Can Miss Christmas find her spirit again?After a devastating betrayal, Claire Branham packs up the pieces of her life, along with a twenty-million-dollar secret, and moves to Eternity Springs. She opens a specialty shop—Forever Christmas—and, with the help of a surprise romance with the town’s sexy new handyman, Claire’s heart begins to heal. Until her past comes knocking…Jax Lancaster never questioned the need to abandon his career as a Navy submariner in order to care for his young son in the wake of his ex-wife’s death. Desperate to help with this loss, Jax straps on a tool belt to give Nicholas the one thing he wants: A life in Eternity Springs. What Jax never expected to find a second chance at love with a fascinating woman for whom Christmas has become a business. But when the truth about Claire threatens their newfound happiness, can Jax prove to her that in Eternity Springs, the spirit of Christmas is real. . .and will last a lifetime?Christmas in Eternity Springs is the twelfth installment in Emily March's acclaimed Eternity Springs series.
After all, it wouldn’t do for anyone to be able to say he wasn’t properly caring for his son.
Along those lines, his next priority needed to be finding a job that would give him enough jingle in his pocket to provide an upgrade in lodging from the Elkhorn Lodge.
“Dad. I don’t wanna go to the doctor. I don’t need to go to the doctor.”
“Buddy, I told you Dr. Cicero won’t do an exam today. This is just a get- to- know- you meeting and to get you signed up as a patient in case you stick a marble up your nose.”
“Why would I stick a marble up my nose?”
“Why do kids do anything?”
He looked down at his son just as they reached the intersection, so he didn’t notice the woman rounding the corner until she slammed right into him. Reacting instinctively, he dropped the fi les and caught her in his arms.
“Oh. I’m so sorry,” she said.
He held her just a little longer than he absolutely needed to, and only released her when the puppy in her arms began to squirm. Her name rolled off his tongue like a song. “Claire Branham.”
“Jax,” she said, her luminous, cinnamon- colored eyes becoming round. “Jax Lancaster? You’re here? Seriously? Today of all days I run into you on a street corner in Eternity
Today of all days? What did that mean? Did she want to run into him? More importantly, did he care if she had?
“Why ‘ today of all days’?” he asked.
“Oh. Never mind.” Color stained her cheeks. “I’m babbling. Why do I always babble around you? Honestly, I’m not a babbling sort of woman! I haven’t babbled since the last time you visited Eternity Springs.”
She made him smile. Something about this woman simply lifted his spirits. “Well, that could be a problem for you,” he teased. “Nicholas and I have moved to town.”
A look he couldn’t quite define entered her lovely eyes before she took another step away.
“Wow. That is big news.” She shifted her gaze toward his son. “Hello, Nicholas. People around here are going to be so excited to hear you’re back. You made a lot of friends around town when you were here at camp.”
“Grown-up friends,” he said with a shrug. “I wish Trevor lived here instead of in Florida. Is that your dog?”
“Yes. She is.”
“What’s her name?”
“Well, she doesn’t have one yet. I didn’t know I was going to adopt her until just a little while ago. I haven’t had time to come up with the perfect name for her yet.” She paused, tilted her head, and studied the boy for a moment before she asked, “Names are very important. Want to help me decide on one for her?”
“When?” Nicholas asked. “When can I play with her? Can I play with her today? She needs a name. A person shouldn’t go without a name.”
Claire glanced up at Jax, the question in her eyes. As happy as he was to see a spark in Nicholas’s eyes because of a puppy, he still had to be a parent. “We have a doctor’s appointment we need to be getting to.”
“And I have a full after noon myself.”
“How about dinner?” Jax suggested. “Nicholas and I have had our hearts set on one of the burgers they sell at Murphy’s. I recall that their patio is dog friendly. Would you and the little one like to join us?”
“That’s a great idea. Thank you, I’d love that.”
“What time works for you?”
Following a moment’s consideration, she said, “Sevenish is probably best for me, but I’m flexible.”
“Seven it is.” Jax smiled at her, then checked his watch.
“Whoa. We’d better get moving or we’ll be late for our appointment. Ready, buddy?”
“Just a second.” Tentatively, Nicholas lifted his hand, reaching for the dog. He scratched the puppy behind her little ears and actually giggled when she licked him and nipped at his fingers.
The last doubt that Jax had harbored since making the decision to move to Eternity Springs disappeared.
“I’m glad you ran into us, Miss Claire,” Nicholas said.
“Me, too!” she declared.
“Come on, Nicholas,” Jax said, giving the boy’s shirt a tug, then Claire one more wave. As they entered the alley, Nicholas began to chatter, as animated as he’d been about anything in a very long time.
Jax understood the boy’s enthusiasm. He was plenty excited, himself. He had a dinner date with a beautiful woman.
Except, it wasn’t a date. Not a “date” date. He’d have his kid along and she would have her dog and there wouldn’t be a good- night kiss involved, much less sex. It was not a date.
Wonder if I’ll have time to wash a shirt?
“It’s not a date,” Claire told the pup who lay plopped in the middle of her bedroom floor, chewing on the dog toythat was part of the welcome- to- pet- owner ship kit that Lori had dropped off earlier. “That’s a good thing, too.Dreaming about Mr. Flesh- and- Blood is one thing, but acting on it is something else entirely. I don’t need to bite off more than you can chew. I’m better off approaching this fresh start with puppy steps. Romance is the very last thing I need in my life right now!!!”
Emily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a "master of delightful banter," and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal,and Romance Writers of America.
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.
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