Christmas in Good Hope (A Good Hope Novel Book 1) (27 page)

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Snowflakes, large and fluffy, were falling when Ami stepped into Muddy Boots on Christmas morning, her fiancé at her side. To her surprise, her entire family had already arrived and was hard at work.

Ami stood for a moment in the doorway, inhaling the scent of pine from the small, decorated tree someone had placed in the corner of the café. With Beck’s arm draped around her shoulders, she soaked in the melodious croon of Bing Crosby and the excited chatter of familiar voices. A wave of contentment washed over her.

The past twenty-four hours felt like a dream. A very nice dream. Last night, over a meal of smoked whitefish chowder and crusty French bread, her father and sisters had toasted her and Beck’s engagement. After enjoying coffee and their choice of dessert, they’d all headed off to church.

There had been one hard moment, when Anita had appeared and taken a seat in the pew beside their father. As their dad had made it clear earlier in the day that, while he would always love their mother, he was ready to move on, Ami and her sisters had done their best to make the woman feel welcome.

Like a dollop of fresh whipped cream on a perfectly made cherry pie, the night had been topped off with caroling in the town square.

Being together had been such a joyful experience that the Bloom family had decided to spend Christmas Day giving back, which meant Beck had a whole troop of volunteers for his first annual Muddy Boots Family Christmas Dinner.

When Fin had asked last night why he’d called it a family dinner, Beck’s answer had only made Ami love him more. In addition to blood ties, family, he told his future sister-in-law, could be those brought together by community.

Since family wasn’t expected to pay when they came to your home for a holiday dinner, the meal was free. Although a Giving Tree donation jar sat on the counter, there was no pressure to donate.

Red and white carnations in bud vases, donated by the Enchanted Florist, decorated the tables and added to the festive atmosphere. Tom manned the kitchen with Hadley’s and Izzie’s assistance.

Ami and her sisters had brought the pies while Anita had furnished the cakes. She’d also brought Lindsay and Dakota along to help serve.

“Have you thought any more about when you’ll tie the knot?” Prim asked as she and Ami cleared a table to make room for another family.

“We discussed it last night.” Ami glanced in Beck’s direction. When he gave her a wink, she grinned like an idiot before turning back to Prim. “It’ll take some quick planning, but we decided on a June wedding.”

“I’d marry her tomorrow if it were up to me.” Beck stepped close and wrapped his arms around his fiancée, lifting her hair to plant a kiss on the back of her neck.

Laughing, Ami pulled away, and the large diamond on her left hand caught the light. “Mind your manners. There are children present.”

Beck glanced at the twins, who were busy swatting each other with cloths originally meant to clean the tables. “I don’t think we need to worry about them.”

“I’ll be back.” Heaving a weary sigh, Prim hurried across the dining room. “Boys, stop that this instant.”

Ami chuckled. “God willing, that will be our life in a couple of years.”

As Beck watched the twins dodge their mother, a thankfulness for all his blessings swamped him.

He tugged Ami close and kissed her softly on the mouth. “I can hardly wait.”

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Photo © 2013 Marti Corn Photography


Cindy Kirk started writing after taking a class at a local community college, but her interest in the written word started years earlier, when she was in her teens. At sixteen she wrote in her diary, “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer.”

It took Cindy years to return to her first love—writing. Unlike some authors, Cindy wasn’t interested in shorter works; she jumped feetfirst into book-length fiction. She loves reading and writing romance because she believes in happily ever after.

An incurable romantic, Cindy loves seeing her characters grow and learn from their mistakes and, in the process, achieve happy endings.

Cindy hopes that once you read her books you’ll be able to tell she is an eternal optimist, one who truly believes in the power of love. She invites you to kick off your shoes, pick up one of her books, and get to know her.

She and her high school sweetheart husband live on an acreage in Nebraska with their two dogs.

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