Book Blitz: Christmas at the Lake by Charlotte Blake
Christmas at the Lake
by Charlotte Blake
(Great Escapes, #2)
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Sometimes love gets forgotten …
Hugely successful Lexi Stuart is used to guys pursuing her, but for all the wrong reasons. Sure, she’s beautiful and rich, but the men in her life never seem to want anything more serious than just sex. It’s a stark reality she’s become used to.
As a code writer in Silicon Vally, Adam Hunt doesn’t have to worry about money. And as a heartthrob in general, he doesn’t need to worry about attracting women, either. But when he meets Lexi during a Christmas holiday in Lake Tahoe, he’s floored that she won’t give him the time of day after one wild night together.
Now, this sports bum is about to take Lexi on the ride of her life. All she needs to do is hang on!
NOTE: This STAND-ALONE romance contains very steamy love scenes. All of the books in the Great Escapes series can be read in any order.
Excerpt #1Sweeping views of the lake and the surrounding land were better than all of the other views she’d seen put together. Several chairs were situated by the windows with small drink tables between each pair. Two pool tables dominated the inner space, but that wasn’t all. There were three dart boards, and, she was delighted to see, two machines of skee ball.
“Oh, I love skee ball!” Lexi said, walking up to to one of the games. “How do I get the balls to come down?”
“Over here at the bar is a basket full of coins you can use to release them.”
She immediately went to the basket and grabbed a handful.
“I’ve never been very good at it,” she said, putting one of the coins into the slot.
Six wooden balls descended into the holder, and she was immediately distracted from both the tour and Adam. She took her first shot, ten points. Her second, ten points.
“I told you,” she said.
But on her next one, it went so far awry of her intended direction it landed in one of the fifty point cups.
“Ha! Look at that!” She smiled triumphantly.
Adam clapped appreciatively.
“I think we’ve seen all we need to for now, Mary. The lady seems to have found her activity for the morning.”
Mary laughed. “Well, if you two need anything else, don’t hesitate to come down to the office. There’s a fully stocked bar over there in the corner. Help yourselves.”
“Thank you for the tour, Mary. This place is wonderful.” Lexi still had her eyes on the machine.
“You’re quite welcome. I’ll leave you to it.”
Adam walked up next to Lexi, swiping one of the coins she had placed on the edge of the machine.
“Now this I’m good at.” He aimed his ball expertly and immediately sunk one into the fifty point cup.
Lexi was not deterred. She didn’t care about winning this game. It was simply fun for her. She made a mental note to have one of the machines installed in her apartment when she got back home.
“So,” Adam said, finishing up his game. “I think our minds were supposed to be on pool.”
“I know. Just a few more balls.” She was in heaven, completely distracted from everything else she’d had on her mind.
Adam walked over to set up the pool balls. “Just a few.”
But she didn’t stop. Finally he walked up behind her and whispered in her ear.
“You said you’d play me at pool, remember?”
The feeling of his lips brushing against her ear made her breath catch. She leaned down, bowling the last ball, then she turned. They stared at each other for a few moments. Then he moved in for a kiss.
It was forward of him, a risk.
But his lips were soft, delicate. He put one hand on the small of her back and drew her body toward him. The feeling of his body up against hers made her giddy. Usually, the men she was with stripped her down right away, not caring about the tease.
But this Adam … he knew how to do things. She was suddenly thrilled, filled with anticipation.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“For what, exactly?” she purred.
“For pool.” His words were quiet, suggestive.
“Are you sure that’s all you want to do?”
“For now.” He separated himself from her, walked over to the pool table, and grabbed her a cue and a piece of blue chalk.
She slumped as he walked away.
She couldn’t remember feeling the way she did now. She wanted him to take her upstairs, that was for sure. But her finely honed veneer was starting to crack a little. She was so used to being in charge. But he seemed to be leading this little game of theirs.
Just once, she reminded herself. Maybe twice.
Or maybe the whole trip.
Her family didn’t need to know, though she imagined they might figure it out. Her older brother, Andrew, and his wife, Amanda, had been hounding her for years about her need to find someone to settle down with. But why? So she could pop out a couple of kids? That wasn’t a life she wanted. Her work was too intense, too busy to be able to raise a child. Maybe when she was older, when there was no time left and she had made her fortune large enough to really sustain her for the rest of her life, then she could look for a man to hang onto and have children with. Or not; she could just do it on her own.
It was how she’d done everything since her mother had left her all that money. She was guarded, and trusted few. And that was fine with her. Her mother had been the same way, only with a dash of never-good-enough to hold over Lexi’s head.
It made it hard to leave work, even for the holidays. Even though her mother had passed years ago, she still felt the same pressure to perform. The same pressure to be the best at everything. No room for error. It was an expectation that both helped her rise and held her down. There was no winning. Not even now.
“I’ll let you break,” he said, wrenching her out of her thoughts. “Since you’re so terrible at this game, I feel it’ll be more fair to let you have the first shot.”
She smirked and walked over, taking the cue he’d offered and hanging it back up on the wall. She chose a shorter one more suited to her and rubbed some of the chalk onto the tip.
“You set the balls up wrong.” She leaned over the table, getting ready to take the first shot.
“I thought I just needed to keep the white one out.”
“That’ll be fine. I’ll beat you either way.”
But it didn’t work out that way. She was definitely talented at pool, but he was a perfect match to her skills. At the end of the first game, only three balls remained, two of hers and the eight ball. It was his turn and he sunk it without any trouble at all.
“You know, I’m starting to feel like maybe we should be making bets,” he said.
“No, I’m not betting you anything, you filthy liar.” She was laughing, but part of her was angry with herself for having given up the game so easily. “Best out of three.”
“You’re on. But not before a little taste.”
He walked up to her, leaning her gently against the table, and unloaded one of those kisses again. She tried hard not to gasp this time, but she couldn’t help it. She was tempted to toss the cue away and head upstairs. Her body was getting warmer and warmer every time he touched her. And in a way she wasn’t used to.
But there would be time for that later. It was only ten in the morning, and the snow was still coming down outside. She’d have at least two nights alone at the lodge with him. Hopefully.
So she picked up her cue and started searching through the pockets for the sunken balls, rolling them onto the table.
“Let me show you the right way to set the balls,” she said.
“I know the right way. I was just playing you. Are you sure you want to play again?” He walked up behind her and put his hands on her waist.
“We have all day for that,” she insisted as his mouth traveled to her earlobe, giving it a little bite. “Now hands off so I can show you how this is really done.”
But she had barely cracked the balls when he was on her again. It was getting harder and harder for her to resist him. She felt sure that she’d be up in his bedroom by noon.
Excerpt #2She knew she should have waited to drive over the pass to Lake Tahoe, but she just didn’t have that sort of patience. The snow was practically a blizzard now, and she pulled off to the side of the road where men waited to put on chains for motorists. She rolled down the window of her Tesla SUV, the crack just wide enough to slip the man a couple of bills.
“Chains are in the back.”
She rolled the window up again, wiping the snowflakes off her leather seats.
She was so ready for a break that she’d ignored the weather warnings and driven up on her own, purposely leaving her laptop at home. Now, if she didn’t get over the pass soon, she’d be sleeping in the car.
The hatch opened, and two men took out the boxes of chains she had stashed there. It was illegal to travel up this road without them; her brother, Jack, had reminded her of this, and she’d sent her assistant out to purchase a pair for the trip.
A frigid breeze blew through the car as the men closed the hatch, making her shiver a little. She pulled out a scarf from her bag and, wrapping it around herself, cranked up the heat.
The men finished quickly with the chains, but the rest of the drive was not quick at all. She had been listening to Christmas music, trying to get into the mood of the holiday. But as the storm increased in intensity, she switched over to the channel broadcasting road conditions.
“Highway 50 is open for the time being, but is expected to close within the hour. Blizzard conditions are expected to worsen for the next twenty-four hours. Motorists are advised to exit off the pass as soon as safely possible to allow snow clearing crews to plow the roads.”
Her wheels had more traction with the chains, but the going was slow, and the whole car vibrated from the rough mountain road.
She tapped her fingernails against the steering wheel, a nervous habit she had when she was stressed. Now she could only see a few feet in front of her. She knew that just off to her right was a deadly drop-off. She squinted at the windshield, trying desperately to keep her eyes on the tire tracks and red lights of the cars ahead.
She drove like this for over an hour. Shoulders hunched. Neck tight. The radio silent now.
Finally, the road started to descend from the mountain, and, just visible below, the lights of South Lake Tahoe came into view.
She drove through the town, signs for ski and snowmobile rentals winking down at her. Finally, the sign she’d been looking for popped out.
Black Bear Lodge
She held her breath as she turned down the uncleared lane, hoping that the SUV would be able to make it to the other side of the narrow drive.
The chains were what saved her. The car plowed through the snow, which accumulated along the front bumper and blew across the windshield. But the chains held traction all the way to the lodge. She pulled the car into the small parking lot, where just four others were parked, each made nearly unrecognizable by the snow piled on the roofs.
She parked, but left the car, and the heat, running. She pulled off her knee-high boots and replaced them with the snow boots she had bought at the last minute. Then came a puffy, silver jacket, which she zipped all the way to the top.
She looked around. No bellhop.
Sighing, she shut off the car and opened the door. The snow was so deep that it went above her protective boots. She trudged along to the back and retrieved her two large suitcases. Trying to roll the bags through the snow was nearly impossible, so she resorted to simply dragging them along. She was lucky; they were both light, one with clothing, one with gifts for her family. Gift cards and candles could only weigh so much.
As she passed through the lot, she saw that none of the cars were those of her family. They must have not made it over the mountain yet. They wouldn’t have unless they’d been right behind her on the drive. The news had told her that the pass was closed now.
She struggled with the suitcases up the steps to the main entrance of the building, spitting out the snowflakes that landed on her lips. By the time she got up the small flight of stairs, she was covered head to foot in heavy white flakes.
Even though she hurried to get inside, it was impossible not to notice that the lodge was spectacular. Long wood beams jutted upward, supporting the great vaulted ceiling. It was a large home, really, run by an older couple as a bed and breakfast. There were only a few rooms, and it was this privacy her dad had wanted when he’d had her book the vacation for everyone. In a day or two, when the storm ebbed, she would be joined by him, her two brothers, their wives, and one niece.
Secretly, she was happy to have a little time on her own before family descended upon her. They always had more questions than she felt like answering.
When was she going to settle down?
Has she been dating?
Work wasn’t everything, you know …
She sighed, her breath blowing out of her mouth like smoke from a cigarette.
Every light in the place was lit, casting a warm glow over the snowy landscape. She didn’t knock, and instead walked right in. Immediately, a gust of warm air washed over her.
“Hello?” she called.
She hadn’t seen them, but two men sat in front of a huge fireplace at the far end of the room. They turned at her voice.
“Hi,” one of them said, getting up and walking toward her.
“Hi,” she said. “Am I in the right place? Black Bear, right?”
“This is it.” He opened his arms.
The front room was huge, even bigger than it looked from outside. A staircase descended from the second floor, curving down toward a ten-foot-tall Christmas tree, its star soaring high above. It was decorated with what looked like family heirloom ornaments. Her own mother had built a collection over the years, and it looked like the owners here had done the same. The tree was a sparkling wonder that seemed to never end. Its scent filled the room, and she took a deep breath in.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” the man said.
“Mmm. How do I check in?” she asked, stomping the snow off her boots onto the mat.
“That’ll be Mary and Edward. They’re the ones who run this place. But I think they might’ve gone to bed already. It’s pretty late.”
She hadn’t noticed the time. It was already past ten.
“Mary left a note for you on the table. Can I help you with your bags?”
“Sure,” she said, leaving them where they stood.
She walked over to the entry table and picked up the note.
Sorry we haven’t been able to stay up to meet you. Your family’s rooms are in the east wing of the house. Please feel free to choose from the four of them. If you’d like wine or hot cocoa, there is a table close to the fire. Breakfast starts at seven and runs until ten. If you’re an early riser, you’ll also find coffee available at six.
Your father called to let us know that they have been unable to make it over the pass into Lake Tahoe. The roads have been closed, and it may be a couple of days before they reopen.
We look forward to meeting you in the morning.
Mary and Edward Holden
She sighed. “Can you help me upstairs, too?”
“Sure.” He outstretched one hand. “My name’s Adam. Over there is my brother Jake.”
Jake sent a wave in her direction.
She took Adam’s hand. “Lexi. Thanks for your help.”
For the first time, she got a good look at him. He was tall and broad, his brown hair cut short. Green eyes, too; her favorite. To her, he looked like he might be good for a fun night. Or maybe a few fun nights.
About the AuthorI am happy to call the San Francisco Bay Area home, where I lives with my husband, two kids, one dog and three cats. I started writing at an early age, but have only been writing novels for the past five years. I love the idea of love conquering all, and that is what drove me to begin the Great Escapes series, where the reader follows couples meeting up in exotic locations around the world. In this series, each book is a stand-alone, and each can be read in any order.
But readers, be forewarned, there is a healthy amount of steam in these books!
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy Great Escapes!