Happy Release Day!
Join Rebecca Raisin for the final festive part of the Cedarwood Lodge serial and see who might be kissing under the mistletoe…
Planning a New Years Eve Party might be the kind of event Clio Winters used to dream about organising, but when everything is feeling a bit up in the air, she has to hope that this New Years her wish really will come true.
Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is the final part in this feel-good romance serial.
Pre-order Links: Amazon | Amazon UK
About the Author:
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.
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The golden vocals of Frank Sinatra singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas drifted upstairs to greet me. Feeling decidedly festive, I wrenched the bedcovers back and raced to the bay window. Outside, the frosty ground was blanketed by snow and the mountains in the distance slumbered under dense white. If you squinted you could make out tracks in the snow from Santa’s reindeers. OK, maybe not, but a girl could dream…
From downstairs came the rattle of cups, the shrieking of the kettle – someone was up and about and, from the scents wafting my way, baking something Christmassy.
Not wanting to miss a thing, I pulled on my robe and went to investigate. Even at thirty-three the joy of Christmas had never left me. Taking the stairs two at a time, I practically bounced into the warmth of the kitchen. Cruz had brewed a pot of gingerbread coffee and handed me a cup. The spicy ginger scent was synonymous with Christmas and gave me the desire to eat my bodyweight in baked goods – from gingerbread families to reindeer cookies, and as many of Aunt Bessie’s donuts as I could carry in two hands. After all, New Year’s resolutions were made for a reason, right?
“Thanks, and Merry Christmas, Cruz!”
“Merry Christmas, Clio. Nice PJs.” He raised a sardonic brow.
Staring down at my ensemble I couldn’t help but smirk. Isla and Micah had gifted us all kitschy Christmas-themed gifts. My pajamas were festooned with grinning red-nosed reindeers and merry mistletoe; the material was so vividly red they were blink inducing. Let’s just say you wouldn’t have missed me even if you were in the next town over. My dressing gown covered most of the garishness but not quite enough apparently.
“Right?” I laughed.
A moment later in walked Amory, wearing her gift from Isla and Micah. Flashing candy cane earrings and a matching headband.
“Aww you look so… Christmassy.” I grinned. I hadn’t seen Amory embrace the holidays with quite so much flamboyance so early in the morning before.
We laughed at Amory’s usual one word dawn greeting, her Grinch-like tone a total opposite to her flashing festive accessories. Even on Christmas morning she was unable to communicate until caffeine was pumping through her veins. I poured her a gingerbread coffee and she gulped it down, then held the cup out for another, which she sipped a little more gingerly.
I gave her the prerequisite three minutes to let it work its magic before saying: “Did you hear the sleigh bells last night?”
She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Is that some kind of euphemism? Because if you want to know about my sex life all you need to do is ask.”
A shocked giggle escaped me. “Amory!” Cruz turned away and did his best to appear busy, though I could see his shoulders shake with silent laughter.
“What? Isn’t that what you meant?” she grinned, the evil minx she was.
“No it isn’t! I meant actual sleigh bells! I think someone in town must have been marching around as Santa last night. Maybe we missed a Christmas parade or something.”
“Oh, my bad.” Her face was the picture of innocence but it was hard to concentrate when she had all manner of kitschy Christmas jewelry flashing from her head. “Of course something like that would be happening in a town like Evergreen, darling! There seems to be a festival for everything here.”
I smiled as I took a sip of coffee. Amory was right, Evergreen prided itself on having an event for every season. I’d missed the autumn food festival, but the switching on of the town lights and the ginormous Christmas tree had been truly spectacular. And before long, the spring flower festival would be here.
“And I see you’re wearing your gift,” Amory said, motioning to Cruz.
On top of Cruz’s head was a novelty chef’s hat announcing, No soggy bottoms this Christmas!
He grimaced. “Well, I figure I have three hundred and sixty-four days that I don’t have to wear it. And I only whipped it on when I heard footsteps and thought it might be Isla checking up on me.” With a grin, he pulled it off and threw it on the bench.
“Oh no, here comes Isla comes now!” Amory hissed. I darted a glance over my shoulder, sure Isla and Micah were elsewhere. They’d left in the early hours of this morning, after our Christmas Eve celebrations finally came to a close, in order to make it to Micah’s family Christmas.
Cruz’s eyes widened and he fumbled and cursed as he stuffed it back on.
“Just joking! Isla and Micah aren’t coming for breakfast today.”
He narrowed his eyes and clutched at his heart. “You’re evil. Pure evil.”
Amory laughed. “But you make it so easy!”
Cruz was the epitome of politeness and it was almost impossible for us not to play practical jokes or tease him mercilessly. He took it in good humor, and it made the busy days a little more fun.
“And,” I said, “Isla has spies, she’ll know if you’re not wearing your hat.”
Shaking his head, he donned the offending item, and said with a smile, “It’s a lovely hat. The best.”
“You’re a lucky man.” Amory stood to kiss him, and I felt a moment of pure joy for my friends. A few weeks ago it didn’t look like their love would last, they’d both envisioned different futures; Cruz sought the American dream: a house in the ‘burbs, kids, a nine-to-five job… and Amory wanted the exact opposite, and had no desire to have children, ever. After lots of back and forth they’d managed to compromise because they loved each other above all else, even if that meant sacrificing their own dreams. It gave me hope for my own love life… or lack thereof.
“You should see what Isla got for Micah’s parents. Bright Kermit green Christmas onesies. With matching slippers. They’ll certainly be warm, if nothing else.” Amory giggled.
I blamed Henrietta from the gift shop in town for encouraging Isla; still, when we’d given out presents the night before our laughter had turned into a fully-fledged cackle-fest as the gifts got sillier by the moment. When she produced a talking elf you could teach to speak, the night disintegrated into chaos with everyone wanting to take a turn, teaching the innocent elf some not-so-innocent phrases.
It had been an endless evening of laughter until Micah had presented Isla with her very own real life constellation that he’d named after her; we’d let out a collective aww, and the night ended on a sweet note with everyone loved up, and me dreaming of being loved up…