Today I’m sharing the cover and an excerpt from Gift Wrapped by my friend, Karla Doyle.
by Karla Doyle
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Expected Release Date: November 15, 2014
Part of a Series: No
After catching her boyfriend cheating the week before Christmas, Brinn is seriously lacking in holiday spirit. So when she looks into the eyes of a last-minute shopper after closing on Christmas Eve, she’s sarcastic rather than sympathetic. But Brinn is ever the good girl and her conscience wins out. She offers the handsome stranger ten minutes to select a gift and ends up with a present of her own—a date. On Christmas Eve.
Davis hates Christmas. Especially this year, since a neighborhood heist liberated him of his hard-earned belongings and the few gifts he’d purchased. But the robbery led him to a cute store manager with a sense of humor, smokin’ body and no plans for the evening. Mistletoe might be in order after all.
Their Christmas Eve date is like gift-wrapped, sexy satisfaction. But the best gifts keep on giving, and one naughty night may not be enough—for either of them.
An Excerpt from GIFT WRAPPED, Chapter One
Brinn ducked behind the counter and killed the loop of festive tunes. Ah, glorious silence. Nothing like eight to ten hours of merry music every day for two solid months to squeeze the last drop of festive spirit from your soul. Thank god she’d said her last, politically correct, “Have a great holiday” for this year.
She straightened, surveyed the chaotic state of the small chain store she managed, and looked into the face of a dreaded beast—the solitary male with an unfinished shopping list.
There was one every year. Usually a mid-fifties man with desperate, pleading eyes and a frown because he’d just realized—at closing time on Christmas Eve—that he didn’t have enough gifts under the tree. This year’s last-minute shopper didn’t look more than mid-thirties, tops. A hint of anxiety played on his face, but it didn’t diminish his good looks. Shaved head, strong jaw, warm eyes. Wide shoulders filling out a black cargo-style jacket. Very nice. His fingers curled around the rungs of the metal roll-down door. He flashed a charming smile to go with the eye contact.
Good try, buddy, but it is so not happening.
Didn’t matter how attractive he was, Brinn didn’t return the smile. That’d only encourage him. Instead, she gave him a view of her back and resumed setting the store to rights.
Apparently dude missed the memo on interpreting body language, because the metal rattled behind her. Thirty seconds later, he lightly shook it again. Seriously, he thought that’d work?
“We closed at five.” She tossed the words over her shoulder. Best acknowledgement he was going to get.
“Yeah, you and the rest of the world.”
Exactly. Now get moving. Too bad she couldn’t say that out loud.
“Look, I know I’m late, but I only need one more thing. It’s kind of an emergency.”
She shook her head, hoping to hell he saw it. “Sorry, can’t help you. The superstore on Weber Street is open until seven tonight for emergencies like this. Perfume is a lovely gift—I recommend Glow by JLo.” The very thing she’d hoped to get from Liam. The idiot had bought it, she’d found it tucked between his t-shirts. He’d just put another woman’s name on the gift tag for tomorrow. Lousy jerk.
“Thanks for the suggestion, but the person I’m shopping for doesn’t wear perfume.”
Well la-de-da for her. Brinn sighed and rattled off the next item on her personal wish list. “You can’t go wrong with chocolates. The Lindor balls wrapped in foil are my personal favorite. Especially the white-chocolate kind.”
A deep laugh rumbled from the other side of the metal mesh. “Good to know.”
Brinn smiled at the comment. The pushy guy had a nice laugh and a sexy voice, she’d give him that much. “Look, I’ve already closed off the register…I couldn’t sell you anything if I wanted to.”
“I have cash. I’ll be fast and I’ll give you a big tip at the end.”
“Wow, that’s quite the proposition. I know my skirt’s a little on the short side, but I’m not that kind of salesgirl.” She waited, but sexy-voice guy didn’t say another word. Or rattle the cage.
She half-turned to sneak a peek. Gone. Which should be a relief, but stirred her guilt instead. Her disappointment too.
She moved to the door and spotted him three stores down, walking away. “Hey,” she called. No answer—except from her conscience. Ah, crap. She turned the lock and rolled the door up enough to scoot underneath. Biggest mistake ever, coming right up. Well, second biggest. Moving out here to be with Liam currently held the number-one spot.
She did a ridiculous, high-heeled jog past several darkened stores. The sound of her heels echoed in the quiet mall, but the guy still didn’t look back. “Hey, wait up,” she said again, once she had him within arm’s reach.
He stopped so abruptly that she plowed into him. And bounced off, because he was that solid. Oh man. Now that they were face-to-face, without the benefit of a heavy-duty metal screen separating them—or any witnesses to speak of—he was a bit intimidating. Not super tall or monstrously built, but she didn’t doubt for a minute he was capable of kicking some serious ass.
“I, um…” Dry mouth plus empty brain much? His intense stare didn’t help matters. She cleared her throat and tried again. “C’mon back and I’ll try and help you find something for your wife.”
“I’m not married.”
“Okay, for your girlfriend.”
His jaw ticked. The corners of his mouth lifted in a sexy half grin. “Not shopping for one of those, either.”
Awareness zinged her, heating her cheeks and making her nipples tingle before settling between her legs. “Sister, aunt, granny, roommate, long-lost childhood friend you recently reconnected with on Facebook…whoever she is, I’m giving you ten minutes to find her a gift from my seriously depleted stock. Take it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it. Thank you.” His genuine, full-face smile nearly melted her knees out from under her.
“You’re really saving me here.”
She flapped a hand at him as they walked. “No problem. Glad to help.” Clearly she’d had too much stale mall air. This after-hours personal-shopping stint would likely set her back thirty minutes, not ten. She still had the daily reports to complete and a couple hundred gaudy Boxing Day sale tags to attach. At this rate, it’d be close to seven o’clock before she flopped on her couch with a bowl of soup and the annual cable presentation of Frosty the Snowman.
Yet she still had a stupid smile plastered across her face. Good lord. A couple of weeks without a boyfriend had reduced her to this? Maybe it wasn’t too late to send a note to Santa. Perfume and chocolates weren’t the only things on her wish list.
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