A Chat with Katie O'Connor About Cupid's Christmas in Silver Creek with Bonus Excerpts
Welcome to prolific author Katie O'Connor!
Katie O’Connor lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She married her high school sweetheart and is living her happily ever after. She is the mother of two grown daughters and is extremely proud of her five grandchildren.
Katie’s career path has been long and twisted, with most of her life devoted to her family. She’s been a waitress, chambermaid, cashier, store manager, as well as a lab and X-ray Technician. She is an avid quilter and crafter. She finds inspiration and relaxation in the wilds of Alberta.
She’s dabbled in writing since high school because something drives her to create stories. She swears it’s impossible for her NOT to write. Unsatisfied with one genre, Katie writes contemporary romance, erotic romance, fantasy/paranormal romance and erotica. Recently, she’s crafted her first cozy mystery with the intention of publishing a cozy mystery series.
She believes in all things magical; including dragons, fairies, UFOs, ghosts, and house pixies. But most of all she believes in love, romance and hope.
The town of Rapture is Valentine’s Day crazy. It’s beyond anything Olivia Parker has ever seen or imagined. She’s out of money, has no job, and no place to live. At twenty-five, she’s way too old to move back home with her eleven siblings. Desperate, she takes the first job she’s offered, and lands in the middle of romance central. If it isn’t bad enough to be surrounded by Valentine’s paraphernalia, her landlord’s charm threatens to steal her heart and she’s vowed to stay single.
Max Reed is living a nearly perfect life. He’s got a wonderful family, and a great job as head of the local RCMP detachment. There’s only one thing missing; the woman of his dreams. Olivia Parker might just fit the bill nicely. Too bad she’s the Scrooge of romance.
With life and Valentine’s events pushing them together, it’s going to take everything Olivia has to protect herself from Max’s determined efforts to win her heart.
Liv glanced at her dashboard clock. It was pushing five in the afternoon. Unless her timing and mapping skills were off, she should be nearly at her destination. A broad grin stretched across her face. She could hardly wait to arrive!
A new town, a new start.
Life was on the upswing again and she was excited to meet it head on. This was going to be the best year of her life.
There it was. The highway sign. Rapture, 1 km. One kilometer to her destination. She rounded a gentle sloping curve and skidded her car to a halt on the highway approach. Belatedly, she glanced up at her rearview mirror. Thank heavens nobody was behind her; she could have caused an accident.
She stared at the “Welcome to Rapture” sign in disbelief. Fashioned from wrought iron, it towered twenty feet high, dwarfing the highway, her car, and everything in its vicinity. Even the massive spruce trees. That wasn’t the worst of it. It was decorated in, ugh, of all things, red hearts and white swirls. It looked like Cupid had vomited up a sign. Gross. She should have expected this, after all she was moving to Rapture. Who named a town Rapture? Crazy people, that’s who.
She hadn’t even hit town yet, and she was already regretting accepting her new position of veterinary assistant without visiting town first. Still, what choice did she have? It wasn’t like she had the money to travel around searching out every prospective town or village where she was offered a job. Not that there were many. After six months of unemployment, she’d had exactly one, yes, that’s right, one, interview and she’d snatched up the position almost before the kindly grey-haired veterinarian offered it to her on a video call.
She hadn’t even taken the time to research Rapture on the internet. If she had, the job would have been a no-go, even if it meant living on the street.
She snorted at her own hyperbole. Right, as if she’d have to live on the street. She’d move back home with her parents and all eleven of her siblings. At twenty-five, she was the oldest. Six girls, six boys. It was enough to make your head hurt. She’d left home at eighteen and returned only for seasonal visits and birthdays. Outside of holidays, she’d never spent a night there after gaining her freedom. She sure as heck wasn’t going to move back into the hotel like house she’d once called home. She could have sold her car, but it was the first big-ticket item she’d ever purchased herself. Luckily, she’d scrimped and saved, and didn’t have a loan for it. She’d managed to survive on her severance pay and dwindling savings, until now. She’d even gotten through Christmas, though the gifts she’d given were small, hand crafted items, created from supplies in her craft material stash, because money was running short.
A horn tooted behind her, jarring her from her reminiscences. She waved and lifted her foot from the brake and rolled forward into a pretty picnic area beyond the sign. The car passed by and when its tail lights faded from view, she turned her attention to the picnic area. Towering pines and spruce shaded the red shale pathways. In the distance, mountains towered over the trees. Snow capped, red and white picnic tables were circled with matching benches. Small fire-pits rested a safe distance from the tables and clear of the trees. Down a well-shoveled path, she noticed a small, tightly shuttered confectionary which was probably only open during the summer. The path wandered past the building to an unknown destination. This would be a great place for a family picnic. Of course, her family would fill the entire place. The air was fresh and brisk, it smelled of pine and fresh snow with just a hint of campfire. Gosh, she loved those scents, maybe this place wouldn’t be all bad.
Slipping her eight month old Ford Explorer SUV into park, she hopped out and stretched her back. The icy wind cut through her thin sweater, stealing every degree of warmth her car had generated. Darn, in the car’s heat, she’d almost forgotten it was the end of January. Well, except for the snow-covered ditches and icy patches on the highways.
Overall, the two-day trip hadn’t been overly onerous. Rapture, Alberta was a good thirteen hours from Regina, Saskatchewan, and winter roads had tripled the time required to travel the distance. She was done. Baked. Exhausted. Plus, she was starved. The first order of business would be food and then locating her new apartment.
The deep masculine voice came out of nowhere and Liv whirled round to face the speaker.
“Um. Hi.” She squinted into the fading sunset at the tall man ambling her way.
“Everything all right?” he asked kindly.
“Yes. I’m fine.” She yanked open her car door and stepped behind it, ready to leap inside and shut him out. “Just leaving. Thanks.” Why had she added thanks? What she did was no business of his. His ready smile and attractive grin made her nervous.
He took three steps forward and stopped, mittened hands raised slightly, something rope-like hanging from his left hand. “Sorry if I frightened you. We don’t get many people stopping here this time of year, especially on New Year’s Day. I was passing by and thought I’d make sure you were okay.” He shifted left, bringing his face into the dimming daylight. His smile was soft and easy. An orange and red striped toque fashioned to hang low, down to his shoulder, ended with an enormous pompom and concealed his hair. The hat matched his mittens and scarf. He looked almost fashionable. He wore a bulky black jacket with a logo she couldn’t quite make out on the sleeve.
“Thanks. I’m fine.” She glanced around. There were no other vehicles in sight. Why was he here wandering around at the edge of town by the highway?
“I’m out for a walk,” he offered, as if reading her mind. “My dog ran away.” He waggled the leash he aloft and slowly lowered his hands.
“Oh.” True or not, the words didn’t offer much reassurance. It was time to get out of here. “Thanks for stopping. I’ll be going now. Dinner calls.” Great. Why had she gone and told him her plans? She must be more tired than she realized.
“Check out Penny’s on Seventh Avenue. She makes the best chicken stew and chili on the planet. You won’t be disappointed. And, if you see Rex, he’s a scrawny, underfed, Rottweiler, please leave a message for me with Penny. Enjoy your dinner.”
“Have a nice day. If I see your dog, I’ll let you know.” Shut up Liv. Just because the man was
good looking with dark, enticing eyes, it didn’t mean you had to have a
conversation with him. Hunger and exhaustion were dragging her down, stealing
her common sense. She needed to eat, find her apartment and get some much-needed
sleep or she’d be useless on her first day of work. She slid back into her SUV,
slammed the door, and backed out of the picnic area. She would have preferred
to start later, but the position started tomorrow and she’d agreed to be there,
despite having to travel on New Year’s
She’d always believed that you started a new year the way you wanted to continue it. What better way than preparing to make a great impression at a new job? New year, new town, new life. She was ready for this.
Currently this book is only available on Amazon.
BONUS!! KEEP READING!!
CHRISTMAS IN SILVER CREEK
Hailey Masters returns to her hometown to mend her broken heart and move on with her life. Finding her family’s business in tatters and her parents’ marriage on shaky ground due to the actions of their former friend, Hailey embarks on a plan to save the business and ensure her family’s future happiness.
Jesse Phillips considers himself a community outcast and is reluctant to interact with people any more than necessary. When his childhood friend returns to town, he is thrust into Hailey’s life and forced to relive memories of his embarrassing past. Despite his total disdain for everything holiday related, Jesse pitches in to help with Hailey’s plans for a year-round Christmas store. Until his mother threatens to ruin everything.
Excerpt: CHRISTMAS IN SILVER CREEK
Hailey clenched her fists, raised her head and shoulders, and two-fist punched the roof of her broken down SUV. Time to suck it up and admit defeat. She’d trek the last block to Two Angels Gifts—in a minute.
“Deep breaths, Hailey.” Time for some calming yoga breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Nope, not going to cut it, not even close. She needed to go for a run to unwind. A long, slow, run; after about two miles of sprinting. A mega workout to burn off some stress as well as the cheesecake she planned on binge eating tonight. Right after she mustered the guts to climb out of this broken-down wreck of a vehicle, stretch her aching back and face her family.
Her heart jumped into her throat and she lurched sideways in her seat to stare at the side window.
“What?” she blurted. A scruffy, blond, bearded man, in a dirty, plaid flannel work shirt, stood beside the vehicle, a questioning look on his face.
“Miss, are you okay?” His voice was muffled by the glass and her radio, but still clear.
She shut off the radio and rolled the window down half an inch.
“Thanks, I’m good.” Not that she’d admit otherwise to a stranger.
“Your engine is overheating. Don’t shut it down before it cools or she’ll boil over.”
“So, my dad told me. Thanks though.”
His brows bunched together at her abrupt response. She winced, it wasn’t like her to be rude, let alone rude to someone she didn’t know.
“Sorry, bad day. Bad week.” To her disgust, tears dripped from her eyes. She slapped them away and forced a smile. “Thanks for your concern.”
“Bad day, bad week, then your car breaks down, adding insult to injury; it has to suck.” His facial hair twitched around his mouth, like he was smiling.
Boy, this man was the master of the understatement for the month, maybe the entire year. He had it right on the money. “I’m fine. Almost home.”
“If you’re certain…” He frowned. At least she thought he did. It was hard to tell under the scruff of his beard.
She nodded. Why didn’t he just go away and leave her to her misery? “I’m fine. Thanks.”
Great, she was so bushed she could only muster three words. Twelve hours nonstop in the car did numb the body and the mind. A wiser person would have taken two days to make the trip, especially on winter roads, and she’d passed through more than a couple snow storms, shaking her nerves and rattling her calm. Would she ever feel calm again?
“Okay then.” He sounded anything but certain. He gave her another long look and ambled away.
She watched him go, strangely reluctant to see him leave. He strolled toward Beth’s Beans, her high school bestie’s coffee shop. Beth had stayed in Silver Creek after high school. Hailey had scooted off to university as fast as she could, only coming home on vacations and to announce her engagement.
Her would-be Samaritan pulled the shop door open, holding it wide while a harried mother pushed her stroller outside and urged three preschoolers to hurry out. She paused to chat with him, patted his arm and rushed away. The man stepped inside; the door whooshed shut behind his muscular shoulders. Idly, Hailey thought he must do physical labor to build such a solid frame.
With a head shake, she checked the temperature gauge. Still too hot to shut down. Double edged sword. She didn’t feel like sitting here, her body ached too badly. But neither did she want to face her parents.
She watched people come and go, some meandering, others racing past. Five minutes later, he exited the store, a small white bag and two takeout cups in his hands. He grinned at her. Or was that a grimace? He stepped closer and she recognized small laugh lines at the corner of his electric blue eyes. A smile then.
“Here’s a coffee for you, Hailey.” He offered her a cup. “And an everything bagel with plain cream cheese.”
Her mouth dropped open. She snapped it closed and squinted at him. Beneath the scruff he was vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place him.
“Cream and two sugars. Just the way Beth says you like it. She also said she’s annoyed you didn’t tell her you were coming.” He flashed a smile. “I didn’t mention the U-Haul.” He winked. “Though she can probably see it through the window.”
A warm flash rolled through her. Attraction? No. Maybe.
That was it. She wasn’t attracted to him; she was grateful for his concern. After her tedious journey and flight from her ex’s duplicity, this guy’s concern was heartwarming.
“I’m sorry. Do I know you?” She asked after a long moment of staring rudely at him. Exhaustion had stolen her manners somewhere around the Canada-U.S. border.
After a moment, recognition arrived. He had his mother’s eyes; except his weren’t bloodshot from drinking. “Oh, hi,” she responded lamely, unable to hide her surprise at not recognizing a former friend and neighbor. How could she have missed seeing his identity?
His eyes went flat and expressionless. He gestured with the coffee. “Take it, and the bagel. You look like you need them. Then, I’ll leave you alone.” His tone was icy.
Currently this book is only available on Amazon and free to read in Kindle Unlimited.