Cheyenne Jensen is struggling to raise her two kids without the help of her ex-husband who refuses to acknowledge his daughter's existence and doesn't provide for the son he does. This Christmas is shaping up to be as heartbreaking as the last, until her son Ben's kind actions lead a stranger to them.
Ah, but it's Christmas time and the magic has begun.
When Jacob and Cheyenne meet, neither can deny their immediate attraction to one another. As situations arise that require they spend more time together, their feelings grow stronger and stronger.
With Christmas fast approaching, the pair learn what matters most in life. Now, if only they could ditch the ghost of Christmases past.
Maybe this holiday will bring some wishes come true- for everyone after all.
Cheyenne wasn’t sure where she should go. With all the equipment, she felt out of place. Desiree was settled comfortably in her swing, but at least she could move that out of the way. The doorbell rang again. That must be the other person Erin referred to. Cheyenne gasped in surprise when she pulled the door open and came face to face with Jacob.
“Hi! What are you- how did you-” Cheyenne couldn’t talk all of a sudden. Why was Jacob standing on her porch? How had he found her? She never imagined she’d see him again after the weekend. He picked the craziest moment to show up. “I’m sorry. It’s a little crazy right now.”
“I know all about it.” Jacob smiled, his voice easing her nerves. “I’m here for the interview.”
“You are? Why?” Cheyenne blurted. Oh yeah, that was sure classy. Cheyenne opened the door, gesturing for him to come in. It wasn’t until he was inside that Cheyenne noted a stuffed bear in his hands. Her cheeks heated, embarrassed. Could this day possibly get any stranger? It was bad enough she couldn’t shake the nerves for the interview, but now Jacob stood in her living room? The butterflies danced in her gut.
“Mr. Winston! There you are. We’re ready when you are,” the reporter said with enthusiasm. Ben turned, eyes round as saucers when he saw Jacob.
“Mr. Santa’s Helper! What are you doing here?” Ben grinned. Jacob got a better reception from Ben than Cheyenne had given him. What a goof! No wonder she didn’t date. She couldn’t even manage to make a man feel welcome. Blame it on the nerves and the distraction, sure, but she still didn’t know what to say to Jacob when he was around.
“Ben, Cheyenne. Jacob is the person that nominated Ben for the Eyes of a Child Award. I wanted him to be here for this event, as he must have been very inspired by you, Ben, to nominate you,” Erin said. “Okay, guys. Positions. We’re going to get ready to record. Just take my lead. You have nothing to be nervous about.” The woman’s gaze met Cheyenne’s. She must have sensed her worry. Cheyenne gave a small smile, following Jacob into the living room. Since Ben and Erin sat on the couch by the window, that left the love seat for her and Jacob. Cheyenne took the spot closest to Desiree’s swing. Jacob eased beside her.
Just a foot away from her or less. One of the cameramen walked over and set Jacob and Cheyenne up with tiny microphones that attached to their shirts.
It didn’t take long for her to come back. Jacob moved to the living room, standing and waiting. When he saw her coming, he closed the gap between them. Before he could could think twice, he touched her shoulder gently, wanting to thank her for the evening.
But instead of talking, he leaned in and kissed her. Just a light kiss. Gentle. Friendly.
Until she responded. She had her arms around him, pulling him for another kiss. Deeper. Sweeter. She tasted so sweet. Her need made him swell. He could do this all night. Jacob pressed her against the wall, their kisses deepening with urgency. He ran his fingers through her fine hair. Her hands wrapped around his neck, rubbing lightly. She tasted so good.
Jacob pulled back abruptly. “Cheyenne,” he ground out. “We have to stop.”
Before I lose it.
He didn’t want to stop. He never expected her to reciprocate like this. Wow. Maybe it wasn’t one sided after all. Jacob sighed.
That halted everything. She pulled away, looking at him with wide, beautiful eyes. “I’m sorry. I pushed. You must think I’m a fool. I thought, when you kissed me...” Cheyenne attempted to move out of Jacob’s embrace. Oh, damn. She thought he didn’t want her. He did, oh, how he did.
“No, no. Honey, that’s not it at all. Kissing you was magical. Amazing. But we just met. I don’t want to take things too far. But I would love to see you again.” He pushed back loose strands of her hair that hung over her face when she’d moved. She looked so vulnerable. Was she going to cry? Oh hell, he wouldn’t be able to handle it if she did. The last thing he wanted was for her to be upset with him.
“I’d like that, too. It was a wonderful, amazing day, and I have you to thank for it.” She nearly whispered the words, choking up on the last part. “God, I’m a mess. I’m sorry. There’s been so much going on, and my signals are going crazy at the moment.”
So when Jacob called that evening, she mentioned it to him. Asked him. “What was Ben’s wish that day, Jacob?”
“Hmm?” he asked, obviously startled. Distracted again.
“Ben said that the wishing well with Santa worked, that it brought you to us. I’m curious what his wish was.” Cheyenne leaned back into the couch, covering herself with the blanket. She wanted to turn up the heat, but debated against it. Ben and Desiree were warm enough, so why couldn’t she get warm? If she turned the heat up anymore, she’d suffocate. Not to mention the electric bill.
Jacob hesitated before answering. “He wished for you not to have to work so hard. That he could have a family, a daddy that loved him.” Oh, Ben. No wonder he thought Jacob was the answer. Jacob had been there ever since the wish, since Ben met him. He thought Jacob would be the daddy he always wanted? That’s why he was so happy when he saw Jacob and Cheyenne exchange a hug or a quick kiss.
He had his sights set high. Way too high. While she wanted the best for Ben, he couldn’t go on thinking that Jacob was going to be a dad to him. Jacob had his own life, though he’d been sharing time with them, it wouldn’t last long, would it? With whatever he was dealing with that kept him at a distance, she predicted it wouldn’t. Call it a fear, call it intuition, call it stupid, but when someone didn’t give their undivided attention and seemed to be shrouded in mystery, it couldn’t end well.
Cheyenne willed the tears not to fall. What a wish for a six year old. While her pride for her son was evident, the fact that a little boy had to wish for things like that tore her up.
“Cheyenne? You okay?” Jacob’s deep voice made her heart beat faster.
“I was just taken back. Wow. He shouldn’t have to wish for love from his father. That’s terrible.”
“It is. But you’re doing all you can. You can’t control what his dad does, Cheyenne. You have to know that. Ben looks up to you. He thinks the world of you.”
“He’s growing up too fast. Sometimes he’s so much wiser than six. I don’t always know how to react, or feel about that.” A chill ran down her spine, spouting goosebumps on her arm. She tried to shift positions, cover all of herself. “I wish you were here,” she blurted.
Nikki Lynn Barrett lives in Arizona with her husband and son. She's an avid reader, a dreamer, and loves everything about books. She runs a book blog, an online used bookstore, and writes various genres of romance. Nikki can also be found outside with her camera when a storm is near, snapping photo after photo. Her dreams of becoming a writer started when she was young, when she started writing books in one subject notebooks by the fifth grade. The Secret Santa Wishing Well is her debut book. You can visit Nikki's site at: www.nikkilynnbarrett.blogspot.com for more information. She is working on her next book. Nikki would love to hear from readers. Email her at email@example.com
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