LOVE AND OTHER GAMES is a collection of four sexy new adult stories centered around athletes competing in the WinterGames by Ana Blaze, Melinda Dozier, Aria Kane, and Kara Leigh Miller.
Worth More Than Gold by Ana Blaze
Amy Pierce, the klutzy sister and manager of America’s Skating Sweetheart, is used to being invisible. But when a friend drags her to a party near the Olympic Village, Amy catches the eye of a sexy Norwegian ski jumper. It’s a magical night, but an awkward next morning has her running.
Everyone knows Erik Andresen’s best shot at an individual medal was back in 2010, before an injury pulled him from the competition. He’s there for his team, but a hot night and a remarkable final training session have him wondering if a gorgeous good-luck charm could give him another chance at the podium.
With a little bit of luck, these two might have a shot at something worth more than gold.
Trouble with Gold by Melinda Dozier
US snowboarder and notorious prankster, Ty (Trouble) Madsen is only getting a taste of his own medicine when his Olympic teammates shackle him to a fence wearing nothing but his boxers.
Reception and protocol volunteer, Nadia Hoffman, gets up close and personal with the sexy snowboarder to rescue him, but she’s not the kind of girl who lets her hormones get in her way. A professional performance could help her land her dream job at Olympics Committee Headquarters, but her new assignment supervising the rambunctious US Snowboarding Team is making that difficult. Can she see behind the snowman in the community center bathroom and into the warm heart of the man everyone calls Trouble?
The Girl behind the Gold by Aria Kane
Greek aerial skier Lia Milonas’s parents are about to lose the family farm. Saving it means medaling and landing a huge sponsor. While her no-nonsense attitude has her well on her way to a medal, it hasn’t won her a place in fans’ hearts.
“Come back with a story that will make readers cry, or don’t come back.” This is what Brandon James’ boss told him before he left New York to cover the Winter Games for Moment Magazine. With a wink and a smile, he can charm his way into any invite-only party, but that career-making story is nowhere to be found – until he meets Lia.
The two strike a deal that should get them both what they want – but neither would have guessed they’d also find what they need.
Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller
Colton Campbell thrives on the fast paced, adrenaline rushed lifestyle of being an Olympic hockey player.
Despite Brenna Jessup’s abhorrence for the games and the athletes, she’s hand-picked as the official photographer for the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.
When a faux pas by Brenna almost costs Colton his career, she owes him. Too bad for her, Colton doesn’t want apologies — he wants retribution! And he knows just how to get it — and her — in the process.
Mark Delaney is a high profile movie star who wants nothing more than to visit his sister for the Christmas holiday before his big movie premiere. When he goes back to Colorado against his agent’s wishes, of course a snowstorm comes that lands his Maserati in a ditch. Stranded on a quiet road, he knocks on the door of the first house he sees—the same house that his former math tutor grew up in. Expecting to find an elderly couple donned in robes and hair curlers, he’s knocked off his feet when Lacey Robertson herself opens the door. She’s all grown up now…and Mark can’t help but notice.
When Lacey opens the door to find a tuxedo-clad man staring back at her, she can’t believe that the very same boy she pined after throughout childhood is on her porch. Having the famous star all to herself is intoxicating to say the least, but she resolves to resist the temptation of a blissful night in his arms. After all, he’s probably used to women throwing themselves at him on a nightly basis…and she won’t be one of the faceless crowd begging for his attention.
But when she finds out that he hasn’t stopped thinking about her, despite his A-list life, will she fall into his arms for a single night of pleasure? Or will she dare to hope for more?
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Isabelle is content being a maid, and will do anything for her lady, even accompany her to a masquerade ball. Lady Theodosia needs extra support and encouragement on this night, for she will meet the man her parents have pledged her to.
Isabelle has never had occasion to attend such an event, and is at first ill at ease. But meeting an enchanting young man during the course of the evening makes her wish for a life she can never have. Thinking she will never see him again, she returns his flirtation and even reveals her face. Imagine her shock when he shows up the next morning, announcing his claim on Lady Thedosia.
Isabelle does all she can to avoid Lord Adrian Wingave, but then he not only sees her, he recognizes her. To make matters worse, Isabelle fears her feelings are not one-sided.
Torn between duty and desire, Isabelle hopes for something more this Christmas.
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Lady Elizabeth is more than happy for her brother Lionel, who found love with the beautiful Lady Theodosia. Now it is her turn with the Season rapidly approaching. But then her father is stricken deathly ill, and love of any sort except familial is all Elizabeth can think of.
Her mother is desperate and hails for doctors, surgeons, even apothecaries. The upkeep of the house falls on Elizabeth and she spend long hours beside her father, watching as he betters one day and fares worse on others. Long walks with the stable hand Callum on starry nights save Elizabeth’s sanity.
When the inevitable happens, Lady Elizabeth is forced to go to London. The gentlemen there, however, hold no candle to the kind and caring Scottish Callum. Shortly before her father’s death, Callum had returned to his homeland to try and find a cure for her father. As time passes with no word, no letters, and Elizabeth must choose whether the love that blossomed between them is worth denying the man her mother wishes for her.
This year, Christmas comes early for grad-student Peyton Wagner. Being asked to T.A. a handful of classes may not be cause for celebration for her classmates, but for Peyton, it is. Not only will it ensure a snazzy recommendation from her professor at the end of the term, but it keeps her out of her Podunk town—and away from her abusive ex, Blake Hunter. Now that’s a holiday miracle.
But as Peyton soon discovers, some miracles come with unexpected and deliciously tempting surprises. And when her past and present collide in a shocking yuletide twist, Peyton has to choose between playing it safe with her mended heart, or risking it all for the chance at a new future . . . and the gift of true love.
Unwrap Me is the first in a series from Carolina Jordan and Samantha Spencer for Swoon Romance.
Swoon Romance winter themed books blitz
Masked Love excerpt 1
Isabelle’s arms were getting tired as she, once again, let her lady’s hair loose. Lady Theodosia Haywood could not make up her mind as to how to wear it, nor her clothes. And if Isabelle did not hurry and help, Lady Theodosia would be very, very late for the masquerade ball that night.
“I’m sorry,” the lady whispered. She rubbed her arms, her flesh bumped and raised.
“Do not fret.” Isabelle patted her shoulder. She, too, would feel all out of sorts if she were to meet the man she was pledged to marry for the first time tomorrow, on Christmas Eve morning.
Isabelle expertly twisted Lady Theodosia’s hair into a bun on the top of her head. Her fingers teased out wisps of blond hair and curly ringlets around her dainty face. “There, is that better?”
She had styled it in a bun earlier, but her lady had deemed it too low. Still, this style was one Lady Theodosia usually liked; although, mayhap it was too familiar for the ball.
Isabelle went to release the bun, when Lady Theodosia touched her arm.
“It’s beautiful. Thank you.”
She nodded. “Now, which dress shall you wear?”
Lady Theodosia stared at herself in the oval mirror. Without a smile, her face looked longer than normal, and her blue eyes had lost their usual luster. Typically, Lady Theodosia enjoyed balls and parties, especially just before Christmas. Now she had lost not just her Christmas spirit, but also her will.
“What if he’s ugly? Or is boring?”
Isabelle held her tongue. Although Lady Theodosia was the nicest charge she had ever served under, she had only been her maid for two years. Despite their being close, Isabelle felt certain she could not speak her mind on this matter. Helping pick out outfits, yes. Suggesting countless hairstyles, of course. Talking about the husband her parents had chosen for her, definitely not.
“What if he doesn’t like me and ignores me and would rather enjoy the company of another woman?”
Ah, now that Lady Theodosia voiced her real fears, Isabelle was too moved to keep silent on the matter. “Then, we shall just have to make certain that you look your best tomorrow and make him forget that all other ladies even exist. He shall have eyes for no other but you.”
Masked Love excerpt 2
Tagging along had been a horrible idea. She wandered around, staring at people’s shoes, sidestepping bouncy dancers, wishing time would tick along faster than its wearisome pace.
“Now that is a lovely mask.”
Isabelle kept walking until she realized she heard no response to the statement. Only a man stood nearby, with no one else close. Her cheeks grew hot, and she pointed to herself.
He nodded, a wide grin stretching across his face.
“Thank you,” she murmured so quietly he held his hand behind his ear. “Thank you,” she repeated, a smidgen louder.
His own was exquisite: black with a red rose on the side, stones sparkling on the petals. A compliment died on her lips. Too much time had elapsed for her to issue one now to destroy the silence, for fear of it sounding like a lie.
“Um … ”
She found herself staring at his high polished shoes and wondering how long it had taken his servant to get them to look so shiny. Lord Haywood’s shoes never looked so fine. Black pantaloons enveloped the man’s legs. A dark cutaway coat stretched across his broad shoulders.
“Do you like what you see?”
So flustered was she that Isabelle answered without thinking first. “How can I when I know not who I am looking at?”
He tilted his head back and laughed. A strong, hearty sound. She found herself giggling despite her incredulity. How could she have said something so bold?
The tall man reached toward his mask, and she caught a glimpse of his wispy sideburns.
“No!” She touched his arm—his clothes were so soft, his arm firm beneath it—and jerked back as if burned. Where had she left her head? Her indecorous manner could get her thrown out, her name as well as the Haywoods’ tarnished, her position taken away from her, leaving her homeless two nights before Christmas …
Acting as though she hadn’t touched him, he continued on and adjusted his mask. For a brief moment, she saw his Roman nose. It perfectly matched his angular jawline.
“So you don’t want to know who I am yet do not like conversing with me when you do not know who I am. A conundrum.” He stroked his chin. The stubble there—would it prickle her palm, or tickle? What a thought! “Then there is only one solution.”
Her head shook from side to side, and she even backed up a step. She glanced to either side for a possible escape and found no easy path. They were far too close to the dancers and a servant was approaching her other side. She was good and trapped.
“A dance. May I?”
Her hand went to her throat, and her heartbeat fluttered faster than a hummingbird’s wings flickering on a summer day. A dance could prove who she was—a hired servant, and beneath the likes of everyone else here.
Thankfully, the good Lord was smiling down upon her as the familiar strains of the only dance she knew, the cotillion, began. What harm could result from one dance? He knew not who she was, and she would never have to reveal her true identity. After tonight, they would never meet again.
And so she accepted his outstretched hand and they danced. Isabelle’s feet were rather rusty at first, as if she needed to warm up some. The first two times, she stumbled through the chorus, but once the music washed over her and melted away some of her apprehension, she eased up, and her body responded in kind. Their movements mirrored each other as though they had danced together for years, and Isabelle enjoyed herself far more than she had in a long, long time.
After the last note died away, Isabelle was rendered breathless. She excused herself with a gesture and glided over to a servant to fetch a glass of negus.
Instead an arm covered with a dark shirt snaked out and snatched two. Her dancing partner handed her one, and she accepted it gracefully with a smile, her gaze averted. By now, she had started to breathe normally again, but her heart was still beating faster than normal.
Love and Other Games excerpt 1
“Thank God you’re here,” a male’s voice groaned, in English.
Nadia looked across the path toward the stairs ahead of her and saw a very well built, tall man, light brown hair curled around his beanie, with a chiseled chest and tight thighs. Wait a minute. Why could she see his chest and thighs? It was zero degrees Celsius. Why would a man be standing in nothing but his underwear? Her mother always warned her about sickos.
She dug into her purse, searching for her mace – something she carried since her internship in New York last summer. It settled somewhere at the bottom. Great. When she finally needed it, she couldn’t find it.
“Do you mind?” He said, a little louder. “I could use some help.”
“I have mace.” She answered, still searching. “Stay where you are.”
“Not a problem.” He laughed, a deep laugh that sent tingly sensations from head to toe. God, sleep deprivation must be worse than she thought if she had these thoughts about a sicko.
She shook her head and finally held the mace up. The man remained in the same spot. He had a fabulous smile and a few wrinkles at the side of his eyes, from smiling or being out in the sun. He must be an athlete with that tight physique. “Who are you and what are you doing?”
Instead of answering, he let out a laugh all while his teeth chattered. An ache sat in her throat. Poor guy. If his blue lips and frosted hair was any indication, he was beyond cold.
“Are you okay?” She slowly approached the stairs, not sure what the handsome man would do. But, he looked like he was in trouble.
His eyes perused her from top to bottom and then he looked back into her face. “Better now.” He smirked. “I’ve been stuck here for about ten minutes and you’re the first person I’ve seen.” His lips trembled.
She ambled over to him. For a moment she was glad she had a large ski jacket on, a fuzzy scarf and woolen hat. This guy had close to nothing. “Why are you stuck here?”
He jiggled his hands behind him, sounding like a chain on metal. “My buddies thought it was a funny joke.”
She looked closer and saw that he was strapped to handcuffs. Oh, geez, his fingertips were blue, too. “That’s not funny.”
“And it’s freaking cold. Want to help me out?” He wiggled his upper body, as if moving it to warm himself.
She looked around, trying to find anybody else. “Are your friends around here? Am I part of the joke?”
“If they were around here, they’d have let me loose by now. Come on, I’m freezing. See the necklace around my neck?” He dropped his chin to his chest, his teeth chattering. “There’s about seven keys. You have to try all of them.”
She sighed, all while looking at anywhere but him. He had a ruggedness and vital power that attracted her and she couldn’t let her thoughts go there … not in a random moment like this. The keys around his neck dangled across a tight chest that she, for just an instant, wished she could feel. His gorgeous green eyes pulled her in like a magnet. But, if this was some game – people always tried to get her into trouble, since she was the serious one. Taking a deep breath, she put her mace back into her purse and looked directly at him. “I really don’t have time to play games. I need to be somewhere.”
“Yeah, the party. Me, too. I got tied up.” He lifted his leg and rubbed his other one. At least he had boots on. “Please. I’m not going to hurt you. I couldn’t feel you if I tried.” He wiggled his fingers behind him.
She eyed his face, anywhere but his chest … but his fascinating eyes dragged her in. They brimmed with humor and warmth … and need. He needed her and she knew she could trust him. Agreeing, she slid next to him, touching his shoulder. “Oh, all right. How do I get the keys?”
An irresistibly devastating grin formed across his blue lips. “You have to undo the necklace first.”
She stepped closer and stood chest-to-chest. “If you’re fooling with me, I promise I’ll turn you in.”
His mouth slackened. “I won’t fool with you … unless you want me to.”
Love and Other Games excerpt 2
The feel of something warm and wet oozing down Brenna's chin woke her. She snorted, wiped at her mouth, and then she licked her lips. The realization of where she was and what was happening dawned on her. She was on an airplane headed to Switzerland with the U.S. Olympic hockey team. As if that wasn't bad enough, she'd fallen asleep and … drooled. Oh. My. God! Brenna quickly turned her face toward the window and tried to discreetly wipe the saliva from her chin before anyone saw her.
"Hey there, Sleeping Beauty."
She froze save for the shiver that worked through her body at the sound of that deep, rich, husky voice. Her heart thundered in her chest, and the tips of her ears burned hot. She had no doubts that she was blushing redder than a beet. Taking a deep breath, she slowly turned in her seat and came face to face with dazzling green eyes that stared back at her with curious interest.
Her gaze swept over him, taking a quick inventory: oval shaped face with a high forehead; dirty blond hair that looked like fresh silk; a strong, square jaw; full, plump, kissable lips; and the broadest, muscular shoulders she'd ever seen. It wouldn't surprise her if he could single handedly stop a Mack truck with those shoulders. Despite her best attempt not to, her gaze shifted back to those lips. Would it be completely unprofessional to kiss a client? Don't be a dipshit. Of course it is. She mentally groaned.
"Do I pass inspection?" he asked with a cocky grin that showed off not only his perfect, white teeth, but his dimples, too.
Brenna gave herself a mental kick in the ass for staring at him too long. "Mr. Campbell, I presume," she said, trying to regain her composure. Wow! He looked so much better in person than he did in those Google images she'd found of him. Yes, she'd Googled Colton Campbell during the cab ride to the airport. In her defense, she knew squat about hockey or any of the players on the team, and it was unprofessional to attend a shoot of this magnitude without knowing a little something about her clients.
"It's Cole, ma'am," he said with a slight incline of his head.
Was that a southern accent she heard? It was faint, but unmistakable. Ma'am, a subtle nod … yup, Colton Campbell was a southern boy. Huh, who knew? "Right, Cole." She cleared her throat. She was so totally screwed.
Unwrap Me excerpt 1
She found the classroom and wrote the standard test procedures on the white board while students streamed through the open door behind her. She glanced at the clock, took a deep breath, and twisted around to introduce herself. But her words of welcome died in her throat.
Staring at her from the front row was the one guy she never wanted to see again. The one guy she had spent the last few years avoiding like he was the worst disease—the plague of all plagues. The guy who had broken her heart, tore her down, and messed with her head.
She gripped the edge of her desk to steady her legs, and struggled to keep from hurling her pumpkin latte all over the floor.
What is he doing here?
When they broke up, Blake had already graduated law school. He’d gotten a job at his father’s law firm, making an obscene amount of money, and she’d come here. Three hours away. There was no reason for Blake to be at Lakeside—not unless he’d followed her.
How did he know she’d be there? Had her parents told him?
Pull it together, Peyton.
For just a second, she swept her eyes over him. Of course, he was as gorgeous as ever. His dark hair was a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him, but his brown eyes were just as piercing. His jaw was covered in thin, sexy stubble and—is that a sleeve tattoo on his left arm?
Her eyes snapped back to his. The Blake she knew would have never gotten ink. Or worn something as soft—and sexy—as the worn, black t-shirt that stretched across his broad shoulders. Blake was always button-downs and Polos.
Blake met her gaze without wavering, a hint of a smile crinkling the edges of his eyes. He was probably gloating that she gave him a second look. Proud of himself that he’d gotten to her. Inwardly celebrating his damned hotness.
He was like Satan—a beautiful disaster.
It took everything in her not to bolt out the door. But she wouldn’t let two years of therapy and one asshole ruin this opportunity for her. Blake didn’t control her anymore.
Realizing the rest of the class was staring at her, waiting for her to hand out their tests, she yanked out the class roster. The school’s integrity policy required she hand each test out individually while checking student IDs. One after one, she called the names on the list, offered the students a smile, and gave them their booklets. When she got to the letter H, her heart stalled. She paused, ran a finger across the name typed in black ink across the page, and read it again.
As in Blake’s brother Brody—Blake’s identical-twin brother Brody.
Unwrap Me excerpt 2
Brody would’ve been less surprised if his asshole brother had appeared in class, instead of the girl he’d spent the last few years trying—and failing—to forget.
He clasped his hand around the base of his neck, consumed with thoughts of the unexpected blast from his past. Peyton hadn’t changed. She still had the same long blonde hair he used to imagine wrapping around his hand. The big blue doe-eyes that used to light up when she laughed—although with Blake, that had been an all-too-rare occurrence. Brody could tell by the fit of her jacket and the way the skirt hugged her slim hips that Peyton had lost some weight since he’d seen her last. But with her, weight had never mattered. She was the kind of girl that would look good no matter what the size. And there was no doubt the woman looked good. She was every bit as hot as he remembered.
And just as untouchable.
Or was she?
Since he had left town, she’d finally wised up and dumped his dickhead brother. And it’s not like he gave a damn if Blake approved of him going after his ex or not. The two weren’t exactly what you’d call close. His twin was so far up their father’s ass, he gave the term brown-noser a mascot. Brody always thought Blake was the kind of guy Peyton wanted. Someone who wore a monkey suit and spent his day in an enclosed office or courtroom. That life had never been for him, regardless of what his dad hoped. Brody needed fresh air and open sky.
But since Peyton had kicked Blake to the curb, maybe that wasn’t the kind of guy she wanted after all.
And as for her being his teacher, the school would probably have an issue with it if Peyton had been his regular professor, but she wasn’t. She was a sub—a T.A. Brody grinned. Maybe it finally was his chance up to bat.
He glanced at his watch, then back at the closed classroom door. He’d turned in that cake of a test fifteen minutes ago, and he knew for a fact everyone else had left by now. He’d been watching the door. So the question was: how long was Peyton going to hide?
There was no doubt in his mind she was doing exactly that. Seeing him again obviously rattled her. Brody had seen the “deer in the headlights” look in her eyes when she had spotted him. It figured she’d take one look at him and only see his brother. That was all she’d ever seen. Never mind that Brody met her first. When his twin walked up not thirty seconds later, any hope Brody had of making Peyton his was shot to hell.
Blake had always been like that, camouflaging his domineering nature as confidence, and chicks fell for it every time. But it had never really bothered him until Peyton. From the moment they’d met, she had always been the one. The one he wished he could have; the one that got away. But maybe that was about to change.
Captivated By You excerpt 1
Mark Delaney tossed his phone in his pocket, threw the car door open, and climbed out of his Maserati. Damn it all to hell. Not even the tow truck company would venture out in this mess native Coloradans called snow. He was officially stranded. Perhaps he’d been spoiled by the California sunshine, but his tolerance for the cold flakes falling on his Prada suit was gone.
Blowing out a puff of steamy breath, he kicked the snow, not even caring when the grayish white stuff soaked through his Gucci shoes upon impact. The snow hit his driver’s side door, sliding down the red paint, leaving a path of dirt and filth in its wake. Dragging a hand through his hair, he glowered up at the dark sky.
He was supposed to be at a movie premiere tomorrow night, but he was stuck in fucking Colorado. Tomorrow night was also the night he was supposed to walk the red carpet with Sylvia Day, his latest love interest, on his arm. Not like he was actually seeing her or anything so exciting as that.
His publicist always said being single was the fastest way to kill a career in Hollywood, and the second fastest was being married. The Hollywood solution? Publicity relationship. The up-and-coming actress got to use him to further her career, and Mark had an excuse to avoid relationship drama. But if he didn’t show up on time, then the whole deal would be off. Apparently, Ms. Day didn’t like to be stood up, even by a fake boyfriend.
With this deadline hanging over his head like an anvil, he’d rushed to the airport, hoping against all odds he would beat the snowstorm and get back to California. When the gate agent told him all flights were cancelled, he decided to hop into his Maserati and take matters into his own hands.
A lot of good that had done him.
What would his agent say when he didn’t show up to the premiere? Even worse, what would Glory Productions have to say about their missing star? And the damn starlet who was counting on him to make her famous …
Dragging a hand down his face, he looked around for any signs of life. He would get somewhere warm, then see what he could do about chartering a private jet. Down the road a bit, he could almost make out the outline of a familiar house with its lights still on. Drudging through the snow, he shoved his hands into his pockets and made his way down the road. His agent had told him not to go home for Christmas, but Mark couldn’t miss his little sister’s big announcement. She was getting married, and it was the biggest news their family had heard since Mark was nominated for a People’s Choice award two years ago.
Captivated By You excerpt 2
She walked past him into the living room and held up the magazine on her coffee table. “People Magazine calls you the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood—for the second year in a row. We all know that magazines are never wrong, so you can’t argue with them.”
“That doesn’t count.” He snorted. “They only say those things about me because they don’t know the real me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, I used to know you. Does that count?”
She did know him. She knew him better than anyone else on this planet, whether she realized it or not. With her, he’d let his guard down. She’d been his only real friend growing up, maybe ever. He had lots of friends nowadays, but none could be trusted not to share his secrets with the tabloids.
Their bond had never gone further than friendship for various reasons. And yet … being in her company for a mere three minutes already had him wanting to touch her. Kiss her. He wanted to bury himself in her.
He cleared his throat and looked at the door, his heart pounding in his ears. Where was all of this desire coming from? Sure, it had been a while since he’d gotten laid, but this was different. With Lacey, it felt more like a need. A need to hold her close and kiss her until she couldn’t remember anything except his name. If he stayed here, he might not be able to keep his hands to himself. No. He should make a phone call and charter a plane immediately, before he did something he would regret. “Maybe I should go.”
She raised a brow. “You’re welcome to spend the night. I don’t think anyone will come to tow you out until the snow stops. Morning at the very earliest.”
“Yeah, but …” He gestured at the stairs. “You’re alone. I don’t think your parents would like me staying here without their permission.”
She choked on a laugh. “You’re kidding, right? You do realize I’m not seventeen anymore? I think it’s okay if an old friend of the family stays the night.”
If she knew that the family friend she spoke of wanted nothing more than to carry her upstairs and explore every inch of her naked body … she might not feel that way. His cheeks heated, and he ducked his head. “Yeah. Of course.”
“Then come in. Take off your shoes. Go sit by the fire.” Her voice grew more distant, and he lifted his head to find her. She strode toward the kitchen, her hips swaying with a grace and seduction he had a feeling she didn’t even try to achieve. “I was about to open up a bottle of champagne, so I’ll grab another glass for you.”
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