Merry Christmas to all!
This is my favourite time of the year. Time to spend with all the family you vow to spend more time with every year but never seem to manage it, gifts to give and unwrap, trees to decorate and cookies to bake, and an obscene amount of food to eat.
It is honestly my absolute favourite time of year.
And so, to celebrate, I’ve decided to share a peek into a special moment of Jax and Charlie’s from the first Genie novel, Her Wish. I hope you enjoy it!
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you have a fabulous holiday.
Flakes of snow drifted in lazy swirls from the heavens to settle on the streets of New York. Being Christmas Eve, those streets were packed with panicked men, desperate to search out the perfect piece of jewellery, or sweater, or shoes, or whatever their lover had asked of them.
Christmas decorations hung around the city, their cheerful colours and lights reflected onto the rush, mixing with the bright beam of headlights as cabs inched their way up the roads. Horns melded with the sound of chatter and the warbling of some carollers. It was a confusing, challenging crush.
Weary, Charlie was glad enough to do a booty dance by the time she reached Jax’s apartment building. Home, she reminded herself with a little headshake of bemusement. This glorious piece of Upper West Side property was home. Or at least the seventieth floor was. She was still getting used to that – in fact, she’d adjusted quicker to seeing her name linked to America’s Sexiest Genie than the grandeur of her new lodgings.
She greeted the doorman by name as she stepped from the frigid cold into a foyer that was tastefully decorated in shades of gold and bronze, with a Christmas tree as tall and wide as it was gorgeous next to the curved desk.
“Hello, Ms Donahue,” Danny replied, giving her his easy grin. It had taken a few months of Charlie living in the building to wear him down, but he’d shed his formal exterior with her. His cheeks were ruddier than usual, his blond cowlick sticking up like he’d been shocked. He glanced at the snow decorating her thick duffle coat. “Really coming down now?”
“It’s slow but steady,” she confirmed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we wake up to five feet of the stuff tomorrow.”
“Maybe you should convince Jax to flash you to the Bahamas.”
She laughed, a quick bright sound as she headed for the elevator bank. “I’d have to be drugged to agree to people seeing me in a bikini, Danny. Anyway, we’re heading over to have dinner with Mavis, one of Jax’s old friends. No Bahamas.”
“I’d go to the Bahamas,” she heard him mutter as she stepped into a lift.
Her reflection grinned back at her as the doors slid closed and the elevator smoothly started up. It was still surreal to her that she was dating a man who could, with a thought, ‘pop’ them to anywhere in the world. His place in Paris, a chic flat in London, the Bahamas as Danny had wistfully suggested. She was more used to a tiny apartment in Hudson Heights and worrying over her bookshop’s finances than the minor fame she’d accrued for being the woman who had caught Jax Michaels, WFY’s premier Genie.
Charlie eyed herself in the reflection, at the bulky coat that covered her to her knees, the butter-yellow knit hat over a slide of ruler-straight brown hair. Her face could generously be called interesting: a straight nose, lips that were a shade full, hazel eyes that tilted at the corners. Nothing to be blown away by. She’d never been bothered by that, still wasn’t, but did find it perplexing sometimes that such a perfect man could be so in love with her.
But then she did have a superior personality.
She snorted with humour, and crossed over the threshold as the lift doors opened with a ping.
And stopped short to the sight of a winter wonderland.
Her mouth dropped as her eyes roved over the huge open-plan apartment, decorated with a few strands of tinsel when she’d left for work that morning, now a riot of lights and colour.
She stepped forward a few steps, chuckling at the mistletoe that was levitating every foot or so. Sapphire and gold tinsel wound around the fireplace, around the cinema-screen-sized TV. Fairy lights glimmered on the ceiling – magic, obviously – and a large, full tree sat in the corner, glimmering with gold and blue, and topped with a gold star. Literally gold, she realised when she moved closer. Had to be, the way the metal shone in the fire that licked and curled in the fireplace. And finally, boxes wrapped in shiny blue and gold foil with glittering bows filled the space under the tree.
Hands settled on her waist, and only because she’d caught the scent of apples a second before did she relax. She let herself be turned, let herself be caught into a kiss of passion, of warmth, of home. When her toes began to curl, when the clutch in her belly made her knees weak, she pushed him away with a laugh. “You’ve been busy.”
“I was trying to be. Come back here.” Jax’s unbelievably handsome face wore a look of mischief, of pure sex appeal as his ocean-blue eyes glittered with their own magical gold flecks. “We’re still under mistletoe.”
He drew her back for a lingering kiss, his hands settling on her hips – his preferred position.
“Tell the truth, Charm Boy,” she asked, breathless when they separated. “You picked blue and gold because they show off your eyes, didn’t you?”
Absolute innocence blinked at her. “Would I do that?”
“In a minute. No, in a second. A micro-second.”
“Would you prefer everything to be beige?”
She poked him. Then sighed. “It’s beautiful. It took you, like, a minute, right?”
“I had to think about the placement,” he defended his work.
“You Genies.” She shook her head. “Utterly lazy. Always taking the easy path.”
“You didn’t complain the other night at the opera.” His voice dipped, his eyes darkening. “In fact, you demanded I flash us back.”
“Duh, it was the opera. The fastest path away will always get my vote.” Yet she shivered at the memory of what had happened when he’d got them home, how he’d pressed her up against the wall of windows that looked out across Manhattan. How he’d taken her, whispering love words in her ear.
“How was your day?” he asked, diverting her attention from that memory.
“Busy. No, Jax, we killed.” Her grin was infectious and had him smiling back. “I’m still enough of a curiosity that shoppers will come in to stare and maybe buy a book or two. And of course, buy my famous cupcakes. How about you?”
“Made a few appearances, said a lot of speeches.” He shrugged, then took her hand. “But I’m officially off the clock and ready to have my first Christmas with my girl.”
“Aw. Except…” She pointed to the presents with her free hand in accusation, brows lowered. “I thought I said we weren’t buying presents.”
“I didn’t. They’re from Kate, from Mavis, from Josh,” he said, speaking of her best friend and his, and his assistant.
“Good.” She had had no idea what to get for the man who literally could have whatever he wanted, so had avoided the problem by launching an offensive, declaring presents off limits. She was pleased he’d followed through, though surprise tickled the edges. Jax pretty much did what Jax wanted, and he’d complained that he was missing an opportunity to spoil her. It was one of the things that had attracted her to him in the first place. He had such a big heart.
“But,” he continued, “I do have a gift for you.” It provoked a frown from her. “I didn’t buy it,” he added. He twined his fingers with hers and tugged her to the palatial kitchen. “I wanted to do something to show you how much you mean to me.”
“Damn it, Jax.” She stopped short for the second time when she saw the six misshapen, slightly burnt cupcakes topped with sloppy icing sitting on the counter. Her heart wobbled a little. “You made me cupcakes?”
“I didn’t buy them,” he stressed.
She continued to stare at the ugly things that nobody in their right mind would think were from a bakery. “You made me cupcakes.”
“It’s harder than it looks. This is actually the third batch. The first turned to charcoal and the second melted. I don’t even know how I managed that.”
He cared for her in a way nobody ever had. Understood what would mean more to her than some expensive necklace or designer shoes. He could’ve conjured six perfect cupcakes. Instead, he’d gone to the effort of trying to bake because he knew she loved to bake. He loved her.
Her smile was brilliant as she angled her face upward. “They’re perfect.”
“You haven’t tried them yet,” he warned.
And because she loved him, knew him, she camouflaged just how awful they were when the powdery, acidic, sour flavour hit her tongue. “Mmm,” she managed. “Yummy.”
“Really?” His face lit up so it looked boyish, the bronzed blond hair in jagged waves, the killer cheekbones highlighting the eyes that sparkled. “There’s a special ingredient.”
Poison? she thought with an internal struggle to keep her lips from contorting into a grimace as she chewed determinedly. And swallowed on a small shudder of relief. “Well, they’re great. I love the effort you went through.” She put the cake down – threw it down, really – and slipped her arms around his neck, lifting onto her toes to give him a soft kiss. “Thank you.”
“Keep eating,” he urged. “See if you can guess what makes them special.”
Unable to think of a reason why not to besides faking a heart attack, Charlie smiled thinly and picked up the cake again. Only this time, when she bit down, she bit something hard and metallic.
Her forehead creased as she carefully extricated the cake from her teeth.
Then she saw the glint of diamond. And her heart slammed against her ribcage so hard she staggered.
Her wild eyes flew to Jax – and down to where he kneeled at her feet. He was now dressed in a tuxedo, candles glowing in tiny glass bowls around them.
“Oh God,” was all she could think of to say.
“Charlie,” he said, a wealth of emotion in his voice. “From the moment I met you, I knew you weren’t like any other woman. You were rude, hostile and frankly, the fact that you didn’t swoon still perplexes me.”
She hiccupped a laugh through a throat gone thick with tears.
“I never wanted to fall in love, but thank God I did.” He swallowed. “Saying You complete me wouldn’t be right, and I know you’d only gag. But I’m better with you, Charlie, better because of you, better because you make me want to be a man who you’re proud to be with.”
The ring appeared in his hand, a platinum band with a diamond that had to be at least five carats. It sparkled like the lights on the Christmas tree behind him, every bit as bright as the words he spoke.
“I know you know I’m yours. This would be a way of saying you’re mine, too. That we belong to each other, for every hour, every minute, every second of the rest of our lives. Love isn’t perfect – there’s always compromises. But you ate that cupcake, Charlie.”
She glanced at the half-eaten thing in her hand.
“It’s probably the worst thing you’ve ever eaten,” he said on a small grin. “But you ate it because you saw how much it meant to me that you did.”
“This was a test?” she demanded, gesturing so that crumbs flew.
Jax stood, crowded her against the counter. “You ate the cupcake,” he repeated, softer, his eyes just as soft, just as dazzling as the ring he offered. “There’s no other woman for me, Charlotte Donahue. You’re it. I love you, always and forever. Say you’ll be mine.”
Charlie inhaled, still quaking on the inside. Her heart was cartwheeling, her stomach in knots and love overflowed like a vat of molten gold.
“I’ll say…” she said slowly, glancing from the ring to his eyes. “…that we’ll be each other’s.” Then the grin spread across her face. “Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you, Jax.”
His smile was blinding, his exalted whoop making her laugh as he picked her up and spun her around. He pressed a kiss to her lips, his arms tight around her.
“Ass,” she said when the kiss ended. She took great delight in shoving the rest of the cupcake in his mouth, in his pained look when he chewed. Then held out her hand. “Put it on.”
He swallowed. “I already did.”
And so the sneaky Genie had, she realised as she stared at the beautiful ring on her finger. It looked too expensive, too ostentatious, too perfect. It looked like Jax.
So it looked just right.
“Perfection for perfection,” he said, admiring it as she did. Then laughed as she whacked him with the flat of her hand.
He caught the hand in his, kissed it. “But don’t feel bad about not getting anything for me, gorgeous. This is enough. More than.”
“Who said I didn’t get anything for you?” With a smile as silky as the Victoria Secret set she’d put on that morning, Charlie tugged him forward, nipped at his chin. “Aren’t you gonna unwrap your present?”
“I love Christmas,” he murmured before taking her mouth in a deep, drugging kiss.
Hope you enjoyed this special Holiday scene! If you fancy reading more about Jax and Charlie, or want to know how it all began, you can find Her Wish and its sequel, His Command at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and any other good e-tailer!
Have a great Christmas!