Star Light, Star Bright [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Anne Stuart
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Angela McKenna is back in Crescent Cove after a painful divorce. As if that isn't enough, she discovers that her secret teenage crush is also back in town, hiding from the world. Her Christmas could use brightening up. Maybe if she bought a special candle ... maybe if Brody Jackson was with her...
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Special Releases
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2007
18 Reader Ratings:
First Week of Advent
It was snowing again. Angela McKenna navigated the icy roads with her usual panic, driving her old Jeep at a snail's pace. At least it had all-wheel drive. But even that wonderful invention wasn't foolproof when it came to ice. This was her second winter spent on the shores of Lake Champlain, and she would have thought she'd have gotten used to the driving by now. After all, she could navigate the heart of Chicago, the insanity of New York, the freeways of L.A. without breaking a sweat. But let a few flakes of snow start drifting out of the Vermont skies and she was swamped with a tightly controlled terror. It was a good thing she didn't have to go anywhere for work—she would have been hopeless. Except, maybe that would have forced her to learn how to drive in the snowy vicinity of Crescent Cove without courting a heart attack.
She usually avoided going out entirely when the weather was bad, but right now she was driving home from Burlington Airport after spending Thanksgiving with her parents in Chicago, and the sooner she got back the better. It was only going to keep on snowing.
They'd put the holiday decorations up in the middle of town while she'd been gone. Reindeer danced from every streetlight, and the big tree at the end of the main street was ablaze with lights. Wreaths were on every one of the white clapboard houses she passed. Just after four and already growing dark, the sidewalks of Crescent Cove were empty.
She had to get home and off these snowy roads, she thought as she made her way through town with single-minded concentration, past the stores and restaurants, heading north, breathing deeply as she listened to the New Age holiday music on her car's CD player, when for some reason she hit the right turn signal. She took the turn, half in a daze. In all the time she'd spent in Crescent Cove she'd never gone down this particular narrow road, never even noticed its existence, and why she'd do so in the middle of a raging blizzard made no sense at all. Nevertheless, that was exactly what she had done.
Well, it wasn't actually a raging blizzard—more a flurry or two. And maybe she'd just been daydreaming—forgetting where she was, and taken the wrong turn. It would be easy enough to stop and head back the way she'd come. She'd never been gifted geographically, and if she kept going in a strange direction, God knows where she'd end up. Her safest bet was to turn around.
The street was packed with the early snow, and she pulled into a driveway beside a small store, then backed out again. Not into the street, but into a parking spot just outside the tiny shop.
Crescent Cove was too small a place, especially in the winter, for Angie not to have known every single side street, every shop, every restaurant. Nevertheless, this tiny shop was entirely new to her, and the warm light spilled out onto the sidewalk.
On impulse she turned off the car and climbed out. She never could resist a mystery, and the appearance of a new street, a new store, was unimaginable. Of course the street wasn't new—that would be impossible. She just hadn't seen it before—the snow made everything look different.
And once she could read the faded gilt sign over the front door she breathed a sigh of relief. Christmas Candles by Mrs. Claus, it read. The very cuteness of it should have been cloying, but Angie was in a generous mood. No wonder she'd missed it—it was a seasonal business. No one would be buying Christmas candles in the busy summer.
The snow was falling gently on her shoulders, and she realized she should return to the car and get her butt safely home, but something kept her rooted to the sidewalk. After all, she'd decided this would be the Christmas she would go all out, and it was important to support local businesses. Buy Vermont First, they said, and she opened the old oak door, listening to the silvery laughter of bells as she stepped inside.
She was expecting to be assaulted by artificial perfumes, but instead the place smelled warm and delightful, like Christmas cookies. Candles of various shapes and sizes were arranged on a number of tables, decorated with festive tablecloths and sweet-smelling greenery, and Angie felt a surge of happiness that hadn't been there in a long, long time. Christmas always did that to her.
"Merry Christmas, dearie." The woman seemed to materialize out of the shadows, and Angie would have laughed, except it seemed so right. The owner of the shop had dressed the part—rosy cheeks, wire-rimmed glasses, a red-velvet mob cap atop her soft white hair.
"Merry Christmas," Angie replied automatically. "I don't really know why I'm here…"
"You're here for a Christmas candle," the woman said in a comfortable voice.
"Well, I suppose I am," Angie admitted. "I just hadn't realized…"
"We seldom do," the so-called Mrs. Claus said. "I've got just the one for you, Angie."
Angie was startled. "How did you know who I was?"
"This is a very small town in the winter, dearie. Everyone knows everyone."
Angie was about to point out that Mrs. Claus was a complete stranger to her, but she was polite enough to keep quiet. Besides, it wasn't strictly true. There was a familiarity about the old lady that was unmistakable.
"I'm not sure what I'm looking for. Whether I want some kind of Christmas scent or—the candles are unscented," she said suddenly, just realizing it.
"No, they're not. They only release their fragrance when they're lit. And I promise you, there's nothing artificial about the scent. If you smell cinnamon and apples, then that's what's in the candle."
Copyright © 2004 Anne Kristine Stuart Ohlrogge.