Christmas At Silver Ridge
Christmas At Silver Ridge
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Laney Dixon loves being a reporter for Silver Ridge's newspaper, and the job is especially fun during the holidays. Whether she has an excuse to visit the local bake sale or lend a hand with the holiday bazaar, she loves having the inside scoop on everything Christmas in Silver Ridge. It also makes going home to an empty house a little less chilly on those snowy nights when she is stuffed with sugar cookies and gingerbread.
However, when one of the editors at the paper decides to get in on a national trend and put together a Christmas scavenger hunt for the little town, Janey finds herself in the whirlwind of festivities. But as the tasks are checked off and Christmas is nearing, she can't help but notice everything seems to be centered around love.
It isn't until she moves toward the last clue, that the pieces start to fit together, and she realizes she's been missing out on something she never knew she wanted.
- Holiday Romance
- Best friends
- Happily Ever After
Emilia Hudson has never been one to consider arranged marriages, especially if it meant her fifty-five year old parents would have a say, but with her dismal love life, she’s almost reconsidering.
After her latest dating disaster, Emilia writes a simple blog post that goes viral. Worse yet, people start considering her a relationship expert, and all she feels like is a fraud.
As the emails and speaking engagements start rolling in, she realizes her only option is to take the bull by the horns and run with the unexpected fame.
What she doesn’t want to do is talk about the real reason why she won’t ever fall in love again.
However, when she gets an offer she can’t refuse from a major publisher, that’s all they want her to write about, but It isn’t until she meets the man behind the proposal that she realizes why…
Intro to Chapter One
Intro to Chapter One
Confetti exploded all around Janey Dixon as she stepped into a room full of groans. Her brown eyes widened as she looked around at her coworkers at the newspaper in Silver Ridge. She’d never seen so much disappointment bottled up at once in her life. Even the twinkling Christmas tree in the corner had stopped blinking.
She quickly slid off her hat and let her auburn hair fall out of her ponytail as a few snowflakes blew in behind her.
Edward scowled. “You’re not Martha. The confetti was for her. Didn’t you get the email? Now everything is ruined.”
Janey shut the door behind her and shook her head as the chill from the outside weather snuck in. “No, I didn’t get any email. What’s going on?”
She’d just left her morning belly dancing class and had been feeling extra festive since they’d all had a gift exchange.
“Well, nothing now.” Edward stomped off as Janey grimaced and glanced around the room that had been full of holiday cheer only moments before.
“I’m sure I didn’t get an email about confetti,” she mumbled to herself, noticing the banner that read Happy Retirement, Martha hanging across the newsroom.
Cindy, undoubtedly the happiest receptionist in the world, hopped over to Janey and rubbed her arm in sympathy as everyone else continued to glare in Janey’s direction.
“I’m sure it was a simple mistake.” Cindy smiled. “Maybe I can dash off to the hardware store and get another cannister.”
Janey frowned and turned on her laptop while simultaneously scrolling through her phone to find the infamous email. She looked down and realized she’d forgotten to take off one of her dangly necklaces from belly dancing. She’d always loved how it clanked in class, but now wasn’t the time. She quickly tucked it underneath her sweater.
“Who sent the email?” Janey asked Cindy.
“Ed,” she whispered, and the pieces of the puzzle instantly fit.
Janey scanned her emails and didn’t see any messages from Ed.
“I doubt I was on the email chain.” Janey tugged on her red holiday sweater and glanced around the room, hoping the chill had warmed. “I think I can fix this, though. Do we have a vacuum? I can suck up the confetti and put it back in the banger thingy that pops open.”
The one thing Janey didn’t want to do was interfere with Martha’s retirement festivities. She’d been talking about the big day for years. She shared receptionist duties with Cindy, but it had gotten to the point where she had more days off than on, and nobody wanted to mention the obvious.
Cindy nodded eagerly and dashed off toward the closet.
Janey let out a quick huff of annoyance and glanced in Ed’s direction. She didn’t want to be responsible for Martha not getting the full sparkle effect. But there was no doubt that this little charade was a setup by her scorned coworker.
Ever since Janey had turned down Ed’s advances last year, he’d been a pain to deal with.
Actually, she had gone on a date with him.
And it was painfully obvious that there would not be two dates, but in the throes of trying to be nice about it, she revealed things to him that she wished had never left her lips because they weren’t even true. She was just vomiting words to make him feel better about essentially being dumped and to smooth out his life choices.
Janey always felt on the verge of getting sick when she thought he might spill the beans. She’d take everything back in a heartbeat, but it was part of what made Janey. To make others comfortable, she’d sometimes say things that made her uncomfortable or didn’t always fit what she really meant, but she hated hurting people’s feelings. Even vermin like Ed.
It would be right up his juvenile alley to waste an entire can of confetti on her, all the while trying to humiliate Janey in front of her coworkers. She spotted Shannon, another reporter for the paper, and waved her over.
Shannon’s bright smile made Janey chuckle as she stood in front of her. “Was it Ed? Was he up to one of his dirty tricks again?” Shannon folded her arms over her chest. She’d never cared for Ed, which was unusual since Shannon enjoyed most men in some fashion. She always chattered away about eye candy or whatever else when a good-looking guy walked by.
“I think so,” Janey said, rolling her eyes. “When is Martha supposed to get here, anyway?”
Shannon glanced at the wall clock. “Not for another hour.”
“Then why did Ed shoot off the confetti?”
“Ed hollered, ‘Martha’s here’, we all gathered by the door, and —Boom!” Shannon shrugged. “Honestly, Martha hates surprises anyway.”
“Who can blame her?” Janey chuckled. “She’s almost eighty-five.”
Shannon nodded. “Remember when that car backfired out front and she yelled for us to hit the deck? It took five of us to help her out from under her desk.”
Janey chuckled. “That was one for the memory books for sure.”
Cindy brought over the vacuum, and Janey untangled the cord.
“But I’m not going to let Ed put the blame on me for this one.” Janey grinned. “I’ll make sure there’s enough of this confetti to rain down on Martha and Ed.”
“Honestly, I think if we just went to the bakery and got a cherry pie, she’d be just as happy.” Shannon eyed Janey. “If not more so.”
Janey’s heart warmed at the thought of the little bakery down the street. It wasn’t purely a bakery. Mrs. North, who was around the same age as Martha, owned the café, which was known for its pies as much as its double-decker sandwiches and early-morning frittatas.
There was something magical about the little café, she was sure of it. There seemed to be something magical about the entire North family.
It seemed like everything they’d touched turned to gold. The North brothers were known around Silver Ridge for turning the once humble ski mountain into a world-class resort that rivaled the likes of Aspen and Whistler.
Janey ought to know because her editor, Ed’s mother, seemed determined to only send Janey on assignments dealing with anything North related. Most of the time, she didn’t mind, but there were other times when Janey wondered what it would be like to report on things that mattered.
A sliver of guilt darted through Janey as she turned on the vacuum and used the hose to suck up the paper confetti.
No. That wasn’t true. North news mattered. All news in the small town mattered, and it was her job to show the importance.
The truth was that Janey knew she had it good. It was nearly impossible to live in a town as small as Silver Ridge and have a newspaper with paid employees, but she also knew it was thanks to a grant from the North family, so she’d happily report on anything they had to say, do, or whisper.
There wasn’t much about the Norths that a person couldn’t love. It was just a shame the last one got snatched up. At least that was what Janey’s mom liked to remind her of every time she had a chance, so Janey did her best to ensure that her mom didn’t have a chance.
Regardless, Silver Ridge was and always would be Janey’s home. She was certain of that long ago, which brought her right back to being grateful for the job at the paper as a reporter. It didn’t matter if her boss wanted her to go report on ice thickness in the parking lot at Silver Ridge. She’d do it.
After all, Janey’s life was here in the small resort town, and it wasn’t like she could be a reporter anywhere else. Local newspapers were crumbling all over the country, and she wasn’t qualified to work anywhere like the LA or NY Times. She was sure of that much.
As Janey continued hosing up the bits of festive confetti, she glanced around the newsroom, and her heart fell a little bit.
Apart from Shannon, Martha, and Cindy, she couldn’t really call these people friends. If her car went into a ditch, she certainly wouldn’t call anyone from the paper to pull her out.
First of all, they probably wouldn’t pick up the phone, and secondly, they always seemed like they couldn’t be bothered. It also didn’t help that most of them lived two towns over, so they weren’t even part of the Silver Ridge community, which had always struck Janey as odd.
Even though they all seemed rather chummy chatting it up by the watercooler, Janey never quite fit in with the other reporters. Who she did fit in with were the amazing folks at the senior center where she directed the weekly choir rehearsal and sang her heart out with the residents.
Janey tried never to let her coworker situation bother her, but there were those times like this particular moment when she was vacuuming up one of Ed’s messes and reliving the immediate scowls so many of them threw in her direction. She knew there wasn’t any point in telling them it wasn’t her fault. They didn’t particularly care and had moved on to the next piece of gossip that living in a small town offered.
Cindy bounded over as Janey turned off the vacuum. Cindy shoved a piece of paper in Janey’s hand and nodded.
“You were right. You were never on the invite.” Cindy shrugged. “He’s such a—”
Janey spotted Ed’s mom walking over to them. “Such a good recipe for gingerbread men. He’s sitting right in my belly from breakfast.”
Cindy flashed Janey a grateful smile as Ed’s mom stopped in front of them.
Lauren Stoop was not only Janey’s boss and Ed’s mom. She was Cindy’s mom’s cousin, if that wasn’t a mouthful.
The perks of living in a mountain town where everyone knew everyone, or they were just downright related to them.
“Oh, I desperately need a gingerbread cookie recipe that’s worth a darn. Mine either taste too bitter or taste too sweet.” Lauren chuckled. “Sounds like most of the men around town, huh?”
Janey cringed at the thought of dating and knew this was the part where she was supposed to laugh and knock elbows with Lauren, but she just couldn’t stomach the thought.
“I wouldn’t know.” Janey shuddered as she opened up the cannister of the vacuum and frowned at all the bits of dust and staples mixed into the colorful tissue paper.
Would Martha really be able to see those, though? Janey asked herself. She was due for cataract surgery.
“No, you wouldn’t know.” Lauren scowled in Janey’s direction, bringing her back to the conversation. “You don’t even know a good man when you see one, Janey.”
Cindy did her best to hold in a snicker of sorts while Janey shifted her weight from one foot to the other, begging herself to stay quiet and let the jab run right over her. The truth was that she did know a good man. He was her best friend and confidant, Gabriel, and she knew she’d be hard pressed to find any guy worth half as much as he was in the friend department. She also knew those kinds of friendships could never amount to anything more. But back to the matter at hand.
Janey had become quite accustomed to letting the insults slide off her from the Stoops. It turned out it wasn’t only Ed who had an issue with Janey turning him down. It was like a personal insult to both family members. She wouldn’t even be surprised if it weren’t a topic of conversation at Thanksgiving dinner this last week.
Janey knew that if she went to the Editor-in-Chief about everything, he’d squash it immediately. She also knew heads would roll, and in a small town, that was precisely what Janey didn’t want to have happen. Things were just too intertwined, and ever since her dad passed away two years ago, she didn’t want to do anything that would make it more difficult for her family. She already helped her mom take care of her youngest sibling, the youngest being seventeen, and she didn’t have the energy to think that she might be responsible for people losing their jobs.
Janey glanced at Lauren and shrugged. “What can I say? Dating seems more trouble than it’s worth.”
“Well, whatever the case” —Lauren’s hands fluttered in the air— “I’ve got an assignment for you.”
Janey’s brows shot up with interest as relief spread through every cell that Lauren wasn’t going to keep harping on turning her son down long ago. “Is the resort opening up a new restaurant or something?”
Lauren didn’t appear to hear Janey.
“This is the biggest thing to have hit the country since Bunco.” Lauren smiled as Cindy frowned in confusion.
A wry smile spread across Janey’s lips. “Since Bunco, huh?”
The one thing Lauren hated was to be reminded about her age, even though Janey was only about ten years younger, which should make Janey feel pretty good about pulling in a much younger Ed, but all it did was make Janey’s stomach recoil.
Lauren rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you never played.”
“Only when my mom’s Bunco ladies needed a fill-in.”
Cindy looked completely exasperated. “What am I missing? What’s this punko?”
Janey chuckled. “It’s a dice game with a B.”
“With wine, food, gossip, and prizes,” Janey added.
“Sounds fun.” Cindy nodded.
“So, we’re covering a new game that’s seizing the nation and housewives everywhere?” Janey’s brows rose as she caught Ed glaring at her from across the room.
The sight made Janey chuckle since he was standing next to an Elf on the Shelf who was propped on a sparkly pinecone with a knowing look. Ed wouldn’t be getting much in the way of anything from Santa.
Lauren’s eyes lit up. “Better. Look here.”
Everyone’s gaze dropped to the sheet of paper she slapped onto the desk from out of nowhere.
Janey did her best not to groan when she read the words, and it wasn’t because she didn’t love every possible thing to do with Christmas. She did. She more than loved Christmas. She slept, ate, drank, and breathed the holiday, but this little play on words didn’t do it for her.
The Naughty List’s Scavenger Hunt
Janey smirked and shook her head. “I would say this is the exact opposite of Bunco.”
Lauren shrugged. “Where’s your spirit of adventure?” Her eyes sparkled. “This is exactly what this little town needs to shake it up, and I’m putting you in charge of the whole thing. We’ve got ten days of activities to plan in two, and we’ll go to press on the tenth of December with our first clue. I’ll email you the parameters.”
Janey let out a grunt of acceptance and nodded. “Sounds fun.”
Except it didn’t. She didn’t want anything about Christmas to be naughty. She loved the magical quality of the holiday where even cranky adults smiled a little when the Norths dressed up as members of the North Pole.
Silver Ridge knew how to make Christmas special for everyone, and Janey wasn’t sure anyone around town would appreciate her putting together a naughty scavenger hunt. What did that even mean?
Janey drew a breath and smiled at Lauren. “Shoot over the parameters, and I’ll get started right away.”
“What I like to hear.” Lauren spun on her heels and made her way through the desks when Martha walked into the office and Cindy lunged for the vacuum canister full of confetti.
Before Janey had a chance to stop her, Cindy screamed surprise and shook the dusty canister into the air as everyone spun around to see a stunned retiree clutching her heart and reaching for the nearest desk.