Rachelle runs a little wedding chapel on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Two years on the passenger liner haven’t helped her find peace from past mistakes. Ray brings his girlfriend on the Coderica’s grand cruise to Europe. When his plans to marry her in the little chapel go horribly wrong and the relationship fails, Ray and Rachelle are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Romance blossoms in Europe, culminating on Christmas Day. But the cruise ends and Rachelle isn’t sure she’s ready to leave the Coderica with Ray. Will the memory of their white Christmas kiss be strong enough to bring them together forever?
Kathy loves reading and writing even more. She homeschools her three kids, so in between unsuccessfully explaining the difference between subject and predicate or how to divide fractions, she enters an imaginary world of troubled and passionate characters whose stories take over the page. Kathy lives in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, where the summers are hot, the winters cool, and bugs thrive. Her first published novel, Wedding Gown Girl, came out in 2012 with Astraea Press. She belongs to the Romance Writers of South Africa Group (ROSA) which has been her greatest support and inspiration the last few years.
Christmas music filtered through the little chapel on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Rachelle ignored the loneliness evoked by the familiar songs. Memories of family Christmases wafted through her mind despite willing herself to forget. Not like she regretted her impulse to join the crew. She’d always wanted to visit Europe and had now seen it many times. The continent steeped in centuries of history still charmed her and wiped away the regret. Most of the time.
She’d begun her eighth cruise and second year on the ship. Her second Christmas away from her family. It was mostly during Christmas that she missed them.
The plush carpet of the chapel shone in the sparkly chandelier lighting. Pink padded walls looked garish yet romantic; gold trim embellished the benches, and silk flowers in an elaborate vase decorated the altar. Everything looked perfect and untouched. The cruise liner offered to facilitate weddings like a little Vegas chapel—the perfect cherry on top to a romantic cruise.
“I paid your way to get a top law degree, and you go on a ship to sign silly legal papers for weddings? You of all people, a runaway bride!” That was what she’d expected her father to say, but he hadn’t. Good thing her parents didn’t say much. Maybe they sensed how ashamed she felt of running away from Blake. And ashamed of how she’d treated Kienna, the wedding gown girl who’d told her not to marry her fiancé. Of course, they didn’t know how mean she’d been to Kienna. Only she knew. And Blake. And their friends.
Her cheeks turned hot with the memories. How could she have been such a witch? Her wounded pride had made her act vindictive and possessive, all for a man she didn’t even love. Kienna had helped her, not harmed her, even though Blake and she had ended up married six months later. She kept on telling that to herself, but really, how could she see Kienna as a friend and not a foe? The woman had gone behind her back and told Blake all her pre-wedding doubts. Yet, she’d done the right thing in the end. For all parties involved.
But she could never admit that to Kienna or even her family or friends. They didn’t need to know how mixed up she’d actually been.
She picked some lint off a chair and brushed the velvet with her hand so the texture would face one way. Argh! She was so bored. What to do?
She’d volunteered her services to the staff and guests all over the ship. Her office desk was full of legal documents—wills, inheritances, and property sales. Everything got done from her cramped little office on a ship. Who would have thought she could find so much legal work on a cruise liner?
This time of year, her work quietened down, though. No one wanted to think of life-changing decisions, only of Christmas with their families.
The door creaked oddly. She expected someone to walk in, but it merely swayed as if in a breeze. Curious, she walked to the carved wooden door and opened it. A male guest stepped back and gasped.
“Sorry,” he said.
“May I help you?”
He peered into the little room.
“You have a chapel on the ship? I was listening to the music, humming with the tunes. Are you a pastor?” His voice rumbled deep and had a certain tone that reminded her of something. What? The first note on her childhood xylophone?
Rachelle swallowed. “Not exactly. Do you need one?”
“No, just curious.”
“May I come in? I like your music.”
“Of course. Thanks.” She provided her usual pleasant smile for potential customers.