Snuggle up for the holidays with 12 very different tales of love that will have you dancing under the mistletoe!
The Mistletoe Mixtape, the second anthology from The Christmas Collective, is a diverse and inclusive mix of stories, with more swoon-worthy characters, second chances and happy endings.
Amongst these twelve Christmas music inspired stories you will discover long lost love, festive fantasy, LGBTQ+ love stories, witty one liners and holiday romances. There really is a story to capture every reader’s festive spirit. So grab yourself a hot chocolate, pop on your favourite festive tunes and immerse yourself in the magic of The Mistletoe Mixtape.
I’ve chosen a real treat to share with you today. This extract is taken from the second story in The Mistletoe Mixtape: ‘White Christmas’ by Marianne Calver. In this scene, we meet Bianca and Angelo as they arrive at Firfield Christmas Tree Farm to choose a last-minute tree. On the surface, this is such a lovely festive event, but Bianca’s secrets and insecurities are rippling through every moment. There’s a reason she’s avoided Angelo for the last few years, but now she’s here with him on Christmas Eve, and her feelings are rising.
Extract from White Christmas by Marianne Calver (The Mistletoe Mixtape)
Angelo pulled the car into the car park of Firfield Christmas Tree Farm but neither of them moved to get out. ‘I don’t think your Nonna meant to hurt you, Bianca.’ He spoke without looking at her. ‘She was excited about Lucia’s news, she wasn’t criticising you.’
Bianca opened the car door abruptly. ‘So you think I’m overreacting?’ It was easier to channel her anger at Angelo than herself. She stepped out of the car, sinking her foot into an icy puddle. ‘For goodness’ sake!’ She shouted up to the heavens.
‘It’s not beyond the realms of possibility,’ Angelo said with a wry smile.
With as much dignity as she could muster, Bianca stormed on ahead, water seeping from her left shoe with every other step.
The Natale family had been coming to Firfields for their Christmas trees for as long as Bianca could remember, and it had barely changed in all that time. She and Lucia would bounce excitedly in the back of the car all the way there, then run around in a frenzy to find the best tree. As she approached the row of trees, Bianca slowed her pace and leaned forwards to inhale the sharp, fresh smell. She laid a hand softly on one of the branches and then gave a gentle squeeze, just hard enough to know that it could hurt her if she let it. Turning her palm up, Bianca ran a finger over the indentations there.
‘Are you ok?’ Angelo took her hand with concern.
She snatched it awkwardly from his grasp. ‘I just like to feel things.’ She turned away to hide the flush that rose in her cheeks. Why did she always feel so foolish in front of Angelo these days?
‘So, is this the one then?’ he asked, one hand on the tree.
‘You can’t just pick the first one, Angelo!’ Bianca said with a smile.
‘Well…’ He gestured around them. ‘There aren’t that many to choose from.’
‘It’s Christmas Eve! What do you expect?’ She wandered along the feeble line of trees, left until last because they were too small, or too spindly, or had a bald patch on one side.
‘You know, when I was growing up, I just thought it was our family tradition to get our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. It added to the excitement.’ She scuffed the ground with her foot, wondering why she was sharing this with Angelo. ‘Then I realised.’
Raising her eyes to his face, she could see that he knew what she was about to say. ‘You know why we did that?’
The slightest of nods confirmed it but she found she wanted to say it anyway.
‘It was the only way we could afford it. Wait until they were reduced. You know what my dad’s like. He can charm anyone. He always managed to get an extra discount too.’ She smiled at the memory. ‘We got some lovely trees.’ They stood side by side contemplating the trees.
‘I never felt poor, you know. I never felt like anything was missing in my life at all as a kid. We had everything we wanted. I know it sounds cheesy, but I had my family and you. I mean, not you, but your family and well, yes, and you too, of course.’ Bianca’s face burned as she grappled with her thoughts. ‘The thing is, now I have money, I could buy a Christmas tree at full price.’ She gave a small smile. ‘But it’s only now I feel my life is lacking.’ She shook her head. ‘I don’t know what I’m saying. Ignore me. I’m silly … overly nostalgic. Been listening to Gail from Portsmouth for too long.’
As she turned away, Angelo took her hand. ‘That’s the second time in two days that you’ve dismissed yourself as silly, Bianca.’
Turning back, she was surprised to see the concern on his face.
‘What’s going on? You stayed away for so long and now you’re back, but it’s like you’re not really here. Like you’re keeping yourself apart from us. You have some wall up that wasn’t there before. Is this about Felix? I know he broke your heart but…’
She pulled her hand gently from his and looked down at the ground between them. A tear hung perilously close to the edge of her lashes. ‘It wasn’t him. Felix didn’t break my heart.’ She forced herself to look at Angelo. ‘It was me. I did the heart breaking.’
‘You broke Felix’s heart?’ Angelo sounded surprised.
Bianca nodded miserably, shivering as the cold crept from her wet foot up her leg.
‘You’re freezing. Let’s get this tree and get you somewhere warm.’
They bought the tree in subdued silence and heaved it into the trailer with barely a word to each other. As they drove away, she realised she had to speak.
‘Not yet. I can’t go back yet. Can we go to yours?’
About the Authors
The Christmas Collective is a group of twelve romance authors who came together when shortlisted for a festive romance competition. Together they have created two Christmas Romance anthologies, More Than Mistletoe (2021) and The Mistletoe Mixtape (2022).
The Christmas Collective authors are spread far and wide, across the UK, Ireland, Spain and South Korea, however, one thing connects them despite the distance: a love of romance and Christmas.
Purchase Links for some of the authors in The Christmas Collective
Michelle Harris: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0BGMKS624?ref_=pe_1724030_132998540
Jenny Bromham: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennybromham
Bláithlín O’Reilly Murphy: https://www.amazon.com/author/blaithinoreillymurphy
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