Read Christmas in Texas Online

Authors: Tina Leonard,Rebecca Winters

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction

Christmas in Texas

Texas Tough…And Christmas Tender

Christmas Baby
Blessings
by Tina Leonard

Ranger Seagal West is back in Bridesmaids Creek, Texas, on
bodyguard duty with his soon-to-be ex, Capri Snow. And what a body to guard: to
his surprise, she’s carrying twin babies.
His
babies. Capri is as irresistible and stubborn as ever. So how can Seagal
convince Capri they
all
belong together—and not just
for Christmas?

The Christmas Rescue
by Rebecca Winters

A slippery road, a speeding car…and Texas Ranger Flynn
Patterson finds a baby lying helpless in the wreck. As he comforts the boy,
Flynn’s heart turns over. He’ll never stop grieving his own lost family. But he
can take care of this little guy,
and
his desperate
mother. No matter how Andrea Sinclair pushes him away, Flynn knows the safest
place for the fugitives this Christmas is his own lonely home. But will they
stay?

A holiday gift for readers of Harlequin American Romance

Two heartwarming Christmas novellas from two of your favorite
authors

Christmas Baby Blessings
by Tina
Leonard

The Christmas Rescue
by Rebecca
Winters

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Tina Leonard is a
USA TODAY
bestselling author of more than forty projects, including a popular
thirteen-book miniseries for Harlequin American Romance. Her books have made the
Waldenbooks, Ingram and Nielsen BookScan bestseller lists. Tina feels she has
been blessed with a fertile imagination and quick typing skills, excellent
editors and a family who loves her career. Born on a military base, she lived in
many states before eventually marrying the boy who did her crayon printing for
her in the first grade. Tina believes happy endings are a wonderful part of a
good life. You can visit her at
www.tinaleonard.com
.

Rebecca Winters, whose family of four children has now
swelled to include five beautiful grandchildren, lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
in the land of the Rocky Mountains. With canyons and high alpine meadows full of
wildflowers, she never runs out of places to explore. They, plus her favorite
vacation spots in Europe, often end up as backgrounds for her romance novels,
because writing is her passion, along with her family and church. Rebecca loves
to hear from readers. If you wish to email her, please visit her website,
www.cleanromances.com
.

Christmas in Texas

Tina Leonard

Rebecca Winters

Christmas Baby Blessings

Tina Leonard

Dear Reader,

The Christmas season is so magical! Sometimes there’s too
much hustle and bustle, and it’s hard to slow down and think about the real
meaning of the season. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is reconnecting
with family and friends, whether it’s through a Christmas card, a phone call or
dropping off a small gift.

Seagal West wants to reconnect with his family,
too—specifically his wife! He dearly loves his soon-to-be ex, and once he
discovers Capri is expecting their children, Seagal is determined to ring in the
holiday with her. Surely there’s one more Christmas miracle for them and their
new babies?

Capri Snow is resigned to the divorce—she doesn’t want him to
come back to her just because of the children. Somehow Seagal found out about
her pregnancy, and has moved back into their house as her bodyguard. But the
only thing she needs protecting from is her own heart!

I hope you enjoy Capri and Seagal’s story. There’s nothing
like Christmas to bring people together, and in Bridesmaids Creek, they’re used
to matchmaking to help a miracle along. It’s my cherished hope that there are
many happy memories and a little Christmas magic, too, this holiday season for
you!

Best always,
Tina

For anyone who has ever dreamed of the magic of Christmas.

Chapter One

Capri Snow’s first thought was that the Santa who sat
so alertly beneath the white gingerbread archway of Bridesmaids Creek’s
Christmastown looked a bit…off. He was tall for a Santa, broad-shouldered, and
his tummy had shifted, as if he wasn’t comfortable and had tried to move the
proverbial bowl full of jelly away from him. If that wasn’t odd enough, he was
staring at her seven-months pregnant belly as if he were envious of her
roundness.

“Come on,” her best friend, Kelly Coakley, said, dragging her.
“You promised to have a picture taken with Santa for the
Bridesmaids Creek Courier.

Yes, she had, so she let Kelly push her onto Santa’s lap. There
were plenty of things one did on the committee of Bridesmaids Creek’s popular
Christmastown, and posing for a holiday photo op wasn’t a horrible thing. It was
just that one of Santa’s white eyebrows had come partially unglued, showing his
real eyebrows to be jet black, which Capri found a bit unnerving. He pulled her
closer, and Capri examined his bearded face. His electric-blue eyes gazed at her
intently—and she registered that Santa had much firmer thighs than she would
have thought for an elderly manager of holiday elves.

In Bridesmaids Creek, anybody could get roped into holiday
duty. This Santa was probably a hapless dad who’d been talked into the Christmas
shenanigans by the authoritative Mrs. Mathilda Penny. “I’m sure Santa has better
things to do than pose for the
Courier,
Kelly,”
Capri said, trying to encourage her friend to hurry it up a bit. Truthfully, she
felt very shy about her weight (okay, she hadn’t put on that much baby weight,
but she felt misshapen and awkward), and something told her it was time to leave
Father Christmas’s well-muscled lap.

“He doesn’t mind, do you?” Kelly beamed. “I bet Santa likes
having his picture taken.” She clicked a few more photos, enough, Capri thought,
for a full spread in a national magazine.

“That’s got to be plenty,” Capri said, trying to get up from
the man’s warm lap. She couldn’t quite make it to her feet, and Santa gallantly
gave her a little push from behind. “Thank you,” she said, determined to be
polite, though she was well aware he wouldn’t have had to give a starter push to
a more svelte female.

He blinked at her over the festive snowy beard but didn’t
reply. Capri decided they’d taken up enough of his time. “Thank you for
participating in Christmastown. We really appreciate it.”

“There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Kelly asked as they
stepped away.

Capri glanced back at Santa, whose gaze remained fixed on her
as he sat, completely unmoving, on his white Christmastown throne. “That is no
harmless elderly Santa.”

“I know.” Kelly giggled. “He’s an undercover cop.”

“Kelly!” Capri gasped, astonished. “I know security is tight
this year, but I don’t think Mrs. Penny would hire an undercover cop to listen
to the children’s wish lists.”

“That’s exactly what she did,” Kelly said, inspecting her
camera with some approbation. “That’s Mrs. Penny’s nephew. She said that with
all the weird stuff going on in Bridesmaids Creek in the past year, she wasn’t
taking any chances on the safety of the kids. Mrs. Penny loves a good whodunit
more than anyone, but I can’t disagree with her desire to keep this event
safe.”

Capri took a fast peek at Santa. His gaze was no longer on her,
but trained on some men near the ice sculptures that would greet visitors when
the event opened in two hours. The twinkling lights would be on, and
Christmastown would be in full swing, overrun by eager tots desiring a turn at
Santa’s ear.

“Rats,” Kelly said. “Sorry, Santa. You’ll have to put up with
Capri for a couple more seconds. I didn’t have the camera set properly.” She
gave Capri a gentle shove back toward Santa, and it seemed to Capri that Santa
reached out for her a bit more enthusiastically than he should have.

Trust Mrs. Penny’s nephew to be a diligent St. Nick. Capri once
again pasted a smile on her face as Kelly struggled with her camera. Santa
seemed happy to have her back on his lap, though he kept his hands off her,
which Capri appreciated. The last cop she’d known—her almost-ex-husband—had
never
been able to keep his hands off her.

It was something she badly missed about Seagal.

“Okay, I fixed it,” Kelly said. “Smile!”

Capri smiled—then yelped with surprise as Santa shoved her out
of his lap, chivalrously making certain she didn’t hit the floor. He sprinted
toward the ice sculptures and the exit, clearly in excellent physical shape.

Kelly’s mouth dropped open. She lowered the camera for a
moment, hastily bringing it back up to her eyes to capture the excitement. Santa
leaped onto a snow mound complete with festive village snowmen, rolled to the
ground and, just as four uniformed police officers converged on the scene, Santa
disappeared under a virtual dogpile of bodies.

“I knew he was trouble!” Capri dusted the fake snow from her
designer pregnancy jeans and red fuzzy sweater. “Although I’m surprised Mrs.
Penny’s nephew would be knee-deep in some kind of issue with the law.”

“Let’s go see what’s happening.” Kelly pulled Capri with
her.

“What happened is that Mrs. Penny’s nephew is a bad cop. I’m
going to talk to Mrs. Penny and tell her that next year I want her to
double-check all the Santas and workers’ records for possible felons. And fake
cops.”

“I don’t know,” Kelly said. “Looks like he’s leading someone
off in handcuffs.”

Capri watched as Santa and the police escorted what looked to
be a very unsavory individual toward a squad car. The police high-fived Santa,
and male laughter floated over to her and Kelly.

“At long last Mrs. Penny has a whodunit happen right here in
Bridesmaids Creek,” Capri said with some disgust. “I’m going home.”

“Aren’t you going over there to find out what that was about?
You’re one of the co-chairs of the festival!”

“Mrs. Penny will do the honors more effectively than I ever
could. Besides, I’ve had quite enough of Christmastown for one year, thanks.” To
be honest, she had a bit of a tummy ache, probably from all the excitement. If
she mentioned that to Kelly, her friend would make a federal case of it and send
up the alarm that the newest resident of Bridesmaids Creek was about to make its
appearance just in time for Christmas. “See you later. Remember, early cleanup
tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.”

“Scrooge!” Kelly accused, but Capri kept walking toward her
car. Her stomach was somersaulting like mad. She figured they’d had enough
excitement for one night. She got into her small car and drove away.

The police had expected something to happen tonight or else
there wouldn’t have been an undercover cop dressed as Santa. But they hadn’t
bothered to tell her, one of the event’s organizers.

Something was not good in Christmastown.

* * *

T
WO
HOURS
LATER
Capri was in her worn flannel pajamas—red and
decorated with yellow smiley faces wearing Santa caps—and in no mood to do
anything but sit in front of her fireplace and read the cozy mystery Mrs. Penny
had lent her when her doorbell rang. Most likely it was her mother, who by now
had every bit of news about Christmastown’s big night.

“Who is it?”

“Santa!”

The hunky Santa with the bedroom eyes? “Go away,” she said, her
pride still slightly damaged that he’d shoved her out of his lap so
dismissively. “If you’re here to discuss future Christmastown employment, you’ll
have to make an appointment with the event organizer, Mrs. Penny. She hired
you.”

“Is that any way to talk to one of history’s most revered
figures? I’ve heard good Santas are hard to find. And the kids love me.”

“Revered indeed.” Mrs. Penny lived in the gingerbread-styled
house next door and at this hour would have her nose pressed to the glass
wondering why a car was parked in front of her neighbor’s house. Capri was
twenty-seven, but that didn’t mean that every single thing she did wasn’t
dutifully reported to her mother and anyone else with the slightest bit of
hearing left.

His voice was familiar; he sounded astonishingly like her
almost-ex, Seagal West. But that was impossible. Seagal was with the Texas
Rangers, and she wasn’t sure exactly where he was working these days. Besides
which, Seagal wore Stetsons—she’d bet her last cup of Christmas cheer he
wouldn’t be caught dead in a festive red Santa cap.

Complete coincidence.

“Go away before you wake my neighbor!” Capri said, though she
was dying to know what had happened tonight. Something told her that if she
opened the door, she’d be face-to-face with more than a handsome cop. Sexy
Santas were not on her Christmas list.

“I’ve been assigned to you. So open up, doll, before we
scandalize the entire neighborhood, and not just the mystery-scribbling Mrs.
Penny.”

Assigned
to her? Capri jerked open
the door. He was dressed in regular street wear: casual jeans, loose shirt not
tucked in, boots. Standard Stetson, for him.

It
was
the Bridesmaids Creek
Santa.

And he was killer handsome, just as he’d always been.

Unfortunately, Santa was also her almost-ex-husband, the only
man guaranteed to break her heart. “What do you mean, assigned to me?” Capri
demanded. “What is going on, Seagal?”

“Can I come in?”

“Absolutely not.” She raised her chin and closed the door an
inch. “Say what you have to say right there.”

He shrugged, and Capri could tell he was amused by her demand.
“Suit yourself. But Mrs. Penny just raised her window about three inches so she
can hear us. If you want your business broadcast in Bridesmaids Creek, and
rumors of us getting back together—”

“Make it snappy,” she said, pulling him inside.

He smiled. “Hello, beautiful.”

“Keep it professional, if you’re here in a professional
capacity, Seagal,” she said, realizing she sounded as prickly as a spiny cactus.
“Long time, no see.”

He glanced at her stomach, and she realized Seagal felt
awkward. As if he wasn’t certain whose baby she carried.

“Yes, Seagal,” she said with a sigh, “we are having a
baby.”

His whole demeanor changed.

He looked absolutely thrilled.

“That’s great!” He followed her as she walked into the formal
living room of the house they’d once shared. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you left,” she said simply. “You said you needed time
to figure things out.”

He looked dumbstruck. “I don’t need to figure anything out. You
were the one who said you had doubts.”

This was true. She had said that. The long nights when he was
away, the stress of her taking over her grandmother’s flower shop, had put a
strain on their marriage. She’d been hurt when Seagal left—and scared that if he
found out about the pregnancy, he still wouldn’t want their marriage. Or worse,
he’d find out about the pregnancy and feel as if he had to come back to her out
of a sense of misplaced responsibility.

The problem was, she’d always been in love with Seagal, and she
knew very well he’d married her because he’d been on the rebound. That fact
alone had made her very uncomfortable over the two years they’d been
married.

“Capri,” he said, “when were you going to tell me about the
baby?”

When? When indeed. She hadn’t wanted him to come back only to
resent her—and he would have. At least, she thought he would have. “I would have
let you know before the birth.”

“Which is tomorrow?” he said, casting a disbelieving glance at
her stomach. “When’s the due date?”

She glanced toward the calendar hanging on the kitchen wall.
“Hopefully, Valentine’s Day.” She took a deep breath. “But I’ve been having
little aches and pains I didn’t have before. The doctor said it’s not anything
to be concerned with, but—”

“Good thing I was assigned to you.” Seagal sank onto a flowered
sofa he’d never been partial to, apparently settling in for the long haul. “I
can protect you and be here for the baby’s birth.”

Capri blinked. “So why do I need someone
assigned
to me? What is going on?”

He looked as if he was considering how much to tell her, and
Capri reminded herself that caution had always been one of Seagal’s hallmarks.
His other sexy hallmarks included jet-black hair and white teeth. A strong, wide
chest. He was tall, as tall as her brother, Beau, who was a good six-two. And so
handsome she could hardly take her eyes off him, even though they’d barely
spoken during the separation.

“Don’t water down the story, please,” she told Seagal.

“You created the floral displays for Christmastown?” he asked,
shifting into cop mode.

“Yes, like I did last year. Everything was almost the same this
year, with a few minor changes, mainly involving the types of flowers that were
available.”

“This year drugs were concealed in the arrangements.
Specifically, pot seeds. They were brought in in the containers you ordered, and
then hidden in the bottoms of the vases. It would have been a clever plan if
they hadn’t been such blabbermouths. And that guy we nabbed was a rush of good
information.”

She frowned. “Impossible, Seagal. I worked on every one of the
displays myself.”

He nodded. “I know. That’s what Kelly said. They had to have
been concealed after you did the designs. Nice pajamas, by the way.”

She’d forgotten she was in her happy-face pajamas. And it was
late. Mrs. Penny would be having a field day—no doubt her phone line was
buzzing. “You have to go, Seagal.”

“Actually, I have to stay. Official capacity.”

“I don’t want the rumor mill starting up, and I’m sure you
don’t, either.”

He made no move to stand. “I could ask for another officer to
take over, but frankly, I figured you’d be more comfortable with me in the house
than a cop you don’t know.”

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