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Authors: Kaira Rouda

Tags: #Romance, #Island, #Southern, #Christmas

The Trouble with Christmas

BOOK: The Trouble with Christmas
8.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
The Trouble with Christmas

An Indigo Island Novella

Kaira Rouda


The Trouble with Christmas

Copyright © 2014 Kaira Rouda

Kindle Edition

The Tule Publishing Group, LLC


No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

ISBN: 978-1-940296-82-1


With special thanks to Sinclair Sawhney, Meghan Farrell, Lee Hyatt – the amazing team at Tule Publishing, and my fellow Southern Born authors celebrating
A Coastal Christmas –
Kim Boykin, Erika Marks and Tracy Solheim—it’s an honor to be with you all. Merry Christmas!

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page


Dear Reader

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Don’t miss Kaira Rouda’s Indigo Island Series

Southern Born Christmas Series

About the Author

Dear Readers,

As with the other books in the Indigo Island series,
The Trouble with Christmas
is set on an island much like Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. In this particular story, food plays a very central role and for inspiration I turned to the fabulous cookbook
Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way
by Sallie Ann Robinson. Robinson grew up on Daufuskie Island and was one of Pat Conroy’s students for the year he spent teaching in the island’s one room schoolhouse. His experience was captured in his novel
The Water is Wide.
My character, Sally Ann, is named in her honor.

I hope you’ll enjoy your visit to Indigo Island. It’s a magical place for the holidays, as is any place where you gather with your loved ones.

May all of your Christmas dreams come true!

Happy Reading! Happy Holidays!

Much love,


Chapter One


ily Edmonds gently
pulled another soft petal from the white daisy she held in her hand. Only one petal remained, and she looked down at the pile accumulating on the green picnic table on the back deck of her apartment. It was a brisk December day, deceptively cold in Atlanta, but Lily didn’t feel the chill.

He loves me not.
She tossed the stem to the ground. It had been a week since Bob’s phone call shattered her world and undermined all of the confidence Lily had built up in her thirty years on earth. She glanced down at the three-carat, emerald-cut diamond, sparkling on her left finger and again felt a spurt of tears.

“Keep the ring, Lily,” Bob had said at the end of the call. “We did have a great time together, and I’ll always care about you. I am sorry.”


He was sorry

After spending almost five years together, building a relationship, planning their future, talking about the children they would have, the life they would live, he was, simply,

Once she found out the reason he was dumping her, Lily had been furious. She still was. She had no idea how she would ever get over the betrayal. Her best friend, Avery Putnam, was expecting Lily and Bob to stay with her and her family for the holidays on Indigo Island. Lily knew she should call Avery and tell her, but she couldn’t make herself pick up the telephone. Denial was a powerful coping technique, and Lily was guilty of pretending if she didn’t tell anyone Bob had broken off their engagement, it might not be real. Pretending had become her life and how she’d been able to go to work at the restaurant each evening, a forced smile painted on her face.

Her routine had saved her. For the past week, at Alfredo’s Italian Restaurant in Buckhead, she had focused on her work as a pastry chef, and she continued to be especially proud of her ricotta cheesecake and Tiramisu she’d learned to create during culinary school. She added her own twists to make her confections uniquely hers and a patron favorite at Alfredo’s.

Lily swallowed and pushed back tears when she thought about other plans she and Bob had planned after their wedding—buying a building downtown and turning it into a bakery. Gone, she thought in despair. All her dreams were gone, erased by one phone call, and Bob no longer took her calls. Instead, he texted,
What’s the point
It’s over

Lily stood up and stretched her arms to the sky. The backyard of her apartment was as sad in winter as her heart. The grass was brown. The leaves had fallen from the giant oak trees gracing her neighborhood, leaving bare branches beseeching an empty grey sky. Lily had always made it a point to have a sunny floral arrangement in her apartment at all times. Just before Bob’s call, she’d purchased two dozen of her favorite white daisies from the flower store on the corner. She hadn’t even made a dent in the bunch during her new daily petal-plucking ritual. As she walked inside to get ready for work, Lily stared at the bouquet, resigned. She could pick petals for the rest of the week, but it wouldn’t matter what each daisy told her, she would never be able to change his heart.


As always, Alfredo’s
was packed with hungry diners who were the who’s who of Atlanta. For the most part, Lily worked busily at her pastry station, hidden, while the majority of the kitchen and wait staff, mostly male and Italian, bustled around her. Lily often thought she’d been hired fresh out of culinary school due more to her dark, glossy hair and chocolate brown eyes—so large in her small face she sometimes felt like a cartoon character—than she had been recruited for her pastry skills. She definitely could pass for Italian; Lily quickly swept her long hair into a topknot and put a white chef’s hat on her head.

Her ingredients were ready to go so she pulled a white apron on to protect her black, long sleeved t-shirt and black pants, her work uniform, which her manager insisted on just in case Lily was ever asked to come to the front of the house to talk to the guests. Luckily, that didn’t happen often.

“You never know, bella,” Sergio had said when he hired her, with his attempt at a seductive smile. “I would ask to meet you.”

She’d been at the restaurant almost three years now, and she might still feel like the shy little girl she’d been when she’d first been engulfed in the sunshine of Avery’s friendship so many years ago, but Lily had been able to hold her own with the male employees of Alfredo’s. She was all business in the kitchen.

Lily carefully added the finishing touch to a chocolate mousse, squeezing the cone-shaped pastry sleeve in her hand to write
Happy Birthday, James
on the top of the cake.

“Lily, table seven wants you to personally deliver the cake. Go on,” Sergio appeared at her side and pulled her chef’s hat from her head.

“Oh.” She fought the impulse to drag her hat back on and continue to hide. “I’m really not in the mood,” she said. “Just have Tony take it over.”

“The Putnams insist on having you deliver it. They tell me you’re part of their family? Nice family,” Sergio said.


Lily huffed out a breath. Her best friend had left her numerous voice mail messages all week, and sent texts Lily hadn’t returned because she just couldn’t face telling Avery about Bob. That would make her broken engagement real, permanent. No way could she keep the awful news a secret in front of Avery. Lily felt flustered as she pulled her top knot off and allowed her hair to cascade down her back.

She picked up the cake and walked into the small, intimate dining room, determined to find a smile and congratulate James. Then she could flee back to her kitchen and blissful pretending that everything would be okay and she would wake up from the nightmare of Bob’s defection. Avery grinned and jumped up to hug Lily the moment she spotted her. Lily managed to shift her stance to protect the cake. Mark, Avery’s husband, her brother James, and father Richard all stood politely.

“Hey, Avery, hello everyone,” Lily said, forcing a smile. “Happy birthday, James.”

“Surprise!” Avery said.

“Lily, dear, so good to see you,” Avery’s dad said and kissed her cheek as soon as she’d put the cake in front of James.

“You, too, all of you,” Lily said, bending to give Avery’s mom, Evalyn, a kiss on her cheek.

“How are you, dear? How’s Bob? When is the big day? We barely survived Avery’s wedding and now, well, I demand to be involved in planning yours,” Evalyn said. “You’re my second daughter, you know.”

Lily swallowed hard and nodded, but no way could she speak.

“You okay?” Avery asked softly as she wrapped Lily in a big hug. “I’ve been so worried. What is going on? Is it Bob?”

Lily nodded for the third time, purposefully avoiding eye contact with her beautiful blonde friend. Instead, she moved on to give James a hug. Even through her haze of misery, she noticed that for once he didn’t have a date. “Happy Birthday, James. Hope you all enjoy the cake. It’s so good to see you all. And Merry Christmas, if I don’t see you again before then.”

“It’s only December tenth, Lily, we’ll see you before Christmas. You’re coming to Indigo remember?” Avery said, hands on hips, watching her closely.

Lily wanted to escape their concerned eyes. “Would you like me to light the candle? Are we singing?”

James grimaced. “No, of course we aren’t singing.”

Lily remembered his embarrassment at public displays like a birthday cake, and she was thankful. Now she could make her exit.

BOOK: The Trouble with Christmas
8.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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