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Authors: Kimberly Rose Johnson

Island Christmas

BOOK: Island Christmas
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Island Christmas

Wildflower B&B Romance 3

 

by Kimberly Rose Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflower B&B Romance Series

Island Refuge

Island Dreams

Island Christmas

 

ISLAND CHRISTMAS

Published by Mountain Brook Ink

White Salmon, WA U.S.A.

 

All rights reserved. Except for brief excerpts for review purposes, no part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission from the publisher.

 

The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Mountain Brook Ink, nor do we vouch for their content.

 

This story is a work of fiction. All characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Public domain.

ISBN 978-09960068-9-7

© 2015 Kimberly R. Johnson

 

The Team: Miralee Ferrell, Kathryn Davis, Nikki Wright, Hannah Ferrell, Laura Heritage

Cover Design: Indie Cover Design, Lynnette Bonner Designer

 

Mountain Brook Ink is an inspirational publisher offering books you can believe in.

 

 

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition 2015

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

I’d like to give a special thanks
to everyone who had a hand in putting this book together. It would not be what it is without you.

And it is with gratitude that I thank each of you, my readers. If you enjoy
Island Christmas
, I hope you will tell a friend about it. I cannot do what I do without you.

Finally to my family and friends, thank you for your support and for believing in me.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Rachel Narrelli tucked one hand into
her jacket pocket and with the other, held tighter to her small son’s hand as she gazed at the house that had changed the course of her life. Well, maybe the Wildflower Bed-and-Breakfast hadn’t, but the people here had, and it felt wonderful to be back. She took in the old Victorian house that looked so much nicer than the first time she’d visited. The white paint on the exterior, now a little more than three years old, looked as good as the day they painted it. She snickered.

“What’s so funny, Mommy?” Jason, her three-year-old son, tugged at her hand.

She squatted to his level. “I was thinking about the summer I spent here when you were in my tummy. I walked out that door,” she pointed toward the covered porch, “when the man who was painting wasn’t paying attention and painted
me
instead of the house.”

Jason giggled, the childlike sound infectious. She pulled him into a bear hug. “We won’t be here long, but I think you will like the B&B, Jasie. The owners are real nice. Mrs. Jackson is my new boss, too.”

“What’s a boss?”

She tapped his nose. “Someone who tells you what to do.”

He grinned and placed a hand on each side of her face. “You’re my boss, Mommy.”

“That’s right.” She stood and took his hand. “Now be on your best behavior.”

Little Jason, named after her late husband, or Jasie, as she so often called her active son, stood straight and raised his chin. She tried not to laugh, but he was so cute when he attempted to act like a big boy.

The screen door swung open and Zoe strode out, keys in hand, looking through her purse as she walked. She trotted down the stairs without looking up until her feet hit the pavement. “Rachel?”

She nodded. “It’s good to see you, Zoe. I can’t thank you enough for giving me a chance to cook with you.”

“Don’t thank me yet. You’ll have to prove you are as good as your instructor said.” She grinned and pulled Rachel into a hug. “I can’t believe you are really here. I mean, I knew you were coming, but it’s been so long.” She seemed to notice Jason for the first time. “And who is this?”

“This is my son, Jason.”

Zoe bent over and held out her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Jason. I’m Mrs. Jackson, but if it’s okay with your mom, you may call me Zoe.”

His eyes widened. “You’re my mommy’s boss.”

Zoe chuckled. “That’s right.” She turned her attention back to Rachel. “Things have changed quite a bit since you left. A woman named Jill manages the B&B now. I think you’ll like her. She actually reminds me a lot of you. Go ahead and get settled. I’ll see you later at the restaurant.”

“Okay.” It was difficult imagining someone besides Nick running the B&B, but considering he was practicing medicine again it made sense to bring in a manager.

Zoe skittered off to her red convertible, the same one she had when Rachel was here before. The car’s top was up. Rachel thought it looked better down, but November weather was too cold and wet for that.

“Come on, Jasie. Let’s go get settled. I hope we get the Poppy room, where I stayed the last time I was here.”

Her son stayed glued to her until they stepped inside and she released his hand. Jill, the woman Zoe mentioned, sat at the reception desk. Her long dark hair cascaded to the middle of her back in soft waves. She looked to be in her early thirties and wore a pleasant smile.

“Welcome to Wildflower Bed-and-Breakfast. You must be Ms. Narrelli.”

Rachel nodded. “Please call me Rachel. Ms. Narrelli makes me feel old.” At twenty-six, she was
not
old.

Jill nodded then handed her a key and a card. “All the information you should need is on the card, but feel free to ask if you have a question. Mrs. Jackson requested you be assigned the Poppy room. I trust it will be to your liking.”

Rachel nodded and wondered how this ultra-professional woman could possibly remind Zoe of her. A crashing sound in the sitting room accompanied by her son’s shrieking cry sent her running into the room. She sensed Jill close behind. A lamp lay overturned on a room-sized rug that covered the wood floor, and a frowning man bent over to pick it up. When he stood his vivid blue eyes caught hers. “Is this little dude yours?”

Jason raced to her and clung to her leg.

Rachel rested her hand on his shoulder as his body trembled. “What happened?” Jason could be a handful at times. She bit her bottom lip, determined to remain calm and polite.

Jason looked up at her. “I was playing ring-around-the-rosie.”

“Sorry about this,” she said to Jill and to the man who stood nearby. “Jason, please apologize.”

He looked to the ground. “Sorry.”

“No harm done,” Jill said, but her pinched smile indicated otherwise.

The guy shrugged. “I’m sure I knocked over more than my fair share of things as a boy. Look, the lamp is fine.” He placed it on the end table beside a leather chair.

Jason’s head popped up, and he gazed with admiration at the man, who in turn winked at her son.

Jill turned to her. “I assume you know your way to your room?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Excuse me then.” Jill pivoted and left the room.

Jason held up his arms. “Up.” Her precocious son, though very verbal for a three-year-old, still needed an afternoon nap, which he’d missed. She lifted him into her arms and warmed as he snuggled close.

The man stepped forward. “I’m Chris.”

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Rachel.”

He brushed a longish swoop of brown hair out of his eyes. “You’ve stayed at the Wildflower B&B before?”

She nodded as Jason went limp in her arms. Although he was a little guy, when he was completely relaxed, he quickly became heavy. “Excuse me. I should lay him down for a nap.” She turned and trudged up the stairs, torn between wanting to visit with the attractive man and taking her son to the room.

As she settled Jason in his bed, she thought about Chris. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties. He kind of reminded her of Christian Bale except for the blue eyes and black-rimmed glasses. His dark hair that tickled his shirt collar only added to his appeal. Based on his trim physique she suspected he knew his way around a gym.

She smoothed the comforter over her sweet boy and went to the window. As she gazed out she wondered what Chris did for a living—not that it mattered. Since he was hanging out in the B&B’s sitting room, he was probably here as a guest, which meant he was only visiting. Too bad. He intrigued her. Which was odd since he was the first man she’d noticed since her late husband’s death. She pushed all thoughts of Chris aside. She had Jason to think about, and a man passing through their lives would do more harm than good.

 

 

Chris ran a hand
over his five-o’clock shadow. The woman and her son were sure to liven things up. He’d been here a couple of days scouting for an investment property as well as a place for himself but hadn’t found anything on his own. It was time to employ the services of a Realtor in the know. Tomorrow morning he had an appointment with a local agent to go over the inventory on the island. So far his search had turned up little.

He’d lived lean for the past five years to save up enough cash to buy an income maker. A duplex would be ideal, but the idea of running a B&B appealed too. Ultimately his dream was to live off the profits of his investments. Even though he loved his job as a software developer, he’d always been interested in investing in the local real estate, and ever since Wildflower Resort had come to the island, the value of property had grown exponentially. Too bad he hadn’t had the money saved a few years ago.

He glanced toward the stairs where Rachel had been only seconds ago. The kid was cute, but his mom was even more so. Her husband was a lucky man. He wanted a family someday. He should have had one by now, but life didn’t always turn out as expected—especially when his ambitions made slowing down long enough to meet the love of his life difficult.

He folded the paper he’d been reading before the rascal knocked over the lamp, and strode toward the stairs. He detoured to the dining room and grabbed a plateful of goodies. Fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, dip, and lemon bars graced the table. He filled a plate with fruit and veggies. This would have to tide him over until this evening. He had reservations at the much talked about resort restaurant, Wildflower Fresh. Though the name was simple, the place was famous for fresh Northwest cuisine.

Plate in hand, he went up the stairs to his bedroom at the end of the hall. The deep green accent colors and four-poster bed suited his taste—rich and masculine, but not overly fussy. He’d spoken with Nick, the owner of the B&B, about the décor, since the idea of owning a place like this intrigued him. The man told him that his wife insisted on redecorating almost all of the guestrooms after they were married. From what he’d seen in old pictures the place had originally been filled with Victorian antiques. As far as he was concerned, the change was for the better.

He devoured the snack and spent about an hour or so working on his current project. If he was going to make this island home, he wanted to be familiar with it before investing his life savings. He grabbed his winter jacket and slipped it on as he headed out to explore.

A path leading toward the Sound drew him, in spite of the cold. He hurried along not willing to waste a second. He stepped onto the pebbled beach and breathed in deeply. Peace settled over him. For the first time in his life he had no doubts. This was his future. He believed it to his core. He picked up a smooth pebble, flinging it into the Sound. It skipped twice.

“That the best you can do?”

He whirled around. The new woman at the B&B stood a few feet from him. “Rachel, right? Where’s your son?”

She pointed off to the left where the boy stood near the water’s edge staring at the Sound with slumped shoulders. “He wants to swim. I told him the water is too cold. He had to see for himself.” She shrugged then bent down and picked up a smooth rock and flicked it at the water. It skipped four times.

He chuckled. “Competitive much?”

“Sorry.” She shot him a sheepish grin.

He clasped his hands behind his back. “What brings you to Wildflower Island?”

She glanced toward her son, never fully allowing her attention to drift from him. “I’ve been hired as the new sous chef at Wildflower Fresh. I’m super excited to work with Zoe. She’s the reason I went to culinary school.”

“Really? So your husband followed you here to the island?”

She flicked an indiscernible look his direction. “My husband died a few years ago. It’s just Jason and me now.”

“I’m sorry.” He understood her loss—had experienced more than his fair share. “I have reservations at Wildflower Fresh for this evening. The reviews have been impeccable.”

“Let’s hope they stay that way.” She grinned and glanced at her watch. “I have to drop Jason at the sitter’s house before I head to work. It’s time to go, Jasie,” she called to her son, and held out her hand. “I’ll see you around, Chris.”

He waved, then turned back to face the water. She was single and not a tourist. What were the chances two future island residents would be staying at the Wildflower B&B? He didn’t believe in coincidence, and now, more than ever, wondered what the future on the island held for him.

BOOK: Island Christmas
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