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RESTING SCROOGE FACE

PROLOGUE

 

**Caleb** 

Dear Christmas, 

I despise you. 

Harsh? Maybe.

But why must your snappy anthems and heartwarming magical stories about family and togetherness follow me around?

Why are there twinkling lights, shiny baubles, and joyous children everywhere I look?

Why must we spend hours standing in the frigid cold to watch one single tree be lit up by a town mayor? We all know what a tree looks like with lights on it at this point—there’re over a dozen scattered along the white picket fences lining Main Street.

And most importantly, why must your devoted admirers—in their ugly Christmas sweaters with their fresh-from-the-oven, poorly decorated gingerbread men—follow me around town asking who I’ll be kissing under the mistletoe this year?

The answer is no one.

NO ONE!

That ship sailed many years ago, when I messed up the one good thing in my life. So, if anyone is listening, if anyone wants to offer some temporary relief from this cheerful and uplifting merriment, also known as my own personal purgatory, it would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,

Resting Scrooge Face

“Whatcha writing?” Arden asks as he steps into my hardware store.

My head snaps up to see the seventy-year-old mailman wearing a red-and-green-striped turtleneck under his bowling shirt.

Yeah, not even my closest of friends—despite the forty-year age difference—can stay away from the pressures of having a holly jolly time.

“Nothing,” I answer as I crumple up the letter and toss it in the trash. Why did I think writing out my disdain for the holiday season would be helpful? “Are you ready to go?”

He holds up his bowling bag and smiles. “Ready. But it seems as though you’re not. Where’s your bowling shirt?”

“In my truck. I’ll change when we get there.”

“It would look nicer if we showed up to bowling night already dressed. More intimidating.”

I heave a heavy sigh and place both my hands on my register counter. “Arden, I just suffered through two hours of helping curly-haired grandmas in festive yuletide vests asking me what Christmas lights I thought would look best wrapped around them for some sort of Christmas parade that’s going down at the senior living community this week. Excuse me if I just need a freaking second.”

“You know, ‘bah, humbug’ would have been less wordy.”

“Noted,” I answer. “Let me close out the register, and then I’ll drive your wrinkled ass over to Port Snow.”

As I pull my till and start to move it to the back office, he calls out, “This boorish antijoy attitude you’ve been wearing recently—it doesn’t have anything to do with Nola Bisley coming back into town, does it?”

I pause, my back muscles tensing as my grip on the till grows tight. Does my piss-poor attitude—including my insane letter to Christmas—have anything to do with the one that got away, the woman who just so happened to move back to our small, wintery town in the heart of Maine?

Absolutely, it does.

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