In May of 2010, a new blog made
the scene. Several romance writers came together and created The Roses of
Prose. We aren’t all original roses anymore. Some of the authors left and made way for
the new guys. I was one of those. But regardless of who comprised our group, the
camaraderie and fun we have shared remained the same. Our goal was always to
entertain the readers who tuned in.
The blogging world has changed
in the last eight and half years. The number of blogs has increased while the
audience decreased. For that reason, and for many personal reasons, the Roses
have decided to bid adieu. Like one of my favorite minstrels and Caribbean
rock-and-rollers coined, it’s been a
This blog will hang around for...I really don't know how long. We aren't taking it down. It will be here if you want to revisit a post or read Christmas stories in the middle of the summer.
Thanks for being here. We
enjoyed it. Comments, in no particular order, from the Roses are below along
with links to where you can find us elsewhere. We all hope you’ll find us and
keep in touch.
Thank you to all our loyal
readers over the years, but most especially my mom, who never missed a post
even though she didn't comment. You are all greatly appreciated! If you'd like
to keep track of my writing journey, follow my author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JannineGallant.Author/. Personal photos (you know, of my
dog...lol) can be found on Instagram if you'd like to follow me there: https://www.instagram.com/jannine_gallant/.
It's been great to blog with
all these talented ladies for so long. I can be found at jayellwilson.com, if you'd like to stay caught up with my
adventures. Keep on reading!
Thanks to everyone who has
followed us on our journey through the wonderful and often wacky world of
fiction writing and publishing. I hope you’ll continue to stay in touch. You
can always reach me through my website at https://www.alisonhenderson.com.
It's been an absolute pleasure to be part of this group and a joy
to read all the comments each month and learn from everyone. Thank you to those
who have stayed with us, and inspired us to write and share our thoughts. If
you'd like to continue to follow me, you can find me at
I've enjoyed the time here on The Roses of Prose, especially
meeting such lovely ladies. It is you, the readers, who have given me such
encouragement. Thank you so much. I'll still be posting on my blog (http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/)
every weekend with the Weekend Writing Warriors. I hope you'll keep in touch
via my social media links:
Dear Roses of Prose Followers,
I joined the Roses in 2013 and 33,000 blog
words later, I’m proud to say ROP is my favorite place to hang out in the cyber
world. I will miss the humor, the writing tips, and the window into your lives.
Such a bright, generous, talented group of women! Readers, keep following us;
we’ll continue to deliver wonderful stories to you. Find me in these places:
I'm Barbara Edwards and I've
been a member since the beginning. this group has provided me with a fine group
of friends, and I will miss the monthly posts. I wish all of you and our readers
the best of luck and a wonderful future.
Participating in the Roses of Prose blog has been both an honor
and a pleasure...Okay, not the deadlines so much, but the rest of it. So, a big
thanks and hugs to my fellow authors for allowing me a spot amongst the Roses.
Special thanks go out to everyone that read my posts. Though this forum is
ending, I hope we stay in touch. My books can be purchased through most online
retailers. Such as: Amazon or TheWildRosePress
And don't forget to come see what I'm up doing or contact me
I face the end of this blog
with mixed feelings. I love you all--fellow writers and readers. It's been a
special kind of sisterhood. Please know we all write for your enjoyment as well
as our personal fulfilment.
I hope you'll check in on me from time to time at
my website: http://www.vonniedavis.com . While you're there, please sign-up for my monthly newsletter so you can keep up with what I'm writing.
Please follow me on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Vonnie-Davis/e/B0059HUKMC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
I'm on Twitter -- @VonnieWrites … I hope you'll follow me.
Stay well, dearhearts. Blessings to all of you and thankyou for enriching my life.
Endings are always a sad affair, but even the best of things must
come to an end eventually. As we venture off to the next thing, I want to thank
all you readers. Without your active participation and interest in our efforts,
we authors would be left to weave our tales strictly for ourselves. And
seriously, where would the fun be in that? And to my sister Roses – I’m humbled
at and so very appreciative of being included in such an uber-talented clutch.
Love you, ladies.
I’m not saying goodbye as I expect we’ll cross paths again. I’ll
say instead, see ya later. Muah!
I was honored to be included in this fabulous group. I’ve so
enjoyed getting to know the authors I didn’t know and staying in closer touch
with those I did. It was wonderful learning about one another, reading all the
posts, sharing our victories and failures, our happiness and pain, and knowing
all of you were there for support. And thank you to all the readers and guest
authors who’ve joined us over the years. Best wishes!
Many thanks to all who have so
loyally read this blog over the years. It's been a privilege to contribute and
share some of my thoughts (and angst) about reading, writing and life in
general. I also thank my fellow roses, first of all, for inviting me to be part
of this special group several years ago, but also for their generosity and
support in so many ways. I look forward to keeping up with all their writing
adventures and successes in the future. If you'd like to keep up with my fits
and starts at this crazy business, you can find me at my website, or occasionally on Facebook or Twitter. Happy
I think I said it all above. I
do hope you’ll seek me out because I’m all over the place and love to connect
and hear from readers.
I've had a riot writing for this blog and reading the posts. I, too, didn't always comment. Sometimes I'd wait until Sunday afternoon to catch up on a week's worth of thoughtful posts. I'm not a romance writer, so I'm happy I was able to offer a different perspective on writing and publishing. Thanks for reading. Thanks for inviting me. Write away, write now.
regretted sniping at Dean before she’d even finished doing it, but she simply
couldn’t help herself. If she was smart—correction, if his arrival hadn’t
muddled up her brain and apparently short circuited all her emotions, she would
have handled this whole situation differently. She should have just slipped
away and done her thing. Let Dean and the girls do theirs. Without me.
stung at the very thought. Going their separate ways was the last thing she
wanted. Having a complete and cohesive family again was. Not to mention, she
wanted her husband back. The man she’d shared so much with over the years.
though she knew he’d help her, she lifted down the small wheeled cart and
stacked the boxes of ornaments on top of it. She had learned to be far more
self-sufficient over the past six months.
appeared beside her as she tipped the cart on its wheels. When he reached for
the handle, she twisted the other way then started walking toward the pavilion.
for the record, that’s not how I meant my comment about the decorations back
there.” Catching up with her, he reached out to place a hand on her arm. When
she stiffened at the contact, he immediately let go. “I meant the sameness, the
familiarity was a good thing. Comforting. Like coming home.”
lot you’d know about that. You coming home? Or just anyone coming home in
general? She kept more snippy remarks to herself. Why fight? Plus, this was the
holiday season, after all. Peace on Earth, good will to men, and all that.
wondered if there was something you could do.” She slowed her pace as they
approached the entrance, even pausing long enough to allow Dean to open the
door for her.
people were milling around in the huge cavernous room, setting up different
booths that had been sectioned off with long, dark curtains. Luckily, she
didn’t see anyone they knew. Right now, she didn’t feel much like socializing.
of the fathers owns a hardware store and brought in some artificial Christmas trees
for us to decorate. You can help me set those up.” She stopped to study a
diagram that had been taped to the wall. “We’re assigned to number sixty-five,
the end of that aisle.” Taking hold of the handle on her cart when she
momentarily let it go, Dean headed off in that direction, pulling their cargo
along with him.
she could do was trail behind. Watch his shoulder muscles flex, his appealing
backside beneath a pair of jeans with just the right amount of tightness.
will I ever get through this?
her gaze, she stared straight ahead and kept walking. Once they got to booth
number sixty-five, it only took a couple of minutes for Dean to line the boxes
up on the floor he then opened with his ever-present pocket knife. While she
rolled the now empty cart to a back corner, he started pulling artificial tree
parts out of their containers that had been dropped off earlier.
festival has always been a real community effort.” He set a newly assembled
tree on a front table.
certainly has been that.” She turned away to gather some ornaments she set
beside it. “Always.”
gave her a brief nod of agreement as he reached for more tree parts.
the minutes passed, they still hadn’t talked about anything more meaningful
than how the younger students had made the ornaments in their art classes, and
some of the older students had contributed ornaments made in shop class. With
her adding that what she had brought was only a small number of them because so
many other volunteers from her school were involved.
I said.” Dean set another tree on another table. “Community effort.”
Could she have made a more intelligent response?
today, apparently. Now that she thought about it, the innocuous conversation
was probably partially her fault. More than partially even. It kept her from
dealing with what they really needed to talk about.
understood why Dean wanted a second career at forty-five, after his early
retirement. And fully supported him in getting into the home security business.
What she didn’t understand, and probably never would, was why he felt he had to
go somewhere else so far away to do it. What was the inauguration of a new life
to him felt a lot like the abandonment of their old life, to her. At the same time,
she wanted him to be happy too. But uprooting the girls and giving up their
once happy home was a lot to ask.
spoke at the same time then exchanged embarrassed smiles. Followed by an
awkward silence neither seemed to have the courage to break.
“I learned a lot about the home security
business while I was in Reno.” Dean somehow developed his nerve first. “Wagner
said I did really well. Was a real asset to him. He even offered me a
management position. As long as I stayed there in Reno.”
hand froze on the miniature tree she was setting up, but she didn’t so much as
look at him. That wasn’t at all what she wanted to hear. What happened to his
talk a moment ago about familiarity and home?
for you.” After adjusting a couple of wayward branches to a better alignment,
she bent down to rummage through a box of homemade ornaments.
said he liked my grasp of the ins and outs of the business. Said my skills
could help his company realize better profits without opening a satellite
office here like we’d talked about.”
see.” She still didn’t glance up as her rummaging continued. Purely for show
now. A way she could keep her head down and her eyes averted. Prevent him from
discovering the tears welling in their depths.
not standing, the intensity of her fabricated search increased. Dean bent down
along side of her, reaching toward the box as if he too intended to start
rummaging. Instead, he placed his hands firmly over hers to stop her.
I hated every minute away from you and the girls. I told him if he didn’t want
to help me open a satellite office in Michigan like he’d promised, I wasn’t
that split second, her rifling finally ceased. The last chunks of ice around
her heart thawed and fell away. Mouth open, she turned her face toward him, her
eyes searching his as if she needed to determine the extent of his honesty.
cupped her chin with his thumb and forefinger. “You were right all along,
sweetheart. And I was wrong. Moving away from Michigan was the wrong choice. He
wasn’t interested in helping me start a business of my own here. He was after
someone to help him run what he already had going out there.”
anguish in his tone tore at her heart. “Oh, Dean. I’m so sorry. I know how much
you wanted this.”
he simply shrugged surprised her. “He’s not the only owner of a company of its
kind. I’ll find another willing to franchise. Or even figure out a way to set
up my own. If that doesn’t work, I can do something else. I want you way more
than any autonomy. And the girls. If you’ll have me back.”
took in his earnest expression and the pleading in those intense dark eyes.
Bedroom eyes she’d always told him. Eyes that never failed to quicken her pulse
and make her heart swell with love.
into those enthralling eyes now, she swallowed before she spoke. “It turns out
I was wrong too. One of my major
arguments, selling a house that was nearly paid for seemed out of the question.
And for more than just sentimental reasons, though that was a major factor.”
Before he could respond, she went on. “Then there was the road block of pulling
the girls out of the public school they’d attended all their academic lives and
away from the friends they’d known since before they could walk.” She took a
breath. Tears welled up again, but she no longer needed to hide them. “Both
girls are so pragmatic, just like you.” She laughed lightly and swiped at her
eyes. “Both of them later told me they were willing to make those sacrifices to
preserve our family. They were willing to sacrifice…I wasn’t. I was wrong. For
that, I’m truly very sorry.”
grasped her hand and brought her with him when he rose, then pulled her close.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t care about your concerns. I just wanted to see if I
could…we could…do better. Add to the police officer’s pension I had.”
hurt you wouldn’t believe me when I said what we were making was enough for us.
That you were enough for me.” Her voice cracked, and she grew silent, pressing
her lips together as more tears fell.
though, the apologies, the never should have saids, came out of her in a rush.
Everything she’d wanted to say to him. Things she did say to him, if only in
her mind, during so many sleepless nights spent without him.
stayed silent and listened. For a while. Until he gently pressed two fingers
against her lips to stop the flow. “It’s okay. It wasn’t either of our faults,
and it was both of our faults.”
pulled back slightly to look into his eyes, where she caught the hint of
mischief. Any tightness around her heart eased. Hope she didn’t care to
restrain rose in her like a beacon slicing across a darkened landscape. Its
light growing in brightness until it filled every crevice, chasing out the
one way of looking at it.” She smiled at his unique logic, which was so Dean
out, he toyed with a small piece of her hair by her ear. His thumb stroked a
slow pattern lightly along the side of her throat. She didn’t move a muscle as
shivers delivered by his touch crept along her spine then burst open to
re-awaken her nearly forgotten need for him.
was hoping we could pick up exactly where we left off.”
love and devotion she’d at one time come to expect from him and, at another
time, feared she’d never see from him again, was openly reflected in his eyes.
Joy and gratitude stole her breath then stayed in place to block her throat.
Unable to speak through the clog of emotion, she returned his gaze, hers
brimming with all the love she held in her heart for him.
her arms around his waist, she buried her head against his chest, finding
immeasurable comfort in the familiarity she found there as her voice returned
at last. “I don’t know why not. So, let’s finish up here and hurry home.”
from Mandy’s lips, the single word rang with the sweetest sound Dean had heard
in a very long time.
that point forward, he put up little trees he decorated like a madman. Anxious
to, as Mandy said, finish up here and hurry home. Where, if he was extremely
fortunate, he’d be able to get her alone for an hour, hopefully more.
do we do with the empty boxes?” He held up the last of them when they finally
had all the decorations unloaded and displayed.
them here under the tables.” Mandy lifted the cloth skirt attached to one of
them. “They probably won’t sell everything. Whoever oversees clean-up can use
them to bring back what’s left.”
we’re good to go after this.” He shoved the boxes into haphazard stacks under
crossed her arms as she watched him. The smile spreading across her face
erupted into a giggle as he stowed the last box, settled the skirt back in
place, then stood to face her.
like an idiot, he helped Mandy into her jacket before putting on his. Without
taking the precious time necessary to zip up, he ushered her toward the door.
kept his arm tightly around her shoulders all the way back to the car. The
drive home, by the town’s holiday decorations was much more pleasant than the
ride there as they plotted and planned what the next phase of their life
together might look like. Even Santa seemed to be smiling larger than before
when they drove by.
gave him a friendly nod and wink in return. Merry Christmas, Old Man.
girls have a slumber party to go to tonight.” Mandy took her eyes off the road
for a second to glance over at him.
of a sudden, her reason for being so adamant before about him staying somewhere
else tonight became clear. Still, he couldn’t help it when most of the blood
fueling his brain headed south. “When do they leave?”
actually blushed in the most adorable way as she briefly cast a glimpse toward
him again. “Probably about the same time as we get home.”
There was that sweetest word in the world again.
we have to drive them? Drop them off anywhere?” If so, he’d be more than happy
to do the honors.
this time. Susie’s parents are picking them up. The party is at Casey’s. Only
for one night.”
her voice tinged with disappointment? Or was his suddenly deprived brain
hallucinating on him? Before he could decide, they pulled into the garage, and
Mandy hit the button to close the door.
some chili I can heat up for dinner.” She peered over the top of the car at him
after they both got out. “If you don’t mind leftovers.”
sounds perfect. With cheddar cheese, right?”
glanced back at him and smiled. “Of course. I wouldn’t dream of serving you
chili without cheddar cheese.”
tell you how wonderful that is to hear.” The smile he’d been sporting for a
while now was still so broad, his cheeks were beginning to ache. And he didn’t
mind one darned bit. Taking off his jacket he hung on the wall hook just inside
the door, he reached to help Mandy out of her coat, allowing his palms to
linger on her shoulders.
placed her hands on top. “It’s good to have you home, Dean.”
have no idea how good it is to be home.”
her in his arms, he lowered his head, about to kiss the lips he’d been away
from for far too long.
Deanna’s cry echoed from the living room. “I can’t find my ballet flats. Have
you seen them?”
Remaining in his embrace, Mandy lifted her chin to project her voice. “Did you
check the hall closet?”
aren’t in there either.”
but I don’t think they’re there.”
her go when she cast him an apologetic glance then stepped back, Dean was right
behind her as she headed for the living room. As the kitchen door shut behind
him, what appeared before him stole his breath. It was all there, just the way
he’d left it. The fireplace along one wall, the sectional couch, the matching
recliners he and Mandy bought themselves to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
their daughters’ overnight gear was stacked by the front door.
ended up in my room, Deanna.” Amanda bounced down the stairs. “I put them in
your bag already.”
the bottom step, she paused much as he had. Though she made no comment, a huge
smile broke across her face at seeing her parents standing there together.
Great. Thank you.” Deanna backed out of the closet and turned around, then
stopped and reacted in much the same way as her sister.
when you’re ready to come home tomorrow, and one of us will pick you up.”
Mandy’s voice was calm and matter of fact as both girls stood side by side
staring at their apparently reconciled parents.
horn honk from the driveway broke the spell.
Susie. Come on, Deanna.”
sleeping bags, pillows and backpacks, they helped each other struggle through
Mom and Dad. Love you.” Their voices blended to resonate back just before they
closed the door with a whump.
you too.” He and Mandy responded with a chorus of their own.
his arms wrapped easily around her again, he closed his eyes in pure enjoyment
as Mandy nestled her head against his shoulder. Right where she belonged.
like we won’t be needing that suite at the Hamilton Inn after all.” Her voice
came out soft.
flicked a gaze toward the pendulum clock on the mantle. “It’s after six. Too
late to cancel for tonight. Your card’s already been charged.”
a shame to let such a nice, expensive hotel room go to waste.” Her voice held
an intimate undertone that ignited a spark deep inside him.
darned if almost all his blood didn’t shoot downward again.
agree. We should put all those amenities to good use at least once, don’t you
yes. Definitely.” Turning in his arms, she gazed up at him.
after long last, he bent his head and kissed her lips for real. Gently at
first, in case she wasn’t ready for the contact. Which, as it turned out,
couldn’t have been further from the truth.
palms naturally skimmed over the familiar territory of his chest and shoulders,
and she clasped her hands together around his neck. When she raised her mouth
to accept the pressure of his again, he eagerly and passionately returned her
kiss, filled with every ounce of love he held for her. And so much more to
weary travelers who, after wandering aimlessly for far too long, arrive home at
last. To finally find their rightful place together at the inn.
This concludes the gifts of free Christmas short stories from the authors of The Roses of Prose. We hope you enjoyed your time with us. Hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright. Have a very Happy New Year!
Nichols peered through the snow spattered windshield at the emerging lights
some distance ahead and hoped like hell there was room for him again in Mandy’s
course, the girls would pick this week to ask him to come home for their
holiday visit. The busiest tourist week all year in Cascade Lake. The very week
of the Snowfall Festival when every single memory he held of his once happy
life with Mandy and the girls was the most acute…and painful.
new rush of snowflakes danced and whirled over the hood of his F-150 pickup as
he sped along the interstate, and he flipped the wipers on high.
been an idiot. A fool. Talk about your midlife crisis. He never in a million
years thought one would happen to him. Reeling from too many broken promises,
all he wanted was his family back. But the longer he stayed away, the harder it
was to find the courage to return. Whether coming back now was too little too
late, he’d find out soon enough. In the next few minutes in fact. When he
arrived at their house.
he referred to the place where their family had lived together for so many years.
Whether Mandy still did or not was another matter entirely. He had no idea what
to expect from her. Among other things, like how would they greet each other?
The couple who was once so inseparably close, after being apart for six months.
as hell not like the long lost lovers he considered them to be. No matter how
much he might want to reconcile with the woman he so cherished. From the top of
her head to the soles of her feet, that never failed to keep his warm at night.
headlights illuminated the upcoming exit sign for Cascade Lake and he pressed
on the gas. It wouldn’t be long now, and all these unknowns would be answered.
Visions of the love of his life filled his head. Wavy blonde hair, long lashed
blue eyes, full, kissable mouth.
out a sigh, he took the approaching off ramp, then made quick work of
traversing the streets of greater Cascade Lake. Down Center Boulevard by the
water where most of the tourist shops were decorated to the hilt. Familiar
black, vintage street lamps were decked at their necks with thick, shiny silver
bows. Multi-colored lights sparkled from store windows to create kaleidoscope
reflections. Dwarf Christmas trees with golden stars on top and wrapped in
swirls of tinsel and lights sat in huge pots on the sidewalk. Home to colorful
bursts of petunias and impatiens during the summer months.
prettier along here in the wintertime. In my opinion, anyway.” He muttered to
himself as he drove on passed the courthouse with its gigantic ceramic red
suited Santa Claus. His bag brimmed with toys on the ground beside him,
mittened hand raised in a wave and cherubic face in a constant smile of
small salute seemed in order as he came along side. “Thanks, Buddy. I need all
the welcome encouragement I can get.”
good, Nichols. Keep talking to yourself. Something he found himself doing on
the long cross-country drive from Nevada. A half assed effort to gin himself up
for the soon to occur reunion.
left turn on Ash, then right onto Hilltop and, before he knew it, he was home.
At least he’d made it as far as the driveway and stopped in front of the garage
where both doors were shut down tight. Killing the engine, he had only one
thing left to do. Get out and go into the house.
how exactly?” The snow had finally stopped as he peered through the windshield
at the two-story colonial where he lived at one time with Mandy and the girls.
he walk in unannounced? Stand on the porch and knock? Sit here in the damned
car with the heat off and honk the horn? Under the circumstances, none of the
choices seemed quite appropriate. Leaning forward, he rested his hands, sweaty
palms and all, on top of the steering wheel. “Then what the hell is
Daddy!” Deanna burst out the door, making the decision for him. “You’re here!”
He exited the car just in time to catch her exuberant little body in his
Slightly older Amanda bounced out next to make a beeline his way.
out, he easily caught her too. For the next few moments, time stopped as he
hugged the girls he’d been away from for far too long, and had missed so much.
hard as they were squeezing him, he squeezed them tighter.
home, Daddy. You’re home.” Deanna repeated the phrase like a sacred mantra.
He kissed one on the cheek then the other. “I am.”
they’d had their fill of hugs and separated, Amanda checked out his truck with
a quick glance. “What did you bring us? Good presents, I hope.”
He reared back in mock mystification. “Why in the world would I bring
Amanda slapped him playfully on the arm. “You know why.”
I brought presents.” Unable to help it, he hauled them both close to him again.
“Plenty of them. For each of you, and your mother too.”
he’d tried his best to act totally nonchalant, for an instant, each of his
daughters froze. Enough to clue him in to the fact that when it came to Mandy,
some tension remained.
why wouldn’t there be? She was certainly entitled. After all, he was the one
who left her to try his hand at a new business venture. Going clear across the
country to do it after she'd asked him not to..
if his intention was to supplement the State Police pension he’d earned after
twenty years of service. Despite the heartache he’d caused though, his decision
to tie into the home security and personal protection business had been a good
one. Learning as he worked, he’d made the money he’d expected to. Secured the
contacts he wanted to. He just hadn’t realized the result he’d banked on.
he was more than ready to simply come home. If Mandy would have him.
his wife’s voice after what seemed like a lifetime away, he very nearly stopped
breathing. Carefully freeing himself from his kids, he stepped back. When his
heart seemed to follow the lead of his lungs and cease working as well, he was
sure he’d topple over from sheer lack of oxygen and restricted blood flow. All
he could do was stare.
kept walking toward him. “How have you been?”
AWOL organs kicked in with a jolt. “Fine, Mandy. And you?”
were both lying through their teeth, though he doubted either one of them would
ever admit it.
before him with the curls he loved to run his fingers through framing her face,
she was attractive as ever. Even with the tell-tale signs of apprehension
edging her eyes and pulling down the corners of her mouth. Drawn to her beauty,
he started to move forward, arms out. At the warning in her gaze, he
immediately censored what could have easily become a lovers’ embrace when he
dropped his left arm to his side and merely extended his right hand he gently
rubbed along her shoulder. The second they connected, a bolt of awareness
flashed then sizzled up his arm to settle inside him. The manifestation of all
the warmth and caring between them shot through to take its rightful place around
soon she took a step back and his hand dropped away.
girls just asked about presents.” Suddenly it hurt to look at her, and he
turned toward the driveway where his truck sat. “Those are in there, along with
all of my suitcases.”
hoped she noticed the plural when he referenced his luggage. This trip, he
wasn’t traveling light, having packed up everything he’d taken with him when he
moved out. With the full intention of moving back in again. He’d no sooner gone
over to drop the tailgate, push back the tonneau cover and begin unloading when
Mandy followed him and put a hand on his arm.
made you a reservation…for a room.”
might just as well have added a well-aimed kick to the groin to that statement.
It probably wouldn’t have hurt quite so much. But still brought him to his
As his heart sunk, taking along any optimism he might have had left, the
monosyllable was all he could manage. He hadn’t deluded himself into thinking
his homecoming wouldn’t be awkward. What he sure hadn’t expected was it would
be so devastatingly painful. Like being gut shot in the line of duty without
any sense of purpose.
in your name. I had them send the confirmation to your email.”
He couldn’t think of anything else to do but pull out his cell. May as well find
out where I'm headed. Since it sure as hell wasn’t where he’d expected to
stay. The screen lit after he keyed in his code.
Dad. I’ll find it for you.” Amanda reached for the phone he readily
he’d underestimated Mandy’s level of desperation. Big time.
was totally mom’s idea. Not ours.” Giving Mandy a scathing look only a
disagreeing daughter can bestow on her mother, Amanda spun the screen with her
thumb then started to read. “King bed with tension relieving vibration unit.
Two-person hot tub with in room provided robes, complimentary fruit and cheese
tray with chilled bottle of sparkling champagne on request.”
long, explicit room description was given in what must have been her most robust
public speaking voice. As if she were out to prove a point.
over her sister’s shoulder, Deanna looked at his phone then up at him, a huge
frown marring her face. “Gee, Dad. Mom sure went all out for you.”
certainly not what I had in mind.” Mandy hurried to clarify, her cheeks
flaming. “Snowfall weekend there’s not a lot available, as you all well know.”
other time, he would have welcomed Mandy making a reservation like this for
him. Knowing they’d be enjoying the extensive amenities together. Among other
pleasures which weren’t worth thinking about just now. Why frustrate myself
more than I already am?
if the hot tub’s big enough for two, you could swim in there alone, Dad.” With
another glaring look her mother’s way, Amanda handed him back the phone.
well.” He slid the cell back in his pocket, at a total loss. Until something
came to mind. “It…uh…didn’t say how long you reserved the room for.”
night? Maybe two? Allow him to slowly ease back into the household.
a week. That’s how long the girls said you’d be staying.”
he really didn’t have a response.
thing Mandy opened her mouth, hopefully prepared to speak for both of them.
was just going downtown to the school’s booth for the festival tomorrow. The
students have made ornaments to sell. I agreed to set up. Other teachers will
oversee selling and such beginning tomorrow. Some took on clean up duty.”
“I’d like to help.” When she seemed reluctant
to accept his offer, he forged ahead anyway. “In fact, I’ll drive.”
car’s already loaded.” Pulling the remote from her purse, she raised the garage
door and headed inside.
him a clear and distinct message. If he had any chance in hell of going with
her, he’d better haul some serious ass. Which he did. Even skinning around
ahead of her to open the driver’s side door before she got there.
Whatever you want.” By God, he’d still do his darnedest to be agreeable. Even
if he did stand there and purposely hold the door open once she skirted around
him to climb inside. “The girls can at least unload the Christmas presents from
my truck while we’re gone.” Slamming the door at last, he hurried around to the
Daddy.” His daughters spoke in unison.
can unload the presents you brought,” Amanda added with a monumental eye roll.
good, Punkin’” And I’ll deal with the rest when I get back.
that, he said no more, just crawled in and fastened his seat belt as Mandy,
also noticeably silent, backed out of the driveway. Shutting his mouth and
keeping it shut seemed to be the way to go for now. Anything else could risk
being at odds with her. Not at all how he wanted them to come together after
six months apart.
a few minutes though, he couldn’t stand not talking any longer.
old downtown Cascade Lake.” He lifted an arm as he glanced out the window when
Mandy drove along the bright lights of Center Boulevard.
change isn’t the best way to go.” She answered him without taking her eyes off
the road. “Sometimes tradition is best.”
he could do was nod his agreement. He’d only made what he thought to be an
innocent comment to break the silence that was stretching between them. But why
drove by Santa next. Smiling and waving. Still jolly as ever.
for you. He gave Old Saint Nick a raised eyebrow in greeting.
after, Mandy pulled to a stop in the parking lot of the large pavilion where
the bazaar part of the festival was being held. They got out without speaking.
Suddenly overwhelmed with memories of the first time he laid eyes on Mandy
Gearhart, he couldn’t help but wonder if she was remembering too.
forward, keeping her attention focused on the task at hand, Mandy had the back
hatch of her SUV open while Dean was still working to swallow the lump that had
abruptly formed at the back of his throat.
Poor Dean simply cannot catch a break, no matter how hard he tries to make things right again. Ball's in Mandy's court now. Hope she makes the right decision. Join me here tomorrow to find out for A Conflicted Christmas - Part Three.