A Quick Reminder

Wednesday, January 31, is the last day to purchase Loving Matilda  for 99c. It’s my Montana Sky Series book. It starts in Debra Holland’s gold mining town Morgan’s Crossing, Montana, goes east, comes back to Morgan’s Crossing, and eventually winds up in Creed’s Crossing, Wyoming. It’s all set in the 1880’s.

Now the really fun part about this novel for me was where Matilda went when she came East. Right back to where I grew up and where my family roots are located. This is where it got tricky. I might know the area from when I was little, but I certainly wasn’t around in the 1880’s.  Yes, when I was little I could see the Delaware River from the top of my great-grandmother’s house. Of course by that time, I could barely see it and there were no tall masted ships sailing on the river. But those rolling hills still exist. So I resorted to finding some old maps. Well I found a really old map! And that’s when the fun began. I got a little sidetracked when I discovered the original family house, and several known names listed in the population.  Oh, what fun! Of course that stuff didn’t go into the novel, but seeing the river did.  And considering my grandmother was  born in the 1880’s, I had all those wonderful old stories that she told of living on the farm.  (Maybe it was a good thing that I was the last child and completely unexpected by older parents. I have lots of fodder for historical stories.)

All my westerns are considered sweet but I call it fading to grey.  The reader might know what is going on but I don’t say it.  🙂

So grab your copy while it’s 99c on Amazon.com

I love keeping my historical westerns as accurate was possible, so if you have never read one of mine, try Loving Matilda. It’s not a normal romance. It’s about life and the guy who rescues her – that is after she almost killed him. She’s one tough female who has no idea how to be feminine.  Get it while Amazon has it on sale!

Read it for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Just click on the cover ! You can read about the Lakota Indians, trains, and all sorts of excitement beyond gold mining because life wasn’t easy for anyone.


Meet the Characters: Dane & Shana

TheBeachcombers- Twitter-RevisedMeet Dane Blaise & Shana George, partners in Beachcomber Investigations on Martha’s Vineyard and two of my favorite people. This charismatic couple—or non-couple as the case may be—will answer some probing questions to help us get to know them.

Then maybe you can help them decide whether they ought to be a couple—or not. They are NOT having success figuring this out on their own. Here’s the Q&A for our intrepid characters from the world of fiction:

Q: What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?

DANE: I’ll be the gentleman and let Shana answer first.

SHANA: (scoffs) You’re a prince. That’s what I always say.

DANE: Answer the question, girlie. Honestly. Is it the action, the dialogue or, my favorite, the romance?

SHANA: (eye-roll) You mean your favorite is the sex, not the romance.

DANE: Then you agree—

SHANA: Honestly, my favorite scenes are the action scenes. That’s when I’m in control and in my element and doing what I love and was meant to do. Putting up with on-again, off-again romance with Dane is the hard part. It drives me crazy. But working with him, well, he is the best.

Q:  What do you do for a living?

DANE: Didn’t we say? We’re private investigators. We specialize in big cases—missions—often sent our way by the governor, my old special ops commander.

Q:  What is your greatest fear?

SHANA: This I want to hear—what is it Dane?

DANE: You. I’m afraid of you, Shana.

SHANA: (eye-roll again) You mean you’re afraid of yourself. I’m nothing to you but a pain in the butt except when I’m covering your butt.

DANE: (silence)

SHANA: Okay. I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of—never getting back home to Sydney, Australia, never visiting my Dad’s grave again…

DANE: Heavy.

Q:  What turns you on?

DANE: (looks at Shana)

SHANA: (yet another eye-roll)

Q:  What do you like most about where you live?

DANE: We live on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. It’s mostly a summer vacation place, but I like the solitariness of the winter months all the people are gone and it’s you against Mother Nature. The excitement summer crowd… (shrugs) It’s the cleansing ocean air that I need most.

SHANA: What I like most is living where Dane lives.

DANE: (raises one brow)

SHANA: No sense pretending otherwise. Why else would I stay? It’s the heart-hammering excitement of not knowing what will happen next, but knowing surely that something will happen.

DANE: Oh. That. None of that in Sydney or London? None of that with Scotland Yard where you worked when I found you?

SHANA: Where you found me? You didn’t find me.

DANE: Figure of speech, girlie.

SHANA: Don’t call me that in front of—

And that concludes the interview—before they come to blows. Or something else. You can see Dane and Shana in action all through the Beachcomber Investigations series beginning with The Beachcombers which is currently $.99. The newest book in the series, Beachcomber Test is available now.

Do you think Dane & Shana should stay together or fall apart?

Blurb for Beachcomber Test:BeachTest Teaser

The biggest test of Dane’s life comes down to this: Can he give Shana everything she wants from him?
Ex-special ops legend Dane Blaise is staking his life on passing every one of Shana’s tests for him. Desperation to keep her with him made him crazy enough to agree to take a divorce case.
He’d sworn never to take a follow-the-cheating-spouse case since the day they’d started Beachcomber Investigations together.

She was tough and gorgeous, but Shana George never expected much from men romantically speaking. Then again, she never thought she’d quit her dream job at Scotland Yard to work as a private-eye on Martha’s Vineyard. There was no explaining how Dane made her crazy enough to hope. Too many times she came close to leaving. Now she can’t live through another round of dashed hope without leaving for good. This case could be her last.

But Even a simple divorce case turns dangerous for Beachcomber Investigations while Dane & Shana’s resolve to stay together is tested to the end.


Chapter 1

It had seemed like a simple case. A case Dane had agreed to take because he would do anything for Shana. Now that he was shamelessly in love with her and in full-on convincing-her-to-stay-with-him mode after he almost lost her on Christmas Day.

Shana didn’t trust him yet. She was in full-on test-the-bastard mode to make sure he was for real.

Her first test had been to suggest a trip to Australia to visit her family. He’d agreed. They’d planned it for the fall. They were coming into spring and summer season so it didn’t make sense to leave now. They would wait for the cold weather to travel down under where it would be warm. She had booked their flight and the tic of uneasiness that Dane felt was almost imperceptible.

Her second test had been to accept a divorce case without asking him. He’d vowed never to take follow-the-cheating-spouse cases and she knew it. The muscle clench between his shoulder blades was mild, so he soldiered through.

Now they would be following some nasty middle-aged man around the island for half the season to work up an irrefutable file on him for the wronged wife so she could work the pre-nup infidelity clause and wring every penny out of the sap—or scum, depending on your view—in the divorce. Dane tried hard not to have any view in the matter.

His view was to pray to hell that the man dropped his pants on his first night on island.

No such luck.

Instead, the poor sap—or scum—got himself killed.

This wasn’t any routine divorce case anymore, but Dane wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.


He stood in the small kitchen looking at Shana over his coffee cup. The sun shone through the window and glinted off her golden hair so that she looked like she had sparks flying from her. She wore her usual gorgeous scowl.

“Didn’t you do a background check on our client before you agreed to the case?”

He smiled when she narrowed her eyes at him.

“No.” She stood with her hands on her hips, daring him to shoot her down. That, Dane figured, was test number three.

He nodded and walked past her, brushing a hand over the waves of her long soft mane of hair and inhaling the scent of her.

“Where are you going?”

“To the secure phone.”

“What are you? Batman?” She followed after him. She always followed after him. Almost always.

He laughed.

“I’m calling in Acer.”

“Not that I have anything against Acer, but we don’t need him. We can handle this ourselves.”

She’d gotten the call from Captain Colin Lynch at six that morning about the murder victim. Dane knew it was bad when she came back to bed and wouldn’t tell him what the call was about.

He stopped at his old metal desk, the feature piece in his office, which should have been a living room. Shana had brought in a couch, but he mostly used it for a shelf where he threw all the files, papers, mail, books, and any other paraphernalia that got collected during an investigation. Or any other time. He looked at the pile of crap and took a deep breath. Then he smiled at her like he meant it, because he did.

“I’ll do whatever you want, sugar bun.”

“Stop that.”

“You don’t want me to call you sugar bun?”

“I don’t want you doing whatever I want—”

“Can I quote you on that?”

“Don’t patronize me.”

“I’m not. I’m trying to be agreeable.”

“Well, stop. It’ s not you and it’s creeping me out.”

He reached out and pulled her in and held her tight against him. He was hard and she was soft—in all the strategic places—and he let that feeling, of her pressed against him, simmer through his body, hit every nerve, and settle in his head and deep in his soul. She stirred and he reflexively tightened his hold.

“It’s okay, Dane. I’m not going to run out the door if you disagree with me.”

“Of course not. Why would you? I mean, look what you have here.”

He spread his arms. It was half-hearted sarcasm because he wasn’t used to feeling vulnerable, but he’d been feeling a lot of that lately. It was as if he were reliving his teenage years, only inside a forty-year-old body which made the fun parts not nearly as fun.

“I’m looking at who I have.” She sighed deeply and then leaned in and grabbed his lips with her teeth and sucked in, giving him a hair-raising—and other-body-part-raising—kiss. Deep and juicy and thorough.

“You want to go back to bed?” It was a stupid question and he should have grabbed her by the hair and dragged her—figuratively speaking. Maybe another time he would have.

She smiled, moving her hands over his chest. It was a strong, well-muscled chest because in his line of work staying in good shape was a matter of life and death. Evidently even when his line of work was a divorce case.

“Always. I always want you.”

“Then we have something in common—I always want you.”

He moved, holding her in his arms, half dragging her in the direction of the hall to the bedroom. Until she dug in her heels.

“We have a murder case,” she said.  Then she really smiled.




You like to read – What?

Second Chance stories intrigue me. I love reading stories of lost and found relationships. So much can happen in the in-between years.

I’m familiar with a couple who, in their younger years, double dated and each went on to marry other loves. Life rocked on. They each had children, both lost their partners to passing away. Both in their sixties, they found each other again through friends. After dating a few months, they fell in love and married.

The rest is history. True love won out. I’m so happy for them.

Christmas at the Granger Inn develops around a teen couple who lost each other due to a misunderstanding and unwillingness to forgive.

A class reunion brings them together again after they’d each married and lost their spouses.

Old feelings arise in both of them, but only one is willing to grant their forgotten love another chance.

Christmas at the Granger Inn Available at Amazon http://a.co/4RfM9hc
A Sweet Christmas Romance.
A reunion, a ghost and second chance at love.

When a ten-year high school reunion tosses two-year grieving widow, Sydney Hall, and her first love, a widower, Cole Meyers, back together, the weekend turns into a fiasco. Seeing Cole again leaves Sydney with a strong reservation of what she wants, but refuses to acknowledge those feelings.

Cole vows nothing will stand in the way of winning Sydney back. The Inn’s matchmaker ghost conspires to get them together, along with a request to solve the mystery surrounding the ghost’s death.

To risk facing what tore them apart could promise a new place they can both call home.


Our latest Anthology is Christmas Babies on Main Street. We offer wonderful warm stories within.  http://amzn.to/2xQ5Lsj

Please check out these links to my books, available at Amazon


Thank you…and please enjoy!  I wish you Love, Butterflies and Music…


New Year Goal – Read More!

new_years_resolutions_listWhen it comes to resolutions, I generally make a list and spend the rest of the year beating myself up for not achieving them or achieving marginally. NOT QUITE UP TO PAR.

Well NOT this year. I have more modest expectations. I’ll write them down as they come, so far I have only one.

READ MORE. (Keep track, write a review).

51Ox2y5cwOL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_So far, I’ve finished Lee Child’s, “The Midnight Line” and Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’s, “The Lost Words”.

Two completely different books. If you haven’t read Lee Child before, start with an earlier book. If you’re a Reacher fan, wait for the next one.

As for “The Lost Words”, it’s a beautiful book in every way. Meant to put the magic back into language of nature, it does so, beautifully.412tLlnwukL._SX357_BO1,204,203,200_

It’s a children’s book, and I loved it. Not as much as “Wind in the Willows”, but more than “Charlotte’s Web”, which sits on my desk. Well worth the read. Written in response to words like ACORN, OTTER, LARK, and BLUEBELL being struck from children’s dictionaries.

517C-UTkNAL._AC_US218_I’m currently reading “Benjamin Franklin, an American Life” by Walter Isaacson, which about 1/8 in is enlightening and well written – we’ll see how it finishes.

I’m only a few pages into, “Magpie Murders” by Anthony Horowitz. Can’t really say much besides I’m intrigued, confused, and hooked. I’m thinking I’m going to love it.41TDQZ5XDsL._AC_US218_

I’m re-watching all of the “Inspector Lewis” episodes from Masterpiece Mystery – so well written and acted.

I’m loving the new TV show, “Lethal Weapon” as well. It’s funny. Sometimes poignant. Always entertaining. If you haven’t seen Season One – do – the arc is so satisfying.

Simple things on my list for this New Year. READ MORE, TAKE NOTE OF GREAT STORIES, written or on the screen, WRITE A REVIEW. Adding one more, TRY TO EMULATE WHAT I ENJOY.

What are you reading or watching?

What keeps you reading or watching?

Happy New Year – May great stories find you.


Did You Know?


In my editing work, I’ve noticed a number of common errors that trip up writers. So I’ve decided to don my editor’s hat today and present a few that you’ve probably come across many times.

 An Historic or A Historic?

People often believe they should use an before historic, such as an historic event. But does it make sense to do this? An is used before a spoken vowel sound, so we use it when the h at the beginning of a word isn’t pronounced, such as an honor and an hour. But when the h is pronounced, we use aa hammock and a hero, for example. In past centuries, when people often didn’t pronounce the h in historic, it made sense to use an. But today, since we do pronounce the h, it makes more sense to say a historic event and this usage has become much more common and accepted.

Till or ‘Til?

Many writers and even some editors assume that ‘til is the correct short form of until, and that till is incorrect. In fact, major usage dictionaries and style guides consider ‘til to be an error. Till is correct, and is not actually an abbreviation of until; it’s an older word, and should not be written with an apostrophe.

 All Right or Alright?

Most style guides and dictionaries agree that alright is a misspelling of all right. Alright is commonly used in informal writing, but it’s not correct in standard English.

 Is OK Okay?

Okay and OK are both acceptable spellings of the word. You might assume that OK is a truncated form of okay, but in fact okay derived from OK. There are various theories about its origin, all of which involve the shortening of an O word and a K word into the initials OK. Whichever you choose, the important thing is to be consistent throughout your manuscript.

 Do You Feel Badly?

Nope. You feel bad. In this instance, feel functions not as an action verb but as a linking verb (like become, seem, taste, smell); saying you feel badly implies you have trouble being able to feel (just as smell badly implies you can’t smell).

Can You End a Sentence With a Preposition?

You might have been taught in school that you mustn’t do it, but…you sure can. This is a rule leftover from Latin grammar that doesn’t necessarily apply to English. A preposition is a word such as with, by, on, in, at, to or about. Trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition can create awkward phrasing and is often unnecessary. It’s perfectly correct to ask “Which department is she in?” or “What are you upset about?” or state “Billy had no one to play with.”

Use The Things

New Year’s Resolutions. Do them? Ignore them? Do them and drop them by the wayside come January 31st? I’ve done all of the above. But this year I decided to do something different. I decided to make a choice to change one thing in my life.

I’ve made a choice to Use The Things. You know the things. Mom’s crystal candlesticks stuck in the china cupboard for special occasions. Grandma’s afghan that sits in the linen closet because you might get something on it. The crystal and china for special occasions that come once a year…or never.

I will be 55 this year and it has put a change in my brain. If I don’t use those things now, when will I? After I’m dead? The kids all like new things. They aren’t going to want the things I have collected and prized for years. So, this is the start of me getting the beautiful things out of linen closets and china cupboards and curio cabinets. I can use and enjoy the things I have and not need new things.

So…Mom’s crystal bowl for the sugar.








Mother-in-law’s carnival glass for a fruit bowl. I think she got it from her mother or grandmother. Doesn’t it look lovely on my new granite countertop island? I think so.






I have my grandmother’s Wedding Ring quilt to hang up as soon as I get the curtain rod and hangers. It is going in our guest room.

Don’t wait to use the special dishes, burn the special candles, or to surround yourself with those special things handed down from generation to generation. You are special and deserve to Use The Things!!

Happy New Year. Happy You!!

Jill James, author of The Lake Willowbee series

THE END is the start of a new beginning

We celebrated the new year by moving the study to the room on the east side of the house, since the larger one on the west is unbearably hot by 3pm in the afternoon.

Typing those magical words THE END on the current work-in-progress is a wonderful feeling, especially when it is a full-length novel that has been in gestation for more than a year, counting character sketches, thinking about the plot, researching facts that might be needed, and actually writing more than 80,000 words.

That was me last Sunday morning, thirty minutes before I had to leave the house, rushing to complete the epilogue in the next book in my Golden Redepenning historical series. I went off to church feeling very happy.

Would you like a snippet? My hero and heroine were childhood friends but have been antagonists for twenty years, until they are thrown together on the Great North Road, chasing her runaway daughter all the way to Scotland. Here’s their first kiss.

Susan was washing her turnover down with a swallow of ale, shifting impatiently as her hands inched towards the knife and fork she had placed on her plate between mouthfuls, as proper table etiquette required. Her inclination to rush the meal and be on her way was clearly at war with her training in manners.

“Relax, Susan. A few minutes will make the world of difference to your digestion, and very little to our arrival time.”

What a valiant creature his goddess was. She managed a smile, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “I know you are right, you annoying man. I will try not to worry and to be patient.

“You are thinking I have no notion what you are suffering, and you are right that I have never been a father, and have never had to wait and worry about a child of my flesh.” Gil almost left it at that, but then he took a deep breath and spoke the rest of his thought. “But I have been an officer with men I loved and who loved and trusted me, and I have had to send them into danger knowing that some of them will be killed and others wounded. That perhaps gives me a small inkling of your feelings, goddess.” He winced as the last word slipped out. She hated when people called her that, but it was how he felt. He had worshipped her from the moment he met her as a boy; carried a candle before her image in his heart since that day; held her as a beacon of the best of English womanhood through a thousand engagements on four continents and any number of islands.

She was oblivious to his preoccupation, considering what he had said. “I had not thought about it like that. Yes. I imagine you were a father, or at least an elder brother, to your men. My brothers are the same. It is similar, Gil. So you know how hard it is.”

Susan called him Gil, he noticed, when she was moved, just as he slipped into calling her goddess. He did not call her attention to the slip, but when he moved her chair back to help her rise, and she stepped to one side almost into his arms, he could not resist wrapping them around her.

He had intended a brief peck on her hair. She lifted her mouth as if she had been waiting for just such a move, and he was lost. She was all that existed. The elusive scent of her pervaded his nostrils, her yielding curves filled his arms, and her lips and mouth consumed all of his thoughts as he tenderly explored them.

How long the kiss lasted he had no idea, but when she stiffened and pulled away, he let her go immediately, sense rushing back into his brain and berating it for the most arrant stupidity. She didn’t comment — wouldn’t even meet his eyes — but led the way out of the garden, almost running in her hurry.

Not, of course, that I’m anywhere near finished writing, as I said on my own blog a few days ago. The Realm of Silence will go through a number of edits (I’m up to page 78 of 184 on the first run through) before it finally hits the shelves some time in late April. I already know I need to give more of the backstory of my widow’s first marriage, and I realised just this morning that I had two characters with the same name, one a sister to the hero and the other a sister to the heroine’s daughter’s best friend.


I’ve found I’m most productive if I carry straight on with the next book, and this time, it is easy because I have one due to a publisher on 1 March. I’ve managed 10,000 words since 1 January, so should make my 60,000 without too much stress.

That one, House of Thorns, is another historical, but the one after that is a contemporary, again set in New Zealand. I’m looking forward to telling you more about it as I write it. Think summer sun, beautiful New Zealand beaches, a high-powered environmental journalist-activist come home to rest, and a US financier turned beach bum.

Meanwhile, New Zealand sweltered up until Christmas, and on Boxing Day the weather turned sour. We’ve had a few fine spells, but not the heat our poor cousins in Australia have been suffering. It’s raining at the moment, but still warm and the garden is producing lettuces, zucchini, and radishes faster than we can eat them. I do love summer, even when it comes with a mandatory umbrella.



Welcome 2018!

I’m so excited about 2018 and the changes going on here on Main Street. The most exciting news is our upcoming Summertime Romance on Main Street! Another box set by some of my favorite authors!

Let’s welcome the New Year by playing a game. Go to the 18th page of your latest release if you’re an author or the closest book next to you if you’re a reader and give us a snippet of that page in the comments. Do it carefully, because what you choose will predict your year!

If you’re an author, be sure and leave us a buy link to your book. Here’s mine:


Our Christmas Tree, or New Traditions for New Lives

This year, with my boys grown and moved away, my partner and I decided to simply decorate our living room for the holidays with a ficus tree, a veer away from tradition. Rather than purchase a cut-your-own pine Christmas tree, for the first time we chose to honour our own tree—the one which lives with us every day in our home.

traditional non treeMy partner, a native of the UK, has a history of disappointment and sadness at our New Zealand Christmas. I, too, was transplanted to New Zealand (by choice, of course…). Getting used to a summertime Christmas hasn’t always been easy for me, either.

Tradition at NZ Christmas

Credit to NZ Post, with thanks, at https://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/

Seasonally-inverted southern hemisphere Kiwis (New Zealanders) have imported the northern hemisphere holiday traditions—but someone forgot to change the dates. In doing so, we’ve essentially lost the fundamental reason for celebration of the midwinter festival: the anticipated return of life after the still-to-come times of hardship—the release from darkness and want, toward the time of renewal and plenty.

tradition Cold Winter

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Early on, I realized this concept was more deeply ingrained in me than I’d dreamed. Moving to New Zealand was a big change in more ways than one.

Whether we move away from our childhood home or relocate a long way from our families and close friends later in life, we may find the need to create our own holiday traditions. As children, and now grandchildren, enter our lives, our roles may change even further, necessitating further adjustments.

Those living far from their birth homes often confirm that being away from family and close friends can be daunting.

Tell me about it.

My first December 25th in New Zealand had to rate as my most depressing Christmas up until that date. I had a wonderful boss, but no real friends outside of work, as I had spent every weekend with my boyfriend out on the coast, an hour away from home—and he ended our relationship over the phone, out of the blue, on 23 December.

Tradition not so good.

Thanks to https://awakened2torah.com/2017/07/19/stay-in-the-box-jack/ for the use of the photo. 🙂

Looking back, I can see it was for the best, but at the time… let’s say it wasn’t ideal.

On the other hand, sometimes one must sink to great depths to plumb the true strength of one’s spirit and guts.

Eyes blurred by tears, I managed to create the day for myself by cutting out intricate paper snowflakes from wrapping paper.

Tradition snowflakes paper

Thanks to The Balance for use of the pic! https://www.thebalance.com/

I still remember as if it were yesterday: The paper was red on one side, white on the other, and thin enough for light to shine through it. In fine pencil, I wrote around the perimeter of each, and on inner circles, what the holiday was really about—about the day being about love, and not presents. About those whom I cared for, and who cared about me. About the beautiful country in which I had ensconced myself, the tremendous job as an equine vet in an otherwise eight-man dairy practice.

tradition NZ view

The little piece of NZ beside my home on the cover of my third novel

As the years passed, I found new ways of satisfying the yearnings in my heart at Christmas time when I was unable to return to my family for the holidays. Celebrating a sit-down, full-on Midwinter dinner on 21 June for a roomful of my Kiwi friends, many of whom had never experienced a northern hemisphere Christmas dinner, not only did something for them, but did something for my own heart. It gave me my Christmas back and let me begin to enjoy true Kiwi summertime Christmases.

“Christmas is so commercialised, I don’t want anything to do with it,” I’ve heard from several friends lately. This isn’t a problem for me. I don’t watch television at all, and since I began writing, I avoid town… even my radio time has diminished. I don’t hear the commercials or Christmas jingles, so the commercialism isn’t a part of my life. I have only my memories and traditions from which to browse.

In speaking with my partner in mid-June about it, he said Christmas really didn’t mean anything to him. We discussed it at length, what would make it for him, what makes it for me. The result? He enjoyed his holiday, and this year we will have a midwinter Christmas feast and hopefully, he will regain his joy of the holidays, no matter what time of year they arrive.

I hope this helps someone, estranged by distance or circumstance from loved ones, find peace in their life.

In Once Upon a Vet School #7, Lena Takes a Foal, Lena finds herself in a situation. She was going to stay in her vet school town and take extra Large Animal ICU shifts over the holidays, as her family was out of the country, but she was invited home with her hero, Kit.

Here’s a little excerpt of their traditional Christmas:

Once Upon a Vet School #7, Lena Takes a Foal

Kit’s pickup eased off the highway into his family’s driveway, snow crunching beneath the tires. He slowed as we approached a beautiful bay Thoroughbred with a matching foal at foot, standing behind the post and rail fence.

“She’s my favorite jumper — the one I kept when everything got split up,” he said, and tightened his jaw.

“Glad you still have her then,” I said, taking a deep breath, and squeezed his fingers. “It’ll all be fine.”

“I know. Thank you for comin’ home with me,” he said, as we drove on toward the house.

“Glad you asked,” I said, taking my eyes off the pair of horses and looking forward through the windshield at what could only be Kit’s family members, by their resemblance.

“The welcoming committee awaits.” He smiled and shut off the engine, opened my door and handed me out into the freezing, dazzling sunshine, accented by the tang of the snow-drenched pines. His arm, warm over my shoulders, led me toward the group.

Any anxiety I might have had about meeting his family vanished into thin air as handshakes turned to hugs. Kit’s sister, a female version of him, stood tall and leggy in designer clothing and manicured nails, while his father offered a hint of the distinguished gentleman Kit would become. His beautiful mother was kindness itself as she pulled us in the door, toward her warm, cinnamon-scented farmhouse-style kitchen.

Christmas music played in the background when we eventually migrated from the hand-hewn kitchen table toward the living room with our foaming mugs of fresh eggnog. The huge tree caught my attention, its fairy lights and ornaments glittering against long pine needles, but my mouth dropped open at the view of Lake Tahoe completely filling the longest wall of the room. Its blue-black expanse shimmered against the snow on the surrounding mountains.

“Who’s dishing out the presents?” Kit’s mother asked, settling herself on the sofa.

“My turn.” Kit’s sister smiled and began delivering packages around the room.

I hadn’t expected anything, but had made gifts over the month since Kit had invited me. For his mother, a gardening apron; his sister, some padded hangers for her fashionable clothes; and for his pop, a big tin of the Danish Christmas cookies I’d grown up making with my family. Kit had already inhaled most of his cookies on the way up the mountain.

Soon there was a pile of gifts beside me. I stared at Kit over the top of it, my mouth open.

“What did you expect? You’re part of the family, now.

Enjoy it,” he said, and leaned across to kiss me.

My face heated. I couldn’t have been more pleased, as I picked up the first gaily wrapped package.

“A western shirt,” Kit said, holding up his first present. “I haven’t had a new one in years, thank you, Lena!”

“That forest green with chocolate is perfect on you,

Kit,” his sister said. “It looks designer, where did it come from?” She turned to me.

“It’s a Lena original,” I said.

“No, it can’t be,” she said, peering over her brother’s shoulder at the label. “It is!”

“What does it say?” his mother asked.

“Made Expressly for Kit by Lena,” she said.

Kit pulled it on and clicked the pearl snaps.

“It fits,” he said, astonished. “They never fit… and it’s actually long enough.”

“Of course, it fits, I’m a professional. Just remind me to give back your ratty old denim work shirt that was falling apart at the seams.”

“You didn’t cut it apart, did you?” Kit said, horror written all over his face.

“Your precious shirt is safe,” I said, squeezing his fingers. “I know how long it must’ve taken to get the fabric that soft.”

“You got that right,” he said, with a grin.

I glanced around, but everyone was absorbed elsewhere.

“Truth be told,” I whispered, “you might not get it back.”

He frowned, and I quirked my lips at him.

“What have you done with it?” His brows narrowed.

“Nothing, but it’s awfully nice to sleep in… it’s got your scent.”

He peeked toward the rest of the family, then turned back to me, eyes glowing.

“Now that, I’d like to see,” he said, in an undertone. “You can keep it, if that’s why you need it.” He chuckled.

The first present I opened was a beautiful copy of Robert Frost’s Birches.

“That’s for you, my dear,” Kit’s mother said, after I unwrapped it, “because you’re a swinger of birches.” Her eyes glowed as she gazed from me to her son and back again.

Everyone was happy with my homemade gifts and I was touched by the thought that had gone into their presents for me.

Kit disappeared for a moment, then returned to the room carrying a large, gaily decorated box. I glanced up at him with a smile and returned to reading about birches in the snow, my legs tucked up beneath me on the sofa.

All talk in the room ceased and I looked up to see Kit standing before me.

“This is for you.” He gently handed the package to me and sat down. “It’s breakable. Very.”

Looking sideways at him, I slipped my feet to the floor and pulled the end of the silk ribbon to untie the bow, then pulled off the paper. Whatever it was, it’d been packed securely.

Kit cut the heavy tape securing the box with his pocket knife and I opened the flaps.

Traditional Christmas in Once Upon a Vet School

Want to read more? 

Once Upon a Vet School #7 is available in print and digital. See details on my website here

It’s also available as part of Author’s of Main Street’s current boxed set Christmas Babies on Main Street here 

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Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Enjoy creating your own holiday traditions!