Excerpt from Jessamyn’s Christmas Gift by N.J. Walters

Copyright © N.J. Walters, 2019

I must be out of my mind. Jessamyn Parker rubbed her hands up and down her arms, trying to warm herself. Goose bumps covered her skin in spite of the cheery fire crackling in the hearth beside her. A log shifted, sending sparks flying into the air behind the fireplace screen.

What was I thinking? There was no answer from the firelight as she stared into its depths. She knew very well what had prompted this desperate move on her part—Bennett Anderson.

They’d been dating for about six months, but Bennett had been away on business for the last three. A lawyer in the small town of Serenity, Bennett was considered a most eligible bachelor. Jessamyn had been surprised and flattered when he’d first asked her out. She wasn’t the type of woman who usually got asked out on dates by handsome lawyer types.

Not that she wasn’t pretty in her own way. She wasn’t thin or blonde, which seemed to be society’s accepted norm of beauty. At thirty years of age, she’d long accepted the fact that she was a solid size sixteen with very generous curves. Her brown hair tumbled down the middle of her back in a riot of untamed curls, which was why she usually kept it pinned up in a bun at the nape of her neck. But tonight, her hair was down.

Bennett was due home tonight from New York City where he’d been working. His phone calls had been fewer, his tone brusque, over the past few weeks. Jessamyn had been getting that sinking feeling in the bottom of her stomach that the end was near. This was her last ditch effort at reviving their lagging relationship.

She smoothed her hands down over the red satin that covered her stomach, desperately trying to settle the butterflies that were fluttering there. It was the twenty-fourth of December, and that had sparked her romantic soul, prompting her to buy this ridiculously skimpy teddy with the faux fur trim around the neckline.

It had been no hardship to shop for the outfit. She had a weakness for pretty undergarments. Her dresser drawers were filled with silks, satins and lace in all manners of colors and styles. Usually, however, she didn’t buy anything quite so…well…tiny. There wasn’t much to the outfit. Thin spaghetti straps held up the bodice, which dipped very low and showcased her cleavage. Cut high on the thighs, almost to her waist, it left a whole lot of skin exposed.

It had seemed like such a good idea at the lingerie store when she’d bought it. She’d put on the sexy teddy, lie in a provocative pose under Bennett’s Christmas tree and surprise him when he came home.

It had been extremely easy to accomplish. After all, Bennett lived next door to her and she had a key to his house. She’d spent her entire day off decorating his home and putting up a Christmas tree in his living room. She had visions of the two of them having a very merry Christmas together. But now that the time had actually arrived, she was losing her courage. The soft holiday music playing in the background did little to soothe her.

Shivering, more with nerves than actual cold, she wrapped her hands around her crystal goblet and took a fortifying sip of the expensive wine that she’d poured earlier. The tart, fruity flavor slid easily down her throat, soothing her dry mouth. Nerves were beginning to get the better of her. She wished Bennett would just hurry up and get here.

No sooner had she thought it than she heard the sound of a car turning into the driveway. Taking a deep breath, she placed her glass on the coffee table and draped herself in what she hoped was a seductive pose, across the plush faux fur rug she’d spread in front of the fireplace. The scraping of a key in the lock made her catch her breath. Boots stamped in the front porch before proceeding down the hallway.

Gathering her courage, Jessamyn cleared her throat. “I’m in here. Come and get your Christmas present.”

The footsteps stopped at the sound of her voice and moved closer. Her eyes were glued on the entranceway, which was surrounded by greenery and white twinkling lights. He moved into the light and every cell of her body went on alert.

Her gaze moved slowly upward, over a pair of faded jeans that molded to strong legs. A blue flannel shirt was tucked in, emphasizing a lean waist. His shoulders were wide, straining at the seams of his shirt as he fisted his hands at his waist. Hair the color of mahogany fell carelessly across his forehead. His face wasn’t handsome, so much as strong. His nose was prominent, his lips thin, and his jaw was shadowed with stubble.

But it was his eyes that pinned her to the spot. Amber, they seemed to glow as they watched her. The eyes of a predator. He was a prime male standing in front of her, studying her almost-naked form.

Her nipples tightened, pushing against the thin fabric. She knew he could see them in the firelight when his eyes lingered there. She moved her legs restlessly as the ache between her thighs grew. Cream flowed, dampening the thin piece of satin between her legs. Every fine hair on her body was standing on end as her entire being clamored its need for this man.

There was only one slight problem. He wasn’t Bennett.