Hey everyone, I was really hoping to have ‘Christmas in Aspen’ all out to you before Christmas, but unfortunately the holiday hustle and bustle got in the way, so here it is finally. Have a look at the fabulous cover and read a short excerpt – I hope you enjoy it!
Christmas in Aspen
Being naughty once a year can be oh so delicious….
What’s the holiday season without a few surprises? Realtor Mia Ford is floundering financially, and despite her fears and concerns about the future of her business she’s looking forward to spending the holidays with family and friends. But all that changes when she lands her biggest client to date – Malcolm Crane – who seeks her expertise in finding him a property in Aspen. But there’s one problem – he wants it by Christmas.
With her holiday plans in ruins, Mia reluctantly agrees to accommodate him on such short notice. Since the commission from the sale would help keep her afloat, Mia realizes she can’t pass up an opportunity like this and hightails it to Aspen to do the showing. But what transpires upon her arrival and later behind closed doors between her and Malcolm Crane, is a life altering and high-octane attraction that unleashes the true nature Mia.
Christmas in Aspen – Excerpt
The limo crawled to a halt in front of Saks Fifth Avenue just across from the Rockefeller Centre. In the backseat, Malcolm Crane stole a quick glance at the enormous lighted tree towering above the skating ring. Memories flitted through his mind of being brought here by his father when he was a child. They’d never missed a lighting. The tree loomed, as always, aglow with thousands and thousands of colored lights in the midday sun. Not wanting to ruminate on Christmas past, he looked away and straight ahead. Through the windshield, as usual, New York was in the midst of its hustle and bustle. Perhaps even more so at this time of year.
He could hear Christmas music playing somewhere in the distance. Saw people rushing about on the sidewalks, shopping bags filled with goodies clutched tightly as sunrays bounced off the snow on the ground. The passing scene was typical of the season, he supposed. And for some reason it failed to make an impact, to stir feelings of previous years. With Christmas only three days away, the spirit of the season eluded him.
Perhaps he had too much on his mind. After a rough six months of work, escaping from the city was on top of his wish list. Exhaustion had set in big time, and all he wanted was some peace and quiet. As the limo began to move, he averted his eyes back to his laptop. With his mood as evidence, he knew he’d made the right decision. Spending Christmas alone this year was just the ticket. A chance for him to decompress and replenish his reserves, to think and plan for the year ahead.
As the figure head to one of the largest business law firms in the country, with more than two hundred lawyers based in New York and Los Angeles, Malcolm knew he had to be on top of his game. To be anything else was unacceptable. He had his reputation to uphold and showing any sign of distress was unthinkable. For many, he was a pillar of reason and cool logic. The mastery and control he exerted over himself and others was legendary.
He rarely, if ever, allowed his emotionality free reign in public. Those fires were reserved for the bedroom where they were unleashed to their full capacity. Yes, many would be surprised by the fact that Malcolm Crane was sexually insatiable and that behind the cool exterior lay enough heat to scorch a woman’s flesh. A sharp contrast to the persona he presented to the world. A stark contradiction of nature that only those who shared his bed were privy to.
The limo finally pulled up in front of a glass tower that housed the ‘Crane & Lloyd’ New York offices. His driver, Maurice, immediately jumped out to open the door. Tightening the collar of his coat around his neck, the wind ruffling his hair, Malcolm hurried into the high-rise building. Silence greeted him as the offices were now closed for the Holidays. He acknowledged the security guard manning the front desk with a courteous nod, checked his watched and headed to his private elevator. He wouldn’t be staying for long. He simply had to pick up a few files, makes a few phone calls, and get the hell out of New York.
The plans he had brewing in his mind were surprisingly left to the last minute which was very unlike him. In Malcolm’s reality nothing was left to chance. But in this case it was understandable. He’d been torn. The last thing he’d wanted to do was disappoint his mother. The holidays were a special time for the Crane Clan, especially for Martha Crane, who went all out every year. When he’d told her that he would be going solo this Christmas, the disappointment had been abundantly clear in her tone but as always claimed that she understood. As much as he hated to disappoint her, he needed time away. To be alone. For the first time in his life the need was pressing.
The elevator doors opened, and Malcolm strolled down a long corridor and through heavy oak double doors. The wide open space of the reception area had a rich old world feel to it, dark woods and gold accents blended seamlessly with modern lighting and artwork. The firm he’d hired recently to renovate the space had done a splendid job.
Anne Davis, his longtime secretary, seated behind an enormous reception desk stood to attention the minute he walked in. Anne was quietly efficient, totally competent and loyal. As usual, her dark hair was neatly swept into a sophisticated twist at back of her head, and her light gray suit was tailored, perfectly pressed and suitable for the secretary of Malcolm Crane. Anne was an integral part of his day to day affairs, and for that, she was a valuable asset. She continually found ways to make his work environment as comfortable for him as possible. Today was no exception.
“Good morning, Anne.”
She acknowledged him politely. “Good morning, Sir.” And on cue picked up her pen and notepad and some files, and followed him at a safe distance through the double glass doors, with ‘Crane & Lloyd Lawyers’ emblazoned on it, bound for his office.
Malcolm occupied the entire top floor, and as one of its founders, it was a privilege and a right. The two large glass-encased conference rooms back to back, state of the art kitchen and gym all had an unprecedented view of the New York skyline. Light poured in from every angle, drenching the space in brilliant sunshine. The minimalism and immaculate luxury reflected him perfectly. As with everything, Malcolm made sure the environment fit the image.
The firm’s stellar reputation, the industry accolades too numerous to count, and the respect of those it served was an accomplishment very few earned in a lifetime, and therefore congruency was key. A lesson he’d learned from his father. Malcolm had learned everything from his father, Martin Crane, who had made millions in the stock market, and later in smart real-estate investments. As a result of his privileged background, Malcolm had decided from an early age that he needed to make his own way in life – not just have everything handed to him by his wealthy parents. That didn’t stop him from taking his father’s advice, had even done business with him, but Malcolm knew what he wanted to do – and turning the dream of practicing business law into reality had taken him much less time than it would have taken the average person.
Whenever he walked into the ‘Crane & Lloyd’ building, he felt justified pride. At thirty eight, he’d climbed the summit along with Andrew, friend and partner, who oversaw the offices on the West Coast. It handled intellectual and information technology, some corporate and commercial law, whereas the New York offices handled mergers and acquisitions, international business and government relations. Malcolm was proud that Crane & Lloyd had become the premier law firm that served the transaction, advocacy and advisory needs of the country’s most dynamic business sectors. It pleased him beyond measure.
Thinking of Andrew, the man was probably getting ready to take his wife and children to Europe for the holidays. As he did every year. It was the only way he could manage quality time with them. Their work hardly allowed for such luxuries. But somehow, Andrew had managed to have both. And for that Malcolm admired him. He didn’t know if he was capable of the same efforts. Work was his life, and he’d been putting off the reality of family for most of it. He certainly didn’t feel pressure to start one anytime soon.
“Andrew called,” Anne informed him as they walked into his office. It was as open and airy as the reception area, with tall banks of windows overlooking the city. He loved wide open spaces. It enabled him to think. The modern paintings hung on the walls next to rows of medieval artifacts and endless array of shelves stacked with books had been incorporated for inspirational purposes. Even a man such as himself needed it and often.
“Thanks for coming in, Anne,” he said as he sat in the black leather chair behind his desk. “I didn’t mean to take you away from your family.”
“No worries, sir,” she replied in kind. “Everything you needed has been taken care of. All the gifts have been sent to the appropriate individuals and should arrive by tomorrow. All the gifts for the family should reach them by noon today.”
“I can always count on you,” he complimented warmly. “What did Andrew want?”
“He left the name of a realtor in Los Angeles,” she said, handing him a note. “He said he’d been trying to contact you all morning but you’re phone has been off.”
Malcolm reached into his pocket and took it out. Indeed it was. Such a lapse in memory, he figured, was proof positive that time away was imminent.
“Also, all your meetings for the new year have been lined up,” Anne continued, placing a few files on his desk. “The only one I couldn’t secure was Adam Taylor.”
“No worries, Anne,” Malcolm said. “He’s probably already left the city by now.”
“Is there anything else?” Anne queried.
“The jet all ready?”
“Yes. Its being refuelled as we speak.”
“Good. But before you leave get the realtor on the line.”
“Certainly.” Anne Davis spun on her heels and headed to the door.
“Oh, Anne,” he called. “Merry Christmas.”
She smiled warmly. “You too, sir,” she replied and exited the office, closing the door behind her with a soft click.
Glancing at the note, he noticed a name and a website address. Piqued by curiosity, he turned to his computer, typing in the address and then pressing enter. What popped up a second later was impressive. The design, the colors of black and gold, the elegant details all evoked impressions of wealth and grandeur. Obviously Ford Realty specialized in luxury real estate world wide. Clicking on Mia Ford on the menu bar, the page switched and a photo of her appeared. She was standing in front of her office, smiling. Her smile was exquisite. Warm. Friendly. Genuine. He focused on that for a minute before lowering his eyes to the rest of her. The off-white suit she was wearing accentuated curvy hips, lush breasts, and shapely legs to perfection. She was a striking package. Intrigued, he sat back and stared at the photo.
The woman was beautiful. Her hair the color of burnt sienna cascaded past her shoulders, eyes the color of jade were focused and sharp, flawless skin kissed by the sun shimmered like bronze silk, and the sensuality that she radiated was the kind that a man might find in a harem.
Involuntarily, images of her naked flitted across his mind. With the kind of games and appetites he enjoyed in the bedroom he was sure he could rule her out as a playmate. Apart from her looks, he sensed a guarded and conservative nature. She was most likely the kind of woman who had barely scratched the surface of her raw sexual potential. As was the case with most women today, he mused.
Alarmed, he shook his head at his reaction. Rubbing his chin, he realized just how tired he must be for his thoughts to have travelled down such an inappropriate road. He clicked off the computer and reached for one of files on his desk.