The Christmas Baby

By: Lisa Carter
Mistletoe Mommy

Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever?





“There’s something else you can keep me from.” Ryan grinned.

Anna rested her hand on top of her basketball-size stomach. “What’s that?”

“You can keep me from another Friday night of eating alone.” He winked at her. “Dinner will give us a chance to catch up. Our Christmas reunion        . A lot has happened since we last saw each other.”

“No kidding.” Her gaze fell to the wooden steps. “I’m sorry about your dad, Ryan.” She dropped her hand to her side. “Mateo was going through chemo and…”

“We lost touch. No problem. So…dinner?”

Her lashes feathered her skin. “I never could say no to you.”

Which wasn’t how he remembered high school. Though more often than not, he hadn’t given her a chance to say no. He’d been too scared to ask Anna to prom or on a date. He’d reckoned it best to be content being best friends. But how many times had he secretly wished for more…







Now before the Feast of the Passover,

Jesus knew that His hour had come that

He would depart out of this world to the Father,

having loved His own who were in the world,

He loved them to the end.

—John 13:1





This book is dedicated to my late uncle, Hugh Adams.

You are missed. Thank you for sharing your family

with me. I will always treasure the memories of

fun, golf and barbecue chicken.

But most of all, thank you for Christmas.






CHAPTER ONE

His footsteps echoing, Ryan Savage walked the first grader from the cafeteria toward the media center. The dismissal bell had released the rest of the students to buses and to car pool thirty minutes ago.

Oscar’s hand slipped into Ryan’s. “Mister Sabbage?” The child barely spoke above a whisper.

Biting back a smile, Ryan paused in the school corridor. “What is it, Oscar? Are you still hungry?”

Eligible students enrolled in the after-school tutoring program received a healthy snack. For some of them, it was the only food they’d receive until returning to school the next morning for a nutritious breakfast.

Small for his age, the little boy shook his head. “I jus’ wonnered if the new teacher in our group was as nice as Miz Thompson. I’m gonna miss her.”

There was something endearing about the child, which tugged at Ryan’s heart. “Perhaps Mrs. Thompson will return to school after she has her baby. But I think you’ll like the teacher who is taking her place.”

“What’s her name?”

“Mrs. Reyes is an old friend of mine.” Ryan smiled. “In fact, we became best friends when we were in first grade like you.”

This was Anna’s first day of teaching at the small elementary school outside Kiptohanock, Virginia, where they’d grown up. He was looking forward to seeing her again, but an unexpected nervousness opened in the pit of his stomach. Which was ridiculous. He wasn’t the gangly teenager who once had feelings for Anna Pruitt.

Oscar’s eyes widened. “You were in first grade like me?”

Ryan rolled his tongue in his cheek. “Hard to believe, I know. But true.”

Oscar shook his head as if he wasn’t quite sure he should believe Ryan. “Is she pwetty?”

Ryan pushed his glasses farther along the bridge of his nose. “I think so. You’ll have to tell me what you think.”

Oscar nodded. “We better go see.”

Anna was probably already inside the media center waiting with the other two students who would make up their group in the after-school enrichment program.

Pressing through the doors, Ryan steered Oscar past other clumps of students and supervising adults. The intervention teams were composed of teachers, professional counselors and trained community volunteers.

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