More Than Friends
Kendrick Place #1
By: Jody Holford
Releasing December 5, 2016
Owen Burnett planned on a quiet, easygoing Christmas, hanging out with his best friend and neighbor, Gabby Michaelson. So when his mom pressures him to come home for the holidays, he tells a little white lie…that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But when his family shows up unexpectedly, Owen pulls the best friend card and asks Gabby to play his fake girlfriend.
Gabby’s been hopelessly in love with her best friend Owen for what feels like forever, but playing his "fake" girlfriend when the entire boisterous Burnett clan visits is easier said than done. The more she tries to deny the attraction between them, the more obvious their chemistry becomes. But even though she's not the only one feeling it, putting their friendship on the line is a risk she can’t take.
The fire glowed and made the room comfortably warm. Gabby tried to latch on to each moment, to file it away. It was like this one morning had healed an aching part of her soul that had gone missing twelve years ago. Nothing could replace her family, but knowing she was no longer alone was a gift she couldn’t fathom.
Owen passed her a box with her name on it. “You doing all right?”
“I am. I’m wonderful,” she said.
He pressed a gentle kiss to her mouth, then leaned back. “I already knew that.”
Gabby just smirked at him and mouthed the word “dork.” He tugged a lock of her hair playfully, then nudged the present on her lap.
“Open it,” he said.
Peeling the wrap off without restraint, she found a gorgeous five-by-seven wooden frame nestled inside. The wood was purposely worn to make it look older, and the black and white picture of her and Owen smiling made Gabby’s heart burst open, like there was too much love and joy inside her to contain. She turned, wrapped her arms around Owen’s neck, and hugged him tight. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she couldn’t hold them back. Owen’s arms held her strong.
“Hey. You okay?”
She nodded into the crook of his neck, then pulled back. Everyone was eyeing her somewhat warily, like they didn’t want to further upset her. But she wasn’t upset.
“You are all the greatest people. This has been the best Christmas I can remember in so long. Thank you for making me feel so included.” She sniffed as she wiped at her tears.
Owen’s arm pulled her close and she leaned her head against him.
“You’ll always be included, Gabriella. You’re part of our family now, and if Owen does something to mess this up, you just leave him home and come spend next Christmas with us. He doesn’t even know the words to most of the carols, anyway,” Beth said.
Everyone laughed, including Owen. “Thanks, Mom. Way to sell me out.”
Jody Holford is a multi-published author who has a soft spot for happily ever after. So much so, she tattooed the words on her arm. She’s a mom and a wife, a friend, sister, daughter, teacher, and book-lover. Her stories have a little bit of heat and a lot of heart. And maybe, some swoon-worthy moments that will make you smile.