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       Cross Country Christmas: A Woodfalls Girls Novella, p.1

           Tiffany King
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Cross Country Christmas: A Woodfalls Girls Novella

  Cross Country Christmas

  A Woodfalls Girls Novella



  Cover by Okay Creations

  Cover Photo by Abby Blom

  Edited by Hollie Westring

  All rights reserved. Published by A.T. Publishing LLC

  Copyright © 2013 by Tiffany King

  License Notes

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.


  Thank you to my readers and friends who support me each and every day.

  And to my family who inspire me.

  Without you none of this is possible.

  Dreams Do Come True…Dream Big <3

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  About Author Tiffany


  The large roaring engines of the surrounding planes vibrated the Jetway beneath my feet. I wasn't the biggest fan of flying anyway, and the airlines didn't make it any easier. They funnel you down a narrow tunnel, through a narrow opening, down a narrow aisle, and then make you sit in a narrow seat where you have an elbow face-off with a stranger for a narrow armrest. I'm a fairly petite person and even I feel like a tightly wrapped sushi roll. My rolling suitcase that was stuffed with everything I would need for two weeks in Woodfalls bounced off the heels of my feet every time the woman in front of me stopped to pacify her screaming toddler. Yet another part of flying that had me regretting I didn't have a stiff drink at the airport Chili's before boarding. Don't get me wrong, I liked kids. Heck, I plan to have my own one day when I finally find Mr. Right. I say "one day" because so far, I haven't had the best luck in the dating arena, and now I was returning to Woodfalls for the holidays where the pickings were pretty slim. How I had allowed my mom and my cousin Tressa to talk me into returning home for Christmas was beyond me. I had sworn after the guilt-fest that ensued last year that I would take a year off from holidays in Woodfalls. Of course, my mom had pried her way through my defenses like she always did. She had a way of making it nearly impossible to say no. Next year, I would stick to my guns. Yeah, I'm as sure of that as I am that I'll win the lottery. It's not like I didn't love Woodfalls, or even my family for that matter. I'm just tired of returning as a single gal every year. Since I was a little girl, I've pictured myself marrying the perfect guy and raising our three kids—one girl and two boys—in Woodfalls. Growing up, my parents' marriage had been a measuring stick for me, and I knew that was the kind of relationship I wanted. I always assumed when I returned home from college it would be to settle down and start a family. At the rate I was going, I'd be returning to Woodfalls as a wrinkly old cat lady.

  As I continued to inch my way down the aisle of the plane, waiting for slow-moving passengers to stuff their oversized bags into the overhead compartments, I sighed with resigned acceptance that eventually I would reach my seat at the back of the plane. That's what I got for waiting until the last minute to book my flight. I could have driven, but that would only give my mom and aunt an excuse to try talking me into staying in Woodfalls longer. That was one of the downfalls of being a food blogger. My job could be done from anywhere, and my mom reminded me of that every chance she got.

  I finally spotted my row at the back of the plane. Go figure. The harried mom and screaming toddler ended up being in the row directly in front of mine. That seemed to be my relationship with karma. At least it was only an hour and a half flight. I guess I could survive for that long.

  Lifting my suitcase, I staggered slightly under its weight. Why couldn't I learn to pack lighter? I silently chastised myself.

  "Here, let me," a warm masculine voice said as he reached up over me to stow my suitcase effortlessly into the overhead compartment.

  Hmmm, strong is good. I thought, taking in the exposed forearms that were bracketing me on both sides. Maybe flying home wasn't the worse idea after all. Now, would he be as cute as he sounded?

  "Why, thank you," I drawled, twisting around so I could introduce myself to my rescuer. My throat closed in on me the moment our eyes met, making the end of my statement come out as more of a gasp. Cute wasn't the issue. In fact, he was downright handsome. The problem was the familiarity of the face staring back at me. Of all the craptastic luck.

  "Hello, Jams," he drawled back, observing my dismay with an amused expression.

  "It's Jamie," I replied through gritted teeth, claiming my seat, but not before I smacked my head on the overhang above me. "Mother of all suck," I yelped, grabbing my head.

  "Whoa, careful there," he chuckled loudly. "Remember, there are children nearby," he laughed as I let out a string of swear words that had the mother in the next row glaring at me between the seats.

  Damn, Grant. He seemed to have a knack for seeing me at my worst. I rubbed my throbbing forehead, wondering how things could get any more awkward. This is why I left Woodfalls in the first place. Finding a man who didn't know everything about me was a must. The small population of Woodfalls offered limited choices for a future husband, and because everyone in town knew each other, it didn't leave much to the imagination. Take Grant Johnson sitting next to me. He'd seen my panties way before it was acceptable. I was eight years old when an unfortunate upside-down hanging attempt on the monkey bars left my skirt over my head, revealing my day-of-the-week panties. For months after that Grant would ask me every day what day of the week it was. Go figure that would happen around him. It was devastating at the time, considering he was my very first crush. Not that I would have ever admitted that to him. The little jerk was relentless and even though he eventually forgot about the panties, he found many other things to tease me about. Like how I may have gotten a little overzealous while plucking my eyebrows when I was twelve. To say they were sparse would have been a pretty generous description. Only a couple of hairs were left over each of my eyes. That provided Grant with ammunition for weeks. I went home that first day in tears, vowing to never talk to him again. I even crossed out his name along with all the little hearts I had drawn in my diary. From that day forward, I pretended he no longer existed. At least my lack of response took the fun out of any future teasing and Grant moved on to messing with Amanda Halt. For years after that, I pretty much stayed off his radar, which I thought I was okay with until Grant and Amanda started dating freshman year. Then it felt like a kick in the gut. Sure, it was years later, but technically, I was the reason he noticed her in the first place. I felt like I should have had dibs or something. Realizing the insanity of my reasoning, I turned my sights to the other guys in t
own, but none of them sparked my interest like Grant had. It was finally during senior year, after the typical round robin method of teenage dating, I came to the conclusion that the guys in Woodfalls just didn't have what I was looking for. I knew all of them too well. It was like dating a relative or something. So, I left Woodfalls the first opportunity I got and vowed not to return until I had found the perfect guy for me.

  "How's the head, Jams?" Grant asked, sliding into the seat next to me.

  "It's fine," I lied. My head was throbbing like a tequila hangover. "What are you doing on this plane?" I asked ungraciously as he stretched out his long legs in the cramped space that airlines claimed was ample legroom.

  "Why, is this your plane?" he asked, looking amused.

  "Ha-ha, smart-ass. I meant, why aren't you in Woodfalls?"

  "Wait, this isn't Woodfalls?" he teased.

  "Hilarious. Are you ever serious?"

  "Not if I can help it. I was out of town for business. Man, how crazy is it that we end up on the same flight?" he threw back at me.

  "Yeah, crazy. Of all the planes in all the world," I said, tapping my foot nervously as the engines began to roar louder. The plane slowly backed away from our gate. This was by far the worst part of flying for me. Taxiing down the runway followed by the instant acceleration and the ascent into the air always makes my stomach drop to my ankles. I wanted to run down the aisle and flail at the door until they let me out, but instead I dug my nails into my thighs. Once we reached our cruising altitude, I would be fine. Continuing the death grip on my legs, I clamped my eyes closed and silently sang my favorite Mumford & Sons song in my head. It was a ritual that helped me cope with my nerves. Usually, by the time I hit the last line we were well into the sky.

  "You okay, Jams?" I faintly heard Grant ask. I was too busy singing in my head to give him any real acknowledgment. I merely nodded without opening my eyes and continued with my internal concert. I could feel my body reacting to the high revving engines. The worst part was upon us. We were putting our fate in the hands of someone we had never met. The plane picked up speed, pushing me back into my seat and I felt the tires lift off the tarmac.

  Grant reached for my hand, but I didn't have the willpower at the moment to jerk away. I just wanted us to get in the air. The song in my head was finishing its last chorus, and at any moment I could breathe again. Then maybe I would remove Grant's hand, which was resting on top of mine.

  The thought had no sooner filtered through my head when a sudden earth-shattering bump made our plane lurch forward. The seatbelt bit into my stomach as my body was thrown forward like I was a rag doll. Some of the overhead compartments flew open, sending bags shooting out. A poor old man in the aisle seat two rows up held his nose with blood dripping from behind his fingers after a small rolling suitcase dropped from the compartment across from him. Grant's hand dug into mine as he gripped the arm of the seat. Panic-filled screams echoed through the plane as we took a sudden nosedive toward the runway we had just left. The toddler in front of me shrieked. I wanted to join him, but I couldn't muster the breath from my lungs. The nose of the plane slammed hard against the tarmac and the deafening sound of metal grinding against asphalt overtook the screaming passengers. All my senses rose to a fever pitch. We were going to die. It was my worst fear. I was stuck in this metal death trap, about to meet death and I was still single. The plane continued to race down the runway as more luggage fell from the overhead compartments. Grant twisted his body to protect me from the falling debris. Eventually, the plane's momentum stalled and we finally shuttered to a stop. Gasps of pain by those who had been hit by flying luggage could be heard throughout the aircraft, but the sighs of relief that we were not going to die was much louder.

  Chapter 2

  A moment of silence settled over the plane as we ground to a stop. Even the crying baby in front of me seemed to take a breath. The fleeting moment quickly erupted to mayhem as passengers began standing. One of the two flight attendants tried to calm everyone, asking if anyone was seriously hurt or in need of medical attention.

  "Are you okay?" Grant asked, cupping my face in his hands so I would have to focus on his words. It was only at that moment that I realized I was shaking from head to toe. "We're okay," he said, removing an article of clothing that didn't belong to me from my lap. He tossed it in the aisle that was now slanting toward the front of the plane.

  I didn't answer as I spotted the wound on his forehead. I watched with morbid fascination as the blood trickled down his face in a slow stream. It began to pool on his shoulder, changing the light blue material of his shirt to more of a plum color. The crimson stain continued to grow as more blood collected there.

  "Jams, are you okay?" Grant repeated with concern clouding his voice. I finally pulled my eyes from his shoulder. I was surprised he seemed so concerned about me. He hardly looked in my direction the entire time we were in high school, and now suddenly he was looking at me like I was the most important person in the world to him.

  I wanted to nod my head, but at the moment, I was anything but okay. My head refused to move. I couldn't focus and everything around me looked like a kaleidoscope. I was only seeing fragments of what was really in front of me. I knew I should move. I wanted off this death trap, but I couldn't seem to will my body to make it happen. Things became hazy after that. Grant stopped asking if I was okay, and instead took matters into his own hands. I don't remember much about getting off the plane. One minute, I was buckled in my seat, and the next I was in some holding area in the airport with all the other passengers from the flight. Medical personnel were working and taking stock of various injuries from the accident. For the most part, everyone was okay except for a flight attendant who had suffered a broken leg and a concussion from a food cart that had gotten away.

  "Miss, do you need to go to the hospital?" a kind paramedic asked, breaking through the haze in my mind. He shined a light in my eyes to check my pupils. "Hey, can you hear me? Are you hurt?"

  It took me a moment to find my voice. "No, I'm fine," I answered. It came out as more of a croak. I cleared my throat and tried again as he wrapped my bicep to check my blood pressure.

  "Just relax while I check you over a little," he said.

  "I'm okay," I repeated, looking up at Grant, who was still hovering over me. His head now sported a bandage where they had treated his wound. I was surprised they weren't taking him in for stitches. "What about you?" I asked him, looking at the stark white bandage.

  "It was more superficial. No stitches necessary," he answered, looking relieved that I was no longer comatose. "Are you sure you don't need to go to the hospital?" he asked, looking to the paramedic for confirmation. "Do you think she's in shock?" Grant asked, like I wasn't there.

  "Probably a little, but her vitals are okay. Did she pass out?"

  "No, but she's been pretty foggy since the crash," Grant answered.

  "Well, her skin is not clammy and her breathing seems normal, but we can bring her in if you're concerned."

  "I'm fine," I answered, done with them acting like I was a child.

  The paramedic looked at Grant like my opinion didn't matter. I was tempted to kick him since he was still kneeling in front of me, but I figured that wouldn't help my case. Grant nodded hesitantly, even though he had no right to be making judgment calls on anything to do with my health or my body. I refrained from pointing that out since my brain was finally beginning to sort through what had happened.

  First, I thought I better call my mom to let her know. The last thing I needed was for the accident to make national news and for her to find out before I had a chance to call her. I reached for my purse to grab my phone, only to realize my purse was still stowed under the seat on the plane. "Damn," I said. Why didn't I grab it before we left the plane? My oversized purse had everything important in it—my phone, my wallet and my iPad. The thought of functioning without my stuff even for a moment filled me with a whole new sense of panic.

  I rose
to my feet, intending to find it. I swayed slightly from the sudden movement.

  "Whoa, where you going?" Grant asked, reaching a hand out to steady me.

  "My purse. I need it," I answered, not caring that I sounded like some junkie looking for her next fix. I wanted my purse, like NOW.

  "You'll have to wait. They said they'll be moving all the bags and luggage into a holding area as soon as the plane is safe enough," Grant said, plopping down on the seat I had just vacated. He stretched out his legs and yawned loudly like he had nothing better to do than wait.

  Now would have been a good time to have my purse since I had the urge to hit him upside the head with it. "Did they say how long it's going to be?" I asked, steadying myself with the arm of the chair.

  "Like a couple of hours, probably. What's your deal? Do you need to hit the john?" he asked as I did my "I'm dying without my phone" dance.

  "Still not funny. I happen to need my purse more than the average person," I stated, looking around for anyone who could help me. The airport staff were scattered about, but seemed to have more important duties than to retrieve lost purses at the moment.

  Grant's indifference swiftly changed to concern as he stood up to help me search. "I didn't realize you needed it that bad. Is it for health reasons or something? I should have grabbed it before we left the airplane," he said, spotting a flight attendant across the room. "Let me see if we can get you what you need," he threw over his shoulder as I watched him stride purposefully for help.

  Crap, he thought I needed medicine or something from my bag. Embarrassment flooded me. I should have called him back, but my desire to have my phone outweighed my remorsefulness. Besides, it wasn't my fault he had misunderstood me. I never said I had medicine in my purse. All I had said was I needed it more than the average person, which was technically true. My entire business was run by the electronic devices in my bag.

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