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Elizabeth Kelly Books

The Christmas Wife (EBOOK)

The Christmas Wife (EBOOK)

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Sometimes what you never wanted becomes what you need most.

Toymaker, Deacon Stone, needs a wife.  If he isn’t married in less than a week his grandmother will sell her shares of the family business, and everything Deacon has worked his entire life for will be taken from him.  He isn’t the husband type but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep control of the family business.

Single mother, Claire Brooks, dreamed of being an actress, not a maid to the wealthy.  But with an eviction notice, an empty bank account, and Christmas just around the corner, she’s barely making ends meet.  

When her daughter accidentally breaks a priceless statue belonging to her employer - the gorgeous but aloof toymaker - Claire has no choice but to accept Deacon Stone’s proposal.  Marry him for thirty days, convince his grandmother they’re in love, and he’ll give her a hundred grand and the chance to finally give her daughter the life she deserves. 

Claire is determined to give the performance of her life.  But when Deacon’s kisses ignite a scorching hot chemistry between them, the line between make-believe and the truth starts to blur.



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Read an excerpt

Deacon stood in the hallway and stared in disgust at the man sprawled out on the floor of the hallway. The smell of stale beer wafted from him and he snored loudly, drool slipping from between his lips to puddle on the floor.

The entire building was a dump and Deacon knocked firmly on the apartment door as he shifted the brown paper bag he held into his left hand.

After a moment, he knocked again and Hattie said, “Who is it?”

“It’s Deacon Stone.”

There was silence and he said impatiently, “Do you remember me, Hattie?”

“The toymaker,” she said through the door.

“Yes, may I come in?”

“Mama says I’m not allowed to let strangers into the house.”

“I’m not a stranger,” he said. “We met yesterday.”

The door opened and Hattie stared up at him. Today she was wearing a Hulk t-shirt with her jeans. “What do you want?”

“I need to speak to your mother. May I come in?” he asked.

She peered into the hallway. “What did you do to Terry?”

“I didn’t do anything to him,” he said. “He was like this when I came in.”

“Terry!” Hattie nudged him with her foot. “Wake up, Terry!”

The man muttered in his sleep and rolled over. Hattie sighed. “He’s always falling asleep in the hallway. Mama says he’s got a disease called,” she frowned in thought, “alcoholics, I think, and it makes him really sleepy.”

She stepped back and he followed her into the apartment. It was a bit dismal looking and ridiculously bare. There was a couch in the living room and a bookcase shoved full of brightly coloured children’s book and that was it for furniture. A chest with toys piled in it sat against the wall and he followed Hattie to the couch.

“Won’t you please sit down, Mr. Stone. Mama’s in the shower right now,” she said politely.

He sat on the couch. It was lumpy and the fabric was faded. A tear in the arm was repaired with bright pink duct tape, and he smiled stiffly at Hattie as she climbed up beside him.

“What’s in the bag?” she asked.

“It’s a present for you.”

“Really?” Her face lit up and he nodded and handed her the bag.

She opened it eagerly and pulled out the large doll with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. A look of disappointment crossed her face. “It’s a doll.”

“Yes. It’s brand new on the market. You’ve probably seen the commercials for it on TV,” he said. “If you press the button on her back, she talks to you.”

“We don’t have a TV.” She poked at the doll’s fabric body. “Mama sold it.”

She set the doll on the couch beside her. “Thank you for the doll, Mr. Stone.”

“You’re welcome. Why did your mama sell the television?”

“Because we’re poor.” She peered cautiously at him. “Don’t tell Mama I said that. She thinks I don’t know.”

“I won’t,” he promised.

“I miss TV,” she said. “We didn’t have any cartoon channels, but I used to watch my DVD’s.” She paused. “Mama sold those to the man at the pawn shop too. But she said she would buy me new ones when she bought a new TV.”

She touched the doll’s fake hair for a moment before smiling at him. “Would you like something to drink, Mr. Stone?”


She jumped off the couch and walked to the tiny kitchen. There was no table or chairs, just a couple of white, plastic TV trays pushed against the wall, and she opened the fridge and peered into it. “We have milk or water.”

“I’ll have a glass of water.”

“You’ll have to get the water jug out for me. It’s too heavy and Mama says I might break it.”

He joined her at the fridge, frowning at how empty it was. There was a carton of milk, a large glass jug of water, a bag of carrots, some containers of yogurt, and a package of ground chicken.

“It’s right there.” Hattie pointed to the jug and he carried it to the counter. “The glasses are in that cupboard.”

He opened the cupboard and pulled out two plastic glasses with faded imprints of the Hulk on them. “Would you like a glass of water?”

“Sure,” she said.

She watched silently as he poured them both a glass of water and returned the jug to the fridge. There was a piece of paper on the counter next to the fridge and he scanned it briefly. It was an eviction notice and he felt a stab of guilt as Hattie said, “Are you rich, Mr. Stone?”

“I am.” He took a sip of water and followed the little girl back to the couch.

“How much money do you have?”

“A lot.”

“I have ten dollars.” She glanced at the closed door next to the kitchen. He could hear the sound of the shower and she cocked her head for a moment before saying, “I got it for my birthday from Pam. She’s my babysitter. I was saving up for one of your toys.”

“Which one?” he asked.

She grinned at him. “The remote control truck! You know the big one with the blue racing stripes? I’ve never had one before and a boy at my school, Ricky, has one. He brought it for show and tell one day and we all got a turn driving it around the classroom. I was really good at it.”

“I bet you were.”

The smile dropped from her face. “It costs a lot of money though. I was going to ask Santa for it this year, but Mama said that a lot of kids wanted that truck and Santa’s elves probably couldn’t make enough of them. She said if I was really good, maybe Santa would bring me one next year when not so many kids wanted them. It’s a long time to wait though, don’t you think, Mr. Stone?”

“It is.”

She sidled a little closer and gave him a look that would melt butter. “Do you know Santa, Mr. Stone?”


“Well,” she smiled sweetly at him, “you’re the toymaker so I figure you probably know Santa personally. Or maybe even his elves help you to make the toys for your store. Now that we’re friends, maybe you could ask them to make one extra truck for me for Christmas?”

A small grin crossed his face. “I could do that.”

“Thank you! That’s very nice of you.” The pure delight in her voice made his grin widen and he made a mental note to ask Tabitha to pick up one of the trucks.

“So, if you get a truck for Christmas, what are you going to spend your birthday money on?”

“I’m going to buy Mama’s necklace back,” she said.

“Her necklace?”

“Yes, her grandma gave it to her right before she died. It was so pretty. It was silver and had a blue stone. Mama said that after me it was the thing she loved most.”

“What happened to it?” He had a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“She sold it to the man at the pawn shop,” Hattie said. “She cried after. She thought I was sleeping but I heard her crying in the bathroom.” She stared moodily at the doll. “I hate it when Mama cries.”

“Does she cry a lot?” he asked.

“No. But she cried really hard last night. The lady at the cleaning company said she didn’t have a job anymore. I felt really bad, but Mama said I shouldn’t. She said it wasn’t my fault that your floors were so slippery, and that she would find another job.”

He felt another stab of guilt as the little girl’s stomach rumbled loudly. She laughed and patted her stomach. “Mama’s going to make dinner when she gets out of the shower.”

“How would you like to go out for dinner?” he asked suddenly. “My treat.”

“Where?” she asked.

“Well, I know a good sushi place or -”

“What’s sushi?” she asked.

“It’s raw fish.”

“Ew!” She gave him a look of disgust. “I’m not eating raw fish.”

“We don’t have to go there. We can go wherever you want,” he said.

“Do you like McDonalds?” she asked. “They have good nuggets and there’s a car with racing stripes in the Happy Meal right now.”

He laughed. “I’m sensing a theme.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing. If you want to go to McDonalds for dinner, that’s where we’ll go.”

She made a sharp squeal of excitement as the bathroom door opened and her mother appeared in a cloud of steam, wrapped in a towel, and drying her hair with a smaller towel.

Her voice muffled by the towel, she said, “Just let me get dressed, Hattie, and I’ll start dinner.”

“You don’t have to, Mama!” Hattie crowed excitedly. “Mr. Stone is taking us to McDonalds for dinner!”

Claire froze and pulled the towel from her head. She stared through the tangles of wet hair at him, her gaze dropping to the Hulk glass he held in one large hand.
“Wh-what are you doing here?” she whispered.

“Hello, Ms. Brooks.”

“He came to talk to you, Mama. And he’s going to take us for dinner!” Hattie bounced up and down on the couch. “I’m going to have nuggets and French fries and an ice cream cone!”

“I – what?” Claire said.

“Ms. Brooks,” Deacon stood up from the couch and took a few steps toward her, “I wanted to speak with you about something important. I told Hattie I would take you out for dinner if that’s okay with you?”

“Please, Mama, please!” Hattie said. “We haven’t gone to McDonalds in forever!”

“Um, sure, okay,” Claire said faintly. She started forward and Deacon cleared his throat.

“Perhaps you should get dressed first, Ms. Brooks.” His gaze dropped to her cleavage and then her pale legs and she stared blankly at herself before twitching wildly.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry. Please, excuse me.” She disappeared into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

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