Friday, September 7, 2018

Sneak Peek — "Christmas Pizza to the Rescue"

Jean C. Gordon here with a Chapter One excerpt from my novella "Christmas Pizza to the Rescue" in the all-new Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 holiday bundle. Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 is available for preorder now, releasing September 25.

 Chapter One

Bright sunlight that belied the December cold outside streamed through the stained-glass windows of the Chenango Falls Community Church hastening the trickle of sweat running down Royce Evans’s spine. As the organist started her prelude repertoire for the third time, Royce looked out from the altar past the sea of faces of his teammates, friends, and family to the door at the end of the center aisle.

Relief waved through him like a cool drink when the door cracked open. His heart beat a tattoo in anticipation of Eris stepping into the sanctuary on her father’s arm. Instead, the door swung wide and Athena, her sister and maid of honor, strode up the aisle with an expression on her face that no one could construe as anything good.

She shoved a sheet of paper at him. “I’m so sorry,” she said before she turned heel and rushed back up the aisle as fast as anyone could in high heels and a frothy floor-length dress.

He unfolded the sheet. Eris’s signature scent wafted up and tickled his nose. The familiar scent that he’d recently found cloying.

I’m sorry. I just couldn’t go through with it. She’d signed the note with a flourish and a circle dot over the i. Royce stared at the signature. Who named their kids after Greek gods? Although Eris’s parents had chosen well with the goddess of strife and discord.

Mac, his best man and the owner of the Team Macachek motocross team, put a hand on his arm.

Royce shook off the touch. “Later.” He strode up the church aisle, ignoring the buzz of conversation around him and caught Athena pushing open the heavy oak outer door to the church.

“Wait,” he commanded, watching her shoulders sag as she released the door and let it close.

“She always does stuff like this to me,” Athena said under her breath, but loud enough for Royce to hear in the silent vestibule.

“Where is she?” he asked.

“I honestly don’t know.” Athena backed up her ignorance with, “I wouldn’t lie in church.”

“What do you know?”

Athena shuffled her feet, and he thought she was going to bolt.

“She eloped.”

Royce thought he might be sick to his stomach.

“With Seth.”

He told himself that the sick churning in his gut was from the coffee-only breakfast he’d had, but he knew better. He gave a bitter snort.  “Seth, her accountant?”
Athena nodded.

“That’s rich.” Eris, who had to basked in the limelight of being with an international motocross champion and enjoyed the perk of traveling with him when she could, had eloped with a Chenango Falls accountant.

“Um.” Athena ran her hands down the skirt of her dress. “She said you’re always traveling, never around when she needs you, that she needs stability.”

“Ha.” He bit back his bitterness. Didn’t they all?

Athena shrugged. “You know Eris.”

Not nearly as well as he’d thought he had. The biggest joke was that he’d believed he’d found his stability with his sweet small-town fiancée.

“I’m going,” Athena said.

“Do that, and when you see her, tell Eris congratulations.” Relief flooded him. She’d been grating on his nerves for weeks—her perfume, her attitude—but he’d chalked it up to pre-wedding jitters. Now he realized it had been a warning. As much as it hurt him, hurt his ego most, he sadly realized, he could be the bigger person here. Learn from the experience as he learned from any race loss.

After the door slammed shut behind Athena, Royce took a deep breath and returned to the sanctuary.

“Folks.” He rushed on to cover the crack in his voice. “There won’t be a wedding, but feel free to head over to The Manor and party. On me. I’m sure you’ll excuse me for not being there.”

In the sudden silence, before anyone could move from the pews, Royce was back out in the vestibule and headed for the outside door. He bounded down the steps and to his Porsche Macan. What he really wanted to do was blow off his anger, hurt, and everything else on one of his bikes. But, given the coat of ice and cold temperature Mother Nature had blessed them with last night, he wasn’t crazy enough to do that, even on the team track, where an accident would be less likely to be fatal. He’d have to do the next best thing, a controlled drive in the Porsche up Bear Spring Mountain and back. He shut off his cell phone. With no distractions.
* * * 
Two weeks later

The rain hit Samantha Linder’s windshield in torrents that obscured her view of the Team Macachek headquarters she knew was just ahead. She guessed she should be thankful. Driving would be much worse if the storm was the snow that was more typical of Christmastime in Upstate New York.

When the rectangular, dorm-like building finally came in sight, it was dark except for a solitary second-floor window. She pulled her car into a parking space in front, checking out the only other car in the lot—a Porsche Macan. It had to belong to one of the team’s racers. Maintenance or cleaning staff weren’t likely to drive a Porsche.

Sam slapped the dashboard. As she’d hoped when the call came in to her friend Gina’s Pizzeria for a delivery to the race team headquarters, her luck might finally be on the upswing. This delivery could be the key to acing the assignment with X-Cross Magazine that the freelance writing agency had just called her about. An assignment that would pay the tuition for her special-needs sister’s final semester at her private school and give Sam national exposure that could help her get her journalism career back on track.

That is, if the racer who was here was willing to put her in touch with the reclusive Royce Evans, the subject of her assignment. She pulled on her Buffalo Bills cap and grabbed the insulated pizza bag from the seat beside her. The dash to the door and its overhang left nothing dry but the pizza.

She tossed her dripping braid over her shoulder, rang the bell and waited. And waited. As she lifted her hand to ring it again, lights went on downstairs, and she heard heavy footsteps. The door swung open.

“Yes?” The scowl on the man’s face pretty much put his response on the same level as “what do you want?”

A ray of virtual sunshine burst through the dark. Her luck was improving. It was him. Royce Evans.

The man in the photo in the Wikipedia biography she’d quickly checked out between the call from the freelance agency and the delivery order. She’d been wracking her brain all the way here to come up with a way to get his contact information for her X-Cross assignment.

Royce Evans. In the flesh. She eyed his unbuttoned tuxedo shirt. Nicely muscled flesh. Her gaze rose to the towel on his shoulder and dark wet hair before resting again on his scowl.

Sam found her voice. “Your pizza.” She lifted the insulated bag toward him.

“I didn’t order any pizza.” A muscle worked in his stubble-covered chiseled jaw.

“Someone did.” She pulled her order slip from her coat pocket and offered it to him.

He glanced at it. “It wasn’t me.” Royce lifted his hand to close the door.

She couldn’t let this opportunity get away. Sam moved her left foot forward onto the door threshold, so he couldn’t close it without crushing her toes. Her gaze caught the flash in his eyes. She tensed and wiggled her toes. He wouldn’t. Would he?

“Is anyone else here who might have ordered a pizza?”


“It’s cold and wet out here. May I please come in, so we can straighten this out?” She pushed the pizza into the doorway toward him, but he remained as immovable as a boulder and about as personable. No wonder the motocross magazines had a hard time getting any up-close articles on him. “You can call the pizzeria.”

“There’s nothing to straighten out. I’m the only one here, and I didn’t order anything.” He closed the door until it pressed against the thermal bag holding the pizza.

Sam’s mind raced through ways to keep the conversation going and get inside. The only idea that came to her was to flirt, not exactly her forte. She was more of the straight-forward, who, what, where, when, why, and how-type. Hence, her so-called career in journalism. And she didn’t present much of an enticement with her cap pulled forward half-obscuring her face, wearing a waterlogged Sherpa-lined sweatshirt, baggy old jeans, and squishy sneakers.

The cement pad she stood on vibrated with the loud crashing, crunching sound reverberating behind her, ending her deliberation. “What was that?” she squeaked out.

Royce looked out over her head. “I don’t …” A bolt of lightning flashed and cracked. Royce whistled. “It looks like the river just washed out the road.”

Like what you read? The other Sweet Romance Reads authors and I would love it if you would help us make the bestseller lists. All you have to do is preorder Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 before September 25 for only 99¢! These all-new novellas will make you smile and warm your heart with Christmas spirit.

And be sure to come back here for more excerpts throughout September.You can also keep up with the Sweet Romance Reads authors and our new book releases and book bargains on our Sweet Romance Reads Cafe Facebook group.


  1. Yay, Jean! I love your excerpt. So excited about SCK5! :)

  2. Thank you for sharing your excerpt, Jean. Best of luck with SCK5!