A Lot Like Christmas (The Carolina Girls #3.5) Read Online Michelle Major

Categories Genre: Romance Tags Authors: Series: The Carolina Girls Series by Michelle Major
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Total pages in book: 15
Estimated words: 13774 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 69(@200wpm)___ 55(@250wpm)___ 46(@300wpm)
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At Christmastime in Magnolia, a pet sitter might find more than she bargained for with her new client!
Animal-lover Carli Connelly is determined to make a fresh start in Magnolia this Christmas, and her side hustle as a pet sitter is just the thing to make ends meet. So when her most lucrative client, Mark Simpson, asks for help becoming a more affable boss, she agrees. But spending more personal time with Mark—who may be a grump on the outside but slowly shows Carli the heart of gold buried beneath—has risks, changing the dynamic of her business and her heart.

FULL BOOK START HERE:

CHAPTER ONE

“WHO’S THE PRETTIEST GIRL?”

Carli Connelly smiled as the raggedy-looking mutt gazed up into her eyes then gave a tiny, high-pitched yap, as if to answer her question.

Sitting on the family room floor, she adjusted the red-and-white polka-dot sweater she’d fitted on the small dog and sat back on her heels. Queenie, a canine of indiscriminate breed who looked like a Yorkie-poo mixed with a bedraggled mop head, pranced across the living room floor, her nails clicking on the hardwood.

“You work it, Queen,” Carli told the dog, feeling inordinately proud of Queenie’s newfound confidence.

When Carli had first started this part-time pet sitting gig, Queenie had been sulky, listless, and depressed, mourning her beloved human. Carli had yet to meet the dog’s current owner, Mark Simpson, but she knew he’d taken over the dog’s care when his grandmother passed away.

Carli worked at both a local veterinary clinic and the Furever Friends animal rescue in the quaint, bustling town of Magnolia, North Carolina.

After seeing a feature on Furever Friends while scrolling social media, she’d moved to Magnolia specifically to work with Meredith Ventner Sorensen, the rescue’s talented and dedicated owner.

The segment had come at exactly the right time for Carli, who’d been looking for an excuse to get out of Cleveland. Her goal was to start fresh someplace where she was only responsible for taking care of herself and any animals that needed her.

She’d left Ohio with little money and no savings but understood she would need to continue to send back part of her paycheck to help her father pay the bills.

She’d set things up so that instead of giving her dad cash, groceries were delivered to his ramshackle house each week and the rent and utilities were paid. She knew that if she gave William Connelly cash, no matter his best intentions, he’d more than likely end up gambling it away just like he did most of the paycheck from his job as an attendant at a downtown parking lot.

Carli had seen that outcome too many times to trust her dad’s promises to go straight. He loved the racetrack as much as he loved his daughter.

So she did what she had to—working at both the rescue and the vet clinic plus her side hustle as a pet sitter/dog walker/poop scooper. Whatever it took to make enough to live on her own and still support her dad—from a distance.

Dr. Malack, her boss at the vet clinic, had recommended her for the job with Queenie, which was her most lucrative assignment to date. The mysterious Mark Simpson paid her an obscene amount of money to look after Queenie while he was at work.

And the man worked all the time. He did something for the athletic wear company that had recently moved to town, the Fit Collective. That much Carli had learned from the vet. Otherwise, she knew almost nothing about Queenie’s mysterious owner, other than the dog seemed starved for affection.

Why keep an animal if you weren’t going to love it? To be fair, Mark Simpson might dote on the little mutt for all Carli knew, but when she’d arrived for her first visit, scheduled by a series of formal-sounding texts, she hadn’t found one dog toy or a bed or any treats for the animal.

Queenie had been curled up in a rather pathetic-looking ball on the tile floor of the laundry room with only a pee pad to keep her company.

Carli wanted to believe Mark Simpson didn’t know better when it came to taking care of an animal. But who didn’t realize that dogs liked toys and needed mental stimulation if they were going to be left alone for long stretches?

Luckily, she had no issues with spoiling the tiny dog. In the past month, she’d been excited to see a change in Queenie. The dog came running when Carli entered the house, happy to see her babysitter and ready for whatever adventure she had planned for the day.

She’d bought Queenie the holiday sweater because the temperature in Magnolia, although temperate by Cleveland standards, was definitely chilly for a dog that had more bare patches than actual fur. Plus, Queenie had seemed shy and reticent meeting new people or other animals when they went on walks, a marked difference from the happy and loving dog Carli had come to know during their time together in the house.


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