There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love.
She saw him in her dreams . . .
It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face-to-face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there an even greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have.
She was his buddy’s sister . . .
Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and one of his fellow soldiers loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son . . . and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet, sexy smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?
“Hon, if I put another thing on top of that pile, you’re not going to be able to see where you’re going.”
Undaunted, Naomi Luther dropped her shoulders. The subtle move lowered the boxes stacked in her arms about half an inch. She was a pro. For the past five years, she’d owned Perfect Fit, a personal-shopping business. She had this.
“Lookee,” Naomi said. “If you take that last box out of the bag, there’s enough room to slide it right on top of the others. And I’ll be able to hold it all down with my chin.”
The older woman behind the counter, Patsy Crouch, looked skeptical. “One false move and the whole shebang will come crashing down.”
“I’ll be fine,” Naomi reassured her with a jovial grin. “Go ahead. Stock it to me.”
“You are so funny,” Patsy laughed. “It’s amazing the way you’ve bounced back after—”
“Gotta keep my spirits up for Hunter.” She polished her smile, brightening its sheen. Hoping to head Patsy off at the pass. This Christmas mustbe a happy one. Which granted, was hard to pull off when everyone in town kept recounting her family’s sorrows.
“How are things with Robert?” Patsy asked.
Naomi pressed her lips together. She didn’t want to get into her love life. Or lack there of. “Robert and I are….”
What was her situation with her long-distance boyfriend? She wished she knew. When Robert took the job in Denver, they’d had an understanding. Robert would get his life and career in Colorado established and then she would join him and they’d get married. It wasn’t an official engagement. Nothing formal. He’d not asked for her hand in marriage. But she’d planned on marrying him since she was a junior in high school. She had a hope chest, and a wedding idea book stuffed with dreams.
But since last Christmas, everything had changed. And Naomi was no longer quite sure where she and Robert stood. She hadn’t seen him in four months. They texted, but it was not daily. They’d both been so busy. Shocked, she realized they hadn’t even talked on the phone in over a month.
“It’s complicated,” she said as much to herself as to Patsy. “All my focus is on Hunter right now. It has to be.”
“Does that mean he’s free to date other people?”
That pulled her up short. She hadn’t really thought about it. Robert hadn’t mentioned wanting to see other people. Was he seeing other people?
“How about you?”
Naomi made a dismissive sound. “If I had time for dating I could fly to Denver every few weeks and reconnect with Robert..”
“Robert’s not coming around to the idea of you adopting Hunter, is he?” Patsy looked at her over the rim of the reading glasses perched on the end of her nose. “That’s the real issue.”
Patsy made a good point, but she wasn’t going to discuss that. She and her parents had decided as a family that Naomi should be the one to adopt Hunter since her mother’s health was fragile and her parents were both over sixty. Robert hadn’t understood, and asked why her parents were trying to “saddle” her with her dead brother’s baby.
They’d had a huge fight over it. He didn’t get that adopting Hunter had been heridea, not her folks. In fact, they’d tried to dissuade her, telling her they didn’t want her to give up her life to raise her brother’s child. But Hunter was everything to her.
Her relationship with Robert had not been the same since, even though he’d apologized, and they’d smoothed things over.
On the surface, anyway.
“I’m sure everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.” Patsy took the box out of the shopping bag she’d just put it in.
“Hopefully..” Naomi felt unsettled by Patsy’s questions because she didn’t know the answers, and she hated not being in control.
“How’s your mother?” Patsy’s voice lowered, knitting a sympathetic tone.
Naomi flinched at the pity, but kept the smile pasted on her face. Nothing was gonna get her down. The family had been steeped in sorrow long enough. Being happy didn’t mean they still didn’t grieve their losses. But if she’d learned anything, it was that life was short and you had to make the most of it.
And hey, in high school, she hadn’t been a cheerleader for nothing. Rah, Rah Twilight Titans.
“I know this is a rough time of year for your family. The holidays—”
“We’re fine.” Her smile stiffened, but she kept her voice loose. A flag flapping in the breeze. Oh, say can you see, life is good, good, good. “We’re doing great. Honest.”
“You’ve all suffered a huge loss.” Patsy added the box to the leaning Tower of Pisa in Naomi’s arms. “It’s okay to grieve. I—”
“Could you open the door for me, please? Thank you.” Naomi locked her elbows to help brace the load. Mashed her chin against the top package. Squelched the sad feelings rising up inside her.
None of that, Missy.
“How far to your van?” Patsy asked.
“It’s in the shop. Transmission overhaul. It’ll be out of commission all week.” But she wasn’t letting the inconvenience get her down.
“So how are you getting all this home?”
“Jana’s swinging around to pick me up at the curb.”
“You sure you don’t need help getting the packages into Jana’s Jeep?” Patsy folded the empty bag emblazoned with a teal peacock and stuck it back inside the drawer.
“Juggling packages is all part of the Christmas fun, right?”
Patsy hustled across the old wooden floor to open the door, moving fast for a woman in her late sixties. “Do mind your step, hon, and watch out for the workmen setting up Dickens.”
During the first weekend in December, tourists flocked to Twilight. Looking for fun at the annual Dickens on the Square festival. Normally, Naomi loved this time of year. But after last year’s tragedies…
Stop. No unwanted thoughts. Come hell or high water, this was going to be the best Christmas ever. No excuses.
With the packages blocking her view, Naomi inched down the stairs of the Teal Peacock. Workmen were stringing electrical cords and wiring. Two crewmembers carried neon orange sawhorses. They were using them to block off the cross streets.
Dang it. Now, Jana wouldn’t be able to drive through that way and pick her up. She’d have to wait on the curb with her unwieldy load while Jana circled around to the back of the building.
No worries, no worries. Smile. Life is good. Yes, her arms were screaming at her to put down the packages, but she could ignore the burn for a little longer.
Hurry, Jana, hurry.
It was okay. Achy arms weren’t going to kill her, and it wasn’t as if she didn’t have a loving community to help. Things were so much better than they were a year ago. She counted her blessings. She was healthy. Her business was turning a profit. She had parents who loved her. She lived in the best small town in Texas.
And she had the sweetest little boy who was about to become her son. Who could ask for anything more?
Lori Wilde is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers’ Weekly bestselling author of 85 works of romantic fiction. She’s a three time Romance Writers’ of America RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Readers’ Choice Award. She has won numerous other awards as well. Her books have been translated into 26 languages, with more than four million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her breakout novel, The First Love Cookie Club, has been optioned for a TV movie.
Lori is a registered nurse with a BSN from Texas Christian University. She holds a certificate in forensics, and is also a certified yoga instructor.
A fifth generation Texan, Lori lives with her husband, Bill, in the Cutting Horse Capital of the World; where they run Epiphany Orchards, a writing/creativity retreat for the care and enrichment of the artistic soul.
Age Range: 4 – 8 years | Grade Level: Preschool – 3
A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!
“With delightful rhymes, How to Catch an Elf slots itself into place along such classics as “The Night Before Christmas.”―Foreword Reviews
You’ve been waiting all year long, and now it’s finally Christmas Eve! Is this the year you’ll finally catch an elf? Start a new Christmas tradition with this hilarious children’s book from the creators of the New York Times best-seller How to Catch a Leprechaun!
“It’s Christmas Eve! Hip hip, hooray! Yes, Santa’s coming ’round. He’s bringing toys to girls and boys in every house in town.”
“Some kids have tried to catch him, but Santa’s fast, you see! So they’ve set their eyes on a smaller prize, and now they’re after me!”
It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa needs YOUR help in this fun, interactive picture book from the New York Times bestselling author of How to Catch an Elf!
It’s Christmas Eve, and everything at the North Pole is going according to plan…until an elf discovers that Santa doesn’t have a present ready for Mrs. Claus! Time is running out, and you’re the only one who can help. But you’ll have to honk, whistle, wiggle, and shake to make things turn out all right.
I am a New York Times Bestselling author who loves writing stories that make children laugh and get excited about reading and drawing and writing and naps and music. As in I like naps and music. The books don’t make kids excited about naps and music.
I now have over 45 books published and out in the world, and love each one as if it were my child … except if that child is like really naughty and always breaks my favourite things and writes bad words on the walls of our house.
Instinct kicks in as Frankie Chandler, former Navy nurse, now soon to be veterinarian, witnesses an accident and rushes to save a man’s life. When State Trooper Rory Sanders arrives on the scene, he’s awestruck at the sight of the gorgeous woman taking charge. Once the frenzy is over, both are reluctant to walk away from their mutual attraction. But they’ll each have to get beyond their hesitations, such as Rory telling himself it’s okay to let love in while raising his daughter after losing his wife, and Frankie who’s never had a serious relationship in her life because she’s been focused on school while also helping raise her nephew. Will the power of love win out and make their Christmas wishes come true?
Widower, Florida State Trooper Rory Sanders encounters ex-Naval nurse, Frankie Chandler, at a road-side accident. One look has him bewildered at his instant attraction. Is it a sign that he’s ready to open his heart in order to find love again?
While pursuing her degree in veterinary science as well as helping raise her young nephew, Frankie doesn’t have time for a relationship. But fate has no concept of time when the striking Rory Sanders bursts onto the scene.
Rory ran to the scene and catalogued what was happening. An older man stood by while a younger man and a woman were crouched down attempting to pull someone out of the car. He couldn’t see the woman’s face as her back was to him. All he could see was a red and black flannel shirt atop jeans that fit snugly to a shapely backside.
Jesus! What’s wrong with you? You’re at an accident, not here to ogle this woman!
As he got closer, he heard the woman yell, “Three!” And everything seemed to happen at once. He heard the clicking of the seat belt, and he saw rapid movements of the man and woman cradling the victim as they carefully maneuvered him out of the crunched car. He saw the woman turn and bright green eyes collided with his, leaving him momentarily stunned. Short blond hair haloed her face as a rosy blush colored her cheeks. Probably from the exertion. Or more likely from the heat of the car which suddenly had flames bursting from the engine compartment.
“Move!” the woman yelled.
While they scrambled to pull the man further away from the vehicle, Rory shot forward to assist. He grabbed near the victim’s shoulders while the woman held the torso and the younger man moved to hold the legs. Together, they got the victim a safe distance from the burning car before setting him down, he and the woman kneeling at his upper body. Looking at the man, he noticed a gash across his forehead that was bleeding freely, and he appeared unresponsive.
Before Rory could act, the woman was tearing off her flannel to reveal a black tank top beneath. As well as more shapely anatomy. Rory tried hard not to stare at the generous breasts and the well-toned arms, at the intricate tattoo gracing an arm—the design he couldn’t quite make out due to the woman’s quick movements.
“He’s unresponsive!” she yelled. “Hold this to his head while I start CPR.” She shoved her shirt into Rory’s hands while she assessed for a pulse. She must have felt one, because her next step had been to check for breathing. As her cheek hovered above the victim’s mouth, she looked down at the man’s chest. Her next move then had been to tilt the chin up and pinch this nose while she gave breaths.
Oh, to have that beautiful face so near to him. To have those lips touch his.
Rory shook his head to clear his incredible thoughts, wondering what the hell was wrong with him.
“His pulse is faint but he’s not breathing,” she said. “I’ll continue breaths until the ambulance arrives.”
That prompted Rory to speak. “An ambulance should be here shortly, coming from Gainesville.” While kneeling down on the opposite side of the victim, across from the angel … er … the woman, he continued. “I’ll relieve you if needed. I’m Trooper Sanders. Rory Sanders.”
After two more breaths, the woman pierced him with her emerald eyes and said, “I’m Chandler, Frankie Chandler.” Her voice had been almost lyrical even in the tense situation, and he shouldn’t have been zeroing in on her plump lips, but that’s exactly what he did.
“Used to be a nurse in the Navy,” the older man supplied as he stated his name while standing over the scene. “I didn’t think it wise to move the man, but she seemed certain it had to be done. Good thing, seeing as he would have burned to a crisp if not for her actions.”
Rory looked to see flames licking over every inch of the vehicle. He clicked his radio to update the situation, saying they’d need a fire truck and a wrecker on scene. Once he got the affirmative from Dee, he faced the group again.
“That’s for sure,” said the younger man. “I’m Frank and that’s my truck.” He indicated to the parked semi with a nod of his head. “Saw this guy weaving all over, in and out of traffic until he clipped my truck and flipped. Scariest thing I ever saw.”
Rory looked at each person before his gaze fell back onto Frankie as she finished another round of breaths. Or was it Franki? Or Franky? Dammit! Concentrate! “Pretty brave and quick thinking.”
“I couldn’t not help. Instinctual training took over.” She once again positioned her face over the victim’s mouth while feeling his pulse. Bringing her head back up, she said, “Still not breathing and his pulse is even weaker. May have to start compressions.”
Rory nodded. “Are you still a nurse?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I’m in my final year at U of F, becoming a vet.”
“A veterinarian?” Rory asked, knowing he must have seemed dumbfounded. All he could do was stare at Frankie, wanting to know more.
“Yes.” She smiled. And boy, what that did to her face, her entire presence. Even with the smudged dust on her skin and her hair in disarray, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “Are you all right, Sanders?” she asked.
Wife, mother, former U. S. Army, and dental hygienist, I can now add published author to the list. I’m slowly transitioning out of hygiene, hoping to make writing a full-time endeavor. After writing for many years, my publishing dreams came true in August of 2017 with the release of my debut contemporary romance, “Keyed Up”. Since then, I’ve had the fortune to work with several publishers, and as of June 4th, my eighth title was released. Hopefully many more are on the way!
I write in a variety of romance subgenres: contemporary, comedy, and erotic, with stories containing suspense and small-town romance in the works. I’m constantly learning, loving the journey, and all the amazing people I’m meeting. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy all romance from contemporary to erotic to paranormal to suspenseful.
I strive to write stories I can be proud of and enjoyed by many; ones that are not only sexy and fun, but thoughtful as well.
I grew up on the East Coast and now reside on the West Coast, having lived in FL, GA, SC, MA, ID, and WA. Hubby and I hope to fill our passports with stamps from Scotland and Fiji, to name a few destinations. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the beauty of the PNW.
Running out on her wedding was the best decision ever!
A cheating fiancé sends Camden Harris fleeing to her grandparents’ home in Missouri. When her ex follows, determined to win her back, Camden makes a deal with neighbor Levi Walters: they’ll pretend to be in love and she’ll support his plan to buy her grandparents’ land.
The boy from her childhood has grown up into an impressive man. His charm, good looks and sweet gestures make it difficult for Camden to remember this is fake. And Levi’s kisses only confuse her more.
“You guys didn’t play with me when I went to defense. How would you know what I looked like?”
Collin blinked. “High-definition TV. Replay shows. And, you know, we did play with you all through junior high and high school. Doesn’t matter if you’re quarterbacking or playing the defensive line, like you did in college and the pros—the Levi Walters focus is the same.”
“Also, and I don’t think we can emphasize this enough, at least three of your throws pushed the dart through the board and into the wall. So what’s up?” Aiden rolled his bottle of beer through his hands, making it scrape against the table.
It grated on Levi’s nerves.
Just because he had a few strong throws didn’t mean something was bothering him. He certainly wasn’t upset. Levi Walters didn’t get upset. He focused on the job at hand until it was done. Then he focused on the next job. He didn’t get upset. He didn’t get bothered. He didn’t wonder why good things happened to other people.
Which made it all the more weird that he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the guys and their new relationships.
But he definitely wasn’t bothered.
“What do you guys think about the bike trail they’re talking about? The one that will follow the old railroad tracks?”
Collin and Aiden exchanged a look. Neither said anything.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. That land is undeveloped, but it’s adjacent to the ranch, and to the Harris property, too. Could lead to mischievousness, especially during the summer months.”
“He broke out a twenty-five-cent word,” Aiden said.
“Still avoiding the actual conversation, too,” Collin replied. As if Levi weren’t sitting right there with them. As if he weren’t trying to hold a legitimate conversation instead of whatever it was the two of them were trying to get him to admit to.
“Nothing’s bugging me.” He settled his shoulders against the back of the booth. “Just here to throw darts.” The guys stared at him. “And that bike trail could lead to all kinds of other prob—”
The door to the bar opened, and Levi stopped talking. He couldn’t breathe, and that didn’t make any sense at all. It was just a woman. Pretty brown hair pinned up on her head. Pale, creamy skin. He couldn’t see her eyes from this distance, but her lips were red and turned up at the corners. She twirled a set of car keys on her finger, and gathered the train of her dress—a wedding dress, and that was weird—in her other hand, saving it from the closing of the door.
“You were saying?” Collin prodded him, but Levi couldn’t remember what the three of them had been talking about. He’d been a little annoyed with them. Something about the bike trail that still hadn’t been decided on by the county commissioners.
His mouth went a little dry, and he forced himself to take a long breath. Tried to make his heart stop galloping in his chest. She was…the most beautiful figment his imagination had ever created.
“Something’s definitely wrong with him,” Aiden said. And Levi realized his friend was right.
There was something very, very wrong with a man who hallucinated a beautiful woman in a wedding dress. Something really wrong.
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police–no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. Kristina writes contemporary romance with a smattering of sass, sex and (of course) drama, and she loves hearing from readers. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.