Welcome to sister Wild Rose Press author Darlene Deluca and her cookie collection book!
—“Here, let me take your coat. Just dump your bag. I’ve got tons of chocolate and snacks.” Helen steered Alana into the spacious great room, which opened into a fabulous light and airy kitchen. Alana loved her aunt’s home—old and stately on the outside but completely updated and contemporary on the inside.
“Wow, Aunt Helen, this is gorgeous. You didn’t tell me you changed your color scheme. That tree is amazing.” The towering Christmas tree shone with white lights and hues of blue plus silver and white. “It’s festive and, I don’t know, tranquil at the same time.”—
That’s one snippet from my new Christmas novella, Cookie Collision, just released by The Wild Rose Press. It’s a sweet romance that’s part of a 50-some collection of holiday stories that all feature a cookie theme.
Isn’t it amazing how every Christmas tree has its own look? Almost like snowflakes or a fingerprint, no two are exactly alike. A thousand people can start with the same basic tree with green branches and make it fit their personality, taste, style and decor.
When my husband and I first got married, we had no particular style. We bought basic glass balls for ornaments and hand strung popcorn-and-cranberry garland to decorate our early Christmas trees. (We didn’t have much money, either.) Through the years we changed it up. For a while, we chose a red and silver color scheme. Then we switched to a more sophisticated look with rose and gold ribbons and ornaments. Then one year I found some blue and green ornaments that I absolutely loved, and a whole new “look” was born.
I love seeing how people trim their trees—colored lights or white, solid or flashing, handmade ornaments from the kids or high-end designer baubles. In the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of fun trees in pink and white and some beautiful, more traditional trees in reds and golds, and it makes me wish I could have a different tree in every room!
Do you have a favorite theme or color scheme? I’d love to hear about them!
And here’s another little peek at Cookie Collision, my newly released Christmas cookie novella.
—“Ooh, I love these. Sweet and savory at the same time.” Alana picked up a pretzel rod dipped in dark chocolate and set it on a small dessert plate.
“Yeah, those are good, but I’m in the mood for something sweet.”
“I think I can help with that.” She plucked one of her frosted snowman cookies from the plate.
A slow smile spread across his face. “Nah, I’m going to need that red stocking.”
“Well, okay. Picky, picky.” She placed the snowman on her own plate and lifted the other one.
“Reminds me of you.”
Her brows pulled together, and she gave a little laugh. “A Christmas stocking? And why is that?”
“Reminds me of how we met.”
“Ah, yes. Those snazzy red slippers. Those are some keepers, for sure.” She remembered his warm hands on her leg as he’d gently slid the socks on. She glanced back and saw they were partially blocked from view by the Christmas tree.
Justin bit into the cookie and chewed. “Yeah, that’s good. But I was thinking of something even sweeter.” He pulled her closer and brushed a thumb across her cheek.
When her eyes fluttered closed, his lips covered hers, and she wound her arms around his neck. Mmmm. Sweet, indeed.—
Before she can let up and enjoy some holiday cheer, real estate agent Alana Drake has work to do. With Christmas moving in fast, she has clients to meet with, houses to show, and cookies to bake. Every open house deserves her special touch—homemade and hand-decorated sugar cookies for a warm welcome. And she needs several dozen for upcoming holiday events and open houses.
But a poorly timed stop at the grocery store could upend more than her bag of groceries. Running into Doctor Justin Teague—literally—shakes up Alana’s tidy world. The chance encounter leaves her with a bum ankle, forces her to reconsider some dating ideals, and reveals new information about a longtime nemesis.
When all she wanted was to bake some cookies…
Justin moved into the room, set the things on a side table, and perched on a chair. Watching her, he could practically see the pain fade from her face. Her brow smoothed, and the tension he’d noticed around her lips disappeared. He fought the urge to brush a kiss across her forehead. She looked way too peaceful to disturb. But now what? Sit here and watch her sleep? Sneak out the door? He couldn’t leave it unlocked, and he had no idea whether she’d be down for the night or if she did power naps.
Finally, he took off his shoes and quietly padded to the kitchen to deal with supper. For now, everything could go in the fridge. Feeling like an intruder, he moved stealthily around her kitchen. With that task completed, he grabbed a newsmagazine from a basket and settled into a chair across from his patient…and/or dinner date.
Twenty minutes later, Alana stirred. She pulled up her arm and adjusted her position. Then her eyes opened.
“Hey,” Justin whispered.
She bolted upright. “Oh, my gosh. Justin. Did I fall asleep? I’m so sor—”
He held up a hand. “Shhh. No worries.” He handed her the glass of water and tablets. “Why don’t you take a couple of these then I’ll wrap your ankle.”
For him, the biggest issue was not the condition of her ankle but trying to stay in professional mode and ignore the feel of her smooth leg under his hands. Seated on the table in front of the sofa, he forced his eyes to focus on the strip of fabric as he wound it around both foot and ankle and secured it firmly. “How’s that feel?”
Alana nodded. “That’s amazing. It’s better already.” Luminous eyes met his. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Keeping it tight is the key.” He couldn’t help himself. He reached out and touched her hair. “Sorry you had a bad day.”
A light sparked in her eyes, and she sat straighter. “I didn’t have a bad day.”
Frowning, he cocked his head. “You didn’t? Looks like the ankle was, well, a big pain.”
She grinned. “It was. Except for this stupid ankle, I had a great day. I got two offers on the house, and another couple that’s interested is supposed to let me know tomorrow. That means we could have a bidding war and get more than our asking price. And that is a good thing.”
Justin couldn’t help laughing. He held up his hand for a high-five. “Very nice.” He loved her triumph-over-adversity attitude.
“Hey, food’s in the fridge. Easy to heat up whenever you’re ready.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.” She glanced toward the kitchen then met his eyes again. “Are you— Can you stay?”
He felt a pull deep inside as those questioning blue eyes leveled on him. Yeah, he wanted to stay.
Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.
Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page.
The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.
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