A Christmas Arrangement by Monique McDonell

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Tori: Most people would move to a big city to get lost. I decided to move to a small town, Cinnamon Bay to get lost…in the magic of Christmas. Somehow, I’d timed it perfectly. Trust me, this was a first. My new boss at the hairdressing salon was ready to pop out a kid, and the festivities meant that the place was positively bursting with business. I moved right in. Literally. Until the owner’s nosy, hot .brother found me sleeping in the stock room. We compromised and he invited me to stay at her place, with him.  At first, I was afraid he was trying to pick me up. After I realized he wasn’t, I was afraid I’d lost my touch. Just because I’d never trust another man again, didn’t mean I was completely against having one to share the holidays with. In fact, I might be just what Mr. Grinch needed…for the holidays, since that’s about as long I could safely stay. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to stay longer. I’d love a home, but I’d grown accustomed to disappointment. I was afraid of lingering anywhere too long, since Saxon had vowed to always find me. Still, I was long overdue for a Christmas miracle. And this town seemed like just the place to get one.

Luca: My word was my bond. I promised my sister I’d stay here and help out since she had three kids, a baby on the way, and a husband deployed overseas. I promised I’d help run the salon, keep the place afloat in her absence. Inviting Tori to stay at the house seemed like a fair trade. I needed the help. She needed a home. Only life wasn’t fair. Tori, if that was even her real name, was secretive, shy, and easily impressed by a small town Christmas. Soon, she had me taking part in the festivities. When things threatened to get ugly in the form of her ex, I pretended I planned to take her hand in marriage. I was a basketball player, not an actor. Soon the lines were blurred. Everyone in town was convinced we were really and truly engaged and in love. Maybe including us. I kept reminding myself that we were too different. It wasn’t working. All I could see was how we were the same. All I felt was how much I wanted to be with her, if I could only convince her to stop pretending and really be with me.

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