A woman determined to spread the Christmas spirit…
Former socialite turned community centre worker Candice Kane loves Christmas. In the run down area she works in, economics and rising unemployment mean that there isn't a lot of Christmas spirit to go around. Determined to do something about it, for the last couple of years she's arranged a Christmas Party, complete with a visit from Santa for the neighbourhood kids. This year though, a break-in and damage from vandals means the party could be cancelled.
A Santa who hates Christmas…
Rhod is…was…a Santa. For years he joined the other men in his family delivering presents, until the attitude and ungratefulness of the rich children he delivered to made him hang up his red suit. Working for the Paranormal Protection Agency, he's convinced himself that he's happier without being the big guy anymore.
When he and his partner rescue Candy from an attack in a secluded alley, all Rhod's decisions are put to the test. Can he hold out against a woman with Christmas spirit in her heart, or will he lose his own in the process?.
A scream shattered the silence, slicing through the darkness and rattling around the alley they stood in. It was female, nearby and terrified. Both men reacted without a thought, sprinting toward the noise. The alley let them down further away from the main road and into the heart of the neighbourhood.
“Which way?” Rhod demanded as the scream cut off. His heart pounded, adrenalin surging through his veins at the thought of a woman in danger. Sure, he’d made a shit Santa. But at plus six foot and built like a linebacker, he made a fucking good bodyguard.
Stone lifted his head, his nostrils flaring as he swung this way and that. Without a word, he streaked off down one of the narrower allies between buildings. Rhod didn’t question him. A werewolf, Stone’s nasal credentials were beyond compare. His natural mean-streak combined with Rhod’s bad temper and ninja-like abilities ensured that they made a damn good team.
He barreled into the alleyway a split second after his partner to find the wolf squaring off against three bully-boys. A woman cowered in a corner behind them. His temper flared from simmering to inferno within a heartbeat. There was nothing he hated more than a bully, unless it was three of the bastards.
“Nothing to see here, suggest you guys walk away. Before you get hurt,” One of the bullies snarled.
“Before we get hurt?” Rhod cocked an eyebrow. Realising he still held his bottle in his hand, he lifted it and drained what was left. No need to let good alcohol go to waste. Wasn’t like he could get drunk anyway. Unless it came from the North Pole, alcohol had no effect on him whatsoever.
“Yeah, you and your pretty boyfriend there. Heh…boyfriend, see that?” The guy in the middle, obviously the ringleader, laughed at his own joke as he pointed out Stone to his friends. Rhod’s eyebrow winged up into his hairline. He’d bet that was the first time Stone had been referred to as pretty. Ever.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m Rhod. What’s your name, sweetheart? And where does it hurt?”
At the sound of his voice she looked at him, tilting her head back and frowning. He swore to himself as it became obvious that she was having trouble focusing.
“Candy…err, Candice Kane. Just my head. I think I hit it.” Her voice was soft, barely there at first, but quickly grew in strength as she struggled to sit up. Gently he put a hand on her shoulder to keep her where she was for a moment. Then her name registered.
“Your name is Candy Kane?” he blurted out, his attention divided between the mesmerising storm-grey of her eyes and the still bleeding cut on her temple. Nothing serious, thankfully. It looked as if she’d been pushed against the wall, but the dilation of her pupils was worrying him a little.
“Yeah… Candy Kane. I’d say my parents had a sense of humour, but believe me, they don’t.” She chuckled, the musical sound doing things to his body that should have been illegal. Grimly, he reminded himself that she was injured and he was looking after her. She wasn’t some hot date he was taking back to his place for an evening of hot sex.
His lips quirked as he tilted her chin. Who’d have thought it? A Claus running into a girl called Candy Kane… He resisted the urge to look around to see if he could spot one of those blasted Fates. He wouldn’t put it past them to try something funny, not this close to the damn Christmas season. Bitches had always loved to meddle.
“Okay Candy. How many fingers am I holding up?” he asked, smoothing a thumb over the bruise at the corner of her lips and getting lost in the sensation of the silken skin.
When she didn’t reply, he flicked a glance up to find her looking at him with amusement in her eyes.
“You’re not holding any fingers up.”
Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.
So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all...
(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)
The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She's addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.