Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mistletoe Mischief

A Romancing Wisconsin Holiday Story (#1)
Christmas recipe for love—combine a matchmaking
Santa, lots of mistletoe, one iron-clad rule, fated hearts;
mix and stir. The Riley siblings don't stand a chance.


Christmas in July at the zoo is the last place single parents Eric Riley and Marissa Wilder expect to find love. Thanks to some mistletoe mischief in the form of their two young daughters and Santa, they discover mistletoe rules were not made to be broken. 

EXCERPT: (Brief scene history-Eric was one of the no-show chaperones who arrived later)

“Whoa—what the heck did you do?”

Eric’s voice rumbled in his chest against her back, but Marissa was too busy biting back a whimper of agony to enjoy the feel of the strong arms that’d caught her.

“My stupid heel wedged in the boards before, and I twisted my ankle when Heather almost went over the railing.”

And with that one single step just now, the throbbing pain she’d been trying to will away exploded into a thousand sharp knives stabbing at her ankle. Adrenaline had kept her oblivious until after she held Heather safe in her arms, and then, she’d hoped the pain would fade if she gave it a few minutes.

Obviously not.

“Mom? What’s the matter?”

Heather stood in front of them with an anxious expression. Marissa wiped the moisture from her eyes and gave her daughter a reassuring smile. “I hurt my ankle a little, but it’s okay, I’ll be fine.”

The knives had dulled slightly, receding enough to let the details of Eric’s hard, muscular body register on her consciousness. He helped her straighten, and her body slid up along his chest in the process. A wave of heat crashed over her.

“Can you stand?” he asked.

“As long as you don’t let go.” The moment the breathless words escaped, her cheeks flamed. She sounded as turned on as she suddenly felt. Their daughters stood three feet away, for heaven’s sake! Staring at their parents with big, round eyes.

“I won’t let go,” Eric promised. “Take a couple slow, deep breaths and I’ll carry you to that bench down there.”

Marissa focused her gaze toward the bottom of the steps. Thank God. He thought her breathlessness stemmed from the pain. A few moments ago, yes. Now? Not so much. And no way she’d let him carry her.

“I can walk.”

“It’ll be easier if—”

The zoo employee who’d checked on Heather earlier had noticed their group again. “Is everything okay?” the young man asked. “Should I call for the medical cart?”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Eric said. “Thanks.”

“I’ll walk,” Marissa insisted when the employee lifted his walkie-talkie.

“Fine, you walk,” Eric relented. But then he still nodded to the employee to make the call before stooping slightly to fit his shoulder under hers. His arm curved around her waist for support. “Let’s go. Girls, wait for us at the bottom.”

With his help, Marissa hobbled toward the stairs. She didn’t know which was worse, her unsteady balance in the strappy sandals, or the riot of sensations radiating from his large hand spanning her waist. In an attempt to gain some equilibrium, she put weight on her right foot again. Pain attacked with a vengeance and she sucked her breath through her teeth.

A low growl of annoyance sounded deep in Eric’s throat. “I need to look at your ankle sooner rather than later, and at the rate we’re going, it’ll take you a half hour to get down the stairs. Now hang on.”

He scooped her into his arms, leaving her no option but to cling to his neck. At five feet seven inches without shoes, she must weigh three times what his daughter did, yet he strode down the platform steps as if she were as light as his six year old daughter.

“What possessed you to wear heels to the zoo anyway?” he muttered.

She stiffened in his arms. “I’ll give you two guesses. One, I’m an airhead who enjoys people looking at her like she’s an idiot. Or two, I was supposed to work today, ran late and missed the bus at school, drove Heather here to meet her class where Patti begged me to help because three of her chaperones didn’t show up and after one look at my daughter’s face, I knew I couldn’t disappoint her.” She took a much-needed breath of air. “So I stayed in my stupid high heels.”

He’d descended the stairs and stood by the bench by now, but made no move to set her down. A slight frown creased his tanned brow.

Marissa lifted her eyebrows when his guilty gray gaze met hers. “Any other questions?”



Read the rest of the story, and the series...

(This novella previously published in the anthology Mistletoe Rules
2010 Winner Write Touch Readers' Award)



  1. Love the new cover for this, Stacey. I've really been busy with all the updates.

  2. I missed saying Thanks, Casey! :) Hm, seems I understand busy, too. LOL