The Christmas Spirit
by Alexandrea Weis
Published by: Rosewind Books
Publication date: October 27th 2020
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SOMETIMES IT TAKES ONE BROKEN HEART TO HEAL ANOTHER. Courtney Winston is a writer on a deadline. Eager to finish her book and get over a recent break-up, she ditches Christmas with her family and retreats to a secluded cabin in the mountains. Appliances rarely work, and cell service is spotty, but Courtney senses there is more to her rustic rental—something dark and haunting. Then Peter, the attractive Stone Mountain Lodge owner, and a meddling cook, Mrs. Finn, keep coming around, shattering her peace and offering advice on how to fix her heavy heart. Courtney grows closer to Peter, but Mrs. Finn warns her of his troubled past. Undaunted, Courtney sets out to win him over. But being with the brooding stranger may end up costing her more than she ever imagined.
The blue wasn’t as brilliant in his eyes before. She wasn’t sure if it was his boots, or how he hunched his shoulders, but he appeared shorter, too. The lines across his brow and around his mouth were deeper, his jaw wasn’t quite as square, and the ruggedness of his features had faded.
“Why are you here, Peter? I could have gotten my own wood.” He went to the opposite side of the sofa, keeping his distance. “You worried me. Coming to this remote cabin the way you did for the holidays … well, it’s not something happy people do.” “Happy people?” Her irritation flared. “So you came out here to make sure I didn’t kill myself? I guess that could hurt your lodge’s reputation.”
He sat and let out a long breath. “No, I came because I sensed you needed someone to lean on. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Everyone needs help now and then.”
She raised her eyebrows. “I don’t. I’ve overcome a lot of odds to make my way in the world. I’m a successful executive and a burgeoning author, and I’ve accomplished everything without anyone’s help.”
Peter tapped the arm of the sofa with a tapered finger, his gaze never wavering. “And that would explain why you’re here—alone in an isolated cabin. You refuse to let anyone help you.” He stopped tapping and leaned in closer. “It’s all right to talk about what’s bothering you. Emotions don’t make you weak; they make you human.”
She was about to argue with him, defend her reclusive lifestyle, and then the fight in her fizzled. He was right—a wound couldn’t heal without being tended, and all Courtney had done since getting dumped was ignore her injury. But many people she tried to talk to grew tired of listening.
“No one wants to hear about someone else’s problems.”
“But I want to hear yours.” He sat back, dropping his voice to a gentle murmur. “I want to know what brought you here.”
The icy wall that had sprouted around her heart slowly thawed. He might not have been the same kind and considerate man who’d driven her to the cabin, but something was soothing about him. Perhaps the time had come to address the real reason she embraced coming to the cabin.
Her tension retreated as she raised her head to the ceiling, attempting to find the right words.
“When your world falls apart, sometimes all you can register is the destruction and how your feelings gut you. You don’t see or hear others when they try to help. It’s just noise. But your being here, your kindness, it’s made things better. I’m not sure how you did that, but I’m grateful you came out in the cold night to check on me.” She wiped her face and stood, uncomfortable with all she’d said. “I’m sure you have other guests to see to.”
Peter reclined on the sofa, draping his arm over the back.
“What was his name?”
For weeks, she’d refused to say it. Now, she feared speaking his name might give him some power over her.
She sank onto the sofa, twisting her hands.
“Kyle,” came out in a long, sad breath.
“And why did you let him break your heart?”
She tossed up her hand. “I caught him with another woman.”
“No, that’s how your relationship ended.” Peter eased closer. “What I want to know is why you let him in? You profess to be strong and not need anyone. What did he have you felt you lacked?”
The question washed over her, creating a funny quiver in her stomach. “I’m not sure how to answer that.”
Peter adjusted his coat, getting comfortable. “Try.”
She took in his relaxed air, which contradicted his formal attire, and questioned if confiding any more was a wise move. She vacillated between showing him the door and sharing what was on her mind.
“I’m not here to judge, Courtney. Only to listen.”
Hearing her name in his smooth, deep voice settled her debate. Perhaps what she needed was an objective opinion.
“When I first met Kyle, he was everything I thought I wanted—intelligent, funny, a man who could make me better.” She took a loose lock of her brown hair and twirled it nervously around her finger. “I guess that’s what I was looking for—someone who would tell me I was good enough.”
He rubbed the golden stubble on his chin. “And did he do that?”
She let the hair fall from her hand. “I thought he did, but then little things changed my mind. He tore me down most of the time. When we fought, he blamed everything on me. Soon, I became the problem in his life, not the solution. No one was surprised when we ended—not even me.”
Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author, screenwriter, advanced practice registered nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. Weis writes romance, mystery, suspense, thrillers, supernatural, and young adult fiction and has sold approximately one million books. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals. She is a member of both the International Thriller Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association. www.AlexandreaWeis.com Author links: http://alexandreaweis.com/ https://www.instagram.com/alexandreaweis/ http://alexandreaweis.com/subscribe/ https://www.facebook.com/authoralexandreaweis/ https://twitter.com/alexandreaweis https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1211671.Alexandrea_Weis