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Candlelight Christmas: The Lakeshore Chronicles

“Are you sure you have to leave today?” he asked.

Ah, so tempting. Then she took a deep breath. It was just a kiss, she reminded herself. It was only a kiss. “Yes. I have a work thing.” She bent over and unstrapped the ankle tether of her board.

“On a holiday weekend?”

She straightened up and nodded, furrowing a hand through her hair. “It’s weather-dependent. There’s a photo shoot that needs snow and ice, and that’s the pre­diction for tomorrow and Sunday.”

“Sounds awesome. Where’s the shoot?”

“Lake Placid,” she said. “It’s a snow sports shoot.”

“Cool. So, do you do photography?”

“No. I’d love to learn one day.”

“It’s overrated,” he said quickly, almost harshly. He caught her quizzical look and added, “My ex is a pho­tographer.”

“I don’t think it’s contagious,” she said.

“Yeah, sorry.” He passed her a towel. Their hands brushed, and they looked at each other briefly.

Again, she thought. Let’s try kissing again. To her disap­pointment, he picked up her beach bag and started back toward the house.

“So, what do you do on the shoot?” he asked. “Styl­ist, or…?”

“I’m, uh, the subject,” she said, suddenly feeling self-conscious.

“Sorry, what?”

“The subject.”

“Like, you’re a model?”

“I’m one of the athletes,” she said, somewhat insulted by his surprise. She knew she wasn’t model-pretty, but she wished he thought she was.

“Now I’m confused. I thought you were in advertis­ing.”

“I am. I’m in sports marketing,” she said. “It’s a spe­cialized field. I work with sponsors, and the shoot is set up to show off their gear.”

“What do you mean, you work with sponsors?”

“As a sponsored athlete.”

“Seriously? What kind of sport?” he asked, holding the back door for her. The kitchen, though deserted, was fragrant with the morning’s first pot of coffee.

“Snowboarding is my specialty. I’ll be testing gear and apparel, and there will be photos and videos for the sponsors’ catalogue and website. Hence the need to shoot when the weather is cooperating.” She helped herself to a cup of coffee and poured one for him.

“You snowboard to test and promote your sponsors’ gear, and that’s your job.”

“Yes, some of the time.” She started feeling a bit de­fensive, as if he was judging her. There was a lot more to her job, but this weekend, that was it in a nutshell.

Logan lifted his coffee mug in salute. “That is made of awesome.”

She laughed. All right, so he wasn’t judging her. “The job’s not that much fun every day, but I can’t complain.”

“Coolness. The more I get to know you,” he said, “the more I like you.” He put a couple of English muf­fins in the toaster. “Peanut butter, strawberry jam or both?” he asked.

“Be still, my heart.”

Oh, this was bad. Because she liked him, too, but he was everything she wasn’t looking for—a single dad, a man who had said, practically at their first meeting, that he wanted a big family. The idea made her stomach tighten with tension.

“You’re going to love hanging out with me,” he said, slathering the English muffins with peanut butter and jam, and handing her one

“What makes you think I’m going to hang out with you?” She took a bite of the warm, gooey muffin. It was almost as delicious as kissing him.

“Because I have a ski resort. I mean, I’m part of the investment group, but I’m the controlling partner and general manager.” He paused and watched her savor­ing the muffin, seeming to focus on her lips. Then he picked up a napkin and gently dabbed at the corner of her mouth. “You inspired me,” he said simply.

It was the last thing she expected to hear from him. “Huh?” she said, with peanut butter charmingly stuck to the roof of her mouth.

“Last summer, when you talked about taking risks.”

“I can’t believe you remember that.” She was flus­tered…but flattered.

“So in the future, if you need a location for doing your gear testing and photo shoots, I can offer you carte blanche at Saddle Mountain. Come check it out some time. Come soon.”

“Now, that,” she said, “is made of awesome. I’ll def­initely tell my team. We’ve got a project going with a new snowboard company, and we’ll be doing a shoot sometime in December.”

“You ought to come give Saddle Mountain a try. We’ll give you VIP privileges.”

She polished off the English muffin, unable to recall enjoying a breakfast more. “Wow. I guess knowing the controlling partner is a perk.”

“Controlling partner?” Al O’Donnell came into the kitchen. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Darcy sensed it was her cue to leave. “I’d better hit the shower.”

“Don’t run off,” said Al, looking a bit sheepish. “Logan and I can talk about this later.”

“Or not,” Logan said good-naturedly, pouring coffee for his father. “Actually, I—”

A cell phone on the counter chimed. Logan checked it, and his face changed entirely, turning marble-hard with tension. “Sorry, I have to take this. Excuse me.” Grabbing the phone, he stepped out to the backyard.

Darcy took a sip of coffee. She slid the cream pitcher across the counter toward Al. Your son just kissed me, she thought. And then: I liked it. She hoped she wasn’t blush­ing too much. “Ah,” she said, “that awkward moment when one has no idea what to say.”

Candlelight Christmas: The Lakeshore Chronicles
by by Susan Wiggs

  • Genres: Fiction, Holiday, Romance
  • hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
  • ISBN-10: 077831474X
  • ISBN-13: 9780778314745