Welcome to the Christmas Swap!
I’m really excited to introduce my new release, Waking up to Dr Gorgeous, which is book one in The Christmas Swap duo which I wrote with Amy Andrews. Above are just some of the different covers!
Our brief was simply to write two stories where our characters swapped houses; the rest was up to us. Working out our characters and our stories and how we were going to fit them together was great fun. We took one character from the country and sent her to the city and moved a hero in the other direction; one country girl, one city boy, both out of their depth.
Luci and Flick are best friends and Seb and Callum Hollingsworth are gorgeous, smart, sexy brothers who happen to both be brooding loners in need of a bit of loving J.
My book, Waking up to Dr Gorgeous, tells Luci and Seb’s story and is set in Sydney. Here’s a little taste and check back later in the month for an excerpt from Amy from her book, Swept Away by the Seductive Stranger. And if you want to see all of the excerpts we’ve posted so far, please click the ‘Excerpts’ link on the Menu.
Luci hung her bath towel on the rail and slid naked between her bed sheets. She kept the window blinds up and the window slightly open. From the bed she could see the stars in the sky and the sound of the ocean carried to her on the warm spring air. The ocean murmured to itself as it lapped the shore. It was gentle tonight and she could imagine the waves kissing the sand, teasing gently before retreating, only to come back for more.
She dozed off to the sound of the sea.
It felt like only moments later that she woke to an unfamiliar sound. A slamming door.
She was still getting used to the different sounds and rhythms of the city. She could sleep through the early morning crowing of a rooster and the deep rumble of a tractor but the slightest noise in the middle of suburbia disturbed her. Rubbish trucks, the tooting of ferry horns, slamming of car doors and the loud conversations of late night commuters or drinking buddies on their way home from the pub all intruded on her dreams but this noise was louder than all of those. This noise was close.
She heard footsteps on the wooden floor boards and saw light streaming under her bedroom door as the passage light flicked on.
Shit, there was someone in the house.
What should she do?
No, that would only draw attention to herself.
Find a weapon of some sort? She’d seen a set of golf clubs but they were in a cupboard near the front door. She couldn’t get to them and there was nothing in the bedroom. Maybe a shot of hairspray to the face would work – if only she used hairspray.
Should she call the police? But how quickly would they get here? Not fast enough she assumed.
She had no idea what to do. She’d never had to fend for herself.
She sat up in bed and scrabbled for her phone in the dark. She was too afraid to turn on the light, worried it would draw the wrong attention. She clutched the bed sheet to her chest to cover her nakedness. Perhaps she should find some clothes first. She didn’t want to confront a burglar while naked.
She could hear him crossing the living room. The tread of the steps were heavy. Man heavy. She could hear boots. The steps weren’t light and delicate. Nor was he making any attempt to be quiet. There was a loud thump as something soft but weighty hit the floor. It didn’t sound like a person. A bag maybe? A bag of stolen goods?
Her heart was racing and the hurried thumping almost drowned out the sound of the footsteps. Which made her pause. This had to be the world’s noisiest burglar. She hadn’t had much experience with burglars but surely they would generally try to be quiet? This one was making absolutely no attempt to be silent. Plus he had turned the lights on. Definitely not stealthy.
He was a terrible burglar, possibly one of the worst ever.
But maybe he thought the house was empty? Perhaps she should make some noise? Enough noise for two people.
She heard the soft pop as the seal on the fridge door was broken. She frowned. Now he was looking in the fridge? Making himself at home. She was positive it wasn’t Callum. Luci had spoken to Flick earlier in the day. Callum had well and truly arrived in Vicker’s Hill and according to her friend he was creating a bit of a stir. Luci hoped he wasn’t going to prove difficult – he was supposed to making things easier for her dad, not harder, but Luci couldn’t do much about it. All it meant to her was that it wasn’t Callum in the apartment. And she was pretty sure by now that it wasn’t a burglar either but that still meant a stranger was in the house.
She needed to get dressed.
She switched on the bedside light and was half way out of bed when she heard the footsteps moving along the passage. While she was debating her options she saw the bedroom door handle moving.
Shit. They were coming in.
‘You’d better get out of here. I’ve called the police.’ She yelled, not knowing what else to do.
The door handle continued to turn and a voice said, ‘You’ve done what?’
When it became obvious that the person who belonged to the voice was intent on entering her room she jumped back into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin, grabbing her phone just in case she did need to call the cops.
‘I’ll scream,’ she added for good measure.
But the door continued to open and a vision appeared. Luci wondered briefly if she was dreaming. Her heart was racing at a million miles an hour but she had no clue as to whether it was due to nerves, fear, panic or simple lust. This intruder might just be the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on. Surely someone this gorgeous couldn’t be evil?
But then Ted Bundy sprang to mind. He was a good-looking, charming, educated man who just happened to be a serial killer. ‘Don’t come any closer,’ she said.
He stopped and held his hands out to his sides. ‘I’m not going to hurt you but who the hell are you and what are you doing in my room?’ he said.
Was this Callum? She was certain she’d chosen the guest bedroom but anyway, what was he doing here? He couldn’t have got back to Sydney that quickly. He was supposed to be a thousand miles away, staying in her house. That was how a house-swap worked. ‘Why aren’t you in Vicker’s Hill?’
‘What the heck is Vicker’s Hill?’
Luci frowned. ‘Who are you?’
He couldn’t be Callum. So whose room was she in exactly?
‘Seb. Seb Hollingsworth.’
‘You’re not Callum?’
A creased appeared between his superb blue eyes as he frowned. ‘No. I’m his brother.’
Luci almost missed his answer, distracted as she was by the thick, dark eyelashes that framed his eyes.
‘Brother!’ Why hadn’t Callum warned her? She sat up in the bed taking care to make sure the sheets stopped her from any sort of indecent exposure. ‘Callum didn’t mention you.’
‘So you do know Cal then?’
He lifted one eyebrow but said nothing.
Luci could play that game too. And she used the silent seconds to examine the vision a little more closely.
He really was gorgeous. Tall, really tall, with thick dark hair, chestnut she’d call it. He had eyebrows to match that shaded piercing blue eyes and a nose that may or may not have been broken once upon a time. His lips were full and pink but the two-day growth of beard that darkened his jaw prevented them from looking feminine.
His torso was bare but he held what appeared to be a black t-shirt in his hand. Just what had he been planning on doing? she wondered before she was distracted again by his broad shoulders and smooth chest. He reminded her of someone she thought as her eyes roamed over his body.
The Statue of David she thought.
Brought to life. He was made of warm flesh instead of cool marble but with the same, startling, level of perfection.
Her heart was still beating a rapid tattoo. Adrenalin was still coursing through her system but not out of fear. Now it was a simple chemical, or maybe, hormonal reaction.
‘I think you have some explaining to do,’ said the living, breathing statue.
In Luci’s opinion so did Callum, Seb’s absent brother, and she was blowed if she was going to explain herself while she lay in bed naked. She clutched the sheet a little more tightly across her breasts. ‘Let me get dressed and then we can talk.’
The corner of Seb’s mouth lifted in a wry smile and there was a wicked gleam in his blue eyes. Luci felt a burst of heat explode in her belly and she knew that the heat would taint her body with a blush of pink. She could feel the warmth spreading up over her chest and neck as Seb continued to stand in the doorway. Did he know the effect he was having on her? She had to get rid of him.
‘Can you give me a minute?’ she asked.
‘Sure, sorry,’ he replied, looking anything but sorry. ‘And while you’re at it,’ he added, glancing at the phone that was still clutched in her hand along with the bed sheet, ‘do you think you could ring the police and tell them it was just a misunderstanding? I don’t want the neighbours getting the wrong idea.’
‘I didn’t actually ring the police,’ Luci admitted.
He turned and left the room, pulling the door closed behind him and she could hear him laughing, a deep, cheerful sound that lifted her spirits.
Luci waited to hear his footsteps retreating before she was brave enough to throw off the sheets once more. She climbed out of bed on shaky legs and pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. She padded down the hallway to the open plan lounge and kitchen to find Seb with his head in the fridge giving her a very nice view of a tidy rear covered in denim. His bare feet poked out of the bottom of his jeans.
She stepped around a pile of luggage had been dumped beside the couch. A brown leather jacket was draped over a duffel bag and a motorbike helmet sat on the floor beside a pair of sturdy boots, the boots that had been stomping down the passage. There was a thick layer of reddish brown dust covering everything. Maybe he did live here.
She ducked through the kitchen and into the dining room where she stood on the far side of the table, putting some distance between them. Despite the fact that he looked like something created by Michelangelo and appeared to be related to the owner of the house she wasn’t prepared to take his word for it just yet. Until she’d decided he wasn’t Ted Bundy she wasn’t taking any chances.
He stood up and tuned to face her. His chest was now covered by his black t-shirt – that was a pity – and he had two small bottles of beer in his hand.
‘Beer?’ he asked as he raised his hand.
Luci shook her head.
He put one bottle back in the fridge, closed the door and then twisted the top off the other bottle and took a swig. He watched her as she watched him but he didn’t seem as nervous as her. Not nearly.
He stepped over to the table, pulled out a chair and sat down. He pushed the chair back and stretched his legs out. He was tall. His legs were long. He was fiddling with the beer bottle and she couldn’t help but notice that his fingers were long and slender too.
He lifted his blue eyes up to meet her gaze. ‘So, sleeping beauty, do you have a name?’
‘Luci,’ he repeated, stretching out the two syllables, and the way the ‘u’ rolled off his tongue did funny things to her insides.
‘So where’s my big brother? And why were you in my bed?’
Click on the links to be taken to the bookstores