Valentine’s Day Extra: Q & A

qablog

I decided to have some fun with today’s blog. So I had my Street Team, Cain Raisers pose some questions for the characters in Saving Evangeline and Tempting Jo.  Questions were censored to not give away the books. They’re impatient to answer, so here we go!

QUESTIONS FOR REMI

Luc: Why does he get to go first?

Remi: I’m her favorite.

Rafe: *looks bored*

Nancee: I pulled names out of a hat. No one is a favorite. Let’s get started.

Remi, you use an in-your-face approach with Evie. Were you ever afraid it was too much?

Remi: Nope. She needed it. I had to snap her out of her depression so she could see how beautiful life is. I mean, you all have it pretty great down here. Fast cars, cigarettes, carnival rides–

Luc: Fast women, don’t forget the fast women…

All three angels nod and grin. Jo and Evie glare at Luc.

*thunder booms* All three angels shift uncomfortably.

Evangeline: Great, I hope my hair doesn’t frizz if it rains. And let me just add, Remi can be a real ass at times.

Rafe and Luc laugh.

Remi: Hold on Crazy Girl, let me finish. Plus, I had to shake her up. I mean, when I met her, that girl was a hot, stinkin’ mess. Literally. She stunk.

Evangeline: And you think your cigarettes smell good?

Remi, did you ever consider sticking around, maybe turning human?

Remi: Uh, well, yeah, being human might be fun. Except old man farts and nose hair. Not my style.

*Evangeline punches him on the arm*

QUESTIONS FOR EVANGELINE

Evangeline, what attracted you to Remi?

Evangeline: You’re joking, right? Look at him. He’s gorgeous. And that priest collar kinda makes him look even sexier. *winks*

Jo: *whispers* Rafe’s handsomer.

Luc: *rolls eyes* Puh-lease.

Evangeline: And he’s a pretty great listener. Even when he can be annoying as hell.

Luc: There’s nothing annoying about hell. Warm weather, hedonism, great place. You should visit sometime.

QUESTIONS FOR JO

Jo, did you really feel a connection with Luc?

Jo: He really isn’t that bad.

Rafe and Remi: Yes, he is!

*sound of ruffling feathers*

Luc: I take offense to that remark, Jolene.

Jo, what is your favorite word of the week?

Jo: malapropism

Luc grins and Rafe kisses her.

QUESTIONS FOR RAFE

Rafe, would you ever tell your kids about your past?

Jo: What past? What did you do? *narrows eyes* Do I need to open up a can of whoop-ass on someone?

Luc: Yep, him. *smirks and points at Rafe*

Rafe: I don’t think parents need to reveal everything to their children. We’re all entitled to some secrets. *glares at Luc*

Jo: What secrets, Rafe?!

Rafe whispers in Jo’s ear. Jo blushes.

Jo: Next question.

Rafe, did you truly worry you’d lose Jo?

Rafe: Of course, not.

*thunder rumbles*

Luc: Liar. When is it my turn for questions? I’m bored with Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes.

QUESTIONS FOR LUC

Luc, what is one TRUTH about yourself that people would find hard to believe?

Luc: *imitates Jack Nicholson* and quotes, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ (from A Few Good Men)

Rafe: You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you in the ass.

Remi: Okay, Cowboy

Luc *high fives* Remi.

Luc, did you develop true affection for Jo?

Luc: I refuse to answer on the grounds that anything I say, can and will be, used against me.

Jo winks, nods and grins.

Rafe snarls.

Remi and Evangeline snicker.

Luc, do you have any regrets?

Everyone turns their attention toward Luc.

Luc: Next question, please.

Nancee taps her foot, waiting. Luc glares.

Luc: Oh, all right. Once, there was this attractive redhead…

Nancee interrupts.

Luc, what are your base thoughts about females?

Luc: Why do I get all the hard questions? I love women. I think they’re beautiful and fun to fu– *thunder booms*

Remi, Rafe and Luc, do you ever go through spiritual crises?

Rafe: Of course. We all have fears, low points, anger, doubts. Without doubt, there isn’t true faith. They aren’t mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, they go hand in hand. How could we, as angels, understand the human condition without experiencing it?

Remi: What he said.

Luc: Much as I hate agreeing with him, ditto.

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A Festivus Miracle, a Tempting Jo Prequel

tjfestivus

I sit at my desk, glaring at the door, waiting on my morning newspaper and daring someone to interrupt my foul mood. Why did the Boss have to choose that do-good fucker, Raphael, to interfere with my plans for the lovely Jolene? Why not Remiel? At least he has a sense of humor.

As expected, the timid knock sounds. I envision fire erupting from my mouth, as I command, “Enter.”

Jolene pokes her head through the door. “Uh, Mr. DeVille, sir, I, uh–” Her unintelligible speech is interrupted by an infuriated feline screech.

“Why is there a cat in my office?” I narrow my eyes at the squirming white beast in Jolene’s arms. The impertinent feline glares back and hisses.

“M-my cat, Atticus escaped, and I uh, have to take him home.”

Her eyes are wide and the pulse in her neck pounds. I eye the white fur on her black sweater with distaste. Jolene inches toward me trying to control the growling, hissing, fractious feline. She places my morning paper on my desk.

“Get that disgusting animal out of here,” I snap. I’ve never been a cat person.

Apparently, the feelings are mutual. For at that moment, the animal leaps from Jolene’s arms on to my desk and proceeds to hack up a fur ball the size of a golf ball on my pristine paper.

Jolene’s face pales and her hands shake as she picks up the puker, cooing at him as if he was the one just wronged. “I-I’m sorry, sir. I’ll clean it up, just let me take him home first.”

“You expect me to sit here with the stench of cat puke permeating my office while you take your cat home? I’m not cleaning this, you are. Now.” I roar.

“I’m sorry, he didn’t mean it, sir. I would’ve taken him home first but you insist on having your paper on your desk precisely at 8:01.” The smug cat appears to be grinning at me as he purrs in Jolene’s arms.

“Get out.” I keep my voice level, face impassive. I don’t want her to know how much pleasure I get watching her squirm.

She lifts that stubborn chin. “Make up your mind, sir. Clean the mess first or take Atticus home?”

I love her gumption, it’s part of her appeal. I fold the vomit-soaked paper and shove it in my garbage. “Take that animal home and then you and I are going to have a nice little chat.” I smile, but my displeasure colors my tone of voice. I turn my chair and in the reflection of the window, I see my assistant bob a smart-ass curtsy. I bite my lip to keep from laughing. She never fails to intrigue me. Her cat flicks his tail with feline disdain, as if to say fuck you.

***********

Good grief, of all days for this to happen. The day of the stupid office Christmas party. I’m both relieved my cat’s okay and furious with him for putting me in this predicament.

Atticus had shot out of my basement apartment as I was leaving for work this morning. No amount of coaxing had drawn him back to me. I’d been sitting at my desk folding Mr. DeVille’s paper and crying, thinking my beloved, mean old cat was gone for good. I heard him meowing and looked up to find him in a co-worker’s arms.

“Lose something?” He’d teased. I didn’t take the time to ask how he knew it was my cat.

Everything would have been fine if I’d just given my friend the key to my apartment and asked him to take my cat home. I need to learn to think! I unlock the door to my apartment and Atticus marches in as if he hasn’t just cost me my job. I run to the corner newspaper box, but of course, with my luck, the box is empty.

No! I stomp my foot and look around, wondering where I could find another paper. I see a business man at the bus stop scanning the last page of the paper. I approach him.

“Sir? If you’re done with your paper, may I buy it from you?”

He looks at me as if I’ve lost my mind. Which I probably have. Giving Mr. DeVille a used paper? I truly am going to be fired… I turn to walk back to the office, mentally packing my desk.

“Miss? You can have it, but I have to keep the coupons for my wife.”

I spin on my heels and shake his hand, thanking him profusely. Coupons aren’t a problem, Mr. DeVille makes me remove them, anyway. Maybe this will at least buy me some time before I’m fired. Folding the paper the way my finicky boss likes it; I scurry back to the office.

I knock, but there’s no answer. Cautiously, I open his door and peek in. He’s gone. The office smells of Clorox. I tiptoe in and place the paper on his desk. I glance at his notepad and giggle. He’s drawn a pretty good likeness of Atticus, even if it is mean-spirited.

atticus

I pick up the folded note with “Friday” written on it. Mr. DeVille isn’t listing things for today. It’s what he calls me because he doesn’t remember my name.

Reschedule my barber appointment. I’ve been called to an emergency board meeting. I expect the files for the upcoming merger on my desk when I return. Make sure all plans for tonight’s mandatory Christmas party are in place. No mishaps will be tolerated.

I smile. I’m not fired. It’s a Festivus Miracle! And I didn’t even have to hear the airing of his grievances!

© Nancee Cain 23 Dec 2016

tjcoversmall
 

Forbidden love is hell…

Confident and quirky, Jo Sanford thinks her boss is God’s gift to women–and she couldn’t be further from the truth. Devilishly handsome, Luc DeVille will stop at nothing to lure his administrative assistant right into his arms–and bed.

Over Rafe Goodman’s dead body…

Rafe, Jo’s best friend, refuses to sit by and watch as Luc tries to win the heart of the woman he’s always protected. After all, Rafe is her guardian angel. Suddenly, Jo’s caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil. But the closer she gets to the fire, the hotter it burns. Now, Jo’s going to learn that when love battles lust, Heaven and Hell collide.

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Jo’s Christmas Gift

 

This is a prequel to my paranormal romance, Tempting Jo.

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The office Christmas party is in full swing, complete with one drunken moron copying his butt on the copier. In the corner, I spot Tweedle Ditz and Tweedle Dumb hanging all over our boss like cheap tinsel on a Christmas tree. To my dismay, Mr. DeVille doesn’t seem to mind one bit. I catch him leering at the twins’ inappropriate, low-cut blouses. My mood darkens. Just once, I wish he’d look at me like that. At least I can add two plus two. Working together, I doubt the twins could count to fifteen. But with boobs like theirs, I guess they don’t need to. I’m not proud of my jealousy, but it is what it is.

For lack of anything else to do, I focus on removing Atticus’s white fur from my black, claw-picked sweater. I’m the only one not drinking and I fit in this party atmosphere like a preacher on Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras. Having grown up with an alcoholic father and pill-popping mother, I’m uncomfortable in situations like this.

Mr. DeVille approaches and I stand up straighter, my heart racing. His crooked Santa hat looks strangely out of place on my GQ-handsome boss. Resisting the urge to straighten it, instead, I bat my fake eyelashes and pray the toilet paper I stuffed into my bra doesn’t fall out.

“Something in your eye? Having fun, Friday? Need a drink?” He lifts his glass of champagne. I’m a mere minion to him, not worthy of him bothering to remember my name is Jolene. But, I bask in his attention anyway because I’m just a tad in lust with my boss.

“I’m good, sir.” I raise my punch glass, wishing he’d notice me when he’s not under the influence.

He turns and winks at one of the twins. Behind his back, I roll my eyes and sigh. Apparently, no amount of bra stuffing can compare to silicone. I plaster on a fake smile when he turns his attention back to me.

“What do you mean you’re good? That’s an adjective. Are you saying you’re an angel, or do you mean you feel well? Or, are you trying to articulate that you don’t require anything at this time?” He raises one eyebrow, waiting on my response.

While I’m relieved he hasn’t pointed out my poor grammar in front of my coworkers, it’s a tad annoying. If he weren’t a damnyankee he’d accept ‘I’m good’ the way it was meant. But then he flashes his panty-melting smile and my mind blanks.

“I’m teasing, Friday. Relax and have fun, it’s a party! Want to sit on my lap and tell me what you desire for Christmas? I bet you’ve been a very naughty, little girl.” He waggles his eyebrows and his grin widens.

I’d love to sit on his lap. But in my fantasies, we’re alone and naked. I cross my fingers behind my back, praying I didn’t just say that out loud.

Mr. DeVille’s head snaps up and his brows knit together. “Sonofabitch,” he hisses, snatching his Santa hat off his mussed, blond hair. Are those flames flickering in his blue eyes? I put my cup down, wondering if someone spiked my punch.

“What’s he doing here?” The venomous tone makes me shiver. Who has him so riled?

Looking across the room, my mouth drops. My childhood friend, Rafe Goodman, strides through the party smiling and nodding at my co-workers, stopping to shake hands with a few. He has the easy gait of a man who’s comfortable in his own skin. I’ve always admired this quality about him. Tweedle Ditz and Tweedle Dumb practically trip over their tongues and I feel a strange sense of protectiveness.

“Dammit, I told him he could start Monday. Leave it to Mr. Holier-Than-Thou to show up and put a damper on the office party.” Mr. Deville drains his champagne and signals one of the twins to refill his glass.

“He’s going to work here?” I squeal and rush toward the best friend I’ve ever had. When I was a little girl, Rafe saved me. Literally. He found me lost in the woods after I’d run away from home. Even though he was a few years older, he took me under his wing and became my confidante and savior.

He grunts as I barrel into him. “Um, hello. Do I know you, Miss?” His familiar smirk widens into a grin.

“Rafe!” Embarrassment over my emotional display heats my cheeks. He laughs and pulls me into a bear hug. Although we haven’t been in touch for years, his presence brings an instant sense of peace and familiarity that I’ve missed. I’m reluctant to let go and my emotions clog my throat.

Still clutching his arms, I gaze up at him.  The premature gray at his temples and laugh lines beside his dark eyes make him more attractive than ever. Ten years ago, I developed a huge crush on him, but he left for college before anything came of it. His eyes widen.

“Yikes, is that a spider on your cheek?” He swats my fake eyelash to the ground and stomps on it.

I peel off my remaining eyelash. “So, what are you doing here? It’s been ages since I’ve seen you. Where have you been? It’s like you disappeared from the face of earth.” I pick a white feather off his jacket and needlessly smooth his lapel, not wanting to break contact. Having him here is such a surprise, I’m afraid I’m dreaming.

He grabs the feather from me and shoves it in his pockets, looking as embarrassed as I was with my eyelash fiasco. “Um, yeah, sorry about that. Correspondence isn’t my thing. I’ve been all over, working.” He pulls his gaze to mine and brushes a strand of my hair off my face. “It’s great to see you, too, Jo. You look great. Where’s the tomboy I left behind? Frankly, I’m relieved to see a familiar face. It’ll be nice having a friend in this den of hell.”

I nod. Just three hours ago these men were cutthroat sales rivals, vying for Mr. DeVille’s approval. Now they’re hanging on each other like frat brothers. One of them trips and grabs my ass.

“Well hullo there, Jody,” he slurs.

I roll my eyes. Doesn’t anyone know my name? I attempt to remove his hand from my bottom. It isn’t the first time he’s tried to cop a feel. I’m aware my butt provides a generous handle to hang on to, but I’m uncomfortable. I slap his hand away, but he only laughs. Rafe hauls the lech off me, jerking him by his tie and whispers something I can’t hear. The drunk backs away, hands up, and then flees like the place is on fire.

“Do you want to stay here or can we leave?” Rafe glares at the room in general and straightens his red tie. He sneers at Mr. DeVille and the animosity between them is palpable over the frivolity of everyone else.

“I’d love to, but it’s my job to clean up after the party.”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday. Do it then, or are you going home for the holidays?”

“I am. I need to stay here and study, but I don’t want to disappoint my brother. He needs the company and has already planned the meal for when he gets off work…”

“You work and go to school? Jo, honey, everyone needs a break now and then. Why don’t you just relax? I’m sure Johnny Way would understand.”

His offer is so tempting I want to cry. The truth is, I’m dog-tired. “Maybe we could just grab a cup of coffee? I’m going to need the caffeine boost to clean this place.”

His smile broadens and it’s like witnessing the sun rising after a storm. I realize Rafe is no longer the boy I once knew; he’s a man, and devastatingly handsome. He could give Mr. DeVille a run for the money in the looks department. The females in the office who aren’t passed out at their desks openly ogle him.

For spite, I hook his arm and sidle closer. I kinda hope Mr. DeVille sees and experiences just a fraction of the jealousy I feel when he flirts with the twins. “Let’s expeditate our departure.”

Rafe laughs long and hard. “Say, what? Are we declawing Mr. Devil of his hooves?” We’re now the center of attention.

“No, I meant let’s leave fast, before anyone stops us–is the word extricate? Hey wait a minute, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say about our boss. Especially since you don’t even know him.” Aside from Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Ditz, I have to admit most of my co-workers would probably agree with him.

“He has thick skin; he can take it. Extricate is closer but I think you mean expedite.” He pulls me toward the door. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

“Do you know Mr. DeVille?”

“Our paths have crossed a few times.” Grabbing his coat, he wraps it around my shoulders, as if he knew I didn’t have one. Some things never change; he’s always seemed to know just what I needed. In the parking garage, I unlock the door next to the elevator. It’s the only perk of cleaning the office building; I get to live here rent-free.

“Welcome to my home. If it’s okay with you, can we just stay here? I have coffee.”

Rafe nods and loosens his tie and unbuttons his collar. “Fine with me. Being new to the area, I’m still getting my bearings.”

Now that I’m here my exhaustion takes hold. If I were honest, I’d tell Rafe I just want to curl up with my mean old cat and take a nap before tackling the office cleaning. But I don’t want to be rude. Instead, I warn, “Watch out for Atticus, he doesn’t like company.”

My cat glares at me, swishing his tail with typical feline disdain. Rafe scoops him up and my cranky pet purrs, making a liar out of me. Typical. I flip the coffeemaker on and kick off my shoes.

“Hey there, Atticus, you’re a good boy, aren’t you?” Rafe murmurs. The cat who hates everybody gives my friend a head-butt and his purring intensifies. Has hell just frozen over?

“I’m going to get comfy. Just make yourself at home. Coffee will be ready in a few.” I place Rafe’s coat on the lone chair in my studio apartment and slip into the bathroom. It just takes me a minute to change into my oversized sweatshirt and Wonder Woman lounge pants. When I return, I find Rafe propped on my bed, channel surfing. Beside him, Atticus gives me a smug look of ownership.

“What would you like to watch?” He moves Atticus to make room for me.

“I don’t care.” I grab my coffee and crawl beside him, smiling. A sense of peace surrounds us. There’s no need to chatter, there’s no awkwardness. It’s as if we’ve never been apart. He stops flipping the channels when he comes across Miracle on 34th Street.

“I love this movie!” Rafe grins and settles in, thumping his pillow.

I grimace. “Really? It’s so corny. When the kid doesn’t believe is the only realistic part of the movie.”

He nudges me. “Not so, miracles do exist. When did you become so cynical?”

“I don’t know, maybe when I grew up?” My yawn escapes despite my effort to suppress it. “Besides, if miracles existed, our hot boss would notice me as more than his efficient assistant,” I mutter, still annoyed Mr. DeVille spent more time with the twins.

Rafe’s smile fades and his brows pull together. “Oh, trust me. He’s noticed you, just not in a good way.”

“From your lips to God’s ears.” I pat his cheek, liking the way his designer scruff feels. I yawn, again. “I’m sorry I’m not better company.” I curl into his rock-hard chest. His presence has always comforted me. For some reason, now that he’s here, I can truly relax. My heavy eyelids drift close and I whisper, “I’m glad you’re here and going to be working with me…”

“I’ll always be here for you, Jo. That’s a promise. Now just rest.” He pulls a quilt over me and I sleepily wonder if he’s going to kiss me good night…

***

Jo’s coffee tips perilously close to my lap and I quickly move it. Pulling her closer, I impulsively kiss her forehead. The scent of summer roses takes me back in time. When her home life was unbearable, she’d escape to the small pond surrounded by wild roses. We’d fish or talk until it was safe for her to return.

She views me as a friend. I am, but so much more. I’m her guardian angel, and she needs my protection now more than ever. Jo doesn’t realize her boss is my fallen brother. And for whatever reason, he’s taken an interest in her. I vow to defend her no matter the cost.

Jo snuggles in closer and I wrap both arms around her, wishing we could stay like this forever. I don’t move, afraid of disturbing her, despite the cramp in my neck. The lavender circles surrounding her eyes are testament to her exhaustion. She needs to slow down and take care of herself.

“I’m sorry I’m not much company,” she murmurs, her eyes still closed. “Please don’t go, I want to catch up… I need to stay awake… I have to clean the office…”

“A nap won’t hurt you.” I watch her sleep; I’ve always loved watching her sleep. But she’s not the little girl I remember. She’s a woman. Her hair spreads across her pillow and I wrap a soft chestnut curl around my finger. Her cheek rests on her folded hands and a soft smile lingers as she slips deeper into sleep.

Switching off the lamp, I place another soft kiss on her forehead. “Sweet dreams, Jo. You’re safe now. I’m here.”

She rolls onto her back, eyes still closed, and whispers, “I’m always safe with you. You’re my knight in shining armor, my Superman.” Her hand grabs mine and she turns over, pulling me with her. I’m on top of the cover spooning her delicious butt and having un-guardian-angel-like thoughts.

And there isn’t a damn place I’d rather be.

***

I slowly wake from the best sleep I’ve had in ages. The pillow covering my head moves and morning breath assaults my nose. Irritated, I throw the pillow and glare at Atticus. “You need to go to the vet for a teeth cleaning.” I pluck a white feather from his mouth wondering where it came from. Unfazed by my disgust, he meows incessantly until I feed His Majesty.

Starting a fresh pot of coffee, the tiny apartment seems cavernous without Rafe’s big personality. Was it just a dream? The dent in the other pillow tells me otherwise. I miss him, but I don’t have time to dwell on why. It’s already six in the morning and I still need to clean the office before heading home.

I take my coffee with me to fortify me for the overwhelming task of cleaning up after drunks. I’m used to it. This was my job growing up. At least I get paid to do it now.

The elevator opens and I rub my eyes. Am I still sleeping? The place is spotless, the Christmas decorations gone. It looks like any normal business day. How did this happen? Did Mr. DeVille feel sorry for me and hire someone to do it? I giggle, knowing that’s about as likely as a snowball in hell. We didn’t even get a holiday bonus, just that lousy party. Or did my co-workers clean up after themselves? Again, highly unlikely.

I check all the offices and the break room and find no remnants of the party. On my desk is a vase with a single pink rose and a white feather and a sticky note.

Merry Christmas, Jo.

Always believe in miracles.

Yours forever, Rafe

I should’ve known Rafe was responsible. I angrily dash my tears away. I must still be tired. Why else would I be reacting like I’m in one of those corny holiday movies he loves? Scribbling a quick thank you note I leave it on his desk. I wish I’d asked him for his number. I’d not only thank him; I’d invite him to spend Christmas with Johnny Way and me.

***

It took a lot of coaxing, but I finally convinced my older sibling to let me put up a few decorations. Our empty stockings hang on the mantle, and a tiny, pre-decorated tree sits next to Lynn’s picture. There are no gifts, nor are any expected. I don’t have the money, and although Johnny Way is a good brother, he isn’t demonstrative or sentimental. I doubt a gift even crossed his mind. Lynn was the shopper and the one who orchestrated our Christmas celebrations. Even when she was sick, she’d order the perfect gift from a catalogue. This is our first holiday without her and it’s going to be hard. She was more like a mom than a sister-in-law, and I’m sure my brother volunteered for these extra shifts to bury his pain. I’m finished baking the sugar cookies, and the house smells divine.

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But now that the work is done, I feel lost. Being alone can be miserable. Being alone on Christmas Eve is downright depressing. However, it beats the drunken brawls from my childhood. Since I don’t have a present, I decide to write a letter to Johnny Way telling him how much he means to me. He’ll think it ridiculously mushy and watching him squirm will be present enough for me.

An hour later, I push my books aside realizing studying is a lost cause. I don’t feel like watching sappy holiday movies, and I’m not in the mood for Christmas carols. I thumb through the playlists on my phone and put it on a generic playlist.

A log shifts in the fire and I curl up on the couch wishing I still believed in Santa. People wonder why I stay so busy. Deep down, I know why. I’m running from loneliness. Feeling sorry for myself, I wish Atticus was here to snuggle. The dumb cat hid behind the refrigerator this morning, and no amount of coaxing would get him to come out. As much as I hated doing it, I had to leave him home alone with plenty of food and water, and a new, catnip mouse.

The doorbell rings, interrupting my pity party. It’s almost midnight, who could it be? My father’s in prison and my mother went to visit him. Santa? I shake my head at my own whimsical thinking. I peek through the peephole and gasp when I see the corner of a red hat with white fur.

Cautiously, I open the door.

“Ho, ho, ho!”

“That’s what he said,” I quip, quoting The Office and laughing. “What are you doing here?”

“I heard Santa was skipping your house because you don’t believe in him, so I’m taking up the slack.”

I throw myself in Rafe’s arms and his fake white beard tickles my damp cheek.

“Hey, now. No crying, it’s Christmas. This was supposed to be a happy surprise.” He tosses two packages onto the coffee table and strokes my hair.

“I can’t help it I’m overwrought with emotion,” I sniffle.

Rafe chuckles. “I think the word overcome would work better.” A loud wail sounds from the doorstep and I duck under his arm.

“Atticus!” I pull my cat from his carrier and he begrudgingly tolerates my kisses. I look up at Rafe. “How did you get him?”

“I, uh, stopped by your place to see if you’d left yet and heard him crying.”

“But how did you get in my apartment?” I rise holding my purring cat and close the door with my hip.

“The magic of Christmas.” He winks and gives Atticus a scratch behind his ears.

“Magic?”

“Okay, I broke in with my credit card. You really need a better lock.”

I laugh. “You do know my brother’s a sheriff, right?”

“Yeah, but it’s out of his jurisdiction and I didn’t leave any fingerprints.” He peels off his hat and fake beard, sniffing. “Do I smell cookies?”

I giggle. “I guess Santa deserves some milk and cookies. I’ll bring you some.”

When I return, he’s staring into the fire, lost in thought, the poker still in his hand.

I place his milk and cookies on the coffee table and rub his back. He jumps and spins to face me.

“Wow, Santa. You’re a little on edge. You okay?”

He smiles and brushes the back of his fingers down my cheek. “I’m fine, this Santa’s glad he didn’t come down the chimney, he’d be a crispy critter.” He glances back at the fire and shudders.

We sit and watch the flickering flames and the fiber optics on the tiny tree. Rafe finishes off his cookies. He pours a bit of the milk on the empty plate for Atticus. Rafe pats his flat stomach and his eyes drift closed. Under the pretense of petting Atticus, I move the perfectly wrapped presents. The big one is squishy, the little one isn’t.

“Package pincher.” Rafe opens one eye. “Curiosity killed the cat.”

“But satisfaction brought it back,” I mutter taking the dishes into the kitchen.

I return and find Rafe wearing his Santa hat and holding the gifts.

“You look magnitudinous.”

Rafe throws his head back and in a pretty good impression of the jolly old elf, laughs long and hard. He pulls me to his lap and hands me the smaller present. “Here, open this one first.”

I shake it and pinch it, clueless to the contents. Feeling like a kid, I carefully unwrap the pretty angel paper, wanting to prolong the excitement. I pull out a Word-a-Day calendar and giggle.

He grins. “You like my magnanimous gesture? Although I’d never think of you as below me or as a rival.”

I laugh. “Yes, I do. I want to improve my vocabulary so people don’t think I’m an uneducated redneck.”

“Stop. You’re neither. You’re a hard-working, intelligent woman.” He searches my face, as if memorizing it. “And so beautiful, inside and out.”

His intensity is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. If only my boss would give me attention like this.

Rafe sighs and moves me off his lap. I feel awkward, it’s as if he read my mind, or something. At the very least, I feel like an ingrate when he hands me the large package.

“No, I can’t accept anything else. You cleaned the office and drove up here, and I’ll use the calendar…” My voice trails off as I stare at the gift. I want it, despite my protests. But I feel guilty, not having anything to give him in return.

“Just open it. It isn’t like I bought you a car or anything.”

Tempted, I squeeze the squishy package.

“Go on,” he encourages.

I slit the tape, once again savoring the experience. I gasp, pulling out the softest, prettiest pink sweater I’ve ever seen. “Thank you, I love it.” I rub it across my cheek and smile.

“I’m glad. It’s a color I always associate with you.”

I smile at my dearest friend. “You have no idea how happy I am you’re here. I was dreading Christmas, but you’ve made it special.” I take his hand in mine. “I feel bad not having anything to give you in return.”

Rafe stands and pulls me to my feet. “You’re my gift, Jo. Your friendship means more to me than you’ll ever know. And I promise, I’ll never take it for granted again. Having you back in my life makes even an ordinary day feel like Christmas.”

Before I can respond, he places a finger over my lips. “Dance with me,” he whispers.

I step into his arms and we slow dance in front of the fire to a song about words not being necessary. It’s perfect. We’ve always been in sync, even in silence, even when not together.

The calendar is useful, the sweater beautiful. But he’s right. The miracle of Christmas is reconnecting with someone you love.

As a friend…

Right?

© Nancee Cain

December 2016

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Forbidden love is hell…

Confident and quirky, Jo Sanford thinks her boss is God’s gift to women–and she couldn’t be further from the truth. Devilishly handsome, Luc DeVille will stop at nothing to lure his administrative assistant right into his arms–and bed.

Over Rafe Goodman’s dead body…

Rafe, Jo’s best friend, refuses to sit by and watch as Luc tries to win the heart of the woman he’s always protected. After all, Rafe is her guardian angel. Suddenly, Jo’s caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil. But the closer she gets to the fire, the hotter it burns. Now, Jo’s going to learn that when love battles lust, Heaven and Hell collide.

AMAZON US http://amzn.to/2bGubal 

All I want for Christmas….

I snuggle into Santa’s lap. Wow, he’s comfy. I wonder if it’s the real Santa? I tug on his beard a bit. It’s real!

He winces and removes his beard from my grasp. “Ho, ho, ho, Nancee. What would you like for Christmas? Oh, and you have a birthday on Christmas Day, too. Can’t forget that.”

Wow, this guy is good! “Why thank you, Santa! I’ll be 28…”

Santa’s brows pull together. “Ahem.”

“Never mind, you know how old I’ll be,” I mumble.

“So what’s on your Christmas list?”

I like how he seems to genuinely care. And yet, my mind goes blank.  At least I’m not screaming and crying like I did as a kid. “Uh, world peace, end of hunger–”

He chuckles. “Nancee, I’ve known you a long time. Stop with the fake requests and be honest. You’re more selfish than that. Besides, Steve Martin did it better on SNL.”

*Busted* “Um, hubby already bought me my new computer. Gosh, this is hard to do on the fly, ya know? My family will all be together and I’m healthy despite needing to lose 5 lbs…” I desperately try to think of something, anything…

One bushy white brow rises. “Maybe you should quit being a pantser and plan… And only five pounds?”

“Okay maybe a few more than that…”

I stop and reflect. I’m super lucky, I have my family and we all get along. I have a wonderful hubby who puts up with me, a daughter who is the kindest, most talented beautiful person I’ve ever known, and supportive friends. Even the evil day job isn’t that bad. I even accomplished my dream and have two books published that people seem to enjoy.

It dawns on me I need to remember to count my blessings daily.

Astonished, I blurt, “I don’t truly need anything.” Now you’ve done it, you’ve lost your chance until next year!

“Okay, nothing it is! NEXT.” Santa gently pushes me off his lap motioning to the kid behind me.

Mildly disappointed, I thank him for his time. Next time I’ll have my list ready. Liar, you’re a pantser!

“Oh, Nancee…” His eyes twinkle and he laughs deep and long. His belly wiggles like that canned cranberry stuff from Thanksgiving.

I’m not the only one that could stand to lose a few…

“Gotcha! I know just the thing for you. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday, Nancee.”

holiday-review

rafexmas

Forbidden love is hell…

Confident and quirky, Jo Sanford thinks her boss is God’s gift to women–and she couldn’t be further from the truth. Devilishly handsome, Luc DeVille will stop at nothing to lure his administrative assistant right into his arms–and bed.

Over Rafe Goodman’s dead body…

Rafe, Jo’s best friend, refuses to sit by and watch as Luc tries to win the heart of the woman he’s always protected. After all, Rafe is her guardian angel. Suddenly, Jo’s caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil. But the closer she gets to the fire, the hotter it burns. Now, Jo’s going to learn that when love battles lust, Heaven and Hell collide.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bGubal
Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/2c3Ytri
Itunes: apple.co/2bRuW4D
KOBO: bit.ly/2bMUsa9

sexmasad

Evangeline is the town pariah. Everyone knows she’s crazy and was responsible for the death of her last boyfriend. Even her mother left her and moved cross-country. Lonely and desperate, Evie decides to end her life.

Rogue angel Remiel longs to return to earth, but there’s just one problem. He tends to invite trouble and hasn’t been allowed back since Woodstock. The Boss sends him to save Evangeline, but there’s a catch: he can’t reveal his angelic nature, and he must complete the task as Father Remiel Blackson.

Forced together on a cross-country trip, a forbidden romance ignites and love unfolds. A host of heavenly messengers tries to intervene, but Remiel and Evangeline are headed on a collision course to disaster. Will his love save her, or will they both be lost forever?

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Beat the Black Friday Rush, Tempting Jo on SALE!

 Tempting Jo (ebook) is on sale 11/14/16 through 11/16/16. ONLY $.99!!!!!!!!

tjcoversmall

4.7 out of 5 STAR REVIEWS!

AMAZON US http://amzn.to/2bGubal
AMAZON UK http://amzn.to/2bmGwFF
BARNES & NOBLE bit.ly/2c3Ytri
KOBO bit.ly/2bMUsa9
iTUNES apple.co/2bRuW4D

Forbidden love is hell…

Confident and quirky, Jo Sanford thinks her boss is God’s gift to women–and she couldn’t be further from the truth. Devilishly handsome, Luc DeVille will stop at nothing to lure his administrative assistant right into his arms–and bed.

Over Rafe Goodman’s dead body…

Rafe, Jo’s best friend, refuses to sit by and watch as Luc tries to win the heart of the woman he’s always protected. After all, Rafe is her guardian angel. Suddenly, Jo’s caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil. But the closer she gets to the fire, the hotter it burns. Now, Jo’s going to learn that when love battles lust, Heaven and Hell collide.

Reviews:

“Ladies and gentleman, Nancee Cain does it again! I just LOVE the way she writes about angels and make them seem so human.” —Beauty and the Beastly Book Blog

“…her stories really make you feel genuine emotions. At first I was halfin-lust with Luc and I can totally understand Jo’s fascination with him, but Rafe….. oh brother! I want my own guardian angel and he must be just like him!! ” —Kat Loves Books Blog

“Tempting Jo is a battle between Heaven and Hell, good versus evil with a human caught in the crossfires. This is a book you want to finish in one sitting even if it’s 7am, because you just have to know what happens between these characters.” –Southern Book Nerd Blog

“Nancee Cain creates magic in the pages she writes: her angels are sinfully unangelic, her humans are downright flawed and completely relateable, her plots are impeccable, and her writing is genius.” -Paranormal, Magic & Mischief Blog

14152097_706342186173011_1646853124_o

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TEMPTING JO Released TODAY!

TemptingJoCover

Forbidden love is hell…

Confident and quirky, Jo Sanford thinks her boss is God’s gift to women–and she couldn’t be further from the truth. Devilishly handsome, Luc DeVille will stop at nothing to lure his administrative assistant right into his arms–and bed.

Over Rafe Goodman’s dead body…

Rafe, Jo’s best friend, refuses to sit by and watch as Luc tries to win the heart of the woman he’s always protected. After all, Rafe is her guardian angel. Suddenly, Jo’s caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil. But the closer she gets to the fire, the hotter it burns. Now, Jo’s going to learn that when love battles lust, Heaven and Hell collide.

This is my second paranormal romance novel. It’s a standalone but some of the same meddlesome characters from Saving Evangeline help poor Rafe deal with the headstrong Jolene with hilarious results.

EARLY REVIEWS On Goodreads:

Ladies and gentleman, Nancee Cain does it again! I just LOVE the way she writes about angels and make them seem so human.” —Beauty and the Beastly Book Blog

“…her stories really make you feel genuine emotions. At first I was half in-lust with Luc and I can totally understand Jo’s fascination with him, but Rafe….. oh brother! I want my own guardian angel and he must be just like him!! ” — Kat Loves Books Blog

When one of your fave authors decides to write a second book about angels and that second book is absolutely Beyond everything you were expecting. When you have twists you didn’t see coming. When you laugh and cry at the same time and can’t choose between Rafe or Luc. You know the author did an amazing job.” –Beverly

Nancee Cain has delivered another 5 star emotionally packed story.” –Chele

Nancee Cain Tempts Readers with her quirky heroines, hot-as-sin angels, southern charm, and cheeky humor.”– Jennifer

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON US http://amzn.to/2bGubal

AMAZON UK http://amzn.to/2bmGwFF

BARNES & NOBLE bit.ly/2c3Ytri 

KOBO bit.ly/2bMUsa9

iTUNES apple.co/2bRuW4D

If you loved Tempting Jo, check out Saving Evangeline! SE Final

Evangeline is the town pariah. Everyone knows she’s crazy and was responsible for the death of her last boyfriend. Even her mother left her and moved cross-country. Lonely and desperate, Evie decides to end her life.

Rogue angel Remiel longs to return to earth, but there’s just one problem. He tends to invite trouble and hasn’t been allowed back since Woodstock. The Boss sends him to save Evangeline, but there’s a catch: he can’t reveal his angelic nature, and he must complete the task as Father Remiel Blackson.

Forced together on a cross-country trip, a forbidden romance ignites and love unfolds. A host of heavenly messengers tries to intervene, but Remiel and Evangeline are headed on a collision course to disaster. Will his love save her, or will they both be lost forever?

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B00Y41MUI6

Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/mxgnav8

Itunes: http://tinyurl.com/kvckxsv

Books-a-Million: http://tinyurl.com/kymye9b

KOBO: http://tinyurl.com/khn7zpw

 AND YOU CAN ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY HERE!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/03bad0a3185/

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TEMPTING JO, Cover Reveal!

TemptingJoCover

Forbidden love is hell…

Confident and quirky, Jo Sanford thinks her boss is God’s gift to women–and she couldn’t be further from the truth. Devilishly handsome, Luc DeVille will stop at nothing to lure his administrative assistant right into his arms–and bed.

Over Rafe Goodman’s dead body…

Rafe, Jo’s best friend, refuses to sit by and watch as Luc tries to win the heart of the woman he’s always protected. After all, Rafe is her guardian angel. Suddenly, Jo’s caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil. But the closer she gets to the fire, the hotter it burns. Now, Jo’s going to learn that when love battles lust, Heaven and Hell collide.

*********************************************************************

EXCERPT:

“Honey, this is all about you, and I’m worried. This guy is out of your league.”

“I knew it. You don’t think I’m good enough for him!” She grabs several outfits and marches to the dressing room.

I run in after her, causing a pandemonium of outraged screeching. This must be how dogs feel with those high-pitched whistles. One woman smacks me with a hanger as I run past her.

“You’re wrong, Jo. Like I told you, I think you’re much too good for him.”

Jo turns and her mouth drops open. “Get out! You can’t be in here.”

I push her into one of the dressing rooms and bolt the door behind us. She holds the clothes to her chest.

“He doesn’t deserve you.”

She swallows. “Th-Thank you. But again, I can handle this.”

Someone pounds on the door. “Sir, you need to leave,” an authoritative female voice commands.

Madge said I needed to break the rules. I’m off to a good start. Might as well finish with a bang. I grab Jo and stare into her eyes. I want to kiss some sense into her. Not that I have much sense to impart at the moment. My thoughts scramble as I gaze at her tempting mouth.

“Rafe—”

The pounding on the door intensifies. “Sir, security is on the way!”

Finally, I dig deep and find enough will power to take a step back. Or maybe I just wimp out. At this point I have no idea of the right thing to do.

“You’re incongruous,” Jo whispers breathlessly.

“Incongruous?”

She nods. “You know, bad beyond correction.”

I chuckle. “I think you mean incorrigible.” Though I feel a little incongruous as well…

********************************************************************

Enter the GIVEAWAY!

Tempting Jo will be available 9/15/16. This beautiful cover was designed by Coreen Montagna. You can add it to your To Be Read List on Goodreads.

FullSpreadCoverTJsmall

You can find me here:

Website: www.nanceecain.com/

Blog: nanceecain.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NanceeCainAuthor/

FB Street team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cain.Raisers/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Nancee_Cain

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nanceecain/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Nancee_Cain

Instagram: @nanceecain

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bhFwvD

Amazon: amazon.com/author/nanceecain

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