A Christmas in Paradise
Evie is devastated when her two best friends leave New Jersey to move to Montana. Her love for Grant and Trey, and the secret she has kept hidden, only makes her more determined to spend at least one last Christmas with them before she is ready to move on with her life.
Grant and Trey have always been enchanted with their neighbor, to the point they realize if they don’t leave, they will take her as their own. If there was a way to do it without terrifying her, they would have, but the secret they have of their true nature as shape-shifters is too much for most humans.
Moving to Paradise to live near members of their former team, is the only way to save the dark skinned beauty. What they never expect is for her to come looking for them – with love and determination in her soft amber eyes. Now, it is Grant and Trey’s turn to convince Evie that they want more than one Christmas in Paradise. Will she accept forever if they ask her under the mistletoe?
Evie stopped at the red light, rolled down her window and waited for the wipers to swipe up the windshield so she could grab the one in front of her. She should have listened to her mechanic and replaced the damned things before she left on this trip, but she’d been in a hurry and she’d also needed to save every dime she could for her trip West. What was a little inconvenience when saving nearly thirty dollars?
The light turned green just as she finished knocking the last of the ice from the wiper, and rolled the window up. As gentle as she could, she eased her foot down on the gas.
“You’re almost there. Don’t blow it and end up in a ditch, now.” She leaned forward, as though it would help her see through the thick snow.
She glanced out at the darkened buildings and wondered if she should have stopped earlier, as the woman who had rung up her coffee and Danish had suggested almost three hours ago. Her fingers tightened on the wheel as she shook her head. She’d keep going if it killed her and by the looks of things, the drive just might.
Slowing as the snow fell in large, thick flakes and hindered her vision still more, she took a deep breath and sighed. She had to make it to Paradise. She had no idea where to find it, other than it was just outside of Mason. She couldn’t find it on a map. She only had the directions given to her through an email.
“Get a grip on it, Evie. The road is around here somewhere.” She couldn’t see her new friend, Gemma, steering her wrong. Besides, the woman owned the local lodge. She wouldn’t lead a potential customer astray, would she?
Evie decided to travel to Paradise after the two men she’d considered her best friends in the world moved there. They kept their entire move a secret as though it was another one of their top secret missions.
Having friends who were in the Special Forces could be trying, at best. She knew there were certain aspects of their missions, entire missions, even, they couldn’t tell her about, but what the hell was up with their secret move across the country after they retired and leaving her alone in New Jersey? Secretive military missions she could deal with, but Trey and Grant had retired nearly five years ago. Moving to Montana shouldn’t have been any more secretive than a trip to an amusement park.
She pressed her lips together. The last thing she needed was to go off on another rant about them while she was alone. People back home had started to think she was a couple of fries short of a kid’s meal. That was one of the reasons she’d gathered everything she owned, packed it in her truck and headed out to find her best friends.
“Yep, Evie, talking to yourself is definitely out.” She clamped her teeth together, and rolled her eyes. Would she never learn?
Twenty minutes later, she saw the large red barn Gemma had told her to look for and just past that, a narrow dirt road led off to the left. The road to Paradise was well hidden. Was this some sort of secret government town where people invented new gadgets and weapons like that TV show the guys had loved so much?
“God, Evie, you’re too stupid to live, aren’t you?” She hesitated for a moment before making the turn onto the road and heading up the slight incline. “Apparently. What kind of smart woman heads off alone on the advice of an email that could have been written by a forty-year-old axe murderer just as easily as the legitimate owner of a small town hotel?”
With a heavy sigh, she shifted her SUV into four-wheel drive on the fly, put it in low gear and climbed the snow-covered incline.
After another ten minutes, she fought the urge to back down the hill. She might have done so if the visibility had been better, but she could see less behind her than she could in front of her.
“So much for spending Christmas in Paradise,” Evie grumbled to herself as the truck skidded sideways and almost slid off the ledge into the dark abyss below. “I’ll be lucky if I don’t slide off this road and end up in some ravine.” She shook her head. “What in the world possessed me to drive up into the mountains in the middle of December?”
After another twenty minutes, Evie’s vehicle came to a halt. Her wheels spun, driving the large vehicle sideways and closer to the edge of the road and the darkness below.
“Damn!” She let off the gas and hit the steering wheel with the palm of her hand. “I guess you’re walking from here.”
Climbing into the back seat, she dug her newly acquired ski suit out of one of her bags, grabbed two more pairs of socks and her snow boots. Her gloves sat waiting on the front seat in front of the vents, warming.
“Buy the four-wheel drive, they said. It’ll never get stuck, they said,” she complained as she donned her gear. “Hell, you’ll be lucky if you don’t freeze to death, you idiot.”
It was a good thing she’d stopped to go to the bathroom at the last gas station. Otherwise, she’d really be in trouble.
“Thank goodness Gemma convinced me to buy a warm suit for skiing or snowmobile riding. At least I’ll stay warm for a while.”
Great! She was back to talking to herself again.