Picture Perfect Christmas. Melanie Schuster
“Philippe, what makes you think I haven’t already moved on mentally and emotionally? You’re wading into some seriously unknown territory here.”
He didn’t answer right away. Instead he extended his index finger and put it behind her ear. He was barely touching her as he ran his finger down her neck. Her breathing changed almost imperceptibly; only someone who knew her as well as he did could have heard the tiny sigh that escaped her lips. She leaned toward him and put her hand on his waist while he slowly drew her into his arms. When she was so close that they could feel each other’s heartbeat, he bent his head to hers until their lips touched.
Philippe’s mouth touched hers gently at first, but their mutual consent to the embrace signaled more. Chastain opened her mouth slightly, enough to run her tongue along his lower lip and gently pull it into her mouth, while he did the same to her upper lip. The tentative tasting turned into a long, sensual exploration that showed no sign of ending. They kissed until they were devouring each other, trying to satisfy the hungry desire that had been aroused.
“This is how I know we aren’t finished, Chastain. Will you stay with me for Christmas?”
A voice she barely recognized answered him. “Yes.”
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started reading when she was four and believes that’s why she’s a writer today. She was always fascinated with books, loved telling stories and always wanted to be a writer. She fell in love with romance novels when she began reading the ones her mother would bring home. She would go to any store that sold paperbacks and load up! Whenever Melanie had a spare moment she was reading. She loves romance fiction because it’s always so hopeful. Despite the harsh realities of life, romance stories always remind readers of the wonderful, exciting adventure of falling in love and meeting your soul mate. Melanie finds fulfillment in writing stories about compelling couples who find true, lasting love in the face of all obstacles. She hopes all of her readers find true love. And if they’ve already been lucky enough to find love, she hopes that they never forget what it felt like to fall in love.
Picture Perfect Christmas
To Malachi Jabari McCray, a true warrior and a fighter.
Never give up.
And to my very creative and supportive editor,
Evette Porter. Thanks for your patience!
So many of you have been asking for another Deveraux story, so this is my holiday gift to you all! I love stories about couples who get back together after a long separation and that’s the case with Chastain and Philippe.
Thanks for going with me on another journey with the Deveraux, and look for another story in the not-too-distant future. Wade Deveraux is still single but he’s going to get knocked for a loop by love!
Happy holidays with love,
I Chronicles 4:10
My heartfelt and sincere thanks go out to Dr. Mark Adams and his wonderful staff for getting me back on my feet again. And thanks to all my family, friends, and readers who have supported me and encouraged me and put up with me, especially my online family.
To my sister in Christ, Betty, no words can express my gratitude for our friendship.
And to Jamil, my play brother and my friend, thanks for always believing in me.
New York City
Pale sunlight streamed through the huge windows of the gallery. Chastain Thibodaux looked at the winter sky and frowned. “I don’t know why the sun bothers to shine when it’s this cold,” she said grumpily. Her assistant, Mona Morgan, was checking the order of the paintings that were waiting to be hung. She looked up from her clipboard and laughed.
“You act like it’s never cold in France. We had lots of cold weather there as you well know. Snow and all.”
Chastain sat down on a stool that was near the entrance. “Yes, but it was French snow. Very chic, chérie. Lulu looked fabulous in her little red coat, didn’t you?” she said, directing her remark to her West Highland white terrier that was busily sniffing every corner of the gallery.
“And she’ll look just as cute right here in Harlem,” Mona replied. “You’re not sorry that you left Paris, are you?”
Chastain looked away pensively before she answered. “No. Three years was enough. I loved living in Europe, but I was ready to come home. I missed my family and I missed the States. I had an absentee ballot. But imagine what it would have been like being here for the presidential election,” she said. “We missed so much being in Europe while the election was taking place. Seeing it on TV wasn’t the same. I must admit that President Obama’s election is one of the reasons I was so glad to come back. And I loved living in New York when I was here before. It’s one of my favorite places in the world besides N’awlins.” She looked out the window at the pale sun again. “I just wish it was spring already.”
“Are you crazy? Christmas in New York is like a fantasy! This is the best time of year to be here,” Mona protested.
“If you say so. Just wait until you’re trying to get home during rush hour and your feet are soaking wet and freezing and you can’t get a cab to save your life. Then see how swell it is.” Chastain stood up and stretched her body like a cat. “But I’m not going to lie. I do love this city.”
“Then I’ll have to make you