I thought I’d give you all a sneak peak of the newest Christmas novella which should be released soon! Below you’ll find the first chapter. I’m so excited about my new book – and even more excited that I got to write a bit about the women from KW Consulting again. It was like revisiting old friends. For those of you who haven’t read the KW Consulting series, you’ll still be able to enjoy this stand alone book, but I think that those who have read the series will be pleased to see what Kate, Georgia, Brooke, and Isabella are up to now.
A Christmas Carol Wedding focuses on Jessica Winters, the newest wedding consultant in the prestigious KW Consulting firm. She specializes in literary themed weddings and is planning one based on the classic tale by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. However, the bride’s brother who is also the best man reminds her quite a bit of Ebeneezer Scrooge. In spite of his grouchiness, she finds herself drawn to him, longing to make him see that there can be true joy found in Christmas.
Ethan Scroodge hates this season. Too many dark memories haunt him during Christmas, and even though his family tries hard, nothing can shake him from the shadow he lives under. Until he meets Jessica. Somehow this wedding planner seems to know how he’s feeling, but how is that possible?
Here is the first chapter of A Christmas Carol Wedding. I hope you enjoy it!
The fall air felt brisk as Jessica Winters walked along the downtown street to the offices of KW Consulting. The brick building had a sense of history and tradition to it while the frosted glass door with the silver “KW” scripted on it lent elegance to the stark face. Jessica paused in front of the door and took a deep breath. She still couldn’t believe that she was now one of the consultants in the well-known firm.
It had been two years since she had become a full consultant. She had started working in the office as the receptionist while she was in college. At the time, she had been doing her general coursework and trying to figure out what she wanted to study, but the more time spent around weddings and the consultants, the more she longed to be one of them. She had loved watching the four women put together events that were everything the bride had ever dreamed.
One day she had gotten up the courage to tell the owner, Kate Wescott, about her desire to be a consultant. Before she knew it, Kate had made her a secretary for another consultant, Georgia Greene, with instructions that she was to be taught how to plan weddings while she was working with her.
Georgia was a dainty, southern woman with honey blonde curls and a knack for traditional ceremonies. Her energy was unbounded – except when her husband, Mark, reminded her to slow down a bit – and Jessica had found herself exhausted every night when she went home. Before she knew it, Georgia was giving her parts of weddings, and finally one day, she asked a bride if she would mind if Jessica was her consultant. The bride was reluctant at first, and Jessica’s heart had pounded in her chest waiting to hear the answer. After being assured that Georgia would be right alongside her the whole time, the bride had agreed. The wedding had been beautiful, and they had received nothing but compliments on the event.
Jessica smiled at the memory as she walked into her own private office. She hung up her coat and moved to her desk. Sitting down, she straightened a photograph of her and Georgia at the first wedding she had planned by herself. The pride she had felt that day came rushing back. Leaning back in her office chair, she closed her eyes and recalled how quickly everything had happened after that.
When Kate had found out that she was expecting her first baby, she had debated for a long time on what to do with the company. Should she step down? Continue to work? Cut back her hours? In the end, she had rented the space above the offices and had moved upstairs to focus on the business side of the company although she still planned a few weddings each year. Needing another consultant, she had turned to Jessica, and before she knew what had happened, she had been placed in Kate’s old office and was getting her own clients.
“Good morning, Ms. Winters,” a warm British voice spoke, interrupting her thoughts. A heavyset woman with short graying hair came through the door. She wore a sweater and a wool skirt with sensible shoes. Each consultant hired her own assistant, and Margaret Harrington had instantly put Jessica at ease with her calm, motherly, sensible ways.
“Good morning, Mrs. Harrington. How are you this morning?”
“Oh, I can’t complain.”
“You never do.” Jessica smiled affectionately. “Please have a seat.” Mrs. Harrington never sat across from Jessica until asked. It had taken a while for Jessica to figure that out, and she had felt terrible when she had realized it, but since then, she made a point to invite her to take a seat every time she came in.
Margaret sat down heavily and flexed her feet. “This cold weather sets my feet to aching I’m afraid. It feels good to rest a while.”
“Rest as much as you need.”
Pulling out the schedule, Margaret got to business making sure that they both had the same appointments on the calendar, and that all the files were prepared. Closing her planner, Margaret looked around the office. “I’ve always loved this room. You’ve done such a beautiful job with it.”
“Thank you. I love it, too.” Just as each consultant picked their own assistant, they also decorated their office to fit their unique style. Jessica had painted it a moss green, but the walls were mostly covered floor to ceiling with bookshelves filled with books of all kinds. She especially loved going to bookstores with antique books and picking up volumes that were leather bound or first edition when she could afford them.
Margaret grunted as she pushed up out of the chair. “Your first appointment ought to be arriving shortly. I’d best get to my own work.”
Going over to the bookshelves, Jessica found a copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. She lovingly ran her hand over the cover of the book. It had always been a favorite of hers.
Each of the women at KW Consulting had a unique niche in the wedding market. Kate was well-respected and did high profile weddings while Georgia did the traditional ones. Brooke Martin, a former model, took on the modern, trendy weddings, and Isabelle Johnson did themed weddings. When Jessica had joined the team, she had expressed her desire to do literary themed weddings. Kate hadn’t been sure that there would be a market for it, but when a client had called in asking for an Alice in Wonderland theme, they had given her to Jessica. The wedding had gone over so well that the newspaper had even written a spread on it, and then it had gone viral on social media. Soon Jessica had been flooded with various literary requests from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling to Jane Austen and everything in between. Each one had been fun and interesting. She had been worried that her focus on literary themes would negatively impact Isabelle’s clientele, but they had enough for both of them. In fact, Isabelle had told her that it had allowed the firm to accept more clients than they had before.
At her antique wooden desk, she pulled the file out for the wedding that was centered around Dickens’ classic novel. She smiled again as she looked at the name of the bride and groom. Emily Scroodge and Robert Crockett had been amused by how similar their names were to the characters in their favorite Christmas story. Their joking about how they were ‘meant to be’ one day turned serious, and they found that somewhere along the way they had fallen in love. When Robert proposed, Emily had told him that she had seen a story on Facebook about a wedding planner in town who did literary themed weddings. It didn’t take much to persuade him that they needed to base their wedding around A Christmas Carol.
Much of the planning had already been done. The wedding was set for the week before Christmas. Now that it was mid-November there wasn’t much left to do. Today, though, Robert was bringing in his best man, who also happened to be Emily’s brother, so that they could do the suit fitting for the ceremony. Emily had ordered her gown made months earlier to fit a traditional nineteenth century wedding.
A buzz on the phone sounded before Margaret’s voice pierced the silence of the office. “Mr. Crockett and Mr. Scroodge are here.”
“I’m ready for them.” Jessica could swear that she heard a snicker over the intercom before she cut the connection. Margaret had found much amusement in the couple’s names as well.
Jessica stood to welcome the two men. Margaret ushered them in, and Robert greeted her with his usual warmth. He was an average man – average height, average weight, average features – there wasn’t much that distinguished him from any other man. His best man on the other hand immediately attracted Jessica’s attention, and she felt butterflies in her stomach just looking at him. She hadn’t felt that way about someone since she was in middle school.
Mr. Scroodge was over six feet tall with dark blonde hair cut close in a military style, the hard lines of his face made him ruggedly handsome, and his gray eyes were intense. He was broad, muscular and – manly was the only adjective that came to mind. She could think of no other word to describe him. Then again she was having trouble thinking of anything at all.
“Ms. Winters, I’d like you to meet my best man and soon to-be brother-in-law, Ethan Scroodge,” Robert introduced with a broad smile.
Jessica shook his rough, calloused hand. How long had she been staring at this man? Was it becoming awkward? Had he noticed? A slight twitch of his mouth indicated that he had not only noticed, but he was also used to attracting such attention from females. She mentally shook herself. “It’s nice to meet you. Let’s get started.”