Kissing Under the Mistletoe - By Marina Adair


It wasn’t every day that your average girl got to watch her career crumble before her very eyes. For Regan Martin, that day had been on repeat for the past six years. To be reminded of it while she was wearing blinking plastic antlers and a shirt that said “Elves Do It Better,” though—that was enough to make her snap.

The minute Regan spotted her Ghost of Christmas Past, looking primped and relaxed as he lurked behind the condiments aisle, she no longer had to wonder why her career had suddenly gone from Welcome to the Gordon and Associates Family to Don’t Let the Door Hit You in the Ass on the Way Out in under three seconds flat.

Which was why she dropped another pint—make that a gallon—of Rocky Road into her cart and sprinted for the front door. She ignored the clerk reminding her that she hadn’t paid and the Santa clanking his bell for charity.

Fishing her keys from her purse, Regan rounded Picker’s Produce, Meats and More, passed City Hall, and was reaching the community Christmas display—complete with a Santa and all nine reindeer—when she came to a screeching halt. Because there, under the town’s flapping red banner that said “Merry Christmas One and All” and parked next to her 1994 Honda Civic, was a mini-McMansion on wheels, license plate reading: DELUCA1.

Her passenger door was blocked by a cluster of old wine barrels filled with festive poinsettias, leaving Regan’s car completely boxed in. She parked her cart alongside the shiny orange Hummer, sure to test out its ding-free bumper claim, and tried to shimmy her way between the vehicles. Tried being the operative word. She doubted even her daughter could squeeze through that space, and Holly was only five. But there was no way she was willing to ask the man who had made her professional and, in turn, personal, life a living hell to move his car. Especially since she’d just landed a new job.

She propped her knee on the hood of her car and was about to see if she could pry off the moonroof when she heard a loud rip.

She teared up as she saw that Gabe DeLuca’s side mirror had snagged and torn the ass out of her favorite pair of “Bah Humbug” sweats—an early Christmas present from Holly.

“Shit.” Regan shimmied back to freedom. “Shit, shit, shit!”

She slapped her hand over her mouth, looking around to make sure nobody had heard her foul language. At home that would have cost her a quarter for every swear word uttered.

Suddenly, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” started playing. Loud and mechanical, the annoying shrill was accompanied by a blinking elf’s nose. Damn shirt.

Shit, another quarter. Make that two.

Pressing her lips closed, Regan swallowed back a frustrated scream and resisted the temptation to kick his car. No sense in ruining her shoes, too.

Was he serious? How high school could he get, stalking her all over the country? Sure, she’d made a mistake—a big one. Just thinking about it made her stomach feel hollow and her chest tighten to the point of pain. She had been nothing but stupid, entrusting her heart to a man who’d lied to her, played her for the naive fool, never telling her that he was married. As a result, she had unintentionally committed one of the most unforgivable sins ever: she’d become the other woman. It was why she would never trust another man. She had learned her lesson the hard way, tried to make amends, and was, from the bottom of her heart, sorry. But she’d been paying the price ever since.

Enough was enough. Gabe DeLuca, enemy numero uno, had cost her eleven jobs over the past six years. Eleven! At first she’d tried to be understanding and see things from his family’s point of view, but she was fed up. The minute she’d gotten the call from Ryo Wines offering Regan her dream job, she had packed up her life and moved Holly away from her friends and everything that was familiar, with the hope that they could find a fresh start here in St. Helena—and that didn’t include being pushed around.

Regan glanced at the ice cream, perspiring in the afternoon sun, and looked back at her car. She had been in town only a week, hadn’t even started her new job, and already her constant shadow had found her. No doubt he’d followed her here to get her fired—yet again.

Grabbing her cart, she took one, two, three steps backward, and