Christmas Town Novella 4
Christmas Town’s city attorney Lincoln Vasser suspects the multi-million-dollar lawsuit threatening the town is a fraud, but he needs help proving it. Private Investigator Jax Marshall comes highly recommended, but when Lincoln hires her he can’t quite figure out why. Her laid-back attitude, questionable work ethic, and apparent unconcern for the urgency of the case rub him the wrong way. It doesn't make sense for him to be attracted to her.
Jax Marshall knows that taking a case for the arrogant Lincoln Vasser is a mistake. But when he makes her an offer much more tempting than money, she agrees. She soon wishes she hadn’t. The guy is demanding and uptight, and, worst of all, he keeps trying to tell her how to do her job! He's almost completely unlikable. Almost.
One thing they can agree on is that happy ever afters are strictly for fairytales and Christmas Town myths. Finding a way to work together is difficult enough, admitting that they’re falling in love is going to take an extra little nudge from that very Christmas Town magic they don’t believe in.
“Hey, Lincoln. How’s it going? Talk about a bluebird day, huh?” Jax swept one arm up in a half-circle toward the sky. Lincoln followed her gaze, surprised to see that the sky was indeed an extra intense shade of blue. “And how delicious is this snow? I love to ski!”
Everything about her radiated joy and for a few seconds he vacillated between envy and annoyance. When was the last time anything had generated that kind of happiness inside of him? It didn’t matter was the response that took way too long to occur to him because he didn’t have time for such a superfluous emotion right now. This only served to heighten his irritation because how could she smile at a time like this much less gush about snow and skiing and the color of the sky?
“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
Dropping her chin, she gave her skis an obvious once-over before bringing her emerald-packed gaze back up to eye him curiously.
“Baking Christmas cookies,” she finally replied, light-hearted sarcasm infusing her tone. “Later, I’m cooking up a batch of fudge.”
He answered with his signature wilting glare before he realized that it was likely ineffective beneath the lenses of his goggles. He wrestled them from his face and settled them atop his helmet. “Funny,” he said flatly.
“Well, what’s it look like I’m doing? I’m skiing, same as you.”
“I’m here for a friend’s birthday party,” he explained tightly.
Tilting her head to one side, her mouth formed a half-grin as she studied him curiously.
“I mean, I have a good reason to be here instead of working.”
Expression dimming, she said, “Wait a sec, are you implying that I shouldn’t he here? That it’s okay for you to be skiing today because you have a good reason, which is a friend’s birthday party, but I should be working? How old are you, by the way, thirteen? Will there be a sleepover, too?”
Why had he said it that way and given her ammunition to mock him? He was the one used to doing the mocking. It was a habit he’d been trying to curtail since he’d taken the city attorney job. More to the point, since that stocking had come into his life and he’d bought into Kinley’s notion of fate and happiness and finding his purpose. What a bunch of drivel. He deserved her scorn. And he had implied exactly what she’d accused him of, which might be a little unfair on his part.
But still, why couldn’t she comprehend the significance of this case? He inhaled a deep breath, letting the ice-cold air melt this fiery affirmation while it was still unspoken. “I just meant, I thought we agreed you were going to give my case top priority.”
“That again…” Looking skyward, her sentence trailed off with words he couldn’t decipher. Muttering, she reached down and snagged her helmet from the ground and then settled it on her head with a slap of one palm. With deft fingers, she latched the chin strap. For a few seconds she seemed distracted by something over Lincoln’s shoulder. He glanced behind him, didn’t see anything, and turned to find her securing goggles over her eyes.
Pulling on her gloves, she said, “And I thought you understood that I can’t devote any more time to your case than I already am. It’s literally not possible.”
“Not when you’re spending the day skiing that’s for sure.”
She went on in the same bright tone, slipping her hands into the handles of her poles, “Look, Vasser, just because you’re paying me to do a job doesn’t mean you get to dictate how I do it. I promise you, I know what I’m doing. You’re an irritating control freak, are you aware of that?”
He ignored her question and asked one of his own, “What are you doing then? Because from where I’m standing I can’t see that it’s anything.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Her voice had a slight edge to it now and Lincoln was glad. Maybe he was finally getting through to her.
“What I mean is that you won’t answer your phone, you don’t call or text me back. You’re never at your office. Who has office hours at the crack of dawn and in the middle of the night, by the way?”
“You stopped by my office.”
“Wow,” he said drily. “You are a skilled detective.”
“I know,” she said, ignoring his sarcasm and adding a dose of her own. “I’m the best, and you’re very, very lucky to have me.”
“From what I can tell you’re never there. Because you’re shopping, skating, going to the tree lighting, looking at cats – whatever that means – and having lunch dates that include lingering over dessert. And now, here you are, skiing.”