Her Convenient Christmas Date

By: Barbara Wallace

Their fake relationship...

...isn’t just for Christmas!

Ex-footballer Lewis Matola urgently needs to clean up his reputation, and heiress Susan Collier is the only woman who can help. Their agreement’s clear: they’ll be each other’s fake date for the holiday season—no feelings involved! But as Christmas Eve draws near, Lewis becomes intrigued by the side of Susan she keeps hidden from the world. Soon it’s more than just snow swirling between the unlikely pair...





Susan’s shoulders slumped.

She looked like she felt—tired. People probably thought she was Lewis’s agent or business manager. Certainly not his girlfriend. Correction, fake girlfriend.

What made Lewis think the idea would work? No way, people wouldn’t believe they were an item.

All her life, she wondered what it would be like to fit. To feel accepted by someone. Anyone. She had a lot to offer, if people would only look.

Don’t be so dramatic, her mother would say. People don’t look if there’s nothing to look at.

Lewis Matola was offering people something to look at.

Would it be so horrible if the world saw her as someone different? Just for a little while?

Rummaging through her bag, she located a hair tie and forced her curls into a messy bun. Then, she shed her jacket. The black turtleneck wasn’t stylish, but at least the world could see she had a waist.

Lewis was biting into his sandwich when she returned. She tossed her bag on the bench and slid in next to him. “You’ve got a deal.”





 Dear Reader,

How many of us have felt like we didn’t fit in?

As soon as Susan Collier told off the heroine in Her Christmas Miracle, I knew she needed a love story of her own. For all her tough talk, Susan is the misfit of the Collier family. I couldn’t wait to find a hero for her and soften those sharp edges.

A woman as strong-minded as Susan needs a strong partner. Enter Lewis Matola, former bad boy footballer. (That’s soccer for my American readers.) Lewis is a misfit, too, and in his case, has compounded his problem by developing a sordid reputation.

Both of them think that they could use an image makeover. What they really need is someone to love them unconditionally.

I loved writing Lewis and Susan’s faux romance. The fact that my editor asked me to set the story at Christmastime made their pretend dates so much fun to write. There’s nothing like romance amid the snowflakes and holiday lights. There’s a touch of magic in the air this time of season.

Please let me know what you think of this story at [email protected]

Love,

Barbara







CHAPTER ONE


THE BAR WAS one of those pop-up, themed locations that were trendy at the moment. Holiday Cheer was the name and its existence had temporarily transformed the mezzanine of the Regis Hotel into a garish, yet strangely enticing Christmas wonderland. The walls were made entirely of poinsettia blossoms, while strings of holiday lights crisscrossed the air like tiny multicolored stars.

In the middle of the cheer, at a bar framed by Christmas trees, Susan Collier was having a deep, meaningful conversation with her cocktail glass.

“So what if I don’t have a date? It’s not like I have the plague. Plenty of women go to weddings without a plus-one.”

Her cocktail, the sympathetic ear that it was, didn’t disagree.

Too bad Ginger and Courtney weren’t as sympathetic. The two catty little trolls from marketing enjoyed a good laugh about her while powdering their noses. So good, in fact, they didn’t realize Susan was in the stall listening to every word.

“Is it any wonder?” one of them had said. “She’s got a perpetual stick up her bum. I don’t know why Maria invited her to the wedding in the first place.”

“I should fire them both for insubordination,” Susan muttered. The cocktail offered itself up in mute solidarity. Lifting the glass, she polished off the contents in one swallow.

“You’re drinking those pretty quickly. Sure you don’t want to slow down?” the bartender asked when she signaled for another.

“Didn’t realize there was a speed limit.” She tapped the rim of her empty glass with her index finger. “Keep ’em coming. And, if you’re worried about me toddling off and driving, don’t. I used a car service.” Because that was what women without dates did. They car serviced.

“Aren’t you afraid they’ll miss you upstairs?”

Susan snorted. Did he mean the wedding to which she’d received an obligatory invitation just because her office was next to the bride’s? The one for which she had stuffed herself into shapeware and a vintage dress with the hopes it would make her Kardashianesque rear end look its best? Doubtful.

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