After catching her fiancé and a bridesmaid in a tete-a-crotch, Jessie Maynard vowed to renounce men forever. Or at least until Christmas. She figured she'd hole up for the holiday in her late Aunt Blanche's sleepy southern town. But the residents of Mystic Hollow weren't so much sleeping as dying and her aunt's witch hat house was already occupied by a sexy, green-eyed sorcerer who knew just how to make a girl change her mind.
Luke Tanner's ex-wife had turned his heart to ice, so spending five days with a feisty runaway bride was no threat, at least not until Jessie entangled him in a murder investigation of a philandering minister and locked him in a coffin. Luke's plans for a hot little affair with Jessie did not include marriage, until his ex-wife showed up gift wrapped, and he had to make a choice: the past or the future?
It was all bravado. The mortician was trying to intimidate him, but Luke recognized the fear under the mask. He watched the pistol tremble in the other man’s hand. He knew there was nothing more dangerous than a guy with a nervous trigger finger. It was probably time to get out, but he wanted some answers. He kept his voice quiet, calm.
“What’s really going on here, Epps?”
The mortician took a step toward him just as a banshee shriek tomahawked through the air. It was accompanied by door pounding worthy of the Gestapo.
“Lucas Tanner! I know you’re in there. You come out here this instant!”
Luke’s heart sank while Epps cursed and winced. What the hell was she doing here? Her hysteria was shredding what was left of the undertaker’s nerves. There was no telling who he’d shoot. Damn Jessie anyway. How was he supposed to protect her? “Ignore that,” Luke muttered.
“If only that were possible,” Epps barked. He jerked open the door, and someone catapulted into the room.
It was the Morton Salt Girl.
She ignored Epps as she marched up to Luke and wagged a finger in his face.
“Lucas Tanner,” she shouted, “How dare you stand me up?”
Epps’s face twisted in fury. “Miss Maynard, this is a mortuary. We try to maintain a sense of decorum here.”
She turned toward the mortician as if she’d just noticed him. Would he attack her? More likely she’d attack him. She was a warrior princess. Luke balanced his weight on the balls of his feet, prepared to intervene, but the elf surprised him. She flashed Epps a smile so bright it reflected off the stainless steel surfaces.
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Epps,” she said, in a conciliatory voice. “I am so sorry for the interruption. But I’m sure you’ll agree that I have a right to be angry. This guy”—she jerked her thumb at Luke without taking her eyes off the mortician—“was supposed to pick me up forty minutes ago. We’ve got an appointment to get our blood tests.”
Epps frowned, apparently as confused as Luke. “Blood tests?”
“For the license,” Jessie continued. “We agreed to get married the day after Christmas.”
We agreed to get married?
Luke stared at her. He was uncomfortably aware her declaration had taken his mind off the real threat in the room.
“Unless,” Jessie said, her narrowed eyes lasered on Luke, “you weren’t serious. Promises in the dark are easy to make.”
He wanted to tell her he didn’t make promises he didn’t mean which was why he didn’t make promises. He wanted to scoop her up, throw her out into the snow, and roll her home. He knew they were in real danger. The guy was a mortician. He could shoot them, cremate them, and dump the ashes before anyone noticed they were missing. He had to get her out of the mortuary, and there was only one sure way to do it.