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THE CHRISTMAS DARE
Twilight, Texas Series
BY LORI WILDE
A jilted-at-the-altar bride reunites with her high school sweetheart in Lori Wilde’s sensational new Twilight, Texas Christmas novel.
Kelsey James always played by the rules and look where it got her—dumped and half-drunk in a poofy white dress, her Christmas wedding ruined. Then her best friend talks her into going on her “honeymoon” anyway, daring her to a “Christmas of Yes.” It’s about time she lets loose a little, so Kelsey agrees to say “yes” to fun, to romance, and to adventure! And adventure leads her right smack into the arms of sexy Noah MacGregor.
Noah’s never one to say no to a risk—from leading his NBA team to victory to making Christmas cookies in Twilight, he’s up to the challenge! But a lot has gone on since they were teenagers, and he knows he has to take his time to make Kelsey dare to believe that what they feel is more than just the holiday magic that’s in the air . . .
About the Book
The Christmas Dare
by Lori Wilde
October 22, 2019
On a Christmas-scented Saturday morning in early December, Dallas’s newly elected mayor, Filomena James, walked her only surviving daughter, Kelsey, down the pew-packed aisle of the lavishly decorated Highland Park United Methodist Church.
She slipped her arm through her daughter’s, and off they went to the instrumental score of “Let Me Tell You About My Boat.” Filomena had insisted on music hipper than “The Wedding March” for her child’s big day.
Bucking the old guard.
That was how she won her mayoral seat. Filomena was innovative, clever, and resourceful. Never mind that Kelsey was a traditionalist. After all, Filomena was the one shelling out the big bucks for this shindig, and to quote her campaign buttons, she was the “rebel with a cause.”
She’d insisted on the December wedding date, so as not to conflict with her mayoral bid. In mild protest, Kelsey put up a feeble fuss. Her daughter was not a fan of December in general or Christmas in particular. But as always, Filomena had prevailed.
“Lucky” for Kelsey, Mama knew best.
Everything was going as Filomena had planned. That is, until the groom hightailed it for the exit, elbows locked with his best man.
Fifteen minutes later, back in the bridal room of the church, Kelsey sat as calm as a statue, ankles crossed demurely, feet tucked underneath the bench, expression mild. Her waist-length hair twisted high in an elegant braided chignon. A bouquet of white roses and a crumpled, handwritten Dear Jane letter were lying in her lap.
Sounds of car doors slamming and hushed voices stirring gossip drifted in through the partially opened window.
The poor thing.
Do you think Kelsey suspected Clive was gay?
How does Filomena recover from this?
Exhaling deeply, Kelsey hid her smile as relief poured through her. Okay, sprinkle in a dab of sadness, a jigger of regret, and a dollop of I-do-not-want-to-face-my-mother, but other than that, Clive’s abrupt adios hadn’t peeled her back too far.
Hey, it wasn’t the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to her. She’d get through this.
Filomena paced. As if struck by a hundred flyswatters all slapping at once, her cheeks flushed scarlet. Black Joan Crawford eyebrows pulled into a hard V. “Do you have any idea how humiliated I am?” she howled.
“I’m sorry, Mother,” Kelsey said by rote.
“This is your fault. If you’d slept with Clive, as I told you to, instead of sticking to that wait-until-the-wedding nonsense, I would not be on the hook for this nightmare.”
“Yes, Mother. You’re right. You’re always right.”
Filomena’s scowl lessened. “Well, at least you admit it.”
Kelsey’s best friend, Tasha Williams, who’d been standing by the door, lifted the hem of her emerald green, charmeuse maid of honor dress and strode across the small room to toe off with the mayor-elect.
“Are you frigging kidding me?” Tasha’s deep brown eyes narrowed and she planted her hands onto her hips, head bobbing as she spoke. “Kels got stood up, not you.”
Yay, you. Grateful, Kelsey sent her friend a thank-you smile.
“The media will eat me for dinner over this.” Through flinty eyes, Filomena’s glower could wither houseplants to dust.
Uh-oh, Kelsey knew the look far too well. A clear signal to give her mother a Grand Canyon–sized berth.
“Have an inch of compassion, you witch.” Tasha glared lasers at Filomena.
Proud that her bestie had not called her mother a “bitch” when she knew the word was searing the end of Tasha’s tongue, Kelsey cleared her throat. Long ago, she’d learned not to throw emotional gasoline on her mother’s fits of pique. Courting head-to-toe, third-degree burns was not her favorite pastime.
“What did you say to me?” A sharp, cutting tone curdled her mother’s voice. Her icy stare could quell Katniss Everdeen.
Gulping, Tasha couldn’t quite meet Filomena’s eyes. “Just . . . just . . . have a heart, dammit. She’s your daughter.”
“Don’t you lecture me, you little upstart.” Filomena shoved her face in front of Tasha’s nose.
In a soothing, even tone, Kelsey pressed her palms downward. “Mom, I’m fine here. Please, go do damage control. You’ll find a way to turn this to your advantage. You’re a master at spinning gold from straw.”
“Excellent idea.” With stiff-legged movements, Filomena shifted her attention off Tasha. Finger pinching the ruching at the waist of her snug-fitting mother-of-the-bride dress, she straightened herself, dusted off her shoulders, and stalked toward the door. “Clive’s father owes me big-time.”
Filomena’s exit left Kelsey and Tasha exhaling simultaneously.
“Ah, gotta love how she turns every disaster into a political stepping stone,” Tasha muttered.
“It’s her superpower,” Kelsey said.
“What’s her kryptonite?”
Rereading Clive’s scrawled letter, Kelsey didn’t answer. Before Clive fled with Kevin, he’d pressed the note into the minister’s hand.
Shabby of me to ditch you this way, but please believe me when I say I wanted to marry you. You are the kindest, most loving person I’ve ever met and my deep affection for you has gotten me this far. But no more cowering in the closet, praying to turn into something I’m not. You deserve better. I deserve better. I’ve been a coward, and you were safe. Time to stop running. Kevin and I love each other. We have for a long time. Last night after the bachelor party . . . well . . . let’s just say everything changed forever. Out there somewhere is the real love of your life. Please, cash in the honeymoon tickets and spoil yourself with a trip of your own.
Your friend always, Clive
Floating off the page, three words stood tall above the others, accusing her of her most glaring shortcoming.
You were safe.
Yes, she played it safe.
Guilty as charged.
While Clive’s betrayal stung, the loss and embarrassment didn’t equal the pain of the truth. If she hadn’t been playing it safe, going for the most accommodating, least challenging man around, she wouldn’t have ended up here.
Once again, her mother was right, and this was her fault. To avoid a major war that she stood no chance of winning, Kelsey had kept her own wants and needs suppressed. Filomena pushed the union because Clive’s father was Texas Supreme Court Justice Owen Patterson. Kelsey had meekly accepted the union.
Intelligent, witty, urbane, Clive was entertaining and erudite, and he always smelled fantastic. How easily she’d slipped into a tranquil relationship with him. When he’d told her that he was old-fashioned and wanted to wait until the wedding night before they had sex, she’d been charmed.
And it was a major red flag she’d blown right past.
“‘Sweet’ is code for boring,” Tasha had warned when Kelsey broke the news that she and Clive weren’t having sex. “Who buys a car without test driving it first?”
Now she understood why Clive avoided having sex with her. Not because she was special as he’d claimed. Nope, because he wasn’t really interested. She was gullible and had taken him at his word.
What a dumbass. Wadding the letter in her fist, Kelsey tossed it into the wicker wastebasket.
“Good start.” Tasha gave a gleeful grin. “Let’s cash in those tickets and get this party started. You need a wild night with a hot guy. How long has it been since you’ve had sex?”
Well over eighteen months. Since long before she’d started dating Clive. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”
“Will you stop? You gotta get back out there. Time’s a-wastin’.” Tasha reached for her clutch purse, popped it open, and took out a fifth of Fireball whiskey. “I brought this for the wedding reception, but we need it ASAP.”
“Believe me.” Kelsey held up a palm. “I’m mad at myself for letting things get this far. I should have stopped the wedding, but my mother started the steamroller, and I just climbed aboard the way I always do.”
“Reason enough to take a shot.” Tasha chugged a mouthful of hooch, let loose with a satisfied burp, and pressed the whiskey into Kelsey’s hand.
“Drink,” Tasha commanded.
“Good gravy, I’m not wrecked. I promise.”
“But you should get wrecked. Get mad. Howl at the moon. Let loose.” Tasha stuck her arms out at her sides as if she was an airplane. “Wing woman at your service. Never fear, Tasha is here.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE CHRISTMAS DARE by Lori Wilde, we’re giving away a paperback copy The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books. Giveaway ends 11/4/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Author Lori Wilde…
A fifth generation Texan, LORI WILDE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics.
She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.