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Candlelight Christmas (Lakeshore Chronicles Series #10)

Candlelight Christmas (Lakeshore Chronicles Series #10)

by Susan Wiggs
Candlelight Christmas (Lakeshore Chronicles Series #10)

Candlelight Christmas (Lakeshore Chronicles Series #10)

by Susan Wiggs

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Overview

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR SUSAN WIGGS INVITES YOU TO AN UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS IN THE CATSKILLS 

A single father who yearns to be a family man, Logan O'Donnell is determined to create the perfect Christmas for his son, Charlie. The entire O'Donnell clan arrives to spend the holidays in Avalon, a postcard-pretty town on the shores of Willow Lake, a place for the family to reconnect and rediscover the special gifts of the season. 

One of the guests is a newcomer to Willow Lake—Darcy Fitzgerald. Sharp-witted, independent and intent on guarding her heart, she's the last person Logan can see himself falling for. And Darcy is convinced that a relationship is the last thing she needs this Christmas. 

Yet between the snowy silence of the winter woods and the toasty moments by a crackling fire, their two lonely hearts collide. The magic of the season brings them each a gift neither ever expected—a love to last a lifetime.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460341551
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Series: Lakeshore Chronicles Series , #10
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 69,117
File size: 351 KB

About the Author

Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at www.SusanWiggs.com.

Read an Excerpt

Summer's End

Logan O'Donnell stood on a platform one hundred feet in the air, preparing to shove his ten-year-old son off the edge. A light breeze shimmered through the canopy of trees, scattering leaves on the forest floor far below. A zip line cable, slender as a thread in a spider's web, hung between the tree platforms, waiting. Below, Meerskill Falls crashed down a rocky gorge.

"There's no way I'm going off this." Logan's son, Charlie, drew his shoulders up until they practically touched the edge of his helmet.

"Come on," Logan said. "You told me you'd do it. The other kids had a ball. They're all waiting for you on the other side, and I heard a rumor about a bag of Cheetos being passed around."

"I changed my mind." Charlie set his jaw in a way that was all too familiar to Logan. "No way. No W-A-Y-F."

Logan knew the shtick, but he went along with it. "There's no F in way, dude."

"That's right. There's no effin' way I'm going off this thing."

"Aw, Charlie. It's almost like flying. You like to fly, right?" Of course he did. Charlie's stepfather was a pilot, after all. Logan crushed the thought. There were few things more depressing than thinking about the fact that your kid had a stepfather, even if the stepfather was an okay guy. Fortunately for Charlie, he'd ended up with a good one. But it was still depressing.

Charlie spent every summer with Logan. During the school year, he lived with his mom and stepfather in Oklahoma, a million miles away from Logan's home in upstate New York. It sucked, living that far from his kid. Being without Charlie was like missing a limb.

When he did have his son with him, Logan tried to make the most of their time together. He planned the entire season around Charlie, and that included working as a volunteer counselor at Camp Kioga, helping out with the summer program for local kids and inner-city kids on scholarship. The zip line over Meerskill Falls was a new installation, and had already become everyone's favorite feature. Nearly everyone.

"Hey, it's the last day of camp. Your last chance to try the zip line."

Charlie dragged in a shaky breath. He eyed the harness, made of stout webbing and metal buckles. "It looked really fun until I started thinking about actually doing it."

"Remember how you used to be scared to jump off the dock into Willow Lake? And then you did it and it was awesome."

"Hel-fo. The landing was a lot different," Charlie pointed out.

"You're going to love it. Trust me on this." Logan patted the top of Charlie's helmet. "Look at all the safety features on this thing. The harness, the clips, the secondary ropes. There's not one thing that can go wrong."

"Yo, Charlie," shouted a kid on the opposite platform. "Go for it!"

The encouragement came from André, Charlie's best friend. The two had been inseparable all summer long, and if anyone could talk Charlie into something, it was André. He was one of the city kids in the program. He lived in a low-income project in the Bronx, and for André, it had been a summer of firsts—his first train trip, his first visit upstate to Ulster County, where Camp Kioga nestled on the north shore of Willow Lake. His first time to sleep in a cabin, see wildlife up close, swim and paddle in a pristine lake…and tell ghost stories around a campfire with his buddies. Logan liked the fact that at camp, all the kids were equal, no matter what their background.

"I kind of want to do it," Charlie said.

"Up to you, buddy. You saw how it's done. You just stand on the edge and take one step forward."

Charlie fell silent. He stared at the waterfall cascading down the rocky gorge. The fine spray from the rushing cataract cooled the air.

"Hey, buddy," Logan said, wondering about his son's faraway expression. "What's on your mind?"

"I miss Blake," he said, his voice barely audible over the rush of the falls. "When I go back to Mom's, Blake won't be there anymore."

Logan's heart went out to the kid. Blake had been Charlie's beloved dog, a little brown terrier who had lived to a ripe old age. At the start of summer, she'd passed away. Apparently Charlie was dreading his return to his mom's dogless house.

"I don't blame you," Logan said, "but you were lucky to have Blake as your best friend for a long time."

Charlie stared at the planks of the platform. "Yeah." He didn't sound convinced.

"It sucks, losing a dog," Logan admitted. "No way around it. That's why we're not getting one. Hurts too bad when you have to say goodbye."

"Yeah," Charlie said again. "But I still like having a dog."

"Tell me something nice about Blake," Logan said.

"I never needed an alarm to get up for school in the morning. She'd just come into my room and burrow under the covers, like a rabbit, and she'd squirm until I got up." He smiled, just a little. "She got old and quiet and gentle. And then she couldn't jump up on the bed anymore, so I had to lift her."

"I bet you were really gentle with her."

He nodded. After another silence, he said,

"Dad?"

"Yeah, bud?"

"I kinda want another dog."

Aw, jeez. Logan patted him on the shoulder. "You can talk to your mom about it tomorrow, when you see her." Yeah, he thought. Let Charlie 's mom deal with the mess and inconvenience of a dog.

"Okay," said Charlie. "But, Dad?"

"Yeah, buddy?"

"Kids were telling ghost stories in the cabin last night," he said, picking at a thread in the webbing of his harness.

"You're at summer camp. Kids are supposed to tell ghost stories."

"André told the one about these people who committed suicide by jumping off a cliff above the falls."

"I've heard that story. Goes way back to the 1920s."

"Yeah, well, the ghosts are still around."

"They won't mess with the zip line."

"How do you know?"

Logan pointed to the group of kids and counselors on the distant platform. "They all got across, no problem. You saw them." The other campers appeared to be having the time of their lives, eating Cheetos and acting like Tarzan.

"Show me again, Dad," said Charlie. "I want to see you do it."

"Sure, buddy." Logan clipped Charlie to the safety cable and himself to the pulleys. "You're gonna love it." With a grin, he stepped off the platform into thin air, giving Charlie the thumbs-up sign with his free hand.

His son stood on the platform, his arms folded, his face screwed into an expression of skepticism. Logan tipped himself upside down, a crazy perspective for watching the waterfall below, crashing against the rocks. How could any kid not like this?

When Logan was young, he would have loved having a dad who would take him zip-lining, a dad who knew the difference between fun and frivolity, a dad who encouraged rather than demanded.

He landed with an exaggerated flourish on the opposite platform. Paige Albertson, cocoun-selor of the group, pointed at Charlie. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

"Oh yeah, my only son. Oops."

"Why is he staying over there?" asked Rufus, one of the kids.

"I bet he's scared," said another kid.

Logan ignored them. On the opposite platform, Charlie looked very small and alone. Vulnerable.

"Everything all right?" Paige put her hand on Logan's arm.

Paige had a crush on him. Logan knew this. He even wished he felt the same way, because she was great. She was a kindergarten teacher during the school year and a Camp Kioga volunteer during the summer. She had the all-American cheerleader looks, the bubbly, uncomplicated personality that most guys couldn't resist. She was exactly the kind of girl his parents would want for him—pretty, stable, from a good family.

Could be that was the reason he wasn't feeling it for her.

"He's balking," said Logan. "And he feels really bad about it. I thought he'd love zip-lining."

"It's not for everybody," Paige pointed out. "And remember, if he doesn't go for it, the world won't come to an end."

"Good point." Logan saluted her and jumped off, crossing back to the platform on the other side, where Charlie waited. The zipping sound of the pulley and cable sang in his ears. Damn, this never got old.

"Just like Spider-Man," he said as he came in for a landing. "I swear, it's the coolest thing ever."

Charlie shuffled across the wooden planks of the platform. Logan reached for the clips to attach him to the pulley. "That's gonna be one small step for Charlie," he intoned, "one giant leap for—"

"Dad, hang on a second," Charlie said, shrinking back. "I changed my mind again."

Logan studied his son's posture: the hunched shoulders, the knees that were literally shaking.

"Seriously?"

"Unhook me." Beneath the helmet, Charlie's face was pale, his green eyes haunted and wide.

"It's okay to change your mind," Logan said, "but I don't want you to have any regrets. Remember, we talked about regrets."

"When you have a chance to do something and then you don't do it and later on you wish you had," Charlie muttered.

Which pretty much summed up Logan's assessment of his marriage. "Yep," he said. "At the farewell dinner tonight, are you going to wish you'd done the zip line?"

Logan unhitched himself. Charlie studied the cables and pulleys with a look of yearning on his face. Okay, Logan admitted to himself, it bugged him that Charlie had conquered the jump off the dock with his mom, but Logan couldn't get him to push past his fear of the zip line. He had a flashing urge to grab the kid, strap him in and shove him off the platform, just to get him past his hesitation.

Then he remembered his own pushy father: get in there and fight. Don't be a chickenshit. Al O'Donnell had been a blustering, bossy, demanding dad. Logan had grown up resenting the hell out of him in a tense relationship that even now was full of turmoil.

The moment Charlie was born, Logan had made a vow. He would never be that dad.

"All right, buddy," he said, forcing cheerfulness into his tone. "Maybe another time. Let's climb down together."

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