A Little Christmas Spirit
(A Lilac Romance Book 7)
“Pamela Ferguson takes us back to a small town Christmas with quirky characters, 3 angels and a whole lot of Christmas spirit.” – Essential Romance Book Club
Reporter Marla Norquist was planning to spend Christmas alone in the city until a mysterious tip about a secret celebrity wedding sends her to Lilac. She expects to encounter tight-lipped residents who want to protect the happy couples’ privacy—not angels, a ghost, and a handsome guy involved in a ransomware scandal!
When identity theft turns digital currency investor Jacob Reed’s life upside down, he hopes to lay low during the holidays while authorities sort things out. When Marla reveals she knows about both the scandal and his brother’s secret celebrity wedding, Jacob attempts to distract her from publishing either story. Can three mischievous angels and a meddlesome ghost convince Jacob and Marla to put aside their suspicions and discover the true meaning of Christmas? A Lilac contemporary novella.
Available in ebook, print, and audiobook
A Little Christmas Spirit. Copyright © 2021 Pamela Ferguson
Published by Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications
Jacob Reed searched his coat pockets as the chauffeured SUV came to a stop in front of Filmore Hardware. “I’d like to give you a tip. Do you take credit cards?”
The driver glanced in the rearview mirror, his brown eyes twinkling beneath bushy white brows. “No worries. Bolt pays well. I’ll get your bag.”
Guilt pricked Jacob’s conscience. Thirty seconds. That’s all it would’ve taken to slip some cash into his wallet. But in the world of digital currency trading, fortunes were made in less than thirty seconds. And lost.
He exited the warmth of the luxurious interior to join the two men waiting on the sidewalk. They squinted in the bright morning sun, grinning like two elves who’d just hidden all the Christmas presents. He pulled his brother Logan into a hug. “Okay, what’s so important that you guys had to send a car for me at six o’clock in the morning? How’s it going, Bolt?” Jacob shook hands with Logan’s partner, Bolt Gilroy, still unable to believe his brother was dating a famous race car driver.
“Told you. My store manager went into labor. What I didn’t tell you is,” Logan put his arm around Bolt’s shoulders, “we’re married!”
“What? Without me?” Jacob couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Your voice mail message only asked if I wanted to come a few days early for Christmas. It didn’t say anything about a wedding. When?”
Logan smiled. “Last night. Reverend Harcourt performed the ceremony. Father Dominic gave a blessing. Didn’t you receive my text?”
“When did you send it?” Jacob asked.
“Didn’t get it. Had to get a new phone number yesterday.” Jacob couldn’t believe he’d missed his only brother’s wedding. He wouldn’t be here now if his landlord hadn’t banged on his door at four a.m., saying Logan needed him to call
Logan looked shocked. “I know how crazy your life gets with all that digital trading stuff. If you had to work, you had to work. You’re here now, that’s what’s important.”
Jacob felt a surge of guilt. He should’ve answered Logan’s first voice mail message. But that would’ve meant explaining the ransomware attack, something he couldn’t do.
Bolt gripped Jacob’s shoulder. “Don’t blame Logan for not leaving a detailed message. We both wanted a private candlelight wedding at Christmastime. Couldn’t risk having the press get wind of it before we tell Grandpa Earl. He’s been having a rough time since that last surgery.”
Everybody who followed racing knew that before Bolt’s Grandpa Earl had gotten laid up with a broken hip, he’d come to every one of his grandson’s races.
“Did your store manager really go into labor last night?” Jacob asked.
Logan nodded. “Right at the end of the ceremony. That’s why I needed you here so early. Left detailed instructions for you on the store counter. Sure you don’t mind overseeing things for a few days?”
“Not a problem. After all, I am a silent partner.” Jacob had been fine with fronting some of the cash for Logan to purchase the 100-year-old hardware store. He just didn’t share his brother’s appreciation for life in a small town.
“Zeke and Wendell will be along any minute,” Logan continued. “Told them you’re in charge while Bolt and I are travelling. Be sure to keep an eye on them when they ring up customers. Wendell can get confused by the touch screen. Zeke sometimes double-scans barcodes.”
Jacob swallowed a chuckle. “Glad to hear nothing has changed.” As if change were even possible in Lilac. The town stuck to traditions like gum to the sole of a shoe.
Bolt cleared his throat. “That’s not all. I’d appreciate it if you’d run interference. Distract any reporters that start sniffing around. Only had six guests at the wedding. Swore they’d keep it on the down low, but folks around here do like to talk.”
Only six? “Who was there?”
“Aunt Eva and Uncle Allen, of course. Lavinia and Tom Burgin.” Logan spread his hands. “Had to invite the mayor and his wife since I’m on the town council. My store manager Sally and her husband Noah were the witnesses.”
Jacob didn’t know Sally and Noah, but those other four guests were serial gossips. Between Lavinia watching Main Street from her Sparkles Galore jewelry shop and Uncle Allen manning the register at Allen and Eva’s Organic Produce, nothing happened in town without the four of them hearing about it. “You didn’t invite any guests?”
Bolt shook his head. “If Grandpa Earl couldn’t be here, it didn’t feel right asking anybody else. Besides, if I’d invited one guest, I would’ve had to invite a thousand. We’ll have a big party later for the town to celebrate.”
Jacob crossed his arms. “Still can’t believe you got married at Christmastime.”
“Our parents loved Christmas.” Logan’s voice was gentle. “They would’ve wanted us to celebrate.”
Keep thinking that, little brother. Logan had been sound asleep when the police had shown up after the car accident. Unlike Jacob, he hadn’t heard the police talking to the babysitter or the social worker calling their Aunt Eva. Other people could celebrate Christmas all they wanted. “Don’t you think you’re being a bit naïve, believing folks can sit on a secret celebrity wedding story?”
Bolt shrugged. “Gotta hope. I’d like us to have a peaceful visit with Grandpa Earl before the press stakes out his front lawn. I’ll tell my publicity team to make the announcement after we leave his house.”
“Will you do it?” Logan asked. “Mind the store for a few days and distract the press?”
“Considering I missed the ceremony, it’s the least I can do.” Jacob turned to Bolt. “Did Logan explain I’m an absentee brother?”
“Nope.” Bolt grinned. “Bet he didn’t tell you about my long line of incarcerated ancestors either. He doesn’t judge. That’s one of the things I love most about him.”
“Same here.” Even though Jacob had totally messed up by missing the wedding, he knew he’d never hear a word about it from his brother.
Logan glanced up from his phone. “Enough with the compliments. Lulu sent me a text saying Marla Norquist just walked into the Lilac Inn.”
Bolt’s brow crinkled. “Who’s Marla Norquist?”
“The journalist who broke the Roy Dippel scandal. Remember, Jacob, last Christmas?”
Jacob shook his head. Christmas was something to be endured. As soon as the holiday season ended, he forgot everything associated with it and got on with his life.
Logan fixed his gaze on a point in the distance. “That’s Marla coming now.”
Jacob turned. At the end of the street, a woman hurried along the sidewalk, dark hair flowing across the shoulders of her coat. She walked with the quick, confident stride he saw on the sidewalks of Washington, DC. Nobody walked like that in Lilac.