The Dad Who Saved Christmas [Secure]
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by Karen Rose Smith
Description: A Convenient Christmas Father He claimed he was no Santa, so why had Nick Clark made Faith Hewitt's Christmas wish come true? After charming her son, single-handedly saving the Christmas pageant and making the usually staid Faith swoon at the most inappropriate moments, he'd gone and proposed marriage! She knew Nick's offer had only been to secure her son's future. What would a dashing bachelor like Nick want with a once-upon-a-time wallflower? Yet, as the time ticked away on their marriage clock, Faith desperately wanted her husband of convenience to stay...and let her become his wife in every way.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Readers' Choice,
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [268 KB]
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The flakes hit Nicholas Clark's windshield with a ferocity he didn't expect. Living in Vermont, he was used to snow. And on his way to a ski resort three hours from Rutland, he even looked forward to it. But for the past hour he'd driven in near blizzard conditions. As his sedan swerved in the six inches of white powder, he knew he'd have to stop soon if he didn't want to get stranded by the side of the road.
The only problem was he'd passed the sign telling him he was entering the town of Winding Creek. Winding Creek was the last place in the world he wanted to get waylaid. He'd lived in the small town his first nineteen years and had left without looking back.
But fate always had a way of interfering with the best laid plans.
His stomach growled and, in the last dim light of day, he realized he needed food and shelter whether he wanted to be in Winding Creek or not.
He recognized a restaurant that had been the haunt of teenagers when he was in high school. Everything in Winding Creek defied change. That's why he'd left.
Flakes of snow fell on his hair and his sweater as he climbed out of his car and trekked to the restaurant's entrance. But before he could go in, an elderly man burst from the building next door. "Hey. We need help. We got a young 'un hanging in the air and no one tall enough to reach him."
Nick heard the panic in the man's voice and hurried after him into an older building that used to be a warehouse. As he went inside, he read the plaque on the door—Winding Creek Community Center.
The large room with its tan linoleum, cafeteria-style tables and stage at the far end, was bedlam. A few women, but mostly children, were talking and pointing to a little boy dangling from a harness in midair, about ten feet off the ground, in the center of the two-foot-high stage.
Grabbing a chair, Nick didn't bother with the steps alongside the stage, but vaulted directly onto it midcenter, chair and all. The child swinging in the harness didn't look scared, just a bit perplexed by all the excitement. Nick gauged the boy's age to be around five. Since Nick owned a toy store, he was familiar with children of all ages and sizes.
It was ironic he'd been headed for the ski lodge to escape squabbling kids, irritable parents and the trappings of a commercial Christmas and landed in the middle of…
"Don't yank on the rope."
"Tell him to keep still."
"I'll try to find a ladder in the basement."
Amid the chaos and shouted instructions, a soft voice soothed, "Don't be frightened, Jakie. I'm right here and I won't let anything happen to you."
In its quiet truth, the woman's voice sounded above all the others. At least for Nick. And for the little boy who Nick supposed was pretending to be an angel. When his gaze fell on the young woman with light brown hair and the darkest brown eyes he'd ever seen, he realized he knew her. At least he had in high school. He'd never dated her, though he'd wanted to. But a boy from the wrong side of the tracks didn't date a girl like Faith.
She recognized him immediately. "Nick Clark?"
"None other," he said with a wry smile as he tore his gaze from hers and set up the chair under the child. "Hold on, sport. I'll have you down in a minute."
The little boy informed him, "The rope's stuck. They can't get me down."
Nick clasped Jakie under his arms and lifted him from the harness. A moment later, he'd set the boy on the stage.
Faith took the child in her arms and gave him a huge hug. "Are you all right?"
"Sure. Angels are supposed to fly," he said with a grin that made the freckles on his nose seem to dance. With his reddish-brown hair and blue eyes, he was the littlest angel personified.
Faith looked up at Nick. "Thank you. I was trying to stay calm…"
"And doing a good job of it," Nick added, really looking at Faith Hewitt for the first time in many years. She'd matured into a woman with quiet beauty. Her slightly wavy hair framed her face the way he remembered it had so many years ago.
When she smiled at him, he felt the strangest sensation in his chest and a stab of desire that jolted him. With her arm still around Jakie, she said, "You probably don't remember me, but we went to school together. Faith Hewitt."
Nick glanced at Jakie. "You aren't married?"
Faith's cheeks grew rosy. "No, I'm not."
Faith Hewitt had been one of the girls in high school that he'd respected. She'd kept herself away from the party scene that had been so much a part of those years he'd played varsity football.
Obviously he'd embarrassed her. "I had no right to assume…"
Rising to her feet, she explained, "I'm Jakie's foster parent."
The elderly man who'd pulled Nick into the community center patted the boy's head. "I think we'll stand you on some steps in the back and forget about the harness."
"But I wanna fly!" Jakie protested.
Faith put her hand on his shoulder. "We'll make you the best wings you've ever seen and everyone will believe you can fly. That's what's important."
"Can I help make them?" he asked.
Copyright © 1997 by Karen Rose Smith.