Fancy Free, Book 4
Here comes Santa Claus…
When Evie Johnson’s ex turns into a scary and persistent stalker, she flees to small-town Sloan to protect herself. The people might be friendly, but her new, unusual occupation pushes Evie way past her comfort level, and her days are full of office duties, wide eyes, and flushed cheeks.
Billionaire businessman Gray Te Whare recognizes grandmotherly meddling when it stares him in the face. And okay, he’s not the real Santa, but he did have a plausible reason for breaking into the pretty newcomer’s house.
Gray and Evie are tossed together for all the wrong reasons. Still, the more time they spend together, the more the pair realize togetherness and the Christmas spirit are necessary for a happily ever after, and yeah, they’re not saying this bit aloud–sometimes grandmothers know best.
Contains a heroine in peril with stalker trouble, a gorgeous bachelor billionaire, a determined grandmother matchmaker, and a small-town condom company where talk is frank and sometimes embarrassing but loads of fun. Enjoy your festive visit and celebrate Christmas the New Zealand way.
Other Books in the Fancy Free series
Read an Excerpt
Gray Te Whare eyed the red, fur-trimmed Santa suit his grandmother waved in front of his nose. There might be gray streaks in her long black hair, and her posture wasn’t as erect as it used to be, but those brown eyes of hers held shrewd intelligence and cunning. She’d called him to fix a leaky tap, then ambushed him with part two of her plan once he’d arrived.
“I promised Alice I’d organize Santa for the kids’ Christmas party. Liam and Fletch had an unexpected out-of-town job, which means I’m short one Santa. Do you have a more important task for this evening?”
Gray drew in a deep breath and desperately sought an acceptable reason for telling his grandmother no.
“You work too hard, Gray. This would be a mental break for you—a chance to unwind.”
“At a kids’ Christmas party?” he demanded, unwilling to accept defeat. “My stress levels will tip over the edge. I’ve seen the way those kids misbehave. Fletch barely escaped with his sanity last year. Gaby told me.” No doubt if he called his cousin Gaby, he’d learn Fletch and Liam had done a runner on purpose. They weren’t stupid enough to repeat this unenviable gig twice.
“Please, Gray. I ask little of you.” Harriet Te Whare pinned him with a wide-eyed gaze he saw through in seconds. “It would send you to the top of my favorite grandchildren list.”
He snorted, admitting she’d beat him. His peaceful evening would be a non-event. Instead, he’d be lucky to escape with a bruised butt and a headache—the bruises, compliments of the mothers, sisters, and grannies who escorted their grandchildren to the annual kids’ Christmas party. He hadn’t believed Fletch’s wild stories until his friend had shown him proof. Fletch had muttered, “Never again.”
Gray should’ve taken his cousin’s man more seriously.
“All right,” he said, gingerly accepting the red suit. “What do I have to do?”
“You get changed while I consult my list,” his grandmother said.
Gray stripped off his shorts and T-shirt in the guest bedroom and donned the red suit. It was hot and itchy, and he’d worn the thing for mere minutes. He slipped the beard in place and slapped the red, fur-trimmed hat on top of his black hair. His grandmother hadn’t included footwear, but he donned a pair of black running shoes. If what Fletch had told him was true, he’d need comfortable shoes to escape the pinching grannies. These runners might come in handy.
“Are you ready yet?” his grandmother called.
Gray headed back to the kitchen and found his grandmother sitting at the breakfast bar. Christmas music played from a concealed speaker, and she hummed along as she consulted her notebook. She had a box sitting beside her, one he was positive she hadn’t had before.
“What’s that?” He didn’t hide his suspicion from his crafty relative. The box was there for a reason, and given his experience, he should worry.
“I’m meant to deliver this to our new temp worker. It’s her homework. She forgot to take it with her when she left work today. I don’t suppose you could drop it off for her? It’s on your way to the town hall.”
“Why can’t you go?”
“I promised your grandfather we could have a date night this evening.”
Gray shoved a finger in each ear and watched his grandmother’s mouth moving. Knowledge of her sex life? No. No. No! When her mouth stopped moving, he cautiously unplugged his ears.
“I don’t want to miss date night,” his grandmother said, a twinkle in her brown eyes.
Gray groaned, then another thought occurred. “How old is this woman? Are you trying to set me up?”
His grandmother scowled. “Why would you think that? I’m trying to save Evie time because we need this report. We’re knee-deep in product development for Valentine’s Day.”
Gray rolled his eyes but didn’t comment further. He wouldn’t win this argument.
“You’ll do it? Deliver the parcel?”
Gray’s shoulders slumped. “I’ll drop it off on the way.”
“Excellent,” his grandmother said.
Gray’s glance told him everything. In her satisfied expression, he read glee. No matter how much she denied it, she was in full matchmaking mode. Well, he didn’t have to play the game. He’d do polite and deliver the box. Once he finished his Santa stint, he’d go home and drown his sorrows with his favorite Scottish whisky. “What’s her address?”
His grandmother produced a piece of paper with the address scribbled in her untidy hand. His mouth firmed. This situation was a set-up, and he bet Fletch and Liam were laughing their arses off at his misfortune.
He scooped up the box. “Anything else?”
“Yes, dear.” His grandmother leaned close and patted his cheek. “Please lose that scowl. You’ll frighten Evie. The girl is timid. At the function, make sure to ho-ho-ho in a hearty voice. And tell young Matthew Te Whare he needs to behave, otherwise, you won’t deliver to his house.”
Gray snorted. “Good luck with him. Your great-grandchild is a hellion. Grandfather says he takes after you.”
His grandmother flapped her hand in dismissal, but it was easy to see she loved the wee daredevil and was proud of him. “Away you go. I’ll be expecting a report tomorrow. We like to know if anything requires improvement.”
Gray kissed his grandmother goodbye and left. How the hell did he get himself in these messes? He speed-dialed his cousin, Gaby. “Did you know Gran has tied me into Santa duties? I thought Fletch or Liam were doing it this year.”
Gaby giggled. “Um, I might’ve set Gran on you. Fletch, Liam, and I are at the beach.”
“Gran said the boys were working.”
“They worked this morning, and tonight, we’re having a date night.”
“It was you who told Gran about date nights?” Gray shuddered, trying not to let his mind go there. It walked neatly like a pet lamb. He shook himself and dug his fingernails into his palm to focus his thoughts elsewhere. “She and Grandpa are having private time tonight.”
Gaby huffed. “You’re slow. She says that all the time. Have fun playing Santa.”
Gray started to retort, but his cousin hung up on him. Sighing, he checked the address and pulled out of his grandmother’s driveway. Five minutes later, he parked outside an old farmhouse. It sat at the end of a road, separated from a recent development by the street and one paddock. He picked up the box and stalked to the entranceway. He was about to knock when a terrified scream rent the air.
Without thinking, Gray jiggled the lock and tore down a dimly lit passage. He burst into a kitchen and skidded to a halt. What the hell?
A pretty woman with a chestnut-brown ponytail cowered against the refrigerator, her gaze on something bobbing on the floor. He stepped closer, his eyes rounding in surprise. Was that a—?