Truly Cunningham flees after her fiancé jilts her for her sister. With nowhere to go, she ends up in Pike’s Run, Texas, hiding in the town’s opulent Royal Hotel. As she nurses her pain, finding no comfort in the Christmas season, she is slowly running out of funds. She must find a way to support herself or return to Dallas where her sister is the wife Truly had planned to be.
EXCERPT: THE CHRISTMAS BRIDE
Did he need her?
But he wasn’t going to pursue her. She probably still loved the ass in the dining room, and Alfred had innocent blood on his hands. She deserved someone far better than him.
He led her into the office. “I wanted to give you the menu and plans for the dance. The Auxiliary, which is headed by Katherine Talbut, made an outline of everything.” He tugged open the top, right-hand drawer and withdrew three sheets of paper. He held them out to Miss Cunningham.
She took them, interest on her face.
He watched her peruse the items listed and wished he knew her well enough to determine what she thought of their ideas. Would she want to change anything? He hoped not. Not that he cared, but that would put her on the wrong foot with those ladies.
“It appears they’re making all the centerpieces,” she murmured. “I should probably call a meeting to introduce myself and see if they need my help.”
He put his hands in his pockets. “Whatever you prefer.”
She looked up. “Where can I find Mrs. Talbut?”
“I can take you over. I have time.”
Her brow furrowed. “I don’t want to trouble you.”
“It’s no trouble. Can you fetch your coat? We can walk over.”
She nodded then left the office.
He waited for her in the foyer, leaning an elbow against the registration desk. The Cunningham family appeared from the dining room, wearing sour and troubled expressions. Mr. Cunningham stopped and considered Alfred.
“Are you the man who hired my daughter?”
Alfred chose not to play dumb. “I am. We’re grateful she’s going to be handling our events.”
Mr. Cunningham shook his head. “I’ll not have this. She’ll return with us in the morning. I’m afraid you’ll have to find someone else.”
The ass who jilted her smirked.
“Something funny?” Alfred questioned.
But the sister stepped forward. “We can’t understand any of this. She needs to come home, and—”
“Missy,” her father warned.
Missy. Alfred smoothed his beard to smother his laugh. He straightened and sobered. “Mr. Cunningham, I didn’t intend to get in the way of family business and would appreciate it if you left me out of it. She offered her services. I accepted because we need the help, and she’s obviously skilled. In fact, we’re on our way to meet the leader of the Auxiliary.”
At that moment, Miss Cunningham came down the stairs, bundled for the cold. “Is there a problem?”
Alfred shook his head. “Are you ready?”
As she passed her family, she smiled at him. “I am. I have the lists, as well.”
And because he wanted to aggravate the ass, he offered his arm to her. When she took it, he pulled her next to him as tightly as he could without alarming her.
She snuggled up to him. Did she understand he wanted to needle her former fiancé, or was she taking pleasure in being near him?
Hell. He hoped it was both.