Helen announced they were going to play a game called pass the orange, and in a blinding flash the evening turned into Elissas worst nightmare. Shed never played the game, but she knew it entailed passing the piece of fruit from person to person, without using hands.
Elissa closed her eyes in denial that this was happening, while Helen gathered everyone into a circle, arranging them boy-girl-boy-girl.
"Okay" Helen held up a puny orange. "The idea is to pass this around the circle without dropping it. Watch closely."
Elissa clenched her teeth as her younger sister faced her husband, placing the orange between her chin and her collarbone. "Can everybody see? No hands, but you can use just about any other body part to make sure the orange doesnt fall to the floor as you pass it from one person to the next."
With the finesse of an Olympics Orange Passing gold medalist, Helens husband, Damien, dipped his chin to his wifes, catching the orange between his jaw and shoulder. A quick tug dislodged the orange from Helens throat. Now Damien held it jauntily between his chin and chest. Elissa watched with a jaundiced eye. Sure, they made it look easy just to sucker the others into the game, then the na�ve fools were forced to make jackasses of themselves.
Damien turned to offer the orange to an elderly guest of the inn, placing it between her chin and shoulder.
Elissa took a step backward, deciding this was a good time to escape to her office, but a hand at her elbow halted her. "No you dont, Miss Crosby."
The hairs on her nape stood up and she peered sideways. "Where did you come from?"
"California," Alex said with a grin.
She tugged on his hold, but not very hard. She didnt want to draw attention to the fact that she had an aversion to having Alexs jaw close enough to hers to kissertouch! "Thats just so amusing," she whispered.
He indicated the game. "Its almost your turn."
"Im not playing."
He lifted a brow. "Chicken, Miss Crosby?"
She knew he was baiting her but she didnt care. "I dont like games played with fruit."
He chuckled. "There are a few I could teach you that I bet youd like."
She inhaled a scandalized breath. She backed away, but found her exit thwarted by his hold at her elbow.
"Elissa," Helen called. "Poor Hirk is getting a stiff neck. Its your turn."
She jumped at the sound of her name and turned around. At least, she turned as far as she could with Mr. Oh-No-You-Dont still clutching her. With a fake grin and a frosty rebuke in her eyes, she shifted back to face Alex. "I need my arm."
She faced Hirk. "Okay, Boggs, lets do it."
The tall, gangly man bent to present her with the orange. Being a shy person, he made every effort to insert the fruit between Elissas jaw and collarbone without any embarrassing touching. She liked that about Hirk. Shy and polite. Unlike some peoplearrogant and rudestanding on the other side of her.
Once the orange was secure, she stiffly turned to deposit it against Alexs throat. Her intent was to get rid if it and away from him with great dispatch. When their eyes met, he grinned, and a shudder of apprehension went through her. Why did she have the feeling his plans didnt coincide with hers? "Dont do anything stupid," she whispered.
"I never do anything stupid," he breathed into her ear as he leaned down
"Renee Roszel delivers a fast-paced, humorous tale featuring commanding characters, a strong premise and lovable secondary characters."
ROMANTIC TIMES reviewer Shannon Short
From the book HER MISTLETOE HUSBAND, by Renee Roszel
Published by Harlequin books S.A. Copyright © 1998 by Renee Roszel
Publication Date (USA), November 1998, ISBN # 0-373-03528-4
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