Tasting Her Christmas Cookies
“We are having a Christmas bath scene in the near future,” I said to the camera, “with holiday bath bombs and themed cocktails. But unfortunately, it won’t be tonight. The bake-off starts tomorrow, baking fans!”
I looked longingly at the bathtub. Then, making sure the phone was definitely not recording, because I did not need to be that kind of Instagrammer, I took a quick shower. I seriously could not get over how huge the bathroom was. I could live in it. With a toaster and a mini fridge, I would totally be good.
After wrapping myself in the robe, I tied a T-shirt around my hair. I had frizzy hair on a good day; keeping my curls manageable was a perpetual struggle. I applied a gingerbread-cookie-scented moisturizer while my videos uploaded. Because I was busy scrolling through my phone and answering comments as I came out of the bathroom, I didn’t notice the half-naked man until he swore.
I looked up and screamed.
“Help! Help! Stalker!” I shrieked and ineffectively pointed at the stranger. Between the rippling muscles, the washboard abs, and an ass I could bounce a quarter on, I hoped he wasn’t actually here to hurt me, because he could do some damage. Pointing and shrieking wasn’t going to stop him. Fortunately, he looked more shocked and horrified than angry and violent.
“Stop screaming!” he bellowed. A freezing breeze blew into the room. It was as if the man had brought the rage of winter into the master suite with him. He looked like it, too, with his ice-blue eyes and silver-white hair. “This is my penthouse. You are not authorized to be here. That makes you the stalker!”
I stopped screaming. It clearly wasn’t helping anything. I also couldn’t help but notice that the bathroom wasn’t the only thing that was huge in the room. With him wearing nothing but boxer briefs, I could tell Santa had brought the handsome man a very large Christmas package indeed. The breeze blew in from the balcony, swirling the strange man’s clean and masculine scent around the room. I forced myself to ignore it.
“Get out of my house,” Big Christmas Package said flatly.
“You get out!” I shrieked. “I’m a bake-off contestant. This isn’t your room!”
“What the—” he grabbed his clothes, tugging on his pants. “The Great Christmas Bake-Off? I cannot have Christmas invading every element of my life. This is ridiculous. Christmas is ridiculous. It’s such a stupid, childish holiday.” He punctuated his words by snatching up articles of clothing.
“Hey now!” I said, hands on my hips, fear subsiding. “Christmas is never ridiculous. It’s the best holiday ever. And if you can’t see that, well then, you’re just a grinch, aren’t you?”
He advanced on me. I was suddenly very aware of how large he was. Christmas package notwithstanding, this dude was tall, broad shouldered, with rippling muscles. He could probably split me in two.
“You’re some stupid little baker who never outgrew the childish fantasy of Christmas,” he sneered.
My nose was inches away from his chest. He glowered down at me. I was too angry to be aware of his half-naked body. Okay, maybe I was like fifteen percent aware. But the majority of my energy was focused on being offended on behalf of Christmas.
“Don’t insult baking,” I said, giving him my best “I want to speak to the manager vibe,” though it was ruined by the fact that I had to crane my neck up to see him and that I was completely naked under the robe. “And never insult Christmas!”
His nostrils flared slightly.
“Men like you constantly belittle the work that women do to keep cultural traditions like Christmas alive,” I continued, poking him in the chest.
“We decorate homes to make them cozy.”
“We cook holiday dinners and bake festive desserts.”
“We host parties that bring families and friends together.”
Before I could poke him again, he grabbed my hand in his much-larger one. Then, realizing what he’d done, he quickly released it.
“I will not stand for your bad attitude!” I declared.
He glared down at me, strong jaw clenched, eyes cold as a frozen lake. “I can’t even believe this,” he finally snarled. He grabbed his briefcase and stormed out, still shirtless.
“Oh my God!” Fiona exclaimed, wide-eyed, as she ran into the room. She hugged me then pushed me to sit on the bed. “Are you okay? Who was that? Why was he in here? Someone call the police!”
“I knew it! You’re trying to steal my boyfriend,” Amber yelled at me, rushing into the room. “That’s Owen Frost, and he’s mine!”
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