It Started at Christmas

Gallant Lake Stories #2

She was hired to design his house.

Instead she created a home.

Interior designer Amanda Lowery can turn Blake Randall’s crumbling castle into a Gallant Lake showplace. But helping the real estate mogul with his guarded heart and his troubled, orphaned nephew? A much bigger challenge. With demons in her own past, Amanda yearns to help them both heal. But will she find the family and safety she’s craved…or become a Christmas casualty in Blake’s latest business plan?

Other Books in the Series


After dinner, Blake leaned against the doorway to the living room. Amanda and Zachary were on the sofa together, watching a very loud movie about cars that transformed into alien robots. There was a bowl of popcorn between them, and they were giggling as they snuggled under a soft wool blanket.

Andy was right—Amanda had pierced his well-worn armor somehow. Torn down his carefully-built wall. Thoroughly trashed his No-Surprises Lifestyle. His goals had swung sharply from business success at all costs to keeping her happy and safe every day of her life.

His stomach twisted. Relationships had always been a losing proposition for him. They were never worth the energy invested. Sure, people tossed around the L-word like it meant something, but he’d learned differently time and time again. Why even pretend it was real? Look at the disastrous track record his family had in relationships. It was like they were cursed.

That old argument, the one he’d been clinging to for so long, suddenly sounded hollow. It was different with Amanda. There was a glimmer of something inside of him that had simply never existed until she came waltzing into his house. Was it hope?

Zach threw a piece of popcorn at Amanda and she caught it in her mouth, making the boy laugh. Tiffany’s little boy. Zachary was Blake’s chance to do things right. To make up for the way he let his sister down. It was too late for him to save Tiffany, but it wasn’t too late for Zach. The kid had his mother’s sense of humor. Her laugh. Her heart. He’d taken care of Amanda while Blake was halfway around the world being a jackass.

Warmth blossomed inside of him, as if he could actually feel his heart growing. He thought of that Christmas cartoon character whose heart grew so much with love that it burst right out of his chest. Yeah, this woman had done something to him, all right. It was a mind-boggling turn of events. He’d teased her earlier about remodeling him along with the house, and in truth, she’d done just that.

She looked up and saw him standing there, then smiled and tilted her head questioningly. He pushed away from the wall and walked over, sitting on the floor in front of her and Zach. He handed her one of the wineglasses he’d been carrying. She massaged the top of this head absently with her fingertips as the good robots started defeating the bad robots on screen. He leaned his head back against her knee and sighed.

This is what love felt like. He was in love with her. He was in love with the woman who challenged him and changed him and made him whole. He was in love with Amanda Lowery.

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