The forecast is for snow…but she’s dreaming of more than a white Christmas
Olympia Mayweather is sure there's only one way to find a husband - through a family tradition that says she must kiss the man of her dreams in a Christmas snow. When a reporter comes to interview her for the local paper, she’s afraid he’s going to make a mockery of her, ruining her chance for a Christmas love.
David Santina isn’t sure a magical kiss will make Olympia a bride. But spending time with the charming woman and getting to know her just might make David believe in fairy tales. He’ll protect her from a tabloid story, but who is going to keep him from completing The Mayweather Christmas Quest?
“Come on, you little brat…come on…” Olympia shifted her knees in the snow and shoved her coat sleeve as far up as it would go, which was only a few inches. Not enough to accomplish her goal. With a grunt, she pulled her arm out of the narrow opening between two paint starved pieces of wood, slipped off her coat and flung it away.
“I’m telling you, you better stop playing games and come out here this instant!”
She gave the warped door of the tool shed another tug. Still stuck. Heaving a frustrated breath, she jammed her arm back through the gap, scraping her skin from wrist to elbow. Extending her fingers as far as she could, she finally made contact with a soft ball of fur.
Just a little more…. Her shoulder ached as she pressed into the wood, but she managed to move the kitten toward her with her fingertips until she was finally able to snatch it by the back of the neck.
“You have some nerve, mister,” she said in her sternest tone, as she raised the kitten into the daylight. “Are you trying to freeze to death?”
He looked away, unrepentant.
“That’s fine,” Olympia said, swiping clumps of snow with her free hand from the knees of her jeans. “You can have that attitude, but you’re going back in the house. Little hairball. Think you’d be grateful to have a warm home and plenty of food.”
She couldn’t help nestling him under her chin as she grabbed up her coat and trudged toward the house.
Olympia spun to face a stranger standing in her driveway just steps from her backyard. The sudden movement caused the kitten to claw her chest in protest
“Sharon Mayweather?” the man asked.
She hadn’t heard anyone drive up, yet here he was, standing midway between her and a late model SUV. He was tall and broad shouldered, though it could mostly be the long wool coat that draped almost to the tops of his black-and-gray boots. His face was framed by a fur-lined hat with ear flaps. And what a face. Handsome and kind.
Blue eyes fixed on her, moving across her face. His lips were full and bent in a smile, and then parted slightly as he moved to speak. “Sorry if I scared you. Are you Mrs. Mayweather?”
“Who wants to know?”
The man came forward, hand outstretched, then seeing she didn’t have a free hand, dropped his. “I’m David Della Santina.”
The name sounded familiar. “But, who are you?” she asked, covering the kitten with her parka.
“I’m a reporter, with the Tribune.”
There were like ten Tribunes in this area alone. She didn’t ask which, because she didn’t care. Why was a reporter looking for her mother? Olympia started for the house.
Despite not having been issued an invitation, David’s boots followed behind hers, crunching the rock salt sprinkled over the path and back steps. Olympia quickened her pace, putting enough distance between them to get onto the back porch and close the storm door between them.
“As far as I know, my mother isn’t expecting any reporters,” she said through the window.
“What’s that?” her mother called from the kitchen.
“Mrs. Mayweather?” David yelled, pressing his face to the door.
“Who is that?”
Olympia groaned. “It’s a reporter.”
Sharon Mayweather walked out onto the back porch, pushing her short caramel-colored hair from her forehead and pulling her pink sweater close at the neck. “A reporter?”
Her mother stared at him through the thin glass pane, tapping her pointer finger to her chin as she tilted her head one way, then the other. “I see,” she said, finally.
Olympia looked at her mother. “Well, I don’t. What’s he want?”
“Did you ask him what he wants?”
“No, she didn’t,” David answered. “But, if you’d let me in, I can tell you.”
“Oh, no.” Olympia leaned through the back door to the kitchen, gently tossed the kitten in, and then pulled the door closed. “We’re not letting you into our home.”
David backed away from the steps and held up his hands. “I understand completely, you’re not going to take my word for it.” He reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet. “Here’s my driver’s license and my press ID,” he said, pulling cards from their designated slots and holding them up to the window.
They looked legitimate to Olympia, but even if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t matter since her mother was already pushing open the metal door and moving aside to let him in.
“How can I help you?” Sharon asked.
Olympia opened the kitchen door, moving the kitten back with her foot before going in. She absolutely refused to go after that little hairball one more time—so she said every time he got out.
When everyone was inside, Olympia hung her coat over the back of a chair and turned on the flame under the tea kettle.
“Can I take your coat?” Her mother asked David with a glance at Olympia.
Olympia gave her mother a small smile. She didn’t mean to be rude; she was just distracted by the unusual circumstance.
“Would you like some tea? Hot chocolate?” Olympia offered.
David shrugged out of the coat. The wool, clearly not the source of the broad shoulders, she noted with some sort of internal discomfort. Well, not discomfort…more like unwelcome pleasure.
“Hot chocolate sounds fantastic,” he said, draping the coat over the chair and taking a seat beside her mother. “Thanks for inviting me in.” He aimed a smile at Mom, drawing one in response.
Olympia joined them at the table. She couldn’t help noticing all those straight, white teeth, framed behind lips, smooth and appealing in their curved state.
“So, what’s this all about?” she asked.
David looked back and forth between her and her mother. “Our office received a call about an unusual family tradition you all participate in annually, at Christmas. I’d like to learn more about it. If you’re willing,” he added hastily.
Olympia groaned. “Seriously?” It was bad enough they had the locals mocking their tradition every year, but to have strangers privy to it was humiliating. Especially since she was the only sister not to be married off yet.
Her mother’s brows rose, but she seemed more curious than surprised. “Do you know where the call came from?”
Olympia thought that was a terrific question. No one in the town had gone to the media before. Why now?
“I don’t know for sure,” David said. “Only that it was a woman.”
Olympia narrowed her eyes. It was probably Kate Trudeau. She’d been poking fun at the Mayweather Quest as she called it, for years. Just last week, she’d stopped Olympia in the hardware store to wish her luck. She puffed out a breath, waiting for her mother to politely decline.
The woman smiled gently, tapping her fingers on the plaid tablecloth as she considered. Finally, she opened her mouth. “What would you like to know?”
The words took Olympia by surprise. “Mom, really? You’re going to tell him—”
“Mercy, Olympia, why not? We’re not hiding anything. It’s all in good fun.”
David turned to Olympia. “That’s a nice name.”
“All my girls’ names end in A,” her mother told him. “Aliza, Brinna, Helena and Olympia. They were all so beautiful when they were born that I ended all their names in ah.”
David chuckled and glanced at Olympia. “They’re still beautiful.”
Olympia sneered. It was hard to tell if this guy was sincere. He seemed to be, but reporters would do what was necessary to get a story, right?
David twisted, reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small note pad and pen. “If you don’t mind…” he said, raising the items for their inspection. “How long has this tradition been a part of your family?”
“Oh, who knows,” Mom said. “It’s been going around at least as long as my great, great grandparents. Who knows before then? I suppose you could research it.”
“That’s what he’s doing now, Mom.”
David smiled at her, then back at her mother. “And what specifically does this tradition entail? Are there certain guidelines, superstitions…?”
“Are you asking if we go through a blood ritual?” Olympia asked.
“Olympia, be nice,” her mother scolded. “It’s pretty straightforward,” she told David. “A Mayweather girl has to be somewhere where it’s snowing on Christmas Day, and if she meets a man under a Christmas snow, God blesses that union so that they’ll be together forever.”
Olympia rolled her eyes. Not missed by David.
“I take it you don’t believe it,” he said.
“Olympia is my last single girl,” Sharon said. “So, we’re taking any edge we can.”
Olympia laughed. She did believe it—mostly—but didn’t want him to ridicule her. “I’m in no hurry to be married.”
“I know, dear, I know,” her mother said, patting Olympia’s hand. “It’s just wise to keep your options open.”
“Your other daughters were married this way?” David asked.
“God blessed two that way, yes; Aliza and Brinna.”
“What about the other”—he glanced at his notes—“Helena.”
“We’re waiting to see how it turns out.” Her mother waited a beat before laughing.
“So, where is your pursuit taking you this year?” David asked.
“Snow’s predicted in Duluth, Minnesota, so that’s where we’ll be.”
As they talked about where they would be staying, how long, etc., Olympia got up and made the hot chocolate. She was trying to take it in stride, after all, this was something special the family did every year, but now it didn’t feel right. She’d agreed to go to make her mom happy, but it wouldn’t be the same with none of her sisters participating. If she didn’t find a husband this year, there would be no one to deflect the attention. And now, having this stranger turn her family’s harmless fun into a blatant joke was irritating.
She set a steaming mug in front of him and then took her seat.
“Thanks,” David said. “So, you fly out a few days before Christmas. Do you scope out the prospects, or just wing it and let destiny have its way?”
Unsure if he was trying to insult them, Olympia offered what she hoped would pass for a genuine chuckle. “It wouldn’t be much of a custom if it was based on searching out a husband ourselves, would it? What would be the point of going when we could do that at church, or the mall?”
David flipped a page in his pad and turned to Olympia directly.
“Speaking of faith, would you say God is behind your mission to find a husband?”
His words forced her back in her seat. “I’m not on a mission. This isn’t a belief; it’s a legend, a game.”