Read Meet Me Under the Mistletoe Online

Authors: JoAnn Durgin

Tags: #christian Fiction

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Praise for JoAnn Durgin

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

Thank You

Meet Me under the Mistletoe

 

 

JoAnn Durgin

 

 

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.

 

Meet Me under the Mistletoe

 

COPYRIGHT 2012 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.

 

eBook editions are licensed for your personal enjoyment only. eBooks may not be re-sold, copied or given to other people. If you would like to share an eBook edition, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.

 

Contact Information: [email protected]

 

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
(R),
NIV
(R),
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com

 

Cover Art by
Nicola Martinez

 

White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC

www.pelicanbookgroup.com
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410

 

White Rose Publishing Circle and Rosebud logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC

 

Publishing History

First White Rose Edition, 2012

Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-230-1

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

 

For my forever Mistletoe Man, my husband, Jim, who made the same special promise to the Lord like my hero in this story, Jake Marston—and kept it. I’m so thankful he did.

 

My thanks and gratitude go to Sergeant Ben Wright and Captain Brad Collier of Station 4 in New Albany, Indiana, for explaining all things “firefighter” and allowing this writer a peek into the mindset and true heart of the men and women called to this most noble profession. To all the firefighters who serve their local communities across our great nation with courage, humility, and selflessness, I thank you.

 

Special thanks to Nicola Martinez, Fay Lamb, and Annette Irby for their encouragement and support and to our gracious Lord for blessing me with these characters and their story.

 

Psalm 62:1-2

 

Praise for JoAnn Durgin

 

I love JoAnn Durgin! Her stories and characters are fresh and engaging, and her writing is among the strongest I’ve seen. I love her unique style and tone. Her stories are right up my alley, offering a fun, romantic getaway. ~Janice Hanna Thompson, author of the
Weddings by Bella
series

 

Keep your eye on JoAnn Durgin—a fresh voice in Christian fiction who writes from the heart, straight to the soul. ~Julie Lessman, award-winning author of
The Daughters of Boston
and
Winds of Change
series

 

With characters that dance off the pages and into your hearts, JoAnn Durgin’s books overflow with humor, faith, and oh-so-sweet romance! ~Dora Hiers, author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing Romance (White Rose Publishing)

 

It’s evident author JoAnn Durgin loves her characters—and readers can’t help but fall in love with them, too, as they tackle real life problems with faith and Durgin’s trademark sense of humor. ~Beth K. Vogt, author of
Wish You Were Here
(Howard Books, May 2012) and
Catch a Falling Star
(Howard Books, May 2013)

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Where will you end up?

Applying pressure to the stuffed bear’s eye, Jake counted under his breath and waited for the glue to set. The guys in the firehouse would tease him if they knew, but he always said a prayer for the kid who’d get one of these fix-it projects. This teddy bear, like most of the dolls, animals, or toys from Starlight’s Christmas drive, had been “gently” loved—another way of saying the previous owner held no special affinity for it. Satisfied the plastic eye was secure, Jake relaxed his grip and placed the bear on the shelf next to the train set, model car, and sock monkey he’d repaired, painted, or patched. His shoulders ached from hunching over the desk the past couple of hours, but it was worth it.

The doorbell rang, loud in the quiet of the century-old family home. Darting a quick glance at his watch, Jake grimaced at the pain radiating through his lower back as he rose to his feet—a none-too-subtle reminder of his on-the-job fall a couple of weeks ago. Not enough to warrant short-term disability but sufficient to give him plenty of grief. His heating pad was his constant companion when he climbed into bed every night. Maybe he should get a dog. The affection, plus the added warmth, sure would be nice.
A
big, furry canine would be the perfect, loyal companion.
Merry Christmas to me.

After hobbling through the foyer, Jake switched on the outside light and took a quick peek through the beveled glass oval on the front door. The oversized Christmas bulbs strung along the bottom of the porch roof formed a cornucopia of vibrant color, an iridescent halo, behind Dylan’s head. Jake couldn’t resist his grin as he opened the door. “To what do I owe this honor, Sergeant Sinclair?”

“Sorry I didn’t call, buddy, but I didn’t want to give you the opportunity to turn me down.” Dylan waved a hand to a far corner of the covered porch. “I brought my sister for reinforcement. Julia, come meet Captain Jake Marston, Starlight’s resident wounded hero.”

He squinted in the dim light, wondering why Dylan felt the need to introduce him that way. Dressed in a red flannel shirt, jeans and heavy socks, Jake shivered when a gust of bitter wind blew the door open wider. “Come on inside and get warm,” he said loud enough for Julia to hear.

After reattaching a drooping section of bulbs, she turned. “All better now.”

“She’s used to saying that,” Dylan said. “Julia’s a pediatric nurse over in Cedar Rapids.”

“I also know how to keep impertinent patients in line, and you remind me of some of them. Be good, brother.” Shoving her mitten-covered hands in the pockets of her down jacket, she walked across the porch in their direction.

This is Julia?
For whatever reason, Jake’s mental picture of Dylan’s kid sister was stuck way in the past—a gawky teenager with a mouth full of metal. That preconceived image paid her no justice whatsoever. Taller than most women, she was slender without being skinny. A white cap covered her head but dark, wispy bangs escaped, tousled by the wind. Even in the dim light, her eyes were bright. Could be a reflection of the porch light, but no…there was definite sparkle.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Julia. Thanks for…taking care of my bulbs.” Jake ignored Dylan’s smirk of amusement at that inane comment. He could handle talking to kids, but women proved a daunting challenge.
Great
. He’d already wedged his size twelve foot in his mouth. If they taught a class at the church—or sponsored a support group—for clueless single men on how to hold a conversation with a woman, he’d be the first to sign up. His bumbling and often idiotic statements would make him the star pupil, or at least a living, breathing example of what
not
to say when it came to social graces.

“Happy to help,” Julia said with a shy smile, stepping into the front foyer.

Dylan brushed past him, giving him a light pat on his not-so-banged-up left shoulder. “How ya holdin’ up? A word of advice,” he said, lowering his voice to a whisper, “don’t say anything about Julia’s fiancé. Touchy subject with her.”

Jake closed the door. “Wouldn’t think of it.”

Headed straight for the staircase—with its handrails and balusters hand carved by Jake’s great-grandfather, the
original
Jacob Marston—Dylan grabbed the jacket hanging on the knob. “Come on. It’s time to get you out of the mausoleum. We’ve got some holiday do-gooding to do.”

Jake quirked a brow. “If that’s your misguided way of convincing me to go out in below-freezing temperatures, you should know better.” Getting to know Julia was an appealing option, but he was tired. What he needed was a good, long soak in the tub, but no way would he ever admit that to another man, especially Dylan. He gestured to the shelf displaying his recent handiwork. “I’ve already put in my time tonight.”

“You need to recirculate among the land of the living and end this self-imposed exile.” Dylan mock-shivered and darted a wary glance at the toys lined up on the shelf. “Those dolls give me the creeps. It’s like they’re following me with their eyes.”

“Reason number one to stop watching silly movies.” Silky dark hair tumbled halfway down her back as Julia removed her cap. Peeling off her mittens, she smoothed flyaway strands away from her cheeks.

Jake found it difficult not to stare. Dylan’s sister was stunning and hands-down the most beautiful woman ever to grace his front foyer. No wonder he couldn’t talk to women. Even his thoughts were harebrained. Rubbing his hand over his jaw, he regretted not shaving since yesterday morning.

“First thing you should know about me is that I don’t always share my wayward brother’s opinion,” Julia said. “I’m sorry you were hurt, Jake, but from what I hear, you saved a beloved family dog and risked a lot.”

Jake’s pulse raced at the compliment. “Thanks. Just doing my job. I’ll live.”

Her perusal encompassed the living room before moving back to the front foyer and staircase. “This house has so much character. I imagine it holds fascinating stories. How old is it?”

Eyes the color of warm sapphires met Jake’s, momentarily stealing his breath. Digging deep, he found his voice. “It’s over a hundred years old. My great-grandfather, Jacob, built it as a wedding gift for his bride.”

“How romantic.” Julia ran her hand over the smooth, rich oak of the handrail. “That makes it even more special. Did you grow up here?”

“Pretty much. I spent a lot of weekends and holidays in this house. My grandparents lived here until they moved to a smaller place when I was ten. That’s when we moved in.”

“So many people have gotten away from tradition and family, but it means everything.” Her tone sounded wistful. “I’m sure a house this old requires a lot of upkeep, but it’s also a labor of love, isn’t it?”

He couldn’t have said it better himself. “Exactly.”

“Ask Jake the name of his ancestor’s bride,” Dylan said from the living room. “For the record, did you note my buddy here is also named for his ancestor?”

Julia lifted her eyes to Jake’s. “I’ll humor him. What was your great-grandmother’s name?”

“Julia.” For once, Jake’s voice didn’t waver. Considering he didn’t believe in coincidence or luck, that ancestral fact was mighty interesting. He hadn’t even thought of it, and he was more than surprised his often clueless friend had. Julia’s eyes widened before she turned aside, a pink flush in her cheeks. If possible, it made her even prettier.

“How romantic.” Dylan gave an exaggerated sigh
then closed his mouth when both Jake and Julia stared at him. “Sorry. Don’t mind me.”

Julia stepped closer to the shelf of toys, childlike fascination written in her expression. She touched the sock monkey before trailing a finger to the model car. A gentle smile lifted the corners of her mouth. “Do you ever wonder about the stories behind these abandoned toys?” She picked up the car and opened and closed one of the doors before returning it to the shelf. “Did another favorite replace it? Did the child move away, get tired of it, give it to a friend?”

Jake shrugged. “I think more about where it’ll end up and hope it makes a kid happy. I try to be productive during my down time, and I like refurbishing them. My dad was a firefighter, and I used to help him fix the toys, especially at Christmas. Most people donate new ones these days, and it’s getting harder to pass the safety restrictions, but I find a lot of forgotten treasures.” His eyes fell on the model car. “Dad taught me more than he’ll ever know. About a lot of things.” Why he added that last part, he wasn’t sure, but it was true.

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