A Bad Boy for Christmas

By: Jessica Lemmon

The patio door opened and Donny and Sofie’s big white and brown mutt, Gertie, strolled out. Sofie followed close on the dog’s heels. Soon the furball was standing way too close, big black nose sniffing his face.

“Hey, Gert.” He ruffled the dog’s fur. Another soul in the Cove who’d found an unlikely forever home. He hoped the pooch knew how good she had it.

Donovan’s fiancée, cell phone in hand, gestured to him. “Mrs. Anderson called and asked when you’d be over to set up for the Harvest Fest.”

“On the docket for this week.” Like he’d told Mrs. Anderson already. Twice. Persistent little old lady, he was learning. And tough. He’d attempted to backtalk her once and suffered her wrath. She was not a librarian to be trifled with.

“Sorry, she can be kind of a pain.” Sofie wrinkled her nose.

“Kind of?” he asked with a smile.

She chuckled. Sofe was a catch and a half. Bright, adorable, and would do anything for anyone. She was exactly what Donny needed at a time when no one—not even Connor—had been able to reach him. She brought Donovan back to life, and then together, they brought the mansion back to life. He never would have thought Donovan Pate could have been domesticated, but it was nice to see his buddy fall into line.

Lucky bastard.

Connor pushed to standing and patted Gertie one last time. The dog had showed up here skin and bones last spring and had put on plenty of weight. Her coat was glossy, her pale blue eyes bright. “Good girl. Yes you are.”

Gertie wagged her tail and leaned against his leg, smiling up at him.

“Tell you what,” he said to Sofie. “I have a few hours to kill this afternoon, why don’t I stop by there and make sure Mrs. Anderson knows I’m on top of things.” It was an inconvenience, but not a big one. Like he’d do anything for his sisters, he’d do anything for his friends, too. And now that included Sofia Martin.

“Really?” She looked relieved with her hand pressed flat against her collarbone.

“Really.” He gathered his tool belt and shears and ambled toward the driveway where he’d parked.

Before he made it to his work truck, she called out, “Faith said you had a date tonight.”

Did she, now? He turned and Sofie raised an eyebrow. He wasn’t the only one fishing for information this afternoon. Yeah, he wasn’t giving the brunette anything.

Before he climbed into his truck, he waved. “See you tomorrow.”

“Tease!” she shouted as he reversed out of his parking space.

Yeah, let that get back to Faith. He didn’t mind stoking her jealousy. Not at all. Maybe she’d be filled with jealousy over his “date” and openly pursue him. All he needed was an opening, and then he’d charge in like a bull.

In town, he passed Cup of Jo’s, Fern’s Floral Shoppe, and the now vacant storefront that used to be Sofie’s event-planning company. His company, C. Alan Landscaping, had no home base. Not technically. Right now billing was done on his phone and in his head, and there was a box of receipts overflowing on his kitchen table. Probably he should do something about that.

When he’d first started taking the occasional odd job he hadn’t needed a fancy accounting system. But with all the referrals he was getting from Make It an Event, business had picked up and he found himself dogged by paperwork. Organization was not his forte.

The only upside to the influx of paperwork was that every referral was an excuse to thank Faith for sending a new client his way. Which he did daily and twice on Sunday. He smiled to himself remembering the way she looked today. Trussed in a tight dress and high-heeled shoes, and decorated with pink glitter. Yeah, being around a creature as gorgeous as Faith Garrett was not a hardship.

He pulled around the back of the library and shut off the engine. Mrs. Anderson shuffled in his direction wearing orthopedic shoes, her wrinkled mouth pulled taut, determination in her deep-set eyes.

Thoughts of Faith and his libido vanished into the atmosphere.


Thunder rumbled long and low in the distance, briefly causing the lights in Faith’s new apartment to flicker. She paused, take-out container in one hand, serving tongs in the other, wondering if she should light some candles. Even if she and her friends had to eat and drink by candlelight, by golly they were having Girls’ Night Out in her kitchen.

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