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Nana Malone Books

Mistletoe Hearts (Ebook)

Mistletoe Hearts (Ebook)

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What’s a girl supposed to do when she’s secretly in love with her best friend?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not accompany him home for the holidays and pretend to be his girlfriend. How did I even end up here?

I’ll tell you how. I got lost in Justin Morrison’s baby blues, that’s how. Ever since Justin rescued me from my no good cheating ex - I’ve had a thing for him. I’ve done my best to keep it under wraps. Hell, I intended to take this truth to the grave. I’ve never had someone protect me the way he does and I’ve never wanted to ruin our friendship.

The problem is, to give his ailing grandma, possibly the best last Christmas, and cover a teensy teensy little white lie he told her, now I’m having to pretend to to be in love with him. Sleeping in the same bed…kissing him!

All for show of course.

But I can do this right? I can hide my real feelings? Even when he takes our public kisses behind closed doors and there’s no mistletoe in sight?



Chapter 1

"Alex, you have to let this go." My roommate, Sasha, trailed behind me as I marched toward The Hornet’s Hole bar just off campus. 

"I can't let it go. I think he's lying to me. He's been cagey, weirdly unavailable. I am getting paranoid."

"So of course, you come to the bar where he works, just to see if he's… what? Flirting with someone on shift? Come on."

I hated rational Sasha. I really did. I needed someone who was going to be just as crazy as I was and back me up. "You didn't have to come."

"Yes, I did. I'm your roommate. I can't let you do anything insane."

It wasn’t like I was going to cause a scene. 

Who are you kidding? Of course you’re going to cause a scene. 

"It's not insane. I know something is off. I wish I could explain it, but I can’t."

"Correction, you think that maybe because he's been busy with class or homework, something is off. You don't know anything. I'm a good, supportive friend. And look, if you're right, I'll ply you with liquor until you feel better, then we’ll go home, okay?"

That hardly seemed like a satisfying outcome. "I don't know. If I’m right, I want his head on a pike."

"Look, you knew it was going to happen when you went out with someone like Mark. Honey, he's gorgeous. And he's an athlete. You know what I mean. He's got a certain appeal. You are going to have to fend off lots of bitches."

"Why would I fight someone over a guy?"

"Well, maybe that's it. Maybe Mark just doesn't feel like you're in this. Maybe he wants someone who would fight for him."

"Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Who's going to fight over a man?"

Sasha pursed her lips. I had a startling realization that she would possibly fight over a man. 

Thank God, we didn't even have the same type. 

The blast of Imagine Dragons playing on the sound system met us before we even stepped into The Hornet’s Hole. The bar, aptly named for our school mascot, boasted a giant hornet’s head above the door, dark crowded booths along the wall, a packed bar, and a movement-stifling, postage-stamp-size dance floor. As well as the ever present smell of stale beer, cheap cologne, and bad decisions.

Needless to say, this close to finals week, the place was packed. I raked my gaze over the bar and could see there were two bartenders working, but I didn't see Mark. I recognized the emo girl with the inky black hair and a tattooed sleeve. The other guy I didn't recognize. He was lanky, moderately good-looking, with a kind of charming smile that immediately elevated him from a seven and a half to a solid nine. He probably cleaned up in tips. 

I knew for a fact that when there were two bartenders working, they didn't have another backup. So, had I gotten it wrong? Was Mark not working today?

Then I saw him in the corner, tucked away with his arm around some girl. 

She was pretty, with her deeply tanned skin and raven-dark hair. 

What the hell?

She said something to make him laugh, and jealousy tried to claw its way out of my chest. Then he tucked her long straight hair behind her ear and leaned in to kiss her. Not like a peck, but like something passionate. And I was frozen as I watched them, unable to do anything about it. Unable to even breathe.

Oh, God. 

I was right. 

The last couple of weeks, I hadn’t been crazy thinking something was off with him. Even though I tried to talk myself out of it. All it would have taken was for him to break up with me. That would have sucked, yes. But this? This was infinitely worse. 

But there was also an odd satisfaction in knowing that I had been right. That I hadn’t imagined what I’d been feeling all along. 

I was right. That cheating, lying asshole. 

But still, I couldn't force my body to move, to take action. Then someone next to me did move. 


For all her insistence that I was overreacting, for all her reminders that perhaps I was insane, she was the one who went straight up to him, shouting, "You lying asshole. Fuck you."

Mark's eyes went wide. He stared at Sasha then held up his hands. "Sasha, babe, I'm sorry. It's not what it looks like."

My head cocked, and my mind tried to parse the words that he was saying. 

Sasha, baby?

And why was he apologizing to her? Why was she so angry?

And then it happened. The bile rushed up in my throat. I clamped a hand over my mouth and squeezed my eyes shut as if I could block it out and pretend it hadn't happened. Pretend I didn't know what my roommate and my boyfriend had been doing. And my boyfriend's additional girlfriend, or whoever she was. 

When Sasha whipped around and turned back toward me, our gazes met and her mouth hung open as if she had momentarily forgotten that I could see and hear her as she berated my boyfriend for cheating on her with someone else.

I don't know what came over me. Honestly, if I was questioned later about what was going on, I would have said that I was possessed. I reached my hand back and then let loose, but instead of the satisfying stinging of my palm, my arm didn't move. I tried again, but it still didn't move. So I turned to glower at it, only to find that my wrist was encased in a strong, tanned hand. I followed the arm up and gasped at the most beautiful man I had ever seen on campus. Dark curly hair. Whiskey colored eyes. A jaw sculpted by the gods. And the kind of lips that belonged on Angelina Jolie. Why the hell were they so full? Not to mention he had lashes thicker than mine, and my lashes were long as hell. 

"What the hell are you doing?" I muttered when my brain cells came back online and my mouth could work again.

"I think a little payback is probably better revenge."

I frowned. Sasha had stopped her ranting, and Mark froze when he saw what was happening. All he said was, "Fuck, Alex."

And then the gorgeous stranger who was still holding my wrist turned me around. "Now, when I do this, don't slap me, okay?" And then he leaned in, pulling me toward him. My body was suddenly encased in nothing but heat as he wrapped his arms around me. 

He turned so he blocked their view. "I'm not actually going to kiss you, I'm just going to kiss your neck so it will look like we're kissing. That way they'll both think that you were here to break up with him."

I gasped. "What?"

"You know, because we're not assholes. You came to break up with Mark before carrying on a torrid affair with me. Because you and I are in love. Don't you see?"

The mischief in his eyes and the twitch of his mouth told me what he was doing. A perfect goddamn stranger thawed the ice that had threatened to encase me and turn me into a statue that was unable to think, or breathe, or ever love and care about anyone again. 

"I don't know if that's going to work."

He lifted his brow. "Oh, right. We should probably do the whole thing. Make sure everybody knows."

All I could manage was a nod because… holy hell. What was he doing? What was I saying?

Somewhere deep down, I knew I was tangled in pain and betrayal, but I didn't care. And that was when the tall, gorgeous stranger turned me back around in full view of Mark and Sasha then slid his lips over mine. 

* * *


Oh, shit. 

The moment my lips touched hers, I felt like I'd been hooked up to a live wire. Holy cow. How was I ever going to stop?

When I saw what was happening from across the bar, my intention was just to fuck with Mark. He was an asshole, and I had a bit of a personal gripe with him. He'd wormed his way into an internship I'd been working for. So sticking it to him… Well, that was part of it. But also, what he’d done to this girl was a dickish move. 

I didn't know the girl. I knew her friend though, Sasha. She was an okay enough girl, but she was the kind who was always chasing after some dude. I didn't know the girl in the booth with Mark, but hell, this was just a soup of epic shittiness.

I figured maybe I'd play the Good Samaritan gig for the day. But fuck me, kissing her was… Not that I believed in kismet, but the way this girl kissed… geeze.

She nearly made me a believer.

I could see why some people would risk it all for this. Which made her dangerous. 

I thought it would be simple. I’d give her a kiss and step back, easy. Just enough for Mark to see and get jealous. But when she sighed and her body molded against mine, I fucking forgot what I was supposed to be doing. 

Instead, I slipped my hands around her body, cupping the back of her neck and pinning her in place, angling her head just right so I could deepen the kiss. 

Molten lava started to course through my veins, and everything around us started to melt away, piece by piece. The music faded first, then the talking, then the people. And it was just me, and this girl, and this kiss.

When she wrapped her arms around my neck, bringing herself even closer while using her teeth to scrape my bottom lip just a little… No lie, the way the sharp bolt of electricity snapped along my spine, I thought I might come. No fucking joke.

But in that second, I wanted more. I wanted to keep her. 

Except you are a fuckboy and don’t fucking do relationships. 

Ever. I knew how they ended. Bitterly. So it was better to have fun. And this girl… God, this girl was the kind of girl you kept. 

I tried to pull back. I swear to God, I did. I just needed a little more. Just one more taste.

In the end, it wasn't me who pulled back. Or even her. Instead, someone was dragging me away. 

I was still groggy and lust-drunk when Mark yanked me. "Jensen, what the fuck? I thought we were friends."

Had I been more aware, I could have blocked the punch. But all my blood had run south. My brain cells were in dire need of a reboot, and the hit across my jaw did the trick. My head snapped to the side, but I didn't move much. The pain woke everything up, and I glowered at him. "Oh, really? You're the one who's cheating on what looks like two or three people, and I'm the asshole?" I didn't know the girl, so I couldn't use her name. Instead, I tucked her under my arms. "You see, she didn't want us to be together until she told you that she wanted to break up. I waited impatiently to kiss her because she's amazing."

I hoped she'd play along. And when she wound her arms around my waist and tucked into me, God, there was a sliver of me that wished it was real.

Mark's gaze drifted to her. "Alex, is this fucking true?"

"Unlike you, I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't cheat on you with two people, one of whom was my fucking friend."

Sasha had the grace to look chagrinned at that. 

"I just started to have feelings for someone else,” she continued, “so I came to find you and talk to you so we didn't need to go home on fucking holiday in this weird spot. Only I found out there was no need for me to have been the good one. I could have been having fun all this time. And p.s.," she turned to look at me. "Babe, that kiss was well worth waiting for."

I grinned at her, nodded my head at Mark, and turned her fully around before whispering, "By the way, my name is Jensen."

"I'm Alex."

"Nice to meet you. Now let's get out of here before I do something to Mark's face that I'll probably be arrested for."

"By the way, thank you."

"What's a Good Samaritan for?"

As we left, I turned my gaze over my shoulder and grinned at Mark, who was still scowling at me while Sasha tugged on his arm and the other girl stared at him as if asking, 'What the fuck?' 

Yeah, asshole. You're getting everything you deserve.

Chapter 2

What in the world had just happened?

I glanced over at the gorgeous guy who had walked me out of the bar like he had every intention of taking me home. My body purred at that idea, but I didn't know him. 

He led me toward a bright yellow Camaro in the parking lot, tugging me against him. 

"Um, oh, while uh, that was… interesting, um, I just—"

"Mark is outside. He's watching us. So just be aware."

"Oh, that asshole. Okay, what's he doing?"

"So far, he's just staring at us."

"Um, should we kiss again?" Not that I was begging. Hell, who was I kidding? I was totally begging.

He smirked. He leaned down and nuzzled my nose with his. "I'm afraid if I do that, I really won't be able to stop this time. Hell, I almost didn't stop last time."

"Right. Who wants a kiss? That would be crazy." Oh yeah. Just play it off like he didn’t kiss me so good I needed him to give Mark lessons.

"I didn't say I didn't want to. I just mean that it's probably better for the both of us if I don't."

"Right. Absolutely better. You're a stranger. I don't even know you."

"Exactly. Also, I'm kind of what my last girlfriend called a fuckboy."

I laughed nervously. 

He wrapped his arms tighter around me. "Fair warning, I'm going to do something that is really inappropriate. But Mark is headed this way, so we need to make it look real, okay?"

I blinked in surprise. "But you're not going to kiss me. Are you going to—" Oh, that's what he was going to do. He slid his hands over my ass, cupping me before tucking me against him. I swear to God, I lost all ability to think. I was holding my breath. I was probably going blue under my brown skin. But I didn’t care because, oh my God, his hands were on my ass. And he had enormous hands. Fucking huge. He cupped me easily. He leaned down and tucked his face into my neck. "This has been the most interesting first-time meeting I’ve had with anyone. Ever."

I just continued holding my breath as I nodded. 

Lazily, I looped my arms around his neck, and he said, "Oh, that's good. This screams, 'You're taking me home.’"

"Why are you helping me?"

"Let's just say Mark is an asshole. He cheated me out of an internship at Fisk Industries. I had it lined up, then something happened and he got it. We were both in the hospitality program."

"Oh, that was you?"

"You know about that?" He pulled back slightly, frowning down at me. 

"Just that his uncle called a friend at Fisk about his nephew who was fighting for some internship, and then he said, 'Oh, it was easy getting it.’ He didn't even have to interview when it came down to it."

Jensen cursed under his breath. "Fuck me."

My body really thought he meant it, especially as his hands tightened on my ass. "Excuse me?"

He cleared his throat and slid his hands back up my back. "Sorry. That's not what I meant. And Mark is gone." He pulled away slightly, setting me about a foot away from him.

I told myself I wasn't going to look down his body because that was a recipe for disaster. I was not going to look down his body. I was not— Oh my God, that chest. Broad shoulders that tapered down to a lean waist, and oh my, that bulge in his jeans. I skittered my eyes away immediately. "Um, thank you for the rescue. I'm sorry that Mark was a dick. At least—this sounds terrible—but I'm glad it's not just me."

"No, he's a grade-A asshole. I'm sorry you had to deal with that."

"Whatever, I guess. The problem is, Sasha is my roommate, so I'll be stuck with her all next semester."

"Oh, fuck. You could get housing to change you."

I shrugged. "That's unlikely. It’s too far in the year already. We've all already signed on. I could go off campus, but I can't afford to live on my own. This is just bullshit."

"It's a tough ride."

"Thank you for what you did in there. You didn't have to. I'm a perfect stranger."

He shrugged. "Like I said, he's a dick. He had it coming. And you are too beautiful to be made sad just before Christmas."

I shrugged. "That's nice of you to say."

"Oh, I don't say things I don't mean."

"Right. You kissed me like maybe you do say lots of things you don't mean."

He lifted a brow and crossed his arms. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Like, maybe your ex is right, and you are a fuckboy?"

He flashed a grin then. "We can say that I've made mistakes in the past. I never lied though. I don't believe in it. I had parents who hated each other, and my whole family lies all the time. It's terrible, actually, so I tell the truth. It's just that people don't like it when you do that."

I smiled up at him, and I could see the sincerity in his eyes. He really was helping me out. It wasn’t his fault I gleaned some other meaning just because he'd kissed me. 

I squared my shoulders. "Well, Jensen, is there a last name that goes with your first?"

"You know, I've never heard of a one-named Jensen before. Maybe that should be a thing."

"No, it's not a thing."

"It's Morrison."

"Well, thank you very much, Jensen Morrison. You saved my ass. And my ego, what little I have left of it."

"You should have lots of ego, beautiful girl. Your sixth sense told you there was something wrong. You're smart. You just need better roommates. And boyfriends."

"Yes, I do, don't I? I'll get right on that just as soon as I get home."

"So, what do you say, maybe we should go and get some food? Different bar though. Since I'm an unrepentant fuckboy, you deserve better than me as a partner. But I think I have a slot on the friend roster if you're interested."

"So what, you're a Good Samaritan who just happens to be looking for a friend?"

"Yeah, something tells me you're a little bit of a Christmas miracle, and I think my grandmother would love you."

"Your grandmother?"

"Yeah, long story but worth pointing out. She always tells me to find people who are unfailingly honest and really intuitive. You strike me as both. So what do you say, Alex? Let's go get some fries and you can tell me all about you and how you ended up with asshole Mark and how we're going to pay him back."

"I thought we already got him back."

"Oh no, this was just our opening gambit. We're going to ruin him forever. He should pay for hurting you. That's the way I believe friends roll. Ride or die."

I laughed up at him. "See, about that ride or die thing, like where are we going? And why do I have to die when we get there?"

"You know, it's a good question. Let's figure it out over some French fries. Where's your car? I'll follow you there."

"You know what, Jensen Morrison, I just might like you."

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