Authors: JoAnn Durgin
Tags: #christian Fiction
Starlight in Her Eyes
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Starlight in Her Eyes
COPYRIGHT 2015 by JoAnn Durgin
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Pelican Ventures, LLC except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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Contact Information: [email protected]
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.â¢ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com
Cover Art by
White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410
White Rose Publishing Circle and Rosebud logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC
First White Rose Edition, 2015
Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-552-4
Published in the United States of America
After the introduction of Colin Young in Sleigh Ride Together with You, I knew this series wouldn't be complete without his story! I hope you'll enjoy Colin's adventures in Starlight in Her Eyes as much as I loved writing them.
With deepest gratitude to Pelican Book Group and Senior Editor Nicola Martinez, I dedicate this final installment in the Starlight Christmas Series to my faithful readers. I love nothing more than bringing you stories that shine with the love, grace, and mercy of our Heavenly Father.
Monday Morning, Early December
Colin Young tugged off his glove and punched a quick succession of numbers on the keypad. “Please let that be right.” He hoped his memory hadn't gone numb along with his fingers in the near-freezing temperatures. When he heard the telltale click on the door and spied the flashing green light, he cracked a grin. “We have liftoff. Good morning, Philadelphia!”
After pulling open the heavy steel door, he stepped inside the building, bringing with him the sound of jingle bells as well as a mini-squall of wet snow. Shivering in his wool overcoat, he brushed flurries from the sleeves and stamped his feet on the floor mat. “Brrr! Why does it have to be so coldâ¦?” He stopped as he spied a pair of shapely ankles showcased in deep red, high-heeled shoes.
“You're late.” Serena Monroe approached him with a pointed glance at her watch. Ah, yes, the senior producer's ever-dutiful assistant, AKA, his personal watchdog. As usual, the frown line between her brows surfaced. She'd perfected the look, but in her early thirties or thereaboutsânear to his ageâshe should be careful, or that line might become permanently embedded. Her chestnut-colored hair was twisted in a bun at the back of her head, making it difficult to tell how far down those tresses reached, although he suspected halfway to her trim waist. As always, Serena wore her trendy but somewhat masculine eyeglasses, and her lips were set in a firm line. Rosy red lips, but that was neither here nor there.
“I beg to differ, love. I wasn't on time, and there's a difference.” Colin graced her with his most charming smile as he shrugged out of his overcoat. “Not to mention I have a legitimate reason which even you might find sentimental.”
“I doubt it.” No-Nonsense Serena took his coat and handed it off to one of the interns who always seemed to be lurking about the premises. Her gaze skimmed over his designer shirt and jeans before she cast a wary glance at his feet. “Please don't tell me you're wearing jingle bells on your shoes.”
“Fine, then. I'll show you.” He hiked the bottom of his jeans and lifted a red high-top sneaker. “Notice the reindeer nose on the laces. Pitiful or not, it's my attempt to infuse a bit of festiveness into my new place of employment. I'll have you know my choice of footwear generated smiles and holiday greetings during my morning walk from the apartment to the station.”
“'Tis the season and all that.”
“You're a novelty,” Serena said. “I'm sure they don't know what to make of you.”
“Yes, well, I'm more of the âGod bless us, everyone!' mentality than âBah! Humbug!' If any unseemly types are roaming the streets, I'd rather they love me before they shove me, and hug me before they mug me.”
Serena shook her head and resumed walking down the hallway.
The network transfer from Des Moines to
Wake Up, Philadelphia!
had been a huge coup for his television broadcasting career. After months of contract wrangling, he'd finally arrived two weeks before Thanksgiving to find the television station desperately in need of a revival. Seemed the higher-ups held expectations that he might boost the ratings for their aging program as well as bolster employee morale. No pressure there, but he felt up to the challenge or he'd go down trying.
Serena checked her clipboard. “Have you had anything to eat this morning? We can't have your stomach rumbling. The mic will pick it up.”
When he didn't answer immediately, Serena darted into the lunchroom three doors down. In less than a half-minute, she returned and handed him a holiday-themed napkin along with an English muffin smothered in a layer of chunky peanut butter. His breakfast of choice. The woman paid attention and must have been lying in wait for his morning arrival. Scary thought, even though it's what the station paid her to do.
“Much obliged. You may now cross âColin's breakfast' off your handy-dandy list.” Colin took a bite and then licked his lips. “Hmm. Yummy.”
“The show goes live in forty minutes. Not a good day to be late.” Serena's heels clicked on the hard floor as she marched with her trusty clipboard under one arm and an enormous black handbag looped over the opposite shoulder. The vintageâcirca Age of Aquariusâred and white patterned dress she wore revealed her sense of personal style and femininity to great advantage. Somewhere beneath Serena's prim-and-proper exterior was an intriguing woman begging to come out and play.
“If there's ever a good day to be late, please be so kind as to let me know. Never fear, love. I'll have plenty of time to meet and greet the audience before we go live.” With a few quick bites, Colin devoured the English muffin. Crumpling the napkin, he dropped it in the nearest trash receptacle. “Come now, Serena.” He followed her into the elevator and the doors closed. “Please try to show the new guy a measure of goodwill.”
After exiting the elevator on the fifth floor, Colin kept pace beside her as they walked. Click clack.
“I was detained in traffic behind yellow buses carrying schoolchildren eager to kiss the famous Liberty Bell.” He ran one hand through his hair, still damp from the fresh snowfall. “The symbolism of a cracked bell will never cease to amaze me.”
Serena's features momentarily softened. Much better. “Visitors come to hear the history of the Liberty Bell and to remember its significance to American citizens. Not to kiss it. Or to see its famous crack.”
He grinned and cleared his throat at her last statement, determined not to chuckle.
The corners of Serena's mouth quirked. “I'm sure you're aware it was cast in London and the clapper cracked the bell during its very first use.”
“Your point?” Feigning shock, Colin moved one hand over his heart. “Please don't tell me you're making a generalized statement of the defectiveness of all things made in London.”
“Depends. Where were you born?”
Colin grunted. “Surrey.” Maybe there was humor and spontaneity hidden beneath this woman's stoicism. Without a doubt, she understood the fundamentals of irony.
“Close enough,” she said. “Once you've settled in Philadelphia a bit more, you should take some field trips. Familiarize yourself with the city. The Christmas season is especially fun.”
“Now there's a thought. Are you offering to personally escort me about the City of Brotherly Love?” Since he'd started at the station, Serena had been all-business while he preferred a much less confined way of living. Well, at least the old Colin Young did. The new and improved version was still finding his way as a Bible-believing, Christian man. Far from perfect, but he was trying.
“I'm offering to escort you from the back door to your various stations each morning and ensure you're on the set for the sound check fifteen minutes ahead of the broadcast. The rest is up to you.” Holding the door, Serena ushered him into yet another hallwayâthis building had endless floors and hallways, and certainly more than the Des Moines television station. Besides that, whatever happened to the old-fashioned custom of a man holding the door for a woman? Perhaps Serena hadn't been around enough gentlemen.
“Tell me something, Serena. What do you do for fun during the holidays? Rescue lonely Christmas trees? Find orphaned animals a good home?” He needed to trim his sarcasm. For all he knew, the woman worked tirelessly for the underprivileged.
“Something like that.” And again with the clicking of her heels as she moved farther down the hallway.
Moving ahead of her, Colin made sure to open the remaining doors.
“Thank you,” Serena said with a nod of appreciation.
A small victory, but he'd take it.
Ten minutes later, the hair stylistâMarla, a surprisingly jovial woman considering she had five children under the age of twelveâhovered about him. Her every movement evoked the strong scent of peppermint. As Colin watched in the mirror, she artfully arranged his blond hair so that it fell in natural waves, mussed in a somewhat rakish-looking way that also suggested urban hipness. Or so Marla claimed.
His gaze moved to where Serena was reading a book in a corner chair. She'd kicked off her shoes and curled her long legs beneath her. For once, she wasn't studying notes on her clipboard, but presented the image of a woman in repose. The festive cover of her book featured a man and woman in one another's arms under mistletoe. Fascinating. She struck him as more the highbrow type who'd prefer classic literature to a holiday romance.
After twisting off the cap of his water bottle, Colin took a long drink as he surveyed Serena. Quite a fetching picture she presented. “What has you so engrossed over there?”
Serena's cheeks colored a becoming shade of pink. “Nothing, really. Just a silly book.”
“If it prompts such a wistful expression from you, it's decidedly not silly.”
“It's mindless fun and heartwarming.” She closed the book and tucked it inside her handbag. “I only read this type of book during the holidays.” A touch of defensiveness edged Serena's slightly southern accent.
He hadn't a clue where she'd been born except to assume it was somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
After grabbing her rather spectacular red shoes, she pushed her feet into them.
Colin couldn't resist. “If reading a holiday romance novel puts you in a charitable frame of mind toward God, country, and your fellow man, then I'm all for it.”
Based on her quick frown, perhaps his comment was a tad cheeky.
“Couldn't you just listen to Colin's yummy accent all day?” Marla winked at Serena. “No matter what he says in that deep, sexy voice of his, he sounds so cultured and sophisticated. I don't know any American man who could get away with saying
Serena avoided his gaze and rose to her feet. “I'm sure Colin's accent covers a multitude of sins.”
Colin stared at her, momentarily stunned. He'd built his career on the ability to come back with a quick retort, but this woman had caught him unaware. Did she honestly hold such a low opinion of him? He'd apparently need to do more than open doors for Serena to prove he was a decent sort.