Aubrey’s Books: Holiday Stories
Merry Christmas, Henry
A Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Henry, a shy and talented artist, moonlights as a security guard at a museum and loses his heart to a beautiful, melancholy woman in a painting. As his obsession grows, he finds a kindred soul who helps him in his search for happiness. On Christmas Eve, Henry dares to take a chance on love and fulfill his dream.
~Winner of Best Short Romance in the Editors and Predators Reader’s Choice of 2013~
~Top 100 Best Seasonal Romance and Best Christmas-themed Books on Goodreads~
“SHORT, SWEET & STUNNING!” ~~ By the GreatReads!
“Captivating Christmas Choice!” ~~ By The Kindle Book Review
“Grab this short story and curl up in your favorite chair … This will be one of your best Christmas presents to yourself ever.” ~~ By Leiah “So, I Read This Book Today . . .”
“Hey, Henry, you want a little overtime?” the supervisor had asked. “Charlie called in sick and I could use an extra hand. Another rich collector remembered us in his will. We’ve got a pricey piece arriving in about an hour and I’d feel better with some extra security.”
Henry tried to wipe the smile off his face. Five years in the city and he still felt like a country bumpkin. “Sure.”
“The paper says a Rubens. Flemish, wasn’t he? But it’s a small one.”
Henry gave a whistle. “Impressive.”
“There’s a companion painting with it, artist unknown. We’ll have to find a spot for it in appreciation for the collector’s piece.”
An hour later, Henry held a priceless painting in his hands. God, he loved this job.
“The family probably figured they wouldn’t get any money out of the other one. But this one sure is a beauty,” the supervisor said as he reached for the Rubens.
“Yes, indeed,” Henry replied, as his eyes landed on the second painting. “Striking.”
Henry’s boss laughed. “I’m talking about this one, Bud. The little one is worth the big bucks!” His boss headed toward the office to start the paperwork on the new museum pieces.
“Yes, of course,” he murmured, but his attention remained focused on the woman in the larger painting.
She sat on the edge of a rocky cliff, her face slightly turned as if looking over the edge. Her legs were out to the side, knees bent, a long, olive-colored skirt spread around her haphazardly as if blown by the wind. The stormy ocean breakers rushed between jagged rocks then turned into frothy waves that lapped at the sand. The details in the picture were crisp and stark, the color was minimal—just the woman on a cliff with the turbulent water below. But the overall effect created a hauntingly beautiful scene.
He felt her distress, her sorrow. His fingers itched to reach out and pull her from the painting and hold her, soothe her, give her comfort. Henry knew that if she could turn and face him, he would be looking at the most exquisite creature he’d ever seen. His hand shook as he reached out to touch the canvas.
“Are you okay, Henry?”
Henry drew his hand back quickly as if he’d been caught in the act of—of what? Touching a frame? Good lord, he must be tired.
“What? Oh, yeah, I just need some sleep. ” As Henry turned to leave, he took one last look at the woman who had just stolen his heart. Fate had given him a precious gift. He whistled “Angels We Have Heard on High” all the way home.
Youtube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC8bXDhC3yk
A Chicago Christmas #1
Seventy years ago, a collie mix brings two hearts together in war torn Italy. Will their story help their grandson find his own Christmas love?
“Wynne has crafted a beautiful story guaranteed to warm you heart and make you sigh.” ~~ Kishan Paul, author of Blind Love and Second Wife
“…a story of romance, that just by itself will have you misty eyed.” ~~ Celeste Williams, reader
“Truly romantic…a book that you will not be able to put down.” ~~ Books Are Love
The pilot with wheat-colored hair put his elbows on the counter and leaned toward her. “I could buy thirty loaves of bread at home for that much lettuce.”
“But you are not home, soldier. You are here, in Benevento, and a sticky bun is 100 lire.” She meant to be rude but his soft brown gaze made her heart race as if she’d just chased Dante across the field. His smile went to his eyes, adding crinkles to the corners, and made her own lips turn up. “The cost of supplies is very expensive these days, as you know.”
“So I’ve heard. Give me five,” he said with a wink. “Maybe I can sweet talk the captain into putting me back into a plane.”
“Save your money, Ken. Your ears obviously ain’t got any better in the last ten minutes,” he answered, rubber-necking over the counter. “Get a load of that landing gear.”
Dante growled again but this time showed sharp, white teeth. “I don’t think he likes you much, Bob.”
“Well I don’t care for him, neither. Give me two of those, and we’ll get out of your hair.”
The men paid for the rolls and walked outside. She headed into the kitchen when that quiet, deep voice stopped her. “I’d like to apologize for my friend. He’s not a bad Joe once you get to know him.”
“I don’t think I care to,” she said without turning around.
“It looks like I may be making regular trips through your town. Do you work here often?” His tone dripped like honey from a ladle and poured over her; she felt her body turn toward him even as her brain told her “no.”
“My family owns it. I am here every day.”
“So your father is Guido?” He had resumed his place at the counter, balanced on his elbows again, inviting her back without a word.
She found herself leaning on the counter from the other side. “How do you know my father?”
“The sign says Guido’s Café.”
She laughed. “Yes, it does. So you are no private eye, eh?”
He whistled then. “You’d make Betty Grable green with envy when you smile. It makes those blue eyes sparkle like a fresh-cut diamond. You should do that more often.”
Her eyes lowered, embarrassed at the compliment and the image of the American pinup girl in a bathing suit. “You should go catch up with your friends.”
“My name is Ken Lawrence,” he said and held out his hand.
“Antonia Capriotti,” she replied and took his hand. A tingle shot down her center and curled her toes. “It is nice to meet you.”
“You’re blushing. Mmm, beautiful and modest. That’s a rare find, you know.” He held firmly onto her hand. “And who is this?”
She looked down at the silent collie. He hadn’t made a noise when this man reached across the counter and touched her. Odd. “Dante, our protector.”
“You need one, with mugs like Bob.” He made a kissing noise in the dog’s direction and slapped the counter. Dante jumped up, feet on the edge and barked. Ken reached over and scratched the dog behind his ears. “Good boy, you look like my old Schotzie.”
“You have a dog?”
“I did. Old man hit fourteen just before I left. Mom sent me his collar when he passed.”
“I’m sorry, they are just like one of the family, si?”
“Yes they are,” he agreed, giving Dante one more pat before he tipped his hat. “I hope to see you again soon, Antonia.”
She hugged the collie as the Yank left, a swagger to his walk. “What do you know that I don’t, hmm? I trust your instincts better than mine. Perhaps we’ll consider more conversation with this Americano if he returns.”
Excerpt from contemporary love story:
The scent of turkey met her at Dom’s front door. For a moment, apprehension swept through her at the thought of helping in the kitchen. Then a handsome man stood before her, and she couldn’t wipe the foolish smile off her face. Instead of saying something stupid, she held out the wine.
“In a holiday bag, no less,” Dom said, eyebrows raised. He stepped back to let her in, grabbed her hand, and spun her around to face him. “You look stunning.”
“I just thought that the burlap would give it extra protection if I dropped it, and they only seemed to have holiday wine bags in stock and—”
One finger covered her mouth. As his head slowly lowered, she could feel his breath on her face; heat raced through her core. By the time their lips touched, her legs had turned to jello; she clung to him for support.
Gently pushing her toward the wall, he pressed his length against her and whispered, “I need to make you mine, legally, before I lose all control. You have no idea the affect you have on me, do you?”
“I think that is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me,” she said breathless. “Kiss me like that again… please?”
“I’d be happy to oblige if you tell me that isn’t my grandmother standing in the doorway watching us.”
Katie looked over to see Antonia, a wide grin on her face, and quickly pushed on the hard chest that pinned her to the wall. She ran a hand through her hair as the blood rushed to her face.
“Oh Nico, such good Italian blood in you. And not even any mistletoe out yet.” Antonia wiped her hands on her apron and waved to the young couple. “Come now, we have work to do before we play.”
The two followed her in like reprimanded children who showed no remorse, holding hands and snickering. This is silly but it feels so good. Katie accepted the apron and as she pulled the straps behind her, strong hands covered hers.
“Let me,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m good at tying knots.”