Unwrapped – December 26, 2012
His to unwrap. His to keep.
Derrick Fox only wants one gift beneath his Christmas tree--his best friend, Mia. When her latest moron walks out on her, Derrick finally sees his chance to break through the wall of friendship and claim Mia for his own. Forever. But when she propositions him instead, it leaves him reeling.
Insecure, image challenged and dumped--again--twenty-five-year-old Mia Patterson is sick to death of being a virgin. With her knight in shining armor nowhere to be found, naturally she turns to her BFF, the insanely sexy Derrick Fox, to help her out. The problem? Derrick wants far more than the body she's ready to give. He wants her heart.
As the most magical time of year approaches, Derrick and Mia struggle to create some Christmas magic of their own--the sort that happens once in a lifetime, when two hearts finally come together in trust. And love. Unwrapped.
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Unwrapped and Cupid's Mistake are now available together in their series box set, Christmas Wishes, Valentine Kisses. Click here for more information!
"Delightful, entertaining, and sexy! . . . I was thoroughly entranced. . . Ms. White builds the romance on the firm foundation of friendship so skillfully that I couldn't put the book down." ~Amazon reviewer
"She made me cry with happiness. . . "Unwrapped" is a great story of true friendship, true passion and true love. . . What unfolds is a tale to touch your heart, show you that it's never too late to find happiness and that sometimes it's right under your nose. . ." ~Amazon reviewer
". . . A cute and sweet book. . . Perfect for a quick feel good read." ~Amazon reviewer
Extra Info From Unwrapped:
Unwrapped is a friends-to-lovers contemporary Christmas romance novel
Mia Renee Patterson: A twenty-five-year-old virgin, and best friend since college to Derrick Fox, Allison Kelly and Jeff Denton. After growing up with a mother who gave herself too easily to any man who asked in hopes of finding her Prince Charming, Mia has decided she doesn't believe in love. She has image issues with her body, mostly thanks to the complete jerk who just dumped her, Barry Anderson, and has had a long-buried crush on Derrick. She runs an ezine and print magazine devoted to raising awareness and funding for the most vulnerable in society. She and Allison Kelly were college roommates and formed a friendship quartet with Derrick and his roommate, the flamboyantly gay Jeff Denton.
Guilty pleasure: Chocolate-covered cherries and worn-in clothing stolen from Derrick's closet.
Derrick Fox: A computer game developer, and an anomaly—a computer geek/jock with a romantic streak a mile wide. He's secretly been in love with Mia since first meeting her as a college freshman at UC Irvine in Irvine, California, where Jeff Denton was his roommate. Once Mia's latest moron dumps her, he is determined to make his stand and let Mia know how much he cares.
Proudest accomplishment: He's fluent in Japanese, which comes in handy in his business.
Allison Kelly: She's a model-perfect true redhead, loves men, sex and food, not necessarily in that order, and runs her own event planning business. She believes in love, but is in no way ready to experience it—she's having too much fun playing the field. (All that is about to change for her, though, in the companion short story to Unwrapped, Cupid's Mistake, which will be out February, 2013.)
Biggest secret: her party-girl persona is sometimes hard to maintain, especially when she succumbs to the occasional bout of loneliness, which can strike even in the midst of a crowd.
Jeff Denton: He was Derrick's college roommate and is now building his entertainment empire as the Drag Queen of the Universe—or so he bills himself—and star of the most popular drag show in Hollywood. He is madly in love with his partner, Greg Mitchell.
Not-so-secret passion: His body is his temple, and it had best be worshipped frequently, but he'd jump in front of a speeding train for his friends.
Greg Mitchell: New to the quartet of friends formed by Jeff Denton, Derrick Fox, Mia Patterson and Allison Kelly, Greg met Jeff one night after Jeff's Hollywood show, and the two have been together ever since. He is the gentle soul of the group.
Secret desire: He'd give just about anything to marry Jeff.
Mrs. Hinckley: Mia's elderly, widowed neighbor in Newport Beach, California.
Shameful secret: She quit smoking months ago—after decades of badgering by family, friends and physicians—but she still misses the filthy, disgusting habit every single day.
Barry Anderson: A prominent plastic surgeon in Orange County, he made Mia his pet project for three months (unbeknownst to her), trying to turn her into a perfect specimen without benefit of surgery—just to see if it could be done—under the guise of dating her. At the end of three months, he satisfies himself that indeed perfection cannot be attained without the benefit of his skilled knife, verifying his own necessity in the social order, and dumps her flat, setting off a chain of events Mia could never have imagined.
Secret fear: That being overweight is contagious.
Settings & Locations
Unwrapped takes place primarily in Orange County, California, and includes references to the following locations ~
Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park
Magic Mountain, Valencia
John Wayne Airport
Sunday, September 24th
The echo of angry words and slammed doors still vibrated through the sunny, beach-front condo on invisible waves of sound. Hurt drifted like a haze on the air. Derrick Fox could almost see the slide of it thickening Mia's voice, coating her tongue and aching in her throat with every chocolate-covered cherry she swallowed.
"And then he said," Mia continued, breath hitching, "'You're not the woman I thought you were.' And he walked out."
Sniffling, she licked melted chocolate off her delicate fingers one by one. She pulled another cherry out of the half-empty box and stared at it, twirling it by the stem before popping it in her mouth.
Despite the occasion, the sight of Mia's full, soft lips wrapping around the cherry stem shot a sensual laser beam straight to Derrick's groin, surprising him with its intensity and tightening everything in a painful vise. From the back of his neck, zinging down his spine to the tips of his curling toes, the sexual tremors had him twitching in his seat.
Throttle it back, man. Now's not the time.
With his best friend, Mia Patterson, it never was the time.
Flicking his gaze between Mia and Allison Kelly—the third in their best-friends-since-college band of misfits—Derrick shifted, trying to get comfortable. The three of them scrunched together on Mia's plush lipstick-red couch in the front room of her tiny condo in Newport Beach. California sunshine poured through the picture windows and highlighted a spectacular vista of burnt-sugar sand and blue-green ocean, exactly the same shimmery shade as Mia's eyes. The water stretched away from the crowded beach outside her front door, but none of them paid any attention to the breathtaking view.
Allison sat on Mia's other side, rubbing Mia's knee in comforting circles and making Derrick crave the feel of Mia's skin just there. He wanted his fingers gliding along her smooth, sleek legs. With time to explore. Time to savor.
Clearing his throat, Derrick hoped neither woman noticed his tension. His body hummed like a teenager's, all out-of-control hormones and zero finesse. The knowledge that Mia was finally free again had flipped a switch in his head, but he was a grown man. He needed to reassert some mastery over himself. He needed to focus. And plan.
What would they do if he leaped to his feet and announced he was in love with Mia right there in the middle of her family room, just hours after she got dumped by her last boyfriend?
Yeah, it probably wouldn't go over too well.
But after eight years of friendship, this was it—the last time some other guy was going to get in his way, the last time a suave, posturing jackass was going to hurt Mia. She'd been hurt enough, and whether she realized it or not, he loved her. He was ready to prove it.
"Everyone said I'd feel better when I lost the weight." Mia swiped at the mascara running down her face, smearing it into mini-Rorschach-style blotches, before selecting another cherry. "But I don't. Everything hurts. I was happier when I was fat."
"You were never fat, Mia." Derrick controlled the surge of fury with effort, a muscle going in his jaw. If he could get his hands on Barry-fucking-Anderson right now. . . Goddamned metro-sexual sleazebag.
"Never." Allison pulled Mia's head to her shoulder, stroking Mia's long brown hair. It shone in a waving mass down her back, the same glossy shade as the candy Mia stuffed defiantly in her mouth.
Allison, a true redhead with pale skin lightly freckled from the sun, exchanged a glance with Derrick. The look in her big blue eyes mirrored his urge to commit acts of violence against the creep who'd done this to their best friend.
Newly svelte and newly single—again—Mia leaned against Allison wearing an ancient peach-colored t-shirt three sizes too large and enormous ratty grey sweatpants, her bare feet tucked beneath her legs. The sweats cinched at the waist by an unraveling drawstring, cut off at the knees and used to belong to Derrick.
Damned if he'd ever looked as good in them as Mia did, though.
He pretended exasperation every time she snagged another piece of his clothing—an activity she'd made a regular habit of since their freshman year at UC Irvine—but secretly he liked seeing her in his castoffs. There was something unspeakably intimate about her wrapping herself up in a shirt he'd worn.
Now, four years out of college, she'd managed to sneak at least half his wardrobe into her own closet.
Derrick kept his attention on the conversation, but his fingers itched to run through Mia's silky hair. Her dark strands tangled with Allison's rioting bronze curls, a chocolate and caramel river glinting in the sunlight beaming through the windows. Mia's lightly tanned skin sported bright red splotches brought on by the crying jag.
Beautiful as Mia was, she'd never been a pretty-princess kind of crier. If he got the chance, he'd make Barry pay for every splotch.
"You're beautiful and funny and sexy," Allison was saying, her tone firm. "Any guy would be lucky to have you."
"Then why didn't he want me?" Mia's whimper effectively killed the sensual vibes running beneath Derrick's skin and resurrected the anger.
"Because Barry's a dick." Derrick snapped the words like bones breaking under a heavy fist. And he wanted to hit something. Or someone. Barry.
He'd kill Barry.
"He's an idiot," said Allison.
Mia buried her face in her hands. "I practically threw myself at him."
"He's an idiot and a dick, and he doesn't deserve you." Derrick made his voice particularly harsh to emphasize his point, while Mia's tears scored trails of acid across his heart. He cracked his knuckles.
He'd enjoy killing Barry.
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