas.

 

Kathy: I work wherever I can.  I have an office which I use most every day for my daily page count, I either sit at my desk or in my big comfy chair.  I’ve been using an app for the iPad called Hanx Writer (it’s named after the actor Tom Hanks).  The app turns my iPad into a typewriter with the old typewriter sounds.  I love it!

Sometimes I really need to get out of my regular space, especially if I’m distracted by a new book being released and then I go to the café and write.  I find that I’m unwilling to sit on Facebook or play games when I think someone else might see me!

Describe your office

photo (8)Eve: That depends on a lot of factors. I usually try to clean my office after I finish a book. Sometimes I manage to do it, but sometimes I don’t. I am not neat. I have piles of stuff to be filed, a bunch of SWAG for giveaways, books, of course. Notes! Notes everywhere on every kind of paper. Stickies everywhere, scratch paper that might have something important on it or might be junk. Small notebooks that are each supposed to be for a certain book or project. Yeah, I try but that doesn’t happen. They’re all jumbled up. I have a whiteboard with a bunch of colored markers. (I don’t always use it but it helps a lot sometimes.) Printers, TV, magazines, dog bed I just had to get rid of because cute little Ellie peed on it again. Sometimes my laptop is even in there!

 

 

My DeskKathy: I have a huge counter top that I used as my desk.  It’s set to my height and I have two monitors on it.  On my desk are post-it notes from my husband and my kids.  One reminds me to “stay fresh”—not sure what that means, but I do try!  I also have stuff my friends have given me over the years and little figurines I collect.  Above my monitor on the wall I have a quote by Carl Sandberg “Nothing happens unless first a dream” and an affirmation.

I have a bookcase to the left of where I sit that is jammed full of my favorite books on writing (Stephen King’s On Writing and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer) and then my binders where I keep everything that is involved in my story.  The synopsis, the letters from my editor, my research and then when it’s released reader letters.

What is a “best thing about writing”?

Eve: I can work in my pajamas, or my shorts, or my old shirt that should be thrown out. I don’t have to wear make-up. I can work anytime I want, and often do. Sometimes one a.m. Or during the day. Whenever I feel like it. (Well, unless life interferes and I have to do something else.) But to me the best thing is the feeling I get when everything is falling into place. The characters are talking to me, the plot is writing itself, I write a particularly touching scene. Or a funny one. Or one I know is good. When the writing is going well, there’s nothing else like it.:)

Kathy: Truth? It’s that I get to make up stories for a living.  That’s it for me.  I’ve always loved telling stories and the fact that I get paid to do it makes me very happy.  Readers who take the time to write to me and let me know how my books helped them or cheered them up make all those hours by myself in my office worth it. I also really love that I am can call myself a writer.  They are the most fascinating people I’ve ever met and I like being part of that group.

Thanks so much for joining us, Kathy and Eve, and thank you Book Lovers for visiting with us! Start reading the first book in the Whiskey River series, Where There’s a Will, now!

A Wicked Christmas Carol by Katherine Garbera

Enjoy a quick escape and read a short story by one of your favorite Tule authors.

A Wicked Christmas Carol

by Katherine Garbera

Holiday Books

An International Bad Boy Christmas Short Story

Sebastian Warren drove the 1929 Bugatti Type 25 sports coupe that his fiancée Celeste Beacon had given him through the worsening nor’easter. Mariah Carey sang about what she wanted for Christmas and he remembered that Judd had loved that song. He was a rebel, a bad boy—Celeste’s words not his—but he’d changed since he’d fallen in love with the pretty blonde. Christmas had been different this year. Ice skating at 30 Rock instead of ice trekking in the artic.

Tonight the snow swirled around the car and the wind buffeted the light bodied vehicle so he kept both hands firmly on the wheel. A car accident had claimed the life of his best-friend Judd almost two years ago. This was the second Christmas he’d spend without him. But this year the survivor’s guilt that he’d worn like a shackle was gone.

A year ago, he was on his yacht with two women whose names he couldn’t remember, trying to drink his way through the guilt that Judd’s death had left in its wake. Tonight…well, tonight he was in a much different place.

Christmas Eve and he was late to the party at his parents’ home in the Hamptons. He knew Celeste and her best friend Kendra were already there. Celeste had sent him a photo of the mistletoe she’d hung over the doorway leading to the garage—the one where they’d shared their first kiss. The message had read, All that’s missing is you.

Ava, his younger sister, had also texted that she was making a new cocktail—the snowball and she had one for him. Sometimes Ava acted like she was afraid he’d disappear back out of the family again. Logan was the one that Sebastian feared for his. His younger brother hadn’t been himself lately and Sebastian saw signs that Logan was on the edge the way that he had been before Celeste.

The happiness he’d found with Celeste was something he’d never thought he’d find. He couldn’t wait to have her back in his arms again. He thought about it and realized that he had all he wanted for Christmas in Celeste.

“You’ve changed, man.”

He glanced to his left and blinked, as an ethereal Judd materialized next to him. Judd had that wicked grin on his face and a Santa hat on his head.

“Have I?” he asked. He wasn’t surprised to see the ghost of his best friend. Judd had been visiting him since Sebastian had waked from a coma in the hospital.

“Yeah. Settling down. Soon you’re going to trade in the sports car for a mini-van,” Judd said.

“No way. I’m still dangerous.”

Judd shook his head. “You’re not.”

Judd’s words felt like a dare and he floored the accelerator sending the car rocketing down the almost empty highway. The car hit an icy patch and spun around and around before sliding off the road as Sebastian took the car out of gear and let it slow to stop.

“Holy hell,” Judd said. “Change isn’t a bad thing, idiot.”

“I know that,” he said. “I don’t want to give up living for you, man. It’s been so long and this new life isn’t one you’re a part of.”

Losing Judd had changed him. Their friendship had been the one thing in his life that he’d always counted on and slowly Sebastian realized that Celeste had taken Judd’s place, in a way. The excitement she brought to him was different—obviously—but she made him feel alive.

“I’m always here with you, Seb. You know that. Watching your happiness, seeing you and Celeste together, is a good thing.”

He looked over at the ghostly image of his friend and then threw his head back laughing. “I’m going crazy, aren’t I?’

“Going? I thought you always were crazy.”

Sebastian leaned forward, putting his forehead on the steering wheel. He missed Judd but the truth was together they’d been at their wildest. Sebastian had never imagined a future like this one. Judd gone. Him engaged.

“Ha. I miss you, man,” Sebastian said, looking over at Judd. His friends just gave him a wicked grin. “But the Christmas season isn’t as bad this year.”

“I’m just glad something good came out of that accident,” Judd said.

Celeste.

“She’s perfect for you.”

“She argues with me all the time.”

“She’s your lucky charm.”

She was. He couldn’t imagine a future without her and luckily didn’t have to. He put the car back in gear and slowly maneuvered it back onto the highway. He glanced toward the passenger seat. Judd was gone.

He pulled into the drive at his parents’ house and the door opened before he had a chance to turn the car off. Celeste came running down the stairs as he stepped out of the car and caught her in his arms.

“I…I was worried. The storm and the roads,” she said, her words jumbling together.

He hugged her close to him; she buried her head in the curve of his neck and whispered. “I don’t want to lose you.”

“You won’t,” he promised. “You’re my lucky charm, remember?”

“I can’t always be with you.”

“But you are. I have you in my heart now, Celeste,” he admitted. “And on my cuffs.”

He lifted his arm to show her he wore the cufflinks she’d give him. He also felt he had an angel looking over him now. Judd. For the longest time he’d tried to live his life for the two of them. Taking twice as many adventures, doubling the risk whenever he attempted anything and dating enough women for himself and Judd. But now that he’d found Celeste he knew that Judd was watching over them both at Christmas and always.

He lifted her in his arms and carried her down the hall to the spot where he’d kissed her the first time. He put her on her feet and looked at her. Remembered how they’d met.

“Mind if I join you?” he asked.

“That’s my line,” she said with a wink. “And no I don’t mind at all.”

A few snowflakes clung to her hair and her coat. Her pretty little nose was red and her lips parted as he closed the gap between them. Kissing her, taking her to his bed, forgetting anyone else existed for the entire night, now that was what he wanted.

She blushed. He loved that he could still make her blush. She enchanted him. He crowded close to her, brushing her body with his. The cold from the storm outside disappeared as he slowly unbuttoned her coat, putting one hand on her waist and bracing the other one against the paneled wall behind her head. He leaned in so close that he could feel the warmth of her breath against his cheek. Then he brought his mouth down on hers, knowing that kissing was all he could indulge in right now.

She was drowning in Sebastian. Every time he kissed her it was the same. She thought she’d get used to him, his sexuality and that dangerous wildness that he wore like a second skin, but she hadn’t. He smelled of the dark night, windy and stormy, spicy and addictive. But it was his mouth that was pulling her under; dragging her into the very heart of the storm that she realized was produced by him.

His mouth moved over hers like he owned her, and let’s face it, he did. He did that thing where he curled his tongue around hers and she melted. She forgot about the fact that all his family and their friends waited down the hall. Forgot that it was Christmas and time to give thanks. The only thing she wanted was Sebastian.

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, he moaned a sound deep in his throat that was as primal as the storm. She wrapped her thigh around his hips and pulled him closer. She arched against him as his mouth continued to do that wicked thing to hers. That motion of his tongue and lips.

“Ho, Ho, Ho!”

She pulled back and Sebastian smiled down at her. “I forgot we weren’t alone.”

She nodded. She wasn’t ready to talk yet. Was still trying to calm her racing pulse. She’d worried about him when she’d realized he’d be driving in the fierce storm in that tiny car she’d bought him. She was always balancing on a knife-edge with him. She loved the aura of danger that surrounded him but she also feared it. Feared that one day it might take him from her.

His eyes were intense and filled with lust and desire and love. He hugged her close, the embrace not as intensely sexual as it had been a minute before. Sebastian had affected her, no other man had ever made her pulse race and her skin feel like it was on fire.

He rubbed his thumb over her bottom lip. There was something about him. “What happened when you were driving here?”

“You can always read me,” he said.

“I hope so. You have seen straight through me from the beginning.”

“I wish,” he said. “I…was thinking about Judd.”

Celeste cupped his hand. “I think I would have liked him.”

“Sebastian, are you going to join the rest of us?” his father called from the end of the hallway.

He turned to see his father, Theodore, at the end of the hall resplendent in his black tuxedo with his “holiday cummerbund and bow tie of red, green and gold plaid.

“Just testing out the mistletoe,” Sebastian said.

He sensed the worry in his father that hadn’t completely abated since his engagement to Celeste. Sebastian had been slowly returning to his life there was a part of him that would never be the man he’d been before the accident. He knew it and his father did as well.

As much as Celeste tamed the wildness inside of him she also made him very aware of how much more he had to lose.

“We will be right there, Theo,” Celeste said coming up behind him.

“Good. Ava is anxious for you to try her new cocktail recipe,” Theo said before waving and walking away.

Celeste tucked her hand into the curve of his arm and he glanced down at her. She had her head tipped to the side; a strand of that honey-blonde hair of hers was curled along the side of her face. She had some kind of glossy lipstick that made it almost impossible for him to look away from her mouth.

“I don’t know if I say it enough but I’m glad you’re mine,” he said.

“I’m glad you’re mine too. Especially since you promised to fulfill all of my desires.”

He put his hands on her waist and drew her ever closer to him. She smelled of vanilla and home. He looked down into her eyes and felt the last vestiges of the past slowly ebb away.

“I want to hear more about these desires,” he said. “I will satisfied them as soon as we are alone.”

“I’m counting on it! Being around you always awakens new ones. Like the need for one more kiss under the mistletoe.”

“I don’t want to disappoint,” he said, lowering his head.

Her lips parted and she went up on tiptoe, her hands holding on to his shoulders. He felt the warmth of her breath over his lips the moment before theirs met. An electric tingle went through him and he closed his eyes as he deepened the kiss. She melted into him and he thought of the room just up the stairs and down the hall. His old bedroom which his mom had kept as it had been when he’d lived with them. He lifted her more fully into his body and took three steps toward the stairs.

“Merry Christmas!”

He lifted his head and met his brother’s gaze. Slowly he let Celeste slide down until her feet touched the floor. She turned to Logan and started to step aside but kissing Celeste had left him in a state of arousal so he drew his fiancée back into his arms and smiled at his brother over her shoulder.

“Merry Christmas, Logan. We weren’t sure you’d make it,” Celeste said.

Logan had been working long hours lately, skipping golf at the club and in general taking up the surliness that Sebastian had left behind. A few snowflakes were in Logan’s thick brown hair.

“I couldn’t disappoint my favorite soon-to-be sister-in-law,” Logan said, coming over. “Am I allowed a kiss hello or has Sebastian chained you to his side.”

Celeste gave Sebastian a long, smoldering look from under her eyelashes. “I wouldn’t mind being tied to him.”

Sebastian groaned as her words flamed the fire inside of him he was trying to contain.

Logan laughed as if sensing Sebastian’s predicament as Celeste stepped away and gave his younger brother a hug. Logan kissed Celeste on the cheek and then linked his arm with hers, leading her down the hall to the party that Sebastian had been avoiding.

Not about to let Logan steal his date, he put his hand on Celeste’s waist, bringing her back to his side as they entered the living room. His sister and a group of her friends from the UN were at the bar mixing up a cocktail called a snowball. His mom was surrounded by her good friends and his father was making small talk by the fire place. Logan moved off to talk to Kendra Martin, Celeste’s best friend who had become a part of their extended family.

He pulled Celeste off to a corner, his heart flooded with love. “Thank you.”

“For?”

“Bringing me back to this.”

She gave him that soft look of hers. “You’re welcome. I love you, Seb.”

“I love you too,” he said. He kissed her again but this time it wasn’t about passion. It was a kind of thank you for the life that he had now. The one he couldn’t have found without her by his side.

“A toast,” his father said after getting everyone’s attention.

He and Celeste joined his sister and her friends. They were all handed a drink and his father stood at the front of the room. It was easy to read the joy in his face and the satisfaction that his father felt at having all of his children under his roof.

“To our friends old and new,” Theodore said.

Sebastian thought he saw the ghost of Judd next to his dad lifting a glass and smiling at him.

They all toasted and took a sip and Celeste slipped her hand into his. “Merry Christmas to everyone and may this New Year be the best one yet.”

“I can guarantee that,” Sebastian said.