Putting the past to rest has never been this much fun.
Tara Walsh has come a long way from paying her dues in a smoky New Orleans club. Her albums sell millions, her tours sell out and she has a hit DVD. Her name is known around the world. Now she's back home for a holiday charity concert--and to say a proper goodbye to the past. A past named Duncan Rousse.
Five years ago, Duncan pushed Tara away for one reason: to force her to reach for the stars. She deserves the life she's earned, even though it left him with a broken heart that's never healed. Having her back in his arms only makes the pain worse, yet the last thing he can do is beg her to stay.
One wild, passion-filled night in the sexy Cajun's bed has Tara's body singing with pleasure. But can they both get what they want this Christmas?
This title contains the following: explicit sex, second chances, making up for lost time with a sexy Cajun, and Christmas wishes that might really come true.
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December 01, 2009
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Excerpt from My Christmas Wish by Ember Case
Looking at his lips had been a bad idea. Tara had too many memories of what they had felt like against her own. What they'd sounded like telling her goodbye.
She pushed the thought aside. Better to think about what they sounded like saying hello.
Dragging her gaze back to his, she thought she saw the glow of hunger there. "I stayed away too long, Duncan. It's good to be back."
"We were starting to wonder if you'd left us behind forever." His voice was as warm as her memories.
"It was hard to leave." She held his gaze and saw the faint flinch as he recalled how she'd left. "It was harder to come back."
He nodded slowly, accepting with that simple gesture both her leaving and his role in it. For a minute there was only the sound of the music and the feverish noise of the crowd on the dance floor surrounding them.
Memories of how it felt to be held in his strong arms filled the lull. Dangerous memories that she'd relived a thousand times in her dreams. How many times had they danced on that floor, his arms pulling her tight while she thought she'd found her home at last? She'd begun to believe in love and dream of happily-ever-after. Then her dreams had turned into nightmares and left her the way she'd been since she was eight years old. Alone.
You couldn't change what had already been, and wishing for things to be different wasn't going to make them so. With a mental shrug, Tara put the past where it belonged--away.
"The club looks like it's doing good business. I was in Miami a few months ago and your new club there had a line out the door that stretched three blocks. You've done well with them."
"Mais, we were lucky after the storms. The Brick Lady held up well to Katrina, better than many of the other buildings in the Quarter. We had to replace some of the tanks in the brewpub and we had to strip the first floor walls down to the studs. Some of the locals think the ghosts held off the worst of the flood waters and protected what they consider theirs." He chuckled.
"Stranger things have happened in the French Quarter." She let the smile that had always come naturally to her lips show, relaxing as the old feeling of intimacy came back. With Duncan it had always been this way, ever since the moment they'd met. When he was around, the rest of the world faded into the background until it was just the two of them. Nothing and no one else mattered.
Not even a stepmother driving a wedge between her beloved stepson and the young woman who had dared to make a place for herself in Duncan's world.
"How's Marie? Is she here tonight?" Tara tensed as she glanced over his shoulder, almost expecting to find the older woman staring her down from across the room.
"She doesn't come down here much anymore," Duncan stated grimly.
"No? Have you moved back home then?"
"Not bloody likely--I still live up over the club when I'm here in New Orleans." He gestured vaguely towards the back hall, where she knew steps led to his private rooms above. "Marie learned she's happier sticking with her Garden Society friends than poking her nose into this part of the family business. And she's busy these days trying to find a wife for Stephen before he marries himself to the corporation."
Duncan's older brother had always had a head for business. It wasn't a surprise to hear he had taken a larger role with the family firm. Tara relaxed again, reassured that the dragon lady wasn't going to be bearing down on them tonight.
"Are you home to stay?"
"Just until after the show." Two short nights. Tonight and Christmas Eve, the night of the performance. The clock was already ticking.
"So you head back to la-la land on Christmas Day?" Was that disappointment in his voice, or was she only wishing it was there?
"I've got a six am flight back to LA--I'll be on the West Coast in time for brunch." Los Angeles couldn't have seemed further away than it did right now. And without anyone special to spend it with, Christmas would be just like any other day. An hour or two in the gym, another afternoon in the dance studio, some time working on songs for the album she was due to start recording in late January. Another holiday alone. Yet another thought she tried to push out of her mind.
"Have a drink with me, chere." She wasn't sure if he was pushed towards her from behind by the crowd or if he'd stepped closer. She didn't care as his body was right where she most wanted it to be, pressed tightly to hers. Chest to chest, thigh to thigh, the heat that rose from his skin spread across her own and brought an ache of longing that throbbed through her veins.
Then he was bumped from behind, pushed suddenly forward by an overexcited patron making a move to the bar. As his arms tightened around her waist to steady her, she felt his pelvis forced against the gentle mound of her belly. Feeling his warm body pressed against her own brought a damp weakness to her core. Gut-wrenching, mind-shattering need claimed her body and left her quivering in his embrace.
"Yes." The word slipped out. His throat was mere inches from her lips, and the familiar smell of him filled the air she breathed. Surrounded with scents of evergreen and spice, her mouth flooded with the remembered taste of his skin beneath her tongue. The urge to lick her way up the firm column of his neck possessed her.
She tilted her head back instead. His eyes were narrowed, the hot fire in their depths mirrored by the dark flush rising on his cheeks. Hard hands clenched on her hips with demanding strength, feeding the hunger that had sparked to life when he'd first said her name.
Before she could fight it his lips were on hers, devouring, possessing, sweeping away her ability to think. With the touch of his mouth all the need of five long years roared to life. The taste of him, the scent of his skin, filled her senses, left her gasping for more. She was lost, drowning in the heat of his embrace. Her heart leaped, blood pounding furiously as her body molded itself to his warmth.
She cried out softly when their lips were torn apart. The low sound was swallowed by the crowd as their bodies were separated by the jostling of the people surrounding them. Her eyes flew open
Her heart was more vulnerable than she'd ever believed.
Maybe coming to see Duncan wasn't the smartest decision she'd ever made.