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The Ghost of Christmas Never

Author(s): Linda Palmer

Libby has devoted her life to Mia ever since their parents died. Now Mia's marriage to Rob threatens all Libby's big plans for little sis, making it very hard to be happy for the couple. So far, Jake, big brother of the groom, has ignored Libby's pleas for help derailing the wedding train. In fact, he's actually footing the bill for their siblings' last-minute Christmas nuptials. And though Jake is good looking, smart, and funny, Libby is determined not to like him. 

When a winter whiteout results in a lodging crunch, Jake volunteers to share a room with Libby, who can't say no without making a scene. It's only when they're alone that she learns he has an ulterior motive for choosing this particular Ozark Mountain hotel for the honeymoon. Jake, host of a paranormal television show, hopes they'll be visited by the ghost supposedly haunting the old building. He's even focusing his video camera toward the bed he has graciously turned over to Libby. A ghost? Really? This cinches it. The guy is not only self-serving, he's clearly bonkers. 

But sometimes things aren't what they seem. A wedding that closes one door might open several others. And the guy who comes off as a jerk? Well, he could actually be kind of cool. As for the ghost Libby doesn't believe in…maybe he's only dropping by to nudge her in the right direction. 

Excerpt


 We took off our coats and sat. A waiter brought a bottle of champagne that he opened with a pop! We toasted the bride and groom. Salads arrived, followed by steak dinners. Finally Mia and Rob cut the wedding cake while Jake happily filmed. He'd been nothing but enthusiastic about the wedding except for that nanosecond when I'd handed him the bubbles. Was that slipup an indication that he had doubts, too? If so, he hid them better than I did. And since he was currently too busy to notice me, I stole a minute to study him. 

Tall and lean, he had a roguish air that I blamed on his whiskery face and messy auburn hair. Or maybe it was that mischievous twinkle in his eye. Whichever, if I'd still had a so-called "type," Jake's brand of guy would definitely be it. And that, no doubt, explained why I'd felt oddly drawn to him from the moment we met in spite of our being on opposing teams. 

Rob and Mia shared their cake with other diners, most of whom had been watching our reception with smiles on their faces. Finally it was time to go to our rooms. Relieved, I let Mia and Rob lead the way into the hotel lobby where a man, woman, and three children stood. The oldest child, a little boy, couldn't have been more than four, clung to his young father's leg. The other kids were twins, girls who looked around two or so. Their parents appeared harried and distressed. 

"The guy at the Hilton called you. He said there was a room." The woman, who had one of the twins propped on her hip, sounded near tears. 

"No one called here, ma'am. There is simply no vacancy at the Inn tonight." 

"But we've tried five other hotels," said the guy. He held the other twin. "You're our last resort. Surely you have something. We can't go one bit farther on these roads and definitely can't sleep in the car." 

As a man, probably the manager, explained the he really had nothing to offer them, my heart went out to the family. What would Mia and I have done if a neighbor hadn't been kind to us all those years ago when our house went back to the bank? The offer of his garage apartment had saved us for sure. 

Jake's warm breath suddenly fanned my ear. "Shall we flip for the bed? Or do you prefer rock, paper, scissors?" 

I looked up at him. "Maybe the girls could take one room and the guys could take another." 

Mia's chinned dropped. "We're on our honeymoon!" 

"Well, it's not like you two haven't--" I stopped before I put my foot all the way inside my mouth, probably because she looked so outraged. When had I turned into such a grouch? Shifting gears, I caught Jake's eyes. "Which room are we giving up?" 

"Yours. I specifically asked for mine." 

"Why?" 

"Tell you later." He strode to the check-in counter. When we told that family they could have my room, the mom burst into tears and hugged me, which put her daughter right in my face. I blinked, suddenly nose to nose with a blond-haired, blue-eyed angel who smelled like heaven. I felt a stab of envy that surprised me. I'd set aside my dreams of marriage long ago and without regrets. Too many other things had taken priority, with Mia being first on the list. 

"You two are amazing, you know that? I have to call my parents right this minute. They're absolutely frantic." She put a cell phone to her ear, automatically dodging the little fingers that reached for it. Her husband pulled his wallet out of his pocket. 

"My treat." said Jake touched the guy's shoulder. "Merry Christmas." 

I'd never seen anyone look as shocked as that daddy.

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 9781601741509
Genre: Paranormal
Date Published: 12/14/2012
Publisher: Uncial Press

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