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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:16

Natalie took another step backward until her back was pressed against the front door. “I’m not scared. I’m just not interested in playing your little game.”

“Come on. If you’re so confident, it won’t hurt to take me up on it. Name your victor’s prize. We’re going to be spending a lot of time together the next two weeks. This will make it more...interesting.”

Natalie crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay, fine. You’re going to lose, so it really doesn’t matter. You have until the wedding reception to turn me into a Christmas fan again. If I win the bet, you have to pay for me to spend Christmas next year in Buenos Aires.”

“Wow. Steep stakes,” Colin said.

Natalie just shrugged it off. “Are you confident or not?”

Nice. Now she’d turned it so he was the chicken. “Of course I’m confident. You’ve got it. I’ll even fly you there first class.”

“And what do you want if you win?”

A million different options could’ve popped into his mind in that moment, but there was only one idea that really stuck with him. “In return, if I win the bet, you owe me...a kiss.”

Natalie’s eyebrow went up. “That’s it? A kiss? I asked for a trip to South America.”

Colin smiled. “Yep, that’s all I want.” It would be a nice little bonus to satisfy his curiosity, but in the end, he was more interested in bringing the magic back to Christmas for her. Everyone needed that in their life. He held out his hand. “Shall we shake on it and make this official?”

Natalie took a cleansing breath and nodded before taking his hand. He enveloped it with his own, noting how cold she was to the touch. She gasped as he held her, her eyes widening. “You’re so warm,” she said.

“I was about to mention how cold you are. What’s the matter? Afraid you’re going to lose the bet?”

She gave a soft smile and pulled her hand from his. “Not at all. I’m always cold.”

“It is Christmastime,” Colin noted. “That just means you’ll need to bundle up when we go out in search of some Christmas spirit.”

She frowned, a crease forming between her brows. “We’re both really busy, Colin. What if I just kiss you now? Will you let the whole thing drop?”

Colin propped his palm on the wall over her shoulder and leaned in until they were separated by mere inches. He brought his hand up to cup her cheek, running the pad of this thumb across her full bottom lip. Her lips parted softly, her breath quickening as he got closer. He had been right. She was attracted to him, but that just wasn’t enough for her to want more.

“You can kiss me now if you want to,” he said. “But there’s no way I’m dropping this bet.”

His hand fell to his side as a smirk of irritation replaced the expression on her face. This was going to be more fun than he’d expected.

“It’s getting late. I’d better get you home.”

He pulled away, noting the slight downturn of Natalie’s lips as he did. Was she disappointed that he didn’t kiss her? He’d never met a woman who sent such conflicting signals before. He got the feeling she didn’t know what she wanted.

She didn’t need to worry. They might just be friends, but he would kiss her, and soon. Colin had no intention of losing this bet.

Natalie was on pins and needles all day Thursday knowing that Colin would be coming for the cake tasting that afternoon. She was filled with this confusing mix of emotions. First, there was the apprehension over their bet. Colin was determined to get her in the Christmas spirit. Wednesday morning when she’d stepped outside, she found a fresh pine wreath on her front door with a big red velvet bow.

She was tempted to take it down, but she wouldn’t. She could withstand his attempts, but she knew the more she resisted, the more she would see of Colin. That filled her with an almost teenage giddiness—the way she used to feel whenever Colin would smile at her when they were kids. It made her feel ridiculous considering nothing was going to happen between the two of them, and frankly, it was distracting her from her work. Thank goodness this weekend’s wedding was a smaller affair.

She was about to call the florist to follow up on the bride’s last-minute request for a few additional boutonnieres when she noticed a figure lurking in her doorway. It was Gretchen.

Natalie pulled off her earpiece. “Yes?”