Coming Home (Snowy Ridge_ Love at Starlight, Book 1)

By: Kris Jett

Love at Starlight Series, Book 1

Chapter One

“You are so going down you little f-ers,” Jessie Foster hissed under her breath. She pulled the snow shovel far back over her head and jumped this time as she swung forward, missing again. “Damn it!”

Her mom had asked her to shoot out here and handle the monster icicles over the doorway to the Starlight Pub before they came down on any of their customers’ heads. She’d thought the job would be fast so she only wore her North Face fleece over her navy pub t-shirt and was now regretting the choice. She was freezing and her feet were getting wet from stomping around in the snow, waving a shovel around for the last ten minutes.

She pulled her right hand back behind her ear, shovel tight in her grip, and launched it through the air like a javelin, taking down three of the giant sharp swords of ice.

“Yes!” she yelled, shooting her arms up in a V for victory.

“You winning there, Jessie?” a voice said.

Jessie turned and forced a smile at the customers making their way up the porch toward her and the entrance. “I’m trying, Mrs. Anderson. How’re the trails today?”

“Friggin awesome,” Kyle, one of the Anderson’s fifteen-year old twins replied.

The family of four were suited in matching blue snowmobile suits and carrying their helmets in their arms. They had parked their snowmobiles at the end of the porch with the other patrons and they stomped their feet as they walked, shaking snow loose.

“You need some help there, Sweetie?” Mr. Anderson said, slurring on “Sweetie.”

Ugh, was he drinking already? He probably had a flask tucked into his coat. People weren’t supposed to drink while riding on the trails but some did anyway. They all ended up here drinking by the time dinner hit anyway, you’d think he could wait that long. His wife didn’t even shoot him a warning look. She was just as content as could be. Probably had a flask of wine tucked in her own pocket. Vacationers.

“No thanks, I’m about done here. Go on in and get a table near the fire if you can. I’ll be inside in a moment to help you,” Jessie told them. She involuntarily shivered when she mentioned the fire, wishing she was sitting by it herself right about now. It had to be ten degrees out here and her fingers were completely numb.

The sun was setting and the white twinkle lights that outlined the entire building and porch of the pub flipped on. The rest of the dinner crowd would be funneling in any moment and she had to get these icicles down. She watched the Andersons shuffle into the pub and the door close with a thud behind them.

“All right,” Jessie muttered. “If you won’t come to me, I’m going to come to you.” She climbed up a mountain of snow on the left side of the door, created from weeks of shoveling the walkway. She dug her feet into each side of the peak of the snow hill, trying to steady herself. There. She should be able to whap these icicles once and for all now.

She pulled the shovel back to the right and just as she is about to let loose at the icicles a familiar voice from the past said, “Be careful.”

Before she could catch herself, she let go of the shovel and felt her hands windmilling as she crashed backward off the hill and onto the ground.

“Damn,” she groaned. Jessie was seeing stars and it wasn’t dark enough for that yet so she closed her eyes. She mentally examined each body part, trying to decide if she was seriously injured anywhere. Nothing hurt too badly, except maybe her head. It was a little foggy. She could have sworn she’d heard a voice that didn’t belong in Snowy Ridge, North Wisconsin. At least not anymore. A voice she hadn’t heard in over six years. One that belonged on a man off saving a rainforest or protecting ocean wildlife in Green Peace. No, she was sure if she just kept her eyes closed then that voice that sounded so much like the one from her past would actually be just another customer, coming in for dinner, not…

“Jessie, are you all right? Open your eyes. Where do you hurt?” the voice said, now about three inches away, his warm breath on her face.

She breathed in. Jesus Christ. The guy was still wearing Old Spice after all of these years. Didn’t anyone ever tell him you can buy cologne outside of the Shop Rite now?