Release date: November 3, 2014
For the first time in her life, Candace Ellison is determined to stand on her own two feet. When the city council’s new convention center project threatens to demolish her new flower shop, Kiss from a Rose, she vows to win the fight without help from her wealthy and well-connected family.
But to keep her doors open, she’ll have to turn to an even unlikelier source—Luke Carrigan. Problem is she hasn’t been able to get along with the guy since that fateful day they met … back in kindergarten.
There’s more than building blocks and coloring books on the line now though. Luke’s recently inherited his family pub, and isn’t about to let the city put a wrecking ball through years of memories and tradition. This is his chance to show his family he can be more than just the fun-loving, favored son. … except Luke’s not exactly singing “Jingle Bells” at having to strategize with spoiled Candace.
by Dana Volney
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
An excerpt from Christmas Clash:
Luke Carrigan crumpled the unwanted letter in his hand and swung open the glass door to the flower shop with the other. Silver chimes cheerily flickered above him, and if he could’ve turned around and karate chopped them down, he would’ve.
“I thought you were an Ellison.” He walked toward the dark-haired woman behind the counter and spotted a red poinsettia.
Freaking Christmas. “Can’t you fix this?” The paper cracked as it hit the counter and dewy humidity filled his nose.
Candace paused, holding a white rose between her soft pink nails, and swiveled to face him. “Good morning to you, too.” She may have suppressed an eye roll, but it still resonated in her voice.
He heard rustling behind her and caught a glimpse of red hair behind a very large green plant.
“Why am I getting a notice about the city taking my bar? Again?” He rested his hands on the cold granite. “Didn’t you speak to them?” He censored his words in an attempt at civility since they weren’t alone.
In one swift motion she swiped her chin-length black hair behind her ear. “Well, Luke, a last name doesn’t fix anything.” Her eyes met his.
The most annoying thing about Candace Ellison was her brilliant, piercing blue eyes. Her full, always-tainted-pink lips were a close second. They were alluring features that promised excitement and fulfillment, but in reality only provided an unfounded fantasy. Luke stepped back from the counter and folded his arms across his chest.
“So, you are going to be of no help?” He raised a brow.
“That’s not what I said, now, is it? Calm yourself down.” She entwined another rose in the overflowing green-and-gold-striped glass vase. “What are you doing up so early? Shouldn’t you be sleeping something off?” A smile played on her generous lips as he grunted.
Ah, the crap he had to put up with to save the family pub was getting harder to swallow. Two years ago, the moment his dad’s pen had lifted from the ownership transfer papers, Luke had felt the pressure. The weight worsened when his dad had looked at him, tension darkening his eyes, and said, “She’s all yours now, my boy. Take care of her like the generations before you have.” In other words, don’t screw up what years and years of hard labor had produced, and if Luke did he’d never live down the disappointment.
“Hilarious.” He turned to leave and mumbled under his breath, “Why do I bother?”
Snow crunched beneath his boots a few minutes later as he walked next door to his pub. Candace was an Ellison, which meant she would only do what was in her best interest—no matter the cause. She’d been that way since he could remember, and his memory on the subject was long. He’d never cared about her family name or their money, but Candace had seemed to and that rubbed him the wrong way. They’d known each other since kindergarten. Okay, known might be a strong word—more like despised. They were oil and water, fire and ice, Ralphie and his Red Ryder B.B. gun—any of those comparisons would do.
Not that he thought about their relationship a lot.
The sun was new in the blue sky, but did little to heat the air of the morning. He opened the heavy, dark oak door to his family’s business, The Pub. Candace had been right about his hours, but he wasn’t a drunken bartender anymore. The Pub wasn’t some gig he waltzed in and out of because it was the family business. As third-generation Carrigan, the pub had been passed down to him. And losing it to the city under his watch wasn’t going to happen.
If he would’ve gotten involved in the business district of Casper more and followed politics, like his dad had suggested, then maybe he could’ve prevented his business being put on the chopping block. As it was, besides his neighbors and the locals that drank at the bar, he had no special connections. Not of the powerful variety, anyway.
David Deehan looked up from cleaning bar glasses and Luke shook his head curtly once, kept walking straight into his office, and claimed his dilapidated green office chair. Not sure why I thought she’d come through. That was a lie—he’d assumed one call to the mayor or president of the city council from an upset Ellison would have fixed the problem that’d been building. There was no way Candace would’ve made that call if the proposed demolition had only affected him, but it didn’t. Her flower shop was just as much in the damage zone as his pub, not to mention the five other businesses around them. He’d hoped her self-preservation instincts would’ve kicked in by now. He spun around in the chair and tapped his pen on his leg. Think, man, think. A soft knock beckoned from his open door. He stopped turning his chair to see Candace standing in his doorway.
Perhaps she’d grown a conscience in the last thirteen minutes and he was in line for a Christmas miracle.