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Today — December 23 — is when the finale of FALLING FOR HER takes place. This isn’t Vanessa and Josh’s happy ending, because I prefer to think of the ends of my books as bringing the characters to a happy beginning.

But before they can begin, they need to learn some things: This is the warm-up to Josh Kincannon is about to get one of those lessons in this excerpt:

“Josh?” Mrs. Richards’ voice trembled. “We need you at the computer lab. It’s an emergency.”

The night of December twenty-third was not the time for an emergency.

He had a wrapping marathon tonight. Tomorrow’s schedule was packed right up until Christmas Eve services. He’d be wrapping, along with stuffing stockings and putting together Livvy’s tricycle in the short night between when the kids settled down Christmas Eve and when they woke well before dawn.

And none of it kept him from knowing that Vanessa hadn’t responded.

“What’s wrong?” But he already had out his list of emergency sitters.

“You have to get here. You just have to!” She hung up.

* * * *

Inside the unlocked front door, the computer lab was brightly lit, but with no sign of activity.

“Mrs. R!”

Her voice came faintly from in back. Pulling his phone out, he ran, envisioning broken hips, strokes, heart attacks. He shoved open the office door.

“Mrs. Richards–are you okay?”

She sat primly in an office chair at the lone computer desk back here. Her hands suspended over the keyboard as she peered around the chair back at him. “I’m fine, dear. How are you?”

She looked fine. She sounded fine. “What’s the emergency?”

“Just a moment, dear. Let me finish this e-mail. I did tell you –” Her fingers tapped away between words. “—that I’ve established a loop with correspondents around the world, didn’t I?”

“Yes. But the emergen–”

“Wonderful people. I know one must be cautious, as our fine instructors said. I most certainly would not give out personal information. But it’s amazing the connections you make, how clearly personalities –”

“If you don’t tell me the emergency, I’m leaving, Mrs. R.”

She startled up, “Oh, no! Don’t, Josh.” She looked at the wall clock. “If you could be patient a little longer.”

“Patient for what?”

She fluttered her hands.

“Is there an emergency?” Beneath his well-honed tell-me-the-truth stare, she quailed. “Then I’m going home to my kids.”

He pivoted. She caught up in the open doorway to the main room. Pretty good for a woman who needed a walker at times. She clung to his arm.

“Wait, Josh. Don’t go. Not yet. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer than you’d like, but if you don’t you might regret it for the rest of your life.”

“Wait for what?”

The front door opened, the blast of frigid air reaching him at the far end of the room. Unless something else made his eyes sting and his lungs burn.


~ ~ ~

Lots more happens on Dec. 23 in FALLING FOR HER — will Vanessa respond to the present he’d sent her? — but I don’t want to ruin it for you! Happy reading!

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