Mistletoe Not Required

By: Anne Oliver


Olivia Wishart slicked ruby gloss on her lips, then checked her strapless cocktail dress in the mirror and frowned. ‘Red lips, red dress, red hair.’ She reached for her standby little black dress. ‘I don’t care if everyone’s decked to the halls in Christmas finery, it’s—’

‘Lovely, but not for tonight.’ Her best friend, Breanna Black, whipped the garment from her hand. ‘And not another word—you look sensational.’ She eyed the cleavage on display and nodded. ‘Wise choice—men will look.’

‘So long as they listen.’ Olivia wasn’t a fancy dress fan but the opportunity to talk up her charity to her fellow competitors in this year’s Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was too good to pass up. And a little flesh never failed to get attention.

‘Try to remember, it is Christmas.’ Brie shimmied into a short mulberry all-in-one playsuit with a fur-trim neckline then tossed Olivia a white feather boa. ‘Here. It’ll put you in the mood.’

Olivia’s lips twitched as she slung the silky feathers around her neck. ‘I assume you’re referring to the festive mood.’

‘That’d be a start,’ Brie suggested, brightly.

Raising the Pink Snowflake Foundation’s profile was the reason for Olivia’s entry into the race. Being invited by yachting royalty to celebrate the festive season at the mega-million-dollar mansion overlooking Sydney Harbour was a bonus, but anything else...well, it wasn’t going to happen.

Brie unravelled a luscious strand of silver tinsel. ‘You’re sure you don’t mind if Jett shares our suite?’ she asked for the umpteenth time.

‘This mysterious brother you’ve managed to keep out of the way for— How long’s it been?’ Stepping into red stiletto sandals, Olivia reassured her, ‘I told you I don’t mind. I’m interested to meet him actually.’

Brie paused in her task of twisting the tinsel into her hair. ‘Half-brother. And it’s a slow, fraught process. Jett’s a hard guy to get to know. I’m not sure he even likes me.’

Olivia smiled. ‘What’s not to like? And he accepted your invitation, didn’t he?’

‘Only because his initial plans fell through.’

‘You don’t know that for sure.’ But Olivia was pretty sure she did. Classic irresponsible, egocentric male behaviour. Yes, she was absolutely interested to meet him, even if it was only to make certain he knew how much he meant to Brie.

Sighing, Brie flipped her reef of long black hair over her shoulder. ‘It makes me feel bad that I’m going away for New Year’s Eve now, but he told me not to alter my plans on his account.’

‘And why should you? If you’re right about his plans, he’s the one who changed his mind and decided to come at the last minute.’

It was obvious Brie cared but apparently the lost sibling she’d spent three years looking for didn’t give a toss. Even though they were as close as sisters, Olivia had decided it was a sensitive issue and none of her business unless Brie opened up to her. ‘When’s his flight due in?’

‘Any time. I’ll let the front desk know to expect him before I leave—’ Brie’s mobile buzzed and she checked caller ID. ‘That’s him now. Hi, Jett...’

Olivia saw her friend’s smile fade, and the temptation to snatch the phone and give him a piece of her mind was overwhelming. She had to turn away. None of your business, remember.

‘Oh... Uh-huh. Okay. You’ve got the party’s address? I’ll meet you there. Text me when you’re here,’ Olivia heard her say before she disconnected. ‘His flight’s been delayed. Christmas rush; he hasn’t even left Melbourne yet.’ She flicked through the contacts on her phone, her smile returning. ‘Which gives me a spare couple of hours to meet the Horizon Three’s sexy skipper for a drink downstairs at the bar after all.’

‘Good for you,’ Olivia enthused, reserving judgement on Jett—for now. She slipped a wad of business cards into her evening purse, handing one to Brie. ‘Give him this and highlight our cause. And just remember, sexy skipper or not, he’s the enemy come Boxing Day.’

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