THE MEANT TO BE GIRL (A Sneak Peek!)

The Meant To Be Girl is my contribution to the Christmas romance anthology THE 12 NIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS, available everywhere now! This is a little peek at the magic . . .

“Hey, Ashley. Did you get drafted, too?”

The smile that curved my lips was completely involuntary, but I had trouble ignoring the spark of pleasure and want that tingled up my spine. Zane was sitting on the floor near me, surrounded by evergreen.

“Ohhhhh . . .” I grinned. “So, you’re the someone who got roped into putting the tree together.”

He shrugged. “I think Darlene overestimated my abilities. It looks like a pine tree murder and dismemberment back here.” Zane glanced over his shoulder and lowered his voice. “It might have helped if they’d saved the instructions. I’m totally winging it here.”

I sighed, and for a happy moment, I simply gazed at him. In the months since Zane had first wandered into my salon looking for a quick haircut, he’d become not only a loyal client but a friend. He had a standing appointment every three weeks, and I’d be lying to myself if I’d said I didn’t look forward to his visits. There was just something about this man . . . between his self-deprecating humor, his kindness, and his charm, I didn’t stand a chance. And that wasn’t even touching on the body that made regular appearances in my dreams.

“Huh.” Tori came up to peer over my shoulder. “Hey, Zane. Yeah, you’re in over your head, I’d say.” She gave me a little shove. “Ashley here just happens to be an expert at Christmas tree assembly. And she’d be happy to help you.”

I glared at my friend. “I thought you and I were supposed to be untangling lights.”

Tori shrugged. “I got that by myself. You should go where you’re really needed, Ash.” She gave me wide and suggestive eyes, and I prayed that Zane didn’t notice.

“Thanks for throwing me into the briar patch,” I hissed to her.

She giggled. “Looks more like a pine forest. And you’re welcome. Because you know, that’s what friends are for—to remind you about what’s important and to kick your ass when you forget.”

There was nothing like having my own words quoted back at me. I was well and truly stuck now. “Fine. But you better make sure I get some of those fries when Darlene brings them out.”

Tori held up one hand, as though taking a pledge. “I promise.”

Still wearing a scowl, I picked my way among the thick wire branches covered in green plastic “needles” and cleared a space to sit down on the floor.

“You’re really going to help me? God bless you. I thought you might just stand over me and direct what I should do.” He gestured to the piles.

“In for a penny, in for a pound,” I sighed. “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. We should find the base first, and then the center poles.” I began to root around the branches. “Sheesh, they all look the same. How’re we supposed to know what goes where?”

“Trial and error, I guess.” Zane frowned and picked up a green-covered stick. “Hey, this might be part of the trunk. I think.”

“Is it longer and harder?” Even as the words tumbled out of my mouth, I heard what I was saying and felt my face going red.

Zane quirked one eyebrow. “Not yet. But there’s potential.”

Peace, love and romance~

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