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Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6)
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Pax Polo is the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.
Correction: Was the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.
Now he sports a black eye and his bros have kicked him out of their band—three weeks before Christmas. It’s an unfamiliar kick to his over-inflated ego, but . . . whatever.
Thanks to some stellar eavesdropping, an unexpected angel ornament, and a bribe to open for his favorite band ever, Pax will weasel his way back into his mates’ good graces.
All he has to do is friend Clifford, the neighborhood man-shrew, for the summer. Distract him a bit so Clifford’s younger sister can sneak around.
It sounds like a piece of beginners Beethoven. Jolly good fun.
Because, Pax totally knows how to friend people. He has heaps of friends. This shrew’s no match for his shrewd ways. Or is he?
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Patrick “Pax” Polo knocked against the sun-warmed door with a jolly rhythm that belied the ache in his fist.
Six in the evening, and he was already dead. His wants were simple: score this room that he’d seen for rent on a supermarket noticeboard, drop his crap on the nearest flat surface, and collapse into a bed.
One good sleep, and he’d feel normal again. Not confused that his mates of half a decade had kicked him out of the band. Not hurt and nursing an unfamiliar kick to his—admittedly overinflated—ego. Not hiding his stinging eyes behind shades.
He swung his beloved guitar off his back and settled it next to his duffel bag on a bench studding the porch. He knockity-knocked again, and a window yawned open above his head.
Steam billowed out as a guy maybe a few years younger than Pax’s twenty-three bent over the ledge. His dark hair was lathered in shampoo and somewhere behind him water rained against plastic.
Pax smoothed on a lazy smile that lanced pain across the bridge of his bruised cheekbone. The rim of his shades bumped swollen skin as he spoke. “I’ll take the room.”
“Patrick, correct?” Same melodic accent as over the phone. This must be Luca, then.
“Patrick. That’s me.” Fans and mates called him Pax, but he used his full name for official business.
“Give me a few minutes to rinse, and I’ll show you the place. Meet me at the sun chairs on the side.”
“Sun chairs? In Dunedin? You’re an optimist.”
“Sì.” Luca nodded brightly and disappeared.
Pax followed the porch around the tidy brick and shingle house, undone laces skittering over the wood as he dragged his feet. The wraparound porch widened into a deck where the house formed a sideways U. Or perhaps a J, as the house jutted close to a fence separating his (hopefully) new residence from the neighbors’.
White-framed latticed windows spat his reflection back at him, and he perched his glasses atop his hair. Ouch. A swollen bruise had swallowed the trademark freckle below his left eye. Good thing he suited shades.
Stupid Pax for starting the fight. He was a man of music, not of muscle. Words were his weapons. Slice ’em with smiles, spirit, and song.
The scent of sweet baking wafted toward him, and piano keys clunked from somewhere upstairs, along with the lilt of murmured voices. The neighbors were home, and their windows were wide open.
Pax peered into their living room through a massive glass window. An unadorned Christmas tree stood in the front-facing window, occupying as much space as the drum kit in Serenity Free’s practice room. The tree was the same size as the one he’d bought with his bandmates yesterday.
Colors blurred, and Pax slid his shades back to his nose.
His time with the band was not over. It wasn’t. One of them would be welcomed back into Serenity Free. One of them would have their old life back. But would it be Pax or Blake?
His other three bandmates, Tim, Ted, and Tony—known by fans as the Three T’s—said they’d vote on the matter by Christmas.
Pax had three weeks to ease back into his mates’ good graces.
Blake could bash out a beat, but Pax could, too. What separated them was twofold: Pax thrived on fame, and he had known the Three T’s since their first year of university. They were bros.
Voices traveled from the upper level of the neighboring house, raised volume resembling an argument. Male and female, although the female sounded young by her whine.
Diagonally from where he stood on the deck, a window was open. He’d never been above eavesdropping. Besides, distracting himself with someone else’s drama? Bring it on.
“I don’t particularly like parroting old discussions.”
The dry tone caught Pax’s attention.
Pax sidled down the deck, trying to peer inside at the arguing couple. No luck. All he saw was a mustard-colored wall and refracted sunlight.
“It’s the summer holidays. I’m seventeen!”
“Exactly,” the Cliff guy said. “No need to bother with boys now. There’ll be plenty of time for heartache at university.”
“Most girls in my class are bumping uglies with their boyfriends, and I’m not even allowed to date?”
“Bumping uglies, Bianca? I take it back. Clearly you’re ready.”
Bianca choked out a reply. “You’re worse than Mum or Dad ever were.”
Pax sympathetically stiffened. His mind leaped to fill in the blanks. Tragedy had befallen their parents, and Bianca had been left in the care of her big brother, Cliff.
Cliff replied calmly, “While you live at home, you’ll forget about boys.”
“Fine, I’ll sneak out.”
Cliff laughed. “If you manage to sneak past me, you’re smart enough to dick yourself silly.”
“I will get past you.”
“You stalk the house like your shoes are on a rampage for blood. You bathe in perfume. If I don’t hear you, I’ll smell you leaving.”
Correction: Bianca had been left in the care of her big, snarky brother, Cliff.