Excerpt from "A Contract for Christmas"

The doorbell interrupted my ruminations.

Who could be at my door on Christmas Eve? Carolers? A neighbor with holiday wishes?

Certainly I was in no condition to welcome visitors. Aside from a wet spot between my legs, my dress hadn’t been hurt by my rather violent orgasm, but my hair was tangled mess. Sticky juices coated the inside of my thighs.

I’ll just ignore them until they go away, I thought.

The insistent ringing continued, however. Finally, with a sigh, I ran my fingers through my snarled mane, and rose to answer.

“Merry Christmas, Bella.”

My breath caught and my stomach flipped. I was on a roller coaster hurtling down the steepest of slopes. Hot blood surged into my cheeks and my earlobes. I wanted to sink through the floor.

“What—um—James? What in the world are you doing here?”

Greg’s best friend—and our occasional partner in kinky games—flashed me a cheeky grin. “Can’t I drop by to wish my friends a happy holiday? I even brought a gift.” He handed me a tin decorated with a green and gold bow.

“Fruitcake? Really, James!” I managed a nervous chuckle.

“Hey, it’s traditional.” He shrugged his shoulders under his snow-dusted down parka. “So, aren’t you going to invite me in?”

My thoughts whirled. I’d never been alone with James before. “Uh—Greg’s not here. I mean, he was supposed to be home by now, but he got stranded in Chicago because of the blizzard. How is it out there, by the way?”

“Pretty bad. The wind’s so strong you hardly walk, and the snow’s so thick you can barely see. You going to force me to go back out there, Bella?”

“Well—actually…”

He was already peeling off his jacket. “Mmm, it’s nice and toasty in here.” Taking my arm, he drew me back into the apartment. His nostrils flared.

Oh no! He can smell me. James knew me pretty well. Could he tell I’d just come? My discomfort deepened.

“Boy, something smells really good! Roast chicken?”

I released the breath I’d been holding. “Cornish hen, actually…I was going to surprise Greg with a special dinner, but then the storm hit—and, um, well, he’s stuck, like I said—and I’m—I’m all by myself, haven’t seen him for days—I miss him—miss him so much…”

To my mortification, I started to sob. And once the tears began, I couldn’t stop them. I stood there like an idiot next to the elegantly set table for two, clutching a fruitcake and crying my eyes out.

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