Montana Secret Santa | Chapter 12 of 26 - Part: 1 of 5

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

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Chapter Five

Krista wiped a bead of sweat from her brow as she ran on the treadmill. Jogging was hands down her least favorite form of exercise, but since she’d agreed to meet Jonah and the other volunteers at nine, she’d decided to hit the gym early. A necessity since she’d slept like crap the night before. Thanks, in no small part, to the man she couldn’t get off her mind.

The color of his eyes intrigued her so much she’d wasted an hour online trying to find the name for the color. Air Force Blue was close, but Presidential Blue had a bit more depth. None matched the imprint in her memory. Although the possibility loomed large that she’d blown his eye color and the effect his kiss had on her completely out of proportion.

Why? She’d tried to figure that out as she sat beside him, shoulder-to-shoulder, at the bank while waiting for a novice clerk to add two new names and signatures to the Montana Secret Santa Society bank account.

Jonah had decided that since he was there, he might as well open an account locally to facilitate whatever needs he might encounter while he was in town. Although he’d handled the transaction discreetly, she’d happened to see the deposit slip when the clerk returned with his temporary checks. Another 10K.

Krista had to admit Jonah’s cavalier relationship with money made her a little uneasy. She’d never met a rich man she liked. Amanda’s father, for instance, had money up the wazoo, but he treated people like sacrificial pawns in a game of chess—and that included his daughter. Her own father wasn’t hurting for money, but Manolo “Manny” Martin put the “don” in prima donna. He once played the Godfather on stage and somehow never quite shook his sense of privilege or need to control the people around him.

The music playing on her earbuds stuttered in a way that made her gaze shift from the big screen TV muted in the distance to her phone’s tiny screen. Her father’s roguishly handsome face filled the space. “Speak of the devil.”

She glanced around. Nobody close enough to bother with a one-sided conversation. “Good morning, father dear.”

“So formal. You sound out of breath. Please tell me you’re on the treadmill and not under some young hunk.”

“The former. If you’re worried about the latter, I suggest you call Branna.” Her sister prided herself on being a love ’em and leave ’em feminist who didn’t buy into the whole crappy monogamy thing.

He roared with laughter. “You got that right. Glad to know you’re taking care of yourself. Did I tell you I ran a ten-K in Mexico City? The air was so bad I thought I’d drop dead on the spot. But it bought me miles of PR with the locals. My taco-western opened there last week, and it’s doing great at the box office.”

“You’re going to make me ask, aren’t you? What’s a taco western?”

“Think Clint Eastwood in the Sonoran desert. Only modern day. Drug cartels and lots of explosions.”

She could picture it. Dad claimed his heart was on the boards of Broadway, but he banked in Hollywood. “Where are you now?”

“Home.” She pictured his third-floor walk-up in Greenwich Village. “I’m starting to make travel plans for the holidays. Christmas in Montana. How cool is that?”

The empty space in her belly filled with live piranha. “More than cool, it’s cold.” She faked a laugh to make sure he understood she didn’t believe it for a minute. “I’ll be working right up to Christmas Eve. I just signed with a new client yesterday. He put up a very healthy retainer.”

Not a complete lie.

“And what will you be doing for Mr. Healthy Retainer?”

“He’s president of a local charity that’s on its last leg. I called in a favor with a popular podcaster who plans to interview Jonah live this morning. I also booked some radio spots and set up targeted Facebook ads. Hopefully, we can bring it back from the brink.”

“Having work is good, but making memories with your family is equally important, Krista. Your mom’s counting on everyone being together this year.”

She stumbled over the toe of her running shoe and would have face-planted if not for her grip on the handlebars. “Mom always says that, Dad. She never shows.”

He ignored her comment. “Your brothers and sisters are all onboard.”

The next plane to Tahiti maybe… “I thought Javier—” Youngest of the boys, five years her senior, Javier legally changed his name to the letter J in anticipation of a huge DJ career that never happened. “Excuse me. J wasn’t speaking to Diego. And the last I heard, Branna wasn’t allowed at Jezibel’s house. And Diego thinks Jez is being a bitch, but J is on Branna’s side. Are we talking about the same siblings?”

“Oh, none of that matters at the holidays. We’re going skating on some local lake, taking sleigh rides through the Montana countryside, and playing charades with shots.”

Krista hit the kill switch. “Dad, I love you, but you’re delusional. Your dream Christmas is a sort of if-Santa-married-a-unicorn thing. Never. Gonna. Happen. Last year, I cooked enough food to feed an army. Branna and J dropped in long enough to open presents. Diego and Mom never made it out of Mexico City—or Guatemala, depending on whose story you believe. And you decided to stay in New York.”

“Well, this year is going to be different. Trust me.”

“Dad, I have a meeting in twenty minutes with my new client. I’ll call you next week, okay?”

“Sure, sweetheart. But, just remember, your mom and I aren’t getting any younger. If not now, when?”


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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