During a magical holiday season, Emma and Andrew keep finding themselves snowed in together as they face their pasts and fall in love.
Emma Ballard, a retired supermodel, has been the acting CEO and the face of her family’s clothing business for the past five years, living the busy corporate life in New York City. She meets the Jersey branch IT supervisor, theater-nerd Andrew Mooney, when she gets stuck in a snowstorm after an office function.
Getting to know widower Andrew, his grumpy vet father, and Andrew’s adorable six-year-old twin girls opens Emma’s heart to the possibility of having love and family in her life. His opinion of Emma, the “beautiful, viper CEO” gossiped about at the water cooler, quickly changes as he discovers Emma’s wit, intelligence, and giving heart.
Although neither Emma nor Andrew are quite ready for a relationship, and canoodling is against company policy, the holiday spirit of Manhattan is magical and contagious. As fate and Mother Nature would have it, their time snowed in together gives them the chance to finally face their pasts and fall in love.
Emma, dressed in a long winter coat and carrying two giant bouquets of flowers, busted through the doors like she was on a mission. From his spot at the end of the line, Andrew did a double take.
“Emma?” He nudged his father and pointed. “Is that Emma?”
“Looks like,” Jeffrey said. He waved and caught her attention. She jogged over to them, huffing and out of breath. “Oh God, am I late? It’s been so hard getting a car during the holidays this year, I thought I wasn’t going to make it.” She looked between them. “Hi.”
The Mooney men stared, jaws dropped.
“What are you doing here?” Andrew blurted. His father hit him in the chest, and he coughed. “I mean, I wasn’t expecting you.”
She shifted the flowers to one arm and reached into her pocket, pulling out a piece of paper. “Oh. Well, I was invited.”
“You were?” he asked. Her hair was twisted into some kind of knot on the back of her head, and a couple of stray strands fell around her face. So pretty.
Jeffrey whacked him again. “What my son means to say is that it’s nice to see you again, and no, you’re not late. We were about to go in.”
“Great. Thank you, Jeffrey.” She scowled at Andrew.
He shifted his weight under her stare, fidgeting like a madman. “I don’t mean to be rude, but how did you end up here tonight? Not that I’m complaining. I’m not. It’s just…” He scratched his five o’clock shadow. “It’s… wow… you look…stunning.”
She smiled tersely. “I told you. I was invited.”
She shoved the piece of paper toward him, the same invitation for the show that the girls had made him and Jeffrey. The photocopied play information had dotted lines for the kids to write in invitees on top of the sheet, and dotted lines for them to sign the bottom. On top of Emma’s sheet, the girls had written in crayon: Miss Emma. On the bottom of the sheet, they signed it Devon and Bella. They’d drawn a cupcake next to their names.
His heart beat sped up. “And you actually came?”
“Of course,” she said. “That’s the cutest invitation I’ve ever received, and they wanted me here. How could I not come? I hope it’s okay.”
“You could have let me know. I would have picked you up.”
They’d reached the door to the auditorium. Jeffrey held it open, and Andrew shifted to the side to let Emma in first.
As she walked by, she lifted her chin. “You said in your text that you didn’t want to talk to me until after the holidays, Andrew.”
His father scoffed.
Andrew twisted to shoot his father a look as he followed Emma into the auditorium, still holding her invitation. She walked a couple of steps in front of him, looking for empty seats.
He jogged to catch up. “That was a poorly worded text message,” he said, over the band’s rendition of Jingle Bells.
“Uh-huh.” She pointed to three seats in the middle of a row. “How about there?”
Without waiting for him to respond, she wiggled her way into the middle of the row, holding the flowers high, squeezing past the families singing along to the Christmas tune. She sat in the farthest seat. Andrew settled next to her, and then Jeffrey followed in the third seat. She handed Andrew the flowers and stood again, shimmying off her coat.
Jessica Calla (THE LOVE SQUARE, The Sheridan Hall Series, MAPLE SUMMER WALLACE, The Mill Street Series) is a contemporary romance and women’s fiction author who moonlights during the day as an attorney. If she’s not writing, lawyering, or parenting, you’ll most likely find her at the movies, scrolling through her Twitter feed, or gulping down various forms of caffeine (sometimes all three at once). A Jersey girl through and through, she resides in the central part of the state with her husband, two sons, and dog.
What do you love best about the holidays?