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By Award-Winning Author Tianna Xander
Fired six weeks before Christmas, Kat Murphy spends most of her savings on seven magical days at Passionate Incorporated’s new Santa’s Village resort, trying to ignore the inevitable. Her only wish is to help her dying daughter enjoy the magic of Christmas. Plus, she hopes her five-year-old will be so distracted, that she will forget to ask Santa to bring her a daddy.
After her daughter drags her over to Santa’s workshop to see the big man, Kat wonders if she can resist the hot guy playing the part of Santa. More importantly, does she want to?
Dominic Russo has spent the last eleven-hundred years atoning for a monstrous crime he doesn’t remember committing. As head detective for the agency in charge of policing Paranormal entities, his newest undercover assignment includes filling in for an errant Santa while searching for a murderous rogue. Dom initially resisted the assignment. After all, he’s a vampire who hasn’t allowed himself to be around children for over a thousand years. He just couldn’t risk being involved in another… incident.
Will Dom survive two weeks of being near children, risking another blackout that sent him into a spiral of self-hate so long ago?
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Excerpt from Substitute Santa:
Dominic stared out through the hotel window, awaiting his next set of orders. The snow fell on the streets, taking little time to soak up the mud as a line of taxis drove through it. If he were down on the street, he could have heard the swish of the car tires splashing through the slush. Instead, he watched everything play out in silence from the view of his penthouse room.
This was the fifth city in as many weeks since he’d attempted to book his vacation. Well, it wasn’t really a vacation, was it? It was more like a fantasy.
Wasn’t that Passionate Incorporated’s schtick? Every year for the last three years he had booked his fantasy with Passionate Inc. and every year they had turned him down, stating they hadn’t been able to find his match.
So much for relaxing over the holidays, or any time, really. His vacation requests had been open-ended. Meaning, anytime they found a woman for him, he’d drop everything and go. But there hadn’t been anyone for him or they would have confirmed his reservation. How many more years would he have to live alone, wondering if his match would ever come?
As per usual, the matchmakers couldn’t find him a mate in their database. Though, how they knew who belonged with whom was anyone’s guess. It was most likely some witch’s spell. To tell the truth, Dom didn’t give a damn how they did it, so long as it happened, and fast.
This year, he would go to one of the Passionate Incorporated properties and see how things worked if his soulmate existed or not. There was good intel that the rogue he was after would show up at one of their fantasy sites around Christmas, and he would be there to apprehend him.
Dom hadn’t heard which property yet. He only hoped that it would be one of the tropical islands the company owned. He could use a good beach vacation on the agency’s dime—even if he had to work a bit while he was there.
Dom had worked his way up through the ranks in the Paranormal Law
Enforcement Agency, starting as the very first enforcement officer two-hundred-years ago. He was now their head detective. At first, he’d done the work as their only officer, a fill-in. Everyone else had wanted the job even less than he had.
Luckily, more and more paranormal officers had come on board in the twohundred years since they had established the PLEA. He was no longer running ops alone, and without backup. Well, most of the time. This next assignment was a loner job. Everyone else was already on assignment or off for the holidays.
His cell phone vibrated. Pulling it out of his pocket, he checked the screen.
Ready to go?
I’ve been ready. Which Island am I going to go to for this assignment? Dom wanted to get the preliminaries over with and be on his way. He needed that time on the beach with the cool breeze blowing over his wet skin after he’d hung ten on his long board. He hadn’t managed that more than a few times—standing on the front tip of a surfboard and riding a wave, which wasn’t easy to do—and he was eager to try it again.
You’re not going to an Island. You’re going to Santa’s Village in Minnesota.
“Good, God, no!”
I was hoping for something warmer. He sat in the nearest chair before his legs gave out. Why kids? Why was there always at least one assignment a year with kids? Dom rested his elbows on his knees, closed his eyes, and willed the memories to stay buried.
Most of the time he succeeded in keeping them at bay, but sometimes… sometimes the flashbacks returned to haunt him. That was the reason he would never willingly go near a child.
It’s easier to hide when everyone is wearing coats and scarves. Bundle up. Your plane leaves in three hours.
“Dammit!” Dom shoved the phone back in his pocket and headed for the shower. “Fucking Santa’s Village! They know I can’t stand to be around kids. Why are they always doing this shit to me?”
Dom always said he hated kids. Maybe that’s why his boss threw him together with them almost yearly. He’d used to love kids. He would concede that. Dom didn’t hate kids, per se, but he didn’t love them anymore, either.
He didn’t dare, and for his own mental health, he could never stop telling himself that.
No matter what the higher ups at the agency did, he couldn’t resign, and he was positive they knew it. The job offset his boredom and filled a void. After living nearly twelve-hundred years, nothing except his job excited him much anymore. With one exception. The possibility of finding a mate.
Two hours later, he had packed and was awaiting the limo that would take him to the agency’s private plane. He never traveled commercially. Ever. He could just see himself explaining to the crew of a commercial flight why he needed the copious amounts of blood he carried with him everywhere he went. It was just easier to let the agency take care of all that.
Someone who didn’t know better might think he was excited to head out to a Christmas town in the middle of snow country. Snot country was more like it, with all the kids that would be there.
Dom was merely eager to get to the village, complete his assignment, and get the hell out of there as fast as he could. Just the thought of staying in a town dedicated to giving the selfish little brats that modern kids had become what they wanted was less than enticing. Everything about them made him want to vomit—and vampires didn’t puke. At least he didn’t. Usually.
Meet Award-Winning Author Tianna Xander
Tianna is an award-winning and bestselling, multi-published author of romantic fiction, writing in different genres including mainstream, erotica, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and romantic suspense. She is happy to say her vampire romance, The Endowed, received the best of ARE (All Romance E-books) award for 2009. Every day, she strives to better understand the craft as she gains experience writing in new genres.
She loves hearing from her readers, so don’t be afraid to chat her up on Facebook or Twitter. You can reach her through Twitter as @TiannaXander, Instagram and her Facebook page as TiannaXander.
She currently lives in a small town in Michigan with her husband, two children, Chocolate Lab/Walker mix, two cats and two occasionally terrorized and hairy bunnies named Jax and Jazz.
Interview with Tianna Xander:
Q: Tell us about your publishing journey. Did you always want to be an author?
TX: No. I didn’t. In fact, I hated anything to do with writing when I was a high school student. I loved telling stories, but I despised putting them on paper. Probably because I didn’t like people telling me what to write. Now, I wish I had someone who would plunk down an outline in front of me and say, “Write this.” It would save me a lot of trouble.
Q: Why paranormal? What drew you to the genre?
TX: I don’t know why, but I have always loved time travel romance. It must have something to do with the idea of chivalrous men who just want to take care of their lady love. Even knowing that life was more difficult then, hasn’t deterred me. I know I would have to work hard, live without modern conveniences and antibiotics, but something still draws me to them.
Then, one day, a friend gave me a Dark series book by Christine Feehan. I read the first chapter and closed the book. It was the fourth book in the series and I didn’t want to start it in the middle, or end as the case may have been. It turned out to be the newest book in the series. I immediately went to the local bookstore and searched out the first three books in the series. The first chapter of book four practically compelled me to buy the rest. After that, I couldn’t get enough and one day I complained to my husband that my favorite authors didn’t write fast enough. He just looked at me and said, “Then why don’t you write your own while you’re waiting? You’re always telling everyone stories. Start writing them down.” The rest is, as they say, history.
Q: Tell us about your heroine. What inspired her quirks and struggles?
TX: An experience with my son when he was younger. He had something wrong with him, but no one could figure it out. He wasn’t growing as he should, and after too many years someone finally figured out what was wrong. When he was twelve-years-old, he weighed 45 pounds and was only 4 feet tall. After a Children’s Hospital/Navy pediatric surgeon examined him, they figured out what was wrong, and he is now a grown man and an inch taller than I am.
When he was younger, I didn’t think he would live to become an adult. However, this Navy surgeon who worked out of the Norfolk Virginia Children’s Hospital figured it out. He was the second boy to get an experimental surgery that ultimately saved his life. His surgeon said he wouldn’t have lived to see 15 without it, and I believed him.
Kat’s fears for her daughter and the dislike for the tubes sticking out from her baby and the smell of antiseptic were all drawn from those personal memories.
I will be forever grateful to the Children’s Miracle Network, for doing the research that ultimately saved my son’s life.
Q: What is a typical writing day like for you? What inspires you?
TX: A typical writing day is getting up, getting a coffee and heading into the office where I stare at the screen for 5 minutes to 5 hours. Seriously. I try to get writing, even if it’s something I didn’t want to work on but knew I could make progress with in the end. Once I start writing it gets easier and easier until I look up and realize I have had nothing to drink or a bathroom break in hours.
Q: Name a few of your favorite authors or books.
TX: Christine Feehan’s Dark series. Sandra Hill Viking series. I love her time traveling Vikings. Evangeline Anderson’s Brides of the Kindred series
Q: Where can our readers find you? (Social media, website, etc.)
Thank you for chatting with us, Tianna!