Scottish sculptor Broc Muir is right where he wants to be on Christmas Eve, alone in a remote Highlands castle with his current project. There are no decorations, no holiday music, and while a blizzard is bearing down on him and his only clean outfit is his kilt, he can grumble all he wants since nobody’s around to hear him.
Dawson Clark is back on Earth after more than a year in the close confines of the International Space Station. He loves Christmas but wants to spend it away from the demands of a hectic family, so accepts an offer to stay in a Scottish castle. With a van full of decorations, he pulls up to an ancient edifice just as a storm starts, only to find the castle already has a very handsome occupant.
The two men are stranded together. Can the magic of Christmas help two very different people find in each other what they need the most?
Dawson set his bags down. A fire burned merrily in a large, mostly barren room. An old orange couch occupied one corner, sitting opposite an ancient TV, the kind even his grandmother had finally given up in the nineties. A floor lamp cast a warm glow from next to the couch. The Christmas tree leaned against one stone wall, dripping snowmelt onto haphazardly overlapped area rugs in a rainbow of faded colors.
“Ah, blast it to hell,” Broc thundered from another room. There was the thud of something being thrown.
Marching back in, brows together and no more dressed, Broc glared at Dawson. “Did you close the door?”
“I still have a lot of stuff to bring up?” He wanted to get everything unloaded and the decorating started. He was burning Christmas Eve daylight. “Is something wrong?” he asked as Broc frowned.
Broc raked his fingers through his hair. “Eggnog spilled on my last set of clean clothes so I’m wearing my kilt. I forgot my dinner in the microwave what with the eggnog disaster. It’s toweled up now, you’re welcome. Is it all blasted Christmas décor down there?” He sounded like Dawson had brought a dead body with him, not twinkle lights.
Drat, the caretaker must be a scrooge, and sexy, strong, god-like scrooge, but looks weren’t everything.
“There are more clothes,” Dawson offered as he held out the letter from Mr. Sanderson. “You could borrow some sweats. I’m only a little taller than you are.” At just over six feet Dawson wasn’t a giraffe, but he did have an inch or so on Broc.
“Och, fine, I accept. Let’s get your sparkly rubbish.” Broc ripped the letter open and scanned the words. His eyes narrowed as he read it a second time, then he looked up at Dawson as he tossed the letter on the couch. “I thought I might have seen you before, but it wasn’t at the local, it was on the telly. How long were you floating?”
Dawson blinked as an impossibly strong hand banded around his bicep and directed him toward the stairs. It dropped once they were descending, Broc still shoeless, and the chill of the air on his arm felt that much sharper. “A little longer than a year, it was my third stint up there.”
Broc glanced over his shoulder. “Third? Have you spent your whole life up there? Because you’re what, maybe twelve? And Dawson? Were your parents big fans of the show? What was it? Dawson’s Creek?”
“I’m thirty-seven,” Dawson supplied. “So too old to be named after the character. Mostly I’m a guy from Florida.”
“Fucking hell, I’m spending Christmas with a real-life Florida Man.”
Dawson laughed. “Hey now, if you start complaining I won’t let you hold the pet ‘gater I’ve got in the back of this here truck.”
The snort that escaped Broc was hilarious, but the smile he flashed as they reached the first floor nearly stopped Dawson’s heart. No wonder the guy’s default setting seemed to be grump. That smile could start wars or launch ships.