This Christmas, Adia Bell’s family doesn’t just want to buck tradition. They plan to chuck it out altogether. Which is a problem since Adia has had a rough first semester at Avery University and she’s expecting homemade pie and Christmas preparations to fix everything.
Miller is a UPS package handler, who hopes the season will be over soon. He wants to keep a low profile and avoid notice. But when his merry new co-worker Adia befriends him, he finds it harder and harder to avoid holiday related things.
Will Adia and Miller find in each other a way to redeem Christmas, or will a short-term attraction only serve to derail both of their futures? This book is for romantics looking to have a laugh, shed a tear, and indulge in holiday charm.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-30
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wrote this book during National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November of every year. Since I'm usually in full blown holiday spirit at that time of year, I decided to write a book where I could indulge in the season. I love hearing about the different holiday traditions people have with their families, and I wanted to write a book that captures the charm (and sometimes madness) of these rituals. I also wanted to explore what it's like when some of those traditions start to shift as we grow up. College is one of these pivotal times where people start to lose some of our childhood traditions but haven't yet established new ones. My story explores some of the emotions and challenges that come along with that loss and change.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My brother worked at UPS during one of his college winter breaks. When he told me about that, I instantly pictured my characters – a bubbly college girl home for break and an introverted UPS boy who encounters her while he is delivering Christmas packages.
I wanted my hero to be a little different from a lot of the popular heroes in romance. Many male leads are hot alpha males that have charm and confidence to boot. Don't get me wrong, I love me some alpha males! But I want to see an increase in other types of guys on the page too. This story celebrates a more reserved, unassuming hero.
Gil turns into Meadowdale, my long-lost neighborhood, and I start bouncing. Bring on the good cheer. Bring on the relaxation. Bring on the triangular slices of happiness. At least, I assume pie’s where we’ll start.
But I’d also be fine with a pastry.
The car stops in front of our house.
“So, Adia…” Gil sucks in a sizable breath. Before he can release it, I jump out and turn for my bags. It’s not that I have zero desire to continue our chitchat. I really miss my mom.
“Do you need a ride back on Sunday?”
I hope not. “Can I text you, er—email you about that? I’m not sure what my family’s plans are just yet.”
“Sure. Yeah. Just let me know before Sunday. I like to plan out my schedule the night before.”
“Cool, cool. Thanks for bringing me home. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.”
“I hope you get to eat a lot of gravy. It’s the best.”
I wave him away for fear he might watch me walk all the way into my house, or something just as weird.
Once his taillights disappear, I spin around triumphantly. I made it!
My smile dies as I inspect home base. The grass reaches above my ankles and is mostly composed of weeds. Also, the grown-ups must have forgotten to let out the greeting committee, because I receive zero wet kisses on the lawn.
One sad pumpkin hails me up the entryway steps. It’s all crooked and dirty, like it was too burdened to be a pumpkin today. Where are Mom’s adorable painted gourds and her fall wreath? She has little excuse for the lackluster entryway, considering she’s been out of work for almost three months now.
This tragedy must be remedied ASAP. The pumpkin comes with me into the house. I inhale deeply to determine the exact brand of baked love Mom intends to shower upon me, and I get…
Dear lord, tell me she’s not dieting.
“Mom, we’re going to need to talk about your lack of preparation for the holiday while we take our power walk.”
No one responds, not even Wizard, who normally would have knocked me down by now and turned my face into a puddle.
Upon taking one step down the hallway, I hear the most terrifying sound known to man.
A full-grown cat’s menacing green eyes narrow in on me. Stay calm. Maybe this feline isn’t filled with darkness and spite. I take one step toward the living room.
That’s a fang. Retreat!
I wall myself off upstairs in my parents’ bedroom. At least I think it’s their bedroom. The furniture and bedding are new.
And poorly chosen. Mom must be in a phase.
“Why on earth would you get a cat? You know I can’t live with a cat!” I say.
“Madelyn?” The reply comes from an unrecognizable male voice in the master bathroom. Something that’s buzzing clicks off.
“Mom?” My voice is the highest octave it can go. First a cat. Now a secret liaison. Do I need to get weapons involved here?
The mystery man leans out of the bathroom. His light brown hair is thinning, which he might be trying to make up for with the patch growing under his lower lip. Besides a towel, his only covering is shaving cream smeared all over his chest. In the middle of the cream are two baby-bottom smooth lines running from sternum to waist, right through a set of baggy pecs. The shave lines look like suspenders, skin-spenders. Couple the chest with the white stickers over his nose and under his eyes, and he looks like a sunscreen experiment gone wrong.
“Hey, man,” he drawls. “What’s the deal here?”
This guy is the complete opposite of my stepdad, Cal, who is bulky and tan and not into primping. “What are you doing in my mom’s bedroom?”
“What are you doing in my bedroom, and who’s your mom?” He pulls the towel tighter around his waist.
My eyes move from his fleshy body to the bed, and that’s when it hits me. I’m enclosed in the room of a mostly naked male stranger, a strange male stranger.
“I think…” I don’t know what to think. I think I’m losing my mind, so I can’t be trusted to think. “I…”
The creep’s tongue emerges from his mouth. My pumpkin flies toward his head. He shrieks and bats it away. It busts on the edge of a TV stand, and pumpkin guts glop down the side.
“Hey!” His eyes turn fierce—as fierce as eyes with Bioré strips beneath them can be.
“You’ve got something on your face!” I yell and run from the room. I’m doing more running today than I’m used to.
“What the hell! Get back here!”
A hiss on the stairs brings me to a halt. My cat friend drags its paw across the wood. Judging by its impenetrable stare, I’m almost positive it wants to dig its claws into my throat. Nice kitty. I move to the opposite side of the steps. The pet moves with me. Skin-spenders flies into the hall with a second towel twisted up in his hands. Is that meant for me?
I look between my two opponents. Who do I have the best shot against?
The banister creeks at my back. Hold on a minute. I may be living in some sort of alternate reality here, but this is—or used to be—my turf. I know my way around. My hands grip the railing, and I swing my legs over it. I’m quite high up, but this jump is the best option I’ve got. The landing jars my pelvis. It’s well worth the advantage. I bound toward the front door and slam it in the cat-monster’s face.
On the far side of the Reagans’ house, I take a moment, huffing and puffing into my knees. I’m about to reach for my phone when I remember it’s far, far away.
The Reagans aren’t likely to be home since their carport is empty. I double-check with a knock, to no avail.
I cruise toward the playground since I don’t feel like explaining this to any of my other neighbors. How would that go down? What’s that? Sure! I’m totally good. Totally sane. Also, do you know if I still live in this neighborhood?
I wish I had a car right about now. And didn’t dread driving.
In the distance, a middle-school-aged kid is walking her dog. Please have a phone.
“Here you go,” she says, passing me a brand-new iPhone.
I dial Mom. Voicemail.
I fire off a text.
555-0043: It’s Adia. PICK UP YOUR PHONE
Waiting for a response, I roll through the possible explanations in my head. I’m dreaming…. Except I don’t usually feel the windy chill of fall in my dreams. So…
My mom and stepdad have redecorated and taken in a bum? But that doesn’t explain what he was doing in their bedroom.
The phone rings, and I move a few paces away from my audience before taking the call. “Mom! What the heck!?”
“What’s going on, hun?” she asks softly.
Oh, no you don’t. This is not going to be a gentle exchange. “Um, the saggy soft-rock wannabe living in our house, for starters.”
“Honey, where are you?”
“At home. Or at least I was, until I got scared off by the cat and the stranger.”
“Did we move? There’s no way, right? I know I would have gotten a phone call to relay such life-altering news.”
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