Chloe Wright has failed at business and love. In debt and out of time, she needs to sell the dilapidated mill her father left her. If only the only interested buyer wasn’t Ted Lincoln, her childhood crush.
Heat level: PG
The Comeback Christmas
Theodore Lincoln could not screw up.
If he did, he’d let down the ten previous generations who’d run the family apple farm and the three generations expecting a Lincoln family Christmas with all the bells and whistles.
Everyone – dead or alive – expected Ted to make the right decisions.
But there was a glut of apples on the market driving the price down. Last year’s crop income had barely covered the taxes, much less retirement income for his parents or Uncle Ben. His younger sister Abigail was on a crash course to have another child with that loser Frank Farasi, who barely acknowledged three year-old Lizzie. And Lizzie? She expected Christmas to be magical. Big tree. Sparkly lights. And presents. Credit card bending presents.
Ted shouldn’t be standing in front of the Wright grist mill thinking about taking out a home equity loan to expand the farm.
“Well if it isn’t Teddy Lincoln.”
Not her. Not her. Not her.
Chloe Wright was the only one who called him Teddy. She’d had a crush on him since she was in the third grade and he in the fourth. Back then she was a non-stop talker. Nerd to the nth degree. Overbite. Brillo copper curls. Belly fat. Dress her in green tights and a pointed red cap and she could have been a stand in for a garden gnome.
She’d followed him around like a puppy. Through braces and bras and middle school. The other boys in Christmas Town made fun of her. And of him. Ted had wanted her to be struck by lightning. Dropped into a manhole. Teleported into another dimension.
And then on the first day Chloe entered high school – a day Ted had been dreading – he turned at the sound of her laughter and realized she wasn’t a roly-poly puppy with an overbite. She was tall and curvy and word-stealing pretty. Her smile was worth every penny her adopted parents had paid. And her hair…She’d finally grown it out and straightened it. Every guy in high school bent over backward for her attention. Every guy but Ted.
Story Behind the Story
This story is set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location first introduced in Harlequin’s Christmas, Actually anthology. I knew it would first be released in the anthology written by other Heartwarming authors – A Heartwarming Christmas – and that my heroine would have two sisters, whose stories would also be included in the set. I always try to make my holiday stories a little different and hopefully a little more memorable. Additionally, I had heard from Harlequin editorial that there were too many small town stories set in bed & breakfasts, bakeries, and coffee shops. That meant my initial heroine was out of work.
I followed the direction of that lead literally. What if I created a heroine who was a failed entrepreneur? What if she came home, viewing herself a failure, and had to face her high school crush? That gave the romance a good story foundation. And then Anna Adams came up with the idea that my hero should be an apple farmer, which led me down the path of trying to create storylines around apples. During the story-writing process, I took a break to watch an episode of Fixer Upper, where Chip Gaines was juggling eggs. He dropped one, but he kept smiling and went about his day with a smile, moving past his mistake. What a great attitude! It was something Chloe needed to learn – to keep moving forward despite her failures. And of course, I gave her the talent of juggling apples.