Today we welcome RJ Scott and her Holiday story
Angel In A Book Shop
What happens when a broken man has to trust in the impossible?
Chapter One, an antique book shop is the last tangible thing Josh and his mom have left of his dad. Nestled in a quiet square a few steps from London's St Pauls Cathedral, it is boarded up with whitewashed windows and no new stock.
The place is a sad reminder of loss and it has to go, but destroying a business that has been in his family for generations is not a role Josh is looking forward to.
Michael is the owner of Arts Desire, the shop next door. With his rainbow pride mugs and his sunny positive outlook he is the complete opposite to what Joshua thinks he needs in his life.
But, when Josh and Michael become friends, Josh learns that finding true love starts with making big decisions, and that everyone deserves their own Christmas miracle sometimes.
Michael leaned his elbows on the counter and rested his head on his hands. The pose seemed so at odds with the shirt and tie. There was a playfulness in the way he relaxed in his kingdom. “You’re so welcome,” he said with a smile. “I have a huge espresso machine in the back. You want me to show you?”
“You made the coffee?”
“Come see.” Michael straightened and Josh didn’t argue. He followed Michael through a curtain of glittery butterflies hanging on delicate threads in a waterfall of colour. The room behind the shop space reminded Josh of the kitchen in Chapter One, small and cramped. But there was a big difference here. In the book shop the kitchen was a hovel, with a small fridge, a kettle, coffee sachets and a flickering bulb. Michael’s had evidently been upgraded when part of it was a café. The coffee machine was all highly polished chrome with a multitude of knobs and dials, and teetering in a neat pile, all still wrapped in plastic, were the kind of cardboard drinks containers you would see any coffee drinker clutching as they dashed from Tube to work.
“Wow” was all he managed to say.
“I know, it’s cool. It was left by the owners before the owners before me. I use mugs generally.” He indicated the small sink that was set into a work surface on the other wall. “But I didn’t want to burden you with the washing up.”
That made sense, but also led to an unwelcome conclusion. “So there’s no coffee shop near here?” He couldn’t help the disappointed tone. Coffee meant cakes or pastries or paninis, and his stomach rumbled again as if to underscore its displeasure.
Michael frowned. “Yeah, if you go back to the main road and head down to St Paul’s, there’s the usual.”
“I’m not desperate enough to fight the crowds,” Josh said. He’d been hoping for a small café somewhere quiet.
“Are you hungry? Here.” Josh looked down at what he was being handed. Freshly wrapped sandwiches. Ham and mustard. “You can have these.”
“I can’t take your lunch.”
Michael jiggled another pack in front of Josh. “I have others,” he said. “I buy enough for two days normally.”
Josh’s polite gene kicked in and warred with his empty stomach, which had seen little more than coffee since six pm yesterday. Finally his stomach won and he nodded his thanks. “If you let me bring you some tomorrow.” He really felt like he could stand to have some kind of connection outside of the book shop in this small area, and Michael seemed like an okay kind of guy.
“Deal. Do you want a cuppa with that?” Michael was already at the kettle, filling it with water. “I can do coffee if you want?” He indicated the machine, but Josh shook his head. He’d had enough coffee for a while.
“That would be lovely.” Again with the lame, Josh. There was an amount of silence that edged on awkward and Josh cursed inwardly. He hated awkward silences. Then, inspired, he asked a question that was guaranteed to encourage a conversation to last at least as long as the kettle boiled. “So how long has this shop been here?” he asked. “I don’t remember Dad mentioning you.”
“Some time now,” Michael said, distracted by the kettle switching off. “How do you like your tea?”
“Milk, no sugar, thank you.”
Michael turned his back and busied himself with the tea, finally presenting Josh with a bright white mug filled to the brim with tea and emblazoned with a rainbow and the words Pride 2013. Then he indicated two chairs that Josh hadn’t even noticed were there, and the men sat. The kitchen wasn’t a big area for a man as tall and solidly built as Michael, let alone when you added Josh’s five ten frame, skinny though he was. Still, somehow they managed to place mugs and sandwiches on a surface and still have space to sit comfortably.
Josh felt pain tug at his temples, and he removed his glasses, placing them next to the mug.
Immediately Michael leaned forward. “Headache? I have pills.”
“No, I’m fine.” Please, no more pills. “Just, it’s dark next door, and I think I strained my eyes.” He was lying, but Michael couldn’t know that. Josh had become a very good liar in the last few months.
A special note from RJ:
On Christmas day we have turkey with all the trimmings. Roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, sausages wrapped in bacon, peas,carrots, stuffing balls, cranberry sauce, and bucking the trend a little we have Yorkshire puddings. This is one of my favourite meals of the year and there is no skimping on the turkey! My favourite roast potatoe recipe is by the frankly amazing Delia Smith! This year we are at my mums for Christmas Day so I don't cook, but I do get to tidy the kitchen afterwards! ROFL.
Cold Turkey and Gammon (Ham) with pickles is what we traditionally used to eat on what we call Boxing Day. This is the day after Christmas Day and is the time when you eat leftovers and spend time relaxing after Christmas.
After Eight Mints are squares of happiness. Dark chocolate over a thin mint. I am perfectly capable of eating these until they are gone.
Nuts in the shell were a luxury that only used to be in the shops at Christmas when I was little. Walnuts, Brazil Nuts, hazelnuts and the annual hunt for the damn nutcrackers. Nowadays you can pretty much pick up nuts in shells all year.
Prawn Cocktail was another luxury from childhood. Mum and Dad would buy a bag of prawns (small shrimp ish) and this would be a special starter before the turkey. Since I've got older I tend to give starters a miss leaves more room for the mains!
What are your favourite winter foods? Leave yours in the comments!
Angel in a Book Shop will be available at Love Lane Books, Amazon and AllRomance on 12 December, with other third parties shortly thereafter.
All buy links will be on RJ's Website when available.
As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.
With over sixty titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.
Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.
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