I hope you have been enjoying the Sneak Peeks of the Love, Christmas Romance Collection.
This collection of 20 never before published novellas will be available October 1 for pre-order.
For a limited time, the collections will be only 99cents!
This week bestselling author Leanne Banks is sharing Chapter 1 of her novella in the collection, We Need a Little Christmas.
Dedicated to David Hogan and in special memory of Cristy and Grandpa.
“Everyone wants something from me,” Justin Dane Burgess muttered as he looked at all the requests on his desk. His retail company was busy enough this time of year without the requisite donation aspect of the holiday season.
His assistant, Francine Thomas said, “You don’t have to contribute to all of them. You’re very generous.”
“You know it’s Christmas. I don’t make appearances, so I make donations to keep Frank Fashions and Home Goods in a good light to our customers.” he asked.
“Or, because you’re generous and have a good heart,” Francine said.
“I’m not sure I agree with either of those,” he said and signed several more checks.
“I must ask you about one charity,” she said, clearly reluctant.
He looked at her with a doubtful expression. “Yes?”
Francine smiled. “That’s all you needed to say,” she said.
“Ms. Thomas” he said. “I need more information.”
“Many of the charities have requested your attendance at special functions,” she began.
“Not interested in special functions,” he said.
Francine nodded. “True, but I thought you might make an exception.”
“Well, she just seems so nice and earnest. I don’t think she’s trying to win your heart. She just wants your presence at her event to increase its visibility.”
“Hmm. So she got to you? It happens at least once a year,” he said, signing another check.
“She gives coats to the homeless. She has given several off her own back,” Francine said.
“Hmm. What an opportunity for great press for her charity,” he said.
Francine sighed. “With all due respect, sir, you’re too bitter for your own good sometimes.”
“Stuck in your ways, sir,” she said, pursing her lips and shaking her silver blonde head at him.
“I’m not a public person,” he reminded her. “I hire people for that.”
“Everyone needs to step outside their comfort zone every now and then,” Francine said.
“And how have you done that?” he asked, turning the question on her because it was easier.
“I’m taking rap line-dancing classes,” she said and lifted her chin. “What are you doing?”
Justin blinked. The image of his senior silver-haired secretary participating in a rap line-dance nearly fried his brain.
“Well?” Francine said expectantly.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said.
“Of course you don’t,” she said. “Because you’re stuck in a rut.”
Justin wouldn’t let just anyone speak to him in such a way, but Francine was one woman he trusted. “Leave the invite on my desk. I’ll look at it tomorrow morning. I have another phone conference tonight.”
Francine frowned. “Are you sure you can’t take a quick visit tonight with Ms. Johansen?”
“Absolutely not,” Justin and strode to his office. Francine meant well and she was extremely trustworthy, but Justin understood himself and humanity.
Everyone had always wanted something from him. Today was no different.
Lilly Johansen stepped inside the downtown office building and smiled at the security person. “I’m here to see Mr. Burgess.”
The security woman rang someone else and nodded. “Fifth floor,” she said and nodded toward a bank of elevators.
|Books are Magical!|
Excitement climbed with each passing floor. Lilly clenched her pink gloved hands together. The doors opened and she stepped into a lobby where a silver-haired woman resided over a desk. Lilly knew this was Francine, the gate-keeper.
Lilly smiled again. “You must be Francine Thomas. Thank you for your responses to me.”
Francine pursed her lips. “I’m sorry, but Mr. Burgess wasn’t receptive to your invitation. He will give your charity a donation, but he’s adamant about making personal appearances. If you’ve noticed, you can’t find any photos of him on the web. He’s very private.”
Lilly nodded. “May I wait here a little while just in case he changes his mind?”
Francine looked at her sympathetically. “You can, but I’m quite sure he won’t meet with you.”
Lilly sighed. “I’ll give it a shot,” she said and sank down on her chair, loosening her coat and removing her gloves. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes.
A vision flooded through her. A long time ago, there was a young woman and a toddler on the street in the snow. The young woman had been her mother.
Lilly remembered the sensation of bitter cold. She remembered how her mother, thin from disease, had hugged her tight.
Lilly remembered her stomach growling with hunger as the snow swirled around them. “We’ll be fine,” her mother said. “You’ll be fine.” Her mother rubbed her shoulders. “We’ll be warm and fed in no time.”
Her mother pulled them into an alley and under the ledge of a building entrance. “Just rest,” her mother said. “We’ll be fine.”
Lilly’s eyes opened. Her stomach squeezed tight. She glanced around the office. Francine had left. The lights outside the office were dimmed. No sign of Mr. Burgess.
Sighing, Lilly rose and buttoned her coat and pulled on her gloves. Perhaps, she should make a list of donors to ask to attend the charity event with her. Mr. Burgess had been her first and only choice, so…
Justin finished his teleconference then checked his messages. Nothing that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. He shrugged on his coat and noticed the guilt-inducing paper message from Francine. Ms. Johansen was here. Wish you would reconsider.
Justin crumpled the piece of paper and tossed it into the trash. He wouldn’t be manipulated into attending a charity event just because.
As he rode down the elevator, however, he did feel a smidge of guilt. He hated himself for it, but it was there. He ordered his car delivered from the garage.
Taking a deep breath to move on, he stepped outside the building into the chilly night. Snow and sleet fell. The ice felt like needles. Midwest winters were unforgiving. He lifted the hood of his black cashmere wool coat knowing he had another just like it in his closet at home if he ruined this one.
He glanced across the street and spotted a young blonde woman giving her coat to an elderly woman. He stood, unwillingly fascinated.
A second later, he saw the young woman remove her gloves and place them on the elderly woman’s hands.
Justin forced himself to look away, but his determination didn’t last. He glanced back. The older woman shuffled away.
The younger woman stared after her and hugged her arms around herself. Justin decided the young chick could call a car service. Uber was only a text away.
He turned away and got into his car, then gave into the urge to glance across the street one last time. Unable to see either woman, he searched the street from one end to the other.
He finally spotted a woman down on the curb and felt a clench in his gut. He could call emergency or he could help.
Justin reluctantly made a U-turn to check on the younger woman. She wasn’t moving. Stopping beside her, he got out and looked down. “You’re not okay,” he said, seeing that her eyes were closed. “Hello? Hello?”
Sighing, he picked her up and carefully put her in the backseat of his car. He couldn’t leave her out in the elements waiting for an ambulance. But now what should he do with her?
Leanne Banks is a national #1 best-selling author with over 50 romance novels to her credit. Leanne was born and raised in the wonderful town of Roanoke, Virginia. Growing up in “the star city of the south” had a huge impact on her outlook and her writing. Her B.S. in Psychology only qualifies her to treat fictional characters and she began writing when her two children were very young. Leanne believes in the transforming power of love, so writing romance novels comes naturally to her. Website * Facebook.
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