on October 26th 2017
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Photographer Rachel Prudhomme has finally settled in Ministry, Alabama. Sure, the pace is slower, and she's had her heart blessed more times than she can count, but putting down her roots where her family is feels right, if only the town’s new doctor and now neighbor weren’t so hot and constantly igniting her dreams. How can she keep her vow to steer clear of men when he keeps sauntering across her path?
For Dr. Nicholas Sullivan to get his dream job in Atlanta, he must fill in at Ministry General, where they're short staffed for the holidays. He never expects to fall for his beautiful next door neighbor, Rachel.
Soon, Nick and Rachael make a deal. They'll pretend to date so Rachael can avoid the scrutiny from her family to "find a good man" and Nick can avoid the single lovelies in town who take his short stay as a challenge. Amidst the carolers, Christmas lights, and an unlikely Alabama snowstorm, Nick and Rachel can't help but notice the powerful emotional and physical attraction between them. Will a Christmas miracle be all it takes to make all of their dreams come true?
Rachel Prudhomme absorbed more truth through the lens of her camera than words, true or not, could speak. Eyes didn’t lie. Expressions caught off guard didn’t lie.
The bride wore an exquisite white, off-the-shoulder beaded gown, and the groom, a sharply-tailored black tux. Their smiles were radiant. The wedding party smiled, and their families, despite a few obvious squabbles, smiled too. But something was off. It wasn’t obvious, and Rachel might have missed it had she not zoomed in on her subjects—the bride and groom—through the viewfinder.
They weren’t the dreamy, happy couple they appeared to be. There was a tightness around the eyes and mouth of the groom. A sadness behind the smile of the bride. Yet, everyone was participating in this expensive and very public lie, and all were smiling their way through the photos and poses. Or maybe it wasn’t quite a lie, but more of an imbalance.
Vows were made and cake was cut amidst the flowers and music. The band played and the guests danced. Maybe nobody knew anything was amiss, or if they did, they pretended they didn’t. Rachel had learned the hard way that this was none of her concern. Maybe they’d had a fight over the cost of the wedding, or the destination of the honeymoon. Or, perhaps he’d waited too long to propose.
Whatever was at play here, weddings brought out the stress and inner beast in everyone, all while they smiled and played the parts of the happiest people on the planet for their families and friends. The photos were the key to remembrance.
This was a Thanksgiving wedding. The food was heavy, harvest fare. The flowers were deep shades of crimson, linen and champagne, and golds. The greenery was heavy and dark. The autumnal tones, spicy cinnamon candles, combined with the cool temperature outside set the stage for rich, lasting memories.
So, Rachel would do her job to cement the memories for this couple, hopefully, a lifetime’s worth. The stress, the fight, or whatever had happened prior to the ceremony wouldn’t carry through when they looked at their wedding photos in ten years if Rachel did her job well.
The photos made the re-remembering pure perfection. “Hey, Rach, could we get a shot of Grandma Jean with the garter on her leg?” the bride asked, her smile bright. The alcohol was clearly doing its job now.
Sands, Susan. Christmas, Alabama (Alabama series Book 4) (Kindle Locations 67-70). Tule Publishing. Kindle Edition.