The Valentine's Duel at the Inn (#1 ~ Love and the Christmas Inn)

The Valentine's Duel at the Inn (#1 ~ Love and the Christmas Inn)


Michelle had never really had a soft spot for Valentine’s Day.

Of course, she’d also never spent one with someone.

Sure, she had many boyfriends over her adult years, but for some reason, something always seemed to happen to the relationship around this time of year. She was either already out of a relationship—having broken up long before the month of February—or wasn’t dating anyone at all.

But this February and this Valentine’s Day, it was different.

She not only had a beautiful inn she now called home, but she had a fiancé, and between running her own business and planning a wedding, she had so much to be thankful for this holiday.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend,” she said as she scattered heart-shaped glitter confetti across the end tables between the two sofas in the study. She didn’t care if the guests mostly came in this room for a quiet place to read. Every inch of the Evergreen Inn would be decked out in red and pink if it was the last thing she did.

Briggs adjusted the ladder, a string of red and pink streamers in hand. “The guests should start arriving soon, too. We need to hurry up and finish.”

The warmth of the inn's fireplace crackled in the background, casting a cozy glow over the room, now transforming into a Valentine's Day haven with giant paper hearts hanging from the ceiling and taped to the windows. She’d also spent a good fortune on dozens and dozens of bouquets of long-stemmed red roses, placing them everywhere throughout the study, dining room, foyer, and any other crevice of the inn she could find.

“Did you see that note I left you about Chance Miller and his girlfriend, Christy, who are staying this weekend?”

“The couple who have two rooms?”


“I don’t know that I did. What note are you talking about?”

“He’s coming here to propose.”

Briggs’ head jerked, and he blinked. “No, I didn’t see that note.” A smile inched across his face. “We’re going to have a proposal here?”

“Yeah. Crazy, isn’t it?”

“Well, I proposed to you here.”

“I know, but that’s different. It’s our place. This couple has no ties here, and they picked it to set the stage for the most romantic moment of their lives. Well, aside from their wedding.” Michelle threw the last bit of confetti around a table lamp, letting her gaze trace over red and pink glitter sparkling under the light.

Briggs stepped down, eyeing his handiwork. “Ah, the pressure of romance,” he chuckled. “So, what's your grand plan, then? A sea of roses? A choir of cupids? I can only imagine the different plans you’ve made up in your mind. I kind of feel sorry for the guy, as I can bet you’re going to upstage whatever he has planned.”

Michelle rolled her eyes, giving him a glare as she turned a bouquet vase of red and white roses on a side table to a side that she thought was more presentable. “Ha. Ha. Very Funny. I’m not going to upstage him. Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of an intimate candlelit dinner. Nothing speaks romance louder than a private, gourmet meal under soft lighting. You could make your special pot roast just for the occasion.”

Briggs shook his head and waved his hand. "That’s too predictable.” He adjusted the last of the streamers. “What about a campfire? Just imagine – a clear, starry night, a cozy fire, marshmallows for s'mores. It’s rustic, romantic, and unique, especially since they picked a tiny mountain inn to stay at.”

Michelle raised an eyebrow, a playful glint in her eyes. "A campfire? Really? What if it snows? It is still February. Not to mention, there’s snow even on the ground. Even with a fire, they will be cold. The last thing that poor girl needs is to be shivering while he’s trying to slip the ring on her finger. What if he drops it? Or worse, what if he drops it in the fire? That could be a disaster.”

“Are you saying this guy will drop her ring in the fire?”

“If they are shivering enough. Anything can happen.”

Briggs cocked his head to the side, raising one eyebrow. “Really? Okay. Well, if you’re going to talk about those risks, what about the risks to a candlelit dinner?”

“What risks could there possibly be from sitting at a table with a romantic dinner?”

“Well, what if one of the candles tips over? Or one of them trips in the dark? What if he gets up from his seat to kneel in front of her, and the chair catches on a rug?”

“Okay. Well, she could choke on a s’more.”

“And he could choke on the pot roast.”

“This is stupid.” She rolled her eyes again, laughing as she shook her head. “Your risks are dumb risks and are highly unlikely of even happening.”

“So is dropping a ring in the fire.”

Michelle couldn’t help but laugh, and she folded her arms across her chest. There was only one way to solve this problem, and she knew exactly what it was.

“Okay, cowboy, how about this . . . we both set up our romantic scenarios. Let's see which one our love-struck guest chooses for his big moment.”

Briggs furrowed his brow and scratched his chin for a moment before a smile spread through his lips again. A competitive spark lit up his face. “You're on. But when I win, you owe me a week of coffee runs.”

“Deal. And when I win, you're doing laundry for a week.” She extended her hand, and they shook on it.

To be continued . . .
Want to know how Michelle and Briggs met?
Michelle Rivers and Briggs Bevan have their hearts set on owning the perfect property in Colorado, but only one can come out on top. With visions of a winter wonderland and a holiday season filled with joy, they both want the inn to be theirs.

Two guests, two dreams, one inn. What could possibly go wrong?

Unable to decide which offer to choose, the inn's owners issue a challenge---whoever can run the inn better during their stay wins the deal. But when these two guests clash on every decision, will it be a merry Christmas, or will the battle for the escrow papers end in a holiday showdown? Find out in this heartwarming tale of two people, two dreams, and one unforgettable inn.
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