Merry Christmas from Darling Cove!

And Happy Holidays!

While Must Love Fashion is not a “Christmas Romance”, one of my favorite scenes takes place Christmas Morning.

Enjoy:

On Christmas morning, the roads were back open. Andrew decided to go to the end of the earth for Gwen—he just didn’t realize she lived there. His eyes bulged at his phone when he put her address into Google Maps.

“Are you even going to call her to let her know you’re coming?” his mother asked, pouring hot coffee into a to-go cup.

“No, I want to surprise her,” he said pulling his phone off the wireless charging pad on the counter.

Sarah stopped mid-pour. “Hasn’t that got you in enough trouble already?”

He raised a warning look at her.

Rolling her eyes, she said, “A least take the ring with you.”

Shaking his head, he bit out a quick, “No.” He didn’t care to propose in a house she shared with another man. But he’d keep that objection to himself. “I’m just driving out there to bring her back here.”

“This Darling Cove got a lot of snow. Take my car, so I can at least not worry about you two.” Sarah handed him the keys to her Cadillac.

The roads should have been jammed, but the blizzard must have changed millions of plans for the holiday. Still the Time to Destination on his phone made him cringe. And it hadn’t taken into account he was only going forty miles an hour in the one lane that had been plowed.

“Jesus, Gwen. Even the Expressway didn’t want to go out as far as Darling Cove,” he said getting off at the last exit. And he still had forty minutes to go.

Once he was on Sound Avenue, Andrew’s breath escaped him taking in the beauty. Even covered in white, the landscape was incredible. The storm released inches of heavy wet snow and all the trees looked like its branches were holding little snowballs ready to engage in a winter battle.

The white puffs of smoke from the houses he passed made him fondly imagine families were opening presents, laughing and snacking on cookies. And a little hungry. The blankets of powder in front of all the homes were untouched, clean and smooth.

The lady in the map app told him he needed to make a right in about a mile. Looking at the screen, swaths of blue on both sides meant he was surrounded by water. The little red upside down teardrop appeared and Andrew shuddered. There was his destination.

Gwen lived right on the water.

Turning onto her street, brought a rush of anxiety he wasn’t expecting. He stopped the car to catch his breath. A cop car was in front of the address on the GPS. Andrew’s hackles rose on his neck, worried. But a man bundled in a cop’s leather bomber jacket and hidden under a hat came to the car. He released a quick siren blast and put the lights on. But only for a brief moment and drove off. Andrew’s cheeks ticked up, remembering Gwen’s heart-filled story in Milan about how her father used to do that.

Her father! Andrew slapped himself in the forehead.

He threw his car into drive and raced past Gwen’s house to follow the cop. As the police cruiser drove through the town, Andrew admired all the lampposts which were decorated in lights and wreaths. Darling Cove was not what he had expected. Every corner was a picture of elegant charm…like Gwen.

The car he’d been following turned and parked in front of a station house. Crap! There were several police cruisers. The cop who he’d been following got out of his car and took off his hat. That couldn’t have been her father, though. Too young. Greg. Andrew recognized him from the pictures. He became a cop…like his father.

Andrew blew out a puff of air, got out of his mother’s Cadillac and stepped into the precinct.

Inside, it smelled of fresh paint and metal. A man in a uniform stood behind a wood paneled desk, his hands resting on a shiny granite countertop. The man threw a look at another officer and turned back to Andrew.

“If you’re looking for the Hamptons, you took a wrong turn about an hour ago,” he said with a sly smirk.

Andrew accepted that he looked like the typical Hamptons visitor. Not all of eastern Long Island was created equally. The North Fork was very different from the Hamptons. But he’d rather fit in and be accepted here. “Actually.” He wrung his hands to keep them from shaking. “I was wondering if I could speak to one of your officers.”

“Who are you looking for?” a voice echoed from a side doorway.

Andrew glanced to his left; the cop he was following approached him. “Greg?”

Officer Mallory,” the desk captain said in a stern voice.

“Excuse me, yes. Officer Mallory. I’m actually looking for the other Officer Mallory.”

Martin Mallory is in the—”

“I got this, Carlin.” Greg was formidable in his dark long sleeve shirt and matching tie held down by an American flag clip. But it was the two guns on his waist, a set of steel handcuffs dangling from his pants and a long brown stick tucked into another holder that stood out the most. Greg’s chin lifted defiantly to meet Andrew’s eyes, which were a few inches above his. “Who are you and what do you want with my father?”

If he’d not been surrounded by several guns, one of which Greg’s hand rested on, Andrew’s answer might have been a stout, That’s my business. Instead he said, “My name is Andrew Morgan. I’m a… It’s about your sister, Gwen.”

Greg’s probing words may have been tough, but his mouth curved and his lips trembled. “Gwen? Has something happened to my sister?”

“No, she’s fine.” Andrew brought his hands forward to dismiss Greg’s panic. “In fact, she’s more than fine. She’s wonderful.” He wanted so much for Martin to hear what he had to say first. That was the proper thing to do. But Andrew had to improvise, if for no other reason than to get out of that station house in one piece and not end up on the news. Man dressed in Prada gets pounded by North Fork police officers. He cleared his throat and continued. “I’m here to ask your father’s permission to marry her.”

“You have my permission!” Martin answered from the opposite corner.

Andrew breathed in relief. Ignoring the others, he walked toward Martin who was beaming. “Sir, Andrew Morgan, sir. Thank you. I promise to make her happy and do the right thing by her always.”

“Hey Mallory, looks like you’re getting a new brother-in-law,” the officer named Carlin said. “You may not want to pick on this one so much. He’s taller than you.” The officers jolted with laughter at Greg, their polished silver badges gleaming with reflected light.

Andrew walked toward Greg in an effort to be the bigger man and stuck his hand out toward the officer.

Greg’s eyes trailed over Andrew’s shoulder. His father was probably giving him a stern look by how his expression changed. A reluctant sigh escaped Greg’s tight lips. His gaze trailed to Andrew’s hand. The firm grip made Andrew wince slightly. He nodded and turned back to Martin.

“I’d like to go to her house now and get her.” Andrew tugged on his coat. “I have a ring for her in the city.”

Martin touched Andrew’s shoulder. “Why don’t you let me give you an escort to her house. I think that would make up for a ring. Gregory, get your coat.”

**The E-Book version of MUST LOVE FASHION is on sale for $1.99 through January 2nd.**

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