Baby, it’s cold out there…
Freelance reviewer, Nathan Winstrom, is known for his sharp-edged, honest reviews of Inns and B&B’s, but when he stays at the Sleigh Bells Inn, Nathan has to wonder if the owners’ daughter has ulterior motives when she begins flirting with him. Not that he minds. She’s a hot drink on a cold night, and he’s thirsty on this Christmas Eve. But when she tells him that the Inn is haunted by the ghost of an Elvis impersonator, he wonders if she might be a little whacky.
Just when she thought Santa wasn’t listening…
Charlaine only has one thought when she first lays eyes on Nathan. Thank you, Santa! That is, until she learns he’s the critic who’ll be reviewing the Inn. Still, it has been a long time… After one sizzling night spent in his arms, she happens to glimpse his review notes. Now she’s seeing red, and it’s not from all the Christmas decorations!
Can a flamboyant ghost bring them back together, or will he only make the situation worse?
Thank You, Santa!
I Won't Be Home For Christmas Series
“How do I let myself get talked into these things?” Charlaine mumbled as she tried to straighten out the computer for the umpteenth time in the last four days. “Damn, ghosts.”
It was probably the spirit of that Elvis impersonator. He’d always given her trouble. And he loved screwing around with the computers. Putting people in connecting rooms tickled him to no end.
And she didn’t know how many times he’d had couples scattering what they thought were his ashes, but were actually ashes from the hearth, to the four winds at midnight. It was a wonder they didn’t freeze to death, and their relatives sue the Inn.
She scrolled down the page, then right clicked on Nathan Windstrom’s arrival date. Yep, there it was, December twenty-fifth.
“Who in their right mind books a room on a holiday just so they can write a review of the inn? A guy without a life, that’s who.” She snorted. He’d fit in perfectly with all the ghosts. As though her parents didn’t have enough to worry about with the snowstorm and an influx of guests.
A couple walked by. Charlaine looked up and smiled at them. She’d wondered about those two. Both songwriters. It had been easy to see the woman was in love with him. Apparently, he’d decided she was pretty special, too, because they looked all lovey-dovey. She sighed, wishing she had a man in her life who would look at her like that. Get over it, she told herself. Wishes never came true. At least, hers didn’t.
She returned her attention to the computer, and the reviewer that should’ve already arrived. “Maybe the old codger got caught in a very deep snow drift far, far away from here and will at least stay away until things calm down.” Okay, maybe I don’t want him stranded in a snowdrift, she thought as guilt washed over her.
She clicked on the screen. Nothing.
Click! Click! Click!
Great, now it wasn’t doing anything. She really hated computers. Okay, she could do this. She wasn’t about to let a machine beat her.
Take a deep breath. Move your finger off the mouse. She waited a couple of seconds. Very calmly, she clicked again. Nothing. Terrific, it had locked up.
A throat cleared behind her. She whirled around in her chair to face the person.
Her gaze zeroed in on the man behind the check-in desk. Oh, wow. Santa had thought to bring her a very nice present, and oh, baby, she really liked the way he was packaged. Yum. Maybe one of her wishes was about to come true.
“May I help you?” she asked, her words breathless. Good Lord, she’d sounded like Marilyn Monroe. She cleared her throat, and sat a little straighter, trying for a professional look.
He returned her smile with one of his own. The kind of smile that made her toes tingle and her heart beat a little bit faster. The kind of smile that had her practically melting in her chair. If they didn’t have any rooms left, he could certainly bunk with her.
Hot didn’t even come close to describing him. He was tanned—and in the middle of winter no less. And he had the kind of hair that made her want to run her fingers through it: thick, jet black. It just brushed the collar of his jacket.
Thank you, Santa!
“I have a reservation,” he told her, his words raspy as they scraped across her skin.
She drew in a deep breath.
His gaze dropped to her chest.
She wanted to tell him that she hadn’t done that on purpose. Yeah, she liked what she was seeing, but she didn’t want him to think she would jump his bones if he made one false move. Because she wouldn’t. Pfffft, she didn’t even know his name.
She cleared her throat. “Your name?” Might as well get that out of the way.
He didn’t get in any hurry to raise his gaze. Heat enveloped her. The kind of heat that made her want to hug herself so she could hold on to it. The kind of heat that made her want to tear off her clothes and say, ‘I’m yours, take me!’
This guy had sinner written all over him. She could think of at least two commandments she’d like to break with him—maybe three but for the life of her, she couldn’t remember what the other eight were.
The critic? No! That wasn’t right, not right at all! “Damn.” When she realized she’d spoken aloud, she quickly whirled around in her chair and faced the computer. “Yes, of course, Mr. Windstrom.”
“Call me Nathan.”
Heat traveled up her face. Talk about making a bad first impression. She’d practically drooled all over the desk.
Damn, damn, double damn.
And the computer was still locked up. She didn’t need this. Computers hated her. Everyone who knew her was aware of that. She was tech illiterate, but Sue had called and said she’d be about an hour late, so she’d offered to cover for the admitting clerk.
“I’m sorry. I’m having a bit of trouble here,” she said. What would he write about that?
Check-in is slow. Female at desk apparently horny and lusts over guests.
She could see her parents getting a bad review and it would be all her fault.
“Control, alt, delete,” he said.
“What?” She didn’t even look up as she clicked on the backspace key. Nope, nothing moving. She had hoped it would take her back to before the stupid computer locked up. It didn’t.
His arms wrapped around her. Startled, she jumped. Oh, God, he was going to have his way with her. Throw her down on the floor. Take her right then and there.
She hoped her parents didn’t walk through the lobby.
Man, he smelled good. His woodsy fragrance wrapped around her, tantalizing her senses. Her love life was so in the toilet that the closest man she’d gotten to in weeks was her father and the Old Man cologne he wore. Bleh.
“Control, alt, delete,” he said. His hot breath tickled her ear sending warm fuzzies down to the pit of her stomach—and lower.
“Hmm?” she murmured.
He pushed some keys on the computer. “Control, alt, delete. If you click on the mouse too fast, you’ll lock up your computer. You don’t want to do it very often, but pushing those three keys simultaneously will usually unfreeze your screen.”
Hell, just his voice could unfreeze anything around her.
“See. Another window pops up.”
She looked at the screen. Yep, there it was, asking if she wanted to end the program. She turned her head and looked at him. Their faces were only inches apart. He had the most beautiful green eyes she’d ever seen, and long dark lashes.
And then he smiled again. He shouldn’t be doing reviews, he should be doing commercials. He could sell ice water to Alaskans in the winter.
But he was a critic, and from what her mother had said, a real hard-ass. She cleared her mind of almost all the sexual thoughts she’d been having—pfffft, she wasn’t a saint. “Uh, thanks. I’ll remember that.”
“No, problem,” he said and straightened, then walked to the other side of the desk again.
Back to business. Except she couldn’t remember what the hell she’d been doing. Her mind was a complete blank.
“You do have a room for me?” he asked.
A room! God, he probably thought she was a moron. It was his fault. He shouldn’t be so tempting. “Yes, of course, Mr. Windstrom.”
She scrolled down and saw her mother had put him in the old renovated morgue that had been added to the inn. What could her mother have been thinking? The spirit of that Elvis impersonator always hung out there.
Maybe there was something else available. She glanced through the list of rooms. The songwriters were checking out later, but their rooms would have to be cleaned. She drummed her fingers on the desk. No, it didn’t look as if there was anything available.
She reluctantly got the key, then handed it to him. And the bellboy wasn’t around either—of course. Neither were her parents. Her father was trying to fix a pipe that had burst, and her mother was helping the cook.
“I’ll show you the way.” She stood and hurried around the desk. They each reached for his bag at the same time. His hand was warm, strong as it enveloped her smaller one. She could imagine the heat his touch would create in other places.