alina jacobs


A Holiday Romantic Comedy (Frost Brothers Book 3)


Dear Santa, I do not want a Frost brother for Christmas.

In fact I do not want anything for Christmas—no annoying Christmas carols, no holiday family drama, and no last-minute presents.

And I certainly don’t want to be a bachelorette in The Great Christmas Bake-Off. Yes in the spirit of holiday commercialism, the bake-off is also a date-off and Jonathan Frost is the prize.

I should be hiding away with wine and snacks while waiting for Christmas to end. Instead I’m wearing a reindeer mascot costume and pretending I’m oh-so-excited to meet New York City’s most eligible billionaire bachelor!!! Just look at those blue eyes and six-foot-five tall frame!!! Don’t you want to take him home for the holidays?!?!!


Unlike the other bachelorettes, I refused to debase myself and stroke some billionaire’s ego.

Instead, I threw a candy-cane dildo at his stupidly handsome face.

Then I laughed when he yelled at me.

Of course Jonathan couldn’t take the hint. He came around offering to put a little frosting on my Christmas cookies.

I attempted to shank him with a spatula.

He got offended and said that as a judge on The Great Christmas Bake-Off, he was just trying to help.


Not that I’m looking for holiday romance. 

Christmas is already a stressful time of the year without adding a billionaire in the mix.

Between dodging bake-off sabotaging cousins, applying for a long-shot prestigious museum internship, and trying to survive being broke in Manhattan, I’m up to my black lipstick in my own special nightmare before Christmas.

And it’s making me wound tighter than a nutcracker.

So when Jonathan offers to put some frosting on my cookies—and a few other ornament shaped parts—his washboard abs and sexy smirk start to seem like the perfect stress relief.

Especially when he offers himself all wrapped up in a bow.

So no, dear Santa, I do not want Jonathan Frost, but I won’t say no to his Christmas package!


Frosting Her Christmas Cookies is a standalone holiday romantic comedy. If you love Christmas baking, hilarious holiday hijinks, and a big thick Christmas stocking, then pick up this full-length, steamy romance novel! There are no cliffhangers but there is a very merry (Christmas!) ever after!

alina jacobs


Audiobook versions are available on iTunes and Audible! Narrated by Beth Roeg and Scott Rider, this fun holiday romantic comedy is a perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit!
EHCC cover


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Funny and feel-good…with steamy moments throughout!!! – Melinda, Goodreads

I give this a five out of five stars. I loved the story, it made me laugh and just gave me such a feeling of contentment by the end. – Eliza, Amazon

My favorite of Alina Jacob’s books so far! – V, Goodreads

Well written, compelling, and laugh out loud funny characters. – Laure, Amazon

The banter between Jonathan and Morticia had me glued! – Shamala, Goodreads

The fun part of this book is the humorous banter! – Emily, Amazon


Chapter 1


Christmas. The absolute worst time of year. It was Black Friday—not so named because it was a day of pagan rituals but rather because it kicked off the season of shallow consumerism and obnoxious Christmas music that burrowed into your ear. I walked down the avenue near the harbor. Workers were putting up an excessive amount of street decorations, including wreaths, lights, and huge bows that would make Mrs. Claus salivate. One of the men waved to me.

“Merry Christmas!” he shouted.

I ignored him.

“How about a little Christmas cheer, sweetheart?” he called out.

I pulled my Taser out of my black bag and brandished it.

“Merry Christmas this!” I yelled at him.

He flinched and almost fell off his ladder.

I smirked.

When people saw me with my gothic outfits, long black hair, and dark makeup, they assumed that I was weird and off-putting. Once they got to know me, they found that their assumptions were, in fact, correct.

I adjusted my grasp on my cat Salem’s carrier and on my Victorian steamer trunk. I had to finish up the final decorating touches on the set for The Great Christmas Bake-Off. Cue the elf barf.

The Great Christmas Bake-Off was another character in the nativity scene of things I hated about Christmas. Baking, sparkles, ornaments, and festive Christmas outfits. Blech.

Salem howled as I took a shortcut and picked my way through the defunct industrial warehouse complex from the 1850s that had not yet been renovated to another soulless Manhattan condo tower development. Though with all the COMING SOON! signs on neighboring properties, the guillotine would soon fall on these old buildings too, I was sure.

“One more hour,” I assured Salem, “then we will be on a train back to Harrogate and the old Victorian house, where we will watch Penny and her walking sack of money, Garrett, be all lovey and couple-y.”

It was almost enough to make me not want to go home. But staying in Manhattan was out of the question. Christmas was encroaching. I needed to isolate myself in my crypt and count down the days until Halloween—and count the days until I hopefully started my internship at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. I sent up another prayer to the spirits. I needed that internship. Working at the Getty was every artist’s dream. It would earn me bragging rights and my work a spot in some of the nicer galleries around Manhattan. The art world would finally start taking me seriously.

I threw open the door of an eight-story brick building in which Romance Creative had set up production for the show.

“Thank goodness you’re here,” Dana Holbrook said when she saw me. She and her business partner, Belle Frost, hurried over. “The bake-off bachelorettes will be here soon. It’s a disaster.”

I scowled at Dana. “I did the best I could with what I was given,” I said, gesturing around the historic heavy-timber building. Though I hated Christmas with a passion, I had nevertheless managed to turn the studio space into a fairyland of merriment and cheer. I had made it as tasteful as possible, with loops of garland—real pine and juniper boughs, thank you very much—large glass ornaments, and, of course, Christmas trees.

“Aside from the voodoo doll you hid in the elf-on-the-shelf scene,” Dana said, handing me the creepy doll with two fingers, “it all looks great. No, the issue is that one of our bachelorettes fell pregnant, and the doctor put her on bed rest.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Fell pregnant? Like pregnancy just plummeted down from the heavens?”

“That’s what she’s telling her ultrareligious boyfriend,” Belle said dryly. “Swears up and down that it must be an immaculate conception, because she and her boyfriend were saving themselves until marriage.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, setting down Salem’s carrier. “So penises are just falling out of the sky now.”

“Yup,” Dana said. “Better watch out.”

“But now you’re here,” Belle said, “and you can help!”

I looked at her suspiciously. “Wait, this is a bake-off, right? So why are you calling the contestants bachelorettes?”

“We’re upping the ante,” Dana explained breezily. “The bake-off just isn’t drawing the numbers we need. Now it’s a bake-off slash date-off. The Bachelorette meets baking plus Christmas. It’s a gold mine!”

“Sounds like you all have your hands full,” I said, leveling my gaze at Dana then at Belle. I wasn’t stupid; I knew where this was going. Now to see if they had the balls to ask me. Of course, my answer would be no.

“There’s our lady and savior, bachelorette number thirteen!” boomed Gunnar Svensson, one of the producers of Romance Creative, as he came out of a side hallway, lugging the decapitated head of a reindeer…mascot that is.

“No,” I said, giving them my best witchy glare.

Belle, who might as well have been the Witch of the North herself, was unaffected. But Gunner stopped short.

“Uh…” he said, gray eyes flicking between us. “Now, Morticia…”

“No,” I said. “I will not debase myself and sacrifice my values to parade around as some simpering girl in nothing but tights and a holiday sweater and tell some douchebag billionaire that he’s so handsome, and I want him to make my Christmas Eve!”

“See, you’re a natural!” Gunnar wheedled.

“The beauty of it,” Belle added, taking the head from Gunnar, “is that you barely have to do anything. That’s what the mascot costume is for. Just show up dressed as a reindeer. In this iteration of the show, the fans have a say in who stays and who goes. You’re abrasive and odd. No one will like you, the fans will vote you out of the kitchen and the bedroom, and then you can collect a check and be back in Harrogate by tomorrow evening.”

“We just need a sacrificial Christmas goose,” Gunnar begged. He took out a check and waved it at me.

“I cannot be bought.” I crossed my arms. “I spent a whole summer on an art retreat in Mississippi wearing clothes I made out of animals I hunted myself.”

Gunnar shuddered.

Dana tossed her dark, shiny hair. “I can arrange for one of your sculptures to be installed in the Holbrook Enterprises tower lobby,” Dana negotiated. “It will have a big plaque displaying your name as the artist. There would be a press release.”

“Oh!” Well, maybe I could be bought a little bit. The Holbrook Enterprises tower lobby was three stories tall.

No! Stay strong!

“Unlimited budget,” Dana bribed.

I caved as visions of the homage to Hecate that I would create sparkled in my vision. “Only if I get to choose what it is,” I countered.

“Only if we approve the design first,” Dana corrected.

“Fine, but I’m naming my price.”

Dana extended her hand, and we shook.

So sue me. It was Christmas, after all: the season of commercial sellouts.

Gunnar handed me the head and the skin of the reindeer. “Looks like it’s going to be a Merry Christmas after all!”

Thirty-six hours, I told myself as I headed to the bathroom to change into the reindeer suit.

“You may want to take off as many layers as you can,” Belle suggested, following me as she tapped on her tablet. “All that fake fur makes the costume hot.”

I nodded then texted my sister, Lilith, to come pick up Salem. Then I inspected the costume. It was itchy and smelled like peppermint.

“Thirty-six hours,” I chanted as I removed my layers of clothing.

There was a certain type of women all men fantasized about. She was usually tall and thin but somehow inexplicably had hips and a big butt and large, round boobs. I was tall and thin but with a boyish figure, small boobs, and big hands and feet. The billionaire bachelor was not going to find me attractive.

“What the hell do I even care? He can shove a candy cane up where the sun don’t shine,” I grumbled as I stepped into the furry suit. “It’s not like I need some billionaire’s wandering eye to pump up my self-esteem. I don’t even want a boyfriend, let alone one with more money than sense.”

I adjusted the large red bow at the neck of the suit then twisted my hair up into a bun.

Belle was waiting impatiently when I stepped out of the bathroom. “It’s showtime in five,” she said, grabbing me by the shoulder. I was a respectable five feet eight, but Belle was six feet tall barefoot. Now there was someone who would have been a Celtic priestess in the early third century and had no problem sending the Romans back where they came from and probably sacrificing them during some sort of winter solstice ritual killing.

I smirked slightly.

“Don’t murder anyone,” Belle warned me. “You’re going to be baking, too, so no slashing. Don’t burn down my brother’s studio, and don’t poison anyone.”

“When have I ever?” I demanded.

“Oh yeah? Then what was the voodoo doll for?”

“That deliveryman was rude, and the metal light-up reindeer he brought had absolutely been damaged in transit. There is no way I would have accidentally busted half the lights on that thing and bent all the antlers,” I told her stubbornly.

We went out a side entrance and walked a few yards away. The film crew, the huge lights, and the producers milling around signified another reality TV show production in progress. New York was lousy with them.

Gunnar gave me a dildo-sized plastic candy cane.

“This better not be what I think it is.”

“It’s your Christmas greeting gift,” he said. Then he shouted into his headset, “Zane? Yeah, get camera two on her…ten-four.” To me, he added, “Every girl is supposed to bring something meaningful to how she celebrates Christmas…yadda, yadda. This was all they had at the shop down the street.”

Belle stuffed me into a limo that was idling out of the shot. It drove me a few paces to make it seem like I was arriving in style. In front of the building, a tall man waited—a winter prince with platinum hair, icy blue eyes, and a general demeanor that screamed fuckable but not in a serious-relationship way.

His eyes pierced the glass of the limo, and I froze then forced myself to relax. “He can’t see through the tinted glass,” I assured myself as I twisted the reindeer head on.

The lights sparkled in the cold air as I stepped out of the car and then jerked as the antlers caught on the door.

“Fuck!” I cursed.

The billionaire smirked as he watched me struggle.

“Thanks for the help, asshole!” I shouted as I finally forced the antlers through the car door.

The smirk turned into a sneer. “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. You’re supposed to be here to impress me.”

“I’ll show you stupid prizes!” I yelled. I hefted the giant candy cane and threw it at him.



Chapter 2


I work out—like, a lot. I hit the gym every day, alternating weights and cardio. I do MMA fighting three nights a week. How the fuck did I not dodge that candy cane?

It must have been the shock of being cussed out by a giant reindeer.

“What the hell?” I yelled at bachelorette number thirteen, though I was going to start calling her the bachelorette from hell, because no one treated me like that!

“My face is insured for twenty million dollars,” I snapped at her as I gestured to my assistants. They looked at me dumbly as they tried to figure out what I wanted.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you hired them for their good looks and not for their organizational prowess,” the reindeer drawled.

I sputtered.

“He needs ice for that nasty bruise that’s already forming on his porcelain skin,” bachelorette number thirteen said to my assistants.

“A bruise?” I snarled as my assistants hurried off to find ice. “I’m pressing charges.”

The bachelorette gave me the finger, or at least what might have looked like the finger if she hadn’t been sporting giant furry hooves. Then she shuffled past me into the building.

“Hey!” I yelled at her. “We’re supposed to exchange pleasantries, and you’re supposed to fawn over me and tell me how you want me to make your Christmas Eve.”

She turned. “Christmas is already the worst holiday in the world,” she said, her raspy voice slightly muffled by the large reindeer head. “There’s no way I’d make it worse by spending it with you!”

I drew back.

“You hate Christmas? What kind of monster hates Christmas?” I demanded, hurrying after her, taking the ice pack from one of my simpering assistants and pressing it to my cheek. I ducked around the cameras as the cameramen hurried to keep up with us. “Christmas is about family and friends, children opening presents, and baking cookies. Everyone else here wants to create the perfect family Christmas card with me.” I grabbed her shoulder.

She whirled around to accost me and hit me on the other side of the face with one of the antlers.

“Ow!” I yelped.

“Christmas,” she spat as I switched the ice to the other cheek, “is just an excuse for people with sad little lives to pretend like everything is just peachy. It’s the candy cane–colored fondant veneer over dry, stale fruitcake. You know, I might have actually…not, like, fucked you but maybe gotten myself off one night thinking about you while I was drunk and horny, if only you had even shown a hint of derision toward the holiday season. Unfortunately, it seems as if you seriously believe in the magic of Christmas.”

“Of course I do,” I said stubbornly. “Christmas brought my family back together. It’s a holiday about friends and neighbors and finding the beauty in the moment. Also the snow—I love snow.”

She tossed the giant reindeer head, sending the plastic googly eyes spinning. “I’m going to go bake now,” bachelorette thirteen said. “Because unlike the rest of the people here, I am not chasing after your Christmas package.”

She walked into the studio as if she owned it—which she definitely did not. I owned this building. But I felt off-kilter.

One of the producers motioned the bachelorette to her baking station. The nameplate read Morticia DiRizzo. “Of course some crazy Christmas-hating woman is going to have that name,” I muttered under my breath. It was a bad omen on a day when I needed a good one.

A few years earlier, my hedge fund had bet big on alcohol by buying up a number of craft distilleries. Now was my big moment. My net worth was a measly two billion. But if I could make my alcohol into the must-have-item of the holidays, I could triple my net worth. I knew the product was worth it. The craft liquor was high quality, and I had a lot of product to sell. My team had been working on branding each item. My participation in this bake-off was native advertising to create buzz for the various liquors.

All the bakers would make desserts that had to feature one of my alcohol items. The recipe and videos would be posted online; I had a whole social media integration strategy. But that hinged on having, one, good bakers, and, two, women who were bubbly, pretty, and worked well on camera.

Morticia was not one of those women.

“Welcome to The Great Christmas Bake-Off, season three,” Anastasia, the host, announced when Gunnar gave her the signal. “If you love Christmas and baking, you’re in the right place. Same as last year, our esteemed judges, Anu and Nick, are back! Anu Pillai is a chocolatier and baker from L’il Masa bakery in NoLiTa. Then we have Nick Mazur, a pastry chef and restaurant owner with businesses all over the New York area.”

The judges smiled for the cameras.

“In addition to baking, we have a bit of a twist. In each of the last two seasons, one of our contestants has gone on to fall in love with one of the Frost brothers, who were judging. This year, we wanted to make it an equal opportunity! What’s better than dessert with a side of true love?”

The bachelorettes cheered.

“In addition to being able to showcase your baking prowess, you must also show how well you can create a dessert that features alcohol. Hillrock West Distillery, Jonathan Frost’s company, is our sponsor this season. And it looks like one of our contestants is already sampling their wares!”

Morticia had tipped the reindeer head back and was taking a swig of craft whiskey made by a small distillery outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. She toasted Anastasia with the bottle. I caught a flash of dark-red lipstick, wisps of black hair, and creamy skin before the reindeer head came back down.

“As usual, we take our baking seriously, so don’t be fooled by the dating shenanigans. We won’t mess with your desserts or your stations, because those are sacred!” Anastasia assured the women. “You have ample amount of time to bake tasty, photogenic desserts. While you’re baking, Jonathan is going to be doing a little speed dating to get to know everyone.”

The cameras centered on me. I smiled, hoping my face wasn’t too bruised. I decided Morticia had better be going home for that little stunt.

“Keep in mind that while the judges, Anu and Nick, are here to give you a ranking based on your baking, their score is going to be combined with the fan score. The viewers will be deciding which contestants they want to see with Jonathan the most. So be your charming, holiday-loving selves!”

There was another eye roll from the reindeer and more drinking.

“For this speed-date baking challenge, please make a fun, flirty dessert! The timer starts now.”

The other girls, in short-skirted Santa outfits, tall boots, and cute elf hats, giggled as they raced around, gathering ingredients. Morticia took another swig from the whiskey bottle.

I headed over to her. I knew I should just leave her alone, but I always did have issues—probably stemming from my childhood, not that we were going to go there—about not being able to just let go of people who clearly didn’t like me.

“Are you just going to serve alcohol as your dessert?” I drawled, hand in my pocket. The ice had seemed to do the trick; my face didn’t feel that sore as I grinned at her.

Morticia removed the reindeer head and set it on the table. “What’s wrong with a whiskey?” she remarked in that slightly raspy voice that sent shivers down my back.

She’s evil and crazy. Do not start fantasizing about her.

Morticia rummaged in the drawers and took out a knife, setting it next to the reindeer head with a thunk.


Chapter 3


Johnathan flinched at the knife. Good.

“It seems you’re not as much of a Christmas purist as you want people to believe,” I said as I grabbed the basket that I had festooned with ribbons and mini ornaments a week ago as part of my decorating contract with Romance Creative.

Jonathan stepped up to walk with me to the pantry.

“Move,” I ordered him as he cut in front of me.

“Not until you tell me why you hate Christmas so much,” he said stubbornly.

“You’re lucky I left my Taser with the rest of my clothes,” I snapped at him.

He stopped suddenly, making me almost run into him. A slow smile spread over his stupid, perfect face. “You mean you’re not wearing anything under that costume?”

I gave him my best death glare, but it was like trying to throw pillows at a block of ice. Jonathan Frost was unmoved.

“You know, if you need to scratch an itch under that suit, I’m happy to assist,” he purred, leaning over me.

Crap, he was tall. I could stand toe-to-toe with most men, but Jonathan made me feel short—and I didn’t like it.

“Don’t you have some more potential wives to impress?” I retorted, trying to squeeze past him.

“Mr. Frost,” one of the production assistants said, “we’re ready for your first speed date.”

He headed over to another table. I watched in spite of myself as Jonathan turned on the charm for another contestant while she giggled and made flirty faces at him. Morons.

I already knew what I was going to bake—a gingerbread amaretto chocolate tart. My grandmother, who had gone to the great cannoli club in the sky, had loved to bake. After Halloween, Christmas had been her favorite holiday, and she found any excuse to make a dessert.

“Thirty-five hours,” I chanted to myself as I walked into the pantry then froze.

“Hey, cousin.”

That voice.


“Morticia. Taxidermy any mice lately?”

“Sleep with anyone’s husband lately?” I shot back.

Keeley’s nostrils flared. She raised her hand as if she was going to slap me then thought better of it.

“You’re just jealous,” she said haughtily. “I’m going to snag that billionaire.”

“I would hope so,” I said, turning my back to her to gather my ingredients. “Otherwise, all that money you spent on boob and butt implants would go to waste.”

“Stop pretending you don’t want him.” She huffed.

“As if I want to chain myself to some Christmas-loving simpleton with more money than brain cells,” I scoffed.

Jonathan was on a date with another contestant when I went back out onto the studio floor. Like the rest of the bachelorettes, she was wearing a skimpy Christmas outfit. This one was a sexy nutcracker, her skirt short enough that everyone could see her matching panties every time she crossed her legs as she perched like a model on the edge of the large wooden baking table.

“I hope you aren’t serving a dessert to anyone with your bodily fluid on it,” I said a bit too loudly as I walked past them. The camera guy stifled a laugh. “You’re going to make people sick.”

The contestant pouted at me.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” Jonathan told her. “I’ll eat whatever you’re making.”

I pretended to barf.

“Don’t act like you don’t want a little frosting on your Christmas cookies,” Jonathan said to me.

Fortunately, the producers led him away before I could do something drastic.

My phone went off. I fished it out of the reindeer head.

Belle: Don’t kill my brother please.

Morticia: You have five of them. Surely you won’t miss this one.

I tried to center myself. I could just blow off the contest and make something dumb like a Jell-O mold, but I was competitive—hence my ill-advised attempt to go after the Getty internship.

Tarts were on the dessert menu. I took a deep breath then gritted my teeth against Jonathan’s flirty comments and the other bachelorettes’ giggles.

When I cooked at home in Harrogate, I had dead quiet, just Salem for company, and a soundtrack of Tibetan singing bowls. Here, though, I was surrounded by a torturous cacophony of Christmas carols, high-pitched giggling, and that bubbly fake bonding that women who are clearly going to be at each other’s throats in a few hours do when they first meet each other.

The first step of the tart was the crust. One could use store-bought graham crackers, as Becky, another contestant, was doing while Jonathan watched and made horrible Christmas-themed jokes. Or you could hand-make a crust. Clearly, I chose the more difficult method.

My crust was going to be a flakey gingerbread shortbread recipe. I melted butter on the stove then sifted flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda into a bowl. In another bowl, I mixed the butter, a little olive oil (that was my secret! Besides, I’m Italian), and sugar to cream it. Then I added grade A maple syrup and the amaretto and stirred it into a thick mixture. Then I carefully folded in the dry ingredients a cupful at a time. I couldn’t knead the dough because that would destroy the flakey texture. At the end, I had a pungent, spicy, rich, caramel-colored dough.

An arm clad in a fancy bespoke suit reached over my shoulder and took a pinch of the dough. “Yum,” Jonathan said in my ear. “Tastes like Christmas.”

I groped around for the knife.

“Looking for this?” Johnathan teased, waving the knife around.

“That is not a toy,” I snapped at him. “And you better not cut yourself and bleed all over my station.”

“Oh, so she does want to win the contest,” he said.

“And he does want his arm broken or worse,” I retorted, grabbing the next-sharpest thing, a metal spatula, and brandishing it at his crotch region. But Jonathan just chuckled.

“I knew as soon as I offered to frost your Christmas cookies that you were going to be all over me,” he said in his stupid deep voice. He set down the knife carefully then quickly pinched off another piece of dough before gliding away.

“Thirty more hours, then I’m out of here,” I chanted as I wrapped the dough in cling wrap and stuck it in the fridge to chill.

While it cooled, I moved on to the tart filling. A rich chocolate ganache spiked to boozy perfection with amaretto, it would be the perfect counterpoint to the spicy gingerbread crust.

I shaved the rich dark chocolate while the heavy cream warmed in a double broiler on the stove. The kitchen was heating up. I fanned myself. Why had I not insisted I be allowed a change of clothes? I wanted to tear the heavy costume off. I had no qualms about walking around in my bra and panties, but all the other bachelorettes were nipped and tucked and plumped to TV body perfection, whereas I was probably going to look like a deathly specter in my black underwear. Plus, I didn’t want to give Jonathan any ammunition to insult me.

The other girls had wised up that if they wanted that billionaire for Christmas, they’d better step up to the stove. They were working furiously at their stations. But my ganache was glossy and perfect and would be hard to beat. I scooped the shavings into the pot, creating a thick, rich chocolate sauce. I whisked it to make sure they were incorporated then added the amaretto and a pinch of cinnamon. I set it aside to cook slowly while I started the garnish.

Candied cranberries would provide a pop of red color and a bit of sourness as a counterpoint to all that chocolate. They burbled away in their syrup while I started the most technically difficult portion of the dish. I was going to make pine-scented sprigs of holly out of sugar.

Sugar leaves and flowers, normally used on wedding cakes, added a bit of flair. I mixed up the powdered sugar, a bit of gum paste, and amaretto for flavor then carefully rolled out the paste and cut out each individual pine needle and shaped it with a small, pointed wooden stick. It was tedious work, but slow and careful was the best way to make art. One couldn’t rush perfection.

While I worked, my mind wandered. Jonathan’s deep voice boomed around the studio. He was still working his way through all the contestants.

Guy like him is probably going to try and come down all their chimneys, I decided meanly.

I wasn’t going to let him come down mine—not that I wanted to. I knew guys like him didn’t go for girls like me. There was no way in hell he would be interested. Not that I cared—I didn’t like him anyway.

“You’re hot,” that deep voice said in my ear.

It took all of my practice in meditation not to flinch. “And you must have a death wish,” I hissed at him.

“What? I was just asking after your well-being,” he said, still too close to me as I looked over my shoulder. “It looks like you’re hot in that costume. Why don’t you take it off?” He grinned.

I ignored him. Or tried to.

Jonathan started whistling “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“I’m trying to bake.”

“And I’m trying to date!” he said.

“Not interested.”

“We have to,” he said, coming around to the other side of the bench. “Besides,” he whispered, “I think you secretly think I’m hot.”

“I secretly think a lot of things about you,” I said, turning my attention back to my sugar pine sprigs. “None of them use the words ‘Johnathan is hot’ in any form or combination.”

“Can you pretend to be interested?” Gunnar begged from behind one of the cameras. “Zane, why don’t you try and get a shot of her trying to teach Jonathan how to make the sugar leaves?”

“Don’t touch my stuff,” I warned.

“All the other girls let me touch their stuff,” Jonathan said, leaning against the table in a casual, sexy way that made the overheated and slightly tipsy part of me think maybe a Christmas package wouldn’t be all that bad.


Gunnar mimed signing a check. I rolled my eyes, prayed to the goddess for strength, then grabbed a swig of whiskey just to cover all my bases.

I stared at Johnathan. He made bedroom eyes at me.

“Wow, what a fine specimen of a man,” I said robotically. “I think I want him under my Christmas tree. There,” I said to Gunnar, “that all you need?”

Jonathan’s grin was predatory. “If you take off that reindeer suit, I’ll give you a Christmas miracle.”


Chapter 4


I’ll give you a Christmas miracle. Geez, what had I been thinking?

Morticia was not impressed. She didn’t even deign to respond with a cutting comment, just returned to her sugar plants. I had been dismissed.

“Almost wrapped up for today,” Gunnar said, waving me back to the judges’ table.

I watched Morticia as she deftly formed the leaves then took the tart dough out of the fridge and quickly rolled out a crust, draped it, then pressed it into the tart pan and put it in the oven.

She was exactly the opposite of everything I desired in a woman—abrasive, mean, all sharp angles, and dark makeup. Morticia wasn’t like any of the bubbly young women at the other stations with their colorful Christmas outfits, rosy cheeks, and soft tits. They were the kinds of women I usually went after. I would say I took them into my bed, but I didn’t let people into my personal space. I had made that mistake one time and would never repeat it. I liked to maintain boundaries. If a woman was coming into my home, then I wanted her to be the one I married. The girls I met at bars were just for fun; I fucked them in hotels if we could wait that long, but usually we did it in a car, in my office, or in the VIP section of a swanky club.

When I had signed up for the bake-off and Dana had floated the idea of the date-off component, part of me had wondered if maybe this would be my opportunity to find the love of my life. As soon as I met the contestants, though, that dream had been squashed. Though the girls were soft, sexy, and fuckable (Morticia aside), they had that predatory edge that let me know they wanted to be Mrs. Frost for the lifestyle and not for me.

However, just because I wasn’t planning on putting a ring on it didn’t mean I couldn’t fuck one of them or even most of them. I’d just have to be careful and take the condom with me…

“No!” Dana slapped the back of my head.

“Ouch!” I glared at Dana.

“I told you, Jonathan, you cannot sleep with any woman during the contest or for three months after. You must wait until after we stage the breakup,” Dana said. “No sex.”

“I wasn’t doing anything,” I complained. “I was sitting here fully clothed.”

“I can see lecherous thoughts leaking out of your eyeballs,” Dana said. “The Great Christmas Bake-Off is a family-friendly show. People watch this with their tween and teen daughters. They want to believe in Christmas cookies and true love. Keep it in your pants.”

“I have been!”

In fact, I had been so busy over the last two months with the big Hillrock West Distillery launch that I hadn’t had any relief. Usually, I was at the office all night while I went over all the specifics with my team. I only went home to shower and work out. I needed the launch to be record blowing. That industrial property across the street? I needed to buy it. The Svensson brothers had said I could partner with Svensson Investment on the Hamilton Yards development, but I had to bring an influx of cash to the table and show that my hedge fund was the real deal and not some vanity project.

Between the launch and trying to convince the crazy old property owner to sign the sale papers, I hadn’t even so much as jacked off in the last six weeks, let alone been laid. My balls weren’t just blue, they were frozen. I was so horny that even Morticia was starting to look like a good prospect. I wondered what she looked like under that shapeless reindeer mascot costume. Honestly, I wouldn’t even need to find out. I could just push her over the table, rip a hole in the seam…all that profanity coming out of her mouth while I parted her and—


“Ow!” I rubbed the back of my head.

“Didn’t Dana just tell you to cool it?” Belle said, a rolled-up edition of the Vanity Rag in her hand. My older sister’s voice was icy.

I gulped. Belle was not to be trifled with. When we were kids, she had ruled the house with an iron fist. My parents were too busy to raise us, and my mom did not believe in nannies, so the child-rearing had fallen upon my sister. She wielded her power effectively.

“My investment firm has money riding on this bake-off venture,” she said, tone frosty. “I will not have you screw it up because you never outgrew being a horny fourteen-year-old boy.”

I smirked. “All the women I’ve been with have told me I’m definitely a man.”



“No swearing,” Belle ordered. “The judging is about to start. Try to say something insightful.”

The girl in the holiday nutcracker outfit was first to present her dessert. “I made for you this evening,” she said with a giggle, “red velvet baked Alaska with peppermint schnapps.”

She set what appeared to be a decayed jellyfish in front of me.

“Is that the entrails of the Christmas goose?” Nick asked, poking it with his fork.

“Nick!” Anu exclaimed.

“She tried,” I said. The girl simpered at me. What was her name? Hannah? Haley?

Anu took a knife and cut open one of the jellyfish meringues. Bright-red ice cream oozed out like blood.

Only the fact that I knew my older sister would literally kill me if I couldn’t even keep it together for one show kept me from cursing.

“I wanted to make it festive!” the girl said in excitement. “You know, like my underwear.” She winked at me.

Keep it the fuck together.

“A baked Alaska is deceptively difficult,” Anu said more diplomatically than I would have been able to. “You have to form the merengue around the ice cream quickly then put it in the oven to crisp the outside before the ice cream melts. It looks like you didn’t time anything right.”

Underwear Girl batted her long eyelashes.

“When Jonathan and I are married, it won’t matter, because I’m going to hire people to cook for us.”

“That’s news for Jonathan, I’m sure,” Nick said dryly, pushing the dessert to the side.

“You didn’t even try it!” Underwear Girl whined to me.

“Oh, uh.” I took the smallest forkful of the red-and-white goop I could and gingerly tasted it.

“It’s raw still, isn’t it?” Nick asked me grimly as I sort of mashed it around in my mouth.



The rest of the contestants were marginally better. At least their food was edible.

Keeley had made a Bananas Foster crêpe that was pretty good. “It’s great for a corporate event,” she said brightly. “You know, like the kind the wives of powerful businessmen host to help them seal a deal.”

“At least she had a good attitude,” I said after she had left.

“Keeley made a pancake, not a crêpe,” Nick said, picking apart the dessert. “It’s too thick. And it’s a bit lumpy.”

“Sounds like it needs a doctor’s visit!” I joked then blanched when Belle shot a death glare across the room.

Morticia was the final contestant. She was still wearing the reindeer suit, though it looked as if she had had it off earlier and hadn’t been able to zip it back up. A black, satiny stripe of bra strap was exposed as the reindeer suit slid partially off one shoulder.

“I made a chocolate gingerbread amaretto tart. Eat it or don’t.”

“Look at that presentation,” Anu said, admiring it. Morticia hadn’t just made a chocolate tart. She had decorated it with the green sprigs of sugar pine needles, glittering candied cranberries, and ornate gingerbread shapes frosted with white icing.

“That is so photogenic,” I remarked. “We have pictures of that with the bottle of alcohol, right?” I asked one of the producers, who nodded.

Morticia cut out neat, even, perfect slices of the tart.

“Damn,” I joked, “I think you’re the only woman in the world who could make being dressed as a shapeless mascot sexy.”

“Hm,” Morticia said as she carefully slid a piece of the tart onto the plate. “Yes, or maybe you’re some sort of goddamn perverted furry.”



Chapter 5


The bar across the street was empty. It was at the bottom of the Hillrock West Distillery offices. The only reason I was there was because I was still wearing the stupid reindeer suit. Otherwise there was no way I would have patronized any establishment run by that arrogant billionaire.

Jonathan had not appreciated my furry comment.

I chuckled as I remembered how Belle had chastised him, descending on him like a winter storm when he started raging at me.

I refreshed my text message app, hoping that a text from my twin, Lilith, would magically appear. She had all my clothes and our cat. And my Taser.

I sipped my drink at the bar, my reindeer skin unzipped as much as possible while still maintaining some modesty. The bar was empty. The bored bartender polished glasses. If this bar was any indication of Jonathan’s big, expensive alcohol brand’s popularity, I had low hopes for its survival. The decor was extremely pretentious, with a polished concrete bar top, thousand-dollar barstools, and lights that were imported from Japan.

I swiped through my phone.

Belle, Dana, and their team would be editing the footage to put out tonight for the premier. They were already posting photos from the filming. I grimaced at the video of me lobbing the rubber candy cane at Jonathan. It had not been one of my finer moments. I preferred to set a sneaky trap, not go for out-and-out violence. But the shock on his face had been worth it. The post already had millions of likes; the video was going viral. Even Johnathan’s alcohol company had jumped on the bandwagon. I idly flipped through its feed.

“Gross. Basic. Seen it.”

Hillrock West Distillery’s feed sucked, to put it nicely. Not that I cared. After tomorrow, I was going to collect my check from Gunnar, then I was out of Manhattan. If Jonathan was determined to blow a ton of money on some marketing firm with no design sense, that was his massively overpriced funeral.

I felt as if I had done a decent job of convincing everyone I had no business being a bachelorette. Once I was voted off, I could concentrate on winning that internship.

My phone beeped with an incoming email.

“Finally,” I muttered, but it wasn’t from Lilith. It was from the Getty Museum! I took a steadying sip of my drink then opened the email. I read it, stifling an uncharacteristic cheer.

Morticia: I made it to the next round!

Morticia: Where are youuuu?

Morticia: Currently dying in the world’s most pretentious bar.

“Drinking alone?”

I stiffened. “I need it after dealing with you,” I said to Jonathan.

“I can’t have you in here ruining the atmosphere,” he said, spinning the barstool around to have me face him. “You’re like roadkill that dragged herself in here.”

“Ah yes, because a billionaire with delusions of adequacy is someone whose opinion I care about,” I shot back.

“I am way more than adequate,” he said, striking a pose. The glow from the expensive fixtures highlighted the slight bruise on his perfect face.

I smirked slightly.

“Like something you see?” Jonathan asked.

“Just that dildo-shaped bruise on your face,” I replied, sipping my drink. “Your company has our first meeting all over its feed. Better than the basic images you have up there now. At least people can laugh at the spit flying out of your mouth when you ran into my candy cane instead of dying from boredom at those images you’re posting.”

“You’re just jealous,” Jonathan retorted, eyes narrowing as he leaned over me. “I have one of the best marketing firms in the city working on my social media push.”

“Guess you can’t buy good taste,” I said, draining my drink.

“Says the woman wearing a reindeer costume,” Johnathan shot back. He reached out and hooked two fingers right at the neckline of the costume, pulling me forward slightly. “At first I thought you were wearing it under duress, but you’re still parading around in it. Like you said, you can’t buy taste.”

“Oh my god! Don’t touch my sister, creep!”

Now Lilith shows up.

Our friend Emma was hovering behind her.

Jonathan jerked his hand back then looked between Lilith and me wildly.

“Holy shit. Of course you’re creepy identical twins.”

Lilith and I glared in unison—or tried to. Lilith was dressed in her standard gothic garb, while I was bedecked for Christmas.

Johnathan turned on his heel to leave then looked over his shoulder at me. “I’d tell you good luck on the competition, but after your little stunt, everyone is going to put you in last place.”

“Was he trying to have his way with you?” Emma asked breathlessly. She was a member of the private equity group that Dana and Belle had started. The two women were demanding and exacting. It was a stressful job, and Emma stress ate, not that I was judging. I liked pizza and brownies as much as the next girl.

“I still have some dried hemlock from the garden. I can put it in his bulletproof coffee,” my twin offered, narrowing her eyes at Jonathan’s retreating form.

“I can’t afford to go to jail. I’m this close to winning that Getty internship,” I said, showing her the email. “I’m one of thirty in the running now. I have a video interview scheduled and everything.”

“Maybe Penny will let you set up in one of the Vanity Rag offices,” Lilith said as Salem butted his head against my leg. “Then you can have a swanky background.”

“Do you think that’s too bougie?” I chewed my bottom lip.

“It’s the Getty,” Lilith countered. “You can’t do the interview in front of Mimi’s antique doll collection. You’re competing against all those trust fund girls who studied art as a pastime while waiting for a rich man to marry. You need to up your game. Also, I’m not sure that throwing a candy cane at Jonathan Frost was the best move.”

“It will blow over,” I said.

“Girl, you are a full-on meme.” Lilith pulled out her phone. “People have been swapping the candy cane out for all sorts of things. Here’s one of you throwing a cat. Here’s one of you throwing a bucket of fried chicken. Here’s one of you throwing a bottle of tequila. Actually”—she frowned—“I think Jonathan’s firm made that one.”

“Hail corporate.” I grabbed my purse from Lilith so I could pay.

Emma watched me thoughtfully.

“You know,” she said finally, “I may have to start dressing as a Christmas furry if it’s going to make hot guys stick their hands down my shirt.”