Take Me Home for Christmas

Whiskey Creek - 5


Brenda Novak

To Sandra Standley and her mother, Diane.

I think you two have read every book I’ve ever written. Thanks for your tremendous enthusiasm and support!

Dear Reader,

I’ve had many of you request Ted and Sophia’s story—so I’m excited to see it published, especially at Christmas because Christmas is such a perfect time for forgiveness, and that’s what Sophia longs for. If you’ve read the rest of the books in this series, you already know that she needed to learn a few lessons. Fortunately, they were nothing that the school of hard knocks couldn’t teach her. By the time I finished this story I admired her as much as (or even more than) all the other characters in Whiskey Creek, even the ones who’ve lived exemplary lives. I hope you’ll agree as you come to know her and her situation better.

I am often asked if my Whiskey Creek books can be read as stand-alone stories or if they need to be read in order. The answer to that question is, yes, they can be read alone and should be just as enjoyable. So dive in and meet the group of friends who’ve made Whiskey Creek “The Heart of Gold Country.”

Please visit my website at www.brendanovak.com for more information about this book and all the others I’ve written (I think I’m getting close to forty-five, although it’s been a while since I’ve counted). If you’re all caught up on Whiskey Creek, you might be interested in trying my other small-town series (with a total of eight books) set in the fictional town of Dundee, Idaho, until Come Home to Me (Aaron and Presley’s story) is released in April 2014.

At my website you can also drop me an email, enter my many giveaways and participate in my annual online auction for diabetes research. So far, we’ve managed to raise nearly $2 million to help those (like my son) who have diabetes.



WHISKEY CREEK Cast of Characters

Major Characters

Cheyenne Christensen: Helps Eve Harmon run Little Mary’s B and B (formerly the Gold Nugget). Married to Dylan Amos, who owns Amos Auto Body.

Gail DeMarco: Owns a public relations firm in L.A. Married to movie star Simon O’Neal.

Ted Dixon: Bestselling thriller writer.

Eve Harmon: Manages Little Mary’s B and B, which is owned by her family.

Kyle Houseman: Owns a solar panel business. Formerly married to Noelle Arnold.

Baxter North: Stockbroker in San Francisco.

Noah Rackham: Professional cyclist. Owns Crank It Up bike shop. Married to Adelaide Davies, chef and manager of Just Like Mom’s restaurant, owned by her grandmother.

Riley Stinson: Contractor.

Callie Vanetta: Photographer. Married to Levi McCloud/Pendleton, veteran of Afghanistan.

Other Recurring Characters

The Amos Brothers: Dylan, Aaron (who was in a relationship with Presley), Rodney, Grady and Mack.

Olivia Arnold: Kyle Houseman’s true love but married to Brandon Lucero, Kyle’s stepbrother.

Presley Christensen: Cheyenne’s sister.

Sophia DeBussi: Jilted Ted Dixon to marry Skip DeBussi, investment guru and richest man in town.

Joe DeMarco: Gail DeMarco’s older brother, owns the Whiskey Creek Gas-n-Go.

Phoenix Fuller: In prison. Mother of Jacob Stinson, who is being raised by his father, Riley.


Sophia DeBussi’s husband was gone. As in...disappeared. Nowhere to be found. At ninety feet, the Legacy was a sizable yacht—Skip never bought anything except the very best—but not so sizable that a full-grown man could easily be overlooked. The six-member crew had just helped Sophia and her thirteen-year-old daughter scour every inch of the boat.

Other than his cell phone, which he wasn’t answering, Skip’s things were where they should be, but he was not.

Holding back her long hair, Sophia squinted against the sunshine glinting off the water, trying to see the coast of Brazil a few miles to starboard. Could her husband have gone for an early-morning swim and somehow reached land?

That was a possibility, but it was a remote one. Why would he go off on his own? It was too windy to enjoy the beach today. And although he traveled all over the world for business, she’d never heard of him meeting anyone in Rio de Janeiro.

Besides, he’d planned this trip for their thirteenth anniversary because he wanted to spend quality time as a family. She couldn’t imagine he was working, not when this vacation was supposed to be about starting over, about saving their troubled marriage. He’d said he wouldn’t take one call. If he’d made that promise just to her, maybe she wouldn’t have relied on it. He’d said such things before and hadn’t followed through. But he’d also promised their daughter, and he and Alexa were very close.

So...where was he?

Sophia gazed down at the water itself. Had he fallen overboard and drowned in the choppy Atlantic?

That thought led to a surge of relief. It was macabre to wish anyone dead, but only if Skip was gone for good would she ever escape him. She’d lived with him long enough to know he’d never willingly let her go. He’d said as much.

The moment Alexa came to the railing to stand beside her, guilt replaced the relief she’d been feeling. Her poor daughter might have lost her father. How could she be happy about that?

“What happened, Mom?” Lexi asked, her big blue eyes filling with tears.

Sophia put an arm around her child’s thin shoulders. “I don’t know, sweetheart.” She kept going over the past twenty-four hours in her mind, but could point to nothing out of the ordinary. Skip had gone to bed with her

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