by Aidee Ladnier
Publisher: Aidee Ladnier Books
Editor: Kris Jacen
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
For Ethan and Nico, a broken millefiori ornament is more than a few shards of glass−it’s a chance at finding love at Christmas.
Ethan Carson wants to treat his mother to the perfect Christmas while she’s visiting over the holidays. He’s spent all his savings on presents and bought an enormous tree that takes up half his living room. But when he starts to trim the tree with the family heirloom decorations, he finds her favorite ornament, the one his late father bought on their honeymoon, is broken.
Glassblower Nico Kazan doesn’t celebrate Christmas—unless you count trying to sell the art glass in his gallery to holiday shoppers. When Ethan, the object of his secret crush, asks him to recreate a broken Murano ball, he knows it will take more than his skill and time. He’ll risk his heart to give Ethan back a symbol of love and family for Christmas.
On the Christmas card, two fluffy Persian cats sporting felt antlers stared at Ethan in disgust. Behind them a miniature sleigh sat empty. A thought balloon rose above one cat with the words, “Pull your own sleigh, fat man.” Ha. Ethan tried to smother the chuckle, but it escaped.
“Are you laughing at your Cousin Emmylou’s lumbago?” His mom’s disapproving question snapped Ethan back to the conversation on his phone. He shoved the card back in the rack and lined them up from where the last customer picked through them.
“What? No. What is lumbago, anyway?” His Cousin Emmylou always had some ailment discussed ad nauseam by the family. A pang of regret thrummed in his chest as Ethan realized he wouldn’t see Cousin Emmylou or any of the extended family this Christmas.
At least his mom would be here to celebrate.
“It’s a three-dollar word for back pain.” Ethan’s mom sighed. “Last month it was impetigo. I swear that woman is a walking health hazard.”
“Well, you’ll get a week off from Cousin Emmylou. I’m looking forward to your visit, Mom.” And he was. His mom traveled little, and he wanted to pamper her this Christmas. He’d spent his cash, extra savings, and maxed out his puny credit card to buy spa day gift certificates, theatre tickets, and a special weekend stay at the Opryland hotel. He’d even sprung for passes to see his mom’s favorite performer in concert. He’d need to watch his budget through January to make sure he didn’t overdraw his checking account, but she deserved it. Christmas was always hard, now that Dad had passed. And with her move out of the family home this year… He wanted her new memories to be just as special.
“I can’t wait to spend quality time with my baby boy again.”
“Well, it will be a whole new experience to see Nashville at Christmas. Don’t forget to bring a warm coat.”
His mom’s laughter sparkled through the phone’s speaker. “No shorts for Christmas?”
“I’m hoping for snow.” Ethan chuckled at his mom’s exaggerated “brrr” noise in response.
“There’s something else I—” She began but movement beyond the coffee shop’s plate glass window caught his eye.
Ethan recognized the tall, delicious figure in purple lens sunglasses striding toward him. He interrupted her mid-sentence. “Oops. Gotta go, Mom. Love you.”
“Love you too, baby boy.”
Ethan rammed the phone back in his pocket and ducked behind the counter a minute before the bell over the door jingled.