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Her Christmas Chance: A Christmas Creek Romance, #2
Her Christmas Chance: A Christmas Creek Romance, #2
Her Christmas Chance: A Christmas Creek Romance, #2
Ebook262 pages4 hours

Her Christmas Chance: A Christmas Creek Romance, #2

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About this ebook

Will her cat ruin her Christmas chance for love?

Bella Tallahan has always hidden behind her twin sister, Tally. She was born with cerebral palsy and even though she has finished college, she lives vicariously through her sister's adventures.

It worked, until her sister married writer Lucky Lenigan, and Bella developed a crush on Lucky's brother—a bad boy with a shady past.

Chance Martin made one mistake growing up—one that landed him in prison. After his release, he spends his days restoring antique furniture and his nights alone.

When Mr. Klutz, Bella's fat tabby cat, wreaks havoc in the furniture workshop, Chance confronts Bella and finds himself with a dilemma. He's not the right kind of guy for a woman with disabilities, but at the same time, he can't get her out of his mind.

Will the trail of destruction left by one naughty cat bring Bella her Christmas chance for love? Can Chance rise above his past and convince Bella that she is truly worth loving? Or will the secret he is keeping horrify Bella enough to send her back into hiding?


Christmas Creek romances are a fun way to get into the holiday spirit. They are sassy, standalone romances centered around a town which celebrates Christmas all year round. Each story has a happy ending and can be read in any order, but of course, they are more fun if read together.

Deck the Hearts, #1 Can Holly's jolly Christmas spirit help Grinchy Gordon Gills save the town of Christmas Creek?

Her Christmas Chance, #2 A woman with cerebral palsy and her tomcat disagree about the attractive ex-con living next door. Will a dose of Christmas magic reach through his dark secrets?

A Christmas Creek Carol, #3 A reclusive writer, Ebony Cruse, is given a one-star review on her life by characters in her past, present, and future.

Kitty, It's Cold Outside, #4 When mailman Mick Jolly delivers a kitten to an abandoned millhouse, he is ensnared by a beautiful Victorian woman caught in a Christmas curse.

A Christmas Creek Caper, #5 Someone's stealing packages off the Christmas Creek porches. Sheriff Brad Wing is on the case—until he's caught with his hands up and his pants down.

Toy Soldier Christmas, #6 Breast cancer survivor, Nutmeg Brown, finds a broken toy soldier under her Christmas tree. It's love at first sight with a wooden toy or is it?

Red's Christmas Woodsman, #7 When Ruby Red Rumsey visits her grandmother's Christmas Creek cottage, she finds a hunky woodsman asleep in her grandmother's bed.

Dashing Through Christmas, #8 Misty Jolly and Dash Weston play guessing games while rushing through a Christmas project with no help from Westie, a "talking" dog.

Dottie's Christmas Wish, #9 All Merry Jolly wants is to make Dr. Colton Dale smile. All his daughter, Dottie, wants is a dog. Will Christmas wishes come true for three lonely hearts?

Release dateMay 15, 2017
Her Christmas Chance: A Christmas Creek Romance, #2
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Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala is an award-winning USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope. Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, and A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers' Favorite Gold Award. Christmas Stray was awarded the 2016 Readers' Favorite Gold Award and A Pet for Christmas had an Honorable Mention. In 2017, Playing for the Save received the Readers' Favorite Gold Award for Realistic Fiction. Sign up for her NEWSLETTER to get a FREE surprise book and her latest book news! http://smarturl.it/RachAyala Visit her Reader's Guide at http://rachelleayala.net/books/ or contact her at http://smarturl.it/ContactRachelle Join her STREET TEAM https://www.facebook.com/groups/ClubRachelleAyala/

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    Book preview

    Her Christmas Chance - Rachelle Ayala

    Chapter 1

    Owww! Chance Martin put his hammer down and sucked on his finger. The month before Christmas was the busiest time of year at Lenigan’s Restorations, his stepfather’s furniture business. This year was even worse, thanks to his brother Lucky’s recent wedding interrupting the carefully dovetailed schedule.

    Taking aim, he whacked the last nail in place on a cedar chest lid, then moved on to the cracked veneered panels on a nineteenth century sideboard. The highly figured walnut fragments had to be fitted together like a puzzle to follow the natural grain of the wood.

    After everything was aligned with precise care, he stirred the pot of hide glue and prepared to painstakingly piece each fragment back onto the board.

    Yeow! A large orange cat leaped onto the sideboard, and with a swish of his tail, displaced all the cracked pieces onto the workshop floor.

    Chance dropped the glue pot, spilling the hot steamy mess over his workbench and lunged at the horrid critter. Out, out. Who left the door open?

    It was probably his forgetful brother, who was still hanging on cloud nine after his beach wedding and honeymoon. He was a writer and dabbled at woodworking—making toys instead of the serious stuff Chance worked on.

    The cat, aptly named Mr. Klutz, jumped across the workbench and landed in the sink where Chance was soaking the strands of cane he needed to re-cane a Chippendale chair.

    Drat you, cat. Chance chased the clumsy animal who splashed his way over to the varnish stand. Oh no! Oh, no, you don’t!

    Oh, yes, he did. The wretched creature belly-flopped all over a set of freshly varnished cabinet doors before scratching his way from the sticky mess, leaving wisps of fur and long claw marks over the Georgian-style china cabinet.

    Chance threw a shop towel at the tomcat who leaped onto a shelf full of custom colored varnishes stored in glass jars.

    Crash! The monster cat of the Garfield-weight-category sent every jar flying to the shop floor. The various shades of browns, oranges, and reds bled together amongst shards of broken glass.

    Chance rushed to open the shop windows to let the volatile fumes out, when the giant cat pounced onto his shoulders and launched himself with a squall out the window.

    Too bad his shop was on the first floor. The despicable pest landed on the soft bedding of redwood needles, which stuck to his sticky, matted fur. He turned and glared at Chance, his green eyes flaring before walking off with his tail held high, as if to say, I can eff with you anytime I want, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

    We’ll see about that. Chance shook his fist at the foul looking hole at the base of the cat’s tail. Next time I catch you, I’ll feed you to the crocodiles.

    Not that there were any crocodiles in Christmas Creek, a Northern California hamlet of redwoods and tiny streams which had at one time been a logging center until the timber industry collapsed in the late twentieth century.

    No crocodiles, but as Chance surveyed the mess in his shop, he had no choice but to confront Mr. Klutz’s owner. It didn’t matter that she was the sister of his brother’s new wife. Nor did it matter that she seemed to be afraid of him, hiding every time he happened to visit his brother and sister-in-law. Nope, it didn’t even matter that his stomach felt funny and his heart flopped like a fish out of water whenever he chanced to catch a glimpse of her with her golden brown hair and pretty, all-American looks. Most of all, it didn’t matter that she was disabled with cerebral palsy.

    She had no excuse not to watch over her trespassing cat. If she couldn’t handle him, she should send him to the shelter, and he’d be happy to take him there. It was time he gave her a piece of his mind, and he wasn’t going to be nice about it. Nope, not Chance Martin, former inmate at Folsom Prison outside of Sacramento. No one would ever mistake him for Mr. Nice Guy. Ever.

    Bella Tallahan swung her forearm crutch to open the front door of the small, one-story in-law cottage standing in the backyard of her sister and brother-in-law’s new home in Christmas Creek. In all her twenty-four years, she’d lived with her parents because she was afraid to venture away from them. But now that her twin sister, Tally, had her own home, Bella wanted to stretch her wings and have her own place, too. Living close to Tally and Lucky meant she had family around, but she also had her own roof over her head and privacy from her well-meaning parents.

    Her cerebral palsy was moderate and had made it hard for her to speak and walk, but other than that, she could take care of herself—do laundry, make her bed, and dress herself. She could even use a computer with the aid of a touch pad and eye-tracking module, and she had a college degree she earned online, which she parlayed into an online business.

    She also had two pets to take care of, a six-pound, fluffy Shih-Tzu poodle mix named Miss Kookie, and a twenty-two pound red tabby Maine Coon cat named Mr. Klutz, who was always out and about, prowling his neck of the woods.

    Kookie, Klutzie, you two little hooligans. It’s time for dinner, Bella shouted in her wobbly voice. A stranger might not have understood her uniquely pronounced speech, but her darlings knew exactly what she meant.

    Kookie came prancing through the door, shaking and wagging her entire rump as she pawed at Bella’s leg and jumped for petting and head rubs. Her silky silver fur was covered with twigs, burrs, and foxtails.

    Where’s old Mr. Klutz? Bella asked her frantic canine, who lived for affection. They had a fenced yard, but fences meant nothing to a cat, even one as overweight as Mr. Klutz.

    Yeeeowww! The orange-colored cat hopped from the gardening shed and trotted through the doorway. His once sleek fur stood up every which way, looking like a spikey gelled hairstyle and he, too, had twigs, fir needles, dirt, and burrs all over him.

    You two little rascals. Mommy’s going to have to give you a bath. Bella was about to slam the door when a voice shouted from the side of the yard.

    You there. Don’t hide from me. I know you’re in there. It was Chance Martin, Lucky’s half-brother—the best man at Tally and Lucky’s wedding, and horses of courses, Bella’s biggest and only crush.

    She slammed the door, then locked and bolted it for good measure. Chance Martin was all kinds of wrong for her. An ex-con, for goodness sake. Mean, gruff, and rude. The very opposite of domestic. Neither she nor Tally knew exactly what he’d done to serve the time he did, and no amount of internet snooping was able to provide the answers. Asking Lucky was out of the question. He and his father were close-lipped about Chance and not even Tally could get the details.

    Loud, splintering booms pounded on Bella’s door, jolting her back as she leaned against it. Instead of growling and barking, Miss Kookie cowered beside her with her tail tucked between her shaking legs. Mr. Klutz, however, was singularly disinterested. He sauntered off to his litter tray and yawned while doing his business.

    Will you open up in there? Chance’s deep voice set everything from her heartstrings to her crutches to vibrate mode. Your awful cat is a nuisance to this neighborhood, and if you don’t keep him locked inside your house, I’m going to catch him and take him to the pound.

    Why that no good, rotten jailbird. How dare he threaten Mr. Klutz? Bella took a deep breath, unbolted, unlocked, and opened the door.

    Dark brown hair raking over his eyes, square jaw set in a clench, broad shoulders and a fine ass, not to mention his surly heartbreaker lips were wasted on a man who hated cats.

    She pointed her crutch at the intruder, keeping him at crutch length. Get off my property.

    Somehow, her warbled speech didn’t have the effect she wanted. Instead of shouting in her face, the horrid man scratched his head and furrowed his brow.

    You’re inviting me to a party?

    Bella couldn’t shake her head fast enough, but all that did was make her dizzy. Was he making fun of her?

    No party. My property, she clarified.

    Fine. He crossed his arms in a way that made his biceps bulge. You keep your cat away from me, and I won’t darken your door. He ruined seven days of work at my workshop. If you can’t take care of your cat, you shouldn’t have one.

    Tears filled Bella’s eyes, but she was determined not to look weak in front of this monster who’d escorted her when she was maid of honor in her sister’s bridal party. Despite his good looks, he always looked suspicious, glancing over his shoulder and stalking around the neighborhood like he was up to no good.

    She poked his abdominals with her crutch. I’m taking care of them good and well, but I’m not locking up my pets. You should lock your workshop instead. If you can’t secure your workshop, you shouldn’t have one.

    Chance grabbed the end of the crutch and glared at her, his nostrils flaring. What was he going to do to her? Was he going to beat her up? Push her to the ground?

    Do me a favor, he said, eyeing her cat door. Tape that thing shut and we can avoid all of this.

    You don’t get to tell me what to do. Bella pushed her crutch, but it didn’t budge. The cat-door had been there when she moved in, and Mr. Klutz guarded it with ferocity, not letting the dog or anyone else near it.

    Miss Kookie shivered between her legs, while Mr. Klutz lay comfortably on the couch, taking a nap. Where was the Doberman guard dog when she needed one?

    With no Dobie, it was up to her to defend her turf. Bella mustered up all the aggression she could find and glared back at him. She gritted her teeth and snarled her lips. She, too, flared her nostrils.

    The standoff continued. One minute. Two minutes. Lips curled. Teeth exposed. Brows lowered. Muscles tensed. Nerves fired. Jaws clenched, and knuckles whitened.

    If her crutch were a machine gun, she would have unloaded the entire magazine into those sculpted eight-packs he was packing. How well she remembered those pre-wedding excursions to the beach and being paired with the best man in a two-man kayak—not that she did any of the paddling, since all she managed to do was knock paddles with him.

    He was never nice, and he didn’t speak much, but with Lucky and Tally around, he had at least appeared civilized. She’d laughed at his awkwardness when wearing his tuxedo, and he’d helped her across the sand and over the rocks during picture time, but that was before she moved in next door to him. Back then, he was a distant impossibility—a safe fantasy, a man to dream and make stories about.

    Now, he was the brute who wanted to send her cat to a kill shelter.