Publisher: Tule Publishing Group
Formats: eBook, audiobook
"Reading Mistletoe Magic is like watching a feel-good movie, making me sigh and grin and dream at the same time." The Coffeeholic Bookworm
Can mistletoe create magic that college never could?
Curled up with a romantic novel by a warm fire is how Caitlin Butler plans to spend Christmas Eve until an ill, stray kitten tugs on her heartstrings, bringing her face-to-face with the college boy she couldn't have—Noah Sullivan. Watching the selfless veterinarian care for the sick kitten melts her heart, flooding her with long-forgotten emotions. Knowing she should leave, the pull of undeniable feelings and the tantalizing mistletoe tempt her to stay with a promise of what could be…and what should have been. Can the magic of mistletoe change the past and give her the Christmas she's always wanted?
This is a short story (9,000 words) companion to the Bar V5 Ranch series.
Read an Excerpt
A bag of coal settled at the bottom of his stomach.
Talk about an over-the-top, Christmas-gone-wrong nightmare. Whoever did this had missed the memo about less was more when decorating. Ty scuffed the ball of his boot across the dirt floor. This was not how he wanted to start the day. At least he knew the first thing to write on his chore list today—redecorating.
“What do you think?” a female voice asked, her tone hopeful.
A-ha. He knew who was to blame for making a Las-Vegas-strip-worthy spectacle of his barn. Meg Redstone, the newest addition to the Bar V5 staff, in charge of guest services and event planning, a Montana native who’d spent the past five years working at hotels and inns in the Midwest. Nate must have added holiday decorator to her job description. This looked like something a city girl might do.
Ty would be careful with what he said. The last thing he wanted to do was upset a new employee. He faced the full-size elf, not surprised she wore a reindeer antler headband over her fleece hat.
Her gaze met his. The hope he’d heard in Meg’s voice matched the expression in her milk chocolate eyes.
His heart lurched. Not the reaction he expected or wanted, but she looked . . . good.
She wore a forest green parka with a Bar V5 emblem on the upper left side, insulated pants, gloves and boots. Dark blond strands of hair stuck out from her hat. Only the skin on her face was exposed. The cold temperature tinged her cheeks and nose pink. Pretty, if you liked soulful brown eyes and a generous mouth. He did.
She smiled tentatively, as if on display and awaiting approval. Not her, the decorations. “Good morning.”
“Hey.” He would be interested in getting to know her outside of work, except for one thing. A six-year-old girl named Brooklyn who was Meg’s daughter. A nice kid, but moms were to be avoided at all costs. Hell, women who wanted kids, too. Non-negotiable. “Up early.”
She nodded. “So . . . Christmassy enough for you?”
He looked around, not seeing anything specific except for a blur of colored lights. “You’ve been, uh, busy.”
She bounced from foot to foot, moving her hands. Excited or too much caffeine? He’d go with the first.
“I started as soon as Thanksgiving dinner finished.” Meg patted her stomach. “A good thing, because after your sister’s amazing meal, I needed to work off calories. And I wanted to surprise you.” She raised her gloved hands. “Surprise!”
So eager to please. A hard worker. And . . .
So what if Meg was attractive? Or she fit in with the staff as if she’d worked at the Bar V5 for years, not weeks? Three to be exact. She had a kid. A cute one, but a child in need of a father.
Not going to happen.
“You succeeded. Very . . . Christmassy.” Ty had won his fair share of poker games, but he wasn’t that good an actor. Best not to say too much. “Though glass balls and barn cats are never a good combination. I cleaned up the mess and took the others off before they broke.”
“I’ve never had a cat. Sorry.” She sounded contrite. “What about the rest of the decorations?”
“Never seen so many lights in a barn before.”
Meg’s forehead creased. “The lights were in the plastic bins sitting with the decorations.”
That explained why there were so many. “Those lights are for the entire ranch.”
Meg’s smile disappeared. “Oh.”
The one word said more than twenty could. He pressed his lips together, glimpsed the bottom of a ladder. She must have worked through the night putting up the lights and decorations herself. He might not like what she did, but he appreciated the effort.
“No worries.” He had none. Summer, their busiest season, had been a sellout. Reservations for next year looked solid. Livestock sales had been good, too. Finances and impending foreclosure were no longer concerns, unlike a few years ago when Ralph Vaughn, the late owner of the Bar V5 and Nate’s father, nearly lost the ranch. “We can buy more lights. Maybe some of the LED ones.”
She nodded, but the sparkle in her eyes had dimmed. She dragged her teeth over her lip.
Damn. Ty knew that look. Rachel’s initial failed cooking attempts had brought about the same expression. Granted she’d been a kid at the time, and he’d eaten the over-or-undercooked food so she would feel better. He didn’t want Meg to feel bad, even if her decorating was . . . well, not to his liking. Someone might find all the flash fun. She needed to smile.
“Look at Onyx.” He pointed to the black cat peeking through the Douglas fir’s branches. “He loves the Christmas tree. There’s another cat on the backside of the tree climbing around. Bet they forget about the upholstered cat tree in my office until after the holidays.”
As if on cue, a bell crashed to the ground.
“A good thing those are metal and don’t break,” he added.
She half-laughed. “You’re right, but I’m not sure what that means for the life expectancy of the tree.”
Good. Her sense of humor was intact. “That’s a barn cat for you. Decorations, unless edible or fun to play with, are lost on them.”
Meg raised her chin, a hint of challenge in her eyes. “What about wranglers?”
“I won’t speak for the others, but I love Christmas. Been looking forward to this one since last year. Having guests around will be different. This is usually a quiet, get-the-work-done kind of time.”
“You never know, having guests at the ranch could be better.”
Nate had been pushing for guests year round, and Rachel agreed. A feeling in Ty’s gut had made him the sole holdout. He’d finally relented, but he would withhold judgment on the decision for now.
He adjusted his gloves. “Hope so.”
“Well, I’m going to do my best to make this Christmas perfect for both the guests and the staff.”