Christmas in his arms

From NYT and USA Today best-selling author comes a story of a non-wedding, a snowmageddon, and an unexpected union of old lovers

My name is Opal Mae McCool. I love my parents, but that name? Ugh, but I’ve adjusted. This year has been rocking along until October when my entire life lands in the toilet and someone flushes. First, my groom dumps me at the altar. Confession…not as destroyed as I should have been. Then, I share a steamy kiss with old love which leads to…nothing. Radio silence. Fine. Disappointed, but moving on. However, it’s almost Christmas and I make a quick overnight business trip to Montana just in time for the snowmageddon and I’m stuck in Bozeman with only clean panties and a toothbrush. Next year has to be better, right?

I’m Michael Rockland. Born, raised and will die in Texas and I’m fine with that. I’m a mechanic at heart, even if my everyday job doesn’t allow me under the hood. About a month ago, I discovered I’m the Friday Lunch Special at a local diner. I’d be pissed if it wasn’t for a good cause and it hadn’t led me back to the love of my life. One hot, steamy kiss, a promise for the future, and she shuts me out. Harsh, but I’m a big boy. I can deal with reality, except when she ends up on my grandparents’ doorstep in Montana.

My dad doesn’t approve of him. His mother doesn’t approve of me. It’s not quite the Capulets and Montagues, and we are long past the teenage years, so isn’t it time to let us decide if we belong together or not?

Read an Excerpt

Copyright © 2019 Cynthia D’Alba
All rights reserved — Riante, Inc.

“Michael, you remember Mae McCool, don’t you?” Maude said, with a grin.

He stood at the edge of the table, his thick fingers flexing, relaxing, and flexing again. Because of his height and my seated position, my eye level was even with his crotch. His jeans had been washed and worn so many times that the material hugged him in all the right places. I didn’t want to stare at his—fine, I’m lying. I wanted to study every dip, curve, and bulge in close and intimate detail.

I dragged my gaze from his thighs—yeah, let’s call it his thighs, but my eyes might have shifted a little left and right—up past the nip at his waist, to the expanse of his chest to, finally, his face.

My heart skittered to a shuddering stop before pounding painfully against my breastbone. I locked my lips into a smile, even as I was near fainting from not being able to draw a breath.

As I awaited his reply, my brain flashed through response options. If he pretended he didn’t know me, should I play along? If he agreed he knew me, should I hold out my hand for a shake? Stand for a hug? Kiss him on the cheek? The mouth?

Or if he fulfilled my worst nightmare and acknowledged knowing me before turning on his heel and walking away, should I go after him? And if I did, what would I say?

“Mae,” he said, his voice richer and deeper than it’d been ten years ago.

A shiver ran down my spine. “Michael.”

“Well, I can see you two don’t need me,” Maude said, sliding from the booth. “Bring you something to drink, Rock?”

“What?” Momentary confusion flashed across his face before he pulled his gaze from mine and to Maude’s. “Sure. Coke’s fine.”

“You got it. Refill, Mae?”

I looked at my almost full glass of iced tea. “I’m good. Thank you.”

She left, and Michael slid into Maude’s place at the booth, the one across from me and not next to me.

An uneasy pause filled the space as we waited for his drink. Finally, a perky, very-pregnant blonde sat a large, fizzing glass of Coke in front of Michael and touched his shoulder.

She glanced at me before asking, “Need anything else, Rock?” I got the feeling I’d been warned not to do anything that might hurt him.

Michael shook his head. “Thanks, Patty. I’m good.”

I could have been wrong about that feeling, but she did give me the stink-eye before waddling away.

Yes, I realized that thinking of her walk as a waddle was cruel, but she’d set a possessive hand on Michael’s shoulder and given me the stink-eye, so I felt justified in my cattiness.

“You’re looking good,” he said.

“Thank you. You, too.”

“I’m glad you came back.”

“I wanted to talk, but you don’t have a phone number listed.”

He nodded. “Cell only.”

“Me, too.”

“I know.”

Did that mean he’d tried to call? I wanted to ask, but part of me feared rejection again.

The booth was thick with tension, or maybe I was projecting my own nervousness. He looked cool and unaffected, as if seeing me again was no more nerve-racking than talking with a potential client. I struggled for a topic of discussion, my emotionless acting skills now a thing of the past. Right now was looking like a great time for that nervous breakdown everyone thought I’d had after my non-wedding.

“You’re a mechanic?” I asked.

Inside, I groaned. Great start, Mae. I sounded like such a rich-bitch snob.

“Among other things.”

I shrugged. “I just wondered.” I studied his hands folded on the table. “Your hands are, well, so clean.”

Oh, my God. I had completely lost my mind and all societal manners.

“I do understand the principles of soap and water.” He leaned back in the booth, getting as far away from me as he could, effectively telling me to go fuck myself. Couldn’t blame him for that. The stick that was shoved up my ass was showing.

I felt the heat that rushed to my face. “I didn’t mean it that way,” I said, all the words coming out in a long gush. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m a little nervous. I mean, we haven’t seen each other in ten years.”

An unidentifiable emotion swept across his face. His gaze dropped to the tabletop where his hands rested. His fingers drummed on the table a couple of times before he lifted his Coke and took a long drink. My gaze went to his throat as he swallowed, the action reflected in the slide of his Adam’s apple up and down. Reflectively, I swallowed too, but my mouth was so dry, there was nothing to go down my throat.

“Look,” he began, leaning on the table, “I owe you an apology.”

I wanted to say, “Hell yeah, fucker. You broke my heart and crippled my soul ten years ago,” but I didn’t want him to know that I still felt that punch of pain with that memory. Instead, I frowned and pretended confusion. “For what?”

“For what I did, for how I broke it off with you.” He shook his head. “I didn’t handle it well.” He chuckled harshly. “That might be the understatement of the year. I was a total ass, and I’m sorry.”

My heart shook so violently my chest hurt. He had broken my heart back then. Crushed it until I wasn’t sure the pain would ever end. I couldn’t honestly say I wasn’t still a tad ticked-off that he’d broken up with me at Christmas during my freshman year for my own good, as he’d explained it at the time.

I had been dating other guys at college. We’d agreed to see others, and I’d assumed he had been, too. I never knew one way or the other about his dating that fall, but when he’d dumped me, I’d accused him of replacing me with some Diamond Lakes skank, not that I’d had anyone in particular in mind. I’d cried. I’d threatened. I’d accused him of using me. I’d pretty much accused him of everything short of shooting President Lincoln. But he’d stood firm that breaking up with me was in my best interests.

And until he’d walked into the café three weeks ago, I hadn’t seen him since.

That’s not to say I hadn’t thought about him. I had. Many times. Sometimes, I’d get out of bed in the morning and wonder if he was awake, too. I’d imagine him calling and begging me to take him back. I’d created scenarios where I’d be on a date with some famous actor, and we’d run into him and then he’d be sorry he’d let me go.

None of these had happened, of course. Our lives had continued on separate paths, not intersecting, until now.

I drew in a deep breath and reached deep for my emotionless lawyer face. “It was a long time ago, Michael. I’ve moved on.”

He looked down at the table, and then back to me. “Still, I am so sorry for hurting you. I could have done it better or waited it out.”

He smiled, and I almost had to press my hands to my stomach to keep it from flipping over. He had the brightest smile. His dimples didn’t hurt either.

“Waited what out?”

End of Excerpt

Christmas in his arms

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Christmas in his arms

Good book! I enjoyed reading it from beginning to end. It’s a sexy, fun, & touching romance. Life hadn’t turned out as Mae, planned, after being dumped at the altar. While out to lunch with her friend, the last person Mae, ever expected to see again, was Michael. Standing at the bar, looking even hotter, then he did 10 years ago.
Mae ❤ Michael, are perfect together.
I loved everything about this Must Read Story!!.

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Reader Review, Amazon.com

I love second chance books and this one is really good. The characters are believable and easy to like and the story keeps your interest from beginning to end.

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Reader Review, Amazon.com