The Heart of Christmas
by Brenda Novak
Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B-and-B she manages and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining.
As Eve turns thirty-five, she’s worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. She’s dated all the eligible men in the area. There’s no one she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. Just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!
There was a naked man in her bed.
Eve Harmon’s stomach tensed, and her heart skipped a beat—but she was pretty sure she’d invited him. From the way their clothes were strewn carelessly around the room, it was obvious that, not long ago, she’d been happy to have him with her.
She nearly groaned as her eyes swept over him. What had she done? She didn’t have a boyfriend and she never slept around. She hadn’t been with anyone since Ted Dixon—an old friend who had briefly turned into more a year ago. And before him, it had been much longer. Most people, at least those younger than her parents, would consider her extended periods of celibacy rather pathetic for a woman her age. But she lived in a small town, cared about her reputation and had been holding out for the kind of love that came with a white picket fence.
She just hadn’t found the right guy, and she was beginning to think maybe she never would. The odds weren’t in her favor. Now that most of her friends were married, she didn’t get out all that often.
But she had a lot to be grateful for in spite of her dismal love life, she quickly reminded herself. Although she’d never been the type who wanted work to become her sole focus in life, she liked her job. She ran Little Mary’s, a B and B in a converted Victorian owned by her retired parents. They lived in the house a hundred yards in front of her own small bungalow—when they weren’t traveling in their RV like they were at the moment. Thanks to them, and the quaint, bucolic area where she’d been raised, her life had always been pleasant and safe—and predictable. Absolutely predictable.
God, she hadn’t even slept with someone she knew. And since there were only about two thousand people in Whiskey Creek, it was hard to find someone she didn’t.
Shifting carefully so she wouldn’t wake the man lying next to her—she needed to regain her bearings before confronting him—she tried to get a look at his face, but a thunderous headache made it difficult to sit up. That headache also explained how she’d ended up in this predicament. Last night she’d made the mistake of going out to celebrate her thirty-fifth birthday even though her friends weren’t available until tonight, and she’d drunk too much. She’d been determined to do something wild and fun and completely out of character before reaching such a significant age, the age at which some doctors advised against getting pregnant.
Now she was paying the price for her out-of-control evening.
Had they even used birth control?
Briefly squeezing her eyes shut, she sent up a silent prayer that she’d had the presence of mind for that at least. It would be entirely too ironic for someone like her—someone so cautious—to get pregnant because of a one-night stand.
What have you done?
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $2 million.
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