Christmas at Twilight
Twilight, Texas # 5
By: Lori Wilde
Releasing October 28th, 2014
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It's Christmas in Twilight, Texas. The Cookie Club is baking, the town is decorated, and Delta Force Operator "Hutch" Hutchinson has finally, reluctantly, returned home . . .
. . . only to get pepper sprayed by the delicious- looking stranger who's taken over his house. She says her name is Jane, and she immediately sets down ground rules. Top priority: no touching. For Hutch that isn't easy—he was wounded in action, but one part is still working very well.
Then Hutch learns the truth. Jane harbors a frightening secret—she's really Meredith Sommers, on the run from a dangerous ex-husband and desperately in need of the safety Hutch can provide. In that moment, he vows he'd do anything in his power to protect her. And as Christmas approaches, they discover that their love can conquer the past and overcome any obstacle—but what price will they pay?
Hot Legs Spa, Twilight, Texas
The spice aroma of gingerbread scented the darkened massage room with holiday memories. The single source of illumination came from the flame of a tea light candle in a pumpkin-pie-colored holder, squatting atop a black lacquer shelf. It flicked light blue at the core, cupped by a dancing white-yellow that lowered to deep orange-red at the base. Lulling spa music slipped softly through sound system speakers, a solo flute holding a long, mournful note. The silky feel of warm oil heated bare skin.
Normally, masseuse Meredith Sommers immersed herself in movement, focusing on making her clients feel better, and in turn that practice created a Zen-like calmness inside her.
But not today.
Today, she could not quell the inner voice that whispered, Something’s wrong.
She’d learned not to ignore that voice. Over the course of the last five years, it had saved her life more than once.
This time, however, it wasn’t her own well-being she was worried about, but rather that of her landlady and housemate, Ashley Hutchinson. Last night, Ashley had gone on a date with a new man, leaving Meredith to watch Ashley’s four-year-old daughter, Kimmie. Meredith hadn’t minded a bit. She adored the little girl, who was the same age as her son, Ben.
“Don’t wait up,” Ashley had said as she headed out the door. “If everything goes well, no telling when I’ll be home.” Then she gave a big wink and took off.
Meredith hadn’t known what to make of that. It wasn’t her place to tell Ashley how to live her life, but the thought that her roommate was planning on having sex on the first date with a man she barely knew didn’t sit right. She understood why Ashley was meeting her date at a club in Fort Worth—until you knew you could trust a man, you didn’t want him anywhere near your home and your child—but Meredith wished she could have met the guy first, sized him up, and gotten a read on him.
And do what? Warn Ashley off if her gut told her the guy was no good? Ashley was a grown woman. She was allowed to make her own mistakes.
Still, Meredith couldn’t help wishing that someone had warned her five years ago before she’d—
That was all water under the bridge, wasn’t it? No changing the past. And besides, no matter how horrific the last few years had been, if she hadn’t lived the life she’d lived, she wouldn’t have her son, Ben.
And he was worth any price.
This morning, when Ashley’s car was not in the driveway and her bed had not been slept in, Meredith told herself not to worry. Apparently, her housemate had made a love connection and spent the night with her date. Meredith got Kimmie ready for preschool right along with Ben, and made excuses to the child for her mother’s absence. She hoped Ashley was not going to make a habit of overnight, out-of-town trysts.
Meredith had been living on the second floor of Ashley’s house for the last six weeks, and so far the arrangement was working out great, but if Ashley was one of those single mothers who neglected her kid once she had a man in her life, Meredith wouldn’t sit still for that. She would have to move again, no matter how broke she was.
Before coming to work, she’d texted Ashley, asking when she could expect her home. So far, she hadn’t heard back from her housemate and it was almost noon.
“Jane?” said Raylene Pringle, the older woman on her massage table. Someone had told her that Raylene used to be a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, but even if she hadn’t known, Meredith could tell from the woman’s muscle tone that she’d been athletic most of her life.
“Yes?” Meredith blinked. Oh no, in her worry over Ashley, she’d forgotten her latest alias.
“I’ve called your name three times. Are you all right?”
“I’m sorry, I must have been woolgathering.”
“So I assumed. You keep rubbing the same spot on my calf.”
“I do apologize.”
“Don’t worry,” Raylene said. “Happens to the best of us. That reminds me of a dog I once owned. Her name was Elspeth and we got her from the pound. She was part Australian shepherd, and she was the prettiest color of silver-blue you’ve ever seen. Her original owner was going into an assisted living facility and had to give her up.”
“That’s must have been hard for the owner.”
“I tried to rename her Tequila, seeing as how Earl and I still owned the Horny Toad Tavern at the time. But that dog would have none of it. I’d call her by the new name, but she flat-out refused to come. It got to where it was a joke around the neighborhood. ‘There’s Raylene hollering for tequila. Somebody give Ray some tequila.’ Finally, I just gave up and went back to calling her Elspeth.”
CAT'S REVIEW"Christmas at Twilight" by Lori Wilde. Wow! Ms. Wilde does an amazing job of reaching down deep and tugging at the heart strings. My heart ached for Hutch and pounded for Meredith. They are both strong characters, struggling with hardships thrown at them. The story has two people that are afraid to love but, for some reason they can't understand, undeniably trust each other - Can they help each other heal? It's also filled with danger and suspense! For most of the book, I was a bit on the edge of my seat, waiting for the danger - it's always there in the background. I loved the town of Twilight too - everyone is so caring and I could envision the way it looked decorated for Christmas too. I thoroughly enjoyed this one - I look forward to reading the remaining books of the series. (Despite being Book Five of the series, I had no problem reading this one - in fact, I didn't know it was Book Five until after I finished). (copy received from Edelweiss for honest review).
Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 70 works of romantic fiction. She is a two-time RITA award nominee, a four time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee and has won numerous other awards. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and holds a certificate in nursing forensics. An animal lover, Lori is owned by several pets, and lives in Texas with her husband, Bill.
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