25 Days of Christmas

Christmas came early today! Looking for great holiday themed stories to get you in the spirit for the season? You’ll want to check out this great anthology! For those who don’t know, an anthology is a collection of stories that revolve around a theme or focus. 25 Days of Christmas is a collection of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and News Years romance stories that level in steaminess from near-erotic to super sweet (which is what mine is). They’re nice little novellas you can read by the fire while sipping on your hot cocoa.

My story, Wolves in Wintertime, is one of the 25 excellent stories amongst some amazing and talented authors. It’s a story about a teenager who is the daughter of a werewolf alpha. She’s dragged all the way to Alaska to attend a national gathering of other werewolves to celebrate the last full moon of the year. While staying in the hotel, she meets another werewolf about her age and they’re immediately attracted to one another. The catch? He belongs to a rival werewolf pack that doesn’t like her father and don’t like outsiders intruding on their pack dynamics. Well, Amber and Danny are about shake things up. Here’s a sneak back into chapter 3 of Wolves in Wintertime.

To purchase the anthology, follow THIS LINK to Amazon!

Amber tapped the eraser end of her pencil against the textbook page, her legs lightly kicking the air behind her, as she laid on her stomach on the hotel bed. Her eyes were zoned out over the image of the chimp with its lips curled back in a goofy pose for the camera. She was supposed to be finishing up some winter break homework for her biology class, but that was nearly impossible.
Every minute or so, Amber twisted around and looked at the clock on the nightstand. Eight o’clock couldn’t come soon enough. With a sigh, she looked back to her notebook page. A few of the light blue lines were filled, but if anyone had asked her what she had just read, she wouldn’t be able to give them an answer.
Her mind was filled with other things far more interesting than school work. The first meeting with Danny replayed over and over again in her mind, eliciting a grin or suppressed giggle each time.
Danny tripped over the starting line, but it was adorable the way he tried to pick himself back up and continue the race. It was a rocky start, but Amber knew that slow and steady always won the race. Yet, how slow could they really take it? The gathering would be over in a week’s time and they would part ways. She’d be back in Missouri before the end of the year, and Danny would go back to wherever it was he came from.
That wasn’t going to stop her from enjoying this.
Downstairs, she could hear the rest of her father’s pack talking and playing billiards in the complimentary game room that was connected to the suite. Not all packs were given suites with kitchenettes and game rooms, but Ethan had enough clout with the local pack to pull off the accommodations.
The downside was they had to room-up with a smaller pack from Florida that they were unfamiliar with. Ethan and Peter debriefed them about her, and the pack was more than willing to comply. Though none of them traveled with women, it looked like they were far from interested in her.
There was a sharp rap on the door and Amber jerked. Alone in the hotel room she shared with her father, she thought she would have been left alone.
“Yes?” she grumbled. There was no reason to raise her voice to a werewolf who could hear her breathing, even with a wall between them.
Her father walked in and shut the door behind him. She crawled back from her open textbook and sat cross-legged on top of the slightly wrinkled comforter. With a kind smile, he sat on the edge of the bed and looked to her unfinished homework.
Amber expected a scolding or some harsh words that she should have been done an hour or so ago. He looked neither angry nor suspicious. When she dismissed herself after dinner, Ethan didn’t look entirely pleased, as if he had something planned for her, and she had ruined it.
“I wanted to make sure you were all right,” he said.
Amber bit her lips and nodded. “I’m all right. Just having a hard time focusing.”
Ethan pinched the corner of the textbook and slid it around so he could skim through the page. His eyes, the color of dark ice tea, absorbed the information faster than she ever would. Werewolves were incredibly smart. They remembered everything, retaining knowledge like a sponge that soaked up water. Younger werewolves breezed through school like it was nothing, while Amber would continuously struggle.
He snorted and smiled. “It’s amazing what scientists are discovering nowadays.”
Ethan was over five hundred years old, with tinges of grey in his beard and at his temples. He was there when they invented indoor plumbing, but he’d also lived through tremendous trials as a werewolf. When she was little, before he became so involved in pack business, he told her bedtime stories about witch hunts, and dodging suspicion from colonists during the revolutionary war. At the time, it was just stories. In later years, Amber learned to appreciate the hardships he’d survived.
“But they haven’t discovered you yet,” she remarked as she gripped her ankles.
His brows shrugged and he let out a deep sigh. “This is true… It may just be a matter of time.”
Amber didn’t want to talk about anything so serious. She had grown up with werewolves and had never been afraid of them in their human form or full wolf form. There were plenty of other humans like her who knew about the supernatural, but how would the world react? There were already hunters who dedicated their lives to hunting down packs. How many more would pop up if the news went worldwide?
“When’s the gathering again?” she asked, changing the subject.
“This Friday,” he answered, as he slid the book back to its original place and looked up to his daughter. “The Christmas banquet will be held at noon that day, and we’ll do our gift exchange before we leave for the night.”
Amber thought of her father’s gift that was tucked away in her suitcase. It had taken her a lot of time and thought to figure out what Ethan would want. Her mother had always picked out the gifts and put both of their names on it, so Ethan would think it came from both of them. It wasn’t that Amber didn’t care. She just didn’t know her father well enough anymore.
“You don’t have to stay in the room the whole trip,” Ethan told her. “There are plenty of things to do in town, and Peter knows quite a few of them. He’s happy to look after you, so don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing him.”
She was sure hanging out with Peter for a week would be fun. Unlike her father, Peter wasn’t so rigid. The beta bent the rules on a daily basis, just like Amber’s mother had. He wasn’t nearly as old as her father, but just as wise. Wise enough to know that life was too precious to spend it on a leash.
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to let me know.”
Probably growing frustrated with her silence, Ethan stood and made his way to the door. Just as his hand wrapped around the handle, Amber spoke up. “I want gingerbread cookies,” she said.
Ethan turned back to her and nodded. “I’m sure I can get the resort cooks to bake you some.”
Amber felt her chest ache as she continued. “No, I want the ones that mom made. You know, the ones with the chocolate chips in them?”
The alpha didn’t normally express vulnerable emotions such as grief or sadness, but almost every time Amber mentioned her mother in private, Ethan “got the morbs” as Peter put it. His face would go slack and his stare softened.
“There’s a bakery in town, but I don’t know if they would make the cookies like your mother used to.” Ethan thought for a moment. “When we get home, we’ll look around in your mother’s things to see if she left a written recipe somewhere.”
Amber knew it was an outlandish request. If she’d had the means to get the ingredients, she might have tried to make them on her own. There had to be a recipe on the internet somewhere. Her mom had made special gingerbread cookies every Christmas.
Before Amber became too old for kid stories, they would leave the cookies out for Santa on Christmas eve. Ethan couldn’t eat them because of his sensitive werewolf stomach, but he would toss a few in the trash to make it look like Santa had eaten something. The ladies of the house would gobble up the leftovers on Christmas morning while they opened presents. Some of Amber’s earliest memories were of dipping the cookies into a cup of milk and counting down the seconds with her mother until the treat was nice and soft, but not too soggy.
This would be her first Christmas without her mother’s special cookies. If Amber had thought of it ahead of time, she would have tried to teach herself how to bake so she could have the cookies on Christmas morning, but she’d be counting down the seconds by herself this year.
With her throat too thick with threatening tears, Amber nodded and looked away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ethan hesitate at the door.
Ever since the funeral, they’d had a hard time getting close to one another again. Amber had never been a daddy’s girl, but she knew that her relationship with her father wasn’t where it should have been. Between school and pack obligations, it was hard to schedule quality time. This trip might have been their chance to finally remedy that. Perhaps it was too soon to tell, but Amber wasn’t sure if a week could fix seventeen years of being a semi-absent father.
Ethan bid her a goodnight and left the hotel room. The silence rang in her ears, and Amber checked the clock one more time. At least she would have a diversion from her slightly sad life. And what a hot diversion he was.

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