Year End Frenzy

I find it funny (and still sad) that when the year is winding down and we should be settling in for the winter (at least here in the northern hemisphere), many of us are instead running around frantically shopping for gifts or trying to cram in as much as possible before the end of year. Just like the earth, we need a break, too, a cycle of rest and regrouping. I’ve been guilty of the year-end rush myself some years, but I am trying to slow things down, to take more time to recoup from the previous eleven months, while I think about the upcoming new year. My hope is that with some down-time, my creativity will get a little boost so when I really start to push again in a few weeks, I can get back to making good progress.

In the meantime, I’m reading, we’re watching holiday movies, and I have some baking plans for my short day-job week this week. Some of what I’ve been reading are stories of my own that I hope to get out in the world in the next year or two. One of those is the first in my tiger shifter series, and I have a little snippet of that to share with you today.


When he let the conversation flag for a moment, the band that had begun playing in the next room half an hour ago caught her attention. If her toe-tapping and faint smile were any indication, they were playing a song she liked.

Even better.

Harley got to his feet and held out his hand. “Come dance with me.”

Wariness clouded her eyes instantly.

“Please. You looked like this is a song you enjoy, so dance with me.”

Evidently her normal logic was a little clouded by the wine she’d consumed with dinner and by how tired she was, because she put her hand in his, her fingers sending heat over his palm and up his arm.

He didn’t want to spook her, but he pulled her as near as he dared when they stepped onto the dance floor, setting his free hand on her hip to guide her steps, and she put her hand on his shoulder.

She smelled good. Something vaguely citrusy, and, beneath that, Tessa. He inhaled deeply, rubbing his thumb across the back of her hand.

She shivered.

The song, and therefore the dance, wasn’t nearly long enough, but Harley knew not to push his luck when she stepped back at the end of it. Warm color tinted her cheeks, and she didn’t meet his gaze. “I really do need to get some sleep, Harley.”

“I did promise, didn’t I?” He consoled himself with the notion that this was only his first move in what would be a very long game.

He didn’t even protest when she remained quiet for the drive back to the house in the dusky summer evening. They walked into the house in silence. She shot him a curious glance when he continued at her side up the stairs. “Thank you for feeding me, Harley,” she said when they reached the first landing.

“No problem.” He touched her elbow, and she resumed walking along the hallway to the guest room she always used.

She swallowed as she turned to face him.

He gave in to the urge to brush a strand of hair away from her temple an watched her blue eyes widen, surprise darkening them.

Harley bent nearer. Her hand shot up, so his mouth ran into it. He lifted one eyebrow.

“What are you doing?” Her voice quavered just a little.

He smiled against her palm, enjoying the warmth of her skin. “Kissing you good-night. It’s customary at the end of a date.”

Her eyes widened still more. “We’re not dating.”

He kissed her palm. “I believe we just returned from a dinner date. Dancing and drinks.” He inhaled her scent, and his desire kicked up a few more notches.

Her throat worked as she swallowed, and color tinted her cheeks. “I think this is a bad idea.”

He stifled another smile at the way her voice shook and instead flicked his tongue out to taste her skin.

Her breath caught.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea.” He nibbled his way across her palm to her thumb. “You taste good. I can’t wait to taste your mouth.”

Her breathing resumed, much faster now. “Harley.”

He caught her hand and eased it to the wall beside her head as he closed the distance between them so only an inch separated their lips. “Yes, Tessa?”

Emotion swirled in her wide blue eyes. He scented her burgeoning arousal in the air, and his body tightened in response.

He waited several heartbeats, watching her gaze slide to his mouth, and noted the way her tongue flicked out at the corner of her lips. Then he ducked in to kiss her.


Are you caught up in the holiday frenzy? Are you trying to get out of it, too? Maybe just sneak in a five minute break for yourself, fifteen if you can manage. Long enough to catch your breath and have a nice cup of tea or hot cocoa. If you can manage longer, definitely get in some reading time. I’ve got a couple things I’m reading right now, between looks at my goal list for 2022 (but that’s a topic for another week). If you haven’t yet, maybe check out one of my books above?

Let me know how you do with getting in a few minutes of down-time this week. At this stage of the year, in this crazy year (second in a row!), you have definitely earned a little bit of time to catch your breath.

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