Humbug by Joanna Chambers
Blurb: Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin’s on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin’s boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
“Look,” I said, “I know I’m not Mr. Touchy-Feely, but I’m not such a bad guy either.”
Rob turned back to me. “You reckon?” he said, and his usually warm brown gaze froze me. “Do you even know what your nickname in the office is?”
“No,” I whispered.
“Skinflint,” I repeated faintly.
“Quin Flint—skin flint,” he explained, emphasising the obvious rhyme. “Not exactly subtle, I know, but I can’t argue with its accuracy. Haven’t you noticed that no one comes to ask you for anything if they can possibly help it? If you’re given an expenses claim to approve you always question it—it’s as though you think we’re asking for money out of your own pocket! You’re as bad with leave requests. You make people feel like they’re asking for this huge favour, instead of taking time off that they’re entitled to. Do you think I wanted to speak to you this morning about leaving early? The only reason I did was because Marley wasn’t there.” He was furious, his dark eyes sparking with temper, and all I could do was stand there. I couldn’t deny anything he’d said. Eventually, I looked away, feeling wretched.
I can’t believe I used to defend you.
For some reason, the worst part was knowing that perhaps Rob hadn’t completely hated me till today.
The silence between us stretched uncomfortably but I didn’t know how to break it.
In the end, it was Rob who did, sighing heavily, then saying in a flat tone, “I should go. I need to get back to take Tim to his party.”
Reluctantly, I returned my gaze to him. He was watching me with the weirdest look on his face. Like maybe he felt as shitty about all this as I did. He certainly didn’t look as though he’d enjoyed saying his piece.
“Okay,” I mumbled. “Well, I hope you have a good Christmas with your family.”
“Thanks,” he said, his dark gaze oddly bleak. “Same to you.” And with that, he turned on his heel and trudged away, shoulders hunched against the cold.