On the 2nd Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…two disgruntled gladiators.

tumblr_static_mistletoeSven: Move it a little to the right. We want it centered on the doorway.

Demetrius, hammer and nail in hand: Why is it you’re making us hang these balls of greenery and white berries in all the doorways of the Lair?

Lucien, moving the extra large ball of greenery tied with a red bow at the top of the center of the main entrance into the Lair: Why are you complaining to the Viking? He makes us hang these every year. And it would help if you’d hammer in the nail before my arm falls off.

Demetrius: Hold it steady. I can’t help it if you have weak arms.

Lucien: Weak arms! I’ll show you weak arms when we meet in the training arena. You’ll be sitting on your…

Sven: Enough arguing, gentleman. There’s no time for chest beating today. That’s the perfect spot right there. Besides we’re not doing all the porticos, just the ones in the public areas. And we’re hanging extra mistletoe because of that book.

Paolo, holding the foot of one of the ladders the two Gladiators were perched  upon. (The doors to the Lair are over seven feet tall. How else does one get a dragon in and out without breaking down the place?): Uhm, Sven, sir, which book? The Banditas are all writers and all have books filling up the bookshelves.

Sven, consulting his map of all the doorways in the main part of the Lair: Oh, you know that Christmas book. Next we’ll do the four doors to the bar. Come along.

The two gladiators, Paolo and Mario, one of the hockey hunks who’d been volunteered to help, carted the ladders and box of mistletoe balls through the Christmas decorated foyer down the steps to the door that led to the bar/swimming pool area. The room was a blur of activity as the Hockey Hunks and some cowboys decorated the tree, lighting the lights around the windows and helping set the tables with green and red plaid table cloths.

The gladiators climbed the ladder again with Paolo and Mario holding the bases, this time with Demetrius holding the footwide mistletoe ball and Lucien hammering away. As they moved to the doorway leading to the men’s locker room, Paolo couldn’t help pressing the issue.

Paolo: Sven, sir, not to be dense, but which Christmas book are we talking about, last count the Banditas have published almost a dozen different Christmas books. (He should know he dusted the library shelves weekly.)

Sven stopped, nearly causing a train wreck collision as everyone came to a hault behind him.

Sven: Bandita Suz’ newest one, CLOSE TO THE MISTLETOE. The one with the scene….Close to the Mistletoe final for Barnes and Noble

“Let’s get you out of here.” His voice sounded gruff in his own ears.
Grabbing her little leather jacket in one hand, and her elbow in the other, he guided them through the crowd to the exit. That’s where their progress stopped.
“What’s going on?” Holly pressed in close to ask over the noise.
“I don’t know,” he said, stretching his six-foot-two frame to see what was causing the bottleneck. It looked like an old-fashioned kissing booth, or a mass make-out session. Then he got a glimpse of what was hanging over the doorway. He bent to talk in Holly’s ear, trying to ignore the lemony scent of her dark hair. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“Someone’s hung a ball of mistletoe over the exit door.”
The line in front of them moved a little more.
“So, what? People are stopping to kiss before leaving?”
He looked over the crowd again. “Nope. Appears to be two guys stopping everyone.” Just as he said it, the pair stopped two girls, grabbing each in a good-natured kiss. The next pair was a couple who had a long kiss before heading out the door. “Actually, they’re kissing the single girls, but standing in front of the door making couples kiss before letting them out.”
“Is this some tradition here?” She’d drawn her brows up in question.
He laughed. “You’re asking me? I just moved to town, remember?”
“What are we going to do?” she asked as they moved another foot closer to the exit.
“I’ve got this.” He released her elbow and twined his hand in hers. “You just hold my coat together, okay?” While he might have enjoyed the glimpse of her ass and that wicked little thong, the idea of anyone seeing it didn’t set well with him, not at all.
She nodded, but he could feel how tight she gripped his hand. Another set of single ladies, then another couple, before they were at the front of the line.
“What’s going on?” he asked the big guys that looked like football linemen standing in front of the door, even though he’d already figured out their game.
“Just a little holiday cheer,” blue-plaid shirt said. “A little mistletoe excise tax.”
Tree“Yep, kiss your girl, or let us do it to get out the door,” red-plaid shirt chimed in.
He looked down at Holly. “Guess we don’t have any choice.”
“Guess not,” she said with a little smile.
He laid her jacket over their joined hands, then brought his free one up to cup her soft face. He’d meant it to be a quick peck like some of the other couples before them, but the moment his lips met hers, heat seemed to course through him. Holly parted her lips and he slipped his tongue in to sample her. Sweet as a Christmas cookie, but a little spicy like mulled wine. He felt like a starving man who’d just got to sample the most delicate of deserts. All he wanted was more.
Sliding his hand back into her hair, he pulled her in tight. He slanted his mouth tighter over hers, the need for her growing hotter.
“That’s some kiss!” the pair in front of them shouted, breaking the sensual spell that seemed to enthrall them.
Nick pulled back, but almost groaned as Holly licked her lips before opening her eyes, her cheeks turning pink at all the ribbing from the crowd around them. Luckily, the plaid-shirt twins pushed open the doors. “You’re free to go!”
“Thanks!” he said with a wink and a smile, pulling Holly out into the cold, snowy, December night.

Sven: It’s got the Banditas planning to do the same to their guests, the male ones. Except they’re planning a twist to it. Kiss a Bandita before you ENTER or leave.

Paolo: Oh, that explains the crate of lip balm you ordered!20151214_160458

So, dear readers I have a question for you. If you had to kiss someone under the mistletoe, who would you like it to be?

I will gift an ebook copy of last year’s Christmas novella, CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS and one of these cute little Christmas ornaments to 2 lucky people who comment!


1 cup butter, softened                                            1 cup sugar

2eggs                                                                         1 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. baking powder                                              ½ tsp. salt

3 cups flour                                                             Flaked coconut

Egg white                                                                Blackberry or raspberry jam

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Stir in eggs and coconut extract.
  3. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Roll into ¾ inch balls.
  5. Roll into slightly beaten egg white.
  6. Roll in coconut and place on baking sheet.
  7. Indent each ball with thumb and fill slightly with jam.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Bake for 11-16 minutes or until coconut is slightly browned.

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  • flchen1 says:

    GR? Well, actually, DH, please 😉 And Suz, those coconut thumbprints sound delicious–will be adding those to my list of cookies to try! Will also need to make sure Close to Christmas is on this year’s Christmas TBR!!

  • Jane says:

    Congrats on the new release, Suz. Love seeing the boys decorating the lair. I would like to see Chris Evans under the mistletoe. He can be in his regular clothes or his Cap costume.

  • Amy Conley says:

    I wish my mother were here, I’d kiss her under the mistletoe.

  • Mary Preston says:

    Who am I going to kiss? I have quite a long list. Maybe I should just get them all to line up. It might take until New Years, but’s that’s OK.

  • Helen says:

    Woohoo always fun in the Lair when everyone is in party mood 🙂

    Looking forward to the new book Suz I love your stories I really need to try the mistletoe and who would I really want to kiss besides my Hubby of course yep Hugh Jackman 🙂

    Have Fun

  • Sally Schmidt says:

    Fun post, I want those guys to decorate my house! Who to kiss under the mistletoe? Well, of course my PC answer is my fabulous hubby of 46 years, but looking at the little photos on my laptop desktop I wouldn’t be too unhappy with Jaime Fraser, Cary Grant, or Paul Newman!

  • Laney4 says:

    I’d, of course, want it to be my husband; however, I’d like the mistletoe to be in the bedroom. (Why waste time, LOL?)

    If spouses weren’t in the picture, so to speak, I’d like to find out how creative George Clooney could get!

    • Hehehe, Laney, YOU can have your mistletoe in the bedroom. We Banditas had to draw the line at just the public part of the Lair. Those gladiators, cabana boys and hockey hunks would never get anything done otherwise…not to mention us get any writing done!

  • Deb says:

    The coconut cookies sound very good with the jam in them!

    Well, my obvious answer should be my husband.

    But, since my dad died at the end of September, I would like one more kiss from him or to give to him. I am so very glad that I reached down and kissed him on the forehead before I left the night he died.

  • Colleen C. says:

    The right guy for me! Happy Holidays!

  • Cassondra says:

    I have GOT to learn to bake cookies. Suz, those sound really, really good. I’m no good at cookies at all.

    Maybe I need to come down there and bake with you some year and you can show me what I’m doing wrong.

    As for the kiss….hmmmm…I would say my honey, Steve, but I get to kiss him whenever I want, so I should take this opportunity to kiss someone else shouldn’t I? I think one of the elves from Rivendell or Lorien. Yeah. I’ll kiss one of them. *slurp*

    • Want a real fun time, Cassondra? Come next Monday. Apparently I’m keeping Lyndsey’s gang so she and hubby can go to the movies. (I suspect Star Wars is on their agenda.) So, I have cookie cutter cookies ready for them to decroate…and we’ll make some chocolate mint cookies, too. Thank God the Jazzman will be here to distract the twins! 😀

      I’m thinking some of those Rivendell elves might be a good choice under the mistletoe. Me? I’d like The Bowman…(love me some Luke Evans!)

    • Cassondra, great choices! Those elves were seriously hot.

  • Minna says:

    Hmmmm… So many to choose from…. Well, I think I’d choose Rolf Magnusson (from Miranda’s Viking). He could rub my feet. They are killing me since I spent the day by running from one supermarket to another.

  • Hi Suz –

    The lair is shaping up with all it’s holiday greenery. While normally I’d be kissing my husband, I’ll “sacrifice” for the good of the lair. LOL. A little George Clooney would be nice, maybe some Bradley Cooper or Chris Hemsworth… Too many men, not enough time 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    I”m wondering about the Yule log. Strong men, big boy tools…

    As for under the mistletoe, I want a man who shaves. We’ve got some good looking young guys at work, but I’m a Regency gal at heart, and I want my hero clean shaven. Benedict Cumberbatch, Sam Elliot, Ian McKellan. I might make an exception for Chewbacca.

    • Shannon, I’ve always wanted to have a Yule log, but that requires a working fireplace, a big one.

      I love your choices, including Chewie! In the Star Wars universe, I would pick Luke or Wedge.

  • Pissenlit says:

    Hmm, Chris Evans’ Captain America would do. Or Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. Or maybe Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.* If they all want to get in line, I SUPPOSE I could stand under the mistletoe a little longer…

    *It’s possible that I may be doing a Marvel movie rewatch at the moment 🙂

    • Pissenlit, LOL! Let us know if you do your rewatch. Have you seen Hiddleston’s Jaguar ad?

      • Pissenlit says:

        I haven’t been re-watching them in order so I’ve done Captain America:The Winter Soldier, Avengers:Age of Ultron, Avengers and Ant-Man so far. I think maybe Thor:The Dark World might be next.

        Hee hee! Yes, I have seen the commercial. Unleash the cats! 😀

  • Teresa Hughes says:

    I would love to kiss Vin Diesel under the mistletoe!!! That would be a great Christmas present!

  • Suz, what a great excerpt! Now I’m seriously curious about the thong. I’ll know soon, though, because I’ve picked up my copy. I’m diving into Christmas romance this week.

  • Fabulous Excerpt !! Can’t wait to read this one!

    Under the mistletoe with moi?

    Why Gerard Butler, of course! Followed by Richard Armitage if La Divina Anna Campbell isn’t watching, that is !