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Winter's Kiss

Winter's Kiss

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She's in town to remodel the house she inherited. He's the real estate agent who'd like something more between them. Can they put their differences aside?

The last thing Abby wants to do is clean out her great-aunt’s house that she just inherited, but she needs to get it ready to sell. It doesn’t help that the arrogant man she met in town happens to be her new neighbor. Luke can’t believe the little girl who’d followed him around when she’d stayed with his mother’s old neighbor has grown up to be such a beautiful and feisty woman. As Luke helps Abby remodel the old home to get it ready to sell, he comes to realize she might just be what he was missing from his life. Can the two of them give up their dreams to build something better together?

Intro into Chapter One

Carrie hiked up her pencil skirt a few inches to allow her legs to get into the car and cursed herself for sleeping through her alarm. She never should have agreed to the blind date her roommate, Abby, had set her up on last night. The guy was decent enough at first, until he’d had a couple drinks too many. She should have called him a cab, but hadn’t wanted to inconvenience him with a missing car, so she’d driven him home in his own car, then had to ward off his drunken advances as she got him to his apartment. At least he’d passed out on his sofa, and she’d been safe enough as she waited for her cab to show up.
The late night shouldn’t have bothered her much, but there had been a few too many recently, and she’d begun to feel it. At least today was Friday, and she could take an easy weekend.
Carrie smiled to herself. If she was truthful, she wouldn’t rest this weekend. She was dying to try out the new surfboard she’d saved up for, but the waves weren’t expected to be the best. She’d make do. Besides, a trip to the beach would be a perfect way to relax.
But if she didn’t hurry, she’d be late for work, and that would never do. As the new account manager at Carlson Ad Agency, she was busier now than she’d ever been as the assistant to Madison Perry-Koholohini. Being one of the youngest at the agency, she wanted to prove to everyone that twenty-four was a reliable adult age.
As she drove in the early morning light on the familiar road leading out of her neighborhood, she was glad the sun was to her back. She’d driven this road so many times over the last few years, so she allowed her mind to wander back to the latest string of failed romances — if she could even call them that. Most guys her age were completely uninterested in anything more than superficial relationships. And she wasn’t the kind of girl to agree to one-night stands.
Though she appreciated her looks, long legs, and curves, people often mistook her friendly nature for flirting. She didn’t want the superficial though. Her father hadn’t been a reliable man, as evidenced by her family. Each of her siblings had a different mother, and now her father was in jail, and she had been made legal guardian for her younger brother, Eric, whose mom had died when he was ten.
Carrie drove on autopilot, following the car in front of her. With the sun angled the way it was, the palm trees glowed, making some look to be lit from within. She studied the different colors of the trees while driving down the road, loving Southern California even more.
As she crossed the intersection behind the car in front of her, tires squealed, a horn blared, and she slammed on her brakes, but not fast enough to avoid crashing into the side of a sleek black sports car.
“No, no, no, no, no.” Carrie took stock of herself. The airbag had gone off, sending a cloud of chemicals floating in the car and reflecting the sunlight. She coughed and rubbed her face, feeling the sting of the airbag. Her sunglasses were gone, and she wondered where they’d landed. Wetness slid down her cheek, and she wiped at it with a finger. She stared at the bright red for a few moments, trying to process what had happened.
Someone had run the light and hit her. Idiot driver.
With shaking hands, she fumbled in her center console, looking for a tissue or napkin to press against her cheek. Before she found anything useful, a knock on her window brought her attention to the man in a tailored suit standing outside. The look of concern on his face made her smile. Some handsome hero was trying to rescue her, and at the moment, she was completely willing to let him.
She turned to roll the window down, but the car had shut off in the accident, and the window didn’t work. When she gripped the handle, pain flashed through her wrist, and she pulled her hand back, cradling it against her chest. The guy knocked on the door again, and she looked up at him.
“What were you thinking?” he asked through the closed window, the look on his face definitely not friendly, like she’d first thought. “Didn’t you see the red light?” He looked back at the shiny black car her plain white one had smashed. Carrie shook her head.
“No way,” she whispered. “I hit him?” She tried to focus and glanced around the area to get her bearings. The sun was behind her, so she hadn’t been blinded by the sun. And the car in front of her had gone through on a green light. How had this happened?
Carrie stared at the angry man who kept talking through the closed window. No, he definitely wasn’t a knight in shining armor come to rescue her; he was more like the ogre she needed saving from. She reached across herself to press the lock button. He stopped his tirade and stepped back, making Carrie breathe easier for a bit. She turned to find her purse, but it had fallen to the floor on the passenger side. Her phone had spilled out among a few other things, but she managed to bend over enough to reach it.
She turned it on and called 911 to report the accident and get someone there to help her with this man. She wasn’t going to get out until an officer arrived to keep this dragon from eating her alive.
“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?”
“I’ve been in an accident.” Carrie peered out the windshield to give the dispatcher the address.
“An officer is already en route. Are you injured?” the woman asked.
Carrie took a shaky breath. “A little. Not bad.”
The woman’s kind voice helped her relax as she asked questions, and Carrie took stock of her injuries. The blood on her face still dripped, but not so much it worried her. Her legs were fine, not trapped or damaged. In fact, only her wrist and face seemed to be the problem.
And it wasn’t bad enough she’d need an ambulance. She looked at the car she’d hit, hoping no one had been in the passenger side. It looked empty, and the guy still standing and examining his car and hers — scowling at her every few minutes — seemed to be healthy and free of injury.
The 911 dispatcher’s voice pulled her back to the moment. “The officer has just arrived. Do you see him?”
“Yes,” Carrie said.
“There will be an ambulance there shortly to evaluate things.”
After making sure Carrie was okay to hang up and that the officer was indeed there, the dispatcher ended the call. She peeked out the windshield to see her car wouldn’t be driving away from this. She’d have to call her roommate, Abby, to come get her. I hope she’s not lost in her meditation.
“Hey, Abby,” Carrie said as the girl answered the phone. “I need a favor. Can you come get me? I crashed my car.” Carrie sighed as Abby asked a million questions and tried to calm her down and answer them as best as possible. “I’m okay, but I don’t think the car is at all. I hurt my wrist and might need a ride to the hospital, but I don’t need an ambulance. No, I’m sure. But I’d appreciate it if you could come get me.”
When she hung up, she wondered if she should call Mr. Carlson and let him know she’d be late, or if she should take the day off. He would understand. Besides, today wasn’t an overly busy day. They’d be meeting with an entrepreneur who wanted some advice on how to get the word out on his non-profit, and she had planned to update the accounts.
She could probably go in after she got her wrist checked out. The throbbing had increased, and the wrist itself looked swollen.
The police officer approached the cars before she could call her boss, followed closely by the guy she’d hit. Carrie took a slow breath to calm her nerves and face the men. She didn’t know how this had even happened. She hadn’t been distracted, or texting — or anything. She could have sworn the light was green.
After grabbing her purse, she reached for the door with her left hand out of habit and hissed in pain when she jarred her wrist. She stretched her other hand across her body and pulled on the handle to open the door. The fresh air helped her breathe better, and she should have opened it sooner, but she hadn’t wanted to talk to the man alone, with him looking that angry.
Hopefully, things would go smoothly. She could exchange insurance information, get the inevitable ticket, and never have to see the guy again. With the narrowed eyes and judging expression on his face, she didn’t want to ever speak to him if she didn’t have to.


Oh great. I’ve been hit by a real live Barbie. Bryce looked at the tall, shapely blonde as she climbed out of the car. Her skirt hugged her curves, and her light pink blouse accentuated her hourglass figure. Long hair fell loosely over her shoulder, framing her face. The only flaw about her was the cut on her cheekbone where blood trickled down. He reached in his pocket for his handkerchief and passed it to her without saying a word.
Her eyes widened, and she hesitated for a moment before taking it carefully from him, as if afraid he’d yank it back.
“Thank you.” She dabbed it gently against her face with her right hand while holding the left arm protectively close to her stomach. Is she injured more than just the cut?
The officer approached, assessing the situation. “Sir, please return to your car. I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Bryce nodded, reluctant to leave, wanting to make sure the woman admitted to running the red light, but since their cars were entwined in an odd embrace, he would probably be able to hear what she said.
“Are you injured, miss?” the officer asked.
Bryce listened as the woman’s melodic voice, deeper than he’d expected it would be, described the pain in her wrist. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, but the more he watched her smile at the officer and the way she moved her body as if leaning into the man, he knew she was one of those types.
He’d been married to one of them once, and he never wanted to be with another like her for as long as he lived. Besides, she looked young, probably early twenties at the most. Way too young for him, even if he were looking again.
He had too much on his plate for the moment to even consider dating. Besides, meeting at the scene of a car accident wasn’t the way to build any kind of relationship.
As he waited for the officer to finish with the woman — who he thought had said her name was Carrie — he pulled his phone out to contact the company he had an appointment with in a few hours. They would need to reschedule. His car wouldn’t be drivable. And though he wasn’t injured at all, this mess would take some time to resolve.
He ground his teeth together in frustration that the opening of his community-outreach program might be delayed now.
At least she hadn’t been texting. When he’d approached her car after she hit him, she’d seemed dazed and disoriented, but there was no indication she’d been on the phone.
After the officer got her information and statement, he joined Bryce for his. Another officer got statements from any witnesses who’d stuck around long enough to help while a third officer took care of traffic. The ambulance slid through the mess of backed up cars, and an EMT soon moved over to Carrie. She allowed him to check her, but from what Bryce could tell, she didn’t seem to think it would be necessary to be transported by ambulance.
Bryce filled out his report, explaining how he’d been waiting at the stoplight for it to turn green. A car had rushed through on the yellow just as it turned red, but the intersection was clear before he moved forward. What possessed the woman to run the light that long after it had changed, he didn’t know. Just a dumb blonde that didn’t know how to drive.
He looked over at her as she spoke with the EMTs and frowned again at the way she flirted and teased the men there as she sat on the back bumper of the ambulance. This woman was unbelievable. Either she really wasn’t in pain and just faking her injury, or she was such a player she didn’t know when to show discretion in her flirting.
A dark-haired girl rushed through the circle of bystanders and made her way over to Carrie. She wrapped her in a hug and checked her over. “Carrie, you scared me to death. I’m so glad to see you standing.” The girl glanced at the EMTs. “Is she okay?”
Carrie adjusted her arm trying to find a more comfortable position. “I’ve got a possible broken wrist. But it’ll be fine for you to take me to the hospital.”
Bryce watched while the other girl comforted Carrie, and he felt a fleeting moment of loneliness. There was no need for him to call anyone, and he didn’t need assistance, but standing there by himself, filling out the accident report and watching everything else unfold in front of him as if he weren’t actually a part of it — though he was smack dab in the center of it all — was a confusing emotion.
He didn’t need anyone, especially someone like Barbie over there, but for a brief moment, he almost wished he could be fussed over and cared about.

He’s the overbearing kind of guy she wants to avoid. She’s the superficial assistant he can’t stand. Can they overcome their pride and allow each other in their lives?

Main Tropes

  • Office Romance
  • Opposites Attract
  • Enemies to Lovers
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