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Seaside Christmas by Stacy Claflin
He can’t stand her. She thinks he’s crazy. Will their feelings stay etched in permanent ink?
Cruz Hunter has always stuck out in his small hometown. Now that he’s covered in tattoos, the residents peg him as even more of an outcast. It seems like the whole world is against his dream of opening a local tattoo parlor.
When he finally finds the perfect place for his new business, Cruz discovers a pastor and his daughter have already bought it. The only thing more irritating than the change in his plan is Talia, a beautiful and feisty argument in a dress. Cruz would like nothing more than to have her out of his life and his mind, but for some reason, she’s the only thing he can think about.
If Cruz and Talia can stop arguing long enough, opposites may do much more than attract.
The snow glistened in the sun and crunched under Cruz Hunter’s boots as he walked toward the building that would soon be his.
“It’s perfect, yo.” He turned to Jake, his younger brother. “Wait until you see it up close.” This road had yet to be treated, so they had to park and walk a block.
Jake tightened his scarf. “Almost looks like a church.”
“It was—a long time ago. Then it was a restaurant before being abandoned.”
“It’s going to take some work.” Jake squinted.
“Not too much, dude.” Nothing was going to crush Cruz’s enthusiasm today. The old, brown building with peeling paint and weather-worn wood paneling was going to be his—just as soon as he signed the papers. “Mostly just the outside. It’s gonna be perfect for my tattoo parlor.”
“Well, you know I’ll help as much as I can.” Jake didn’t sound convinced.
“Don’t judge it ‘til you see the inside.” Cruz pulled up a leather sleeve and scratched his newest tattoo, the feet of a dragon which was part of a much larger work going up most of his arm.
“I won’t,” Jake promised.
Cruz’s pulse raced with each step as they neared the building. There wasn’t a person alive who could convince him it wasn’t the most beautiful building in existence. He’d wanted to open his tat shop for as long as he could remember, and with Kittle Falls being such a small town, it had taken a lot of work to convince the town council to even consider giving him permission to open a shop. They finally conceded when he found a property at the edge of town where no tourist would ever accidentally stumble upon it.
“It looks pretty cool,” Jake said. “How are we going to see inside?”
“Windows, man. Ever heard of ‘em?” Cruz laughed and gave his brother a playful shove.
“You mean those fancy glass things some buildings have?” Jake joked.
They finally reached the property line. Cruz took a deep breath, taking in the sight. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
Cruz stared at the solid structure. “You see hard work and a building as aged as old man Kittle himself—”
“Who’s long been dead,” Jake added.
“But I see opportunity. A dream fulfilled.” Cruz stared at the building a moment longer. “You ready to see her up close?”
“That’s why I’m here.”
Cruz took a step forward, but froze when the front door opened.
“Ghosts?” Jake asked.
Cruz held his breath, not sure of the answer. “Maybe it’s our lucky day,” Cruz said. “If the door’s unlocked, I can give you the grand tour.”
A slim, middle-aged man wearing black slacks and matching shiny shoes stepped out onto the porch. He appeared to be speaking to someone inside. A beautiful blonde about Cruz’s age, wearing a blue dress under a long, thick winter coat stepped out.
Jake turned to Cruz and arched an eyebrow. Cruz shook his head.
“What’s going on?” Jake whispered.
“I got nothin’.” Cruz took a deep breath of the chilled early-December air.
“Building inspectors?” Jake asked.
“Maybe.” Cruz frowned, watching the duo. They acted like they owned the place.
Finally, the guy closed the door and locked it, stuffing the key into his jacket pocket.
Cruz exchanged a worried glance with his brother as irritation set in. Something wasn’t right. He stepped forward, meeting the two of them at the bottom step.
“Greetings,” said the man. He smiled warmly at Cruz.
Cruz didn’t respond.
“Are you a neighbor?” asked the girl.
“You could say that,” Cruz said. “Who are you?”
The man smiled and held out his hand. “My name’s Pastor Allen Tisdale, and this is my daughter, Talia.”
She smiled sweetly and extended her hand, also.
Cruz flicked his head in acknowledgment, but ignored their extended hands. “What are you doing here?”
Jake stepped forward, taking Allen’s hand. “Excuse my brother. I’m Jake Hunter, and he’s Cruz. You must be new to Kittle Falls. Welcome.”
“Thank you,” Allen said. “Talia and I have bought this building. I understand it was a restaurant for a decade or so, but we’re going to restore it to a church.”
Cruz stared at him, unable to find words. That was probably a good thing, considering the words he would have chosen.
Meet the Hunter brothers of Kittle Falls…
The Seaside Hunters novels are a series of contemporary sweet romances. They’re set in the beach town of Kittle Falls, following the Hunter brothers as they make their way back to their hometown and find the loves they couldn’t elsewhere. Each book is a standalone.
Author Stacy Claflin
I don’t stick to a single genre in my writing, reading, or viewing. My favorite shows include Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Lost Girl, Vampire Diaries, and Once Upon a Time.
I’ve been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my story telling would get me into trouble because I would try to convince others that my stories were real.
When I’m not busy writing, I like spending time with my family and friends. I also educate my kids from home.
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