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Christmas on Main Street

Christmas on Main Street

Santa's Secret Helpers, BOOK 1

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2400 5-Star Reviews

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Synopsis

Emma loves everything about living in Sapphire Bay. The scenery in the small Montana town is spectacular, her communications business is thriving, and her six-year-old twins are happy. When a Christmas Facebook post goes viral, Emma and her friends are swamped with people asking Santa for help. But it’s her twins' Christmas wish that breaks her heart.

Jack Devlin finds missing people. When his brother asks him to locate Emma’s ex-husband, he thinks it’s going to be an easy case. But the more time he spends with Emma, the more complicated their relationship becomes.

With more than one heart on the line, will they go back to their old lives or risk everything for a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love?

Chapter One Look Inside

Emma rushed into the meeting room at The Welcome Center. Pastor John and Willow were already there. “Sorry I’m late. My babysitter forgot she was looking after Molly and Dylan.”

“You could have brought the twins with you,” John said. “They would’ve been no trouble.”

Emma took off her jacket and grinned at John. The single, forty-two-year-old pastor was the sweetest, kindest man she’d ever met. But he had no idea how mischievous her six-year-old twins could be, especially Molly. Dylan would have sat quietly with his pencils and paper, but Molly would have wanted to be part of the meeting. Especially since they were talking about the tiny home village.

“It’s easier without Dylan and Molly. Have I missed anything?”

Willow shook her head. “We thought we’d wait until you arrived. Kylie can’t leave her flower shop—someone ordered a dozen flower arrangements for a birthday party tomorrow afternoon.”

“I’ll visit her after the meeting and let her know what we talked about.” Emma was pleased she wasn’t the only one who had trouble being here. Juggling her communications business, her volunteer work at The Welcome Center, and looking after the twins sometimes felt like a losing battle. 

John handed Emma a folder. “Willow told me my list of fundraising ideas needed some work. So I sat down and came up with a different approach. What do you think?”

Emma glanced at Willow and tried not to smile. John’s last list included hosting the Miss America pageant. Although the boost in tourist numbers would be appreciated, she knew that wasn’t the reason he had included it.

She opened the folder and looked at the ideas. Ten months ago, Pastor John had decided to do something about the lack of affordable rental accommodation in Sapphire Bay. The small Montana town had the same problem as most cities and towns around the world. A growing number of people were living in their cars or with family and friends because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. Others suffered from mental health and addiction issues, making it almost impossible to live independently or convince a landlord to rent their homes to them.

After investigating different options, John had worked with a team of architectural students at Montana State University. They’d designed affordable, tiny homes that would provide subsidized rental accommodation. So far, six homes had been built in an old steamboat museum and transported to a plot of land opposite the church.

The community’s goal was to have twenty-five tiny homes built in the next twelve months. Raising the funds to build them was an ongoing project. And that’s what Emma, Willow, and their friends were doing.

Emma leaned her elbows on the table. “A lot of these ideas have a Christmas theme.”

Pastor John nodded. “It’s mid-July. If we don’t think about Christmas now, it’ll be too late to plan anything.”

One of the projects made Emma frown. “Isn’t the beginning of September a little early to have a Christmas parade on Main Street?”

John shrugged. “It’s never too early for Christmas. Besides, if we involve the entire community, people will come from all over Montana to enjoy our Christmas events.”

Willow sighed. “There’s only one problem. Zac and I are getting married soon. Between planning the wedding and making sure my next photographic collection’s ready, I don’t have a lot of spare time.”

“Don’t worry,” Emma reassured her. “You’ve already done an incredible amount of fundraising. You can help us when your life’s a little less hectic.”

John pulled out a sheet of paper from his folder. “I agree. You need to take care of yourself,” he said, handing the sheet to Emma.

“What’s this?”

“It’s my plan B. I had a feeling Willow would be too busy to help, so I mentioned the tiny home village to Bailey Jones yesterday. She’s talking to Zac about a job in his medical clinic.”

Willow frowned. “Is that Sam’s sister?”

John nodded. “She’s wanted to move here for a long time. But it wasn’t until she heard about Zac’s clinic that she was able to seriously consider it.”

“Why do you have a copy of her resumé?” Emma asked.

“If Bailey gets a job with Zac, she’s offered to help with the fundraising projects for the tiny home village. She gave me a copy of her resumé to see if her skills match what we need.”

Emma smiled. “I hope you told her we aren’t picky. As long as she’s happy to help, we’ll find something for her to do.” Her eyes widened when she read Bailey’s qualifications. “Why does she want to live in Sapphire Bay? She could work anywhere in the world.”

“It’s probably because of Sam,” Willow murmured. “They’re a close family.” She looked over Emma’s shoulder and released a low whistle. “I don’t know anything about being a family therapist, but having a degree from Harvard and working in the Mayo Clinic’s impressive.”  

“When would Bailey move here?” Emma asked John.

“It depends on Zac. If he wants her to start next week, she could.”

Emma’s mind was racing through the events on John’s list. They’d need all the help they could get if they were going to do half the things he’d planned. “Where’s she staying while she’s here?”

“For now, she’s living with Sam and Caleb. If she gets the job with Zac, I’m not sure where she’ll live.” John looked at Emma and raised his eyebrows.  “What do you think about a Christmas on Main Street event?”

“It sounds like fun,” Emma said cautiously. “But there’s too much on the list. We’ll have to take out some things.”

John looked at the list and sighed. “I guess that means the cross-country sleigh race and the pop-up North Pole village are out of the question?”

Emma laughed. “Maybe. You’ve given us the outline of what you’d like. How about I talk to Kylie? We’ll look at how much work’s involved in each idea, then come back to you with a program that works for everyone.”

John sat back in his chair. “That sounds like a good plan. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with.”

Neither could Emma. Because regardless of what she’d said to John, Christmas was her favorite time of the year. Even if they were starting a little early.

* * *

Jack lifted his suitcase out of his brother’s truck and took a moment to enjoy the view from Acorn Cottage. The clear blue water of Flathead Lake sat like a polished jewel against the towering mountain range on the far side of the bay. Pine, spruce, and oak trees added color and texture to the sheer cliffs, sheltering the land from the worst of the weather that tore across the lake.

“Do you ever get tired of this view?” he asked his brother.

Noah smiled. “It hasn’t happened yet. Even in the middle of summer, each day’s different. You could always live here, too.”

Jack rolled his suitcase toward Acorn Cottage. “I wouldn’t have enough work to do.” Five years ago, he’d started his own private investigation company. Lost and Found specialized in reconnecting family and friends who had, for one reason or another, lost contact with each other.

He couldn’t have grown the business into the success it was without the highly qualified team he’d recruited. Moving to the sleepy town of Sapphire Bay would be a huge stretch for any of them. Especially if they spent most of their time searching for missing cats and runaway children.

Noah opened the front door and handed Jack the key. “Cassie left some fresh milk and butter in the refrigerator. There’s bread and enough cereal for a few days in the pantry. I’m heading into town in half an hour. If you need anything else, let me know.”

“I stopped at the general store on my way through town and picked up a few groceries. If you and Cassie want to join me for dinner, I’ve got enough meat and salads for everyone.”

“What time are you eating?”

“Six o’clock.”

Noah nodded. “We’ll be here.”

“I’ll call Granddad and invite him, too. How are the plans going for your birthday?” Turning forty was a big deal, not that you’d know it if you spoke to Noah. Jack was surprised his brother was having a party. Even before he’d moved to Sapphire Bay, Noah did everything he could to keep his personal life as low-key as possible.

“Everything’s organized. When you see Granddad, remind him that he needs to be here by two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Knowing him, he’ll get so involved in building the tiny homes that he’ll forget about the party.”

Jack frowned. “I don’t think that will happen.”

“You might be surprised.” Noah wrapped his arms around Jack and gave him a hug. “It’s good to see you little brother. Thanks for coming all this way.”

“You’re welcome. I wouldn’t have missed your birthday for anything.”

Noah looked away, but not before Jack saw the worry in his brother’s eyes. “What haven’t you told me?”

“Everything’s fine,” Noah assured him. “The thought of turning forty is stressing me out.”

Jack laughed. “You’d better get used to it. You’ve got one day left to enjoy being in your thirties. After that it’s all downhill.”

“I’d be careful what I said, if I were you. You’re only two years younger than me.” Noah checked his watch. “I need to get back to the cottage for a conference call. I’ll see you later this afternoon.”

Jack said goodbye and watched his brother walk across the yard. Thinking about getting older was the least of Jack’s worries. Over the last year, he’d started thinking there was something wrong with him. While all his friends were finding the love of their lives and settling into parenthood, he was still making the same mistakes.

None of his relationships lasted more than a couple of months. And once they ended, he never saw the woman again. If there was someone meant for him, he hadn’t met her. And the most depressing thought of all was that maybe he never would.

Fans of Netflix's Virgin River series and Sweet Magnolias will love this small-town, feel-good romance!

Emma loves everything about living in Sapphire Bay. The scenery in the small Montana town is spectacular, her communications business is thriving, and her six-year-old twins are happy.

When a Christmas Facebook post goes viral, Emma and her friends are swamped with people asking Santa for help. But it’s her twins' Christmas wish that breaks her heart.

Jack Devlin finds missing people.

When his brother asks him to locate Emma’s ex-husband, he thinks it’s going to be an easy case. But the more time he spends with Emma, the more complicated their relationship becomes.

With more than one heart on the line, will they go back to their old lives or risk everything for a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love?

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "This series is a heartwarming, small-town must read!"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "Lovely story. Perfect holiday reading!"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "Perfect for fans of clean romance with real-life issues being worked out and a great happy ever after!"

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