A Christmas Proposition
“I need to get married…
And the only one who can help me is you.”
Trading one scandal for another, Stefanie Ferguson must marry to save her brother’s political career. Luckily, her brother’s best friend wants to help. But until this moment, Emmett Keaton has been off-limits. Now their convenient vows on Christmas Day unleash a passion too long denied. Will this marriage for scandal become a marriage for real?
Book 3, the Dallas Billionaires club series
Featuring Emmett Keaton & Stefanie Ferguson
Foreign versions of Lone Star Lovers are available in Australia and UK.
The Dallas Duchess
I didn't expect my fictitious renowned blogger, The Dallas Duchess to appear in the entire Dallas Billionaires Club series, but she kept cropping up! As a result, I've created her blog here on my website.
*WARNING*: If you haven't yet read the books you may encounter spoilers! You can visit the Dallas Duchess home page here.
“I was hoping you’d be awake.” She smiled brightly and even in the meager light leaking in from the streetlamp through the lace curtains he could see the pink tinge of her cheeks. “I had Margaret heat up a few more of these—and add some bourbon.” She bared her teeth in a bright grin. “I’ve already had one with bourbon.”
In spite of all that had haunted him this evening, he felt better already. She’d walked into the room and her presence had slain the demons.
“I’ll take it.” He flicked on a nearby lamp. “Nothing but nonalcoholic beverages in the room.”
“Well, then. You’re welcome.” She handed over the cider topped with whipped cream. He wasn’t sure this concoction would make a difference in his mood, but it was worth a shot.
She sipped and then licked the whipped cream off her upper lip. At the same time, they moved to sit on the end of the bed.
“Sorry,” she said.
“Go ahead.” He gestured, remaining standing.
She sat, patting the bedding next to her. He regarded the quilt for a beat before easing down next to her.
Curling her legs beneath her, she held the mug with both hands and hummed. “I love being warm.”
“In this drafty house that might be a challenge. I didn’t see a thermostat in this room.”
Her eyes went past him to his bed on the floor. “Is it cold down there?”
“You could always—”
“It’s fine.” Whatever she was about to suggest, he couldn’t let her. She wasn’t sleeping down there—or wedging herself onto the tiny sofa.
He drank his cider carefully to make sure it wasn’t too hot. It was perfect, and the sweet tang of bourbon welcome.
“Margaret has the hearth decorated with thick greenery and gold ribbon. Glass and glitter ornaments and nutcrackers that her children buy her every year.” Stef’s eyes were bright and happy. “Don’t you love Christmas?”
He nearly choked on his next sip.
“No.” He wasn’t sure what possessed him to tell the truth, but there it was.
“At all?” She regarded him like he’d announced he kicked puppies in his spare time.
“Not at all.”
He turned to face her and was struck dumb by the blue of her eyes. Stefanie Ferguson was a beautiful woman. He’d noticed before—it was impossible not to notice—but until now he’d never given himself the luxury to truly look at her.
She was royalty and he was more like a stable boy. In his mind, there’d never been a misconception about who she was and who he was—where she hailed from versus the rock he’d crawled out from under. She was whole, and he’d lost a chunk of himself a long time ago. Whatever passing admiration he’d felt for her in the past, he’d shut it down immediately.
“Did something bad happen?” she pushed.
“Yes.” He cleared his throat and stood, setting aside his warm drink, the whipped cream melted.
“Will you tell me about it?”
He faced her, hyperaware that she was dressed from head to toe and he was in his underwear. She noticed, too. He watched her take him in, her eyes sliding down his chest and lower.
Had she ever looked at him with anything other than disdain?
“It’s not a happy story, Stef. I’d rather let you keep your delusions that Christmas is magical and wondrous.”
A line formed between her eyebrows. “I’m not a child because I choose to see the good. Why not admit you’re too much of a coward to share what’s bugging you rather than lash out at me?”
Ah, familiar ground. With a sigh, he returned to the bed, arms resting in his lap. Maybe she was right. Maybe he was lashing out. His blurred reflection watched him from the dark television’s screen. His broad shoulders were slumped as he sat there like a stubborn giant. Stefanie sat delicate as a fairy, blond hair out of its ponytail and spilling over her shoulders, her chin down as she watched him through her lashes.
They were contrasting in every way.
The filthy-rich girl. The wrong-side-of-the-tracks guy. She’d been blessed by the gods and his luck always felt like it was on the verge of running out. He didn’t talk about his family tragedy for a lot of reasons, the dominating one being habit.
“Fine. Don’t tell me.” She stood and set her mug aside, but before she could huff off to the attached bathroom, he wrapped his fingers around her arm. Her eyes widened.
“Sorry.” He held up both hands. “I didn’t mean to—”
Rather than finish the thought, he scrubbed a palm over his short hair. “If you really want to know, I’ll tell you.”
Arms crossed, she hoisted an eyebrow in a proprietary manner, and waited.
The floor was his…