Bachelor Nick Santolli needs someone to help him give his niece a Christmas to remember. Back in the day, no one did Christmas better than Joy Encastle. But times have changed and Joy would prefer to boycott the festivities this year.
Heat level: PG
Joy Encastle tromped through the happy, jostling crowd of distracted holiday shoppers. They overflowed from Brody Falls’ closed Main Street onto the sidewalk. During Christmas week, the local farmers market became a daily event, and morphed into something of a craft fair, a chance for gift-hunters to find one-of-a-kind gifts.
Someone cut through the crowd and sideswiped Joy with a big shopping bag, nearly sending her crashing into an old fashioned streetlamp.
“Merry Christmas to you, too,” she grouched.
Four more days and the year’s spectacle would be over. The obligatory gifts that didn’t come from the heart. The commercial displays of Christmas. The need to put on a perfect front of holiday cheer – inside and out. Such a marketing scam. She couldn’t pick up her dry cleaning without subjecting herself to holly, Santa sweaters, and choruses of Jingle Bells.
Man, how she missed it.
After years of putting up themed decorations, wrapping presents like a designer, and making special meals served on Mom’s china, Joy was boycotting Christmas. Not because she thought the holiday no longer had meaning, but because she was trying to save her widowed father from himself.
Four more days. She hoped she could make it.
After this last errand, Joy was holing up in her apartment and binge watching The Blacklist on Netflix (or something equally dark). Anything on regular television would be holiday themed. She wouldn’t succumb to one chorus of “Deck the Halls,” no matter how tempting it was.
“Joy?” Nick Santolli called to her from across the shopper-filled street.
Oh. My. Goldfish.
The last time Nick had called out to Joy was her sixteenth birthday, right after she’d gotten her braces off, and right before she’d trapped him in the hallway and offered him the opportunity to see how straight and smooth her teeth were. With his tongue. She’d clung to his leather jacket, professed her undying love, and the desire to have his babies.
Nick refused her kiss, her love, her womb. She might have eventually recovered from that embarrassing moment if not for the look of horror on his face. Mortified, she hadn’t acknowledged him since.
Story Behind the Story
I began the Fairytale Fella Series of short stories for my newsletter subscribers. But I felt a bigger holiday story brewing, one that wasn’t quite based on a fairy tale, but would incorporate the Love Advice Lady, who is my modern day version of a fairy godmother.
In general, when I write a holiday story, I try to come up with a different take on the holiday. For example, I came up with the idea of setting The Wedding Promise during Christmas because it was set in the Ecuadorian jungle and would stand out with readers (an author can only hope). So I decided to create a heroine who loved Christmas but had decided to boycott it. What could possibly make her do that? Especially when her family led the holiday charge in town. This is a story about a family divided – in so many ways – and how realizing what’s important in life can bring people together.
If you’re a fan of the Fairytale Fella Series, you might be able to spot me introducing Rapunzel…