Christmas in the Billionaire's Bed(2)

By: Janice Maynard

Spending Christmas at Silver Glen would undoubtedly resurrect a host of old memories that he’d rather not face. But if he were honest, the memories lived with him everywhere. The painful part of going home was having other people share the memories. The empathy and concern on the faces of his siblings and his mother would be his downfall.

He didn’t want their love to heal him. He didn’t deserve that. And he didn’t want to feel anything. Family knew his weak spots. Family refused to let him cling to the cloak of indifference that made it possible to live from day to day.

Aidan Kavanagh was a charming shell of a man, interested only in closing a deal or cashing a check. Ask anyone. The persona was one he had crafted carefully to keep people away. After loving and losing three times in his life, he was through with emotion...with caring.

In Silver Glen, especially at the holidays, he would have to be himself—the young man who had enjoyed life and reached for happiness with the careless naïveté of the innocent. He would be forced to open himself up to the warmth of family celebrations that would make him terribly vulnerable.

Could he do that and still survive?

Doggedly, he reached for the peace he had created here in the city. Emotional anonymity. A pleasant shield that kept other people from inflicting hurt.

He didn’t hurt. He wouldn’t hurt. Loving his family was a given. But beyond that, he had nothing to offer. Loving and losing meant vicious, unrelenting pain. Only a fool would walk that path again.

* * *

Emma Braithwaite leaned into the bay window, perched precariously on a stepladder that had seen better days. Creating the shop’s storefront display was usually the highlight of her workweek. Today’s theme, not exactly original, was teapots. Twitching the edge of a lace drape into place, she tried to visualize what her handiwork looked like from the street.

On the other side of the glass, a woman stopped and waved madly. Emma smiled. Even through the reverse gold lettering that spelled out Silver Memories, she recognized her visitor. Maeve Kavanagh, matriarch of the Kavanagh family—mother to seven sexy, über-masculine, wildly attractive grown men, and heir to the Kavanagh fortune.

Maeve’s husband’s ancestors had literally created the town after discovering a rich vein of silver deep in the mountain. The family story took a tragic turn when Maeve’s feckless husband, Reggie, became obsessed with finding the remnants of the mine. One day he climbed into the hills and never returned.

But that bit of local color was from long ago. Maeve was now a vibrant woman in her early sixties who managed to keep tabs on her brood and run a thriving business up at the Silver Beeches Lodge. A little bell tinkled over the door as Maeve entered. Her dark auburn hair—with only slight traces of silver—was done up in a stylish bun.

Emma climbed down from the ladder and straightened her skirt.

Maeve waved an envelope at her. “I know etiquette dictates I mail this to you, but I couldn’t wait. Here. Take it.”

Emma accepted the cream-colored envelope with a grin. The missive was thick, the paper expensive. When she opened it and examined the contents, she understood the older woman’s enthusiasm. “Another wedding?”

Maeve’s smug smile said everything. “Indeed. And this time right here in Silver Glen. I know it seems hurried, but Dylan’s adoption of Cora will be final on the day after Christmas. He and Mia want to be married and have their family complete.”

Emma tucked everything back in the envelope. “I’m honored to be invited.”

Emma and Mia had met several months ago at a coffee shop around the corner from Silver Memories. Since then they had become friends. Emma knew Maeve had been extremely kind in including Mia’s parents as hosts for the wedding. The Larins had given birth to Mia late in life and now lived in Florida on a fixed income.

Maeve waved a hand. “Don’t be silly. You’re practically part of my family now. Mia raves about you, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you these last few months.”

Not long after Emma opened her store, Maeve had dropped by to shop for a set of occasional tables to use in a lounge at the Silver Beeches. It was thanks to Maeve that word had spread and the small shop had become a success so quickly.

“May I ask you something personal, Maeve?”

“Of course.”

“Is the baby’s father in the picture? Mia never speaks of him, and I didn’t want to upset her by asking.”

Maeve shook her head. “Dear Mia chose to have a baby via a sperm donor. When she and Dylan got together, he fell in love with little Cora. They make a beautiful family, don’t you think?”

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