I grew up surrounded by books and have always loved reading. I count my blessing for the opportunity to write what I love - steamy hot romances with soft-centered alpha heroes and sensual heroines who know what they want. The lovely county of Kent, England is where I call home with my husband and two adorable kids and where my heart will always remain. Much Love, Nyla.
This year Maxine's Christmas present has arrived two weeks early. Only it's not full of glad tidings or great joy. She's facing bankruptcy.
Turning to her Grandpa for help, the last thing she expects is an ultimatum - marry by Christmas or lose her inheritance. Her ex-lover, attorney Gabe Fenton offers his help, but he has his own strings - a repeat of the mind-blowing nights they spent in Vegas five years go.
Will Christmas end with a blissful explosion of fireworks, or will her world crash and burn?
The very word sent a chill down Maxine’s spine.
This time last year, she’d been sharing pre-Christmas champagne with her staff to celebrate their third and best year.
Her cell phone vibrated on her desk, then startled her with the shrill ring tone her airhead secretary had programmed into it.
Maxine Gray Designs, how may I help you?” She tried to inject as much gusto into her voice as she could, but missed by a long shot. Closing her eyes, she prayed whoever was at the other end wouldn’t take their business elsewhere due to her lackluster tone.
You may help me by explaining what that garbled message you left on my phone was supposed to mean!” a deep male voice grumbled down the line.
Oh. It’s you.”
Thanks for that upbeat response. It’s perked me right up!”
It amazed her how her best friend, Will Fenton, had lived in London for over twenty years and not lost a single trace of his American accent.
Listen, Will, I don’t need your brand of humor right now. Not today.”
Why? What’s happened?”
She sighed. “Didn’t you get my message?”
Since you seem a little slow today, I’ll start again. Your message was about as clear as mud mixed with a ton of concrete.”
Right.” Her attention wandered over her desk to the papers her lawyers had couriered over, her breath catching all over again when her gaze landed on the bright letters that spelt urgent. She hadn’t bothered to open the package, seeing as her very thorough lawyers had also sent the bad news by email.
How could things have gone from great to abysmal in so short a time?
Okay, if you let me know how long we’ll be playing the silent game, maybe I can get comfortable. Right now I’m freezing my ass off at a bus shelter, it’s pissing down rain, and there’s a nutter next to me trying to feed me bananas.”
Maxine started to tell him, but paused. She didn’t want to say the word bankruptcy aloud. Her Catholic headmistress had once told her words, once spoken, hung in the air around you, waiting to become reality. Whether she’d intended at the time to scare Maxine into not saying the word shit in case it literally rained down on her was something she’d never been brave enough to test. To this day, only variations of the word passed her lips.
Maxine! For fuck’s sake. What’s going on?” Even concerned, Will’s voice held a brisk snap that broke through her maudlin thoughts.
I’ve lost my business,” she finally mumbled, feeling numbed by the whole situation.
You’ve what? That’s absurd!”
A hysterical cackle burst from her lips. “Believe me, I wish it was. Come Christmas, I’ll be out of business.”
But why? How come?” His genuine puzzlement touched her. If anyone knew how hard she’d worked to make Maxine Gray Designs work, it was Will.
Does the name Lady Satchel-Worthing ring any bells?”
Are you serious? Are you telling me Lady Starch carried through with her threat?”
Maxine’s lips twitched at the name Will had coined for the septuagenarian aristocrat who’d had so many facelifts her features seemed starched into place. “Yes. The letter came through three days ago. I met with my lawyers yesterday—”
What did they say?”
The burden of her dilemma settled like a heavy cloak over her shoulders. “They advised me to settle.”
Bullshit. You fight, Max. You fight her hard. This isn’t like you to just bend over and take it up the ass. What’s wrong with you?” Irritation sharpened his voice even further.
Her fingers tightened around her BlackBerry. “Because it’s hopeless, Will. I can stand on principle and spend every last penny I don’t have fighting a battle I’ve been advised I’d lose, or I can settle and at least ensure my employees have half a turkey instead of ashes for Christmas. You know as well I do, Lady Satchel-Worthing has an astonishing amount of clout in this city. In the last thirty-six hours alone, six of my clients have withdrawn their commissions.”
At the other end of the line, Will swore hard. “Can they do that? Didn’t they sign a contract?”
Oh, come on. What do you want me to do, force them to let me decorate their homes? That’ll certainly go down well.”
Listen, I can see the last free cab in London coming my way. If I catch it, I’ll be there in ten minutes, okay?”
Before she could respond, a loud whistle pierced her ear, and the line went dead.