“Hale would scold her if he heard her say it—even here, even now, in the middle of a con. But there was a part of Kat, deep down, that might have even thought it was true if she ever allowed herself to think about such things—if she could stop running, working, grifting long enough to wonder if she was really going to get away with stealing W. W. Hale V. But”
“You didn’t steal me,” he whispered, his face so close that she could feel the warmth of his breath. “You rescued me.” “Like Rapunzel?” she teased, and he kissed her again. And again. And again.”
“Right now your only job is to breathe and feel and…look up.” Kat pulled back just enough to see the mistletoe that hung above them. “You planned that.” “Me?” He gasped. “Never.” Then Hale’s lips were on hers and his arms were around her and there were no eggs and no thieves and no lies between them.”
“In a lower voice, Hale asked, “I trust you know what to do?” “Indeed, sir.” Marcus stood a little straighter. “I shall endear myself to the staff and find out where all the skeletons are buried. Both literally and figuratively.” “We can probably do without the literal skeletons, but I like the enthusiasm,” Hale said with a slap on Marcus’s arm,”
“On most guys, Hale's smile would have looked sheepish. On him, it was so roguishly charming that Kat's heart actually skipped a beat.”
“Money comes and goes, darling. Tiaras are forever. So are titles.” Gabrielle”
“It’d be fun, you know. Just once. To wake up Christmas morning with snow on the ground and stockings full of presents that no one had to steal and a house that’s really home.” She reclaimed the teapot and slowly slipped back into the con. “That would be nice. Maybe, someday, we’ll steal that.” On”
“Back in Brooklyn, the wind was sharp and the streets were slick and Kat just really wished her Uncle Eddie believed in leaving a key under the mat instead of maintaining his strict stance that anyone who could not break into his Brooklyn brownstone had absolutely no business staying there without him.
“Is there a problem, Kitty Kat?” a voice said from over Kat’s shoulder. Kat’s fingers were frozen and her breath fogged, and she’d had a far too upbeat rendition of “White Christmas” stuck in her head on a perpetual loop for the past eight hours. So, yes, there was a problem. But Kat would never, ever admit it.
“I’m fine, Gabrielle,” she told her cousin.
“Really?” Gab asked. “Because if you can’t handle Uncle Eddie’s lock then someone is going to get a lump of coal in her stocking again this Christmas.”
“It wasn’t coal,” Kat shot back. “It was a very rare mineral from a condemned mine in South Africa, and it was a very thoughtful gift.”
“Kat was more prone to simply making sure the very fancy college that Lady Georgette was going to be attending found out that the girl had had “help” with her entrance exams. There”
“Someone’s up early,” Gabrielle said as the first streaks of sunshine streaked across the sky outside.
“Someone’s up late,” Hale told her. Then he turned his gaze to Kat. “Looks like someone also needs a better lock.”
“It took me ten minutes,” she admitted.
“I’ll be sure to pass that along to Silas. The home security division of Hale Enterprises is his new baby, you know?”
“I do know,” Kat said with a laugh. “And my father is blaming me for it. He says putting someone as smart as your head of R&D in charge of home security is bad for business. In any case, you need a better lock.”
“Or a less trouble-make-y girlfriend,” Gabrielle tried, but Hale just shook his head.
“No. Not that. Never that.”
“I was trying to decide what to give you for Christmas.”
Slowly, Kat slipped closer. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. I was thinking a jet. That way you could stop borrowing mine.”
“Jets are nice,” Kat said. “I also like candy. And I need socks.”
“Okay.” Hale gave her The Smile again “Jets. Candy. Socks. I’ll make a note.”
“So what’s up?” Hale asked. “Is it your dad? Has he decided to kill me? I live in fear he’s going to wake up one day and realize I don’t deserve you.”
“He won’t kill you,” Kat said.
“You’re right. He’ll just…steal me and stash me someplace until you’re thirty.”
“That’s okay,” Kat said, and Hale pulled back, chagrined.
“It is?” he said with mock indignation.
So Kat stood on her tiptoes and kissed him quick and hard. “Yeah. I’d just steal you back.”
“Do something special on your birthday. Whatever you do, celebrate the fact that you’re here, and that people love you and you love them. We only do this once.”
“I'll come back,' she said. 'Do you come back, if you don't go to hell?'
'No,' I said. 'I believe stay dead.'
'Why are you crying?' she asked me.”
“I wanted to say something to make her feel better, but I didn't know what words could have that much magic.”
“What I do know is that wondering why you survived don’t help you survive.”
“Let me give you this pleasure. I want nothing more than to see you come apart.”
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