Bread and Promises: A Thornton Vermont Christmas Story

Previous: Part 8: Juliet

Part 9

Photo by Jill Heyer on Unsplash

Hamish should have been anticipating the ambush, but Kate was a professional. She sidled up to him while he was tending to the rye starter he was growing for her, handing him a mug of strong, sweet coffee and a eggnog muffin.

“Her parents died. She’s a little lost right now—and planning to move on after the new year. Tread lightly there.”

He blinked at her, arranging his face in what he hoped was a bland expression. “I’m sure I don’t know who you mean.”

Kate leaned her elbows on the counter, her eyebrow lifting along with one corner of her half smile. “After all these years, the tips of your ears still go red when you’re not being entirely truthful.”

“I know, Kate. She told me.” Over a very nice bottle of French dessert wine at a restaurant near the river, their table for two had been near the fireplace. They’d kissed in the frozen front garden, under a street lamp, Hamish feeling for all the world like he’d stumbled through a wardrobe.

“I like her.” Kate knocked her coffee back like whiskey. “She only got here a few weeks ago, and I know she’ll be gone by the end of the month, but she’s made a place for herself here in her own way. Maybe it’s the journalist in her, but she has an incredible sense of how people work.”

Juliet had made a place for herself in his heart, as well. “Maybe that’s why I like her, too.”

“You’re a bit of a heartbreaker, Munroe.”

“Pot and kettle, Katherine.” He drew her name out in a mangled French accent. 

“Yes, but I’m not the one who’s still having conversations with my dead wife while I think no one is listening.” She hugged him hard, then pulled away to cradle his face between her palms. “And before I forget, we’re having Christmas at the Damselfly, and of course we told Nan and Joss you were coming, too.”

He raised his mug to her as she retreated upstairs. “I wouldn’t miss it.”

It wasn’t as though he’d be spending it with Juliet, though he’d asked. As it turned out, her father’s family lived outside Montreal, which was only a few hours away, and she’d promised to make the trip for the family’s Christmas Eve celebration. She wouldn’t be home until the following evening.

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