Sarah Buchanan shares an extract from her new Christmas novel, The Christmas Spirit, where Sophie meets Jacob for the first time – sent on the coffee run by her horror of a boss.

The door opened again and a harried-looking girl rushed in, talking quickly into her mobile phone. ‘Yes, Meredith, I’ve got it. I know what the order is. It’s always the same. I’m not likely to forget.’ Self-consciously, the girl brought her hand to her mouth in shock. Recovering quickly, she said, ‘Sorry, the line’s breaking up. I’ll see you when I get back,’ and hung up. ‘Phew!’ she said, almost to herself, but Jacob heard her.

‘Tough day?’ he asked.

‘Tough boss.’

‘Oh dear. I know what you mean,’ and he winked at Natalie.

‘Really?’ she asked, ‘I’ve always thought Mrs Williams really nice.’

‘Oh, not Mrs Williams, this one here, battleaxe,’ he confided in her.

Natalie turned away and stifled a laugh.

The girl studied Natalie, then said, ‘Appearances can be deceiving. She seems…normal. My boss acts the part of superbitch. She makes Cruella De Vil look like Bambi’s mother.’

Jacob burst out laughing. ‘You’re painting a great picture of her. Does she ever come in here, then, so I can make sure I go into hiding or take the day off?’

‘No, she’s ‘too busy’ to do menial stuff like fetch her own cakes. That’s why she sends me, her gopher.’

‘Well, I’m glad she did send you. Sounds like I’ve had a right lucky escape. She might have skinned me and made me into a coat!’

The girl laughed. ‘Sophie. And can I have a slice of carrot cake and a chocolate éclair, please?’

‘Let me guess, the carrot cake is for your boss?’

‘Yep. How did you guess?’

‘Well, anyone who’s that much of a bitch hasn’t eaten our chocolate éclairs before! Carrot cake is much more boring, don’t you think?’ Jacob sounded convincing, even though he hadn’t sampled any of the cakes himself yet – a real charmer.

Sophie put her head on one side, pondered this for a second and then said, ‘You know what? You’re so right. I can’t believe I just spoke to Cruella like that. She’ll probably shoot me on sight when I get back.’

‘What did you say to her exactly?’ asked Jacob, pretending he hadn’t overheard her conversation.

‘I was sarcastic to her, as she was her usual patronising self. I don’t know what it is. She brings out the worst in me. I’m going to end up turning into her, I spend so much time with her.’

‘God, I hope not,’ Jacob said, clutching his heart in mock horror, ‘She sounds dreadful. Buy an extra chocolate éclair and bribe her with that, if things get nasty,’ he advised.

‘You’re joking, aren’t you? Cruella, or rather, Meredith, thinks cream is the devil, although she actually believes carrot cake is healthy.’
‘I don’t think she’s alone in that. Well, have a good day and I hope Cruella isn’t too vicious to you,’ Jacob told Sophie. ‘I’m Jacob,’ he added, realising somewhat belatedly that she had given him her name earlier but he hadn’t reciprocated.

‘Yes, you too. See you again,’ said Sophie, giving him a little wave as she held open the door, allowing a lady in a wheelchair through.

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty-two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

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Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day. Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out.

susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk

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