The Christmas Dare (MF)
[BookStrand Contemporary Romance, HEA]
Gia Dixon is a self-professed Christmas addict and dreamer. Ethan Castle is a technical person who does things by the book. They’ve been best friends all of their lives. When tragedy strikes Ethan’s family, Gia is the rock he depends on to pull him through. He also leans on her to help raise his younger brother, Griffin.
One day, as they reminisce about old times spent together in happier years, they share an unexpectedly tender kiss. That one kiss unleashes feelings they’ve never explored before. And once sampled, they have a hard time resisting the urge to fully indulge them.
Then, as the Christmas season fast approaches, Gia gets caught up in the whirlwind of holiday preparations and chaos. Ethan challenges Gia to let this be the one year she plans less and instead lets her heart be her guide. Will his simple Christmas dare lead them to discover true love?
Note: This book contains adult language used as profanity.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
When they drove back into the parking lot of the hamburger joint a couple of hours later, Ethan glanced into the backseat at the collection of plastic bags.
“That’s a pretty good start, I’d say.”
“I wanted to make the most of it since I had you with me. I usually don’t have anyone to help me carry the loot. I was taking advantage of the fact I had extra muscle power with me tonight.”
“Glad I’m useful for something.” He chuckled.
“Griffin and TJ were so cute last night when they came to the house to trick-or-treat. They were both very convincing pirates.”
“The two of them watched part of Pirates of the Caribbean to get their inspiration from Jack Sparrow.”
“Well, it paid off in spades. They were quite barbaric. I thought the fake rotten teeth were an especially disgusting touch.” She laughed before turning to look in the backseat. “This was fun. I can’t wait to start wrapping these,” she said enthusiastically, her eyes twinkling at the thought.
“Ugh, you’re nuts, girl.”
She made a face at him and then flipped around to her knees to reach between the seats to gather up her packages. As she pulled everything forward through the gap, she leaned over to kiss his cheek.
He caught her by surprise when he turned to face her, causing their lips to meet. Her eyes widened, while his turned dark.
“Gia,” he said, the name coming out of his mouth in a low rasp.
She closed her eyes but didn’t move. She couldn’t speak. Then she sensed when he was about to kiss her again. She tilted her face up to receive it, her lips parting to let him know she wasn’t opposed.
Ethan put his hands on either side of her head, his long fingers wrapping around to bury themselves in her thick, blonde hair. “Gia,” he whispered again as he closed his mouth over hers and slipped his tongue inside. She twirled hers around it, gently sucking. They were lost in the moment, oblivious to whether anyone else was around or not. They forgot where they were. They even forgot who they were. And in their place, these two sensual, passionate creatures tangled their arms around each other and kissed as if their lives depended on it.
Finally, Ethan sighed and pulled back a little. “Tell me that this is okay with you. Please say that it is.”
Gia had trouble finding her voice, so instead she pulled his mouth to hers again and greedily kissed him. When it ended, she asked breathily, “Does that answer your question?”
They each sat back, but he held her hand tightly, refusing to break all physical contact with her. “Are we really going to do this? I can’t lose your friendship. If you have any reservations at all, tell me and I’ll never kiss you again.”
“I’ve been fantasizing about you all day long. Ever since Saturday night, my thoughts have really crossed the line, Ethan.”
“Thank God. Me, too. Why now, Gia? All these years, and you never looked at me as anything other than a brother.”
“Because you only treated me like a sister. I had the biggest crush on you when we were teenagers, but you were dating other girls. I convinced myself it was pointless to hope for more, so I was content to keep you as my best friend. Then Saturday, when you kissed me like that, I felt things I hadn’t ever really felt before with you. Even though it was innocent, it seemed to hold the promise of something more. I couldn’t get you out of my mind afterward.”
“Gia, all these years I have stood by and watched the steady parade of guys who line up to date you. And I tried to fight it, but sometimes I was so jealous. But I didn’t think you would ever take me seriously if I asked you out on a date. Then, these last two months, watching you with Andy McGee almost made me go crazy. I don’t know if it is because you and I are getting a little older and more settled, or what. But it dawned on me one day that eventually you would meet someone and fall in love with them. And then probably get engaged. I finally knew I had to at least take my shot. I didn’t think you would ever come on to me, so I had to make my move.”
“I’m so glad you did!”
“What about Andy? Were you getting serious? I could never tell since whenever I saw the two of you, we were usually surrounded by kids and it wasn’t exactly a romantic setting.”
“We’re still at the getting-to-know-you-better stage. We were taking it slow.”
“So his comment the other day that he’d seen nearly all of you didn’t mean he’d slept with you?” Ethan pursued boldly.
“Ethan, do you really want to sit in a parking lot and discuss our previous sexual conquests?” Gia cocked an eyebrow and glanced at their surroundings.
He shook his head and grinned. “I am very curious, yes. But no, you’re right. This isn’t the appropriate time or place. Besides, I need to get home to relieve Amanda so she can go back home to do schoolwork.”
Gia opened the car door and smiled back at him. “I’ll see you when I see you.”
“Tomorrow,” he said quickly. “I want to see you tomorrow.”
“Okay.” She grinned like a teenager and got out.
Ethan waited for her to get inside her car, and then he lowered his window. She followed suit, waiting to hear what he had to say.
“Best. Kiss. Ever.” He smiled and then pulled out of the parking lot.
Gia’s emotions were soaring the whole way home.