|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.
When Lisa Riley comes home for her brother Mark's Christmas Eve wedding, her high school rivalry with his wife Janelle's cousin, Derek Walsh, picks up right where it left off, only this time Derek has the upper hand. Santa bides his time as they battle it out because he's waited a whole year for this mistletoe match-up.
She ignored Derek and smiled at Mark and Janelle. “I would love to help.”
“Great!” Janelle exclaimed. She looked from Lisa, to Derek, and back. “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if you two had a little contest to see who could raise the most money? Just like old times.”
Derek’s hands clenched at his side. Great. Just great, Janelle. He waited for Lisa to gleefully pounce at the opportunity to bury him again, only to be surprised by her dismayed expression.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” she said.
He should be relieved. Instead, his competitive demon demanded retribution for all the humiliation it’d endured during the old times. He’d bury her. “Why not?” he asked.
Her gaze remained locked on his cousin. “No offense, Janelle, but it seems a little silly. I mean, we’re not in high school anymore.”
Derek relaxed and fell into their old pattern with ease. “What’s the matter, Lisa, afraid you’ve lost your magic touch? Are you not up for the challenge?”
That got her. Her spine stiffened and fire gleamed in her eyes. “Of course I am.”
He fake frowned, nodded his head with understanding, and stage whispered, “I get it.”
Derek glanced at their captive audience. “Nothing.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him. He valiantly avoided staring at her increased cleavage. It wasn’t so hard with his grandparents and her brother watching. And her silent demand for an answer.
“I probably shouldn’t say it now. Not in front of everyone.”
Lisa’s eyes narrowed. “Please, do enlighten us—all of us.” Her condescending sarcasm stroked the blood-thirsty devil on his shoulder. Their audience of respective family members waited in expectation. Grandpa, in particular, appeared to enjoy the exchange immensely. This next part would almost make high school worth it. Derek shrugged. “Obviously, it’s me.”
“You?” She infused the single word with an appropriate amount of humorous disbelief and disdain, only she avoided looking him in the eye.
“You’re scared you can’t handle me all grown up.”
The outrageous statement produced the desired laughs—only Lisa’s sounded forced. Her right hand rose to flick her hair back over her shoulder, then smoothed down the length of her burgundy satin dress. Hmm. He hadn’t dreamed his intentional bait would be remotely close to the truth. Derek moved in for the kill. “That’s why you chickened out under the mistletoe.”
The words ‘bite me’ resounded in his head as she glared at him and took a breath to speak. He waggled his finger in the air between them. “Uh, uh. Careful.”
Lisa stepped forward and grabbed his hand. He fought to keep his expression impassive while she bent his finger back just enough to make her point. She leaned close, her breath hot on his lips as she ground out, “You’re on, buddy. I’m going to kick your butt so bad you’ll wish I’d never moved back.”
Too late for that.
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