A Heartwarming Christmas: A Boxed Set of Twelve Sweet Holiday Romances

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A sharp rap on her front door made Cara almost drop her cup.

Who could be here this time of night? [Her friend] Jill would be in bed by now. Tempted to ignore the knock, Cara finally answered.

“Delivery,” Brady said in her doorway. “Got your tree for you. A rescue.” He shouldered his way inside with a gorgeous, bushy seven-foot scotch pine. Snow dusted a few branches and even his hair, making him look like an old man. She couldn’t resist a laugh. “You think that’s funny?” he said. “No sense letting this one end up in the dump.”

“You’re funny. Do you know what time it is?”

“Time to pretty up this baby. Go get those decorations. I’m an expert. I brought a stand with me too.”

“Has anyone ever told you you’re pushy?”

“You need pushy.”

Cara looked at her teacup, her abandoned story on the table. He wasn’t taking no for an answer. She didn’t really want him to. Last night she’d welcomed his help with Tommy, his company later. Cara gave up. “Would you like something to drink?”

“I have hot chocolate.” While she retrieved the boxes of ornaments from the attic, he went back to his truck for a large thermos. Before he stepped inside again, he stamped his snowy boots on her welcome mat. “You wait any longer,” he said, “Christmas will be over.”

And Brady would be gone. She had to remember that as well as [her sister] Beth.

Yet Cara couldn’t deny they had fun while Brady set the tree in its stand then helped her hang ornaments—so many she’d loved in years past—and, finally, sprinkled the pine with old-fashioned tinsel. Brady had brought that with him as well.

Before she knew it, he’d playfully tossed a few strands at her hair. His laughter warmed her heart and Cara couldn’t help but join in. As pay back, she returned the favor until they both looked as glittery as the tree. And were still laughing.

 “You actually like this,” she said, feeling breathless. “Some men don’t. My father never put the lights on our tree without having a meltdown.”

“Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.” He grinned. “Snow, presents, wreaths and candles…family all around. What’s not to like?”

Cara wondered why Brady was staying then at the Pine Tree Inn instead of his parents’ home, but she hesitated to ask and break the mood they’d shared. And Brady had stopped laughing. The moment hung between them like the silver star he’d fastened to the top of the tree. With a slightly shaky hand, he reached out to pull a piece of tinsel from her hair.

“I like you all…sparkly,” he murmured, his voice husky. “I like you, Cara.”