There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 60 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund.
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Iona has cancelled on Mads but he’s decided to go and see her in her workplace and try to convince her to do business with him. He shows up unannounced at the Candied Apple Café.
The Candied Apple was slammed with customers and everyone was working behind the counter. According to the buzz she heard around the shop and in the back in the café, the windows were a big success. Cici had left after the photo shoot to go back home to her baby, Holly. She was only two months old and Cici was trying to balance working with being a new mom.
Iona had jumped behind the counter, having grown up working in her family’s department store so she’d cut her teeth working on the register and customer service. And they’d run out of the advent calendars filled with unique chocolate treats for each day. Iona had worked with a designer to make sure the boxes matched the windows on the storefront.
Iona wove her way through the crowd to the storeroom behind the kitchen where the boxed Advent chocolate calendars were stored. They had three more shelves of them and though they were already a few days into December, the boxes proved to be a top seller.
She jotted a note on the huge whiteboard that they used for inventory counts that Hayley might need to do more chocolates for the advent boxes.
Then she took a huge armful, trying to balance the chocolates while opening the door with one arm. Her mother was always scolding her for trying to carry too much in one trip, but it worked.
She stumbled into someone, yelping as she lost her balance. The boxes started to slide as the man caught her and a child’s hands tried to catch the boxes and keep them from falling.
She looked up into eyes the color of a winter sky. Grey and blue mixed together, she felt a jolt of awareness before she stepped back and righted the boxes she was still holding.
“Here’s one,” the little girl said. She had thick, dark- brown hair that curled around her face and her eyes were a deep chocolate brown.
“Thanks,” Iona said, smiling a little ruefully at him. Her mom was right. Not for the first time either.
“You’re welcome. Iona Summerlin?” he asked. His voice was rich and deep, brushing over her senses like the blast of warmth from a roaring fire.
“Yes … how did you know?”
“Mads Eriksson. We’ve spoken several times on the phone,” he said. Of course, he was here.
“I wasn’t expecting you,” she said.
“My assistant said you were busy and she wasn’t kidding. If there is a break in all this perhaps we could talk?” he suggested.
He was persistent. She liked that in a businessman. Her father, who was the one she judged everything else, including herself, by would be impressed. She’d looked at the website for the Loughman Group. Knew that Mads was the youngest CEO they’d ever had. He had taken the company from stagnating in a crowded market, to making it a unique and sought-after property group. She had noticed that his brother was also an operating director. No under-achievers in that family.
“I might be able to swing fifteen minutes,” she said. “Why don’t you two grab a table in the Café and I’ll join you after I deliver these?”
She noted the self-satisfied look in his gaze. He’d gotten the meeting he wanted. But it was on her turf, so she’d be in a better position to stress the items they weren’t willing to back down on.
“Sounds good to me,” he said. “Come on, Sofia.”
“Sofia, for helping me out, why don’t you take one of these Advent calendars as a thank you?”
She looked up at her father and he nodded.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Now you’ll be able to count down until Santa arrives.”
Sofia shook her head. “I don’t believe in Santa.”
Iona noticed the fleeting look on Mads’ face but it was too quick for her to really analyze.
“That’s fine. It’s still a box of lots of chocolates.”
“I like candy,” Sofia said.
“Me too,” Iona added. “Can I get you two something from the café? We have a rich seven-layer chocolate cake that is better than you can imagine. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea, cookies, brownies are available too.”
“Coffee for me,” Mads said.
“Hot chocolate,” Sofia said. “And cake, if I’m allowed, Papa?”
“Cake would be fine,” Mads said.
“Great. I’ll see you two in a few minutes.”
“Iona turned away from the father and daughter and concentrated on weaving her way through the crowded shop floor to the registers, to stock the advent calendars on the countertop behind the staff.
“I thought you’d deserted me,” Nick said.
He was one of their new hires for the season. A college student who was hardworking and happy and that they would let take shifts around his courses.
“Never. There are too many people here to leave you all alone.”
“Good. Once I know the products better, I might be able to handle it.”
“Well, I’m going to get Hayley out front here to help you,” Iona said, waving to Hayley to join them. She knows the products better than anyone.”
Nick turned to help another customer as Hayley arrived behind the counter.
“Mads Eriksson is here. He wants to have a chat and I told him I don’t have a lot of time, could you work back here while I do that?”
“He must really want us to be partners with his hotel chain,” Hayley said.
“I think so too. It’s good for us and seeing the shop so busy gives us a better place to start negotiating from,” Iona added.
“It sure does. Okay, I’ve got this. Go and do your thing,” Hayley said.
“I intend to. Also, Nick is newish so he might need your guidance on some of the products,” Iona said.
“He’s in good hands,” Hayley replied. “Go work your magic.”
She wished she did have magic, but everything she’d gotten had been from working hard and trying to prove to herself that she was just as good at business as her father was.
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