Tanya Michaels

Mistletoe Baby

The first book in the 4 Seasons in Mistletoe series, 2008

Dear Reader,

In 2007, I created the town of Mistletoe, Georgia, for a Harlequin American Christmas novella and I loved the setting and characters so much that I knew I had to return! (Luckily, my editor agreed.) Many of you wrote to ask if there would be more Mistletoe stories and the answer is a resounding yes: four, as a matter of fact! One for each season.

First up is the winter tale of David and Rachel Waide, a husband and wife who love each other deeply but have lost their way, due in part to the emotional toll of infertility struggles. The last thing they want to do is upset their loved ones at Christmas with news of a separation, especially when David’s brother is about to get married. The entire Waide family is busy with wedding preparations. So David and Rachel agree to put on a happy face until the end of December. Amid the magical holiday season and poignant reminders of what matrimony means, can they rediscover what drew them together in the first place and maybe discover brand new gifts as well?

Watch for the next book, Mistletoe Cinderella, to be out April 2009! You can learn about all four stories at my Web site, www.TanyaMichaels.com.

Happy reading & enjoy your stay,


This holiday story about marriage-

one couple preparing to join their lives

while another couple rediscovers their love-is

dedicated to real-life married couple Jane and Eric,

aka The Mims Who Saved Christmas. Thank you so

much for everything you’ve both done, for always

picking up the phone no matter the hour, for always

having a kitchen stocked full of comfort food, and

for always laughing at the right moments.

Chapter One

It was the worst basketball game in Waide brother history-even including the one when David, at fourteen, had been showing off for a cute neighborhood girl and ended up with stitches. At least he’d sunk the layup before taking the trip to the emergency room, not to mention going on the subsequent movie date and having his first real kiss.

Given David and Tanner’s combined performance this December afternoon, however, a team from Whiteberry Elementary could probably take them. David’s shots kept going wild. He knew he was throwing with too much force, taking repressed anger out on a ball that had never hurt anyone.

“This is getting humiliating,” he called as Tanner jogged after the ball for the rebound.

“Getting?” His younger brother smirked. “Then you haven’t been paying attention for the past hour. The irony is how hard you’re trying. Last time I saw a guy push himself like that was Dylan Echols when he was up for a baseball scholarship. But you’re not a high school athlete, you’re a middle-aged store manager.”

“Thirty-one is not middle age,” David retorted. “And it’s not like you’re doing any better. You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”

Tanner grinned, unfazed. “Guess my mind’s on my beautiful bride-to-be.”

David rolled his eyes, but they both knew he was happy for his brother. Ecstatic even. Definitely not jealous.

“So we know my excuse,” Tanner continued. “You want to tell me what’s eating you?”

No. He and Rachel had agreed not to break the bad news until after the holidays, after the wedding. Maybe by then, it wouldn’t even be necessary. Their problems could be nothing more than a temporary aberration brought on by Rachel’s medication and mood swings. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“You sure? I could pay you back for all that great advice you used to give me.”

“Great advice you consistently ignored.”

Growing up, there’d been an unspoken friction between David-the oldest sibling, high school valedictorian and heir apparent at the family store-and Tanner-the restless rebel who couldn’t seem to win their dad’s approval. With time and distance, the two brothers had matured and their stern father had mellowed. Last winter, when Tanner had moved back to Mistletoe, family peace had been restored. At the same time, Tanner had rekindled his relationship with high school sweetheart Lilah Baum. On December 28, the two would finally marry.

When his brother didn’t start dribbling, David straightened. “We done?”

“Not unless your ego can’t take it anymore.” Tanner checked his watch. “I need to clean up before I meet Lilah for dinner, but she and the girls should still be at the fitting.”

David looked away; one of those “girls” included his wife. Amidst all of Tanner and Lilah’s nuptial preparations, David couldn’t help being reminded of his own wedding. How excited he’d been, how in love. He’d known from the moment he’d seen Rachel Nietermyer that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He swallowed hard.

“Can I get your opinion on something?” Tanner asked.

Only if it has nothing to do with marriage or women in general. David’s own first year of marriage had been blissful. If he could go back now, what advice would he give himself? What could he have done differently? He’d worked to give Rachel everything she needed. Of course, the one thing she’d truly wanted hadn’t been within his power.

“I might not be your best bet for wisdom,” David said. “Maybe you should talk to Dad or Mom.”

Zachariah and Susan Waide were informal experts on relationships; they’d been together nearly forty years. No Waide David knew of had ever been divorced.

Tanner laughed, the carefree sound of a confident man in love. “It’s not a huge crisis requiring the big guns. I glanced at one of Lilah’s magazines, and some bridal checklists mentioned a wedding present. I’m stymied. We’re getting married three days after Christmas. Is she going to expect something even bigger than her Christmas gifts? If I get her something too extravagant and she gets me a small token, am I going to embarrass her?”

“Seriously? These are the things you worry about?”

“Stupid, right?” Lowering his gaze, Tanner bounced the ball against the concrete. “But this is Lilah. I’ve screwed up in the past. She deserves…I want everything to be perfect.”

Remembering various anniversaries, Christmases and birthdays, David sighed. “No, it’s not stupid.” Still, perfect was a tall order.

He kept his skepticism to himself. What did he know? Maybe Lilah and Tanner would find their own version of perfect. Perhaps in marriage, the erstwhile prodigal son would succeed where the overachieving problem-solver was currently failing.

RACHEL WAIDE suspected that the best way to survive emotional trauma-separating from your husband, just

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