His deep laugh rolls over me like thunder in the distance. It's oddly inviting, making me want to laugh with him. Except his laugh is rusty, as if he doesn't use it often. And I'm pretty sure I swallowed my tongue when he said his name.
I threatened to mace my new boss. Awesome.
"What's your name, little elf?" he asks, still laughing at me. Unlike with Mr. Johnson, however, there's no malice in his voice and no judgement in his gaze. He isn't scowling at me either. His full lips are lifted into a half-smile that does strange things to my insides.
I briefly consider giving him a fake name and them moving to somewhere like Bolivia. But my adopted aunt, Leslie Holland, is on the school board here, so disappearing into the great beyond probably wouldn't work out. Besides, I like California. And I love Commodore.
"Lana Winters," I mumble, giving in to the inevitable. "I teach music here."
"So I gathered," he says, flashing that smile at me. Good lord! He has to be close to forty, but when he smiles, he looks like a little boy who is up to no good. It's wickedly hot. "I would shake your hand, but…" He hefts the box in his arms, silently pointing out that his hands are full.
"Jack Frost!" I curse. I forgot all about the ruined box and borrowed equipment all over the floor. He probably thinks I'm a total loon. "I'm so sorry. Um, the music room is this way." I bend to scoop up an armload of equipment and then hurry down the hall.
I think I hear him groan a curse—the box isn't that heavy—and then his footsteps sound behind me.
I suck in a deep breath, silently telling myself to get it together. Crushing on the new principal is a bad idea, and I've embarrassed myself enough already. Which is mostly his fault because I didn't expect anyone to be here.
Why is he here right now?
"Why are you working so late, Mr. Greenway?" I ask, too curious to keep the question to myself. It's two days until Christmas. No one works this late on Christmas break unless they don't have a choice. Heck, I'm only here to drop off the equipment the nursing home borrowed for the Christmas pageant.
They can't afford to buy musical equipment. Since I volunteer there and work here, I borrowed some of ours for them to use. Superintendent Thorne said it was okay. Maybe I should tell Mr. Greenway that before he thinks I'm sneaking around?
"I'm not your boss until January. Call me Sawyer. And I'm unpacking my office," he says when we reach the music room.
"On Christmas break?" I spin around to face him, surprised. "Why aren't you with your family?"
He flinches and his half smile falls into a frown. Pain flashes in his eyes, sending a bolt of regret spiraling through me.
"I'm sorry," I quickly whisper. "That's none of my business. Ignore me."
"It's fine," he lies. His reassuring smile doesn't meet his eyes, but it makes my heart jump like it's attached to marionette strings. "My parents and siblings are in San Bernardino."
"Oh. That's not too far."
"It's far enough," he murmurs.
Interesting. He wants to be there; I can hear it in his voice. Instead, he's here.
"Do you have any family here?"
He shakes his head.
I gasp. "You're spending Christmas alone?"
A football game and a cold one was my Christmas plan.
Until Lana Winters swept in and took over.
Spending the holiday with this cheery little elf is all too appealing.
She's the only person alive who makes the guilt lie quietly.
I swore I would never forgive myself for what I caused.
But when she turns those bright eyes on me…all I feel is peace.
She's my miracle, and I'm not letting her go.
Sawyer Greenway's family is broken. I think he might be too.
Letting him spend Christmas alone would be cruel.
Falling for him would be insane.
But my heart never listens to my head.
When he smiles at me, all I feel is love.
I can't heal his family, but I will heal his heart.
Even if doing so means risking my own.
When this older man meets his curvy younger woman, he has no idea what sort of healing magic is in store for him. If holiday romance, determined heroines, and over-the-top men make your heart happy, you will love Lana and Sawyer's story. This sweet, steamy romance from Nichole Rose comes complete with a sticky sweet and guaranteed HEA.