Under the Millionaire's Mistletoe

By: Maureen Child & Sandra Hyatt


Anna Cameron ducked behind a tinsel-draped potted plant and peeked through the lacy fronds at the mingling crowd. The Cameron Leather company Christmas party was in high gear. People she’d known most of her life were here, laughing, talking, drinking. She wished she were out there in the middle of them enjoying herself.

Instead, she was hiding from her stepmother. Not that Clarissa Cameron was an evil woman or anything. But she’d had a little too much to drink and now all she wanted to do was corner Anna and try to convince her to win back her former boyfriend, Garret Hale.

“As if I’d take him back,” Anna muttered, pulling aside a tinsel-decorated frond to scan the crowd in front of her.

They’d gone out only a few times when Garret’s older brother Samuel told him to drop her. He’d actually had the nerve to suggest that Anna was doing exactly what Clarissa now wanted her to do. Using Garret to help her father’s company. Okay, fine, a merger with Hale Luxury Autos would probably save Cameron Leather, but she wasn’t a bargaining chip. And even if she had been, it wouldn’t have worked.

Because Garret had backed away from her so fast that he’d left sparks in his wake. He hadn’t stood up for her to his snooty, suspicious older brother. He’d called Anna to tell her they couldn’t see each other anymore because the Great Sam Hale had decreed it. He’d threatened to cut Garret off financially if he hadn’t stopped seeing Anna.

“No loss,” Anna reassured herself. So despite what Clarissa wanted, Anna wouldn’t have Garret back on a platter. She hadn’t even been that interested in the man in the first place. One kiss had told her everything she needed to know about him. She hadn’t felt the slightest tingle of expectation when he kissed her. Hadn’t seen a single star. She had known then that he was not the man for her.

She wanted the magic.

Of course, the fact that he’d wimped out for the sake of his big brother and his wallet didn’t exactly endear him to her either. And her life might have been easier if she could just admit to Clarissa what had happened. But she had a little pride after all.

Clarissa kept urging her to do exactly what Garret’s brother had assumed she was up to in the first place-marry the man and bring a nice merger to the family business.

“Anna, honey, is that you in there?”

She jerked, startled and turned to look guiltily into her father’s eyes. “Um, hi, Dad.”

“What’re you doing behind a plant, sweetie?” Dave Cameron’s green eyes were smiling, but Anna couldn’t help but notice that there was a glimmer of worry there, too.

How to explain that she was hiding from his wife? Nope, couldn’t do it. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but Clarissa and Anna had never been as close as her dad wanted them to be. Until ten years ago, it had been just her and her father. Her own mother had died when Anna was two, so all she really had were photographs and her dad’s stories.

When Clarissa came into their lives, Anna was seventeen. She hadn’t been interested in acquiring a new “mother,” and at the time had really resented having to share her father’s affections. She and Clarissa had finally gotten to the point where they could be friends, if not mother and daughter, but Anna knew her father still worried about their relationship.

So, instead of blurting out the truth, Anna ran her fingertips across the top of the big blue ceramic pot. “Just checking to make sure everything’s tidy. Yep, no dust.”

He laughed and took her arm, drawing her out from behind the palm. “Housekeeping has never been one of your interests, so what’s really going on?”

The music was too loud for any deep conversation and Anna wasn’t interested in having one anyway. So she simply smiled, kissed her father’s cheek and said, “Nothing, Dad. Everything’s great. The party’s wonderful.”

“So wonderful you’re hiding in the shrubbery?”

“Honestly?” she said, mentally crossing her fingers for the tiny lie she was about to tell, “Darren Shivers has had one beer too many and wanted to tell me all about how he won the high school football game back in the seventies.”

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