Melanie Woods has been waiting by the Christmas tree every year in the hope of seeing the Yule Cat one more time. When he doesn’t appear, she finally decides it is time to let go of her childhood fantasies and replace them with some very adult ones involving the gorgeous owner of an amazing, Christmas-themed bakery.
No one would guess that North Cotter is actually the Lord of the North Wind—more popularly known as the Yule Cat. No one except the child who stole her way into his heart when he was supposed to be taking her to the Yuletide Kingdom to offer as tribute to the Winter Queen. Banished by the Winter Queen when he fails to deliver, North is happy to remain in exile, making pastries that delight palates both mortal and immortal.
North’s solitary life changes when a blue-eyed beauty shows up on the steps of his bakery, having won a Christmas Eve baking lesson. He and Melanie are cooking up some Christmas magic that he hopes will last forever—if the Winter Queen doesn’t put a freeze on them. Will the fires of his and Melanie’s love be enough to melt the frozen heart of the Winter Queen, or will they be forced to spend their eternity together in a land of endless cold?
Main Content: Approximately 25,000 words, 105 (5.5 x 8.5) pages
She had watched for him under the Christmas tree every year since, just as she still planned to do tonight. She hadn’t dressed up for North, she had dressed up for the Yule Cat. How pathetic was that? Now, she was standing in front of the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen, who inexplicably seemed interested in her, and thinking about how she needed to be home before midnight just in case this was the year that the Yule Cat returned for her to take her to a magical wonderland.
Unless she was done waiting. Unless it was finally time to move on and grab what was real and in front of her, even if it was only hers for a brief moment.
North didn’t seem like the kind of guy to settle down. Why would he, as gorgeous and charming as he was? He gave off definite ‘player’ vibes. Maybe this once, she was ready to play.
He was still staring at her, very much like he wanted to eat her up. She stepped forward, hoping he would do the same. His warmth seeped into her as he swayed in place, his gaze filled with uncertainty.
She took another step, closing the distance between them. He started to lean down when her stomach let out a huge growl. Her eyes widened as her hand flew to her abdomen, mortification chilling the heat from a moment before.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I was in such a hurry, I think I might have forgotten to eat.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a granola bar.
“What the hell is that?” he said, his voice lower and rumblier than before.
“This? It’s a granola bar.”
“I know it’s a—” He let out an exasperated gasp. “That’s not dinner. That’s… sawdust.”
“It’s good enough for now.” She gestured to the stand mixer and said, “We have baking to do.”
He made a disgusted snort, then turned around and flipped up the top of the mixer. After detaching the bowl quickly, he pulled out some plastic wrap and covered the dough. With his long legs, it only took him a few strides to reach one of the big fridges in the kitchen. He tossed the bowl inside and turned off the oven on his way back to her.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
She laughed, trying to hide her embarrassment. “I’m okay.”
“I’m not. I can’t have you being hungry and I sure as hell am not going to let you eat that dry piece of—” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, visibly working to calm himself down. “I’m cooking you dinner.”
Dinner? He cooked, too? And wanted to cook for her? Her stomach did a little flip, then let out another loud growl. She actually scowled at it, then turned her frown at him.
“That’s too much to ask,” she said. “It’s okay, really.”
“It’s not okay and I don’t recall you asking for anything. As a matter of fact, neither am I.”
She wasn’t sure what he meant by that until he ducked down, planting his shoulder against her hips, then stood, taking her with him. She ended up draped over one shoulder, feet and arms flailing on either side of him. Her face was just above his butt. The view was so good, some of the fight went out of her. She still shimmied in his grasp, prompting a swift swat to her rump.
She went still, and said, “Did you just spank me?” her voice incredulous.
Let’s see how he likes it.
Impulsively, she reached out and swatted his butt. He stood straighter as he sucked in a quick breath. His grip on her waist tightened and he let out a sound that she swore sounded like a purring growl.
“Harder next time,” he said.