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"So this is it then?" asked Rebecca as she rushed over to the back of Jordan's pickup truck and began unloading our cargo.

"This is it," I said with a grateful sigh. "Took long enough, but there's nothing left in the condo and it's all cleaned up for closing next week."

I had moved most of my things after putting in my two weeks notice immediately after we finished presenting our Christmas display. However, I wasn't sure what to do with a lot of my furniture and my work clothes that weren't really suitable for my new lifestyle. It was a long couple months sifting through everything, figuring out what I needed, and then selling or donating whatever I didn't need. It was a strain, going back and forth, but we hired on Rebecca to do what work she could when she wasn't busy with school and that helped alleviate some of the stress.

"How are the guests? Did you get all the rooms cleaned up?" asked Jordan after he hopped onto the bed of the truck to retrieve some of the heavier items in the back.

"They've all headed into town to get lunch and I finished up with the rooms about a half hour ago."

"Sorry, we weren't here sooner to help you," said Jordan as he wriggled a small armchair out from between two boxes. "Since we were driving down that way, I wanted to stop by the construction site and see how things were progressing."

"They're moving fast aren't they!" exclaimed Rebecca as she wheeled one of my suitcases over to the curb. "Last time I checked there was just a big hole in the ground and now there's framing three stories tall!"

"Well, they want to get done by ski season," said Jordan, hopping down and closing up the back of his truck. "And at this rate they may actually get it done. That's what happens when you got money to burn."

"Rebecca," I said, drawing our young employee's attention now that I saw a break in their conversation, "did you ever speak with your school about that internship credit?"

"Oh yeah, I heard from them this week. It's too late for credit this semester, but I'm approved for an internship this summer."

"Good, we'll need the help," I sighed. "With me still getting settled in and learning the ropes, we'll need all we can get. And then of course, once we rework the service hall and Gina's room into a master guest room, we'll have more people to take care of."

"When will that be getting done anyways?" asked Rebecca with innocent curiosity.

"I'm working on it," growled Jordan with a roll of his eyes.

"Swapping the laundry and storage rooms with the suite so that it's more accessible for guests is no small matter," I said to Rebecca as Jordan picked up a couple boxes and started heading for the guest house out on the lawn. "It will take awhile, but I have every confidence that Jordan will have it done in time to take advantage of the summer crowd."

"Oh that's good," said Rebecca, whose smile shifted into something mischievous as she watched me join up with Jordan to take my things to the apartment we now shared. "So, uh, do you think you'll ever be expanding your guest house too? In case there's ever more than the two of you?"

This time it was my turn to add a bit of a growl to my voice, though the smug smile I saw on Jordan's face caused the severity of my tone to falter. "I think perhaps it's time you go back inside Rebecca and get to work on setting up afternoon tea for the guests."

"Sure thing Lyn!" she said with a light laugh before turning for the porch. However, her words stopped my progress and I called after her.

"Hey Rebecca."

"Yeah," she said, bouncing on her heels as she turned to face me.

"It's Madelyn now, remember?"

"Right, sorry boss," she said with a crooked smile. "Good luck getting everything down to the house. I'll have tea ready for you once you're done."

She disappeared into the inn and I turned my attention back to my intended destination. However, Jordan wasn't following me, instead he hung back, watching me with an amused smile.

"Going all in, huh?" he said, hefting the boxes in his arms and shifting his weight.

"We've been over this," I said with a bow of my head to hide my blush. "Lyn is the woman my grandmother created out of fear and Maddie is an idealistic memory that Gina had. I'm neither of those people now. They're not who I want to be."

"Well, I think it suits you," he said, resuming his trek down the lawn. "I've always preferred Madelyn."

"I think I have too," I answered, biting my lower lip as I thought of my parents and wondered why they had chosen that name for me in the first place. It was something I'd never know the answer to, but I allowed myself the room to reflect on things like that more often now. My parents used to be specters of my past, ones that my grandmother did everything she could to make me forget so I could move on. But now, I looked to them for wisdom and strength.

"Do you..." I started, clearing my throat and shaking away the nerves, "do you think the town council would approve an expansion on the apartment some day?"

"I would think so," he said with a sly curve to his voice. I didn't look to see it, but I knew he was wearing a devilish smirk on his lips. "Although, you may have to call in some favors. I think some of the council members who weren't on the judging committee might still be sore about you winning grand prize in the Christmas competition even though it was your first time."

"Beginner's luck," I said, turning to share an impish grin with him. "We have time to earn back their support." Then, my expression softened and I looked to the door only a few steps away. "And I do expect it to take time, you know...but I think...I think someday I will want that."

"An expansion?" he asked, putting the boxes down on the steps and then relieving me of my load.

"Of sorts, I suppose," I said with a violent blush on my cheeks.

"You should take all the time in the world to be ready. You can't change over night." He placed my boxes on top of the ones he brought and with both our arms free, he pulled me into a tight embrace. "These things will take time, but you'll get there."

"I will, won't I?" I asked, looking up and brushing my lips against his scruffy chin. "I never thought it possible, but someday I think...I think I really will get to that point. I'll really want a family."

"Anything's possible, so long as you believe it is."

I answered his words by pressing my lips against his, melting fully into his arms and savoring the taste of the life his kiss promised. When we pulled apart, we both smiled into each other's eyes. In them we saw hope for a wonderful future. One that we knew would come with hardships and heartache. All good things do. But we'd make it so long as we took it day by day and embraced the present while it was still here.

Letting me go, he walked up the steps and opened the door.

"Welcome home Madelyn."


Thank you for reading Her Christmas Legacy!

If you enjoyed the book, please consider supporting the author by purchasing it on sylviangould.com or Amazon. You'll also get an exclusive extended epilogue! "Down the Aisle" catches up with Madelyn and Jordan almost two years after the epilogue.  Madelyn is in need of family and a friend from the city saves the day!

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