Montana Secret Santa | Chapter 20 of 26 - Part: 1 of 5

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

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Chapter Thirteen

The day after Christmas

Krista took a sip from her mug and looked around Jonah’s mother’s spotless kitchen. She’d finished washing and drying the last of the pots and pans a few minutes earlier, having left the gigantic mess untouched the night before.

“We did it, doggies. We hosted a dinner for eight and survived to tell about it.”

Her mother had opted to keep her vacation rental house for the family to stay in. Since the place wasn’t pet friendly, Krista had opted to sleep at Jonah’s parent’s house. As high-end as the rental was, she found everyone seemed to prefer the comfortable, welcoming hominess of the Andrews’ place.

Cooking a complete meal in a strange kitchen had tested her culinary skills to the max, but she’d somehow pulled it off, with a little help from her friends.

Dessert had been a delightful trifle courtesy of Louise Jenkins. “My granddaughters love this. I simply doubled the recipe.”

The prime rib had been perfect thanks to Tucker Montgomery, who cooked and delivered the gorgeous hunk of meat, medium rare, with time to rest—Amanda’s gift to her since she knew how badly Krista was stressing about the meal.

“Tucker’s grilling one for us on the super high-tech grill he got from Santa. He can do two just as easy. That way all you have to do is the sides.”

Krista and her sisters had pulled together salads, garlic mashed potatoes, a variety of vegetables, and a cornbread recipe Mom insisted had belonged to her grandmother. Everything had come off beautifully. Afterward, they’d bundled up Bindi, put leashes on all the dogs—including Jack’s sporty new scarf—and walked around Marietta.

As a family.

On the most beautiful Montana Christmas day she could have wished for. The only thing—the only one—missing was Jonah.

He’d sent her a link to a video clip of him playing Frisbee on the sand with his niece and nephew. She’d had to fight back tears. Which, naturally, her mother had spotted.

“You like this guy, don’t you?” Mom asked, linking arms to let the rest of the group keep walking.


“Do you think he might be the guy?”

“It’s too early to tell, Mom. We’ve only known each other a few weeks, and his life is in California. That’s where he’s headed in the morning. His brother will be here around eleven to stay until Jonah gets back.”

When that might be, nobody could say. Krista honestly didn’t know if she had a date to the masked ball or not.

“Well, my darling, let me give you a piece of advice. Don’t do what I did. If he’s the one, then make whatever sacrifice you need to be with him.”

Krista had been too shocked to speak at first. “Mom, you’re a feminist. A mover and shaker in Hollywood. Your name is on a line of perfume, makeup, and clothing. You’re at the top of your game. Everyone says so. Are you telling me you wished you’d stayed in New York with Dad, instead of becoming Sabrina Gates?”

The look on her mother’s face at the time hadn’t made sense. Nor had her comment, “The satisfaction you derive from success is fleeting, Krista. Like fame, it’s a flash in the pan, so to speak. Love is what lasts.”

They hadn’t taken the discussion any further because someone—Diego, most likely—started a snowball fight that stirred up the dogs and got Bindi barking. They’d finished off the evening watching the latest movie Mom had produced. An action-adventure buddy film with a surprisingly sweet romantic side.

“So, we’ll see you at the vacation rental in the morning, right?” Dad had reminded her as they’d headed to the door. “Your mom and I have something important to tell you, so don’t be late.”

Krista had been expecting everyone to stick around Marietta for a whole week—as promised. But plans changed. Diego’s girlfriend had a fashion shoot in Paris and she talked him into joining her. Big surprise there.

Her sisters met a couple of cute skiers on the flight to Bozeman and decided to greet the New Year in Vail. Since Dad’s throat problem was still an issue, Mom had decided to take him home to LA to see a specialist she knew. That left J, who rarely shared his plans with anyone. All she knew was he would be on a train in the morning.

Three hours later, shocked, numb, her gut a knot of vipers she wished like hell she’d had the foresight to get in her car and drive in whatever direction offered the least chance of a blizzard, instead of being the dutiful daughter who never questioned why the need for a final powwow.

Her parents’ news had taken everyone by surprise. Even the best of actors couldn’t have faked the shock and fear and grief she saw on her siblings’ faces.

“Mom, no way,” she’d cried, rushing to her mother’s side. “We need to get a second opinion.”


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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