A Little Christmas CharmBy: Kathryn Freeman
Book 2 – Christmas Wishes
Would you swap sea and sunshine for tinsel and turkey?
Gabby Sanderson is used to being let down – even at Christmas. Which is why she’s happy to skip the festive season completely in favour of a plane ticket and sunnier climes.
But this Christmas could be different, because this time she might not be spending it alone. Can Owen Cooper charm Gabby into loving Christmas in the same way he’s charmed his way into her life, or is he just another person who’ll end up disappointing her?
Six weeks before Christmas
This was the third year in a row that Owen had been included on the work Christmas party planning team. He was becoming a seasonal (come on, the joke wasn’t that bad) professional, though he suspected his inclusion had more to do with his enthusiasm for all things party and Christmas, than for his organisational skills. According to the agenda he’d glanced at thirty seconds ago, today they were down to discuss the post-dinner entertainment. Finally, an agenda item he could get excited over. Previous items discussed over the last few months, such as where to hold the party, what colour the theme should be and whether to go for balloons or mini Christmas trees for the table decorations … not so much.
Frankly, as long as there was turkey and booze, he’d be happy.
When he pushed open the door to the meeting room his pulse kicked up a gear at the sound of a distinctive laugh; feminine, soft, sexy. Gabby was already there, chatting to her PA, Cindy. Gabby, the tall, dark-haired beauty with deep brown eyes who’d joined Sweet Art as marketing director six months ago.
Gabby, who made this year’s Christmas planning meetings the highlight of his week.
He’d tried like blazes to ignore his attraction – he wasn’t a fan of relationships at work –but far from going away, it had intensified to such an extent that he was going to have to do something about it. Either that, or get a new job, or slowly lose his mind.
Gabby’s chocolate-brown eyes glanced up at him. ‘Well, well, Owen Cooper is actually on time.’
It was the only meeting he’d been prompt for today – because it was the only meeting she’d been attending – but as he couldn’t admit that, he settled for flashing her a smile.
If he’d hoped it would make her as off balanced as he felt, he was doomed for disappointment, as she casually continued her conversation with Cindy. With an inward sigh, he pulled out a chair and sat down opposite, observing the pair of them. It was clear from their animated expressions, the flow of easy laughter, that Gabby had a better relationship with her PA than he had with his.
And with uncanny timing, Hilda chose that moment to bustle into the room and park herself on the chair beside him. Short and stocky, her mousy brown hair streaked with grey, Hilda was exceptionally efficient and … terrifying. Thank God she was only a temporary fill-in while he looked for a replacement. One that might actually crack a smile at his jokes. He accepted he wasn’t McIntyre funny, or Clooney charming, but making women smile was one thing he prided himself on being reasonably good at.
‘I expected to find your expenses in my in tray this morning, Mr Cooper.’ She wore the same air of displeasure his teachers had worn when he’d failed to deliver homework on time.
‘Yes, sorry.’ He tried his never-fail smile. ‘It’s been one of those days. You know, phones going crazy, back-to-back meetings.’
‘I told you to put all your calls through to me.’
How to tell her he was afraid she’d scare off the key accounts he was trying to woo? ‘I know, but I figure you already have enough on your plate, trying to kick me into shape.’ He threw her another smile, wondering if he was losing his touch. He was a salesman, for heaven’s sake. Winning people over was part of his job description. ‘And what’s with the Mr Cooper, again? I thought we agreed you were going to call me Owen?’
She stared stonily back at him. ‘I’m old school, Mr Cooper. I like to conduct my business my way.’
Was there any point telling her that as she was working for him, it should actually be his way? Her unsmiling face suggested it would be a waste of breath. ‘Relax, the expenses are next on my list.’ Right after he’d phoned HR and found out when they were setting up the interviews for the permanent position. A task he couldn’t entrust to Hilda in case, God forbid, she decided to apply. With any luck, he’d have a replacement before Christmas. The thought of having to sit next to Hilda at the Christmas party made him feel queasy.