The Gift of Love (Quick Read)
The Gift of Love (Quick Read)
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- Christmas Holiday Romance
- Forced Proximity
- Fated Love
Stuck together, these two strangers might discover something magical—if they can find a way to trust themselves.
All Belinda wanted was a fresh start beginning with the perfect holiday vacation after a ridiculously hideous year. Was that too much to ask? Apparently it was---despite all her careful calculations.All Donovan sought was to redeem himself of past failures. He’d be crazy to pass up that opportunity. He may have lost a lot in the past several years, but his eye for a good opportunity wasn't among them.But when Donovan’s detour spins Belinda’s vacation out-of-control, it’s going to take divine intervention to force the get-away of her dreams back on track.
And a doozy of a blizzard...maybe that'll help, too!
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Her grandmother always said that the way we start the year would be the way we’d finish it.
Belinda didn’t believe that. She’d had years that’d started awfully and ended great and vice versa. But this year, she found herself latching on to her grandmother’s proverb with a death grip.
Blinking away the fluffy, white flakes that caked her lashes, Belinda craned her neck, pointing her gaze upwards. Her eyes fluttered shut as she directed a wide grin toward the weeping sky, being intentional about noting the feel of each flake kissing her skin.
She’d been standing upon her apartment’s balcony, absorbing the view as the falling snow blanketed the parking lot below. As much as she loved the look of snow after it’d just fallen, Belinda wanted to believe that her year to come would be the exact opposite of the scene that surrounded her; that instead her future would be just as sunny and bright as her tropical destination.
Spending Christmas and New Year’s Day being pampered in Hawaii seemed a justified end to a long, hard year; a year that’d included her finally gaining the courage to free herself of the toxic work environment she’d clung to for far too long.
But she wasn’t going to lie, it felt a little scary being back on the job hunt. She grimaced at the long list of tasks she’d need to undertake upon her return.
“Girl, stop,” she chided herself. She wasn’t supposed to think about prepping her resume, scouring job sites or anything else related to that giant “to-do” until after she got back from her trip.
Opening her eyes, she looked down, peering at her phone once again in an attempt to commit the image of her uber driver and his car to memory. Last thing she wanted to do was hop into a stranger’s vehicle. Again.
It didn’t hurt that the man’s profile picture was quite attractive. Dark wavy, nape length hair curling casually about his face. His clean shaven jaw gave off a boyish look. But the no-nonsense hardness in his hazel stare coupled with the slight lines at their corners hinted to someone older.
“Mmm, mmm, mmm,” she sighed. She only hoped she didn’t drool too much in the backseat of this man’s car. Would she have to pay the cleaning bill for something like that?
She chuckled, shaking her head as she turned away from the view of cars, pavement, rooftops, and trees clothed in white; and turning away from the direction her mind had been all too willing to travel.
Besides, he looked like a heartbreaker; and Lord knows she’s had her fill of those.
Nope, this was a new year for her. No more micro-managers, two-hour commutes and doing the job of three people for the price of one.
And no more boys pretending to be men—and specifically, her man— while they can’t even seem to keep their eyes, hands, or anything else, off of another woman.
Her lips twisted at the thought of Craig. Crap…she’d really tried to keep that man out of her mind.
She’d always considered herself a good judge of character. But that fool made such a fool out of her, she didn’t know what to believe, anymore.
It still boggled her mind that she'd been so duped.
When she’d confronted him as he’d kissed another woman at their favorite restaurant five months ago, he’d nonchalantly revealed that he’d had numerous paramours over the course of their seven-month relationship— but even more shocking was his insistence that he genuinely saw himself making Belinda his wife, one day.
“We’re good together, Bee. And we can still be that way,” he’d oozed. “I never lied when I said I was okay with you waiting to have sex before marriage,” he’d said. “But I never said I was okay with my waiting to have sex before marriage. I’m a full grown man, Bee. And I just need a little something now and then, to tide me over. Once we’re married, you’re all I’ll ever need, Baby.”
All she’d been able to think as she’d watched the movement of those lips dripping with insanity was, “How many people have I been kissing when I’ve kissed him?”
The shiver running up and down Belinda’s spine, right now, had nothing to do with the weather.
After a shuddering intake of breath, she drug her thoughts back to the present and took a few short steps past the threshold of her patio door. The sliding door hissed behind her as she closed and locked it.
Her eyes surveyed the room for something to carry her thoughts elsewhere. Latching her attention onto the array of mismatched luggage arranged neatly before the front door, she strode over and stopped before them. Forefinger waving in the air like a conductor’s wand, she pointed at each bag, mentally recounting what was within.
Yes, everything was there.
Bobbing her head, Belinda smiled and strode to her kitchen. Pulling out a clean, vacuum insulated travel mug from her cupboard, she rinsed it off and set it by her coffee machine in preparation for her wait in the airport’s lobby. The uber should be arriving in less than an hour.
She’d timed the coffee mug to shut off twenty minutes before the driver arrived, which is when she’d fill her mug. That’d ensure she’d have plenty of time to transfer her luggage to the first floor of her apartment and have hot, homemade coffee to sip from while she waited to board her non-stop flight.
She hoped arriving an hour and a half earlier than her flight time would suffice.
Once again, she lamented at not having the two-hour cushion she typically preferred; but what could she do? Despite having scheduled her ride nearly a month ago, a number of the time slots during the week before Christmas had already been nabbed.
Taking a deep breath in she slowly exhaled.
“Stop worrying, Belinda. Everything’s going to be fine. You are going to have the best winter vacation ever, and this is a fresh start for you. You got this…now breathe.”
A notification rang from her phone just as she finished speaking that last word.
Her brows puckered. Then she allowed the breath she’d been holding to escape her in a huff.
She smirked. She was way too tense.
It was probably her mom texting her more pictures from the cruise she’d gone on with friends.
Belinda loved that her mother was enjoying her golden years with such fervor. But then her mom had always been that way; sometimes to a fault. There were many-a-days where exercising a bit of fiscal caution would have been helpful during Belinda’s formative years. But now that her mom was an empty nester and a retiree, Belinda could appreciate her mother’s zest for life and the greater financial freedom both statuses afforded her mother.
Now if only Belinda could figure out how to enjoy life nearly as freely before she reached the same age group.
Upon checking her phone, the muscles in her face slackened.
“No,” she growled at the banner notification displayed along the top of her phone innocently notifying her that the driver had canceled her ride.
“You have got to be kidding me?! Ugh!” she raged, slamming the phone down on the counter.
Several expletives later, she snatched the phone up and furiously tapped upon the screen as she attempted to schedule a new ride—during the Christmas season.
If she ever—ever saw that jerk uber driver…he had just better never cross her path.
“Looks like it’ll be a doozy of a storm headed our way from the west tomorrow,” the man on the radio sang. “Hope you’ve got your cocoa and marshmallows ready for a day indoors. If you’ve got travel plans, be sure to stay tuned for updates—”
“Got good Christmas plans?” the man seated in the backseat asked.
Donovan glanced up at the rearview mirror with a raised eyebrow. He’d pegged the taciturn, well-dressed man he’d picked up from the airport as the type to eschew small talk.
Obviously he was wrong. Mentally shrugging, he hyped up his attitude and readied his voice for a friendly conversation.
“Going to visit family,” Donovan answered. “My family has a timeshare located not too far from the town I grew up in—a cabin we’ve gone to every year for Christmas and New Year’s since I was a kid. So everyone will be there—you know, siblings and their spouses, their kids. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them so I promised I’d join in on the festivities this time. Have just one more passenger to pick up before I’ll be headed back to the airport for my flight.”
“That’s good. That’s good. So you’re a family man. You’re making the right choice. Wish I had learned as much at your age.”
Donovan smirked. At thirty-eight, it’d been a while since anyone had addressed him as a “youngin’”. But looking at the older gentleman—he was maybe in his late fifties, early sixties—he supposed the man had a right.