Read In Love Before Christmas Online

Authors: Capri Montgomery

In Love Before Christmas

Copyright © 2012 Shunta Montgomery

 
 

All Rights Reserved

 

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

 
 

Publisher’s Note:

 

Redemption is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, event or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Author Note

 

Capri Montgomery books are legally available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu only. If you have received this book at another site, or from any other source, it is not a legal copy and you are aiding in breaking copyright laws. Please purchase and read legal copies only.

 
 

Special Thanks

 

Thank you, Barb, for catching the mistakes I missed. Your assist with editing has been wonderful.

 
Thanks to all of my readers for showing your support for my work by buying and reading my books.
 

Books by Capri Montgomery

 

On Thin Ice

 

Warriors of Persia

 

Sworn to Secrecy

 

Redemption

 

Explosive: Deadly Connections

 

Hydra

 

Deliverance

 

Betrayal of the Dove

 

Vendetta

 

Shadow Hills: M is for Murder

 

Seducing the Bodyguard

 

Shadow Hills: No Valentine

 

Shadow Hills: Fallen Hero

 

Fahrenheit

 

Secrets and Lies

 

Returning Sheba

 

Saints and Sinners

 

The McGregor Affair

 

Dream Walker

 

The Geneva Project

 

The Admiral’s Daughter

 

Dangerous Obsessions

 

Watch Over Me

 

And Many Others…

 
 

Coming December 2012

 
Killing Hannah
~ Men of Action series
 
 

Chapter One

 
 

L
ani Andrews awakened from her nightmare in a cold sweat. Dark hair clung to her forehead and right cheek and her heart seemed as if it were racing with the horses at the Kentucky Derby. She jumped from the bed as if getting out of bed would save her from the memory of her terror. Of course jumping out of bed after a nightmare that had her rolling wildly around the bed was always a bad idea. Falling in the bundle of red covers that had pooled on the floor did not make for a soft landing, but she didn’t have time to worry about soft landings; she had to figure out what the date was.

 

Grabbing her day planner she looked at the cute butterfly nestled in the top right corner of the page before running her fingers down the square boxes to today’s date. “Three weeks until Christmas,” she leaned back against the wall. It was a dumb idea, but they had both been kids. They were young and stupid and not really thinking about the future because that’s what kids did. “If you’re not in love and I’m not in love by our thirty-second Christmas then we’ll marry each other on New Year’s Day,” Derek Vanderbilt had said as he extended his pinky finger for Lani to swear. She had sworn so easily. At the time it had seemed ridiculous. How could neither of them be in love by their thirty-second Christmas? At that age thirty-two seemed old. She figured everybody was in love by the time they were that old—until she grew up and realized thirty-two was not old at all and life marched to the tune of its own orchestra. Back then she was sure she would be free and clear and honestly at the time they made that promise it had seemed more like a joke.

 

“Oh my God…thirty-second,” she mumbled. She was thirty-two, single and starting to have nightmares about the pact that she and Derek had made inside of one of the confession booths in St. Mary’s. Everybody knew not to utter promises in that church and then not follow through—nothing good ever came from that. Of course at their age all of the stories seemed like fairytales adults shared to amuse themselves. At that age they thought adults were bored and miserable and they had to come up with something to amuse themselves even if it was something as unrealistic as a St. Mary’s Curse. They had laughed about it then because adults were so strange to them. Now she wished she had taken them more seriously, believed more than doubted, and kept her promises to herself while in St. Mary’s.

 

Lani showered at lightning speed, pulled on her clothes and made a mad dash for the door. It wasn’t until the cold rush of winter air hit her that she had realized she had forgotten to dry her hair. “No time now,” she darted to the Christmas inspired street looking at the decorated trees and smaller buildings only briefly as she desperately looked for a taxi. Small towns, relatively anyway compared to Boston or New York, wasn’t exactly flooded with taxies on every corner. Usually she didn’t care if she could find a taxi or not. She lived a few miles from work and sometimes walking was more enjoyable than riding. Even in the winter she loved to bundle up in her wool coat with the faux fur trim, her knitted hats hugging her head and warming her ears, and even her scarf piled around her neck and shoulders like a New York glamour girl. She loved taking a walk down the street, adding a little extra pep to her step or casually lingering in a not so rushed gait depending on her proximity to work and her starting time. The last minute rush usually kicked her day off with energy and she didn’t mind that at all. Today, however, was not one of those days. Grabbing the first taxi she spotted she got in swiftly and informed the driver of her destination. Henry Travis is what the hack license had listed, he looked at her like she was a mad crazy woman for having dripping wet hair in nearly ice cold temperatures—actually it was ice cold and she would probably pay for her haste later in the week, but there was just no time to waste. She quickly made it downtown to
High Fashion
magazine’s office just in time to catch the only person she knew could help her.

 

She rushed past the reception area with a quick hello to Julia, the red hair striking green eyed young beauty, before nearly colliding into Matthew Taylor. “I need your help.” She pushed Matt into his office so fast he had barely had time to respond. Maybe she should have started with “hello,” but there was just no time. This was dire and her sense of panic would not allow her to calm down for even one second. She shut the door behind her and turned to find him now sitting with his butt on the edge of the desk—more leaning than sitting she would say—and he had a smirk on his face. She would have ripped into him about his lack of compassion, but Matt was the nicest guy she knew. He was the only man who could help her. He would have to understand her sense of urgency—he would just have to.

 
 

“Are you behind deadline again?” Matt said “again” because he had often known Lani to wait until the last possible minute to get her column together, but he had never seen her so distressed over it. They were doing the photo shoot now and she had to write the piece about the fashion along with her typical women’s piece for the magazine. If she were behind he was not going to be able to write either one for her. He gave her the once over. Her still wet hair clung to her face.

 

“You’re going to catch pneumonia.”

 

“That would mean I’d be lucky; and I’m not. You have to help me. I have to fall in love in three weeks.”

 

He laughed. Surely she couldn’t be serious. “You’re joking right? I mean you’re kidding me, yeah?” He stopped laughing as he saw the serious expression on her face. “What, are you going to die if you don’t?” He returned his attention to the spew of papers he had dropped when Lani pushed him inside the office. He really should pick those up and put them back in order. Thankfully, he had remembered to number the pages this time. The last time Lani had been in his office while he was working on a big project he had forgotten to add the page numbers to the file before printing out the papers and of course when he clumsily dropped them while on his way to see the boss all the papers had scattered. Lani had been the one to help him get each page back in order in time for his big meeting.

 

“No, but I made a promise with Derek Vanderbilt years ago and well…it’s the thirty-second Christmas.” She went on to tell him of how two kids had made a stupid arrangement years ago, how she had just been reminded of it through her “way too real” nightmare. The truth was that she couldn’t stand Derek; nobody could actually. He was rude, obnoxious, self-absorbed, arrogant, and those were his good qualities.

 

“You do know you don’t have to follow through.”

 

“We pinky swore.”

 

“Oh, you pinky swore,” he laughed as he shook his head.

 

“In St. Mary’s.”

 

Matt stopped laughing immediately. Everybody knew St. Mary’s was the one place to hold whatever was said sacred. He wasn’t Catholic, and she didn’t go to church anymore either, but that didn’t negate the fact that they all knew a person couldn’t swear anything in that place and not follow through. “You know, Ash Henderson said that he…”

 

“I know the story,” she quipped. Ash Henderson, right there in church, before all the members of the church, had promised to donate part of his lottery winnings to charity. He didn’t follow through and two weeks later a bus hit him while he was crossing the street; fortunately their version of a bus was a cute little trolley shaped thing and the driver had just been taking off from a bus stop so Ash only ended up with a few broken bones. Of course broken bones weren’t the end of his problems. He lost his winnings in a small business suit, and was now considered to be a miserable old man. Yes, they all knew the story for it was told everywhere around town as another testament to the curse of St. Mary’s church. The people around town called it the St. Mary’s Curse. For some reason people still didn’t seem to learn to just keep their mouth shut while in there and to this day there were still those who made promises they had no plans to keep.

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