Saturday Excerpt: A Stonecreek Christmas Reunion by Michelle Major
Celebrate the holiday season with Michelle Major and the final book in the Maggie & Griffin series! Michelle wrote a wonderful blog post earlier this week about creating the series’ main couple, which you can read here before you check out the conclusion to such a wonderful love story!
The conclusion of Maggie & Griffin’s trilogy
Mayor Maggie Spencer is too busy prepping Stonecreek for its holiday spectacular to pine over lost love Griffin Stone. Until he returns—this time with a son! Griffin couldn’t say no to becoming the boy’s guardian. Neither can he say goodbye to Maggie. As Christmas nears, there’s only one thing he wants to say to his first and only love: “Forever.”
Maggie Spencer surveyed the work taking place in the town square, a mix of confidence and anxiety spiraling through her. Her small town of Stonecreek, Oregon, was about to be thrust into the national spot- light.
Or at least the social media spotlight. LiveSoft, a wildly successful software and mobile app development company, was searching for a new location for its company headquarters. The over-the-top lifestyle in Los Angeles, their current location, clashed with the app’s branding and corporate culture. LiveSoft was all about using technology to slow down and simplify life. LA wasn’t a great place for that.
So in conjunction with a request for proposals, the company had launched a marketing campaign during which its social media followers would help determine which Pacific Northwest city would be the best fit for a company move.
As Stonecreek’s recently reelected mayor, Maggie was determined to make sure her town was chosen and had been working around the clock since the election to that end. Stonecreek had arrived late to the proverbial party, finding out about the proposal deadline only a week before submissions were due. But she’d been thrilled to learn just before Thanksgiving that her town had been short-listed by the company’s CEO.
And why not? Stonecreek was only an hour south of Portland and she liked to think the community boasted the potential workforce, opportunity for growth and work-life balance LiveSoft had outlined in their preferences. The company was best known for its mobile app that claimed to “balance internal life with the outer world.” Of course, she had yet to download the app herself, but it was on her to-do list along with a million other items.
“We’ve already added two dozen extra strands.” Jacob Snow, head of the town’s maintenance department, had been coordinating the town’s holiday dec- orations for the past two weeks. “At this rate you’re going to be able to see this place from the moon.”
“There’s no such thing as too festive,” Maggie told him.
“You ever seen that National Lampoon Christmas movie?” Jacob asked with a soft chuckle. “I feel like Clark Griswold out here.”
Maggie frowned, looking around at all the activity with fresh eyes. The entire town square was draped with lights while a huge, elaborately decorated fir tree stood in the center of the park waiting for tonight’s tree-lighting ceremony. An almost fifteen-foot tall menorah had been given pride of place in front of the main archway into the square, ready to be lit on each of Chanukah’s eight nights. Wreaths had been draped over every lamppost and nearly life- size nutcrackers lined the main path. In addition to a makeshift stable that had been built to house the nativity-scene animals, there was a display of Santa riding his sleigh, complete with reindeer painted by the high school’s art department, and all the planters situated through the park burst with oversize ornaments and colorful dreidels.
“Oh, my.” She clasped a hand to her chest when her heart started beating out of control. “Is it too much? Our theme is winter wonderland. I don’t want it to be gaudy. Are we trying too hard? It has to look effortless, like the holidays in a TV movie. Charming and quaint, not over-the-top. Should we take down some of the lights? What about the live manger? I knew those goats would cause trouble.”
Jacob stared at her for several seconds then climbed down from the ladder. He’d been working for the town since Maggie was a girl, hired when her grandmother had been mayor.
He’d never married and rarely dated as far as Maggie knew. In fact, Jacob Snow was a bit of a mystery, keeping the town running smoothly but rarely participating in the myriad of festivals and fairs that delineated the seasons in Stonecreek throughout the year. Other than his silver-white hair, he looked very much like he had twenty years ago when Maggie first met him.
“Slow down. It will be beautiful,” he said, awkwardly patting her shoulder like he knew she needed comfort but wasn’t sure how to offer it. “Like it always is.”
“This year is different,” Maggie whispered. “It matters more.”
“Because of that new company thinking of com- ing here?” He reached for another strand of lights.
She nodded. “LiveSoft is one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the region. It would mean new jobs and increased tax revenue for the town. We could fund programs for impacted kids in the school district. Some of those maintenance requests you’ve put in would be approved.”
“Like a new snowplow?” he suggested with a wink.
“Exactly.” She drew in a slow breath. “I’m freaking out.”
Jacob smiled. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“There’s no reason for me to freak out, right?”
“None at all.”
“But there’s so much I want to do for Stonecreek. Now that I’m mayor—”
“You’ve been the mayor for two years,” he reminded her. “You were reelected by a landslide last month.”
She sighed. “Yes, but it feels different now. I feel like the town elected me and not Vivian Spencer’s granddaughter. It changes everything.”
Maggie had finally stepped out from behind the long shadow her grandmother cast. The Spencers had been one of Stonecreek’s most powerful families since the town was founded in the mid–eighteen hundreds. But Maggie’s grandma had taken their leadership to a whole new level. As soon as Grammy married into the family, she’d made it her mission to ensure the Spencer name was synonymous with Stonecreek.
Grammy had been the biggest force in Maggie’s life, especially after she’d stepped in to help when Maggie’s mother died eleven years ago. Maggie owed Grammy so much—they all did—but she also wanted a chance to make her own mark on the town. She loved this community.
Although she’d won the election, the months lead- ing up to it had been tumultuous to say the least. Her opponent had been Jason Stone, cousin of her ex- fiancé Trevor who she’d left at the altar last spring when she’d discovered he’d been cheating on her.
As if that didn’t complicate things enough, she’d then fallen for Trevor’s brother Griffin, the black- sheep of the Stone family, who’d returned to town to work on the vineyard the family owned and operated outside town. When Griffin broke her heart a little over a month ago, it had made her question everything.