Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Veronica Wolff’s Laura and Eddie from Timber Creek.
In love and war, something’s gotta give…
For Laura Bailey it wasn’t easy weathering her teen years at her quaint family lodge in a boondock town at the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Fleeing for San Francisco the minute she graduated high school seemed like a good idea—until she lost her job and her fiancé. The blow to her pride sent her back to Sierra Falls to figure out her life. But her hometown is undergoing a bit of renovation.
A new Sierra Falls resort is posing a threat to the Bailey family business. Even worse, the construction company developing the property is run by Eddie Jessup, Laura’s cocky high school nemesis who delighted in locking horns with the little spitfire. Some things never change. But their battle isn’t the only thing heating up between Laura and Eddie, and before long they realize that getting to know each other all over again has its rewards. But fate isn’t through with them. Nor are the games men and women play in the name of love.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Timber Creek.
The Law of Mistletoe
Laura race-walked along the aisles of Up Country Hardware like a madwoman. She was certain she looked crazed, and who wouldn’t after the day she’d had? First there’d been the mall at Silver City, or rather, the crowds at the mall. She should’ve turned around the moment she saw the parking lot—she’d felt like she was halfway to Reno before she found a spot.
And now a storm was blowing in—nothing unusual for the Sierras, but it was enough to make her feel like she was racing against a ticking clock. Her family’s lodge and tavern weren’t exactly on a major highway, which meant she had to get back before the snow began to stick. The last thing she needed was to get held up waiting for the snowplow to do its thing.
No, she had to find what she came for and get out. All she needed were tiny hooks to hang lights—how hard was that? “Where are you?” she muttered. Up Country had hooks for pictures, for bathrobes or towels, there were even hooks sturdy enough to hang power tools and saws, but nothing tiny enough for a few strands of measly Christmas lights. “Where, where…?”
As she studied a small display of office supplies, she heard the owner in the back and called to him. “Hey, Tom, do you know those small, clear hookie—” She turned, and the words stuck in her throat.
“Hooky? Sounds fun. Can I join you?” A pair of bright blue eyes locked on hers. It was Eddie Jessup, grinning like a cat who’d cornered the canary.
She was Laura Bailey. She was no canary. She pulled her shoulders back.
“Jessup,” she said, making an exasperated sound like she didn’t care. Because she didn’t.
He winked. “Some might say the Jessup.”
“Oh, please.” The guy was maddening. He seemed to know how those eyes slayed every woman in a sixty-mile radius. Everyone but her, she vowed. “Give me a break.”
“I’ll give you whatever you want, Laura Bailey.”
She spun her back to him, making like she was studying the shelves. He flustered her—he’d always flustered her, ever since middle school when he’d been the bad boy trying to get a rise out of the good girl. “Whatever,” she said as casually as she could.
He didn’t take the hint. Instead, he took a step closer. “Whatcha doing?”
“I could ask the same of you.”
She heard his grin as he mused, “What am I doing? I have a construction company, remember? Men like me tend to frequent establishments like this.”
She ran her eyes sightlessly along the shelves, wondering how to get herself out of this corner. Eddie was over six feet of man, standing in close proximity, wearing that red plaid jacket he’d had for ages—the one that always smelled of fresh air and pine trees and made him look like he’d stepped out of a Levi’s commercial.
She hated how well she knew that jacket.
“Maybe I can help you find what you’re looking for.” He chuckled, giving another meaning to his words.
“I doubt it.”
“Try me.” Again, the way he’d spoken gave it an extra edge.
“Fine,” she said primly, trying to normalize the situation. She smoothed her features and turned to him. “Where does Tom keep the hooks?”
His face broke into a baffled grin. “Hooks?”
A bell jingled as someone left, drawing her eyes to the door. The sky had turned dark gray, flurries thickening to a full-on snowfall. She forgot her exasperation and now just felt panicked. “You know how my dad is about getting the lodge decked out for the holidays. Seriously, he’ll kill me if I mess this up.”
“Bear won’t kill you,” he said gently. “Now just tell me what you need to do.”
“I need to hang our Christmas lights.”
“I already did.”
“Wait.” She focused on him, trying to make sense. Did he mean he’d hung his lights? “What?”
“I was out at the lodge this morning, hanging your lights. I do it every year, ever since your dad had his stroke.” He chucked her chin. “If you hadn’t fled town the moment you graduated high school, you’d know that. You should also know”—he pitched his voice for her ears only—“I’ll light you up any day of the week, darlin’.”
Maybe it was how he’d touched her so easily and the way she secretly wanted him to do it again. Or, maybe it was because of all the times he’d been there for her parents when she hadn’t. Either way, her hackles rose. “I’m not your darlin’.”
He grinned. “Whatever you say, sugar.” Before she could utter a protest, he added, “If Christmas lights are your only worry, I hung ten tons of icicle lights along the roof and inside the tavern.”
She tried to find fault. “I wanted to do the windows, too.”
“Oh…well.” She tried to think of something else, but at the moment, Eddie was nothing but thoughtful and charming. And somehow that upset her more than anything. She darted around him, headed toward the door. “Thanks, then.”
But he hopped into step behind her. “I don’t know that we’re done yet, you and me.”
“Not done?” she asked nervously.
He stopped by the front door, blocking her way. “Not quite.”
“What?” She peered hard at him. “You’re up to something.”
“Yes, you. I don’t trust you for a second.”
He put an innocent hand to his chest as he said, “I’m the most trustworthy guy around.”
“I haven’t been gone that many years, Eddie.” They’d grown up together, and she always knew when he was playing at something. “Fess up.”
He leaned close, and she sucked in a startled breath at his closeness, but he was just reaching across to get the door for her. But then Eddie held still, giving her a smile that did nothing to help with the whole breathing thing.
“I just wanted to point out”—he glanced up—“that.”
She followed his eyes.
Her heart kicked into double time. “What?”
“You know what,” he said, his voice husky.
“Mistletoe,” she said as matter-of-factly as she could. “So?”
“So, you know the rule.”
“There’s no rule.” She sidestepped him.
But he sidestepped to match her. “Oh, there’s a rule all right.”
“Okay, but it’s not like an official…rule rule.”
“Oh, it’s official. It’s seven years of bad luck if you break the rule.”
She clutched her purse tight to her side. “That’s if you break a mirror.”
“Nope, I’m pretty sure I’m right.” He called to the owner, “Hey, Tom, that mistletoe rule, it’s pretty hard and fast, right?”
A disembodied voice called from the back office, “That’s what I’m told.”
Eddie gave her an aggravatingly innocent shrug. “See? Rules.”
“Since when do you follow rules?”
“Since I got the notion that women like you only go for rule-following men.”
“Women like me?” That blush she’d been fighting turned into an all-out flush, and she tried once more to storm past before he spotted it.
One touch was all it took…one blazing fingertip, gentle in the crook of her elbow. “Can’t avoid the rule,” he said, his voice low.
Laura froze as he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Mistletoe means a kiss.”
She couldn’t help it—she looked up then, peering into those eyes. They crinkled at the corners with lines that’d been etched on his face even when he’d been a teenager. And of course they had…whenever she pictured Eddie Jessup—and how she tried not to picture him—but when she did, whether at work or at play, he was always smiling that easy smile, the sun shining on his face.
“Just one quick kiss,” he said. “We are under mistletoe. Really, it’s like a law.”
She didn’t know laws, but she did know one thing: Men like Eddie should be illegal.
Meet Veronica Wolff!
Veronica Wolff is an award-winning, bestselling author with a soft spot for kilts, mountains, beaches, and vampires. Not necessarily at the same time. She lived everywhere from Texas, to Hawaii, to India, before finally settling in Northern California, where she lives with her husband, two kids, one insane rescue dog, one angelic rescue dog, the gentlest cat ever, and a snake whose days are numbered.
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Thank you Veronica for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Veronica is giving away a copy of Timber Creek. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What other “laws” are there during the Holidays? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered. (US only)
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.