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Miss Claus and the Millionaire

Miss Claus and the Millionaire

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Miss Claus and the Millionaire

Bewertungen:
4/5 (19 Bewertungen)
Länge:
165 Seiten
2 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Nov 10, 2020
ISBN:
9781094414652
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Nicole Myers loves making and selling crafts in her spare time, and her greatest wish is to turn her booming Etsy business into something bigger. Nicole’s hand-painted Russian nesting dolls have become a hit at the morning market in downtown St. Petersburg, FL, and to her surprise, her work even lands her in the local newspaper. Nicole wants nothing more than to use her platform as an artist to help raise awareness for kids in need during the holidays and all year long, but, as with all good causes, what she really needs is money.

Roman Regan is rich and good-looking, but despite his chiseled features and big bank account, he’s also very lonely. Christmas was never really fun for Roman growing up; for an only child who always got everything he ever wanted, the holidays didn’t hold any special meaning. When Nicole and her nesting dolls catch his eye, he is reminded of something he loved and lost long ago. Roman becomes determined to get his hands on one of Nicole’s hand-made toys… and maybe get his hands on her in the process.

Under the guise of being a merchandising executive, Roman locates Nicole at the Christmas market and offers her a deal for her brand that she can’t refuse. Nicole considers his proposition under one condition: he has to help with the toy drive and children’s parade. With Nicole’s help, Roman begins to embrace a festive spirit and finds hope and comfort in her passion for helping others, but will she still be so warm to him when she finds out who he really is? This year, for Nicole and Roman, the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about dollar signs and sales… but about finding true love.

Freigegeben:
Nov 10, 2020
ISBN:
9781094414652
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Wendy Dalrymple crafts highly consumable, short and sweet romances inspired by everyday people. When she’s not writing happily-ever-afters, you can find her camping with her family, painting (bad) wall art, and trying to grow as many pineapples as possible. Keep up with Wendy at www.wendydalrymple.com!

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Miss Claus and the Millionaire - Wendy Dalrymple

Chapter One

Nicole Myers hovered over her desk with a paintbrush in her hand and a mess of acrylics, clear varnish, and tools spread out before her. The heady scent of pine from the Douglas fir tree in the corner mingled with clove and nutmeg spice blends from the kitchen, and she deeply breathed the aroma with a sigh. Nicole looked up from her work at the bare tree in the corner and felt a pang of guilt; she knew she should probably get around to decorating it sometime soon. It was already December 5, after all.

What was the one thing you always wanted for Christmas but never got?

Nicole looked over at her best friend and roommate, Talisha, surprised. Even though they were both hard at work on their respective holiday-themed endeavors, the question seemed to come out of nowhere. She stared up at the ceiling in thought, chewing on the end of her paintbrush as the bittersweet feelings of disappointment from a Christmas long ago washed over her. A commercial from her childhood flashed before her eyes as she recalled the coveted toy that never made its way into her hands.

Fashion Plates.

What the heck is that? Talisha asked, pushing her red-plastic-framed glasses up the bridge of her nose.

"It’s these, well… plates with different outfits that you would mix and match. Then you would lay paper over them and rub them with a crayon to create an impression of your own fashion designs. It was kind of cool. Why do you ask?"

I was just thinking. This time of year makes me all nostalgic, Talisha said, returning to her work in the kitchen. I always wanted a Power Wheels Jeep, but they were too expensive. I was jealous ’cause my cousins had one.

Nicole eyed her roommate from across the way, studying her oldest friend appreciatively. Talisha was a true fashion plate in her own right, always dressed in some amazingly tailored-for-her piece she’d found at a thrift store with her locs done up in a colorful, intricately twisted scarf. They were complete opposites in almost every way except when it came to their passion for creativity. While Talisha stood out in a crowd no matter where she went, Nicole preferred to blend in with the background, her thick mass of ginger-colored hair secured in either a bun or a braid. Stay beige was her motto. Safe. Easy. Uncomplicated.

I need some ideas for presents for my niece. I have no clue what little girls like these days, Talisha said, shaking her head.

I know what you mean. Nicole nodded. You could get her a gift certificate to the movies, or take her to play mini golf or something.

I thought about that, Talisha said. "But I want to be, like, the best aunt. I want her to open a gift from me and just freak out. You don’t get that kind of excitement anymore when you grow up."

Nicole half smiled. She knew exactly what Talisha meant.

You know, I never told anyone about the Fashion Plates. I knew better than to write a letter to Santa or say anything to my mom, Nicole said, returning to her own work.

So you never got anything you really wanted for Christmas? Talisha asked softly.

Nicole cringed at the look of sadness and disappointment on her friend’s face. She had seen that expression before, on the faces of teachers and employers. She hated to be pitied.

Oh, no, I still got presents, she replied, forcing a smile. It was mostly donated stuff from the church toy drive or something useful like socks or books. I never really got anything frivolous, though.

Sorry, sweetie, Talisha said, pausing her work for a moment. I had it pretty bad growing up too, but at least we had toys. Psh, we probably had too many.

It’s okay. She shrugged. I really did want those Fashion Plates though.

Talisha and Nicole returned to their respective work, each of them contentedly falling back into their usual rhythms as Christmas songs filled the air of their modest apartment. Nicole took over the bulk of the living room as she worked, turning the shared space into a DIY art studio crammed with paints, paintbrushes, canvases, and blank wooden Russian nesting dolls. Talisha reigned over the kitchen with a spatula and a bowl, whipping up vegan baked goods with her own special twist.

You gonna have everything ready for the market by tomorrow morning? Talisha asked, pointing with her wooden spatula.

I think so, Nicole said, inspecting her latest creation. Margie Cunningham is going to have a booth there too, with her nutcrackers. I might have some competition.

Psh, Talisha scoffed. "Margie’s stuff is just weird. Who would want a Rush Limbaugh nutcracker anyway?"

You’d be surprised, Nicole laughed.

I bet you’re gonna be swamped tomorrow, Talisha said in a singsong voice.

You really think so?

"Yeah, Talisha said, measuring out cups full of flour. Traffic to your website went through the roof after that article in the Tampa Bay Times, didn’t it?"

I guess. I didn’t even tell you the craziest part yet, Nicole said, putting down her paintbrush. "After the interview, I got a ton of email inquiries asking for custom work, but I also got a few weird emails, too. This one guy claimed he wanted to buy and license my brand. Yeah right."

Girl, what?

Here, look, Nicole said, showing her the email. This marketing guy from Ryzhov Enterprises says he wants to help Miss Claus & Co. go wide. I’m not buying it.

Talisha put down her batter-covered spatula and eyed the email. She pinched and expanded the screen, making tsk-ing noises as she scrolled, then handed the phone back to Nicole with a shrug.

I don’t know. Did you look him up? Maybe it’s legit.

Not yet, Nicole said, retrieving her phone. Business is picking up on its own, though. I don’t know if I want to be bought out by some big corporation. I worked so hard to get to this point on my own.

But more money is a good thing, right?

Not if I don’t have control, Nicole said, returning to her work. More money also means more red tape. My work is important to me.

Well, I wouldn’t brush it off just yet, Talisha said. At least not until you know what this guy is offering.

I guess, Nicole sighed. It’s just a really big step. I don’t know if I’m ready to hand everything over.

Well, we’re not getting any younger, sweetie, Talisha said, waving her finger. With that kind of money, you could finally buy your own house! We can’t live in this apartment together forever, you know.

The thought had crossed her mind. Nicole had never lived on her own, not since her mother had passed when she was twenty-one. Even though she and Talisha got along, and she liked the company, the big four-oh was creeping closer every year. With every birthday that fell off the calendar, Nicole sensed the pull to find a place of her own settling in. A place to have a yard for a dog would be nice. A studio. A quiet corner to drink her coffee in in the morning. It was a dream, but it was one that she was getting closer to achieving every day.

Maybe. I’ll think about it. I can’t really decide on anything now. I gotta finish this last set of dolls before tomorrow.

Whatever you say, girl. Just be sure to send Mr. Corporate Big Bucks my way if you don’t take up his offer. Talisha’s Treats could use a generous benefactor just about now.

Nicole snickered as she left Talisha to mix and measure and returned to her own work space. The unfinished matryoshka doll on her desk stared back at her, smiling its mysterious Mona Lisa smile, and Nicole unconsciously mimicked the expression. Designing and painting her nesting dolls was a labor of love, but one that had brought Nicole unexpected fame in the past month. Now, with the booth she would share with Talisha at the Downtown St. Petersburg Christmas Market less than twenty-four hours away, the pressure to put her best foot forward was on.

Christmas was a holiday that Nicole had always held close to her heart, even though her own memories of the season were tinged with sadness. Even if her mother would have had the money to make the illusion of Santa happen for her one and only child, there was nowhere for them to keep a pile of toys anyway. Still, Nicole and her mother had enjoyed making the most of the holidays together, baking and creating handmade ornaments that they would sell at the flea market. She missed her mother the most this time of year, and tried her hardest to keep the spirit of the season alive in her own heart. Hand-painting ornaments and toys was one of her favorite ways to honor her and enjoy the holidays all at once. The fact that Nicole was now beginning to make a decent living out of her hobby was nothing short of a miracle.

After another half an hour of detailing, Nicole was finally able to stretch and set her creation aside to dry. She had worked tirelessly all week to paint multiple sets of intricately embellished nesting-doll families, each with a traditional Christmas motif. Though her Etsy store stock of handcrafted dolls and toys was completely depleted and back-order requests on her website were piling up, Nicole simply had to make her Christmas-themed nesting dolls a priority. As it stood, she had enough work to last her well into March, but with the holidays around the corner, seasonal matryoshka dolls were sure to be a hot-ticket item.

Just as she was about to apply the final layer of clear protective varnish to the last wooden doll, Nicole’s phone buzzed again. A quick glance at the notification on her screen showed a new email inquiry from Ryzhov Enterprises in her inbox. She dismissed the message and carefully glazed on the finishing touch to her most ambitious piece yet. With layers of red, green, and gold, her holiday wooden doll sets each featured a Santa, a Mrs. Claus, a reindeer, a snowman, and finally a tiny elf all nested together and painted with intricate Eastern European motifs. Nicole had created two dozen complete sets just for the Christmas market and hoped they would all sell at her booth the following day.

I think $150 a set is really too much, Nicole mused out loud. Lisha, doesn’t that sound like too much?

Why? Talisha said, taking her scones out of the oven. You spent hours on each of those sets. Don’t sell yourself short.

I guess, she sighed.

Her fingers and back were aching, but her stock was finally ready for the following day. She was proud of what she would be offering at the outdoor Christmas market; her new business cards looked great, and the weather was going to be seventy-two degrees and sunny. Everything was going to plan, but, though she should have been content, she was too bone-tired to truly enjoy any sense of accomplishment. Nicole picked up her phone and glanced at the email again, and for a brief moment considered entertaining the offer from Ryzhov Enterprises. But then, as usual, her pride got the best of her.

I can do this all on my own, she thought, deleting the email. I’ve gotten this far without help. Thanks but no thanks, Mr. Ryzhov Marketing Executive Guy.

After packing up her wares and double-checking that she had all of the necessary decorations, holiday-print tablecloths, and signs she needed for the market the following day, Nicole was finally ready to turn in for the night. She glanced toward the kitchen at Talisha and a twinge of guilt settled in. Her friend and roommate was still busily shuffling through recipe cards and measuring out muffin batter, her printed silk blouse dusted in flour.

Lisha, I’m heading to bed unless you need any help, she offered.

"Nope, I’m good. Raquel is coming over after her shift to

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  • (5/5)
    The story is compelling. Good job writer! If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top or joye@novelstar.top
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