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The Rumball Rumba

A Dickens Holiday Romance

 

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At Christmas, a secret baby is born in Dickens…

Pregnant and divorced, successful artist Trix Warden returns to Dickens to raise her child surrounded by family. To do that, she needs to renovate a horse barn into a gallery/market for other artists.

At 37, her baby is an unexpected miracle that is hers alone. Determined to get everything done before Delivery Day, she hires widowed single father, Jon Carpenter to do her renovations.

As they move through the work, they spend time together enjoying the holiday season. Trix helps Jon through tricky times as a parent of teens, and he offers support throughout her pregnancy.

Their friendly business relationship blossoms into mutual attraction, and on Christmas Eve, when the baby comes early, Trix trusts Jon with her secret and her heart. But the secret Trix reveals creates a deep divide between them as Jon struggles to accept the decision Trix has made.

Trix is afraid her secret Christmas baby, and her choices, may tear their newfound love to shreds.

Bonus! Recipe inside for No Bake, No Rum, Rum Balls (you know you want to try them)

 

~Excerpt~

July 3 – Dickens

“I’m getting a divorce.” Those words had seemed like a dreadful announcement to give her family last Christmas, but she’d weathered the storm. The combined Moore and James families had rallied quickly and supported her through the whole messy business. Dale, her husband of too many years, had left her for his much younger receptionist.

It still pinched that she was the first divorcee in her family. Trix Warden, loser at marriage. Last Christmas she couldn’t imagine anything worse.

Until now, today.

Because today she got to say the words, “I’m pregnant. I’m a pregnant divorcee.” She winced because that wasn’t the worst of it.

She smoothed her flowy white blouse and denim shorts as she walked the hall in Gram’s house.

Everyone had gathered for the Fourth of July weekend. From the kitchen she saw them on the patio, sitting on chairs in a semi-circle, cold drinks in hand. Her cousins Kayley and Brenna sat beside Brenna’s husband, Jett. He wore his usual expression; besotted. Not only did he love her cousin he was wealthy and generous. Kind, too. They’d only been married a few months having met right here in Dickens last Christmas.

She’d overshadowed their budding romance with her horrid divorce announcement, but that couldn’t be helped.

She sucked in her belly and plastered on a smile. Her Egyptian cotton top was long and roomy. It was perfect for July heat. This morning, without warning, she’d been unable to zip up her best pair of shorts. She’d had to dig through her ‘big’ clothes and cut off her pre-divorce jeans above the knee. Her blossoming tummy needed more room.

Trix drew in a breath and slid open the screen slider. “Hi everyone. I made it. Getting out of Brooklyn was a bear.”

Her mother, Laurel, known to the family as Lolly, was first to reach her. Trix hugged her harder than usual and her mom gave her a curious glance as she stepped back to give Brenna and Kayley room to enfold her.

Next came hugs from her Aunt Jennifer and Uncle Reggie and then, a brief hug and pat on the back from Jett. Gram rose from her seat and Trix walked to her. Gram smelled of roses and kindness and Trix held on for a long moment. She hoped her grandmother wouldn’t be disappointed in her, but that, too, couldn’t be helped.

After more discussion about traffic, everyone’s health and jobs, the announcement loomed heavily in her heart.

When Brenna passed her a glass of wine, Trix raised her palm to give the drink a pass. “I’ll have some of Gram’s famous punch.” Non-alcoholic, the punch was fruity, light, and delicious and none of the younger generation chose it on arrival.

Brenna cocked an inquiring eyebrow but smiled. “More for the rest of us.”

“Good, because you’ll need it,” Trix stated clearly. When everyone turned their gazes to her, she swallowed. “I’m pregnant.”

She couldn’t help a tremulous smile from escaping. They’d love the pregnant part, of course. But not the rest of her story.

Shock moved across their faces like a brushstroke across canvas, slapping each of them as the words sunk in. She and Dale had tried to get pregnant for years. He’d blamed her and when he got his receptionist pregnant, he’d been triumphant as he’d demanded a divorce.

Before any of the family could speak, she said what she’d come here to say. “By Dale.”

Jett looked confused and leaned into Brenna’s ear. “Her cheating ex-husband, Dale?”

“That’s right, Jett.” Trix straightened her shoulders and looked at her mom. Laurel stared back as she calculated dates. Trix braced for the fallout.

“How? And when? You’re not even showing. He left you over seven months ago.” She bit her lip. “Oh, baby, you…” her words trailed off.

“It was a last hurrah. A final goodbye.” A desperate night where they’d both been lonely and longing for connection. She, because Brenna and Jett had married that day and Trix had felt incredibly old and alone as she’d watched the bride and groom, delirious with joy. Dale, because the young woman he’d left Trix for had lost their baby and he was overcome with grief.

“No, it was more than a goodbye,” she began. “Marie, Dale’s wife, lost their baby, and he came to me, grieving, shaking with tears. He wanted to say he was sorry for what he’d done to me and to our marriage. But when I opened the door to him, all I saw were the years we’d hoped in vain for a baby of our own.”

“Pity sex,” Kayley said, sounding sage.

“Comfort sex,” her mom said with a soft sigh. “We’ve all been there.”

Jennifer stood and came to her. “Sex with the ex is common enough and you don’t need to explain yourself.”

“The final goodbye came in the morning when he told me he never wanted to see me again. Never wanted to be reminded of our marriage or what he did to it. As far as he was concerned, he’d made a terrible mistake and went home to his wife.” She shrugged. She’d been happy to see the back of him. Good riddance.