Feisty Storme Weathers is good with spreadsheets and crunching numbers, but with men—not so much. Case in point, hunky Craig Knight, her childhood crush. She thought she’d reeled him in hook, line, and sinker, but when a case of mistaken identity involving her identical twin almost succeeded in seducing him, she can’t trust him—or her heart. Luckily, he caught his mistake before he swallowed the bait, but the damage was done, leaving her heart as frosty as the Smoky Mountain mists.
It’s Christmas and Storme is busy with work and preparing for the holidays when she is summoned to Craig’s home office. Wearing her signature stiletto boots, she falls and injures herself on the icy walkway to Craig’s house. While carolers are singing, Storme lays screaming. She reluctantly accepts Craig’s offer to recuperate in his hilltop home.
Craig swears he can prove his love for her with his round-the-clock attention. Mad at himself for falling victim to Storme’s twin’s ploy, he vows to heal the heart he broke.
Can the magic of the season coupled with his loving care prove his fidelity and love? Can she accept his challenge to put happiness and his love on her Christmas list or face another new year alone?
Can this day get any worse? Storme Weathers just lost her spreadsheet for the Michaels McGaster Incorporated accounts. Plus, it sure looked like her computer crashed. She hoped saving it all to a thumb drive would be enough to save her sorry ass. She jumped when the phone rang, and knocked over her coffee, soaking her laptop. Great God in heaven!
“Hello,” she growled into the phone hoping to dispatch whoever was there quickly. She had a mess on her hands and didn’t need the interruption.
“Hi, sweet pea,” Craig Knight, her—sort of—boyfriend and executor of her grandmother’s will said. “I have the permits you need for the work on the Sugarlands Lodge. Can you run by my home office to pick them up?”
“Why not meet at your office in town?” she asked.
“I don’t think Mary Lou would appreciate it after your last visit.”
The memory brought heat to her face. The image of Craig and her falling, her thong, and the compromising position involving Storme accidentally mooning Mary Lou, his administrative assistant, made her choke on a laugh. Lifting her steno pad, she fanned herself. That steamy encounter made her hot. And that brought other hot moments to mind. None of which served to cool her ardor, or put distance between Craig and her. Things were moving too fast lately. She had to be careful. Not wanting to get hurt again made building a wall between them imperative. Her only unrequited crush centered on him.
They hadn’t seen each other in years, since another ill-fated day in his office. The flush on her face deepened as she recalled those events.
She rushed into Craig’s office carrying a to-go cup of coffee. She tripped and knocked the full cup all over herself and her sister, Skye. Somehow, the brunt of it fell on her. The girls did the hot coffee’s on me dance, grabbing napkins trying to dry themselves off.
Hearing the commotion, Craig hurried out of his office. He whipped out his silk pocket square and tried to help Storme. He patted the wet fabric of her blouse, which was now plastered to her full breasts.
“Stop it!” Storme ground out, moving out of his reach, “That’s not working.” She pulled the now transparent fabric away from herself noticing his eyes were glued to her chest. “Stop gawking! You…you gawker…uh…you pervert gawker!”
At his dumbfounded expression, she stopped and surveyed the mess and dissolved into helpless laughter along with Skye and Craig “I was only trying to help,” he said simply. “Pervert? Moi?”
Skye pushed him back inside his office while Storme shoved the wet square back into his top pocket patting the limp scrap into place.
“Let’s start over,” Storme said.
Craig’s voice pulled her back to the present. “Meet me at my house, and I’ll bring carry-out for lunch.”
Storme’s stomach grumbled. Lunch appealed to her. And she had to go out to the Biz Mart anyway so the tech crew could look at her computer. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
“I’ll get Kalhoun’s burgers and butterscotch moonshine,” he said by way of a bribe. “In deference to the Christmas season, we’ll add it to our hot chocolate.”
The promise of moonshine hooked her. Try as she might, to keep her distance, she did enjoy Craig’s company almost as much as his touch. The moonshine, however, sealed the deal.
“You almost had me at lunch, but since I’m a sucker for butterscotch moonshine, okay.” She smiled to herself. “Don’t forget I have to pull this dinosaur of a Lodge out of the Ice Age and into the twenty-first century, so I don’t have a lot of time.”
“So, you’re a moonshine ho, huh?” he said. “Methinks you have your eons wrong, dinosaurs didn’t live in the Ice Age. However, time flies and we have places to go.”
Storm hung up and grabbed her lightweight winter jacket, stuck a sprig of holly growing nearby into her thick spiral curls, and left for Craig’s spectacular mountain house, which he named Mountain Magic. It began to sleet as she drove, and if she wasn’t mistaken, ice was in the wintery mix. It’d be nice to have a white Christmas.
She drove through Gatlinburg and appreciated anew the festival of twinkling lights and light sculptures that lined the Parkway. Giant white diamond tiara-like lights arched the roads from I-66 to the Parkway.
After being away for most of the past ten years, she was thrilled to see how the mountains brought Christmas alive through its elaborate but tasteful Christmas decorations. She turned on Wiley Oakley Road passing the Park Visitors Center and Trolley Park on the right and the old Banner Cemetery on the left. Her car climbed the mountain turning onto Edgewood Drive, passing a few houses, one of her favorites being Amazing Grace. As she drove, White Christmas played on the radio until she arrived at his home, Mountain Magic.
Craig’s house rose on fifteen-foot stilts that overlooked a breathtaking Smoky Mountain view. She’d seen the house by moonlight one heart-stopping night when they christened the home with their wild love-making. She had also seen it briefly the next morning when they made house-shaking, soul-deep love.
But now shivering in the cold, she got an entirely new perspective of it. She loved it. The view of Mt. Le Conte—her favorite hill—was truly magical, and she was glad to be there. She remembered the hot tub and couldn’t wait to shake off the winter chill by plunging into its one-hundred-four-degree depths. So much for building a wall. She chuckled at the direction of her thoughts, and was fairly certain she could entice him into the tub…