Bestselling authors Heidi McLaughlin, L.P. Dover, Cindi Madsen, R.J. Prescott, and Amy Briggs invite you to celebrate Christmas in Friendship, Massachusetts, where small-town values mean that everyone gets into the holiday spirit and lends a helping hand. When an unlikely newcomer decides to join in and play matchmaker, five couples—each a complete love story by each of our five authors—get their happily ever afters during the happiest time of the year. And these authors share what the season truly means to them.
The mid-afternoon holiday shoppers walk by the large picture window of my office. The blowing snow, which piles up on the window ledge like a quintessential painting from Norman Rockwell, gives the town of Friendship a classic New England feel.
Like most storefronts in town, the Bank & Trust building has large picture windows that look out onto the town square. Sighing, I stare out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of Gwen coming out of a store, parking her car, or even walking down the street. I haven’t seen her since I moved out.
The blotter on my desk, with its sporadic notes and dates, piques my attention. Leaning forward, I push a small pile of papers out of the way so I can read what today says. Meet divorce lawyer.
Instant melancholy sets in as I frown at the calendar and what my life has become. A divorce is the last thing I want, but I haven’t done a very good job of showing Gwen that she and our daughter Ruby were important. Are important.
My sports coat hangs on the back of my chair. I grab it, slip my arms into it, and take my long winter coat off the rack. A quick glance at the clock shows me I’m about out of time and need to leave now if I’m going to make my appointment.
It seems colder than when I was outside earlier, and I find myself pulling my coat closer and pushing my hands deep into its pockets. Despite the coat’s thickness, it does nothing to take the bite out of the air or keep the wind from stinging my cheeks.
I cross the street and head up the granite stairs leading to my attorney’s office. The heat inside the building is stifling, and my frozen fingers work to undo my coat. Taking the staircase two steps at a time, the old wood creaks under my weight.
The law office is small but has an odd homey feel. I hang my wool coat and give a slight nod to the receptionist. She smiles, sort of. It’s more like a half smile-half grimace. Living in a small town, everyone knows your business.
“Mr. Sutton, please come in.” Terence Sims has been an attorney longer than I’ve been alive. My parents used him for a few legal transactions, and it only made sense I seek out his help as well. “Have you given much thought to how you want to respond to Gwen’s proposal?” he asks. He swivels in his chair to look at me over the rim of his glasses.
“Honestly, I haven’t looked at it.”
“Because I don’t want this divorce.”
Terence leans back, and his fingers form a steeple. “Divorce is hard, especially when one party is blindsided. Do me a favor. Talk to Gwen. See if you can work something out that benefits the both of you.”
He has given me an idea. I’ll talk to Gwen, but it won’t be regarding a settlement. I’m going to do what I should’ve done all along, be the husband and father I’m supposed to be.
I’m going to get my family back.
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