Loveable Christmas Angel (Angels with Attitudes, #3)

Loveable Christmas Angel (Angels with Attitudes, #3)

by MImi Barbour
Loveable Christmas Angel (Angels with Attitudes, #3)

Loveable Christmas Angel (Angels with Attitudes, #3)

by MImi Barbour

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Overview

Christmas in Hawaii! How lucky can a girl get? Except Leilani is bringing her mother's ashes home to Waikiki and has an urgent plea of help from an aunt she's never even met. After winning two free nights in prestigious Hotel Jordan, things take a turn she never expected. First, she is stuck in an elevator with the prickly, but luscious Mr. Jordan. Secondly, her aunt is a sick woman and only held on for one reason. She wants to pass on her most precious possession… her five-year-old grandchild. The same prickly little fellow that takes one look at Leilani, slaps his fist on his hips and yells, "Go away!"


Kale is the owner of the Jordan Hotel Chain and he can't believe his rotten luck. He broke up with a spoilt brat of a girlfriend and now he's stuck in an elevator with a big-eyed, effusive tourist. How in the world can a guy who's so worldly be hooked on a lively beauty with more dilemmas than anyone he's ever met?



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Product Details

BN ID: 2940165552014
Publisher: Mimi Barbour
Publication date: 09/30/2021
Series: Angels with Attitudes
Sold by: Draft2Digital
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 8,218
File size: 878 KB

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"Please, sir. You and your wife take this taxi. She looks exhausted." Leilani Taylor stepped away from the open door, put her suitcase behind her and waved the older gentleman and his fragile-looking wife forward. As the cab drove up, she noticed them in the never-ending line and knew the elderly couple had a long wait before it would be their turn. "Please." She beckoned them over. "I'll take your place."

"You're an angel, dear." The older woman patted Leilani's hand as she accepted help getting into the car. Leilani smiled and made sure the woman was safely tucked in before closing the door.

"Bless you," said her grateful husband. He hooked his silver-topped cane over his arm and reached to shake her hand. Once they were all secure, the taxi drove away and Leilani stepped back into the place they'd held so that no one would feel put out by her gesture.

Another taxi pulled up across the traffic-filled lanes of the airport shuttle bus area and a small Hawaiian man stepped out. The man looked like an attractive grandpa, his wavy hair snowy white around his face. He wore a traditional, short-sleeved blue shirt decorated with white orchids and around his neck was a multitude of gorgeous leis.

Painted island flowers decorated the outside of the cutest old coral pink car she'd ever seen; coral pink happened to be her favorite color. He caught Leilani's gaze when he waved a large sign overhead with her name on it.

Heavens! Now what? She hesitated to go over and give up her new place in line, but he looked like someone she could trust. I want to leave it there because it's her very first time ever leaving home and she is naïve. Once again, she stepped from the snaking line and made her way over to him. "That's my name, but I didn't order a taxi to meet me."

"The airlines had a contest, Leilani Taylor, and you're the winner. The hosts were supposed to tell you on the plane. They must have forgotten. You've won two nights at one of the most prestigious hotels on the beach in Waikiki, and better still, you have me to drive you there."

The irrepressible grin on the handsome face of the older Hawaiian forced an answering one from her. What a lovable character!

In her job as a hospital nurse, Leilani met many strange characters. Inevitably, because of her personality, she tended to like her patients — unless, of course, they did something distinctly unlikable.

This little man's aura drove a silver stake right into her soft spot and she had the biggest urge to give him a hug. One day she had to stop taking people at face value. Everyone who knew her weakness warned her, but what's a girl going to do when her heart overrules her head.

"But, what about my reservation at the Outrigger?"

"All taken care of, young lady. You're not to worry about a thing." When he saw her hesitate, he pulled a slip of paper from inside his open window and handed it to her.

The form looked official and her name added to the winner's line calmed her lingering unease. Indeed, for the first time in her life, she'd won a contest. Considering the bad things that had happened to her recently, it looked as if her luck had changed.

Soon, adorned with the beautiful leis she'd admired from afar, she was ensconced in the back seat of the outlandish vehicle. The moment she'd entered the taxi, she'd relaxed. Swiveling in every direction, she studied the interior and pleasant shock had her mouth hanging open.

Displayed everywhere were the cutest trinkets. Plastic pineapples, palm trees, dolphins and so many other knick-knacks a tourist might use to fancy up a fridge back home. He'd even strung twinkle lights and Christmas ornaments around the front dash. The sight made a laugh bubble up inside until she couldn't contain it.

Leilani leaned forward to make sure her driver could hear her over the soft Hawaiian music flowing from the radio speakers. "I must tell you how much I love your decorating style. I've jazzed up my Bessy, and always thought I was the only person who liked this kind of thing."

"Bessy?"

"This old jalopy I've had for years. The mechanics groan every time they see me coming, but she just keeps going, and I don't have the heart to abandon her to a junkyard."

"I see. You're attached to a possession made of rubber and steel?" Was that a smile she heard in his voice?

"Heavens, no! But I am attached to the memories it holds. I remember the first time I drove alone. My foot shook with fear and nerves made me grab the wheel so hard I left nail indents in the leather. The van jerked while I raced at twenty-five miles an hour." A giggle broke loose at the memory.

Leilani continued. "Driving my mother to the hospital the day after I'd finally saved enough to buy the specialized wheelchair vehicle. No more having to rely on friends or scrambling for money to pay the hospital transfer costs. I swear Bessy seemed to know her way to the carport on the side of our house, because there were many days I drove home exhausted from the nursing academy. I ... listen to me ramble on." She removed her hands from the seat ahead, and leaned back. "Like I said before, the car seems like an old friend."

"A kindred spirit at last. I'll admit to feeling the same way about Beauty." He wiggled his eyebrows in the rear-view mirror, and Leilani fell a little more in love with this man's gentle, joyful spirit.

Relaxed now, Leilani cast off the awful dread of arriving in Honolulu alone. That hadn't been the plan, of course. At the last moment, Leilani's best friend Shana had backed out of coming along. Not her fault exactly, but procrastination about applying for a passport had the same result.

So Leilani had found herself alone on her very first airline flight, first time leaving home, in fact first adventure that would take her from the safety of the ordinary. 'Needs-must,' as her mom used to say. Ignoring the seeds of nail-biting, knuckle-clenching panic, Leilani had let Shana accompany her to the terminal. When her remorseful, non-traveling friend reiterated the frantic list of do's and don'ts, she'd bravely nodded and stepped into the future.

In the back of the coral-colored cab, Leilani snapped from her reverie. "This is my first time away from home. I thought I'd be terrified, but it isn't nearly as hard as I expected."

"Good! Don't you worry, little one. I'll be around to look after you while you're in Waikiki. So where is home?" His voice soothed.

Leilani released the stiffness in her shoulders and answered. "I live, um, lived with my mother in a city on Vancouver Island called Victoria. She passed away last week. I ... I'm bringing her ashes to be buried in Hawaii. She was born here, left the day she married my father and her wish to return never changed."

"But she never returned?"

"How did you know?"

"Something in your voice. There's a sadness when you talk about bringing her home."

"You're right. She never did return. Soon after she arrived in Canada, she became pregnant with me. Then when she and my dad finally managed to save enough money for a trip home, she was involved in a hit and run accident with a drunk driver."

"How very sad."

Not understanding the gushing need to talk about a time she'd previously preferred to forget, Leilani added. "My mother was the drunk driver. Her penalty for her stupidity that day turned into a harsh life-changer. The accident left her paralyzed from the waist down and she lived the rest of her life in a wheelchair."

"Poor angel." The sorrow in the driver's voice touched her deeply.

"Her heart was broken no doubt."

"Her heart and her spirit. I was all she had left, after my father decided to leave us. I loved her dearly."

"Lucky her. Did she appreciate her fortune in having you as her daughter?"

"I don't know." The sigh escaped before she knew it formed.

What Leilani did know was that her globby-filled eyes were clearly visible to the driver who spent a lot of time watching her in his mirror. His soft smile drove its way directly to the grief in her soul.

Healing warmth spread throughout her, and Leilani greedily clutched at the feeling. Wiggling her stiff shoulders, she eased tense muscles. Then leaned back against the seat, and peered out the open window at the vehicle-filled, well-lit bridge.

The balmy warm air and ocean scent she'd noticed upon her arrival floated through the window and intermingled with the aroma of the overwhelming sweetness around her neck.

The leis were gorgeous, and a surprise she'd never expected to experience on her tight budget; therefore, they were greatly appreciated. Gathering the orchids gently in her hands, she lifted them upwards. Stroking their velvety petals, she sniffed and enjoyed. Giddy, bubbles of happiness broke through Leilani's lingering sadness and something deep inside opened wings of joy. Her spirit truly lifted for the first time in days.

"There's so much to see and do on the island. I know it'll be difficult deciding where to spend your time. Do you have anything particular in mind?"

"I'm not sure whether I'll be free to get in much sightseeing. You see, a letter arrived the day Mother died. It came from her sister who I never knew existed. My aunt's message to my mother sounded desperate. It said that she's gravely ill and needed her help."

"This sister lives here on Oahu?"

"Yes. I often saw the letters from Hawaii, but when I asked my mother about them, she said they were from an old friend. My mother was very secretive about her youth."

"Will you go and see the woman while you're here?" His soft dark eyes seemed to glow at her from inside the mirror.

Without an ounce of hesitation, she answered. "Why, of course!" Leilani's interest had been roused. Truth to tell, she couldn't wait.

CHAPTER 2

Leilani again leaned forward to see the beautiful scenery they were passing. Her hand reached out and her finger pointed toward the window on the right side. "What a beautiful beach, sir?"

"Yes, the water along here is very pleasant. It's called the Ala Moana beach. Oh, and none of that 'Sir' for me, young lady. Pi?ilani is my name, but please call me Pi. It's slightly easier to pronounce." His chuckle worked its magic, and she patted his shoulder.

"I'm pleased to meet you, Pi."

"Leilani, the pleasure is all mine. You are a breath of fresh air for this old Hawaiian sourpuss."

A silly giggle escaped, and she winked at him in the rearview mirror. "You're no sourpuss. You've been wonderful to a frightened girl who dreaded arriving here alone. Pi, is it possible to stop here for a few moments? I just want to breathe in the wonderful fragrance, take my shoes off, and walk for a short time on the beach."

The car instantly slowed as Pi pulled into a drive, which took them directly to a road that led to the water. This late at night, the sand resembled a creamy carpet of temptation. The beach, patterned with glowing golden streaks from the setting sun, made Leilani itch to get her toes buried in the softness. I'm so glad I came. A sob caught in her throat, and Leilani knew it was either get out and walk, or end up in an emotional puddle of tears.

Before she could even touch the door, Pi had it opened and reached in for her hand to help her out. Goodness, for an old man he moved surprisingly quickly. Funny thing, he seemed to change like a kaleidoscope, younger one minute, and an elderly man again in the next.

It was hard to believe she felt so comfortable with a stranger, a man she met today. Not only did she feel relaxed, she felt as if she were spending time with a very close friend.

"You don't mind if we walk for a little while?" Leilani asked.

"You want me to accompany you? It would be my pleasure."

"I'm sorry. I took it for granted."

"Leilani, Beauty and I are at your disposal for the next couple of days to go wherever and do whatever you wish. Besides, I get to walk with someone who looks like a Hawaiian princess, and you expect me to complain? On the contrary, I'm delighted you'd want me tagging along."

"You think I look Hawaiian, Pi?" His remark delighted Leilani, who had always been rather proud of her heritage and the looks that went it.

"Yes, of course. Without any doubt, you resemble one of our lovely island girls."

Leilani smiled her thanks and without another thought, she kicked off her pretty jewel-encrusted sandals and reached out when Pi moved to assist her. The moment their hands clasped, calmness surrounded her. She'd never been in the presence of another who made her feel so totally at peace.

The sand massaged her toes delightfully. Moonlight brought the iridescent granules to life, and the ground looked like a magical crystal carpet. Compared to the gravelly beach back home, the texture felt soft and pleasing, and sinking into it brought a bubble of fun rising inside her. She closed her eyes and inhaled the wonder of Waikiki. Nothing had ever prepared her for this delight.

Eventually they'd reached the end of the sandy area, and the rocks ahead forced them to turn around and go back to the car. Once there, she rested against the hood and watched the water. Her companion hadn't said a word all this time, and for once, Leilani's mouth didn't run away on her. She felt no need to put the other person at ease or to share the experience with words.

Pi leaned next to her, and before she knew it, he'd helped her to climb on top of the hood. While perched on the warm vehicle, the two lay next to each other using the windshield for a backrest.

From this view, she looked up and observed the varioussized, graceful palm trees waving their fronds as if playing to a rhapsody of music initiated by the soft breeze. A few night birds flew overhead, calling to each other; their sounds like a musical welcome to a girl still fighting the disbelief that she'd actually arrived. The horizon of clouds interspersed with golden highlights was all she could have asked for. This was the Hawaii of Leilani's dreams.

Pi gently nudged her hand and then pointed upward to where an encroaching purplish-pink hue spread its magic over the lightened sky; a phenomenon she'd never seen so strong before. It literally took her breath away.

His soft voice broke in, and she glanced in his direction. "You seem sad, Leilani. I've no wish to intrude, but it shines through your eyes when you look at me. Is there any way I can help you?"

Leilani wasn't surprised that he'd zeroed in on her pain. Raw and recent, it hadn't had time to form a scab.

"As you know, my mother passed on, but how I wished she had come with me in person rather than as ashes. I begged her many times before the end — promised her she'd be fine and that I'd help her, but she refused."

"Poor woman! Choosing never to see her country again because of what? Erroneous prejudices! How shattering!"

"Pi, you're an angel. I've never thought how much it must have eaten at her, not until I arrived here and saw the beauty she gave up. You're right, of course. Shattered fits her perfectly."

"It must have been hard for you to live with a woman hardened and embittered by circumstances, even if she did orchestrate them by her careless actions."

"I loved her." Leilani thought of all the times she tried to get her mother to smile and feel upbeat about the fact that she was alive and relatively healthy, albeit tied to a wheelchair. Some days, she managed. They'd know peace for months, but then a letter would arrive, or a movie on TV would bring back the bitterness. The older woman would slip into a melancholy that little by little chipped away at the spontaneous happiness that quite naturally bubbled inside Leilani.

"I'm sure you did. And of course, she loved you?"

Pi's question brought back the fear that she'd known since childhood — the fear that drove her into always acting like a bundle of sunshine. If she weren't that way, would there be anything loveable about her? And just maybe, would her mother stop loving her?

Now where did that insight come from ... the clarity of knowing what insecurity drove her into being the Chatty Cathy that she showed the world?

Lying under the Hawaiian sky with this delightful character gave her such pleasure that it needed to be shared. She reached for Pi's hand that seemed to know hers was searching, and she clung. Glancing over her shoulder, she grinned into the old man's twinkling eyes that returned her delight. Time stopped. Only the wind and waves played on, performing for the two souls who were linked forever.

CHAPTER 3

"Pi, are you sure this is the hotel I'm to stay at? It's positively luxurious." Leilani had no doubt her eyes had expanded to twice their normal size. She swiveled in every direction, not caring if she looked like the typical gawking tourist.

"Yes. I have your booking here. You're on the seventh floor, in room 715. The Jordan Hotels have a sterling reputation, and the Waikiki Jordan is considered one of the premium hotels in all of Hawaii." He pulled the taxi over to the side and stopped in the brilliant circular driveway under the magnificent archway leading to the reception desk.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Loveable Christmas Angel"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Mimi Barbour.
Excerpted by permission of Sarna Publishing.
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.

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