Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Christmas Present in July--A Free Read by Vonnie Davis

Over a year ago, I wrote a Christmas novella about the men of a fire and marine rescue station in Clearwater, Florida. I designed Santa Wore Leathers as a kicking-off point for a series of books about these hunky heroes, even though the romance was about a man-shy reporter with a thong-stealing German shepherd and her new muscle-bound next door neighbor. Oh ladies, Dan "Wolf" Wolford was the kind of man to get all the women hot and bothered...especially her.

So, here we are in July and book one of this Firemen's Wild Heat series--TO CATCH A FLAME--releases on October 2nd. If you haven't read Santa Wore Leathers, you didn't get to meet Wolf's youngest sister, Cassie. Now Cassie is a bit of a dreamer, a spitfire and she's had a crush on her brothers' co-worker at the station, Quinn, for three years. But Quinn doesn't think he's good enough for her...besides relationships aren't his thing.

As a bridge between the Christmas novella and the book coming out in October, here's a brief segment. A special moment between the hero and heroine of the novella AND the first teeny-tiny step of Cassie and Quinn coming together.
Christmas in July...what could be better?


Becca was so stuffed from Christmas dinner, she didn’t think she could move from her spot in the corner of Wolf’s sofa. Every one of his siblings had brought a side dish and dessert, while he’d baked ham and steamed shrimp and crab legs. You had to love a man so secure in his masculinity, he could man the kitchen to cook for his family. Her gaze swept over her muscled hunk in his black leather pants and Santa hat. He could do his fair share of cooking in the bedroom, too, and the shower and the kitchen counter…and on his Harley. She squirmed a little. Didn’t her bottom still bear the imprint of his bike’s speedometer?
As if he sensed her movement, his attention turned to her and a slow, sexy smile spread. His eyebrows rose for a fraction of a second almost to signify he read her thoughts. Now that they’d worked through their issues of trust and desertion, they’d grown closer; if that were possible. He was so intuitive to her moods and needs.
“Want more wine, sweetheart?” Wolf whispered a kiss across her lips. “Might help ease that sore bottom.” Low laughter rumbled from his chest.
Her nipples peaked so they could hear his almost silent message. “No, I’m fine.”
“Indeed you are.” He winked and moved across the room to offer April and her fiancé more pinot grigio.
Soft holiday music wove through the crevices of the raucous conversation between his entire family. They certainly knew how to fill a house with teasing and laughter. Wolf’s large Christmas tree was surrounded with wrapped gifts. The largest one—the stroller for Jace and Wendy Anne’s unborn baby—sat off to the side, wrapped in Santa paper and red ribbon.
Cassie flounced onto the sofa next to Becca. Her eyes were red-rimmed and her face pinched. She clasped the younger woman’s hand. “No word from Quinn?”
She shook her head and leaned her head against Becca’s shoulder. A long sigh shuddered from her slender body. So, Christmas wasn’t merry and bright for everyone. She wrapped an arm around Cassie and looked for Wolf. He’d know how to handle his baby sister. Their gazes connected, and he reached for something on the window sill.
“Hey Cassie, you’ve got mail here.” He handed her some envelopes. “Thought you had your address forwarded.”
“I did, but you know the mail system. If my name’s spelled different, it doesn’t get pushed on through.” She shuffled through them. “A bill. Ugh. Two credit card offers. What’s this? Looks like a Christmas card. No return address.” She tore it open. “Merry Christmas to Someone Special.” She flipped it open and gasped. “It’s from Quinn. He didn’t forget me after all. Oh, look, he wrote ʻTo the sweetest pain in the ass I knowʼ. How romantic is that?” Her eyes sparkled with excitement.
Jace laughed. “Quinn’s not big in the romance department. He’s not a believer, sis.”
Cassie held the card to her chest. “You just give me time. I’ll make a believer out of him.”
Wolf handed Becca an envelope. “You’ve even got mail coming here.”
She took the envelope. “Me?” She turned it over, read the printed label. “Must be an ad of some kind.”
“Open it.” Cassie elbowed her.
Wolf leaned a hip against the arm of the sofa to read over her shoulder. “Better not be from a damn man.”
“Oh, shush.” She slipped her finger under the seal and tugged on the card. “This can’t be for me. It’s an anniversary card.”
“Really?” Wolf took the envelope and studied it. “Read it out loud, sweetheart.”
“Yes,” Wendy Anne chimed in. “Maybe we can figure out who it’s supposed to be for.” A chorus of agreement followed.
“It’s a fiftieth anniversary card. How did it get sent to me?” She opened it to hunt for a signature and found, instead, a long hand-written note.
“Read it to everyone.” Wolf nudged her.
“ʻHappy Anniversary, my love. You’ve given me many wonderful memories over the years. I never thought it was possible, but I love you more now than I did the day I proposed.ʼ” She glanced at the family gathered around her. “Oh, this is too personal to read. I feel as if I’m eavesdropping. Is there a return address on the card? I need to see the right woman gets this.”
Wolf extended it in front of her so she could see. “Nope. Read on, sweetheart. Maybe there’s a clue. A name. Something.”
“Okay… ‘Do you remember the day Einstein stole your red thongs…’” She glanced at Wolf. Darn if he wasn’t wearing an innocent expression. Note to self: Don’t play poker with this man. “ʻ…and I chased him around the yard? Or the time I fell off the ladder because I was looking at you in those leather pants you wore? Then there was the day you broke your nose and had that cute lisp. And the night—Christmas Eve—when I pulled the Harley into a cove of palm trees and palms and we made love against the handlebars. I remember all those things and more. But mainly, I remember our first Christmas together when I pro…’” her vision flooded with tears and she blinked them away. “ʻ…when I proposed to you in front of the whole family.’”
The card fluttered to her lap and she wiped the tears from her eyes.
Wolf was on bended knee in front of her, an opened ring box in his large hand. “Will you marry me, Becca Jade Sinclair?”
She slipped off the sofa and pushed Wolf back to the floor, straddling his hips. “Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you.” He slipped the square diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds from the jeweler’s box, kissed it and then slipped it on her finger. Wrapping his arms around her, he rolled her over to kiss her as only he knew how to kiss—and her toes curled in the new stiletto boots he’d given her for Christmas.
Everyone clapped and cheered. Einstein, thinking it was play time, trotted in from the kitchen wearing a sweater that proclaimed “I’m the ring bearer.”
“Where did he get that sweater?” Her heart was practically bursting with happiness.
“Cassie knitted it for him.” Wolf nuzzled her neck.
“So the whole family was in on this?” She glanced around, noting everyone was wiping away happy tears.
Wolf nipped her jaw. “Hey, this is the Wolf pack. We do everything together.” A slow grin spread and his hand gently caressed her sore bottom. “Well, almost everything. I love you.”
When she’d least expected it, she’d found her alpha, her love and her family. What a difference a year had made. “I love you, too, Wolf.” 

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