Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Kiss for Ophelia by Vonnie Davis



This was the absolute last time she kissed anyone under the mistletoe. Mandy Campbell didn’t care what charity it was for. Her hand grabbed a cup of fruit punch from the table next to her “Kissing Station.” She pinched her eyes shut as she guzzled the juice to clear her mouth. A shudder racked her body so she snagged another cup.

Why hadn’t she just worn hospital scrubs to the party? No, she had to create an elf outfit—and it was cute, too. Or had been. She sipped at her second drink, taking inventory of her costume. Her green top with a wire sewn in the seam of the ruffle at the bottom still billowed away from her body like a cute Christmas tree. The tiny bulbs and garland she'd sewn on by hand still intact. She reached for a napkin and dabbed at two spots on it. Dampness from tobacco spit seeped through the bottoms of her red and white striped leggings. Was it any wonder?

She stared at the pair of dentures on the floor in front of her green-sequined elf shoes. The toes with bells curled upward as if recoiling from the bizarre sight along with her stomach.

Her gaze slowly rose from the fake teeth, over the patched bib overalls and frayed flannel shirt to settle on the man’s whiskered face with gums damn near sunk back to his tonsils.

The elderly man’s one arm opened wide while his other grasped his hand-carved cane. His Santa hat slid back over his bald head. “Hows about a second kiss, Ophelia? That first one was a doozy!”

She looked at his tobacco slime covered dentures on the floor again and her gag reflex kicked in. He’d worn the false teeth for the first kiss. They’d fallen out when he’d smacked his lips and spat tobacco juice afterward. She supposed the man had never heard of denture adhesive or that women didn’t like a mouthful of chewing tobacco when being kissed. So, no, she didn’t want a repeat performance. Secondly, her name wasn’t Ophelia. The poor elderly soul was obviously confused.

“Grandpa! Grandpa, I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Didn’t I tell you to stay close by?” A tall man in a navy sweater and jeans faded in all the right places hurried toward the kissing, toothless man.

The deep rumble of his familiar voice stilled Mandy’s heartbeat for a tense minute before it stuttered back to life. She recognized the sweater, a gift from last Christmas. Knew by heart the touch and strength of his broad shoulders. Recalled with bittersweet emotions how wonderful his calloused hands caused gooseflesh to rise along with her sighs as he caressed her body. Remembered with every overactive hormone how well his full lips could kiss.

“Mandy?” Dalton’s dark eyebrows rose to meet the swath of chocolate-colored hair that always fell over his forehead. “What are you doing here in Brevard?” He stepped toward her and teeth crunched beneath his feet. “What the hell?” A booted foot rose to reveal smashed plastic and cracked fake teeth. “Grandpa, are these yours?”

“Don’t need ‘em. Ophelia, here, likes my kisses without the dang things.”

“Ophelia?” Dalton’s questioning glare locked on her.

“He’s confused.” Mandy grabbed a few snowmen paper napkins from the punch table and handed them to Dalton. He stooped, cleaned up the mess, and strode to the trash can to toss it all away.

He was the type of man women loved watching. He had fluid, almost graceful moves even though he was a hardened mass of muscle. She knew all too intimately every inch of his body. When he returned and stood so close to her she could inhale his minty breath, he repeated his question, “What are you doing in a nursing home in Brevard, a hundred and twenty miles from Charlotte?”

She stared into the deep blue eyes of her soon-to-be ex-husband. “The hospital I work for is in Brevard. It sends a few employees to help with charity events at Mountain View Nursing Home. Since I’m a new employee, I was one of the lucky ones.” She jerked her chin to the older man. “Is this your grandpa Ed?” He’d really gone downhill since their wedding two years ago.

“Yes. He’s a new resident here. The family moved him in after he set fire to his kitchen last month. He’s becoming more and more forgetful.” Dalton reached to touch her cheek, his calloused fingertips so familiar as they trailed down her face. God help her, she wanted to lean into him. “Why aren’t you working at Dr. McGrath’s in Charlotte anymore?” Dalton eyes searched hers, no doubt for answers and to gage her reactions. He was always good at gaging her feelings, especially after the miscarriage last spring. She’d sunk into a deep depression for several weeks. “Where are you living?” his voice was pained, worried.

“With Callie. I missed a lot of time both after the miscarriage and our breakup and lost my job. I moved in with my sister until I could get on my feet more. I’ve been working at the hospital for a month, now.” Meanwhile Mandy’s heart kept pounding a slow pained beat over losing the only man she’d ever loved. To say nothing of all their hopes and dreams she thought they’d shared.

Dalton’s lips thinned. “No one asked you to move out. That was your decision. You know damn well I was working long hours to save up to remodel the kitchen. Where or how you came up with the idea I was seeing another woman, I’ll never understand. Then that crazy idea of a cruise coming out of the blue—”

She reared back. “Crazy?”

Grandpa Ed elbowed Dalton. “See here, young man, don’t you call Ophelia crazy.”

“Her name isn’t Ophelia, Grandpa. She’s my wife, Mandy.” His piercing gaze locked onto hers in condemnation and his fingers tucked into the front pockets of his jeans. “Why, baby? Why were you in such a rush to end our marriage? To move away? Did I ever mistreat you? Lay a hand on you in anger? Call you names? Did I stop showing you how special you were to me?”

A veil of tears blurred Mandy’s vision. She had to admit, he hadn’t. “No,” she forced out on a whisper, her palm somehow found itself on his heart, feeling the strong beat. She had so many regrets.

“Was that cruise we’d argued about worth so much? Worth more than our marriage? I mean you never mentioned going on one before. Our goals had always been fixing up the house and filling it with children. The doctor saw no reason why you couldn’t conceive again, you know that.”

She nodded and swiped away tears. “You’re right.”

He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her palm. “Have dinner with me tonight. We need to have a long talk.”

Now that she’d had two months to think about her behavior the last couple weeks she and Dalton were together, she was ashamed over how she’d pushed him so hard for a cruise to the Caribbean. What she wasn’t sorry for were her allegations about another woman. Especially when she’d returned to their house, a few days after she’d left, to try to work things out.

To her pained surprise, she’d found a redhead snuggled in her and Dalton’s bed, the blankets Mandy had picked out to match their redecorated bedroom were pulled over part of the strange woman’s auburn hair. It sure hadn’t taken her husband long to replace her. Or had her accusations been right all along? She’d quietly stepped back into the hallway and closed the door. Then she’d snatched her suitcases off the floor, snuck down the steps, and stormed out of their dream house, fixer-up though it was.

A five-dollar bill waved in front of Mandy’s face jarring her from her thoughts. “How about a kiss for me, pretty lady with the cute ass.” Whoever the middle-aged man was, he reeked of eggnog—a lot of eggnog, heavy on the rum. He glanced over her shoulder and leered at her festive green and white striped elf tights. “That’s one fine sight back there.”

Dalton swore under his breath, stepped in front of her, and glared at the man.

Since she was determined to raise as much money as she could for a library at the nursing home, Mandy moved between them and pointed two fingers to her eyes. “Here, buster. Keep your eyes focused here.” She snatched his money and cupped his face in her hands to keep control as she laid a chaste kiss on him. “Merry Christmas and thanks for your heart’s goodness to donate to our cause.” She pivoted to shove his money into her kiss jar. His hand cupped her bottom and she shrieked in shock.

Grandpa Ed yelled, “Get your grubby hands off my sweet Ophelia. No one kisses Ophelia, but me.” He smacked his cane across the drunken Romeo’s shoulders.

Dalton grabbed the strange man’s shirt and lifted him off the floor. “You touch my wife again and you’ll have to suck your meals through a freaking straw.”

At that precise moment, Mandy didn’t know who she was more upset with. The man who’d had the audacity to cop a quick feel or her estranged husband who felt he could just strut in here and take charge of her life.

Dalton set the man’s feet on the floor and the wild-eyed male scampered off. Her husband whipped out a five. “I want a kiss, too. It’s a damn shame when a man, who’s been crazy with worry over his absent wife, has to pay to kiss her once he’s found her again.”

“I am not kissing you.” Oh, but she wanted to. Heck, she’d pay him for a kiss. She’d missed him so much. Still, there was the matter of his working such long hours in his construction business and the redhead in their bed mere days after Mandy had moved out after their big blowup.

He pulled out a twenty. “Twenty-five dollars.” He tucked the money in the neckline of her top, his knuckles brushing the fullness of her breasts. “You used to like my kisses. Let’s see if you still do.”

All her girly bits were singing “Here Comes Santa Claus” as Dalton’s fingers forked into her long hair and his head lowered. Once his soft lips covered hers, she moaned and wrapped her arms around his neck. Home. Silent words of hurt, loneliness, and need were spoken during the kiss. Once he pulled away, there was a sheen of moisture in his eyes. “Have dinner with me tonight. We need to talk and straighten this mess out. I want you back, Mandy, in the worst kind of way.”

Would that be a good idea? A long talk would require honesty. A lot of honesty.

 Thank goodness the lady in charge of the activities chose that moment to start the senior conga line to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Grandpa Ed hobbled over to grab some silver-haired lady’s ample swaying hips. “Ophelia, I’ve been looking for you!”

“It seems like Grandpa Ed can’t quite remember the color of Ophelia’s hair or the size of her hips,” Amanda said with a tinge of humor as the conga line slowly meandered through the activities room.

Dalton had moved behind her and wrapped his arms around her midriff, drawing her into the warmth of his firmly muscled body. “I hope I never forget the wheat color of your hair or the feel of your body.” He pressed a kiss to her neck and she worried about how good all of this felt. They had so much to work through. “Although I must say your boobs have gotten bigger. I don’t recall them being this large.”

She hoped he kept his arms banded under her chest and didn’t lower them. If he did, he’d feel her growing baby bump.

Read more about Vonnie Davis at


Margo Hoornstra said...

Wonderful, simply wonderful! I am so rooting for these two.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Whoa! That jarred me. Yay.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Your characters are, as always, compelling, Vonnie. Somehow you are able to make impossible situations not only possible but damn funny. I'm hooked!

Jannine Gallant said...

What a wonderful opening, Vonnie! I'm wondering who that redhead was. Dalton has some explaining to do!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Margo. The image of the false teeth on the floor came to me first when I started writing this story, so I had to compose around that visual.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I hope it jarred you in a good way, Brenda. LOL

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Rolynn, I wanted to try my hand at writing a "getting back together" romance. Things some heartbroken people wish for at Christmas.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Dalton certainly does, doesn't he, Jannine? Stay tuned tomorrow.

Christine DePetrillo said...

Well, that was "an ending." Curious about the next installment.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I hope you enjoyed it Christine. Come back tomorrow.

Alicia Dean said...

Whoa!!! What a hook. Several surprises in that short piece. Well done...looking forward to more!

Barbara Edwards said...

Love this. Can't wait for more.

Diane Burton said...

Missing your post yesterday is a good news/bad news thing. Bad that I missed. Good that I get to read 2 parts back to back. :) That last line is great. Can't wait to see how he feels when he finds out. Great story.