Christmas at the Castle Book Tour
By author Melissa McClone
Tour Dates: December 4th – 10th, 2016
A Guest Post:
When I was writing Christmas at the Castle, I knew there had to be a pet. Our house is full of dogs and cats. They are family. I decided to give the Crown Prince a dog. I’m sure Maximillian has run of the castle just like our fur babies rule our house.
One of our family Christmas traditions is hanging our stockings for Santa to fill. Everyone gets a stocking including any foster animals staying with us! Our four-legged kiddos’ stockings are hung on the staircase because there’s not enough space on the fireplace. This works to their advantage—they can check out their stockings thanks to the stair steps.
I love to see a nose or paws sticking through the balusters to reach their stockings. It’s so funny how they each know which one is theirs, and yes, they get protective. Especially on Christmas morning when they are full. One of our cats would cover his stocking with his paws and hiss if you tried to touch it.
This year, we’ll be hanging two less stockings. Our cats, Miss Mousie and Thoth, are no longer with us, but pulling out their stockings from the box is a good reminder of how much love and joy they gave us. Miss Mousie used to park herself in between kids on Christmas morning to watch the gift opening. She always ended up falling asleep amidst all the wrapping paper and presents, but she just liked being a part of the happenings.
Because of our fur babies, we’ve learned lessons from past Christmases and made a few rules to keep everyone in the family happy and safe:
- No candy or food presents under the tree until Christmas morning.
Our Norwegian Elkhound, Chaos, got into one present a few Christmas Eve’s ago. It was a box of See’s Victorian Toffee. Fortunately, she stopped after getting the box open. Not sure if it was the taste or we’d come home from Mass, but whatever it was saved her from eating chocolate!
- No sweet or fragrant cosmetics or toiletries under the tree until Christmas morning.
For some reason, fragrant soaps appeal to our cats as much as cat nip! They will rip apart any gift that smells good. We have no idea why. And the dogs can find lip gloss even if it’s inside a wrapped box. I wish I could take their skill and use it to find buried treasure, but so far that hasn’t worked.
- No glass or fragile ornaments on the Christmas tree.
Our first cats, Rocket and Spirit, joined the family in June 1997. This was before kids so we went all out on their first Christmas morning, even videotaping them with their gifts. They loved to bat the ornaments on the lower branches, so we just kept the non-breakable ones down there. As we added cats to the family, all would sleep under the tree, but none would climb it.
This tiny black kitten went straight to the top. We’d find her sleeping in the branches. And each year since, she’s done the exact same thing. Which means no fragile or breakable ornaments on the tree. They are packed away and have been for a few years now, and that’s okay. We’d never want to risk Beauty or any of the animals getting hurt.
I’m looking forward to seeing what new toys and treats end up in the stockings this year! And I’ll have the cell phone camera ready for when Beauty decides to climb the tree. Merry Christmas!
Kat reached the bed and realized she’d left the door open. Closing anything, other than the refrigerator, was something she never had to worry about living alone.
“I’ll leave the door open in case you want out.”
The dog motioned with his left front paw.
She laughed. “Is that your sign for belly rubs?”
The motion continued.
“Okay, I can take a hint.” Kat sat and rubbed his tummy.
The dog looked like he was smiling.
“Aw, you’re so cute.”
She stopped rubbing to give the dog more room, and he waved his front left paw again.
She rubbed him again. “A little spoiled, huh?”
The sound of Gill’s voice knotted the muscles at the back of her neck. She looked up. He stood in the doorway with his hands at his side.
Where had he come from?
Kat hadn’t heard footsteps or noticed anyone in the hallway, but she couldn’t help but stare at him now.
A handsome dog for a gorgeous guy.
He wore gym shorts, and his T-shirt clung to him as if he’d been working out. Talk about fit. Not overly muscular. Just right.
Her mouth went dry.
His slightly red cheeks made him seem younger and look like he had at camp after they finished an activity under the hot sun. His damp hair curled more and begged to have fingers run through the strands.
Not her fingers.
Hot, yes, and disappointing that he didn’t have a great personality to match his good looks. Still, she couldn’t believe how normal he appeared in the workout clothes.
Normal and attractive.
Best part? He seemed almost approachable.
Not that sweat and running shoes made the prince less of a jerk.
She focused on the dog. “Many of my clients spoil their pets.”
“Most animals don’t have an entire staff at their beck and call. More than a few here treat him as their own.”
“Maximillian’s lucky to have so much attention.”
“Yes, he is.”
Gill’s gaze was locked on her. Not only that, but he was walking toward her.
Kat’s pulse skyrocketed. Cardio workout not required.
The room seemed smaller in spite of the high ceiling. The prince was tall—an inch, maybe two over six feet—but his presence seemed much larger.
The dog waved his paw again.
Maximillian. Her cheeks warmed. The prince wanted his dog. He wasn’t here for her.
A twinge of disappointment shot out of nowhere.
Not how she should be feeling about a man like Gill. A man—make that a prince—who didn’t hide the fact he hated her.
Must be his hotness factor.
“I’d stop petting Maximillian.” Gill came even closer. “Or he’ll be after you for rubs while you’re here.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Because you love animals.”
He hadn’t asked a question, but she answered anyway. “Yes.”
Gill stood at the side of her bed. A raw, earthy scent replaced his expensive aftershave from earlier. His leg was mere inches from hers. One slight move and she would bump into him. The temptation to do just that to see his reaction was strong.
Bad idea. Best not to agitate the beast.
She had enjoyed poking and prodding him when she was younger. Maybe that was part of the reason he acted so annoyed around her.
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About the Author:
Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.
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