When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.
Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.
As I walk, I check the weather app on my phone, delighted to see that while it’s nothing but rain today, there’s a chance of a snow shower tomorrow. Nothing says Christmas break like snow.
I just miss my train, but there’s a decent-ish voice singing “White Christmas” nearby, and the platform’s not too crowded, so waiting’s not as bad as it could be.
My eye catches on a middle-aged woman who’s set up camp under one of the stairwells. It’s not unusual to see all manner of people under the streets of New York, although this one’s better dressed than most. She’s wearing a blousy red shirt, jeans, and ankle boots, and is sitting cross-legged on a plaid blanket. She’s got twigs of what seem to be fake roses in her hair.
None of that’s the weird part.
What’s weird is that she’s watching me. Intently.
We make awkward eye contact, and I give a quick smile before turning my attention back to my phone.
But I still feel her eyes on me.
Not in an unfriendly way, not in the way that makes me mentally catalog whether or not I saw any cops on my way down here who would hear me if I scream. She doesn’t seem eager to push me onto the train tracks either, and since that’s every New Yorker’s secret fear, that’s a plus.
Still, the focus is unsettling. I glance up again, and her eyes lock on mine. Her dark gaze is clear and focused, and I can’t decide if that’s more or less disturbing than if she seemed sort of hazy.
Then she smiles right at me. “Kelly.”
I get immediate goosebumps for reasons that have nothing to do with the winter weather. She knows my name.
“Come.” She beckons. “Come. I see.”
Now you’re thinking, Hell, no. Run!
I should be thinking the same, and on some level, I am, but . . .
There are a couple dozen people around. None are paying attention to me, but it’s not like I’m all alone in a dark alley.
And look, we’ve already established that I believe in fate expressing itself through a Magic 8 ball and horoscopes, and though I haven’t mentioned it yet, I totally avoid black cats, the number thirteen, and walking under ladders.
I also believe that there’s such a thing as sight. I know, because my grandma had it.
Grandma Shirley was one of those delightfully batty old ladies that most people dismissed as quirky, but nobody can deny that she seemed to know stuff. She knew when I’d win my soccer game, and by how many points. She knew when her cat’s litter of kittens would be born, down to the minute. Once she’d even predicted an earthquake, even though they’re really rare in New York.
She’d passed away when I was in eleventh grade (she’d predicted the when and how of that too), and though I didn’t inherit her talents, I’ve never stopped believing that some people see and know things that they shouldn’t. I call it the Sight.
I step closer, and the woman grins and beckons me even nearer.
I stop a healthy few feet away. I’m superstitious, not crazy.
The woman leans forward. “You seek love.”
Huh. Color me unimpressed. I mean, don’t most humans seek love? Sure, I’m recently single, and I don’t particularly want to be. And maybe I sometimes try a little too hard to find my forever guy.
But I’m not hearing anything other than generic lucky guesses from this lady.
“Sure,” I say, already starting to back away.
She holds up a hand. “The one you seek? Your forever guy, the love of your life . . .”
I freeze, because her phrasing echoes my thoughts almost exactly. A coincidence? Maybe. I don’t move away just yet, willing to hear her out.
She smiles again. “You’ve already met him.”
I blink. “What? I think you may want to recheck that crystal ball. I’m single.”
Her smile merely grows. “I didn’t say you weren’t single. I said you’d already met him. You just let him go. He’ll come back to you before Christmas.”
Whoa whoa whoa. This is . . .
“You’re telling me that the love of my life is one of my exes?”
She extends both of her palms as though to say, There you have it!
I stifle a little surge of disappointment. Clearly she hasn’t met my exes. There are some decent ones in the mix, but mostly they’re duds, and none of them make my heart beat faster. Well, maybe—
Nope. No. Do not go there.
Thankfully, I feel the rumble of an oncoming train, and a glance over my shoulder tells me my ride outta here is approaching.
“Thanks very much,” I say with a strained smile. “Merry Christmas.”
“Happy holidays,” she says with a nod, standing and gathering up her blanket. Apparently she’s taken a cue from Madison Meyers and is sticking close to the PC route. Fair enough.
I lift a hand in a wave and move toward the train, but her next words give me a fresh wave of new goosebumps.
“Tell your parents happy anniversary. Thirty’s going to be a magical year for them.”
I whip my head around. “How did you—”
The woman is gone.
Like vanished gone.
Leaving me to wonder . . .
If a woman I’d never met was right about my parents’ anniversary, was she also right about other stuff?
Have I already met my one true love?
An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is book #5 in the Love Unexpectedly series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading this series in order.
Kelly & Mark have been best friends for so long. They can finish each other's sentences. They can tell when a relationship is not working. What Kelly cannot seem to notice is their attraction to one another.
Mark has been waiting for the right moment to sweep her off her feet. Kelly is always in another city, with another man, or just plain oblivious. Will Mark ever get his chance to be the man Kelly really needs?
This was such a great story. I laughed, cried and even laughed while I cried. This author never disappoints. Such a truly sweet read about best friends and why they are truly the. best for you. I loved every page and honestly hope we see these characters again.
***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publishers in exchange for an honest review only.
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