Montana Secret Santa | Chapter 10 of 26 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: Debra Salonen | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1052 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Three

For the first time since his return to Marietta, Jonah woke before dawn, without an alarm clock or his mother calling to him that breakfast was ready.

He sprang out of bed, dressed with considerable more care than usual of late. He didn’t want to blame this newfound energy on Krista Martin, but she had been in his dream last night. A crazy dream involving a street fair and chocolate-covered cotton candy. The combination sounded disgusting, but damn, if she hadn’t been selling the ooey-gooey confection hand-over-fist in his dream. And when she’d offered him one, the cone tipped backwards spilling a trickle of warm chocolate on her chest, just above the V-neck of her hot pink T-shirt.

He’d opened his eyes, sweating beneath his usual pile of blankets, turned on and his mouth watering.

Moving as quietly as possible to avoid waking the dogs, he made coffee and carried a cup, along with his laptop, to his favorite spot. Icy handprints of frost filled in the corners of the windows, making him glad he’d added a layer of thermal long-johns beneath his jeans, long-sleeve T-shirt, and hunter green wool shirt.

He cupped his hands and blew on his fingers before recalling the last page he’d visited before Mom insisted he join her and Dad in a game of Scrabble. He’d needed all his focus and recall of esoteric scientific words to avoid utter humiliation from such fierce competitors.

A hip, vibrant page filled the screen. The background image changed every few seconds, giving him a glimpse into the kind of design work the company did for its clients. He smiled at the two different versions of ads for Copper Mountain Chocolates. Both showcased Sage’s cocoa with the tagline—“What love tastes like” but the first was bold, sexy, and splashy—literally. A white cup against a bright orange background with liquid dark chocolate being poured into the cup and spilling out in a come-and-get-it-now sort of way.

The image cried Krista Martin, in his opinion.

The second version, while equally classy and on target, presented a dark background with a glass mug three-quarters filled with cocoa and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Inviting. Yummy. Warm and cozy.

To Jonah, this version was pure Sage.

Both worked, which told him Krista was a person who listened and tried to create what her client wanted, even if Krista’s taste varied radically from the end result. As a boss and business-owner, he’d always valued—and tried to honor—the creative spark the people he hired brought to the table. Someone with vision had to help him transform his somewhat out-there ideas into that one thing everyone needed.

In further reading, he gleaned that Krista Martin was committed to a partnership that seemed poised to do very well. She was in Marietta to stay. He’d agreed to dog-sit for two months tops. Then, he was headed back to his lab to figure out his next big thing.

He didn’t have the slightest idea what that project might be, but once the germ of inspiration took hold, his brain would be too intently focused on problem solving to acknowledge any of the normal aspects of life. He’d forget to eat, work out, and bathe. He’d forget to return calls or text his friends and family to let them know he was still alive.

People who knew him well generally tolerated these lapses, but girlfriends, he’d learned, wanted attention even if he was busy thinking. And, watch out, if they thought their investment of time and emotional connection entitled them to more than a simple, “I’m busy. See you later” before he disappeared into his lab for weeks at a time.

Krista interested him; there was no denying it, but why start something that had no future? Jonah could think of no logical reason at all. Beyond the obvious—to keep him from going stark, raving mad.

“Good morning, merry sunshine,” Mom said walking into the room with a trio of mutts at her heels. “You’re up early.”

“Dad told me there’s a gym in town. Normally, I bike to work. I don’t think that’s going to work around here.”

She disappeared into the mudroom, but returned a second later with three dog bowls. “Your dad loves to bike in summer. I prefer gardening.” She seemed amused by the observation. “Will you walk the doggies for me before you go?”

“Absolutely. I need the practice.”

He watched her measure River Jack’s portion of diet dog food then fill the other two bowls. “It’s a bit of a pain to have to feed them in different rooms but, when Jack first joined us, we weren’t paying attention and he would nose Bear out of the way, inhale Bear’s food, and then return to his own as innocently as an angel. When we took him to the vet and found out he’d gained weight in the month we’d had him, we realized we needed to be more watchful.”

Jonah reached down to pet the dog’s head. “River Jack, I sympathize. Sometimes it’s tough to do what’s good for you.” He looked at his mother and added, “We had a state-of-the-art gym at Wa-L and the employees who wanted to could wear wireless activity trackers to help them chart their number of steps. I think the last count was around fifty percent who signed up, but only half of that group actually worked out.”

Mom rolled her eyes. “Good Lord. Big Brother monitors how many push-ups you do.”

Jonah grinned. They’d had this discussion before. He unbuttoned the top three buttons of his wool shirt to display the screen print slogan he’d come up with to motivate his employees, “Exertion + oxygen = brain food = $$” on the front of his bright tangerine training shirt. “It works.”

Mom sighed. “You and your dad. Hopefully I’ll be motivated to exercise in Florida.” She sounded more resigned than enthused. “I left the number for the gym beside the phone. But even an hour or two at the gym and walking the dogs twice a day isn’t going to be enough to keep a brain like yours stimulated, honey. That’s the real reason your dad and I volunteered you to take our place at Secret Santa. It’ll get you out of the house and keep you interacting with people.”

He understood her concern. “Mom, I haven’t had an episode of depression since college. It was just that one time.”

She gave his arm a squeeze. “I know. And, believe me, I’m glad, but my brother thought he’d beat his depression, too.”

Mom’s younger brother committed suicide when Dad and Mom were first married and Mom had never stopped worrying that the tendency somehow ran in her family. “Buddy was smart, like you. He tinkered with toasters, motors, Mom’s electric iron from the minute he had the eye-hand coordination to take things apart and put them back together.”

Jonah had heard this before but he sipped his coffee and let her vent, knowing she needed to get something off her chest.


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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