New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde has created a phenomenon with her Twilight, Texas novels. Readers fell in love with the small town and its romantically-inclined denizens who believe in the power of cookies and mistletoe to bring people together. In her latest installment in the Twilight, Texas series, THE CHRISTMAS KEY, the Cookie Club is at it again meddling in the course of true love by whipping up a batch of matchmaker cookies designed to help the lovelorn find their soulmates.
There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love.
She saw him in her dreams . . .
It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face-to-face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there an even greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have.
She was his buddy’s sister . . .
Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and one of his fellow soldiers loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son . . . and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet, sexy smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?
“Will you look at that,” Naomi said, head thrown back, bathing in the golden glow. “We’re standing under
Shepherd’s heart clutched, downshifted. Chug-chug-chug.
“So we are.”
Her eyelids lowered and she sent him a sultry look that knocked his circuitry haywire. She leaned forward,
went up on her tiptoes.READ MORE
Huh? Chug-chug-chug went his ragged heart. Did she want him to kiss her?
He knotted his fingers into fists. Quelling the urge to sweep her into his arms and kiss her until neither one of
them could breathe.
She puckered her lips, closed her eyes.
“Naomi,” he whispered.
She opened one eye, whispered back, “What is it?”
“What are you doing?”
“We’re standing under mistletoe in December. You’re supposed to kiss me.”
“Naomi Luther,” he said, fully shocked. Delighted by her audacity, but shocked nonetheless. “Are you asking
me to kiss you?”
“Not me.” She pointed upward. “The mistletoe.”
“We’re standing on the street in front of your house. Where you live with your parents and nephew. In public.
Where anyone and everyone can see.”
“It’s out of my hands,” she said. “You have to kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. It’s the rules, and you
don’t break the rules.”
He could kiss her. Yes, he could. He could obey the rules. Follow protocol. Stick to tradition. Do the expected
thing. It was, after all, what he did best.
What had he become? Someone who followed the rules at all costs? A man who couldn’t think for himself?
In his desire not to end up like his parents, had he allowed fear to lead him into blind obedience? Had he
surrendered his common sense in exchange for safety? Gone overboard in the opposite direction?
Yes, laws were there for a reason. He wasn’t arguing that. But ignoring his gut when his instincts were shouting at him to go left when all the rules said go right was treacherous.
If he’d dared to question his values last year, and go with Clayton to the orphanage, he wouldn’t be here
today. And Clayton would be alive to celebrate Christmas with his family.
A punch of sorrow over his failing slammed him squarely in the throat.
Yes, Shepherd wanted to kiss her more than anything in the world, but not here. Not like this. This particular
rule was made for breaking.
Naomi closed her eyes, and puckered her lips into a smile.
“You might need mistletoe to justify wanting to kiss me.” Shepherd growled. “But I don’t.”
Her eyes flew open. “Huh?”
He dipped his head closer, lowered his voice. “When I kiss you, woman, it’s going to be because it’s the right
time and the right place. Not because you’re standing under a clump of some parasitic plant. It’s going to be
hot and it’s going to last a long time and your knees are going to buckle. No mistletoe required. Count on it.”
Body shaking from the control it took not to plunder her sweet pink lips, Shepherd turned and walked away.
When I kiss you, woman . . .
His words rang in her ears. A blip-pulse of wondrous anticipation jumped through her. Naomi shivered from
the inside out.
The look in his eyes had issued a sacred promise.
Naomi licked her lips. She’d been playing with fire. She knew it when she’d stepped under the mistletoe.
Driven by an uncharacteristic recklessness. More akin to Clayton’s personality than her own.
Why had she done it? Yes, hearing that Mark had volunteered to whittle handmade toys for the toy drive, to play Santa to needy children, melted her heart. Yes, when she saw how Hunter came alive around him, her brain flooded with what-if fantasies. Yes, the fiery heat pushing through her body whenever she was near him had a whole lot to do with her urges. And yes, he was sexy as ten kinds of sin.
All valid excuses to kiss a man.
But in the long run, pursuing something with him couldn’t pay off. He was a temporary employee. He’d be
moving on after the holidays. He was a former marine who was still lugging around a lot of baggage. She was
in the process of adopting her orphaned nephew. She was on a protracted break from an eleven-year,
on-again, off-again relationship with her high school sweetheart. So many reasons why she should stay in her lane and mind her own business.
For the rest of the week, her thoughts vacillated. She did her work, came home, cooked dinner. Sat across
from Mark at the table. Made polite chitchat. Kept her desires on a chain. Watched him leave every night as he
limped back to the church. Cutting a figure so lonely it yanked at every one of her heartstrings.