All I want for Christmas… cuddle up by the fire


A #free story and a massive  giveaway!

Christmas now? Oh yes!

All the Harper Impulse Written Fireside writers are gathering about our virtual fire again, only this time, we are playing the game a little differently.

Lori Connelly ran a competition through Harper Impulse – an imprint of Harper Collins – in June to find a paragraph to start us all off with our own individual stories, here’s the winner…

Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniel’s heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon.’  

by Georgia Beyers

So in August we will be sharing our stories, or teasers, on our  blogs and then all the stories will be published in an anthology in time for Christmas. Plus, there will be a massive competition running to support it all the way through August.

Fifteen authors, fifteen stories.

One shared, starting paragraph…

Here is the start of my story

All I want for Christmas… cuddle up by the fire

by Jane Lark© Publishing rights owned by Harper Impulse

Part One ~ FATE



“Oh! My God. What a douche!” Unbelievable! Water dripped from my hair. He had soaked my coat. I stuck my middle finger up at Porsche driver as he raced on up the street.
He’d even ruined my Mulberry bag, I’d only bought it a month ago, for my birthday.
The Porsche stopped at a red light a little ahead. I stepped out of the way as another vehicle ran through the puddle, sending up a fountain of dirty rain water.
“Ah!” The bus carried straight on along the embankment road, ignoring me.
God. Karma really had it in for me today. Santa was definitely not calling this year.
If I ran maybe I could get the bus driver to open the door at the lights.
The lights turned to green and both the douche Porsche driver and the red London bus carried on.
I threw my bag onto my shoulder and began walking, well away from the curb and the puddles.
It would be half an hour until the next bus came; I could be home by then.
Some guy stared at me, probably questioning my drowned-rat look. I stuck my tongue out at him.
“Merry Christmas.” “This Christmas…” “All I want for––” Rang out form the shops across the street.
Everyone had broken up for the holidays, but I had nothing to look forward to. Daniel had custody of my parents.
His parents and mine were old friends and Mum had said, “Don’t you dare come home, we’ve invited Daniel, with Mark and June, as we do every Christmas, and I told them you will not be here, so you cannot come. And do not complain. You brought this on yourself.”
That seemed to be the verdict of everyone I knew. Of course everyone I knew was Daniel’s friend too, and they had all witnessed the disastrous surprise birthday party he’d thrown for me.
So I was home alone for Christmas…
People annoyed me though, why couldn’t they understand that just because someone was ‘really nice’ didn’t mean they were the right man for you.
Daniel would be on the nice list. But nice had gotten boring.
I don’t want to be an old married woman, wearing slippers in front of the TV. I’m twenty-three. Why couldn’t people get that?
Everything had been too comfortable and cosy. I’d had an itch for weeks, probably ever since Daniel had started talking about marriage and babies…
I wasn’t ready for that.
But he wasn’t the sort who read between the lines and I hadn’t had the guts to spell it out, then he’d proposed before everyone at the party.
The future flashed before my eyes. The same job, the same man, the same life, every day forever. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted difference; and then I’d known––I didn’t love him.
Everyone there would have said, yes… I’d said, no.
The party had disintegrated into chaos. I’d left. I’d moved out the next day.
My home now, the one I’d be alone in for Christmas, was a bedroom, in a shared house.
At least the house was nice though. It was a beautiful Victorian terrace house. I had an attic room.
“Hey, Charlotte! You’re soaked, do you want a lift?”
I looked sideways to see an F-Type Coupe pulled up on the double yellow lines behind me. My boss, Carrick, leaned across from the driver’s seat, he’d shouted through the open side-window.
“I’d love a lift! Thank you! But I’ll get your jaguar wet!”
A black cab behind Carrick slammed a fist on his horn.
Carrick had stopped in the bus and taxi lane; the same lane the Porsche driver had sped along.
“It’s leather, I can wipe it. Get in!”
I smiled, hurried to open the door and slid in next to him. “You’ll get a ticket stopping here, there’s CCTV everywhere.”
“Who care’s I can afford it.” He grinned at me.
Carrick was easy going, light hearted and fun to work for.
“Thanks for this.”
“Welcome.” He looked in the wing mirror, indicated and pulled out, then glanced at me. “Where to? Home.”
He had warm blue eyes––and dark brown hair.
“Battersea. I’m in a new place. Daniel and I split”
“I know, I heard, you’d better guide me.”
The damp seeped through my coat into my stocking. I shivered.
“How come you got so wet, I thought the rain had stopped by the time you left?”
“It had, but some douche drove through a puddle when I was at the bus stop.”
“Awesome.” He looked over and laughed, then breathed in. “Sorry. I doubt you found it funny. I’ll get you home to a warm bath, and… What are you doing for Christmas? I’m doing fuck all myself, I’m not in the mood for it. But I thought you’d have been on your way back to your parents.”
I glanced at him. His marriage had broken up at the beginning of the summer. “I’m not in the mood for it either, and besides my parents invited Daniel, not me.”
“That’s shit.” He glanced over.
“I know.”
“I thought you and Daniel were solid.”
“That’s the problem, so did everyone, so no one understands me turning him down.”
“Why did you then?”
“Cause I was bored, Carrick. He never did anything to make my heart race… He never made my heart race… I want to feel my heart racing… We aren’t the same.”
His smile quirked.
Carrick would get that, the guy was a complete player. He’d been messing around on Sharon for the whole time they’d been together. His marriage had broken up for a good reason, she’d caught him with his hand in the pants of some woman at a club they’d gone to. Carrick, was all about living for now. A typical risk loving entrepreneur. He’d started his marketing business at eighteen, and it had soared. The guy was only twenty-five and he had everything.
He looked ahead, navigating the London traffic. “You know, Charlotte, seeing as we’re both free, why don’t we spend Christmas together?”
Are you kidding me? “Are you hitting on me?”
His twisted smile quirked higher, but he didn’t look my way.
My heart pounded, thundering through my veins. I was mad? He’s a player. Gorgeous, but still a player––and “You’re my boss.”
“Well I’ll tell you what, I won’t be your boss for Christmas. And that is the last time I’m saying that word. That is part of the deal. We can head up to my cottage in Cumbria if you like, and hide away from ex’s and people who are annoyingly happy. Do you fancy it?”
He was still married––they hadn’t got divorced yet.
His blue eyes looked at me, and caught my gaze as he smiled, before he looked back at the road.
I fancied it. I fancied him. The guy was making my heart erratic––and that was what I had missed when I’d settled for Daniel. I was not settling for anything less than extreme now. If I was going to be on the naughty list, I may as well go all out…
“Why not…” So what if Santa left me a cold lump of coal, there was potential for hot burning lava with Carrick. The guy oozed sexual knowledge, and stamina, and I knew what his legs looked like in shorts, I saw him return from his lunch time run every day, and I could pretty much guess what the rest of him looked like, I had seen his sweaty Tshirt clinging to his abs and broad chest.
I was no longer cold.
Daniel and I had been together since we were virtually kids, he hadn’t been my first but he was my second, I had never experimented.
“There’s no TV there, absolutely nothing to let the world in,” He grinned at me, “and there’s a log fire in every room––”
“Your love nest?” Excitement sparked through her nerves, and twisted in her tummy.
He grinned at me, a wry look in his eyes, like he laughed at me. “It isn’t my love nest, it’s where Sharon and I went to escape. She’s the only woman who’s been there.”
I gripped my ruined bag tighter, excitement shifting a little towards fear, but that only made my heart race more. “Cool. If I hear one more Christmas song, I am going to scream…”
He laughed. “You said that word, if you use it again I’ll demand some sort of penance…”
I glanced at him and laughed. Carrick––a little of easy going, take life as it comes, passionate about everything––was just what I needed. I was absconding from THAT word and throwing all in for the naughty list.
“I’ll drop you at home, so you can pack a case, and I’ll go over to mine and do the same, then pick you up in two hours. I’ll have some food delivered to the cottage for when we get there too. But one thing––do not expect a turkey dinner…”
I laughed…


come back tomorrow for

Part Two ~ Will We…

and in the meantime, why not read some of the other stories and enter our competition for a load of awesome #free stuff donated by the Harper Impulse authors, including a $70 Amazon voucher! and to read all their #free stories click on the frog below to find all the links.

This is one amazing GIVEAWAY


blank wf hop pic


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