A Home for Christmas
Publication: November 28, 2013
Single mom, Jenna Blackwell wasn’t having a very good start to the Christmas season; her purse got stolen on Black Friday. She’s cursing her luck and herself for even being out in the Black Friday madness when the store manager brings in Riley Stanton, a former Navy SEAL who chased down the thieves and recovered her purse. Jenna is blown away by Riley: his looks, his smile, the fact that he ran down the purse snatchers, everything.
Riley Stanton had no idea when he chased down the kids who stole a few purses that he would walk into a room and have his life changed forever. He looked into the eyes of Jenna and saw a strength in her that he found intriguing.
Riley soon learns that Jenna is everything he ever wanted in a woman. He falls for her and for her son harder than he expected to. Jenna is cautious but welcoming and hopes that she and her son can give Riley the one thing he hasn’t had in years, A Home for Christmas.
Riley came over every evening after work. He helped Cam with his homework. he got there before she did on Wednesday and he and Cam had dinner ready by the time she got home. Jenna had to fight tears as she sat at the table. It had been so long since someone had cooked for her. To be honest, other than her mother, she didn't think anyone ever had. Wade, her ex, certainly never did. Watching Cam work so closely with Riley, having Riley there filling the role that Wade had abandoned, even sitting at a table with candlelight and roses and food she hadn't had to prepare...it was a lot for her to handle. She was barely hanging on by a thread and when Riley had initiated the blessing, she lost it. "Mom?" Cam asked, uncertain of what was happening. Jenna covered her face with her hands, silently crying. She heard the scrape of a chair and then suddenly Riley was there, his arms around her, lifting her from the chair. She heard him say something to Cam and then he carried her from the room.
He sat on the sofa and cradled her in his lap and just held her while she cried. After several minutes, when her tears had subsided somewhat, Riley reached down to cup her chin in his hand and lift her head so he could look into her eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "Nothing to be sorry about," he said, smoothing his hands over her cheeks to wipe her tears away.
"Mom?" Cam asked again, drawing her attention. "You OK?" "I'm good, bud, I'm sorry." Riley looked up at Cam and made eye contact with him. Jenna wasn't sure what passed between them, but Cam got up and left, leaving her there with Riley. "Look at me," he said, softly. When she raised her eyes to meet his gaze, he lifted her hand and kissed her knuckles. "What's going on?" She took a deep breath. "It's just...no one's ever done something like this for me before." "Like what? Take care of you?" She nodded. "Better get used to it, babe. I'm not going anywhere." She squeezed his hand, tears falling down her cheeks again. This time, Riley leaned forward and kissed them away before touching his lips to hers. For the first time, Jenna didn't hold herself back.
Maybe it was because Cam was just down the hall and she knew it couldn't get out-of-control. Whatever the case, she turned in his arms and wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss. "Thank you, Riley," she whispered when they pulled apart, pressing her forehead to his, and placing her fingertips against his lower lip. He nipped her fingertip lightly, then ran his tongue around her finger. "Anytime," he replied, "and I mean that. You don't have to do it all alone any more." "Riley," she whispered, kissing him, "please don't make promises you can't keep. My heart is fragile enough, but Cam..." He kissed her back. "Quit while you're ahead. Don't piss me off." She smiled and combed her fingers through the hair at his nape. "I'll try." "Good. Let me take care of you, Jenna.
About the Author
Ann Vaughn is a Native Texan now living in Oklahoma. She's been writing since the seventh grade (many MANY moons ago) when she and her friends were obsessed with the Sweet Valley High series. Back then, access to books wasn't as easy as it is now, so to tide her over between SVH releases, she began writing her own, Texas versions of SVH, full of lots of Texas Friday Night Lights and pitfalls and perils of teenage life in the 80s. Writing has always been a comfort and a release for her, though she never expected to be published. It wasn't until a conversation with her husband about the rise of eBooks that she decided to try her hand at self-publishing. It was scary and exciting and ever since the release of her first book, Long Way Home on August 7, 2013 she has been on a wild roller coaster ride that she wouldn't trade for the world.