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Garrett Coleman spent most of his adolescence crushing on Finn Sweeney—until that Ultimate Dream Guy image got obliterated during senior year. Garrett’s since gone out of his way to avoid the sexy ginger, instead throwing his energy behind his dance career while supporting his mother through her cancer diagnosis.
Finn Sweeney used to think of Garrett as just his kid brother’s best friend, but after an intense exchange at a high school party, things got a little…weird. Despite that, when their two families decide to get together for the holidays for the first time in years, Finn can’t say no. But he’s fully prepared for this to be awkward as hell.
When Finn and Garrett lay eyes on each other for the first time in their adult lives, all bets are off. Finn is completely captivated by Garrett and getting to know the man he’s become is now his top priority. Playing catch-up with Finn makes Garrett truly see him beyond the childhood fantasy he’s held onto all these years. Finn is real and vulnerable…and hot as hell.
Garrett and Finn can’t seem to keep their hands off each other, so they decide to bury the hatchet between them for the remainder of the visit.
After all, it’s only a holiday fling.
Until it becomes something more.
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“Mom says you have to help,” my brother complained.
I rolled my eyes as I stabbed my thumb at the controller button. “With what?”
“Building a snow fort,” he replied, folding his arms like some ten-year-old dictator.
And because I was older by three years, I knew my parents would harp on me if I didn’t go outside with Rory and his best friend, Garrett.
I tossed down my controller before Rory got on my last nerve. Garrett stood silent behind him—the kid was normally quiet and vigilant—and I suppose I always had a soft spot for him. Whether it was the pouty lip or the puppy-dog eyes, I didn’t know, but the kid could lay it on thick when he needed to.
I bundled up and followed them outside, hoping to get back to my game within the hour. I gave them the task of pushing piles of snow toward me so I could start building a short wall.
When the structure seemed sufficiently sturdy, I began stacking snowballs behind it. To test how well they’d hold up, I absently lobbed one across the yard, forgetting to give them a heads-up.
Normally my aim was terrible, but this time it met its mark, striking Garrett right in the mouth. Crap. That was my parents’ one rule: never aim for the head. I was sure to catch hell for it now.
Garrett had fallen to his knees, his head bent, sniveling into the snow.
“I wasn’t even aiming for you,” I said, jogging over to him. “You okay?” I bent down and squeezed his shoulder, hoping I didn’t give him a fat lip.
He finally uncovered his face, a devious gleam in his eyes. I hadn’t even noticed the little shit held a snowball in his hand until it was too late.
He raised his arm and smooshed his poorly constructed snowball in my face. But it didn’t matter; snow was snow, and it was freaking cold. When my brother leaped on my back and shoved a handful down my shirt, that was the last straw. I was going to murder them. “I’m so going to kick your butts!”
They took off running, but I was faster and caught up with Garrett first. The slender thing was easy to lift, and I tossed him into a mound of snow and held his arms so he couldn’t fight back. “Say uncle.”
He shook his head side to side as his cheeks flushed a deep crimson red. When Rory tried to intervene on his best friend’s behalf, I wrestled him to the ground as well until we were all exhausted and breathless.
“I’ll tell Mom if you don’t let me go,” Rory cried.
“Whatever. I’m done playing with babies,” I said, releasing him and getting to my feet. “You’re welcome for building the fort, by the way.”
Ungrateful little brats.
I glanced over my shoulder as I trudged back to the house. Garrett still lay on the pile of snow where I’d left him, a goofy smile plastered on his face.
My foot faltered on the step. That grin of his hit me dead center in my chest. I guess it was contagious because before I knew it, I was smiling too.
“We’re almost there,” Mom exclaimed, and I barely held back my groan. Maya and I were in the back seat, Mom and Dad in the front, and there were enough suitcases and bags surrounding us to keep us packed in like sardines. It was certainly reminiscent of the ski trips from my childhood, except now I was well out of college and could’ve driven up by myself if Mom hadn’t insisted we all arrive together at Crystal Creek near the Allegheny Mountains.
“Oh good, maybe I’ll get some feeling back in my legs,” I griped as I sat wedged between two packages Mom swore needed to be held precisely upright so the contents wouldn’t be ruined. From the scent wafting up my nose, Mom had purchased some bakery to go along with the strong coffee she loved to serve.
When my stomach rumbled, Maya smirked. She was always the more cheerful and optimistic one of the family but also the baby, or should I say babied. We bickered daily as kids, but now that she was in college and called frequently for updates, she’d become one of my best friends.
“The Sweeneys probably beat us here,” Maya said, looking past Dad’s shoulder as he turned down the snow-covered street toward the chalet my best friend’s family rented. Mom and Mrs. Sweeney had been thick as thieves since they were in grade school, and bonded even more when they got pregnant with me and Rory at the same time. We’d been invited to the charming cabin getaway every year during winter break for as long as I could remember. Then our lives changed about six years ago when Mom was diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She ran a fever for weeks, and they had tested her for everything from TB to HIV, finally settling on the right diagnosis. One that rocked our world.