Tanya Michaels

Mistletoe Mommy

The third book in the 4 Seasons in Mistletoe series, 2009

Dear Reader,

I grew up surrounded by a lot of happy chaos-relatives visiting, friends in and out of the house and pets underfoot. (At one point we owned three dogs, two cats and a ferret, all of whom played together.) An adult now with kids of my own, I am definitely carrying on the chaotic tradition.

In Mistletoe Mommy I bring that tradition to Mistletoe, Georgia. Brenna Pierce is a pet sitter who thinks the biggest complication in her life is a broken-down car-until Dr. Adam Varner and his three children roll into town for summer vacation! Trying to get her self-owned business up and running, Brenna doesn’t have time for romance. And Adam certainly isn’t looking for a relationship. He already has his hands full trying to bond with a teenage son, surly “tween” daughter and a little girl obsessed with getting a cat for her fifth birthday. Yet, amid the chaos of animals and kids, Brenna and Adam discover love and something that feels remarkably like family.

This is my third book in the 4 SEASONS IN MISTLETOE miniseries, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve loved writing them! Watch for the series conclusion, Mistletoe Hero, in October 2009.

Wishing you only the happiest chaos,


This book is dedicated to the caring and

hardworking ladies of

Koala T. Care Pet Sitting and Dog Walking.

Chapter One

The day Brenna Pierce was having would be enough to drive any woman crazy. Which, in Brenna’s case, would actually be an improvement, because at least she would be driving somewhere.

Instead, she paced alongside a curvy stretch of blacktop in the pounding late-June heat. Her stepfather had raised her to believe that swearing was vulgar, but now, sweaty and exasperated, Brenna mentally chanted a stream of four-letter words, running them together in an all-purpose Uber-Curse. Coincidentally, loan was a four-letter word-and something she might have to apply for soon.

She’d been praying her ancient hatchback would make it through this summer, but the faded green car appeared to be on its last legs. Er, tires.

Her cell phone wasn’t currently working, either. No bars here. Maybe she’d unintentionally discovered Mistletoe, Georgia’s answer to the Bermuda Triangle, a magnolia-lined stretch of asphalt where all things mechanical sputtered and died. Investigating scientists could name it the Brenna Straightaway.

To find a patch with better reception, she’d climbed out of the car. Her pacing hadn’t netted any results yet, but she couldn’t cover more than a few yards without taking along the vehicle’s occupant, Lady Evelyn. Wiping damp strands of coppery hair away from her face, Brenna glanced through the open window. Lady Evelyn, a Yorkshire terrier, sat in the back seat wearing her safety restraint harness as imperiously as though it were crown jewels. The Yorkie glared, unamused by first the lack of air-conditioning-fixing the A/C would cost more than the car was worth-and now the unscheduled stop.

At least Brenna had managed to almost coast to the shoulder. Though the vehicle wasn’t as out of the way as she would have liked, it also wasn’t in the middle of the road.

Reaching inside, she patted her canine companion on the head. “What do you say, Evelyn? Wanna get out and help me push?”

Beneath the pink bow holding up silky hair, the dog’s dark eyes seemed incredulous. Surely you jest. I’m a prizewinning purebred. I have ribbons. I don’t do manual labor.

Hearing doggie voices in her head couldn’t possibly be a good sign. I have got to get out of the heat. Even more importantly, Brenna had to reach Patch by three-thirty. Four o’clock at the latest.

Brenna grabbed the leash from the front seat. “Come on,” she said, unfastening Lady Evelyn’s safety harness. “Let’s go for a walk.”

If they were lucky, she’d get cell reception just up the road and reach someone who could drop everything to come give them a ride. Preferably someone with air-conditioning. They hadn’t gone far when a car came barreling over the hill. Brenna waved her arm.

As she squinted against the sunlight, she made out the people inside the oncoming vehicle: Rachel and David Waide. For a minute she didn’t think they were going to stop-odd, since the popular Mistletoe couple could usually be counted on to help anyone-but then David swerved to a haphazard halt just past her parked lemon. She scooped up Lady Evelyn and jogged toward the Waides.

David rolled down the window, his handsome face surprisingly pale in spite of a summer tan. “Brenna! Are you okay? We’re just on our way to take Dr. McDermott to the hospital.”

From the passenger seat, his very pregnant wife leaned over with a grin. “He means we’re on our way to meet Dr. McDermott. My water-Oh!”

David swung back to Rachel. “I lost track of how far apart they are. I’m supposed to be keeping track!”

“Doesn’t matter,” Rachel gasped. “Just drive.

He turned to Brenna. “If you need a lift, hop in, but we have to go straight to the hospital. Rach is in labor!”

Brenna nodded, hiding a smile. “I got that. You two run along.” They obviously didn’t have time to take her to Patch and were going in the opposite direction from where she needed to be.

David eased off the brake, the car beginning to roll as he asked, “What about you?”

Maybe he could call someone for her on his way? The Waide family owned a supply store not too far from here. Perhaps one of his siblings, Arianne or Tanner, could come get her. She hadn’t been planning to call them, but it would be easiest for David to dial a number he already had programmed into his phone.

“Could you-” She broke off at the sound of another automobile approaching. “Never mind. You take care of your wife. I’ll get help from the next Good Samaritan.”

Not waiting to be told twice, David pulled away.

“Good luck,” Brenna called after them. Then she focused on the brown SUV coming into view, gesturing with her free hand.

The car slowed and veered off the road. She saw two males in the front-one considerably younger than the other-and tops of heads that indicated shorter passengers in the back. She recognized neither the vehicle nor the inhabitants.

Still carrying the Yorkshire terrier, hardly an armful at five and a half pounds, Brenna neared the driver’s side. A dark-haired man rolled down his window. She’d never passed him in town; he was someone she would have remembered. His face was perhaps the most geometrically perfect she’d ever seen-symmetrical features, strong

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