USA Today Bestselling Author
It’s okay that I have to spend Christmas by myself. Alone. In my apartment. Quarantined.
No gifts. No cheer. No feast.
And I’ll continue to ignore my hot next door neighbors.
Three guys who make my knees weak.
Even though they invited me over for a holiday feast.
I mean, we’re supposed to be in quarantine, right?
Don’t I deserve a present or two or three? I think I do.
Merry f*cking Christmas
Nina was packed up and ready to fly home for Christmas when during a conversation with her mother she’s told she can’t come. Her father was supposed to tell her weeks ago, but forgot. Now she’s sure she’ll be spending it alone. That is until she really meets her neighbors across the hall. First one of them helps her bring her tree upstairs, then she almost gets hit in the head with the football they’re throwing around the hallway maskless of course. Since it is the holidays she decides to make them some masks so she’d feel better running into them. She makes her favorite cookies, a sort of revenge thing since her mom was making them when she let her know she couldn’t come home for Christmas. What she didn’t realize was how many cookies the recipe made. Not wanting to have them go to waste she packs some up to give to the guys. This results in an invitation to a hallway dinner.
This is a favorite scene.
It was the only table in sight, so yeah.
He picked it up with about the same level of effort Henry had picked up my Christmas tree, which is to say hardly any, and positioned it in the hallway just outside my door. He returned to the kitchen and grabbed a chair. At the other hand of the hall, he’d put their table out along with three chairs.
“Okay. All set. Henry is still cooking, so I’ll let you know when we’re closer.”
“What service. Thank you,” I said.
He took a fake bow. “We aim to please, madam.”
He left, and of course I watched him through the peephole like I always did. That’s when I saw Leo come out of the apartment and set the table. Holy shit. They actually set their table.
I figured I should do the same. I gathered a plate, silverware, and napkin, and pulled my door open to find they’d done it for me.
No shit. They’d actually set a place for me at my own table, and lit a freaking votive candle.
Guys have votive candles?
An unwelcome lump in my throat expanded at the sweetness of their gesture, and for a moment I considered that while I might not be having the kind of Wisconsin holiday I was accustomed to, maybe something different wasn’t going to be all that horrible.
And the guys didn’t seem to have girlfriends.
Not that that mattered. Not at all.
I brought the gingerbread plate over to their table and set it down just as their door flew open. Leo was holding four wine glasses and a bottle he’d uncorked.
I walked back to my side of the hall, unsure how it all was supposed to work.
“Here you go, Nina,” he said, handing me a full glass while standing as far away as possible.
Glad to see at least one of them was careful.
He walked back to his side of the hall, and lifted his mask just enough to taste his wine. His method looked like a good way to go. I did the same.
And the wine was a rich red that was neither too sweet nor too spicy.
“Oh my god, I love this,” I said, taking another swallow.
I had to pace myself or I’d drink too much.
“Isn’t it amazing? It’s my best seller. Comes from a small winery in Napa.” He held his glass toward me. “Cheers.”
Just a few hours ago I wouldn’t have thought there was anything to be cheery about. But things seemed like they might be looking up.
Wes came out of the apartment and poured himself a glass. “What do you think of our setup, Nina? I think it’s looking pretty damn good.” He looked around, pleased.
“I… I’m blown away, I have to admit. Thank you.”
He gestured toward me with his glass. “Have a seat. Henry will be serving us soon.”
“But wait. Must top off wine, first.” Leo grabbed the bottle and sprinted over toward me, standing back as far as he could but still getting the wine in my glass.
His goofiness was fucking cute.
They took seats at their table, so I took mine. It felt funny to be facing each other from opposite ends of the hall but it was actually, sort of, working. The hallway, a little on the shabby side and never very well lit, was lovely in the low light and flickering candles. The threadbare carpet morphed into something charming, and the ornate trim where the walls met the ceilings, covered with years of glopped on paint, actually looked high end. Even a bit decadent.
“Funny how quiet the building is, huh?” Wes said. “Guess most people have gone somewhere. I haven’t seen a single person in days. Apart from you, Nina.”
I leaned toward them and lowered my voice. Well, as low as I could and still have them hear me across the hall and with my mask on. “Mrs. Strubel is still around,” I said, pointing to her door.
“If we see her, we’ll invite her too,” Leo said, raising his glass again.
Just then, Henry emerged with a huge platter. Steam was pouring off it and my stomach growled rudely.
“What is it? It smells so good,” I said.
Henry took a sip of wine and then looked at us all just as if he were the chef in a real restaurant. He started with a little bow. “Tonight we are serving oven roasted lamb T-bone with rosemary, thyme, and garlic confit. On the side we have chanterelle mushrooms, smashed sunchokes, and wild spinach. And of course, au jus for the lamb.”
Holy shit. What had I stumbled into?
“Henry, you are a rock star,” Leo roared. “Damn, this looks good. I recommend everyone have a chef for a roommate.”
“Or in Nina’s case, a neighbor,” Henry added. “Nina, bring me your plate, would you?”
I walked toward the guys, trying my best not to run, that’s how good everything looked. “I can’t believe this. Just incredible.”
Henry, still wearing his mask, took my plate, piled it high, and returned it to me. Then he served the guys and himself.
“Hey, I think we’re sitting far enough from each other to take our masks off now. What do you think, Nina?” Wes asked.
For a moment, I didn’t care what I was in danger of catching. I was starving and hadn’t had a meal like this in… probably ever. I whipped off my mask.
“There she goes,” Leo whooped, and stuffed his own mask in his pocket, followed by Henry and Wes.
“Bon appetit, everyone,” Henry said, raising his glass.
“Compliments to the chef,” I called.
I delicately pushed my knife into the lamb for my first bite while also discreetly checking out the guys without their masks.
’Course I’d seen them unmasked before, but because they’d annoyed the hell out of me, I’d pretty much ignored them in my passive-aggressive way of showing I thought they were jerks.
Except for when I spied on them through my peep hole.
“So, guys,” Wes started. “Did you know… that Nina works for a sex toy company?”
Henry coughed, and Leo slapped him on the back.
Lane, Mika. My Christmas Quarantine: A Reverse Harem Holiday Romance. Kindle Locations (493-548). Headlands Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Things get just a bit uncomfortable after they start discussing her job and she makes a quick getaway. Yet somehow Nina can’t seem to avoid them.
This is a fun Christmas romp, with a slow build to a some serious sizzle.
5 Contented Purrs for Mika!
Writing has been a passion of mine since, well, forever (my first book was “The Day I Ate the Milkyway,” a true fourth-grade masterpiece), but steamy romance is now what gives purpose to my days and nights.
I live in magical Northern California with my own handsome alpha dude, sometimes known as Mr. Mika Lane, and an evil cat named Bill.
A lover of shiny things, I’ve been known to try to new recipes on unsuspecting friends, find hiding places so I can read undisturbed, and spend my last dollar on a plane ticket somewhere. I also drink cheap champagne and have way too many shoes.
I’ll always promise you a hot, sexy romp with kick-ass but imperfect heroines, and some version of a modern-day happily ever after.
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