Friday, November 14, 2014

First Fight Friday: Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

Goats solve their differences head-on. They don’t give the silent treatment or yell, they butt heads, and then it’s over.

Cowboy Marvin has learned humans resolve issues differently especially those romantically involved. His curiosity sparked, he has invited authors to stop by on Fridays and share the first fight out of their latest book.

Fellow Harper Impulse author

Debbie Johnson 

           is here for ...

First Fight Friday 

with a scene from 

Cold Feet at Christmas

Fleeing in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at a cottage, where she collapses into the arms of a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride, Leah Harvey, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…


 He glanced at his watch, then looked up and pointed out over the city, like he was about to start conducting music. Exactly as he did it, the sky exploded into a riot of colour: purples, greens, golds, reds, all squealing and shimmering in a spectacular fireworks display. It was coming from pontoons set up on the water; from the shores of Lake Michigan; from the parks; from the tops of the tower blocks around them...from everywhere. Further away out in the suburbs, smaller displays erupted, showers of metallic glory falling over the city like shining confetti. 

Leah’s eyes widened in delight as the whole horizon was suddenly ablaze, swamped with glitter. Noise erupted from everywhere at once: claxons, hooters, car horns, bells, and singing. Shouting and yelling and cheering, from inside, from the streets below, even from the water, as boat parties celebrated the chiming of the hour. It was unbelievable. Leah had never seen anything quite like it, and felt a surge of emotion rush to the surface.

“Happy New Year, Leah,” Rob said, leaning close to brush a chaste kiss against her cheek. A cheek that was suddenly wet with tears.

“Are you crying?” he asked, running his fingers over her cheekbones to confirm it. Damn, he thought. Marco was right. He was behaving cruelly, and he had no excuse. This was exactly what he’d been worried about. His blood ran with poison, and now he’d spread it to Leah.

“It’s okay,” she said, brushing his hand away. She wanted to grab it, to kiss it, to hold it so tight his fingers lost all circulation. But she didn’t. Because this was a New Year, and a New Her, and she would not allow herself to feel this way. “It’s not your fault, Rob. Ignore me, I’m just being a girl. It’s all so...beautiful. And, well, I always get a bit weepy on big occasions. Happy New Year to you as well. What are you doing out here anyway?”

Rob gazed at her warily. He knew she was still upset, and every male instinct he had told him to grab this woman close to him, to shield her and protect her and stop those god-damned tears spilling out of her amber eyes. Eyes so large and so moist that he could see every dazzling firework explosion reflected in them. But he held back – he couldn’t play with her emotions like that; couldn’t blow hot and cold as and when he felt like it.

“My spider senses started tingling,” he said, keeping his distance. “I knew that somewhere out here in the big city, Leah Harvey was starting to freeze and turn blue...and it seems to be my mission in life to save you from this crazed hypothermia related death wish of yours.”

In reality, he admitted to himself, it wasn’t so much spider senses as plain old eyesight. He’d been watching her all night, radar beeping whenever she was close. He’d seen the look on her face as she snuck outside: a mix of sadness and loneliness he knew he was at least partially responsible for. He’d invited her here, into his world, his life, and now he couldn’t cope with it. It wasn’t her fault he got a hard-on whenever he saw her, that he was too screwed up to feel a wave of pleasure without being drowned in guilt. She just didn’t understand.

Leah pulled the coat tight around her shoulders. It smelled of his aftershave, and she was trying hard not to bury her face in the collar and sniff like a bloodhound. Instead, she smiled up at him and said: “I know. I must have been a penguin in a previous life. Anyway, thanks for the coat. I haven’t been able to feel my nose for the last five minutes and I’d look really weird if it dropped off. Better get back inside...”

She started to walk by him, back towards the doors. He reached out, grabbed her arm to stop her. He might not be able to give her a relationship, but he could at least give her an explanation.

“Leah, wait a minute...I wanted to apologise. For earlier. I was rude, and I know I hurt your feelings.”

“No! Don’t be silly. It’s all fine. Anyway – that’s last year’s news!”

She tried to shake her arm free; he kept hold. If he let her, she’d bolt for the door like a rabbit, he knew. Leah looked down at his hand wrapped around her elbow, but stopped struggling, staring up at him with eyebrows raised.

“It’s not fine,” he said, feeling a whisper of exasperation at her constant attempts to appear lighthearted when she was obviously in pain. Whether it has his fault, or her ex-fiance’s, or the death of her parents, he didn’t know. But she was hurting, and pretending very hard not to be.

She shook her head, fine tendrils of blonde hair haloing around her face. “It is fine, and apologies are really not necessary. I was way too busy ogling you with your top off to get my feelings hurt, anyway. I barely heard a word you said.”

She smiled up at him – a big, gorgeous, completely phony smile – and tried to pull away from him once more, making for the door. For escape.

“Leah, stop that!” he said, louder than he intended. He tugged her even closer towards him, snapping his arms around her waist so she was pressed tight into his body, face thudding lightly into his chest. He saw a flicker of fear in her shining eyes, and cursed himself for liking it. Way to go, Rob – congratulations, you’re stronger than a five foot tall woman.

Leah shoved her hands hard against his chest, buying back a few inches of space. She was angry now, and he really couldn’t blame her. He’d been slapped for less than this before, and anticipated the stinging tingle of fingers making contact with his cheek.

It didn’t happen. She just went very still, and stared up at him, eyes popping with fury.

“What?” she snapped back. “Stop what? What exactly is it I do to upset you so much, Rob? Exist? Shall I take a dive off the balcony just to make your life more peaceful? Go back to England? Join a convent? What is it you want me to stop doing?”

He drew a deep breath, felt the icy air rasp painfully into his lungs. Heard the continued chorus of Auld Lang Syne floating discordantly from inside the building. Looked down at Leah’s face, so close to his. Eyes blazing, hair golden, body warm and soft against him. All he had to do was lean down and lay his lips over hers, and maybe he could change everything. Like a charming prince in a fairy tale. Except this was the real world, his world. And happy ever after was a big fat lie.

“Stop trying to... defuse me,” he said finally, clenching his fists into tight balls so he wouldn’t reach out and stroke her face “Stop trying to keep the mood light. Stop trying to excuse my appalling behaviour. Stop trying to cheer me up. Stop ignoring your own feelings when I can see them there, in your eyes. You made me happy at Christmas, Leah, for the first time in years. You distracted me, and laughed with me, and made love with me. And damn, it felt good. But I don’t deserve to feel good, Leah. Not then, not now, not ever.”

There was a pause. He saw her drinking in his words, felt them quell her own anger like running water on flame. Prepared himself for the question he knew would come next.

“Why?” she asked quietly, her voice a bare whisper above the sounds of the city’s celebration. He saw, rather than felt, the gentle play of her cold fingertips along his jaw; the sweet warm cloud of her breath hanging in the chill air between their faces. He couldn’t bear it. Couldn’t bear to have her touch him. To have anyone touch him, really touch him, ever again.

“Why don’t you deserve to feel good, Rob? Tell me why.”

He pulled her hand roughly away from his face, forcing it back down to her side and holding it there. She needed to stay away from him. He was toxic, and always would be.

“Because Christmas is when I killed them, Leah. When I killed my wife, and our baby.”

Copyright © Debbie Johnson


Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson
Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be 
this much fun! 

A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancĂ© halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony! 

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant 

– a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven! 

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…

‘Fun, sexy and fabulously festive, Debbie Johnson's escapist romance travels from snow-capped mountains in Scotland to the glamour of 21st century Chicago. 
I enjoyed every minute of it.’
 – Best-selling author, Jane Costello

5 out of 5 stars, ‘I fell in love with this book...the chemistry practically jumped off the pages and into my living room. This is the first book that I've read from this author but I know that I'll be keeping a close eye out for her in the future.’ 
- For the Love of Books blog

‘The characters brought so much life to the story that 
I read it all in one sitting.’ 
- She Read blog

 ‘A comedy delight...hilarious character, good plot and great world building! 
This is a definite read for the holiday season.’
- Mandy Bookworm

‘Incredibly intense, raw and full of emotion… a fantastic read about two characters who are learning to live life to the full again. I can highly recommend this title.’ 

Cold Feet at Christmas 
is available on 
Amazon ~ iBooks Kobo ~ Nook ~ Google Play Sainsbury's    

Debbie's bio:

Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, England, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework.She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds!

Follow Debbie Johnson online


Thanks for sharing Debbie!

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