ONE CRAZY CHRISTMAS
by Bonnie Edwards
Karyn Whyte is a busy single mom of two, the owner of Whyte’s Christmas—a woman who would like to meet a convenient man—one who lives nearby, has no baggage and makes no demands. Oh, and he must like curvy women.
Cade Devine’s a devoted single dad to three little girls. Sure, he’s got his hands full, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be alone.
At a mutual friend’s wedding, interest flares at first sight between Karyn and Cade. Enticed and attracted, they break free of their constraints for one long weekend of passion and deeply satisfying companionship. During their three-month secret romance, they learn they’re perfect together. But there are five other hearts at stake and Karyn and Cade accept that responsibility must win over the love they’ve found. Fate can be cruel and sometimes love hurts.
One Crazy Christmas
Labour Day Weekend, Vancouver Island, Canada
Karyn Whyte tried to pay attention to the wedding taking place in her best friend’s townhouse, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the man who’d just arrived. Not because he’d entered alone and not because he was handsome and well-built.
Certainly not because he looked sheepish at arriving a few minutes late.
Because of all of the above. Plus, he was age appropriate. Mid-thirties, like her. She flashed him a reassuring nod and a brief smile.
He tilted his head and relaxed his broad shoulders. His full lips turned up at the corners and his gaze slid down to her toes. His hair looked freshly cut, his jaw clean-shaven. His dressy jacket screamed class and his brilliantly white shirt accented his tanned throat and neck. He was dressed perfectly for an intimate wedding in a living room.
The small group of friends and family stood in a loose semi-circle around the bride and groom. Casual, fun, and close-knit would categorize the nuptials. This was the second marriage for both bride and groom. New-found, hopeful love was palpable in the air.
Karyn tore her attention from the newcomer and focused on the event. Her best friend, Miranda Bailey, said her vows to Kirk Fontaine, and her little dog Bella delivered the rings. Jordyn Bailey, Miranda’s daughter, was maid of honor while Kirk’s son, Tom, was best man.
Kirk kissed Miranda and turned to face the room and the merry gathering. He swung his bride’s hand into the air as if in victory. “I’ve got her now and I’ll never let her go.”
A cheer went up amid laughter and well wishes and Karyn sighed with the romance of it as her heart pitta-patted.
Miranda and Kirk had fallen in love quickly. Their decision to marry had been lightning fast. It gave Karyn hope that setting aside romance for a few years while she raised her daughters hadn’t been a mistake. She gave her best friend a hug as soon as the other well-wishers gave her space.
Miranda moved her to the side. “Did you notice that Jordyn looks off?”
She hadn’t. “Now that you mention it, she does look forlorn.”
“Heartsick,” Miranda said, with a shake of her head. “There must be trouble between her and Tom.”
“So, they’re still pretending they’re not seeing each other?” She kept her voice low.
Miranda rolled her eyes in confirmation. “How she can think her own mom won’t see what’s happening is beyond me.” Her friend gave her an assessing glance. “You look gorgeous today. I expected you to bring a date.”
Karyn loved both Miranda who was eleven years older than Karyn and Jordyn who was six years younger. They were like sisters to her. At thirty-six she had recently started online dating to no avail. “Nothing’s panned out. Men don’t like to hear about my girls and they sure don’t want to know Max is still in our lives. They think Max being around is messy when it’s anything but.”
Her ex-husband Max was a good father, always had been, always would be, but he was a bad match for Karyn. It had taken eight years and two babies before they both wanted out. Neither of them was bitter and they were relieved to have come to a place where they could put the girls’ needs ahead of their own.
“I’ve always admired you for your mature response to your divorce. And Max, too.”
“Last week a date told me Max was extra baggage he didn’t want.” She blew a disgusted breath. “I need a drink and it’s time for the toasts.”
Miranda was drawn away by more friends and Karyn walked to the drinks table. She hoisted a champagne bottle in the air. “Who’s empty?” she called out with a grin.
The man with broad shoulders and eyes that burned down her body now stood by the front window. She flushed at his focused regard.
Jordyn waved her champagne flute and stepped over to Karyn for a refill. “What’s up, Jordyn? You’re putting on a happy face but you’re not feeling it. I know how happy you are about your mom and Kirk, so it’s not the wedding that’s got you so blue.”
Her friend’s eyes glistened. “Is it that obvious?”
“That your heart’s in pieces? Of course. You forget I’ve known you since before your first crush.” She looked pointedly at Tom. Jordyn’s gaze followed the same direction for a heartbeat, and then she turned back to Karyn with a false smile.
“Mom told me you’re trying some internet dates?” It was clear Jordyn would not confide so Karyn allowed the change of subject.
She said, “I’m getting my ass kicked at that game. There’s not a lot of interest in thirty-something single moms with muffin tops.”
Jordyn laughed because she was supposed to. It was an ongoing joke between the Bailey women and Karyn. They were tall blonds with long limbs while Karyn was definitely not. “Why don’t you sidle on over to where Tom’s chatting with that gorgeous hunk of man and talk to him?” She was still finding it hard not to eat the man with her eyes.
“Tom?” Jordyn’s fingers tightened on the stem of her champagne flute. “He’s, uh, not really my kind of guy. And he’s younger.”
Karyn managed not to roll her eyes. Barely. “You’re hardly old, Jordyn. Tom’s a full-grown man from what I can see. Even next to that gorgeous hunk of man.” Karyn waggled her eyebrows, hoping her friend would catch on.
“Ah, now I get it,” Jordyn said with a gotcha grin. “You’d like me to introduce you to that gorgeous hunk?”
Karyn smoothed her dress and cursed her lack of foresight. She should have worn her body-shaper but she’d opted for comfort. “Do you know him?” She sounded breathy. Get a grip.
“Cade Devine, he’s the project manager for Fontaine Homes and a good friend of Kirk and Tom.”
Karyn sighed. “Even his name’s sexy as sin.” She checked him out again and caught his glance. “Uh oh, he’s looking over here.”
Jordyn smiled at Cade and waved him over. He left Tom and made straight for the women, his gaze roving over Karyn. Her belly fluttered and her palms heated along with her cheeks. “Hi, Jordyn,” Cade said in a come-get-it rumble, but his eyes never left Karyn’s.
The man was potent. Tall, broad, handsome, and focused like a fox on a hen. She swallowed hard. Too dry! She was too dry to swallow properly. He noticed and the light in his eyes changed from interest to pure male focus.
She took a good long swallow from her champagne glass when what she needed was a swig or nine from the bottle. “Hi,” she said. “I’m Karyn. Karyn with a K and um, a Y.”
He leaned in very close to her ear and his warm breath nearly singed her hair. “I’m Cade with a C and I’m pleased to meet you. Now that we can spell each other’s names I’d like to know more about you.” He leaned back and gave her room to faint if she needed it. Which she might. “Scratch that,” he said in his sexy growl of a voice. “I want to know everything about you.”
~ ~ ~
Cade waited for the shapely brunette to answer. Everything about her interested him. He’d grilled Tom about her immediately. He now knew she was divorced, had a great sense of humor, and was very close with Miranda and Jordyn. All those things and her killer body had drawn him in. If Miranda liked her she was good people. Kirk’s bride was a smart, discerning woman.
Up close Karyn was even prettier than he’d thought, with a smattering of freckles across her nose. She had full lips and soft gray eyes. Eyes that had gone wide with shock when he’d leaned in so close.
But she hadn’t backed up or put up a wall against his nearness. He’d felt invited.
“You want to know about me?” she asked in a voice that held a sexy rasp as if she’d burnt her vocal cords.
She sized him up for a long moment but having decided he was worth the effort, she began to talk. “I’ve had a lot of first dates in the last few months and I’ve been told I say too much about myself.” She pursed her lips as if determined not to overshare.
She nodded. “I don’t go on a lot of second dates.”
“I can’t imagine any man with brains walking away from you.” It wasn’t flattery. He’d never said a more honest thing to a woman in his life.
Her face changed and she straightened her back. “I have two daughters, and an ex-husband who shares custody. Max is a big part of our lives and a lot of men back off when they hear about the total package.”
And there it was, the only thing that could kill his interest in a heartbeat. “I have three daughters and their mom has left the state. I don’t know if she’ll ever come back.”
“So you’re on your own with them?”
He nodded. When he saw her eyes moisten in pity, he stepped back. “No need to feel sorry for me. We’re managing fine.” He wished it were true, but at least he was making headway answering their questions about their mom’s departure.
Karyn opened her luscious lips to speak but then closed them again. Her eyes filled with disappointed understanding.
“It was nice to meet you,” he said and left before he said anything else. Anything that might sound desperate or make him seem as lonely as he was. Five girls between them. No way could anything come of meeting the most beautiful woman he’d met in years.
The pop went out of his whole weekend. His in-laws had the girls and he’d looked forward to his friend’s wedding as a good time away from his responsibilities. He refused to feel guilty about needing a break. Even Judith, his mother-in-law, had told him to have a great time and not to give the girls a second thought.
He dug his cell phone out of his pocket and called to see how they were doing. When his call was answered he said, “Hi, Judith. How’s it going?”
“Great. Right now they’re deep into a board game. Holly’s winning but Eva and Sofia are catching on. Did you know Eva’s a strategist?”
“That sounds right. That girl can get around any obstacle.” He smiled and warmed at the news the girls were having fun and behaving well. “So you don’t need me to come home early?”
“Not at all.” He heard her breathing change as she walked the phone away from the chattering girls. “Cade. They’re happy and having a good time. Take this weekend and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned a break.”
He nodded. “If you’re sure.” He looked across the living room to where Karyn stood beside the bride. Both women were beauties, but Karyn’s curves put her into a whole other category. When he caught her glance he smiled because he couldn’t help it.
She brought out the happy in him.
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Also check out Not So Blue Christmas!
In this second chance at love romance, Kirk Fontaine can’t bear to talk to anyone, let alone enjoy Christmas. Away from home, in a small harbor city in Canada, broken-hearted, Kirk’s lost and alone until one small dog refuses to give up on him.
Vibrant widow Miranda Bailey is ready to move into the next phase of her life, except this Christmas is shaping up to be the worst since her husband’s death. But instead of hiding, she takes charge, and drags Kirk into her Christmas miracle.
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Multi-published author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. She believes life should be lived with joy and humour. You can find both in her earthy, irreverent, love stories. Sometimes her stories have a paranormal twist, likes curses and ghosts, other times not. But they’re always entertaining and guarantee a happy ending.
With three ongoing romance series (steamy paranormal, sexy contemporary and heartwarming Christmas) and contemporary family novels, she rarely spends a day without writing. She has written novels, novellas and short stories for Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself. Look for more exciting releases throughout 2017 and 2018…
For more info and sample chapters:
Find her here: https://www.bonnieedwards.com/
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Edwards/e/B001IO9UTO
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