Chapter 2

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Anya's smile was starting to strain as it had stayed frozen in place for the last fifteen minutes but she didn't dare let it falter.

She had managed at last to get the Christensen family upstairs and into their rooms but it had taken a large amount of coaxing and reassurance, along with two mild apologies where Anya made sure she didn't take actual responsibility for the miscommunication.

That still landed firmly on their shoulders and Anya could tell Luke's father recognized his mistake as soon as Anya managed to explain the situation.

It had taken several moments to even get to that point. It took Gloria appearing as if out of thin air, dragging her little brother by the elbow into the kitchen and out of the middle of an already sticky situation. Anya didn't have a chance to shoot her a thankful glance as Mrs. Christensen was demanding exactly what was going on and how her son knew her name.

It took an expertly managed evasive answer on Luke's part to slide past that little fact and get his mother refocused on the real problem at hand. He didn't have Anya's name tag as an excuse as it was currently sitting on her bedroom dresser. Mrs. Christensen was talking down to Anya about their promised third room within seconds.

"The view's not the worst."

Luke's older sister was standing in front of the bay windows that look out onto the drive beneath their room and the extended landscape that stretched out beyond that. Anya knew this view to be the best in the entire inn, as they had requested the best rooms available.

The small town of Holly was visible, it's neat antique buildings and the old church spire creating a picturesque scene down in the valley below. It was Anya's favorite view in the whole inn but Luke's older sister seemed barely impressed.

His mother had taken to inspecting every inch of every surface in the room. She had finished in the one she shared with her husband and had migrated over to the one her children would be sharing.

Anya knew not a single speck of dust existed on the mantle of the fireplace but that didn't keep Mrs. Christensen from wiping a finger along its edge.

Anya caught her eye as she tried to rub imaginary dust from her fingertip. Mrs. Christensen covered up her scowl with a smile that matched the sincerity of Anya's.

Anya turned to Luke's older sister, who had come to join her mother, scowling as she looked over the room around her.

"Well, Mrs-"

"Please. Call me Jeanette. I can't be more than four years older than you. I don't want to spend my holiday feeling like a grandma."

Anya nodded to Jeanette's request, gliding past her interruption.

"Of course. Well, is there anything else I can assist you with?"

"When's lunch?"

All three men turned to look at Anya. It hadn't escaped Anya's noticed that not a single one of them had said anything, Luke's silence the loudest out of the three of them.

"Lunch will be served in forty-five minutes down in our in-house restaurant. Our chef has a special holiday menu prepared for the next three days. She's an excellent chef, having previously worked with-"

"Perfect. I'm starving."

Anya didn't even bother to expand upon Gloria's many notable achievements that made her one of the best chefs in the Northeast after Mrs. Christensen cut her off. Luke was the only even bothering to look in her general direction. The rest were slowly allowing themselves to settle in and Anya saw her chance to escape.

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