My newest Christmas romcom is coming out October 18th, 2022 and I wanted to share a sneak peek of Scrooging Christmas with you.
What would you do with a Scrooge? When Christmas-loving Natalie Fiorre goes head-to-head with perpetual Scrooge Gabe Cavanaugh all bets are off. Opposites clash over holiday cheer in this cheeky, Christmas romcom full of laughter and steam – the perfect holiday romance read.
Check out this sneak peek of Scrooging Christmas:
Sneak peek of Scrooging Christmas
December 21, 11:12 p.m.
The Christmas carols are horridly, ear-numbingly loud. The sleigh bells, the trilling trumpet, and the joyful voices boomerang inside my skull and jolt me out of unconsciousness.
I lie still, my cheek scratching against cheap, prickly carpet, the scent of pine and gasoline sharp in my nose as I struggle to brush aside the veil of confusion.
Darkness coats my vision, thick, and absolute. There’s the taste of fresh falling snow in the air, mixed with the copper tang of blood on my dry lips.
So, there’s snowfall.
The icy darkness of the cramped trunk.
My knees are tucked against my chest. Hot needles prick at my calves just above my tied ankles. My wrists are bound behind my back.
I wriggle my numb fingers, rotate my hands. It’s not rope, handcuffs, or zip ties that hold me, it’s…Christmas lights?
I’m tied up with the green cordage of a hundred Christmas bulbs?
The plastic cord digs into my wrists and ankles, cutting off circulation as I struggle. The trunk is coffin-like, too tight to maneuver.
You’d think, if you were bent on stuffing a six-foot-two man inside a trunk, you’d find a car bigger than a roller skate. But I’m trussed up like a Christmas goose, stuck in an oven. Except this oven is a trunk and achingly cold. The sharp icicle teeth of December bite at my nose and cheeks.
The crunch of ice-filled potholes and snow grinding under the car tires is muted beneath the chirpy high-pitched chorus of Christmas cheer. The carols assault my ears, but I listen for the sounds beyond the singing.
The night is curiously quiet, there’s only the music, the grumble of the engine, the tires crunching over ice-coated snow, and the claustrophobic noise of my own breathing.
I’m not in Manhattan then. Not anywhere near my apartment.
The car jostles around a curve and I roll and slide into the trunk wall, crushing my face against the unyielding metal surface.
A package bumps into my back, brushing against my hands. Wrapping paper, a frilly bow, I run my fingers over the slick paper surface.
I’m in the trunk with a present.
My stomach rolls as we round another curve, bumping over a small hill. I’m on a country road, far, far from home, that much is clear.
I jerk about and try to dislodge my cell from my suit pocket. Thirty seconds in I realize my phone isn’t in my pocket. I can’t feel the thick bulge of my wallet either.
I draw in a deep breath of stagnant air and tell myself to think…think…think.
They have to be after money. A million? Two? More?
I grit my teeth, the bitter smell of Christmas pine and snow lingering in my nose.
I don’t remember anything after hailing the taxi. Is that it then? Did the taxi driver render me unconscious and shove me into their trunk?
I try to recall their appearance, to picture who is currently at the wheel, driving us farther and farther away from New York. But I can’t. When I rifle through my memories, looking for their face, I only see a blank empty space.
I kick at the area where the tail light is. Maybe if I knock it out I can signal another car. But the only thing that comes of my efforts is an aching ankle.
I hate Christmas.
I really, really hate Christmas.
And wouldn’t it be just the figgy pudding to top it all if I died out in the snowy, pine tree wilds, in the car of some Christmas carol loving maniac?
A curious calm settles over me, the pine needle smell tickling my nose, my heartbeat slowing to the lull of “Silent Night.”
The car slows, crawling along at five miles an hour, winding down, I assume, a long country drive, deep in some craggy, forgotten woods.
This is it then.
My skin prickles from the icy cold, my blood pumps loud like a drum in my ears, the tang of gasoline and blood coats my mouth.
The car stops.
“Silent Night” cuts out mid note.
I hold still, barely allowing myself to breathe, listening. My muscles tense and a surge of adrenaline crashes through me.
The night is silent. It’s the silence that comes after a deep, wistful snowfall blankets the earth. For now, everyone and everything is quiet.
Then the front car door opens with a loud, pained creak, its hinges rusted and misused.
I lift my head, the carpet roughing my cheek as I turn toward the noise of snow crunching under boots. The car door slams like a gunshot and I stiffen.
This is it.
When they open the trunk, I’ll catapult at them, knock them aside, wrestle them to the ground, try…well, I’ll do whatever I can to overpower them.
I’m not easy prey. I’m not going down without a fight. No matter that I’m tied hand and foot. I won’t make this easy for them. No matter what, I’ll fight. I promise that.
Another footstep through the snow. I grip my right hand into a fist and strain at the ties. Another footstep.
Who are they? What do they want?
Another footstep, closer, the snow loud beneath their boots.
Why did it have to be Christmas?
I bite my tongue and shove down the unwelcome vision of a crooked Christmas tree decorated with a red and green paper chain, the scent of popcorn strung on thread, gingerbread baking in the oven, and the sound of laughter and “Deck the Halls” banged out on an out of tune piano.
They take three shuffling steps closer and pause at the trunk. And I realize the gingerbread smell isn’t a ghost from my memory, it’s them.
I can smell them through the trunk, the gingerbread flavor lingers mockingly on my tongue.
A cold chill grips me and I prepare to lunge. Escape.
They stand there for five seconds.
I can hear them breathing—loud, nervous pants.
They scuff their boots in the snow.
Suddenly, the trunk lid flies open.
The swirling cold wind bites me.
I don’t wait to orient myself. I jerk upright, lunge forward.
But instead of making a heroic leap, I hit the edge of the trunk and hurtle into the hard snow and ice drive.
The air knocks from my lungs and I gasp, struggling to draw in the freezing, dry air.
The night is deep, deep dark. Lit only by stars and a sliver of cold moonlight.
The silent air presses at me, as if it’s that terrifying eternal moment, between the exhale and the inhale.
Finally, I drag in a shuddering breath. My lungs fill with the flavor of bitter cold snow, cedar and pine, and yes, gingerbread, coated in sugary icing.
I struggle upright, digging my hands into the icy, hard-packed snow, and kick my tied ankles so that I move away from my abductor.
The snow bites my hands and the slick ice hisses as I scramble back. I fall over a snow bank and land in a ditch.
The soft snow exhales as I sink into the freshly fallen fluff, half-buried with a quiet whoosh. The snow has a peculiar way of dampening every noise.
I growl and bare my teeth as I turn to confront whoever was foolish enough to take me from Manhattan, shove me in a trunk, and bring me here. Wherever I am.
This is it.
Then, in the silver moonlight—tiny needle points of falling snow sparkling like crystals in the dark—I see her.
It’s lucky I’m already on the ground because seeing her hits me like the winds of a Nor’easter, ripping roofs off in a gale of destruction.
She’s backlit by the moon and lit by the obnoxiously flashing red and green Christmas bulb earrings and necklace she’s wearing.
There’s a reason she smells like gingerbread and Christmas spice. She’s Miss Christmas personified.
I curl my lip and blast her with an icy, contemptuous stare.
She’s in a red velvet dress that strokes her curves, a handmade snowflake scarf, and black winter boots topped with soft white fur.
There’s a halo of snow around her head, and she looks like a Christmas angel, or devil, more like.
Her bright red lips probably taste like candy canes stirred in hot chocolate, but I swear I’ll never know whether they do or not. Because this woman is trouble. She’s worse than trouble.
Her lips turn up, she smiles at me and waves, like she’s Mrs. Claus at the Thanksgiving Day parade.
Her dark, wildly curly hair, her freckles, her button nose, they all shout innocence. But there’s nothing innocent about her.
“You,” I growl, lacing that one word with everything I hate about Christmas, about Christmas spirit, and about this woman who thinks she can tie me up and cart me off to who knows where. “You are going to rot in prison for a very, very, very long time.”
She laughs. It’s low, throaty, and warm like a mulled cider in front of a toasty fire.
Her laugh strokes me and hits me down low, where even sitting in a freezing snow bank and loathing her with everything I am, I can’t stop my body from reacting.
Her smile spreads into a wide kid-on-Christmas-morning kind of grin and her eyes light up like the Christmas bulb earrings flashing at her ears.
Her nose crinkles with her smile and she walks over to the snow bank, her boots scraping over the snow. She puts her hands on her hips, and leans over me. Her warm breath puffs out in a whispery cloud curling between us.
Her candy cane-red lips purse together and then she winks. “Ho, ho, ho, Scrooge. And a Merry Christmas to you too.”
Did you love this sneak peek of Scrooging Christmas?
to find out what happens October 18th, 2022!