Read Christmas in Cupid Falls Online

Authors: Holly Jacobs

Christmas in Cupid Falls

BOOK: Christmas in Cupid Falls
13.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

Text copyright © 2014 Holly Jacobs

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

 

Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle

 

www.apub.com

 

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake are trademarks of
Amazon.com
, Inc., or its affiliates.

 

ISBN-13: 9781477825037

ISBN-10: 1477825037

 

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014905948

To Jessica: This one’s for you!

PROLOGUE

The Legend of Cupid Falls, Pennsylvania

To the south of Erie, Pennsylvania—south of the Great Lake that shares a name with the city—is Falls Creek. It is bigger than most creeks, but not quite large enough to be considered a river. It runs through field and forest to a ridge, carved millennia ago by a glacier. There, it plunges over the edge, falling to a hollowed-out swimming hole before becoming a creek again and meandering on its way.

Local legend has it that when George Washington visited the nearby town of Waterford in 1753, one of his retinue was touring the area. The locals took him to the falls, and there he met a farmer’s daughter. He married her later that same year and they settled near the creek. Years later, their daughter went to the falls with a group of friends and noticed that one of the boys in the group might be more than a friend. They married later that same year. And so it went, year after year, decade after decade, couple after couple, until the small waterfall, which in actuality was little more than a creek tumbling over a small cliff, became known as Cupid’s Falls.

When a town grew up a few miles away, the residents named it Cupid Falls as an homage to their waterfall.

And to this day, it is said that when two people meet at the falls and declare their love, they are destined for a long, happy romanc
e . . .

Even if that’s not what they went to the falls looking for.

CHAPTER ONE

“Arf, arf,” Clarence Harding barked as he entered Kennedy Anderson’s shop minutes after she’d opened for the day. He pulled off his thick knit cap and exposed an ice-grey head of hair. “Mornin’, Mayor.”

“Good morning, Clarence. And it’s Cupid’s
Bow
quet. Bo—long
O
. Bow, like bow and arrow—Cupid’s bow and arrow. It’s not bow, short
O
, like bowwow.”

For more than three decades, Kennedy’s aunt had owned the flower shop and it had been Betty’s Flowers. But Aunt Betty had been gone three years. This was Kennedy’s shop now, and she thought it was a great marketing strategy to play off the town’s name. Last year she’d realized that when you lived in Cupid Falls, Pennsylvania, Cupid’s
Bow
quet was a perfect name for a flower shop.

“It’s a dumb name, Mayor, if you don’t mind me saying.”

Kennedy did mind, but she was enough of a businesswoman not to say so. “What brings you in today, Clarence?”

“Seems I’ll be needing to send the old ball and chain some flowers. I got in late and ran over her new frog.”

Joan Harding collected frogs. Lots of frogs. They were everywhere inside and outside of her house. She even had some plastic bullfrogs she’d nailed into her giant maple tree and proudly told everyone they were tree frogs.

Clarence pulled off his gloves and stuffed them in his heavy winter coat’s pocket. “Course, I don’t know how she could tell I ran one over. I hid the pieces and there must be about a million frogs around now. Plus we’ve got all this sno
w . . .
” He shrugged, as if figuring out the mystery of his wife was too much for him.

Clarence was a regular. It seemed he was always doing one thing or another to annoy Joan, but crushing a frog called for more than just some flowers. “It just so happens I might have something to get you out of the doghouse.”


Fro
g
house is how I put it,” he grumbled. “And I seem to be in it more than any man should be.”

Despite his less-than-endearing endearment
ball and chain
, Kennedy had seen Clarence and Joan together. She knew they fit. They worked. Clarence might get in trouble for running over frogs, but the Hardings were one of those couples that no one could imagine not being together.

She liked to think her small flower shop helped to keep them that wa
y . . .
together.

“One of the vendors I order from had these, and I thought of you when I ordered it.” Kennedy reached under the counter and pulled out a small box and slid it across the counter toward the elderly gentleman.

Clarence opened the lid and pulled out a frog planter. “Now, this is just the ticket. The perfect thing to get me out of trouble. You’ll stick some plant or something in it for her?”

“Definitely,” Kennedy assured him. Clarence was the kind of customer she liked to think of as job security. “Do you have anything in mind?”

He handed her the planter. “Whatever you want, Mayor. Bill me, okay?”

“Sure thing, Clarence. I’ll deliver it this afternoon.”

“Maybe I’ll be out of the froghouse before dinner then. See ya later, Mayor.”

The bell rang merrily as he left.

That was easy. Maybe she’d be lucky and the rest of the day would go that smoothly. Kennedy really, really needed an easy day.

She was in the back workroom transplanting a spider plant into the frog planter when the bell out front rang again. “Coming,” she called as she pulled off her gloves.

Kennedy didn’t groan when she saw May Williams scowling in her direction. She knew without a doubt that this wasn’t about flowers. May visited even more frequently than Clarence, but to the best of Kennedy’s knowledge, May had never ordered anything. No, flowers weren’t May’s reason for visiting. She was here to complain about something. May came in at least once a week to complain about something.

There was an actual mayor’s office at the Town Hall, the small brick building farther down Main Street—Cupid Falls’ small business district. Town Hall also housed the one-man police department, the one-man streets crew, and the volunteer fire department. It also had a big meeting room where the town council met on a monthly basis. But Kennedy did 90 percent of the town’s business from right here in the shop. Being mayor of a small town had some advantages, and working from the flower shop was one of them.

She forced her best business smile. “Good morning, May. How are you today?”

“I’m lucky to be alive, Kennedy, and that’s the God’s honest truth of it. Jay Peterson hasn’t shoveled since yesterday’s snow, and his sidewalk is a hazard. I’m seventy-one years old, and when I walk in Cupid Falls, I don’t think it’s too much to expect a clear sidewalk.”

Kennedy didn’t think it was wise to point out that Jay Peterson was well past eighty himself. “You’re right, May, it’s not. I’ll give Jay a shout. I know he has someone who normally shovels for him. I’ll see if he can call them over now.”

“I’m heading down to the drugstore and I’ll expect it cleared before I walk home. Good day, Kennedy.” And with that, May flounced out of the store.

Kennedy called down to Jay’s, but no one answered his phone. She knew she could call the town’s street crew, which was a fancy name for Lamar. He took care of everything from patching roadways to plowing the streets in the winter. She didn’t call, though, because he was probably still out removing the last of the snow from Cupid Falls’ residential streets.

Jay’s house was one block over, so Kennedy, who’d campaigned with the slogan
The buck stops here
, put on her own oversize parka and gloves, flipped the sign on the front door to “Back in a minute,” and took her shovel down the street. Five minutes later, Jay’s sidewalk was clear. She was unlocking the front door of the store when she heard a car pull up behind her at the curb.

She turned, ready to call out a greeting to whomever it was. Cupid Falls was small enough that she knew everyone except the occasional out-of-towner.

The smile on her face evaporated as Malcolm Carter IV got out of his black Pilot.

“Hi, Kennedy,” he called as if he’d seen her only last week. “Pap said you wanted to see me as soon as I got in town.”

“Wanted? That is not quite how I’d put it,” she clarified.

Needed
to see you is closer.” She opened the door to the flower shop and said, “You might as well come in.”

Kennedy had known this particular conversation was inevitable, but that didn’t mean she was looking forward to it. As Malcolm came in, he seemed to fill the doorway. He was a big man. Almost six feet tall. But it wasn’t his height that made him stand out. He was simply dark-haired, chiseled-bone-structure, designer-suit-wearing perfection.

Well, not perfection.

No. She wouldn’t allow herself to think of Malcolm as perfect. She wouldn’t even allow herself to think of him as Mal anymore.

Mal was the boy next door.

Mal was the high school football hero.

Mal was the kid who she’d had a slight crush on once upon a time.

Malcolm
was a self-assured, successful attorney. That was the man she had to deal with.

Like May—some people needed to be handled.

So Kennedy put on her best professional front and simply faced the problem head-on.

She didn’t flip the sign on the door back to “Open” because she didn’t want any customers or constituents interrupting this particular talk.

“Why don’t you come in the back?” She didn’t wait for his reply. She simply turned and walked into the back room, which served as her office slash workroom. “Have a seat.” She pointed to one of the chairs in front of her desk.

Malcolm slipped off his coat before he sat down. “So?”

Kennedy didn’t know how to say the words even though she’d known she was going to have to tell him sooner or later. She’d actually thought it was going to be sooner. Much sooner. Malcolm was supposed to come into town months ago. But his visit with Pap kept getting pushed back.

And now she didn’t know what to say, how to tell him.

Well, she didn’t really need words.

She simply unzipped her parka and then slid it off. She watched Malcolm’s expression move from curiosity to shock.

“You’re going to be a father soon” was all she said as she rested her hand on her ever-expanding baby bump.

Malcolm stared at Kennedy, and suddenly all of Pap’s pestering made sense. His grandfather had never nagged him before, but last week he went beyond asking and instead practically ordered Mal to come home. Mal lived in Pittsburgh, which was only a couple of hours away. He tried to come home as often as possible. He’d fully intended to be here sooner, but as an attorney, his schedule was not always his own. He practiced corporate law, and some of his biggest clients had recently had major acquisitions and projects. He had to put their needs first.

And right now, thinking about his clients seemed far easier than thinking about the implications of Kennedy’s announcement.

“How long until the baby?” he asked, more as a stalling tactic than anything. Because he knew exactly what night this child was conceived. April first. This was the ultimate April Fool’s joke.

“Less than two months,” she said gently. “Around Christmas.”

“And you were going to tell m
e . . . 
?” He let the question hang there.

Gone was the gentle Kennedy Anderson, and in her place was a spitfire whose blue-grey eyes snapped with annoyance. Her strawberry-blonde hair looked redder under the heat of that look. “Obviously, I was going to tell you as soon as you came home. I was going to tell you back in July, when you were supposed to come in town for the fireworks. Then a few weeks after that an
d . . .

He’d had at least half a dozen aborted visits scheduled since April. He wouldn’t be here now if his grandfather hadn’t called him to say he was re-retiring. Malcolm was the actual owner of the Cupid Falls Community Center even though Pap ran it. If his grandfather retired, Malcolm didn’t have any choice but to come deal with the business.

But now, Malcolm realized, it wasn’t the Center Pap wanted him to deal with. It was Kennedy. Kennedy and her baby.

Kennedy and his baby.

Their baby.

He’d obviously been silent for too long, because she finally said, “I didn’t think this was the kind of news to share over the phone, or in an e-mail.”

“You could have come to Pittsburgh,” he pointed out. “It’s only a couple hours.”

“I’m the mayor of a small town and the sole proprietor of the shop. Two hours down, two hours back. It’s easier said than done. You could have come to see Pap sooner. It’s only been a little over half a year since he lost your mom, his only daughter. He’s been lonely. He’s needed family around him. He’s needed you.”

Mal gripped the arm of the chair and studied her. “You’re scolding me?”

Kennedy finally sank into the chair next to his. “Yes, I guess I was. Your grandfather has always been there for you and your mother. Losing he
r . . .
well, he still hasn’t recovered from that. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. He needed you. But you took off and went back to your life in Pittsburgh without a backwards glance. You left him to deal with his pain on his own.”

“My schedule—”

Kennedy held up her hand. “I get it.
We all get it
, Malcolm. The entire town gets it. You’re an important, big-city lawyer. How you handle your grandfather is on you and I have no right to interfere. I wanted you to know about the baby. I also wanted to tell you that I don’t want or expect anything from you. But you deserved to hear it from me before you heard it on the streets. Cupid Falls has been all abuzz that their unmarried mayor’s pregnant. You wouldn’t have made it far before someone said something, and since you can do basic math, it wouldn’t take you much longer than that to know that the baby is yours.”

“So what are we going to do?”

Kennedy looked surprised. She leaned backward in the chair and twisted a strand of hair around her finger. It was back to looking more blonde than red. She twisted and stared at him with her oddly colored eyes.

Those eyes.

They’d intrigued him since he first met Kennedy in high school. They weren’t blue. They weren’t grey. They were a sort of combination and on any given day looked more one color than the other. Today they were a biting blue.

She stopped twirling her hair and leaned forward.

We
won’t be doing anything.
I
will be having a baby in a few weeks and then I’ll come back to work.”

“We—” He cut off his retort as he remembered the snow shovel that Kennedy had been carrying when he arrived.

“You were shoveling snow,” he accused.

Kennedy Anderson was pregnant with his child and she was shoveling snow. He might not be a doctor or an expert on pregnancy, but he knew that there was no way that she should be out in the snow, shoveling.

“Yes, I was. And if you’re looking for a list of my day’s activities, before that I was transplanting a spider plant into a frog, and before that—”

BOOK: Christmas in Cupid Falls
13.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Avondale V by Toby Neighbors
Wave Warrior by Lesley Choyce
Tale of Samuel Whiskers by Potter, Beatrix
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Missing or Murdered by Robin Forsythe
Crewel Yule by Ferris, Monica, Hughes, Melissa
Western Wind by Paula Fox