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THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS
by Debbie Mason

Genre: General Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Romance

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She gave him an offended look. “I did not destroy your town or the holiday. And it wasn’t—”

“Really? It’s a little less than a month before Christmas, and with your slick report and its fancy charts and statistics, you’ve stolen this town’s hope for the future. So you tell me, what kind of holiday are we going to have with that hanging over our heads?” He grabbed the first aid kit and started to walk away before he gave in to the urge to shake her.

“Hey, this is not my fault. I had no choice but to—”

He turned to look at her. “Yeah, try telling that to the folks waiting for you in the town hall. You’re real good with numbers, Ms. Lane. Let’s see how you do when you have to look those people in the eye and explain—”

She scowled at him. “I’m not going to explain anything to anyone. I’m not going to stick around so a bunch of small-minded bullies can make me their punching bag. I’ve already suffered a broken nose because of—”

“Your nose isn’t broken, and your mouth looks a hell of a lot better than it did in that stick-up-your-ass picture of you in the paper.”

Her jaw dropped. She made a furious noise in her throat, slammed the door, and revved the engine.

Gage lurched forward at the same time as the SUV. He wrenched the door open. “What the hell are you thinking?” he said, leaning across her to grab the key from the ignition. He jabbed his finger at the wooden Santa. “He could’ve come through the windshield, and you would’ve had a lot more to worry about than a sore nose and swollen mouth.”

She’d gone pale, her bottom lip quivering. “I-I thought I had it in reverse.”

“Don’t even think about crying.”

She sniffed.

No way was he going to feel sorry for her. “I mean it. You brought this on yourself. Now come on.” He moved to take hold of her arm.

She jerked away. “I’m not going anywhere, especially with you. I don’t like you, Sheriff McBride.”

“Good, since I’m not particularly fond of you either, Ms. Lane. Now, there are about two hundred people who have spent the last hour waiting for you. You owe them the courtesy of at least showing up.”

She leaned back against the headrest and shook her head. “I have a headache, and my nose hurts.”

Gage hardened his heart. After all, she wasn’t really hurt. “Too bad. You should’ve thought about that before you decided to run over Santa.”

“Give me my keys,” she demanded through clenched teeth.

Screw it. The citizens of Christmas deserved some answers. He hauled her from the SUV.

“Sorry, Ms. Grinch, but you’re coming with me.”