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Excerpt of Some Christmas Magic:
Harper entered the suite with a heavy heart. She’d been having a good time with Cole and had actually forgotten that the whole reason they were at Green Mountain was because she’d bought the Christmas package for Jeffrey, and then out of the blue he walked in with a gorgeous woman on his arm. She never thought Jeffrey was the type of guy to cheat. But apparently she’d been wrong about that. What a snake!
She sank onto a soft armchair and put her head in her hands. She’d been such a fool to have fallen for Jeffrey’s words of love and devotion. She’d actually been stupid enough to think that someday they might even get married. It certainly looked like marriage might never be in the cards for her. She’d shied away from guys like Cole, thinking they were the wrong type, yet she’d fallen hook, line, and sinker for an even worse type—the quiet, reserved guy. She hated to stereotype men, but they sure did seem like they were all the same. Or at least the ones she wound up with.
She was contemplating going home when Cole entered the suite, pulling her suitcase with his duffel bag over his shoulder.
“Wow! This place is great.”
She followed his gaze, taking in her surroundings for the first time. The living room was rustic and homey, while at the same time chic. There was a large off-white couch, adorned with lots of plush pillows in various shades of brown, ranging from taupe to chocolate. Across from it were two burgundy wingback chairs. And a pair of French doors that led out to a balcony that overlooked the Green Mountains. But the focal point of the room was the huge slate fireplace with a gigantic flat-screen television above it.
She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say a word, he said, “I checked the itinerary. There’s an ice skating party in thirty minutes. If we hurry, we can make it. Just throw on some warmer clothes.”
Harper looked down, avoiding his eyes, and focused on the Berber carpet at her feet. “Cole, I’ve been thinking. Maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea.”
He left their luggage by the kitchenette, then crossed the room and stood before her. “Please don’t tell me you want to go home because of Jeffrey,” he said impatiently. “When are you going to stop letting him control you? Don’t you see he’s still doing that?”
She straightened her shoulders and shot him a level look. “That’s not what I’m doing at all.”
His brows rose, then drew together in frustration. “Oh, really. Then what do you call it?”
She folded her hands in her lap and let out a breathy sigh. “I don’t want to embarrass myself. I’m bound to run into him sooner or later, and what do I say? That I’m here with my best friend’s brother because he’s doing me a favor so that I won’t throw away all the money I’d spent on a romantic Christmas getaway for two?”
Cole stared at her with a look she couldn’t decipher. She didn’t know if he felt sorry for her or was really, really angry with her. “What? Say something?”
Appearing a little dazed, he scratched his head. “The Harper I know wouldn’t wallow in self-pity. She’d get out there and show the idiot that she could care less about him. Show him that she’s moved on.”
She sent him a worried frown. “And how do I do that?”
“I’ll show you how.”
Before she knew what he was doing, Cole had her on her feet. He wrapped his arms around her, then leaned in and kissed her.
Her first impulse was to push him away, but he was hard to resist, so she circled his neck with her arms and kissed him back. With her lips pressed against his, girlhood emotions from the past began to bubble up inside her, leaving her giddy. This was how she’d felt back when they’d been a couple. But that was a long, long time ago. Suddenly, reality came rushing back, and no matter how good it felt to be kissing him, she knew she was making a mistake. One she would surely regret if she didn’t stop right now.
Twisting out of his arms, she proclaimed, “Cole, I’m sorry. I can’t do that…not with you. I’m not ready.”
“Relax, Harper. I’m not coming on to you.”
Her face burned with embarrassment. “Then why did you do that?”
An expression of satisfaction showed in his eyes. “I was showing you how to look strong and confident in front of Jeffrey, instead of—now this is your word—pathetic.”
She looked at him quizzically. “What am I missing here?”
He flashed her a lopsided grin. “You’re going to pretend I’m your boyfriend.”
She was caught off guard by that. “That’s insane. He’d never fall for that.”
“He will if we make it believable.”
The way Cole looked at her made her heart pound. “So what are we going to do, kiss in front of him?”
“We just might. If the occasion calls for it.” He sprawled onto the couch with his long legs stretched out in front of him. “Let me handle this. When I’m done, Jeffrey will have no doubt that you don’t give a darn about him.”
His confidence almost made her believe him. But not quite. “I don’t know, Cole.”
“Come on.” He took hold of her hand and squeezed it. “Let’s go skating.”
He looked at his watch. “You have ten minutes to get ready. So get a move on.”
Harper rolled her suitcase into the bedroom, then closed the door, leaning up against the back of it. Would she be able to pull this off, pretending to be Cole’s girlfriend? She was a terrible actress. Most likely, Jeffrey would see right through her, and she’d wind up looking even more pathetic. But what choice did she have? She couldn’t go home now and ruin Cole’s Christmas. After all, he’d been nice enough to come here with her so she wouldn’t have wasted all that money, and she could tell he was really looking forward to the activities they’d chosen. How could she disappoint him? But the charade he suggested might backfire in her face, and what then?
She remembered the feel of Cole’s mouth on hers, his lips igniting a fire in her she hadn’t felt in years. That sure never happened when Jeffrey kissed her. Just another indication that her relationship with him had been wrong. So then why carry out this charade? Why couldn’t she just put the past in the past and move on? Because her pride had been hurt, that was why. And what Cole had suggested just might repair it. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea, after all. Besides, if she went home now, what would she do for Christmas? Sit home alone, moping. No, she’d stay here and act her part. Her only fear was that her heart might deceive her. What if all those old feelings for Cole came rushing back? What then? She could wind up worse off than she was now. She could wind up with a broken heart.