A Rancher’s Christmas Kiss (Holidays in Heart Falls #5) Read Online Vivian Arend

Categories Genre: Romance Tags Authors: Series: Holidays in Heart Falls Series by Vivian Arend

Total pages in book: 63
Estimated words: 59551 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 298(@200wpm)___ 238(@250wpm)___ 199(@300wpm)

The final stand-alone story in the HOLIDAYS IN HEART FALLS series by New York Times Bestselling Author Vivian Arend. While this book can be enjoyed on its own, series readers will delight to discover all sorts of Heart Falls easter eggs, past and present!

This rancher wasn’t looking for love—but she’s been right there the entire time.
In their mid-forties when they first met, widow Sonora Fallen and vows-to-stay-single rancher Ashton Stewart both felt a spark but agreed being friends was more important than becoming lovers. For many years that decision held firm, and other than one time, their grumbly-in-public, friends-in-private arrangement has stuck.
Now sixteen years later, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future seem determined to change these friends to lovers to…something else? All of Heart Falls is watching, suspicions on the rise as Sonora and Ashton’s secret slips into view. Can two people used to standing on their own find a way to admit they want more? Or will stubbornness and fear keep them from forever?



January 1, Heart Falls

* * *

The sidewalk leading to the church doors was covered with a thin layer of freshly fallen snow. Ashton Stewart snagged the shovel from against the brick wall and slowly worked to clear the path.

His breath escaped in a cloud of white, the crisp day beautiful beyond belief. January in Alberta could be meaner than a bear, but those lower temperatures typically rolled in later in the month. In line with the start of a new year, today was an ordinary cold. Which meant it was brisk enough to make each breath sear his lungs and his eyes to water.

Pretty as a postcard, though, with the recent snowfall clinging to the spruce trees. If he could have ordered a blue-sky day like this one, he would have.

Ashton snorted at his musings. As if he were in charge. If he could order the world to turn the way he wanted it to, he’d have gotten to this point in his life a hell of a lot sooner than sixty-five.

Of course, that would have required being a hell of a lot smarter sooner as well. It appeared he was the type who needed the lessons hammered in hard for them to finally register.

His phone vibrated in his pocket. He scrambled to grab it, the shovel falling unminded to the ground.

Not a call. Not an email. Damn technology. What the hell did vibrate mean again?

Right. Ashton checked his messages and found one from his nephew.

Tucker: Where are you?

Ashton didn’t want to respond, but he should. They did work together, and there might be an emergency…

He shook his head. What he was doing right now was the most important thing. Tucker would have to deal with any trouble that arose right now.

Determined, Ashton texted back.

Ashton: I’ve got the rest of the day off.

* * *

Tucker: Great. Fine. Now answer my question.

* * *

Ashton: I’m busy.

* * *

Tucker: Good grief, at least tell me you’re at the church.

* * *

Ashton: Yes, I’m here. That’s spooky.

* * *

Tucker: That’s the pastor accidentally texting me instead of you. He’s running late. Says you should use the spare key to unlock the place and let yourself in. The key is behind the rose bush by the kitchen door.

* * *

Ashton: Thanks.

* * *

Tucker: At the risk of overstepping, everything okay? You need some company?

* * *

Ashton paused then answered: Everything will be fine. And you probably shouldn’t come because if what I hope for happens, it should be an all-or-nothing deal. I’ll explain later.

* * *

Tucker: Okay. Fingers crossed if it helps.

Ashton turned off his phone to avoid any further interruptions then tucked it away.

If Sonora took him up on the invitation to meet him, everything would be fine. He had to believe it, no matter how impossible that seemed after all these years.

It only took a moment to unlock the side door and slip inside.

Ashton had never been in the church alone before. It was a humbling experience walking in silence through the chapel. A place to reflect, consider, and hopefully do something to turn the tide on the nightmarish dreams he’d recently experienced.

His fingers shook as he unlocked the main doors.

Quarter to twelve.

He stepped outside to ensure the doors were both unlocked and opened easily. It only took a moment to remove and hang up his outer coat before he returned to the sanctuary, wandering as slowly as possible toward the altar.

Sunlight streamed in the stained-glass windows, leaving brightly coloured patches all the way down the aisle. Quiet hung on the air, the still, solemn hush broken only by the faint sound of wind against the tall steeple.

Dressed in his best suit, with polished boots and his hair combed back as neat as it ever got, Ashton would’ve felt like a fool except for the pounding in his heart.