by Ros Baxter
The uninitiated might wonder what ice vampires, crashed spaceships and steamy ice-cave loving have to do with Christmas. Well... those parts might be a bit of a stretch, but this particular story is really all about hope; hope for a post-Earth Explorer girl named Tabysha.
Hope when things seem as bad as they can get (firefight raging overhead, two spaceships down, blood-sucking monsters stalking your human warmth).
Hope when the Earth you knew is dead and home is one of a fleet of space stations circling the skies.
Hope when you’d given up all hope of ever again finding a love like the one you lost ten years before.
In my story, hope comes in the form of a chance crash-landing – fate delivering Asha, the boy who disappeared in mysterious circumstances a decade before and comes back as a badass Avenger warrior. Of course, I also turn up the heat to force the two ex-lovers back together in the sexiest of possible ways.
But let’s face it, Tabysha and Asha’s Christmas wouldn’t be as merry without some sweet loving. And believe me, when you read their story, you’ll see they’ve earned it.
Here’s to a Christmas of hope and joy for you all, and maybe even a little loving to drive out the chill.
What if your only chance at survival was to seduce the man who broke your heart?
Seventeen years after the Apocalypse, Admiral-class Explorer Tabysha is caught up in a firefight and shot down over Tyver, where ice vampires hunt human warmth. Seeking shelter in an ice cave, she is instructed to stay put and await rescue. But after another ship crash-lands, and the Hunter Gatherers stalk its wounded pilot, Tabi breaks protocol.
When it turns out the survivor is the man who stole her heart then skipped out on her ten years before, it seems to Tabi that no good deed goes unpunished, and things can’t get any worse. But she’s so wrong.
As the Hunters pick up the escalating heat signature of the former lovers, Tabi has to tell Asha that there is only one way to repel the creatures stalking them.
And it involves picking up where they left off ten years before.
Excerpt of White Christmas
She grasped the Narcan firmly, held the syringe high above her head and drove it hard and fast into the centre of his chest, to ensure she punctured suit, clothing and skin and got to his heart.
One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.
The Avenger sat up like a cartoon robot and babbled incoherently as he tore at his mask. Tabi tried to hold his arms but, even messy with the after effects of barbs and Narcan, this Avenger was strong.
He settled a little and pulled at his helmet, ripping it from his head and throwing it into the snow. He took long, hungry gulps of sweet Tyver oxygen just as all of Tabi’s breath whooshed from her lungs.
“You.” The word was wrenched from the deepest, most secret place inside her. It burned her throat as it made its bitter way out and licked poison onto her lips as she spat it at him.
The warrior finally tuned in and turned back towards her. “Tabysha?”
Oh by the Apocalypse, it really was him. And he still sounded exactly the same. Like lazy Sundays, contraband music and wickedness whispered in her ear.
“If I’d known it was you, I’d have let the Tyverians suck your bones dry.” She threw the empty syringe at his chest and turned on her heel. “You’d better run,” she threw over her shoulder at him as she made for the cliff. “They’re going to be here real soon.”
It was true. She could feel the ground starting to pulse beneath her feet. Eight minutes, perhaps, before they would rise from the snow like icy vampires and make a meal of him.
Which was no less than the asshole deserved.
Home for the Holidays by Ros Baxter
This time, Beth’s determined to stay out of trouble.
Beth Gibson has a bad history with the Canning boys. And no-one’s ever believed that none of it was her fault.
So when the hottest of all of them gets snowed in at her place on Christmas Eve, somehow she knows it’s going to end badly. After all, Jimmy Canning knows all her sins. And he still remembers her as reckless Lizzie.
Can Beth show him that she’s not that kind of girl anymore? And does she even want to?
Excerpt of Home for the Holidays
Dark green eyes peered through the mean crack she’d opened in the doorway.
“Beth,” she corrected them.
Low, grumbly laughter filtered through the crack. “You changed your name?”
She grimaced and shut the door. “I changed a lot of things,” she muttered to herself. “Firstly and most importantly, never, ever trust a Canning boy.”
And Beth should know. She’d kissed, dated, or married three of them. But that was back when she’d been Lizzie, and did stupid things like that. Now she was Beth, and Beths were the kind of women who learned from their mistakes.
Beths worked hard. They paid their credit cards on time just like their fathers had taught them. Beths dated sensible men, when they dated at all, which was not very often (at least for this Beth).
A Beth would never open the door to the last remaining Canning boy. Especially not when he was the baddest and hottest of all of them. And when a snowstorm was settling in.
He knocked again.
This time she didn’t bother with the pretence of the crack. “What?” She barked the word through the solid maple door and didn’t even try to inject a little small town hospitality into it. She didn’t live in this particular small town anymore. She lived in a place where people liked it if you were rude to them. It cut down on their obligations. Kept things nice and clean.
“I’d sure appreciate it if you’d let me in.” Clearly, Jim Canning still felt obliged to use his neighbourly manners, even if Beth didn’t.
“I’m sure you would,” Beth said. But Beth knew too well, that’s where it all starts. A simple request. Lizzie can I borrow your ruler? (Matt, Canning Boy Number One). Lizzie will you come to the Spring Dance with me? (Luke, Canning Boy Number Two). Lizzie, no-one’ll ever know. (Mark, Canning Boy Number Three).
She almost groaned aloud at the realisation that number four was standing on her stoop. And she was still wearing her dressing gown even though it was gone three o’clock in the afternoon.
What would her mother have said about that?
“I’m busy.” Beth slid back into the warmth of the sitting room, where she’d built an impressive fire earlier in the day, before the snow really started coming down. She sat cross-legged in front of it and looked up at the portrait of Mack Gibson above the mantelpiece, glowering with good health and bad humor.
“You would have been real proud of this fire, Dad,” she said.
God alone knew he’d never been proud of much else she’d done.
She imagined him, peering down from on high, watching Jim Canning banging on her door.
“Don’t worry,” she assured his portrait. “That door you hung could withstand a nuclear blast.” Her father had always liked reliable things. “He’s not getting in.”
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