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Authors: Elda Minger

Cinderella Christmas

BOOK: Cinderella Christmas
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Nick glanced up and everything inside him went perfectly still. Standing in the doorway of his den, silhouetted by the light from the hallway, stood the sexiest woman he’d ever seen in his life.

“Do I know you?” he said.

She pushed away from the doorway and he had more of an opportunity to study her. She was dressed as an elf, but like no elf he’d ever seen. This elf wore a glittery red bustier that pushed her generous cleavage up and out, a short flared skirt that showed off miles of leg, and thigh-high black boots. A red domino mask completed the outfit.

As she walked – or rather,
prowled
– into his office, he thought irreverently that his Christmas present had come early this year.

“What are you supposed to be?” he said.

“I’m a naughty little elf,” she whispered as she leaned her hip against his desk. “Were you a good boy or a bad boy this year?”

“I’ve been told that I’m very good,” he said, his gaze never leaving hers. “But with you, I’d like to be very, very bad.”

Cinderella Christmas
A Holiday Novella

 

 

 

 

By
Elda Minger
Copyright 2013

In memory of Snowy, always in my heart.

Deeply loved and never forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013 by Elda Minger
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a recording; nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise be copied for public or private use – other than for “fair use” as brief quotations embedded in articles and reviews – without prior written permission of the author. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Chapter One

His hand slid slowly up her leg –

“Mr. Chastain!” Eve said, grabbing her fellow employee’s wrist firmly and peeling his palm off her thigh. “I’m
so
making fun of you the next time I see you and
Christine!
” She put the emphasis on his wife’s name and saw Albert’s forehead furrow, confused. He’d clearly had way too much eggnog. He blinked, smiled at her sheepishly, then said, “Who are you, anyway?”

“I’m Santa’s little helper,” Eve said, trying not to laugh. Albert was short and round, and right about now he reminded her of a repentant penguin. Literally, because he was in a penguin costume.

“Quite stunning is what you are,” he said, reaching for her. She turned her coworker around and guided him down the hallway toward the lavish catered buffet. Her boss, Nick Holmes, had gone all out with the company’s annual Christmas party, held at his house. The enticing smells of savory dishes and homemade cookies caught Albert’s attention and he toddled off unsteadily toward the heart of the party.

Eve watched him from the shadows until he reached his wife’s side. No one had to know about what had just happened. He’d simply had a little too much Christmas cheer.

She headed back to the foyer and wondered if she’d need a slug of that spiked eggnog in order to have the courage to carry out her little scheme.

Don’t think, just do it.

Two younger men dressed as characters from
The Lord of the Rings
came partway into the foyer where she was hiding behind an enormous potted plant.

One said, “Hey, where’d Nick go?”

“Upstairs. Said he had to check on one of our customer’s – “

“ -- doesn’t he ever stop working?”

“Yeah, well, he’s missing out on his own party. Said he didn’t want to be disturbed and he’d be down shortly.”

“His loss – “

Voices faded as the two hobbits turned and headed back toward the enormous open kitchen that flanked one side of the huge family room. Laughter and the sounds of Christmas music drifted out toward the front of the house.

Eve had only gotten as far as the foyer when Albert had spotted her. But he’d been pretty wasted so he wouldn’t remember.

She didn’t want anyone else to see her, even if she was in costume. Not if she meant to pull off this inspired idea. At least now she knew where Nick was.

Would she have the courage to find him and let her plan unfold?

Eve started up the stairs.

#

Nick Holmes sat at his desk, staring at the laptop screen. A blank screen, as he’d turned if off almost a quarter of an hour ago. He ran his fingers through his thick dark hair, feeling totally exhausted.

He didn’t want to go downstairs and play host. For the past few weeks he’d been feeling as if nothing much he did was worth the effort. But he couldn’t quite put his finger on why.

His father had started Your Best Adventure, which specialized in destination vacations and extreme sports. Nick loved to travel and had followed his parents around the world as a child. It had seemed the most natural move, as their only child, to take the family business to greater heights.

He had. Your Best Adventure was the business everyone counted on to deliver excellence when a vacation had to be nothing short of extraordinary. Nick knew he ran the family company well. He knew he helped his customers create incredible memories that would last a lifetime.

Work wasn’t really the problem. He didn’t want to do anything else with his life. It was just that he was . . . restless. He needed something more. He was looking for something and he didn’t know what it was.

And he was really tired.

“Hi, sailor. Or should I say, soldier?”

He glanced up and everything inside him went perfectly still.

Standing in the doorway to his den, silhouetted by the light from the hallway, stood the sexiest woman he’d ever seen in his life.

Soldier?
Then he remembered his costume, a Roman centurion.

“Should I call you Mark, as in Anthony?”

He smiled. She was funny. He liked that in a woman.

“You can call me Nick. Do I know you?”

She pushed away from the doorway and closed the door. He had more of an opportunity to study her. She was dressed as an elf, but like no elf he’d ever seen. This little elf would be right at home in a strip club. She wore a glittery red bustier that pushed her generous cleavage up and out, a short flared skirt that showed off miles of leg, and thigh-high black boots. Her hair was as black as her boots and cut short, with long, flirty bangs. She carried a small black velvet bag. A red domino mask completed the sexy outfit.

As she walked – or rather,
prowled
– into his office, he thought irreverently that his Christmas present had come early this year.

He hoped he would, too.

“What are you supposed to be?” he said softly. He found that he liked looking at her. He hadn’t been as curious about a woman in a long time.

“I’m a naughty little elf,” she whispered as she leaned her hip against his desk.

He found himself mesmerized by her lips, shiny and the color of cherries. This just kept getting better and better.

“Were you a good boy or a bad boy this year?” she said, looking down at him, mischief in her expression.

“I’ve been told that I’m very good,” he said, his gaze never leaving hers. He hoped she wasn’t a figment of his imagination. He’d been working so hard on so little sleep during the weeks leading up to the holidays, it was entirely possible all this was simply exhaustion.

Then he smelled her distinctive perfume, a sultry scent that made him want to pick her up and carry her over to the comfortable couch in the seating area of his study.

“But,” he continued, “with you I’d like to be very, very bad.”

He watched as her dark eyes widened behind the mask.

Who was she and why did he have the feeling he’d met her before?

#

This was going better than Eve had thought it would.

The upshot of this whole little adventure was that she was in love with her boss and had been for almost a year. She’d worked closely with Nick as his personal assistant during the entire time she’d known him, but he only knew her as a nondescript woman who kept to herself and was rather cool. Not exactly frigid, more like Grace Kelly at her best. And that had been deliberate on her part.

She’d never trusted herself to smolder around Nick. Not until tonight.

It had all started at a dinner with her three best girlfriends, two married and one engaged. Though it hadn’t felt as if they were ganging up on her, when the conversation turned to why she didn’t have a man in her life, Eve had known the reason. But she couldn’t tell them.

She was in love with Nick. As long as she thought he hung the moon, she’d never look at another man.

So her wild Christmas plan, Operation Stealth Elf, had been born.

Nick Holmes gave several lavish parties for his employees during the year. He believed happy employees worked much more efficiently than unhappy ones. His Christmas party was legendary, the first Saturday in December. Employees looked forward to the fun of a costume party and also to the generous bonus checks Nick handed out every year. He believed in getting bonuses to his people early so they could use the extra money for their Christmas shopping.

But it wasn’t a check Eve was after. She’d seized on the idea of this year’s Christmas costume party as a way of -- as she thought of it -- putting herself out of her misery. She’d decided to come dressed as the complete opposite of her office persona and get Nick to kiss her.

Really
kiss her.

One terrific kiss, that was all she wanted. One kiss, at one grand party. Yes, it was old-fashioned, yes it was incredibly romantic, and yes, it was like something out of a fairy tale. But Eve knew the difference between fantasy and reality.

She just wanted one night where fantasy reigned supreme. Then she was quite content to go back to her nondescript office persona. The carriage would turn back into a pumpkin at midnight, the horses back into mice. But she would
know
, and that would be enough.

Reality was quite simple. Eve was certain there was no way she was the type of woman Nick wanted in his life. He had a reputation as something of a bad boy and had serial dated his way through a wide swath of women. The women at work considered him the company’s answer to George Clooney. He liked women, respected them, but not one of the beauties he’d dated had come close to taming him.

No one probably ever would.

Eve knew she had to get him out of her system. She knew there was no moving on in her personal life until she satisfied her curiosity and kissed Nick. She wanted to know what it would be like to kiss a man you were absolutely crazy about before the inevitable settling she would do once she started looking for a man to marry.

For one moment out of time, one December night, she didn’t want to be practical. She wanted the dream. She wanted it all.

Eve had tried so hard to find Nick’s flaws, to make him less desirable. So far she hadn’t found one. He was a fabulous man, but so unattainable she might as well have wished for the stars in the sky. So unrealistic, so delusional, so impossible –

Until that wicked little voice she’d always suppressed whispered in her head, late one night,
what about just a kiss?
What about seeing if actually kissing this man would be as hot as she thought?

Eve knew she was many things, but she wasn’t delusional. Life circumstances had made her a hard-headed realist with a gooey romantic center. But she guarded that romantic center and the realist always won out.

Her girlfriends had made her take a good look at the future of her personal life and she hadn’t liked what she saw. A lifetime of mooning over her boss and, in the end, she’d be alone. The realist in her had decided she was taking control of her life and changing the outcome.

Eve’s New Year’s Resolution was simply to find a good man, a kind man, a man she could build a life with. But unless she scratched this little itch concerning her boss, she would always wonder. And that wouldn’t be fair to any man.

So tonight was the night. Nick had asked not to be disturbed until he came back down to the party. He hadn’t thrown her out of his private office.

So far, so good . . .

#

“How bad is bad?” she said, pitching her voice low. God forbid he should recognize her as his ever efficient assistant, Eve Watson.

“Why don’t you use your imagination,” he replied, humor in his expression as he stood up and headed around his desk until he was standing in front of her. Oh, he was enjoying this.

Her heart was beating triple time as she looked up because she saw desire in his eyes. He glanced down at her throat and she wondered if he could see the vein pulsating in her neck. She hoped she wouldn’t pass out.

Courage. You’re almost there.

She wet her lips and said huskily, “You know, I’ve never been kissed under the mistletoe.”

“Really? An elf like you? I wouldn’t think that was possible.”

She almost wanted to cry. Oh, not for Nick the quick grope, the sloppy kiss. The man knew how to take his time, how to flirt, how to make an experience memorable. A man who actually enjoyed the buildup was a rarity.

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