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Mistletoe and Molly

Mistletoe and Molly

3.5 2
by Janet Dailey


With one leg in a cast and a heart hardened by bitter holiday memories, Leslie wanted only one thing for Christmas: a quiet and restful vacation at her aunt's Vermont home. But that was before she met the new neighbor...handsome Tagg Williams



With one leg in a cast and a heart hardened by bitter holiday memories, Leslie wanted only one thing for Christmas: a quiet and restful vacation at her aunt's Vermont home. But that was before she met the new neighbor...handsome Tagg Williams.

As the holidays heat up, Leslie finds herself in an awkward dance of attraction with Tagg, mesmerized by his warm smile and strong embrace — and charmed by his sweet daughter, Holly. The more time they spend together, the more it feels like home...But even as her passion deepens, Leslie knows she will have to choose between the ghosts of her past and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to give herself and her heart to Tagg — forever.

In a captivating novel filled with Christmas magic, Janet Dailey proves once again why she is one of the best-loved storytellers of our time.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Returning to Randolph, VT, after ten years, Dr. Jonas Concannon is determined to win back the love of the woman he'd left a decade earlier. Originally published as Green Mountain Manin 1978 as part of Dailey's "Americana" series.

—Kristin Ramsdell

Product Details

Publication date:
Zebra Contemporary Romance Series
Product dimensions:
4.36(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mistletoe And Molly



Copyright © 2007 Kensington Publishing Corp.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-0041-9

Chapter One

The tires made a crunching sound in the crusty, packed snow along the edge of the plowed road. Crossing the highway overpass, Jonas Concannon felt the grip of nostalgia at the sight of the picturesque village nestled in the valley. A patchwork of roofs rose ahead of him, the snow melting where the chimneys were perched.

The white church spire was almost lost against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains and fields. Garlands of snow draped the trees, the full evergreens and the bare branches of the maples alike.

At the top of the small hill just before the center of town, the traffic light turned red. The car protested the forced stop on the slope of the icy street. Jonas frowned.

The light changed to green and the tires spun uselessly for several seconds. He couldn't go forward, couldn't go back. He put the car in first gear and gained enough traction to get over the top of the hill. There was a touch of cynicism in his half-curved smile.

Nothing had changed. At least on the surface it seemed that way. Vermont had been covered with snow when he had left it ten years earlier. Everything in the village of Randolph appeared exactly as it had then.

But it couldn't be the same, Jonas thought. Not after tenyears, no matter how much it looked like a picture postcard.

Turning onto the main street of downtown, he drove slowly across the bridge into the business district, glimpsing a few familiar faces among the bundled figures on the sidewalks.

He wondered why he'd come back, then mentally answered the question. Because he needed a respite from city life and the demands of the hospital clinic where he was completing his residency and working the longest shifts. He'd known that would happen when he'd signed on, and he was sure as hell giving it his all-but he was on the verge of burnout. Maybe it was obvious. He'd been granted time off without anyone asking too many questions.

Jonas saw an empty parking space and maneuvered the car into it. He'd told Bob and Evelyn Tyler that he would drive up on Friday, and had made good time. They wouldn't be expecting him until late afternoon. He had plenty of time to walk around the town.

Snow was shoveled in a mound near the curb. He had to force the door into it to get out, stretching his long legs for a minute, which were cramped from hours of driving. His breath formed a vapory cloud as he stepped into the chilly air and he reached back into the car for the fleece-lined jacket lying on the passenger seat.

Shrugging into it, Jonas slammed the car door and stepped over the snow pile to the sidewalk. He didn't bother to button the jacket. Instead he shoved his hands deep in the pockets to hold the front shut and began walking down the street.

Impervious to the freezing temperature and the overcast skies, he wandered aimlessly past the stores, gazing into shop windows and at the people he met. Several people he recognized, but he made no attempt to renew acquaintances.

A snowflake floated in the air before him, large and crystalline, and his hand reached out to catch it, triggered by a long-forgotten habit, something he used to do with Bridget. He stopped abruptly, the muscles working along his jawline as he stared at the white flake melting in his palm.

Face it, he told himself sternly, she's why you've come back. You're wandering the streets on the off chance that you'll see her. His hand closed into a tight fist, as if to crush the snowflake and the memories it evoked.

He began walking again, more slowly, hands clenched in irritation within the pockets of his jacket. During the ten years he'd been away from Randolph, he hadn't tried to keep in touch, not after Bob had written him that first year with the unwelcome news that Bridget was married.

It was purely by accident that he'd run into Bob and his wife in Manhattan shortly before Christmas. The giant tree at Rockefeller Center had been found and cut down in Vermont that year, then transported to New York on a flatbed trailer, arriving with the usual fanfare and news coverage. The Tylers had decided to be there for the great moment when it was lit up, officially marking the beginning of the holiday season. Jonas had been hurrying past the windswept plaza, but he'd had to squeeze through the crowds lining the sidewalk. Then a gloved hand caught him and Evelyn's pleased squeal of recognition stopped him in his tracks. The three of them had gone out for dinner in midtown afterwards, taking in the dazzling holiday windows of the Fifth Avenue stores first.

It had been a brief reunion, with Jonas insincerely promising to come for a visit. He had never intended to come. December, January, and February passed in a blur of patients and problems ... then March arrived, and his resolve weakened. The pressures of work had gotten to him in a big way. A senior physician had tactfully recommended that he take time off and Jonas hadn't argued.

Couldn't go forward, couldn't go back. The line of his mouth thinned at the way he had deluded himself into believing the only reason he was returning to Randolph was for rest and relaxation. This past week when he had contacted Bob to let him know he was accepting his invitation, Jonas had carried the self-deception further by insisting no one know of his visit. And he'd specifically asked that there be no welcome-home party.

"Damn!" Jonas muttered beneath his breath. He had nothing against parties, but he hadn't wanted to take a chance of meeting Bridget amidst a crowd of people, especially not with a few of Bob's famously stiff drinks clouding his mind. But that was why he was here-to see Bridget again. He cursed silently in frustration, hating the inner weakness that had brought him back.

Pausing in front of a shop window, Jonas stared at his reflection framed in a pane partially steamed over. What was the saying? That you never quite get over your first love? Maybe he had returned to deal with his disappointment at last, he reasoned, or at least to find out what had happened to her. He shouldn't even care by now.

Since he had learned she'd married within a year of his leaving, he'd tried to imagine her with three or four kids hanging on her, twenty pounds heavier, with a husband ... but Jonas didn't know the man she had married. He had even blocked the man's name from his memory. The mere thought of that stranger lying next to Bridget, touching her silky skin, totally depressed him. A wintry frost entered his gray-green eyes.

A hand touched his shoulder. "Excuse me, but aren't you-"

Jonas turned around. "You must be mistaken," he snapped without sparing a second to identify the elderly woman.

Ashamed of his rudeness, he walked quickly away. Long, impatient strides carried him to the end of the block. Instead of crossing the street, he turned up the side street, wanting to avoid the traffic and people and the risk that someone else might recognize him.

Slowing his steps, Jonas raked a hand through his thick, tobacco-brown hair. He breathed in deeply, filling his lungs with the cold air while trying to check the tide of emotion flowing through him. His nerves and muscles were stretched taut.

Looking around to get his bearings, he glanced at the shop nearest to him. Magnetically his gaze was drawn, caught by the gleam of chestnut hair on the other side of the plate glass window. For a moment his breath was stolen by the shock of recognition.


He'd know her face, her profile, anywhere, even blurred by the foggy shop window. He had expected that when he saw her again after ten years, he would feel curiosity and, perhaps, the pangs of long-ago desire. Actually seeing her, he felt shaken. He hadn't anticipated such an intensely physical response or this fiery leaping of his senses. Just one glimpse of her brought back memories that were tender, sexual, and overwhelming.

She moved, disappearing from his view. Jonas knew he had to see her more closely without the distortion of the fogged glass. Through it, she had seemed unchanged, no different than when he had left ten years ago. He didn't want that. He wanted to see her changed into someone he no longer loved.

A bell tinkled above his head as he opened the door and walked in. Bridget's back was to the door, but she didn't turn around. Jonas paused inside, staring at her and feeling the years roll away.

A bulky pullover in forest green gave an initial impression of shapelessness until his gaze slid to the tailored wool pants of winter white she wore. He couldn't help but admire the slenderness of her hips and the rounded firmness of her buttocks.

Her figure hadn't changed more than an inch in ten years. She turned slightly at an angle and Jonas corrected his assessment. Not even the bulky sweater could conceal the sensual fullness of her breasts under the heavy knit.

Fire spread through his veins and he swore inwardly at the desire the sight of her was arousing. It wasn't what he wanted to feel. He wanted to be indifferent, distantly amused that he had once been attracted to her. He lifted his gaze to her oval face, hardening himself against its classic beauty.

Her complexion seemed paler, the innocence gone, only the freshness remaining. There was a strained look to her mouth, a forced curve to her lips as she smiled at the woman standing in front of her. Jonas remembered the way her hazel eyes used to sparkle. When he looked at them, he found them luminous and bright but lacking that certain something.

It was a full second before he realized Bridget wasn't looking at the woman before her but staring beyond at something else. His gaze shifted to locate the object of her intense interest and encountered her image in a mirror placed in a corner so the shopkeeper could always see who entered the store.

Jonas realized that she had seen him almost from the instant he walked in. While he saw her reflection, Bridget saw his, the mirror locking their eyes until she sharply averted her head.

He waited for her to acknowledge him, to voice the recognition that had been in her eyes. But she gave not the slightest indication that she was even aware he was in the shop. All her attention was directed at the woman with her. The low, vibrant pitch of her voice that he remembered so well was not for him.

The impulse to force the moment of confrontation surged through him, but he checked it, steeling himself to wait. A frown creased his forehead when Bridget walked behind the cash register counter, entering the sale and packaging several skeins of yarn for the woman. It struck him only then that she worked in the shop.

"Don't forget to call me when that dazzle yarn comes in, Bridget," the woman reminded her as she picked up her sack and turned toward the door.

"I won't."

At the last minute, Jonas realized he was blocking the exit and stepped to one side, nodding at the woman when she walked past him. She gave him a curious look and he wondered why, until it occurred to him that a yarn shop didn't get a whole lot of men coming in. The bell above the door dinged briefly and the woman was gone.

All thought about Bridget working in the store vanished at the knowledge that there were only the two of them. There were no other customers. They were alone and Bridget couldn't ignore him any longer.

"Hello, Jonas."

So cool, so composed. Jonas seethed at her calmness. She could have been greeting a casual acquaintance instead of a man she had once sworn she would never stop loving. But, of course, she had stopped loving him.

That was evident by the gold wedding band she wore on her ring finger. A cold feeling seized Jonas, though he didn't even know the man who had put it there. But that unknown someone was entitled to certain rights from Bridget that Jonas couldn't claim.

"Hello, Bridget." He walked to the counter where she stood.

"You're looking well," she offered politely without extending a hand in friendly greeting.

On second thought, Jonas decided that was best. A handshake would have been a farcical gesture considering their previous relationship. He kept his hands in his pockets, an elemental tension crackling through his body.

"So are you." He returned the compliment, letting his gaze skim over her face and figure. Alert to what she might be thinking-was this encounter affecting her as much as it affected him?-he saw her stiffen slightly under his deliberately intimate inspection. Just as quickly she relaxed, tipping her head to a vaguely inquiring angle.

"What brings you back to Randolph?"

He watched her lips form the words and their final curve into a courteous smile of interest at his expected answer. He remembered their softness, their responsiveness beneath the pressure of his. Passion lurked beneath her calm exterior and he knew how to arouse it.

Hadn't he been the one to awaken Bridget in that way? And hadn't she responded like the woman she was? It was on the tip of his tongue to admit that she was the reason he had returned. Just in time, he remembered that another man was first in her life.

"I'm here visiting Bob over the weekend," he explained.

"Bob Tyler? Yes, he mentioned that he saw you before Christmas." Bridget nodded, her chestnut hair gleaming with a golden sheen from the overhead light. "He said that you'd promised to come for a visit, but I didn't think you really would."

"Didn't you? Why?" challenged Jonas, not liking the insinuation he sensed behind the remark. Regardless of the doubt he had felt at the time, events had proved he'd been right to leave ten years ago.

The bell above the door chimed loudly a second before someone slammed it shut with a force that rattled its glass. Jonas pivoted toward the sound, startled by the interruption, but the two little girls paid no attention as they raced breathlessly past him.

"Mom, is it all right if I go over to Vicki's house?" The request was issued by the smaller of the two.

Jonas froze, his gaze narrowing on the rosy-cheeked girl looking earnestly at Bridget. A wisp of sandy brown hair had escaped the striped stocking cap on her head, the trailing end wrapped around her neck.

It looked handknit, probably by Bridget, from warm brown yarn that matched her daughter's hair. Jonas understood in that instant how strong the bond between them must be-and felt guilty for coming back into his lost love's life. He wasn't entitled to be here. He wasn't entitled to anything. She had a child, maybe more than one, and a whole life he knew nothing about. He looked again at her daughter.

The girl's brown hair was a shade lighter than Bridget's, but she had the same classic features and the same hazel eyes, the same slenderness. She was Bridget's child, not necessarily a miniature of her mother, but the resemblance was obvious just the same.

"Oh, Molly. Don't you have homework?"

"No. I finished it."

"Well, then if you're sure it's okay with Vicki's mother, it's okay with me." Bridget's permission was met with gleeful giggles and hurried assurances from the second girl that her mother didn't mind. "I'll pick you up at Vicki's house a little after five. You watch for me."

"I will, Mom." The promise was blithely made, the girl's bubbling excitement centered on now and not later.

As the two girls turned to leave, they simultaneously noticed Jonas and paused. Molly's bright hazel eyes studied him, not looking away. Jonas looked right back, searching for a resemblance to someone else ... her father. Finally the girl glanced hesitantly at Bridget.

"Molly, I'd like you to meet an old friend of mine, Jonas Concannon." Reluctantly the introduction was made. "Jonas, this is my daughter, Molly, and her friend Vicki Smith."

"Hello, Molly, Vicki." He nodded curtly, for some reason not trusting himself to say more.

"Hello." The breathless greeting from Molly was shyly echoed by the second girl.

"Run along, you two." Bridget smiled, and the pair darted past Jonas and out of the door with the same exuberance that marked their entrance.

Jonas watched Molly disappear before slowly bringing his gaze back to Bridget. "She looks very much like you," he commented stiffly.

"I'll-" There was a breathless catch to her voice, which Bridget self-consciously laughed off. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"I meant it as one," he confirmed. "How old is she?"

"Eight. Of course, Molly would insist that she's almost nine. It's funny how when you're young, you always want to be older."

Bridget lifted a hand to flip her shoulder-length hair away from the rolled collar of her sweater, the first gesture of nervousness Jonas had seen her make. There was a measure of satisfaction in knowing she wasn't as poised and nonchalant as she appeared.

He hoped he was making her uncomfortable. He knew what she was doing to him. God, how he knew! He thrust his hands deeper in his pockets.


Excerpted from Mistletoe And Molly by JANET DAILEY Copyright © 2007 by Kensington Publishing Corp.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Janet Dailey is the author of scores of popular and uniquely American novels, including such bestsellers as Scrooge Wore Spurs, A Capital Holiday, The Glory Game, The Pride of Hannah Wade, and the phenomenal Calder saga, including the newest title in the series, Shifting Calder Wind. Her romantic fiction has also been featured in a story anthology, The Only Thing Better Than Chocolate. Since her first novel was published in 1975, Janet Dailey has become the bestselling female author in America, with more than 300,000,000 copies of her books in print. Her books have been published in seventeen languages and are sold in ninety countries. Janet Dailey's careful research and her intimate knowledge of America have made her one of the best-loved authors in the country and around the world.

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Mistletoe and Molly 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book. It was a light, easy read with a heartwarming tale about the power of love.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Dr. Jonas Concannon decides someone else can do homage to Sinatra and make it in New York City as he no longer cares too. He goes home to Randolph, Vermont after being away for a decade. He almost immediately runs into Bridget O¿Shea at her shop. As teens they were in love over a decade ago before her parents interfered and both moved on. She is a widow raising her eight years old daughter Molly and running a local craft shop. Bridget and Jonas realize their youthful attraction remains as strong as ever. However, her parents pressured her to reject Jonas years ago and still believe he is not worthy of their daughter. Bridget knows she owes them for their help with Molly, but what about her needs that is if he still wants her once he learns what she concealed form him. --- MISTLETOE AND MOLLY is a warm second chance at love holiday romance that fans of Janet Dailey will enjoy although the plot has been used a zillion times before. The cast is solid as the lead couple is fully developed with flaws and issues while the key support players, mostly her family, bring out the best and worst in Jonas and Bridget. Contemporary readers will appreciate this entreating New England village tale. --- Harriet Klausner