What’s Christmas without a tree?
Kristen Delaney can’t afford a Christmas tree this year, but she doesn’t want to disappoint her little girl Rachel. The six-year old already lost her daddy in Afghanistan. To cheer her up, Kristen hires a homeless vet to play Santa at the private school where she works. Little does she know it was no accident the hunky Santa showed up in Kissing Creek just in time for Christmas Eve. Sgt. Jared Milano promised Scott Delaney he’d take care of his wife and little girl. He also shared with him a secret that would change Kristen’s life, a secret about her Aunt Gertrude and an old piano, but the IED blast blew away part of his memory. Jared fights his growing desire for Kristen as he struggles to regain his past and overcome the PTSD haunting him. Kristen is lonely and not ready to fall in love again, but she can’t take her eyes off him. Doesn’t want to. When he’s accused of a crime, she refuses to believe he’s guilty and invites the handsome soldier to spend Christmas Eve with them. When a sudden snowstorm turns deadly and Rachel goes missing, Jared must use all his skills to find her and prove to Kristen he’s guilty only of falling in love with her. “The Christmas Piano Tree” is the story of a pretty young war widow who re-discovers the magic of the holiday season with the help of a homeless vet and an old piano. ------- Excerpt: “Are you trying to bribe me to play Santa?” asked Jared, not believing the lady’s proposition. And it was a doozy. He’d trekked over a hundred miles to get here in the bitter cold, changed buses several times, lived on peanut butter sandwiches and coffee out of vending machines, and now this? A gorgeous woman was wiggling a yummy cupcake under his nose, trying to seduce him to play the jolly man himself. God, she was a picture. Tilting her head and looking up at him, swinging her long blond ponytail over her shoulder. A man would be insane to say no to her. Scott’s wife. Kristen. Pretty as a hot summer day in her blue-and-white checkered apron pulled tight around her waist. A fluffy ruffle added a feminine touch. Her jeans hugged her slim hips and the top button on her blouse had come undone, giving him a peek at her cleavage. That nearly had him hightailing it out of here, but Jared wasn’t just any homeless soldier looking for a hot meal. He was on a mission. Which meant that he keep the burning itch crawling up his spine at bay. No way was he going to let his mind go there. Danger lurked in those pale green eyes, the curve of her breast, the sway of her hips. No, sir. This was business. Important business for a buddy who couldn’t speak for himself. All morning, Jared had been hanging around the school, waiting for her to show up. Once he explained himself, he’d tell her what Scott had told him with his dying breath, and then take off. A simple plan. Should have been easy. It wasn’t. After their encounter earlier in the snow, he didn’t trust his emotions around her. First, she almost ran him over. Twice. Now this. A cupcake. Tempting as sin. Like her. Sweet and creamy. Melt in your mouth delicious. It was more than he could stand. “Yes, it’s a bribe,” Kristen said, looking him square in the eye. As if she knew he was suffering. Man, was he. “With real buttercream frosting.” “No.” He couldn’t say yes. That would take him off his game. A soldier didn’t question his orders. Get in, do the mission, and get out. That was what he was used to, what he knew. Not feeling what he was feeling now. Want, need, a strong desire to make things right for her. His gut told him it wouldn’t work. The longer he stayed, the harder it would be to leave. She sighed deeply. “You’ll make the girls here at the school very happy if you put on that Santa suit.” “No.” Didn’t she ever give up? “Please,” Kristen begged. “My Rachel will be so disappointed if Santa doesn’t show up.” She said the words with so much emotion she