Misty knows if Braedon finds out about her parents, he’ll never want to see her again. She can’t face loving him just to have him turn on her when he discovers the truth, so she pushes him away — far away, to the ends of the world they both know.
Braedon knows what he wants, and he won’t be easily discouraged. The annual Reindeer games are coming, and he has a plan that will throw Misty right into his arms. He intends to win the final skirmish in the Tinsel Wars!
“Seriously?” Misty stared at the brightly colored ornaments dripping from every branch of the giant Christmas tree in the ballroom. Braedon stood to one side, admiring his handiwork. “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it a bit?”
Braedon gave a negative shake of his head, the corner of his mouth lifting in a satisfied smile. “Not at all. The Reindeer Games are all about Christmas, and Christmas isn’t about holding back. It’s about magic and brilliantly shiny decorations and getting your heart’s desire.”
Was she imagining that simmering spark in the depths of his eyes? It had been over two years since the infamous Tinsel Wars had ended their ill-advised affair and sent them fleeing to opposite ends of the North Pole.
Santa wasn’t big on dissention in the ranks.
A gorgeous hunk of Elf like Braedon must have had dozens of brainless little Elf twits throwing themselves at him every day. Once he got over the shock of her deliberately ruining their relationship, he probably hadn’t given her another thought. She shouldn’t have overreacted earlier.
So Braedon was here at the Reindeer Games. Big deal. It had been two years. He’d probably settled down with a nice Elf and maybe even had a few little ones by now. Only, she couldn’t bring herself to ask him because she couldn’t imagine how she’d react if he confirmed it.
“That’s true, but it doesn’t mean you need to get tacky. Here.” She pretended she didn’t see his brows rise toward the ceiling as she stepped up to the tree and began to systematically strip two-thirds of the decorations from the branches. “Less is sometimes more.” She paused a moment, tilting her head to study the denuded fir, then quickly rearranged a series of shiny red bells to fill in some of the now glaring bare spots.
Ever since he’d arrived at the Reindeer Farms, Braedon had been acting like there was nothing wrong between them. After the tinsel fiasco at Christmas Central, she’d expected him to be mad, or upset or something. Anything. Their budding relationship aside, she’d damned near derailed his career prospects. He had to know she’d done it deliberately. This calm facade of his was driving her insane!
She imagined she could feel his gaze boring a hole in her back. She really needed to work on her overactive imagination. It was just possible that she’d meant that little to him.
Taking a deep breath she silently recited her new mantra. I am me, not a reflection of my family.
Okay, that wasn’t helping. Maybe she just needed a drink. Or two. Or a case of one hundred proof mistletoe juice. Unfortunately, that would have to wait until after they finished decorating the tree for tomorrow night’s opening ball of the Reindeer Games.
“You do know I have a degree in artistic tree arrangements, right?” Braedon carefully replaced each of the removed ornaments back on the tree, a hint of laughter in his voice.
“Really? I hadn’t heard. You think you’d be better at it, then.” Misty stepped to the far side of the tree and began to remove items again. She hated how catty she sounded, but his attitude was starting to piss her off.
“Can’t see how. Did I mention that I won the Decorator’s Choice award last year for my work on the sixty-foot tree outside the Christmas Central depot?” Stepping to her side, Braedon carefully took her hand in his, stopping her from reaching for any more of the unfortunate decorations.
Up close, the tangy smell of his cologne sent the blood racing through her veins. Damn. She’d thought she could handle a few days in his presence, but now she wasn’t so sure.