Today’s little something extra comes from my upcoming addition to the Dickens Universe, SASHA’S SECRET SANTA, which releases into the Dickens-loving universe on 11.7.2022.
After a terrifying incident derails Sasha Charles’ career and confidence, she moves back to her hometown of Dickens to heal, reorganize, and start over.
The only problem? The paralyzing panic attacks that plague her whenever she thinks about going back to nursing. Sasha is mentally, and emotionally stuck, and has no idea how to move forward.
Steve Caldwell is the new Director of Services at Dickens Memorial Hospital. After witnessing her save the life of a local resident in Dorrit’s Diner, he knows Sasha would be perfect for the new trauma center he’s planning. When she refuses his job offer outright, he sets out to change her mind.
But Sasha has thick, protective walls erected around her so Steve must first break through them. With patience and kindness, he does. As the two grow closer, each begin to have second thoughts on what their futures should look like, until idle, small town gossip threatens to derail their budding relationship.
With the imminent arrival of Christmas, will Steve be able to convince Sasha he has her best interests at heart?
Thinking of her compelled him back to the diner. It was lunchtime after all, and a man had to eat. Especially one who’d skipped breakfast so he could get in a fast run at the gym before starting his work day.
The moment he came through the doors he spotted her. The lunch crowd was brisk, every stool at the counter in use and not one booth empty. Luckily, he was the only one waiting, so when he spotted a couple leaving one of the back booths and Sasha quickly moving to bus it, he shot to it.
“Almost done,” she said without lifting her attention from the task of wiping down the table.
Steve slid out of his coat, tossed it carelessly on the seat, and then settled himself in. When Sasha finished her task she pulled her order book from her back jeans pocket, popped it open and finally made eye contact with him as she said, “What can I get—you.”
It took all of his willpower to stifle the wince from her greeting.
“Hey,” he said, inserting as much warmth into the word as he could.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. It didn’t take a body language expert to read the suspicion and caution galloping across her lovely face. Shoulders squared and locked, back straight as a plank, her entire body looked poised to bolt. Chin raised, eyes squinting, she was the polar opposite of happy to see him.
“Hopefully, getting some lunch,” he said. “I’m starving. I missed breakfast and it’s been a heck of a morning.”
Some of the distrust eased from her shoulders. Some, not all, proven when she asked, “And you just happened to pick my station to sit at?”
He smiled and picked up the menu she’d dropped on the table. “I won’t lie. I hoped I’d be at one of your tables. And as luck would have it…” He lifted his hand in a what-can-you-do gesture. “Here we are.”
Pursing her lips, she shook her head, then glanced down at her order book with a sigh. Pencil poised she asked, “So. What’ll it be?”
After he rattled off his order she left him with the promise to bring his coffee right out.
He watched her move to the counter, place his order, then grab the coffee carafe from the back counter, a cup and saucer with it. She tossed a few creamers onto the saucer and brought everything back to him.
As she filled the cup she avoided any kind of eye contact. Steve figured she was embarrassed about how she’d bolted from him in the store. Should he say something about it? Ask her if she was okay?
Feeling indecisive wasn’t an emotion he usually experienced. In his normal dealings with people, his natural confidence and self-assurance proved beneficial. Not with Sasha, though. He worried anything he might say would have her running away again.
After she’d finished pouring, she placed his cup back down and without looking at him, said, “I’ll bring your order out as soon as it’s ready.”
She moved to another table before he could thank her.
With her other customers she was decidedly different than with him. She smiled; established eye contact; joked. He’d give anything if he could figure out a way to get her to act that way with him.
Hope that whet your holiday book reading interest!! You can preorder the book now, here: AMAZON
just in time to read it or gift it for the holiday season!!
Enjoy your day, peeps ~ Peg
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