Released: Dec. 2009
When Macy Carter’s parents order her to bring her live-in boyfriend Sean home with her for Christmas she has no idea that her little white lie is just about to snowball into a fabrication of monstrous proportions. Sean isn’t her boyfriend, he’s her boss. Now she has to reveal the lie she’s been telling her family for the past two years or hastily concoct an elaborate ruse to fool them instead.
When Macy tells Sean Mathis of her predicament he does what any gentleman would – he laughs and then agrees to help her out. Little does he know that one misplaced word in their little scheme will backfire and land them both in the hot-seat.
Secluded in the mountains, surrounded by snow and good will, Sean and Macy can’t help looking like the perfect couple. So perfect that the family decides a Christmas wedding will make it a holiday none of them would ever forget!
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“Tell him while you’re naked. He’d agree to anything then.”
“Mom!” Macy gripped the phone tighter to her ear. She knew no one could hear her mother on the other end, but felt paranoid nonetheless. She glanced out across the reception area and turned in her chair before lowering her voice. “I’m not telling him while I’m naked.”
“Don’t act so scandalized,” her mother said. “I’m just trying to be helpful, you know.”
“I know that,” Macy said. “And regardless of how I tell him the situation is still the same. He’s still busy. I’m not sure he can make it this year.”
“How busy can he be? He’s a veterinarian for cripes sake.”
“I know but this practice is his whole life. He can’t just drop it.”
“You’ve said that for the last two years, Macy. I want that young man here for Christmas. No excuses.”
Macy Carter grimaced at her mother’s tone of voice. She glanced across the room at Sean, watching him smile at Mr. Peterson and sighed heavily. Her mother was still talking, her voice a constant echo in her head while she tried to think of a way to dissuade her from forcing this issue. They’d been over it every holiday for the past two years. Every time she went back home, the first question anyone asked was, “Where’s Sean? Why is he always too busy for you?”
She finally cut her mother off. “Okay. I’ll let him know how you feel about this. I’ll do what I can.”
“You do that, honey. Your father is starting to get worried. If you’re boyfriend can’t even manage a weekend to meet us, he isn’t good enough for you. You can tell him we said so.”
Macy hung up the phone and let her head fall to the desk. She thumped it several times; cursing her stupidity before someone cleared their throat and caught her attention. She rolled her head to the side, looking up at them through her hair and felt her stomach coil into a knot. “Hey Sean.”
“As much as I find this self mutilation amusing, you’re scaring the patients,” he said with a smile, turning his head to look out over the reception area.
Macy followed his gaze, noticing everyone staring at her and the patients, all their furred faces, looking anxious and nervous. The clinic was full today. Almost every species of pet you could name was inside the small veterinary clinic waiting for a shot or just a general check-up. She clearly didn’t have time for a breakdown at the moment. It would have to wait.
She sat up when Sean handed her the folder he’d been holding and walked around the desk, picking up the next file. He stopped beside her, leaned down toward her and quietly said, “Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad.”
“That’s what you think,” Macy mumbled when Sean called out to the next patient and walked the short hall to the last exam room. She sighed again, pushing her hair out of her face and let her shoulders slump.
Macy picked up the discarded file and tapped it lightly on the desk while trying to think of a solution to her Mother’s demands. There was no way her family would believe Sean was again too busy for a visit. Just like her mom said, how busy could a veterinarian be? They were allowed time off of work too, right? And why would he not want to visit them?
She moaned out loud, turned in her seat and stood, making her way to the end of the hall and stepping into the tiny room that was used as their makeshift lounge. A brown, rather ratty sofa, sat along one wall. A refrigerator and microwave sat on the other and a round table took up the space in-between.
Walking to the fridge, Macy opened it, taking out her juice carton and gulped a huge amount right out of the jug. It did nothing to calm her nerves. Not that she thought it would. She needed something a lot stronger than orange juice for this.
Hearing the door across the hall open, she shoved the juice back into the fridge and turned just as Sean walked into the lounge.
“Why she brings that dog in here week after week when nothing is wrong with him truly boggles the mind.”
Macy grinned. “It isn’t the dog she wants you to see, Sean.”
He lifted a curious brow and grinned. “Really?”
“Yes, really,” Macy said. “Haven’t you ever noticed how she’s dressed for a night out on the town?”
“No. Of course, I don’t make it a habit of checking out sixty year old women either.”
He crossed the room, falling onto the sofa before looking over at her and smiling.
“What?” she said when he continued to stare at her.
“Go ahead and tell me what the problem is so you won’t be bruising your head by thumping it on your desk for the remainder of the day.”
Macy rolled her eyes, pulled a chair from the table out, and sat down. “It’s nothing you should worry about. Just family stuff.”
“Like family stuff,” she said, grumpily. She glanced at him, regretting the way that had come out. She sometimes forgot Sean didn’t have to deal with family. He had none. She shook her head and smiled to try and soften her earlier tone. “Just my mom and Christmas. She wants me to come home for the week.”
“Most mom’s would,” he said. “What’s the problem, then?”
Macy blushed. She felt heat crawling up her neck and settle on her cheeks. She looked away from him. Lord, how did she get herself in to these messes?
“It’s nothing,” she said.
“Nothing doesn’t cause you to bang your head on a desk and it certainly doesn’t cause your cheeks to get all rosy.”
When he chuckled, Macy turned her head and rolled her eyes at him. “This isn’t funny.”
“And I’m supposed to know that how? You still haven’t told me what the problem is.”
“Why do you even care?”
He shrugged one shoulder. “Does it matter? Come on, Macy. If something’s wrong, maybe I can help.”
She snorted a laugh. “Yeah, you can help all right,” she mumbled.
“It can’t be that bad.”
“Fine. You want to help me?” she said, challenging. “Then come home with me for Christmas.”
“Come home with you? To your parents house?”
She blushed again and ducked her head to try and hide it. “The truth?”
“Okay then.” She took a deep, cleansing breath and stared down at the scared tabletop. “My mother said if I didn’t bring you with me this time, not to bother coming at all.”
He didn’t say anything for long minutes, just stared at her with a confused look on his face. He sat up straight and raised one dark brow. “Me? She wants you to bring me with you at Christmas?”
Macy glanced at him and nodded her head. “Yeah. They want to meet you.”
“They want to meet me?”
“Stop repeating everything I say. I feel like you should be sitting on my shoulder asking for a cracker.”
“Parrot?” she said with a chuckle. He clearly didn’t get it. “Never mind.”
He waved a hand, dismissing her last comment and jumped right back in the conversation. “Your parents want me to tag along for Christmas? Why?”
The knot in her stomach grew until she felt nauseous. There was no way to avoid this. Either he went with her or she spent Christmas alone. Her shoulders slumped seconds before she buried her face in her hands and bravely mumbled out why.
He laughed. “Sorry, darling, but I didn’t catch a word of that.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake,” Macy growled, lifting her head and pushing her hair out of her face. “They actually want to meet the man I’ve been living with for the past two years. The man who will some day marry me and give them a house full of grandbabies. The same man who has always been too busy to meet them.”
“Okay,” Sean said. “So, they want to meet your boyfriend.” He narrowed his eyes at her and leaned his head to one side. “You’ve been living with someone for two years? How did I not know this?” he shook his head, a funny look falling over his face before he leaned back. “It doesn’t matter. What does this have to do with me though?”
Macy felt sick. Her stomach clenched the same instant her throat grew tight. She swallowed and weakly said, “I may have told them it was you.”
Sean stared at her for long minutes, watching the pink tint on her cheeks deepen to a rosy red. When she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, what she’d said finally dawned on him. She told her parents he was her boyfriend? As much as he tried, he couldn’t help it. He laughed. He laughed until his eyes watered and his stomach ached. When she stood and started for the door, he jumped to his feet and grabbed her before she left.
“Not so fast,” he said, grinning. “I want to hear this. Every sordid detail.”
End of excerpt
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