It’s Christmas time, and Eriah Jameson has returned home to restart his family’s business. Due to his wild child past, no one is friendly or welcoming to Barrow Haven’s black sheep.
Aylin Myers lost her job when Eriah’s father took ill. She knows Eriah needs her help getting his business up and running again, but she doesn’t trust him. If he fails, she knows it will dishonor his father’s memory. And Aylin knows that at Christmas, it’s the right thing to help your fellow man—no matter how wretched he might be.
As Aylin gets to know Eriah, she sees a side of him Barrow Haven never saw. That perhaps the black sheep has changed for the better. Still, can she be sure this side of Eriah is real, and not just a facade he’s perfected over time to get his own way?
Eriah is the black sheep of his family. Always in trouble as a kid when he returns to his hometown it’s no wonder folks don’t want to talk to him let alone help him. He wants to reopen the family business that when his father died, died with him. The question is can the people of the town forgive him his past.
Aylin has a blossoming new business, making candles and scents both unique and personal. When he approaches her for help, she gives it with a stipulation. having had a run in with his girlfriend.
This is a favorite scene at the café after her run in with his girlfriend.
“Anyway, I hope to reopen the funeral home. I have my funeral director’s license now.”
What a surprise. Conversations with his late father seemed to imply Eriah rejected the idea of being involved with the family business, and had no interests outside of partying, and running through his trust fund.
“Well, good luck with it. A lot of people were sad to see it close when your father took ill.”
“I understand it put you out of work.”
She shrugged. “It put a few people out of work. I survived.”
“I’d like to offer you your job back.” She let out a chuckle, and broke her star cookie in two. She held out a half to him. It was Christmas after all, a time to love your fellow man, no matter how wretched.
“No thank you. I’m doing pretty well with my own little business.”
He took the cookie from her, his fingers grazing hers. “Please, Aylin, I need your help,” he said.
Her dark brows drew together? “My help? Why on earth would you need my help?”
“Because no one will help me!”
Heads turned in their direction, and Aylin wanted to crawl under the table.
He held up a hand, and visibly sighed. “I’m sorry. I called all of my father’s former employees. Everyone hung up immediately. One woman, Penny, was the only one who would speak to me.”
Penny had been the secretary at the funeral home. She was lucky to get a job at a beauty salon scheduling appointments after the home closed. “Everyone loved your father, Eriah. It was hard on us when he took ill, and the home eventually closed. I suppose everyone is still a little sad. Besides that, I believe everyone has found work of some type by now.” She ticked off a few feeble excuses. She didn’t say what she wanted to say, what he most likely dreaded to hear—no one liked him, or wanted to work for him.
“You’re being kind, Aylin. I appreciate that. I know no one likes me. I know I caused a lot of havoc in Barrow Haven. I just want to prove I’m not the same person I was when I left.”
So he did recognize the town’s dislike for him or maybe after all this time, just ambivalence. Her suspicion of him dropped a notch. Although she wasn’t quite sure if he was telling the truth, she wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. She looked directly at him. “What is it you want from me?”
“Penny tells me you were more than just a cleaner whose wet floor I trotted over. She said you were like a Jack- of-all-trades without a license.”
She tilted her head, and smiled at the memories. “That is true. I did a whole lot more than the state would have approved. It was all under your father’s supervision, though.”
“That’s why I need you. Listen, I know it’s Christmas, and you have your own life, and your own business, but if you could just help me. You know where everything is, and how to get things done. I haven’t lived in Barrow Haven for so long, I’m not sure where to even begin.”
She pushed her dark hair from her shoulder. “Oh, Eriah, I don’t know.” She wouldn’t allow herself to be guilted into helping him. Yet she knew it was his father’s wish that Eriah return some day, and take over the business. After all, he was fourth generation. Her resistance slipped another notch.
“Well, I’m pretty much set with my Christmas orders. I only need to deliver them before Christmas. I could help you for a while, I suppose. Don’t you have plans for the holiday?”
“Don’t you?” he countered.
“No, not really. I’ll be helping out at the church’s kitchen Christmas Eve, and in the afternoon Christmas Day, serving the homeless and less fortunate people. That’s it.”
“You don’t have a family?” he asked.
She really didn’t want to talk about this with him. She wrapped her hands around the coffee mug. “Not a soul.”
“Same with me. My mother has her second family in Hawaii. I’ll be spending my Christmas Day cleaning the funeral home, and taking inventory of what is there, and my night watching talk shows in the upstairs apartment.”
That surprised her. How could a guy with so many friends in his teens, suddenly have no one?
She looked again at his handsome face. It was full of hope. “I’ll tell you what. You promise to spend an hour or two serving dinner with me in the church’s basement on Christmas Day, I’ll help you get your business up and running. Besides, a little volunteer work will do you good, and it might just help you earn back a little good will and respect from the town.”
A wide smile crossed his face, the first smile she ever saw on him. He extended his hand across the table and grasped hers. “You have a deal, Aylin.”
Bates, Natalie-Nicole. Christmas with the Black Sheep (Kindle Locations 226-276). Books to Go Now. Kindle Edition.
A quick read with enough angst and drama to keep you turning the pages, and also to but a smile on your face.
I would have liked a bit more of the relationship before the skip to the next year but overall a fun read.
4 Contented Purrs for Natalie-Nicole!
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.