Another year has passed and it’s Christmas again. This year best friends Chloe, Jules and Lucy are all loved up but living worlds apart.
Chloe is madly in love with her celebrity beau, Archer, but after a whirlwind year in Hollywood’s limelight, she’s desperate to get away and spend some quality time together.
Jules loves her Melbourne life – and gorgeous winemaker Matt – but a crowded flat share has her longing for a place of her own.
Meantime, Lucy is stuck in a long distance relationship, jetting back and forth between Colorado and London to see Will.
When Archer’s plan to whisk Chloe to Paris goes awry, he surprises her by bringing her friends together for a Christmas to remember…
CHLOE – Los Angeles
‘Chloe! This way!’
‘Chloe, over here!’
‘Chloe, turn to your right!’ Will I ever get used to the red carpet? Chloe wondered. This was her fourth event―no, fifth―in as many months and it was no less surreal than the first, that movie premiere in London. This time last year, Chloe had been a single event manager living in Melbourne who’d never even met the world’s biggest film star, Archer Tate. Who would have thought that a plan to swap Christmases with her besties and a trip to England would have led her here?
Archer waited off to the side as she angled her body this way and that so the horde of photographers could get their shots. She caught the eye of the red carpet coordinator―a job title she’d never heard of until this year―and the woman smiled at her politely, then nodded, meaning it was time to move on. Chloe joined her boyfriend, reaching for his outstretched hand and feeling an envelope of safety wrapping around her as soon as their palms touched.
As he led her into the movie theatre, he leant closer and murmured, ‘You look absolutely stunning.’
‘Thank you, but you’ve already told me a dozen times,’ she teased, peering up at him through her false lashes.
‘It’s no less true now than it was at home or in the car.’
‘I still can’t believe they wanted shots of me on my own. You’re the famous one.’ He smiled at her thoughtfully.
‘I think we can safely say that you’re also famous now.’
‘Mmm,’ she replied vaguely. There was a time when the name ‘Chloe Sims’ had referred to a rising star of the Australian event management industry. Now she was ‘Archer Tate’s girlfriend, Chloe Sims’. Chloe knew it was just part and parcel of being in love with the world’s biggest film star, even though, to her, he’d ceased being ‘Archer Tate’ soon after they’d met. He was just her loving, kind, talented―and yes, unbelievably handsome―boyfriend.
But on occasions such as this, she was reminded just how surreal her life had become.
She’d spent most of that day in the eye of a dreamlike hurricane as a stylist, hairdresser, manicurist, makeup artist, and even the security team from Tiffany’s had whirled around her as though she were a sentient mannequin. The results were undeniably impressive. She was sheathed in a black floor-length, bias-cut gown―hand-beaded―and her black hair was styled into a perfect replica of Louise Brooks’ bob. Her makeup was, at first glance, fresh and natural-looking―save for the bold orange-red lipstick―but had taken an hour to apply. And she was wearing $200,000 worth of Tiffany diamonds. Borrowed of course, as she was constantly reminded by the two hefty tuxedoed men trailing behind them.
A no-nonsense woman with a tablet in hand approached them in the aisle. ‘Mr Tate, Ms Sims, this way, please.’ She led them past a packed and milling audience to the front of the auditorium where Archer, as the movie’s writer and director, would soon make a short speech. Cate, Tom, and Jen were already there along with Cate’s husband, Andrew, and Jen was laughing at something Tom had said, her head thrown back and her laugh throaty, almost wicked.
‘Chloe!’ As soon as Jen clapped eyes on her, she rushed over. ‘You look fantastic!’ Chloe laughed.
‘Um, hello? You look pretty amazing yourself.’ Jen looked down and regarded her gown as if seeing it for the first time. ‘Thanks. It is gorgeous but the boning’s killing me,’ she said, tugging at the bodice. ‘Makes me wish we’d made a shorter movie.’ She laughed again.
‘At least we get to sit,’ quipped Chloe. ‘Not sure how much longer I can stand in these.’ They both looked at Chloe’s shoes.
‘Super pretty though.’
‘Jen, you look positively divine.’
‘Hey, Archer.’ Jen accepted a cheek kiss from Archer and, watching the exchange, Chloe mentally pinched herself. If being primped and preened by Hollywood’s best wasn’t bizarre enough, here she was chit-chatting with her new gal pal, Jennifer Lawrence.
Last year, when Archer had decided to finally pursue a project he’d had in mind for years, he started tossing around names of actresses to play Eloise Capel―a local legend in his hometown hamlet in Oxfordshire and the subject of his passion project. That was when he’d first mentioned Jen and, embarrassingly, Chloe had imagined the two of them becoming besties. Their friendship wasn’t quite of that calibre―her actual best friends, Lucy and Jules, had nothing to worry about there―but on set, with Chloe cutting her teeth as an assistant producer, they’d cemented their friendship over a shared love of trashy reality TV, funny dog videos, and mercilessly teasing Archer. He’d been good-natured about it, as he was about most things.
This was the most surreal aspect of being with Archer. He was genuinely friends with some of the world’s most famous people. They’d had lunch with the Obamas a couple of months ago―the Obamas!
About the author
Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.
Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.
The series continues in That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney and there are two more to come in 2022. Her standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrates her favourite time of the year, and next up is The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.