“I wouldn’t open that until the first night of the trip, if I were you,” he says. “Wherever we’re headed, I’ll be sure to stay up and wait for your answer.”

He winks at me a few times, and then he licks his lips before walking away.

Garrett stares at the blue box, looking as if he expects me to open it in front of him.

“There’s a no-fraternization policy at this company, Miss Grey,” he says. “I hope you know that.”

“I do know that. Then again, maybe there shouldn’t be, since you make us all spend so much time together. I’m bound to hook up with one of my advisor colleagues at some point.”

He narrows his eyes at me, and I narrow mine right back.

“Mr. West, may I have your assistance, please?” The travel agent calls from the front of the room. “It’s almost time to announce this year’s destination.”

He stares at me for a few more seconds before walking away.

Letting out a breath, I grab a cup of eggnog from a waiter’s tray. I shake Nate’s box and decide to open it later since he’s still winking at me from across the room.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?” The travel agent calls over the microphone, and the room falls silent. “It’s my honor to be of service to you for another year and it’s time for me to reveal where you’re going!”

A fake drumroll sounds from somewhere, and she counts backward from ten—looking a little too excited about this.

“Three, two, one!” She yells, and the words “Colorado Springs, Colorado: The Grace Estate & Resort” pop onto the screen.

I choke on my eggnog.

What the hell?

“This is the one and only six-star resort in the United States!” She yells.

The room erupts into a chorus of “Ooohhs” and “Ahhhs,” but I keep choking.

I’m struggling to breathe while beating my chest, and no one seems to notice.

“You alright, Miss Grey?” An intern finally rushes over to help. “Did you get a little too excited about going to a six-star resort?”

I shake my head. There’s nothing exciting about going back home after being away for too long, and I know the resort all too well.

It’s my grandmother’s.

“The festive carriage rides are going to blow you away!” The agent is now clapping along to holiday music as images from the resort appear onscreen. “I can also guarantee that this is the best luxury resort you’ll ever stay in, and for the first time since you’ve used my services, you’ll have the estate grounds to yourselves!”

More fake cheers.

I step away from the crowd, letting my back hit the wall. I wasn’t planning to go home for another five years at best, and I definitely wasn’t planning to make the trip with all of my coworkers in tow.

Hell, every year I buy plane tickets to go back, but I can never bring myself to go through with it.

Now, I don’t have a choice.

Grabbing a stiffer drink from one of the passing waiter trays, I look across the room and notice Garrett unwrapping my gift. I consider taking my phone out and snapping a picture of the look on his face, but I know I won’t need a picture to remember this moment.

He flips the lid box and blinks a few times.

Yes, that’s all you deserve, asshole. No effort whatsoever.

His lips slowly part, and then he returns the lid to the box before looking up.

His eyes meet mine, and I raise my drink to him. Then I mouth, “Merry Christmas.”

He mouths the words in return, keeping his eyes on me as someone asks him to sign off on something. Then he walks over to me.

I’m not sure if it’s the alcohol or the sudden shock I’m feeling about going home, but the intense way that Garrett is looking at me right now is making my nipples harden.

He does look sexier when he’s pissed…

“We need to talk,” he says, his voice low. “When are you available?”

“You have my schedule connected to your phone.”

“This is going to be a different type of conversation.” He steps closer. “Unless you didn’t really intend to give that gift to me.”

“It’s five hundred percent intentional. If I could’ve given it to you sooner, I would’ve.”

“In that case, you could’ve just told me what you really think of me, instead of resorting to a re-gift.”

“I figured it was far less subtle this way.”

“Hmmm.” His gaze lingers on my lips. “Would you mind meeting me in my condo this evening?”

You own more than one. “Which one?”

“Fifth Avenue,” he says. “Can you meet me there?”

“Sure.” I remember that I need his help with a press release, and that I’ll probably need his couch for power naps. “I may need to stay the night.”

“I would hope so,” he says. “I was planning to have you over for hours.”

Of course, you were. “You’re not planning to fire me over this gift, are you?”

“Quite the contrary. Does six o’clock work for you?”

“Nine thirty is better.” I admit. “I need to pack for the trip first.”

“Fair enough.” He smiles at me in a way that makes my panties wet. “I’ll see you in my condo at nine thirty.”



This Christmas

Manhattan, New York

Later that night, I toss the twentieth pair of socks into my suitcase and wonder if that will be enough to stay warm in Colorado’s snow.

Not even close. I pick up five more and stuff them into the side pockets.

“So, what did you think about my gift this year?” Georgia smiles at me via FaceTime.

“It was warm and soft as always,” I say. “Thank you for another one. What’s the origin story behind it?”

“Warm and soft?” She raises her eyebrow. “Why the hell would you think that?”

“Yeah.” I nod. “You know I always appreciate your scarves. I don’t typically wear them until after the holiday but—”

“I didn’t get you a freakin’ scarf, Savannah.” She cuts me off. “I got you something so much better this year. Go grab it and open it.”

I swallow, not wanting to admit that her sweater is re-gifted material now. “I’ll have to open it when I get home,” I say. “It’s in a bag I took to the office.”

“Well, make sure to pour a glass of wine and run a hot bath to prepare for it.”

“You made me bath salts?” I shudder at the thought; the last time she sent me some, I had a rash for weeks.

The mischievous look on her face makes me tilt my head to the side. “What exactly did you get me?”

“Something that you can use to get out all the frustration you feel about your boss. I mean, technically, I wanted to get it for you months ago for the lonely nights courtesy of all the exes who shall not be named, but the newest one is on my shit list now.”

“My boss should still be on there, too.”