Release Day: The Present–Christmas on the Side

Happy Release Day for The Present!

Seems I was just releasing a book the other day (I was), but my brand new contemporary Christmas novella, releases on Amazon today!

I’m thrilled with where the story went, although it was rough going switching to contemporary settings and characters after writing historical for so long. There are so many things you need to consider today that you didn’t in the 18th or 19th century (a major one being using protection if the characters are going to have sex!). But I will say I ended up having fun with these characters. So much fun that my editor has persuaded me to write a second book and maybe even a third using characters introduced in this one. So maybe look for volume 2 in July, perhaps? A little Christmas in July is always fun.

The Present is now available for purchase on Amazon! I hope you enjoy it and the other seven Christmas on the Side novellas!


Tessa Avery’s Christmas has gone from bad to worse. Unemployed for six months and reduced to cleaning her heartless sister’s apartment to make ends meet, Tess is at her wits end how to get back on her feet. Then her sister comes up with an offer Tess can’t refuse: tell Janice’s boyfriend Hal she’s breaking it off with him—two days before Christmas—or Janice will withhold Tess’s payment.

Hal Chapman is livid that his supposed girlfriend tells him they’re through—not even in person, but by way of her sister—and is oh so ready to get even. He offers Tessa the present he’d gotten for Janice, a pair of diamond earrings worth enough to make Tessa’s financial problem a lot easier in exchange for a little revenge against his ex-girlfriend.

When their escapade is over, Hal asks Tessa out on a date. Tess is thrilled, but wary—is Hal really interested in her, or just interested in more revenge? As they come to know one another better, Tess begins to hope for a new beginning with Hal. But when a sudden crisis calls for her to make a hard choice, will her ultimate decision sink their budding relationship or turn their night together into the best Christmas present ever?

The excerpt below is a continuation of the excerpt I started Sunday in my Weekend Writing Warrior post. If you’d like to read that excerpt, click here.


Janice had hurt him, and he wanted to get back at her in one of the most primal ways possible—sleep with someone else. The fact that the someone else was her younger sister would just add gasoline to the flames when Janice found out. Which would probably be tomorrow.

Tess couldn’t blame him for wanting to return the blow to his ego. In her opinion, Janice would be getting exactly what she deserved and more. Tess just didn’t know if she wanted Hal to use her to do it.

It would have been different under other circumstances. Hal was a hot, sexy guy. Tall, broad shoulders—if he kept unbuttoning that shirt she’d know in a minute if he had a six-pack under that designer shirt. What woman wouldn’t want a night in bed with that guy? But it would be revenge sex, short and sweet. It would mean nothing else to him.

Did she want it to mean something else to her? Or could she just chalk it up to a great one-night stand with the added benefit of a generous tip. A three-thousand-dollar tip.

Squeezing the jewelry box closed, Tess raised her chin. “What do you want me to do?”


The sound of the door opening brought Tessa up out of the deep sleep she’d fallen into. She turned her head toward the noise to find Janice silhouetted in the doorway. She attempted to raise herself up, but something had her weighed down.

“Tess? I saw your car. What are you still doing here?”

“What time is it?” Tess tried to look at her watch, but her arm was caught under something.

“Two-thirty. I went back to Kevin’s for a night cap and, well, one thing led to another—” Lights flashed on. “Oh. My. God!”

Tess blinked, shielding her eyes. She tried again to sit up, but the something still had her pinned down—when she could focus it turned out to be Hal’s big warm body. He lay sprawled half on top of her, wedged against the back of the couch, wearing only his unbuttoned shirt and very loose-fitting boxers.

“What the hell is going on here?” Janice’s shriek brought Hal’s head up.

“Huh? Morning already?” He peered down at Tess and smiled blearily. “You don’t need to leave yet, do you? I don’t have to be at work until eight.”

“What are you doing on top of my sister, Hal Chapman?” Janice’s voice could have cracked the sound barrier. She stared at them, her gaze going from Hal’s partially naked body to Tess’s equally unclothed one and her face deepened to the shade of the red hand-blown De Carlini Christmas ornaments on her tree. “This had better not be…What have you been…Have you lost your mind?”

Hal peered up at his ex-girlfriend. “I don’t believe I have, Janice.” Then he grunted, freed one hand from beneath them and ran a finger down Tess’s cheek. The unexpected caress made her shiver. “I don’t think I’ve lost anything at all.” He returned his attention back to Janice. “Except a lousy girlfriend.”

Gaping like one of the trout Tess used to catch on fishing expeditions with their father, Janice looked like she wanted to murder one—or both—of them. With no weapon to hand, however, she settled for the next best thing and stalked over to glare down at Tess.  “And you, you little slut. You were supposed to get rid of him. Not screw him.”

Aching to haul off and smack the shit out of her sibling, Tess breathed deeply and aimed as low as she could muster. “I figured better me than you, Jan. After everything you’d told me about Hal, I just had to see for myself.” She eyed Hal up and down, a slow, thorough, look that lingered on his boxers. “I have to say, you weren’t lying.”

The audible gasp from Janice almost made Tess sputter with laughter as her sister’s face turned the awful shade of red called puce.

“Out! Both of you get out of my house, this minute.” Janice even stamped her foot, which made it even harder for Tess not to laugh.

Smirking, Hal shifted and eased off her until he sat on the end of the sofa, rubbing the back of his neck. Glancing around the room, he located his pants, draped over an end table. With a loud groan he stood and reached for them.

As he pulled them on, Tess sat up looking for hers as well. She located them wedged between the sofa cushions and pulled. Hal was sitting on them, so of course they didn’t budge. “Hal.”

He turned to her and she motioned to where her pants were trapped beneath him.

“Oh, sorry.” He stood and finished putting on his pants. The whirr of his zipper seemed loud as a chainsaw in the silent room.

Tess jerked her pants from under the sofa cushion, then stood and stepped into them, eyeing her sister.

Eyes bulging, chin quivering, chest heaving as though she’d run a marathon, Janice stalked back to the door and threw it open. “I never want to see you again.” Her gaze flashed from one of them to the other and her voice rose. “Either of you!”

A quick glance at Hal, who nodded, and Tess grabbed the velvet box from the coffee table and paused. She needed to get her coat, but it was in the closet, too close to Janice to chance it. She wouldn’t put it past her sister to throttle Tess if she came too close. She’d have to brave the winter’s chill long enough to get into her car. And pray the heater decided to work tonight.

Hal slung his jacket over his shoulder and put an arm around Tess, guiding her out the door and being sure to put himself between the sisters. However, he stopped just before they crossed the threshold. “Merry Christmas, Janice. Thanks for the present.” He squeezed Tess’s shoulders and promptly ushered her through the door.

Want to read more? Grab your copy of The Present on Amazon now!

Christmas on the Side Novellas


This entry was posted in Christmas stories, contemporary romance, Holiday Posts, New Release, On All Wrapped Up, The Present and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Release Day: The Present–Christmas on the Side

  1. Karen Hackett says:

    Yikes! Looks like Janice got just what she deserved. Hope she doesn’t set the Christmas tree on fire.


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