Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Kiss for Ophelia--Part 2 by Vonnie Davis


Dalton was still in a state of shock. He’d found Mandy. For two months, he’d nearly gone insane hunting for her. And where had he found her? Standing under the mistletoe. What were the chances?

Once her time working the charity event was over and they saw his grandpa back to his room, he took his wife’s hand and led her to his truck. “Since you know this area better than I do, is there a quiet restaurant you can suggest where we can talk?” He opened the door for her.

“I’ve heard The Fall’s Landing is nice, but I’ve never been there. I’ve passed it plenty of times on Main Street.”

He kissed her again and helped her into her seat. “Lead the way, baby.”

“You don’t mind the way I’m dressed?” She waved one of her sequined pointed elf shoes at him and its bell jangled. His heart beat lighter than it had in months. His Mandy could be so cute.

“Mandy Campbell, I’m so happy to see you, I could give a flying fig what the hell you’re wearing.” He closed the door and rounded the front of the truck. Once he’d settled behind the steering wheel he studied her. “Why didn’t you return my calls or answer my texts? Just two short texts about leaving you alone. That was all that gave me a clue you were still alive.”

“I’m sorry. I was too hurt and confused.” She clasped her fingers, something she’d always done when she was nervous.

“Yeah, well, I was pretty damned hurt and confused, too. We’d argued off and on during our marriage like all couples, but never once did you threaten to leave me much less throw your clothes in some suitcases and silently walk out as if I was invisible.”

Her hand touched his thigh. “I was wrong to do that. I hope you’ll forgive me. It was as if I’d lost control of the rational part of my thinking.” He covered her hand and pulled out of the parking space. Yeah, they had a lot of talking to do. He needed some damn specifics.

The Fall’s Landing was somewhat crowded, but they were seated in a booth without waiting. Everyone’s eyes followed his cute elf as her feet jingled on their way to their seats. There were a few who pointed and chuckled. Holiday music played softly and silver garland strung with twinkling white lights added to the atmosphere.

They both ordered hot chocolate to sip while they looked over their menus. Dalton hooked his index finger around hers because he couldn’t bear to lose contact with her. He still couldn’t believe his luck. He’d found her. She was talking to him. They’d kissed. There was hope.

He kept glancing at her over his menu. They’d started going steady in their senior year of high school. She’d always been the only one for him. His heart hadn’t beat a happy pulse since they’d argued over going on a romantic cruise. She wanted some excitement. He was working hard and saving every penny to remodel their house. Never once had she mentioned a cruise until her sister Callie bragged about the one she and her husband were going on. The two sisters were always in a competition, whether they wanted to admit it or not.

That childish rivalry had caused them two months of being together. He didn’t realize how much his life revolved around being with her, holding her at night, and kissing her awake every morning until after she’d packed in a huff and stormed out.

       "I see you're still wearing your wedding band." His thumb rubbed over the simple ring identical to his.

        She glanced at it and smiled. "I couldn't bear to take it off. You still have yours on." She sounded surprised. What was up with that?

     "I'm being buried with this ring on, Mandy. We made a promise for life."

When the waiter came, Dalton ordered trout and she ordered scallops and shrimp. In typical Mandy fashion, she ordered chocolate mud cake and asked it to be served first. His wife lived by the rule “life is short, eat dessert first.” He’d gotten in the habit of joining her, so he ordered key lime pie.

“Dessert first. I’m glad to see some things in your life never change.” He sipped his hot chocolate and licked the whipped cream from his lips. “I understand, now, your depression after losing the baby. I fell into one after you left.”

A spark of anger flashed across her face. Her features pinched. “Is that a fact?”

“Yeah, Spence called three days after you left. He could tell I was down about something and he pushed. You know how my older brother can be.”

“Yeah, like a dog with a bone. No wonder he’s such a good police detective. I’d hate to have him interrogate me.” She sat back when the server brought the desserts and cups of coffee.

“Spence and Zoey Beth drove over from Asheville that night. He had a case of beer and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Zoey Beth made pasta while we guys talked and drank. She drank, too, and wasn’t able to get up to go golfing with us. Spence dragged my hung-over ass off the sofa and out onto the golf course at eight o’clock in the freaking morning. We were still pissy-assed drunk and laughed like fools. He got me through the darkest of the depression.”

Her forkful of chocolate mud cake had stilled halfway to her mouth. “Where…where did they sleep?”

Another piece of delicious key lime pie was swallowed. Man, this stuff is so good, I might need another slice. “In our bedroom. We’d never gotten around to making a guest bedroom, you know that. We’d started on the nursery and then stopped and decided to concentrate on the kitchen. Which is why your sudden demands to go on a seven-day cruise never made sense to me. For what we’d have spent plus my lost income, we could have bought top of the line appliances that would have lasted for years, not a week on the high seas.”

Mandy laid her fork on her plate without eating a bite. “So, Zoey Beth was in our bed? Our red-headed, sister-in-law, Zoey Beth?” Her green eyes widened and her lower jaw hung agape.

What was wrong with that? His brother’s wife was clean. “Yeah.”

Mandy dropped her face into her upturned hands and sobbed.

Dalton leaned across the table and wrapped his hands around her wrists. “What’s wrong? Why are you so upset?” Maybe she needed to go back on anti-depressants or counseling. Anything. He’d see she got anything to make her happy again.

 “Oh God, I am such an idiot. Such an immature idiot.” Her tear-stained face rose and she stared at him. “It only took me two days to realize leaving you was the biggest mistake of my life.” She rummaged in her purse and removed a pack of tissues. She blotted her eyes and blew her nose. “It took me another day to work up the courage to explain my behavior the past few weeks. I mean, I’d been acting all kinds of bitchy.”

He sipped his coffee to keep from talking. Even though she’d spoken the truth, he wasn’t dumb enough to agree. Hell, living with her those last few weeks was like walking on eggs in snowshoes.

“So, the day you and your brother went golfing, I moved back home.”

Dalton’s eyebrows shot skyward again. “You did?”

“Yes," she nodded, "but when I opened the door to our bedroom, all I could see was the red, curly part of Zoey Beth’s head and I thought it was the woman I’d imagined you’d been seeing. Instead of waking her up and asking her what the hell she was doing in my house, at which point I’d have seen who it was, I ran out. With my heart shredded and being sick, I missed a lot of work. I was fired and left Charlotte.”

“You thought my brother’s wife was some secret lover of mine?”

She shrugged and tore at her tissue.

“Baby, don’t you trust me at all? Do you think I’d cheat on you? Worse, do you think I’d bring another woman into your house…your bed?”

She finally took a bite of her dessert. “I need to grow up, don’t I?” She nodded in that charming way she had when she answered her own questions. “All I can say is I was sick. Well, not really sick. Just kind of. My hormones were all over the place and I’d finally learned why. That was one of the reasons I came home to try to get our marriage back on track.”

Well, color me mistletoe green, because I have no clue what she’s getting at.

Dalton sipped his coffee, trying to make sense of it all. She didn’t need to grow up. The woman was damn near perfect. Sure she’d fallen into a depression after losing the baby, but that was normal. It was only their last couple weeks together that she’d begun acting batshit crazy at the drop of a hat.

If their marriage had any chance of working, he had to know. “Can you tell me why your nerves and reactions so often went off the charts?”

“Oh, I can do better than that.” She reached into the outside pocket of her purse and pulled something out. A picture. She handed it to him. “Dalton, meet your daughter. She’s due in five months.”

Dalton’s lungs deflated as air whooshed out. Warmth flashed through his body like fireworks as he stared at the sonogram picture. “You’re pregnant?”

“We’re pregnant.”

This little being in the picture explained it all: Mandy’s erratic mood swings, her lack of appetite before she left, her long bouts of sleeping he’d feared was her depression coming back, and her fuller breasts he’d felt today. Pregnant. “Are…are you seeing a doctor regularly?” Dalton blinked away the tears and grinned like a fool at the same time. This was his little girl.

“Yes. I’m past the time miscarriages usually happen, according to my doctor. I still have to be careful. I don’t do much lifting on my job. She says our little one is developing on schedule.”

He had to get closer to his wife and moved to sit beside her in the booth. He wrapped his arm around her and she laid her head on his shoulder. How often had they sat like that over the years? “I love you, Mandy. I’ve loved you since chemistry class when you were my study partner.”

“I love you, too. I hope you can forgive me for all the pain and mess I made of our lives. My hormones had my emotions all over the place. I was beginning to suspect I was pregnant and scared I’d lose this baby, too.”

“But you didn’t.” He rested his hand over her abdomen. “We belong together. Not just because of the baby, but because it’s always been you and me. I’m worthless without you.”

“I need you, too. I’ve been miserable. I can be packed and ready to go in an hour.”

He laughed. “You know, you’ve been on your feet all day. What do you say about getting a motel room so you can be on your back for a while?” She waggled her eyebrows and nodded her agreement. He hadn’t felt this great in over two months. “You’re moving back home and telling me how you want the nursery finished. I’m guessing there will be some pink involved.” He kissed her hair, her forehead, her lips. With their heads touching, they both looked at the photo and oohed and awed over the beautiful baby. 

“I’ve been calling her Mia Rose.” Mandy glanced up at him.

“I like that…Mia Rose.” Dalton shifted in the booth so he could bend and press a kiss to their baby bump. A chuckle of pure joy burst forth. “Mia Rose Ophelia Campbell.”

I hope you enjoyed “A Kiss for Ophelia.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours.

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Margo Hoornstra said...

Perfect, perfect, perfect. Way to brighten up my morning, Von. Thank you.

Christine DePetrillo said...


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thank you, Margo. I've never written a romance between two married people before. I was a change for me.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Christine!!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Lovely little story!

Jannine Gallant said...

Aww, very sweet. A lovely way to begin my morning. Thanks, Vonnie!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Well done, Vonnie. And I loved the way the baby's name wrapped up the story nicely with Ophelia, and grandpa and the teeth. Nice twist with the girl in bed. Heartwarming holiday story!

Alicia Dean said...

Awwwww, fantastic!! I love the humor mixed with the romance. Perfect ending!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Brenda!

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Jannine.

Rolynn, a lesson in jumping to conclusions. Huh? Thanks for your kind remarks.

Thanks, Alicia. It's hard for me to write without humor. It's my weird way of looking at things.

Barbara Edwards said...

Such a sweet story. Thanks.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thank you, Barb. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Alison Henderson said...

Aw, what a wonderful story, Vonnie. I loved them both!

Diane Burton said...

What a wonderful story, Vonnie. Those two belong together.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Alison. I'm glad you enjoyed both episodes.

Diane, I agree. Those two belong together, too.

Leah St. James said...

Love this story, Vonnie! Love the way you packed humor and a little sadness and some happiness and romance into one story.