Holiday Kisses

By: Anna J. Stewart


His family’s honor is at stake...

And she holds the key


Calliope Jones, Butterfly Harbor’s free-spirited organic farmer, is the most vocal objector to Xander Costas and his design for the butterfly sanctuary that he hopes will save his family’s architectural firm. Strangely, it’s Calliope who shows him what the town, and he, really need. Calliope makes Xander listen with his heart. And soon his heart may be telling him to stay with this extraordinary woman!





Calliope tilted her chin up to the sky and drew him into a circle of trees. “Here. Sit with me.”


She twined her fingers with his as she gazed up into the endless cascading branches and leaves.

“Look, Xander. Really look and tell me what you see.” Her words were a whisper in the breeze, but her face was alight with a happiness and peace he didn’t think he’d ever encountered before.

What did he see? He saw a woman who could have made a living as a muse, a reminder of what beauty and joy looked like.

“As flattered as I am, stop looking at me.” She leaned forward, and for a moment, he thought she might kiss him. Instead she pressed her finger beneath his chin and tilted his head up. “Now look.”

It took a moment for his eyes to focus, to see beyond the twining limbs and leaves and branches that had probably grown long before he’d ever heard of Butterfly Harbor.

“And listen.” Her whispered command sent a shiver down his spine.





Dear Reader,

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing a series like Butterfly Harbor is getting to know all the people who live there. From the very first book, Calliope’s story was the one I most looked forward to. Quirky, eccentric, comforting, understanding and, well, to a lot of people, odd, Calliope Jones is Butterfly Harbor’s answer to Hallmark Channel’s The Good Witch. Always welcoming, Calliope knows exactly what to say in whatever situation she finds herself in. But that’s not to say she hasn’t had to face some serious life issues. Her past isn’t as stress-free as one might assume, and if there’s one thing she can’t abide, it’s a close-minded individual who thinks he knows everything about...well, everything. Which means I found the perfect hero for her with Xander Costas.

Xander arrives believing he knows what the town needs in a design for the new butterfly sanctuary: something quick and something that will help him get his family’s business back on track. But as often happens in this town, leaving isn’t as easy as he expects, especially when his work becomes entangled with Calliope. Which means his carefully mapped-out plans for the future are about to take a major detour.

There are some of those who might think Calliope’s name is familiar, and that’s on purpose. Once upon a time, back in the early ’80s, I used to watch Days of Our Lives, my grandmother’s top soap opera. Her favorite characters were Calliope and Eugene. Talk about quirky. They just made her smile. And that’s what Calliope’s goal is in life: to make everyone’s day a bit brighter and to make everyone, especially you, readers, smile.

Happy reading,

Anna




CHAPTER ONE


WITH HIS TAILORED jacket tossed over one arm and designer tie knotted hard into his throat, Xander Costas stood on the bottom plank of the steps and cringed at the deafening roar of waves crashing onto the beach before him. “Well, they’ve got plenty of water and sand, that’s for sure.”

He’d never understood the appeal of water, other than as a hydration agent, of course. The ocean was so unpredictable. Uncontrollable. So...loud. The way the tide left a foamy film across the damp sand reminded him of a badly topped-off latte or a rejected Jackson Pollock painting.

He was a city boy, born and bred. His family joked he had steel for bones—strong, unbending. Their code word for stubborn, no doubt, but he didn’t take offense. Steel stood the test of time—it shaped civilizations. Nature served its purpose, but it wasn’t the first thing Xander thought of.

Yet here he was, thousands of miles from home, placing all his hopes—and his family’s financial future—on an ocean-side town rebuilding its reputation as green and nature-friendly. A town that, up until a few months ago, few people had ever heard of.

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