Holiday Round-Robin Kickoff

This week on The Violet Femmes, I have two distinct pleasures: one, to announce the winner of our Contest Giveaway, and two, to kickoff our Holiday Round-Robin story. Without further ado:

The winner of the Nook Simple Touch is…..

BARBARA LAWLOR

Congratulations, Barbara!!! We wish you many great Reads!

Next up, our Holiday Round Robin’s first installment, written by me, Jenna Blue, just for you, our Dear Readers. Why? To share the spirit of the season in the form of a little romance. Each week, one of the Femmes will continue the story. We hope it brings you a little holiday joy in this busy season…

GLITTER GIRL

Hiding out in a leopard fur coat, red skinny jeans, and high-heeled fashion boots behind over-the-top Christmas lights that nearly smothered her quaint Vermont Victorian, felt both dangerous and ridiculous to Tessa Burke. However, her “relocation advisor” swore Raoul would never find her, if she continued to act out of character.

Hiding from Garth Doherty—oh, what a hunk of a man—crunching up her snowy drive with his loose-limbed stride, wide shoulders, and teasing blue eyes? Now that was a smart move, and she didn’t need an advisor to confirm the fact.

Tessa shifted from a bend to a squat, her butt hovering just above the snow as she tucked the last few bulbs onto the overgrown holly branches. Maybe Garth hadn’t yet spotted her. Dark had descended quickly, though most of her lights were already glowing, blinking on and off like hundreds of fireflies united in a common mission. Tessa pressed her lips together as she worked. Not only did she have a knack for choosing the wrong men and a renewed vow to avoid them, Garth Doherty had some sort of crazy radar, perfectly tuned to catch her at the most embarrassing moments. And although he’d already rescued her on more than one occasion, Tessa most decidedly did not feel safe around him. She felt…like she was falling, floating, and full of possibility. Like a sparkling snowflake tossed about by the wind. And Tessa hated being airborne. The sensation was terrifying.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, Tessa listened, and found she was holding her breath, tingling with anticipation. No, she thought, no! Stop it—you are done, done, done with men.

Tessa snorted. Her stupid heart never seemed to get the message. Invariably she kept hoping, hoping, always hoping that someday she’d find the one.

Crunch—oh, God, so much closer now—crunch. Tessa squeezed her eyes shut, her leather-gloved fingers clenching into fists. She smelled the pine trees and the clean scent of unsullied northern air, yet she heard…nothing.

She cracked open one eye. Groaned inwardly at the sight of wool-lined, heavy-duty, winter boots, loosely laced with giant rubber soles. Unlike her pointy-toed pleather ones, these were perfectly practical for this winter wonderland—except the oversized clunkers were planted right under her nose.

“Ah-hem,” Garth cleared his throat, the usual teasing tone evident even without words.

Tessa grabbed for the tail end of the lights she’d been layering into the bushes, groped for the connector, and voila—red, green, orange, and blue lit up, making bright spots on his long, jean-clad legs.

Tessa took a breath, straightened, and looked into the handsomest face she’d ever seen. Rugged, chiseled, and dark with scruff. Smiling eyes, kind eyes—she thought—but of course, she couldn’t be trusted when it came to these things.

“Garth! Hi! I didn’t see you there.”

“No?” he grinned. “Who were you hiding from then?”

“Hiding?” Tessa’s face heated and she just knew she was as red as one of these big bulbs. “I was finishing up my lights.” She swept out a hand. “What do you, think?”

Garth raised an eyebrow. “I think…” He shook his head, “I think it looks like Wal-Mart Gone Wild.”

Tessa’s hands settled on her hips. “Hey, I’ve always wanted a pretty house to decorate. Now I finally get the chance and—”

“Uh, the house kinda disappears in all the glare,” Garth said, one side of his mouth quirking up.

 “Neighbor,” Tessa said, stomping forward for emphasis. “I think you’ve just overstayed your welcome.”

“Is that right?” Garth drawled, as he a retreated a pace.

“That’s right.” Tessa stabbed her finger at his broad chest. “It’s time for you—”

 Tessa took another step towards him, but her ankle snagged tight. Momentum pitched her forward. Caught in the electrical cord, she realized, as she flailed her arms, gasped, then—

Caught. This time, snug against Garth’s chest with her face buried in his barn jacket, his arms wrapped all the way around her back.

“Alright?” he asked. As soon as he spoke, she realized that her head tucked right up under his chin. She shut her eyes and pictured her natural, brown curls, against his dark stubble, instead of this horror show—straightened, bleached blond, and highlighted with chunks of hot pink—that she now wore.

She nodded, afraid her voice would quiver with the emotion she felt. To be held again. And wow, his smell. Like wood smoke and roasting coffee beans. Like warmth. He held her, just there, for too long. Longer than he should have, she was sure, although she ignored that fact.

Garth’s arms loosened their bear hug, and he slid his hands to her upper arms, squeezing tight as he levered her back a few inches.

Tessa tilted her head up. Garth, with his strong chin and full lips, breath puffing out against hers. A muscle in his jaw ticked behind his frown, but when she dared to look at his eyes…he was waiting. Her breath hitched, for she saw clearly the intense desire in the depths of those baby blues. God, she felt his need the same way she experienced the newfound joy of a wood burning fireplace—wondrous, exciting, deliciously warm, and all the way through to her bones.

Garth’s gaze shifted to her mouth as he inclined his head. She lifted onto her toes, puckered her lips, and let her lids drift shut. Soft at first, gentle, then his large palm slid into the hair at her nape, pulling her further into him. She parted her lips, sucked at his upper lip, felt him groan. Garth gave up on sweet and devoured her.

Tessa melted in the sensations. Cool, crisp night, warm male. Garth. Tall and strong and good. Heating her from the inside out. She shivered with delight.

Too soon, his kisses calmed, retreated little by little, and his hand slid from her hair to her face. He pressed one last kiss to her bottom lip, and then ran his thumb over her cheekbone. She sighed with pure pleasure. His other arm which had hauled her tight against him, loosened, allowing a waft of cold air to seep under her coat. Tessa’s eyes fluttered open, not sure what she’d find.

Did he regret the kiss already?

She should. She felt exposed. Besides the fact that making spectacle of herself out-of-doors was perhaps drawing a little too much attention to herself, she felt as if she’d opened up her heart like halving an orange.

The last thing she needed was another broken heart. Strike that. The last thing she needed was a blown cover. The broken heart she knew, from experience, she’d actually live through. A blown cover? Not so much. Robbie would love to put a bullet in her. In fact, the only reason she was alive at this moment was because she held information he needed.

Still, she wouldn’t regret kissing Garth. She couldn’t. No matter what else happened, it had been the most wonderful, magical kiss she’d ever had, out here in the middle of Christmas.

His brows were furrowed, but his eyes were warm and looked straight into hers.

“Teresa,” he started, for she was going by her given name here, “I—”

“Don’t,” she said. “Just…help me get out of these damn lights.”

A grin split his face, and he squeezed her arms, as if planting her in place. “Steady?” he asked.

She nodded.

Garth knelt before her, his dark hair, just long enough to get a hold of, peeking out from under his navy knit cap. She felt a quick tug as the multi-colored lights on that last bush she’d decorated went dark. Then he wrapped his fingers around her booted ankle and lifted it. She complied, balancing on one foot as he unwound her. A bit of pressure, a signal, that it was okay for her to put her foot back into the snow. Yowza, with the heat of his kisses rapidly vanishing, the cold crept through these cheap boots fast.

The holiday lights sprang to life again before Garth stood.

“Come,” he said, tugging on her hand. “Take a look.”

As they tromped across the front yard, Garth dropped Teresa’s hand and moved ahead of her. He figured her feet had to be freezing in those ridiculous, high-heeled boots. Not that they weren’t sexy, they were—hell, they were killing him—but he gave her two weeks of snow tops, before she headed to Main Street to purchase a pair of Sorels, or something suitable for the harsh winter they were facing.

Pointing to the ground, he said, “Step in my tracks.”

She smiled, her hazel eyes darting away from his face, as she stepped into the spot he’d flattened. So complex, this woman who’d moved in across the street. Full of contradictions. Classy underneath, he thought, yet flaming bright in her fashion choices. Sometimes quiet, but always, she displayed an enchanting joie de vivre. Definitely sexy—any which way.

She’d been out here all day, stringing lights, wriggling around in the bushes, and climbing ladders in her tigh, red pants and silly coat, singing something he couldn’t quite hear. Christmas Carols he imagined, given the exuberance she seemed to feel for the holiday season. Garth had tried not to watch, tried to pretend he wasn’t interested—both in her perky rear end and in the circus she was creating in her yard, but when she’d come back out after a late lunch he’d given up. Actually sat down with a cup of coffee, propped his boots on his desk, and gave over to enjoying the show out his den window. This way, he’d reasoned, when she fell from a ladder or slipped and broke her neck, he’d be there in a flash. Except for once, she seemed to hold it together.

Now, as Teresa turned to look at her handiwork—she gasped. A split second later, her hands contained the noise by covering her mouth.

“It’s…” she started, made a choking noise, then mumbled between her fingers, “beautiful.”

Garth cocked an eyebrow at her, forced himself not to comment.

Teresa turned to him, eyes wide. A gurgle of laughter escaped from behind her hand.

He chuckled, too.

“My God, what have I done?” She burst out laughing, hilarity ringing out like church bells in the clear, winter air. Garth joined her, the sound of her amusement loosening the invisible vice that was so much a part of him.

Soon they were both doubled over. Finally, when they’d both settled down into giggles, Teresa managed, “All I can say, is that it’s all I dreamed of when I was a little girl.”

Teresa’s lashes sparkled with tears of laughter in the glare from her light show. Garth couldn’t help himself. He reached out a finger to scoop them up. She looked at him then, hazel eyes lit with joy. There it was again, he thought. Courtesy of Teresa: laughter, hope, and heat. Maybe enough to melt him in places that had frozen long ago.

 _____________________

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12 Comments

  1. I love it! So many crumbs for Michele to pick up on…. Great job, Jenna. I’m already wrapped up into what their backstories are! I love the suspense angle, too. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jenna Blue

     /  December 3, 2012

    You can thank Michele for the suspense angle. I wouldn’t have done it if not for her suggestion! ; ) And I’m glad the “crumbs” are succesful. Tried to leave them vague so you ladies have wiggle room…
    I have to say, I really had fun with this piece and was wishing I was able to turn it into a whole novella myself. It’ll be so interesting to see where you all take it!
    Jenna

    Reply
  3. Nice start to our holiday round-robin, Jenna. Lots of angles and directions to take this in. I’m sure Michele won’t disappoint with the next round.

    Reply
  4. Jenna Blue

     /  December 4, 2012

    I have confidence in all of you! I’m so looking forward to each monday!

    Reply
  5. Jenna, I agree. So many little hints to choose from and run with. I’m not surprised about the suspense angle…;) Great job. I love the characters already.

    Hugs!

    Reply
  6. Jenna Blue

     /  December 4, 2012

    I’m glad you like the characters already, Jaye! Thanks!!

    Reply
  7. Great story, Julie! Love the writing. This is going to be tough to follow though you set it up nicely. And, I thought Jodi wrote steamy tension well…still fanning myself. Hmm…let’s see where it goes. 🙂 Michele

    Reply
  8. Jenna Blue

     /  December 5, 2012

    I have total faith in you, Michele! Didn’t know I wrote so steamy, yay, me! : )

    Reply
  9. Bethany

     /  December 5, 2012

    Ya love it Juls!! You always leave us wanting more 🙂

    Reply
  10. Jenna Blue

     /  December 6, 2012

    That’s the idea! So you tune in next week to see more!
    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! : )
    Jenna

    Reply
  11. R.A. DeFranco

     /  December 9, 2012

    Hi. Sorry go pipe in so late. I read this right away but Technology has not been my friend this past week. Love the set up, chemistry, tension and mystery. Great job, Jenna. Can’t wait to see where the rest of the femmes take the story.

    RoseAnn

    Reply
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