Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent Calender Day 9 - Excerpt

I was Christmas shopping yesterday, so I didn't have time to do much on the Advent Calendar, so we're going to just go with an excerpt. This is from Icecapade. It was part of Carina Press's His for the Holiday anthology. I did that one with LB Gregg, Harper Fox and Z.A. Maxfield. :-)

We'll keep it simple today. One randomly selected commenter will win a copy of Icecapade to keep or to have gifted to a friend.


On the eve of the new millennium, diamond thief Noel Snow seduced FBI special agent Robert Cuffe, then fled into the dawn. Now a successful novelist, Noel uses his capers as fodder for his books, and has modeled his hero's nemesis (and potential love interest) on Cuffe. Though he leaves Robert a drunken phone message every New Year's Eve, Noel hasn't seen or heard from him in a decade.

So he's thrilled when his former lover shows up at his upstate farm one Christmas Eve. Elation quickly turns to alarm when Robert accuses Noel of being responsible for a recent rash of diamond heists. Robert is all business and as cold as ice: it seems his only interest in Noel is to put him behind bars.

Innocent of the crimes, and still as attracted as ever to the oh-so-serious lawman, Noel plans a second seduction—providing he can stay out of jail long enough!



When he finished tying a neat mountain climber’s knot, he started to move away. Robert hooked a hand beneath his arm. “Hold it.”

He reached for Noel’s waist and double-checked the knot.

“It’s not Everest you know.”

“I know. It’s at least twenty feet down and there’s loose rock and ice.”

Noel nodded. “If this keeps up, I’m going to start thinking you care.”

“Always the wiseass. Just watch what you’re doing.”

“Piece of cake.”

“Please be careful,” Francis said as Noel squatted on the ledge.

“It’s okay, Francis.” Noel swung a leg over the edge. He kept his gaze trained on the tree the rope was tied to.

Mind over matter. You know what you’re doing. You’ve done it hundreds of times.

He ignored that sickening shift, the conviction that his equilibrium was sliding out from under him. His gaze dropped to his gloved hands gripping tightly to the outthrust rock. Snow dusted the black wool and he could see every sparkling crystal blazing like diamonds in the sunlight.

Slowly, cautiously, he felt with his right foot for a toe hold. There was another disorienting slide, but he knew—logic told him—that regardless of the message his body was sending, he was perfectly all right. He was not moving. The hillside was not moving.

A hand clamped down on his wrist.

Noel looked up.

Robert was leaning down, his head blotting out the sun, throwing his face in shadow. Even so, Noel could make out the predatory gleam of his eyes.

“What’s going on?”

“Huh?” Noel was confused. “Nothing’s going on.”

“Bullshit.” Robert leaned closer as though trying to read his face. “There’s something wrong with you. There’s a problem with your equilibrium, isn’t there?”

Talk about lousy timing. “It’s no big deal. All I have to d—”

“Get up. Get out of there.” The hand locked around Noel’s wrist, tightened. He couldn’t free himself without struggling and no way could he afford any fast moves balanced as he was.

“What is it? What’s happening?” Francis asked, looking worriedly from Noel to Robert. Daisy trotted up and down the opening, whining, Even the llamas were gargling at him. In another time and place it might have been funny.


“Change of plan,” Robert said, brisk and businesslike. “I’m climbing down and Noel will hang onto the rope.”

The hell.” Noel’s normal pragmatism gave way to affronted male ego.

Infuriatingly though, the rope looped around Robert’s large gloved mitt was already being retracted. He held his other hand out. His own balance apparently unshakable. “Come on, Noel. Let’s not waste any more time. You trying to climb down there is a very bad idea and you know it.”

Noel. It sounded natural coming from Robert. It sounded…nice. Which didn’t change the fact that he was totally incensed at being treated like he was helpless.

“No way. I can handle this. I just have to go slow. I’ve still got more experience than you have.”

“You have no idea of my experience. Now get up here.”

“You won’t fit through this opening.”

Robert laughed. “Now you’re being rude because you’re pissed off.”

Partly. Not entirely. Robert was going to be a tight fit. If he was in the least claustrophobic, it would be a no go.

“Chop chop. Little lost llama is waiting.”

“Oh for—” Noel slapped his gloved hand into Robert’s and let himself be drawn the rest of the way up. That change in angle and speed of movement sent his stomach plummeting and his balance skittering away. He had to close his eyes for a second, and that—as always—made it worse.

He stumbled up over the edge as Robert rose. Noel reeled into Robert’s solid chest. A hard supportive arm fastened around him and for a moment he leaned there while the world went spinning away. He could feel Robert’s heart pounding against his own through the canvas of his field jacket and the leather of Robert’s coat.

After a few seconds he became aware of Robert’s lips moving almost soundlessly against his ear. “If you think the earth moved just now, imagine what’ll happen when I fuck you.”

Noel’s head snapped up. He stared in wide-eyed disbelief. Had Robert…had he really whispered that or was Noel dreaming? Maybe Noel had slipped and knocked himself out because there was absolutely nothing to read on Robert’s face. Nothing but that funny glitter in his eyes.

Maybe Noel was finally losing it.

Or maybe Robert really had made the most astonishing statement Noel had ever heard.


  1. I love this story! I love that line! All of your holiday stories are so good, but I think I have a special place in my heart for this one.

  2. Surprise dirty talk when no one else can hear it, is always hot and sexy. It needs to happen more often.

  3. I loved this story - and I just used my gift code to get it on audio.
    -Andy Slayde

  4. i agree with previous commenters. i love this story as well. the description of robert as craggy faced made me think of a ’70s movie cop in a turtleneck.

  5. Damnit! *chucks another book on the re-read list*

  6. Icecapade! *swoons* my absolute favorite comfort read ever! :-)

  7. Reread this, your codas, and your I Spy series this wknd....

    1. I do think this is one of the more cozy stories. And I love their coda.

  8. I'm such a big fan of your Christmas stories and each time I read or listen to one I tell myself 'this one is my favorite.' I love the element of whimsy in each of them - an ocelot, llama, reindeer, assassin - that sets them apart from other holiday offerings. Plus it's the journey you take us on, along with the main characters, that make us the better for having come along.

  9. Now is the time for shameless begging:
    Please, please, please....I'll do anything, and I do mean anything. Up to and including painting your house. I also do windows. And bake brownies.
    Ok, time for the big guns.
    I will make TACOS.

    Have a very nice day, thank you for the excerpt. I have not read that one, yet. :-)

    1. Well, gosh! It is hard to resist shameless begging! :-D

  10. Replies
    1. You do not even want to know how much I love tacos. Probably my most favorite food ever. You know why? A zillion variations on the theme, and almost every single one of them a winner. Who could resist that?

  11. When I first read this story, I can't tell you how much I loved Noel. I identified with him...well, maybe not the diamond thief part, ;) but I deal with ongoing positional vertigo. I loved that I had a 'connection.' It is one on my favorite holiday stories. One of those that always made me want to visit them again, years later to see how they were doing, which is one of the reasons I loved their coda. That, and the excellent writing. :)

    1. Come on, Karan. We all know you were a diamond thief in your previous life. I don't know why you try to deny this! ;-D

  12. Haldis not fair to bring in the heavy hitter with TACOS. Hey I'll make CLAM DIP!!! Nyah!! Anyway How amazing is this??

    1. Yeah, I know exactly where to hit him. Although I don't know what the tacos will look like after sending them through the post. :-)

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  14. Hi Josh,

    It goes without saying I love the story. Noel and Robbie are so good for each other. But what I wanted to add is this: before the cover of Carina's Stranger on the Shore became my current all-time favorite, that place of honor used to be held by their cover of His for the Holidays. Still beautiful and so romantic. They definitely do well by you when it comes to covers. :)

    1. Aw! Thank you. I think Carina Press has done well by me with my covers. And that is no small thing!

  15. what a beautiful story! I love Icecapade. It's one of my comfort reads.

  16. I love this story!! (I already own it, of course.)

  17. Hola soy una lectora tuya pero..... en español¡¡¡. Me encanta sobre todo la serie "Los misterios de Adrien", los protagonistas son muy buenos, la ironia de Adrien es refrescante. En español sólo hay traducidos los dos primeros libros, espero tener el placer de poder leer más de ellos. Gracias y Feliz Navidad.

  18. I'd love to win a copy!!!

  19. One of my favorites! You had me at Noel's annual drunk dialing.

  20. I really loved this story. I am a big fan of second chances and love that survives the test of time :).


  21. Another annual holiday read, I love this story

  22. Our winner here is Haldis! It is hard to resist that kind of enthusiasm. :-D

    You know where to reach me...

    1. OMG. Thank you. Your tacos should be arriving by USPS sometime next week.

  23. hah awesome, you know someone cares when they arbitrarily take over the one chore that frightens your sense of equilibrium.