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Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Historical Christmas Event with Wendy LaCapra

Wendy LaCapra has been reading romance since she sneaked into the adult section at the library and discovered Victoria Holt & Jane Aiken Hodge. From that point on, she dreamed of creating fictional worlds with as much richness, intrigue and passion as she found within those books. Her stories have placed in several contests, including the 2012 Golden Heart®. She lives in NYC with her husband and loves to hear from readers.

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Hello Ramblings from this Chick readers! I’m so happy to be part of this year’s Christmas event! (Thank you for having me, Danielle!)

I couldn’t decide which couple to feature from my Lords of Chance series (Scandal in Spades, Heart’s Desire, and the newly-released Diamond in the Rogue), so I imagined scenes with each, culminating with all three couples together on the holiday. The epilogue of Diamond in the Rogue mentions in passing that the three Stanley siblings (Katherine, Lord Markham, and Julia) spend Christmas at Bromton Castle with their respective spouses, and that despite past estrangement between the men of the family, that the holiday was merry. These four mini-scenes imagine the love, marzipan* and mistletoe that helped ignite Christmas magic, reuniting family and old friends.

Three Christmas Kisses

Lord Bromton & Katherine, Lady Bromton

After his marchioness, in no uncertain terms, banished him to the settee, Giles Everheart Langley, the third Marquess of Bromton, had little to do but admire her from across the room. Heavy with their first child and bathed in the hearth’s gentling light, she formed a soft, genial picture…not that he was deceived.

She was his fierce hellion, and she was clearly on a mission.

He stretched out his legs and crossed his feet at his ankles, inhaling the balsam scent filling the great hall. They had draped every visible surface with evergreen boughs, and yet—she tilted her head—the decorations were, apparently, not passing muster.

“The mantle needs four more sprigs of holly.” She worried her bottom lip while supporting her back. “No, six.”

“Darling,”—he couldn’t help replying—“now seems an excellent time to remind you of the Italian proverb, ‘the best is the enemy of the good.’”

Her lips pinched, adorably pert, as she cast a narrow-eyed glance over her shoulder. “Must I ask you to quit the room entirely?”

“No.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll be good.”

She hmphed in disbelief. “Well then, now seems an excellent time to remind you this will be our first family Christmas at the castle, and the first in several years that my brother, sister and I will be together.” She hesitated, fingers hovering over three prickly leaves. “Not together as we used to be, of course, since all of us are wed.”

Bromton lifted his brows. Aye, there’s the rub.

“Oh, spilikins!” Katherine twisted a holly stem two degrees counterclockwise. “This just isn’t working at all.” She wrinkled her nose. “Something is missing. Perhaps Mr. Warren can help.”

“Certainly.” Bromton nodded, all seriousness. “As a world-renown artist, my stepfather is surely more capable of perceiving subtle errors in garland arrangement than myself.”

Katherine’s sudden, self-effacing chuckle melted the tension from her features. “I’m being a beast, aren’t I?”

“Never, love.” He held out his hand.

She approached shyly. “I just want everything to be…perfect.”

While nothing could ever be perfect, to him, his life with Katherine could never be anything less. Still, he understood. More was at stake than a simple holiday feast.

Just a few weeks prior, Katherine’s beloved little sister Julia had eloped with Bromton’s neighbor, Lord Rayne—a man who’d been as close to Bromton as a brother before they’d had a falling out. Katherine had been worried, and her brother Markham, enraged. Now that Julia and Rayne were wed, however, Bromton, Katherine and Markham, had promised Julia they’d renew their friendship with Rayne.

Family was family, and, after all, this was the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. One might as well begin practicing at home.

Katherine traced a line down Bromton’s palm. “Do you think it is foolish of me to hope everyone can make merry together so soon?”

“What sister wouldn’t wish her siblings happy at Christmas? And you’ve always been the heart of your family.” Just as she would be the heart of the family they were about to create. “If anyone can unite us all, it is you.”

“But a woman in my state isn’t meant to be seen, let alone—”

“Since when has my hellion ever been concerned with propriety?” He interrupted with a laugh. “Besides, there can be nothing improper about spending time with your brother and sister in your own home.” He rose. “Why don’t you take a short rest?” He assisted her into the chair. “My son is, no doubt, a heavy burden.”

She placed a hand over her stomach and smiled. “My daughter appears to be partial to dance.”

Bromton settled in at her side and wrapped his arm about her shoulder. “Any child of ours is sure to be light on their feet, if he—or she—has an ounce of their mother’s grace.”

He kneaded the taught muscles in Katherine’s neck while she snuggled against his shoulder. He’d never get over the feeling of her in his arms—the way her closeness made everything seem, well, right.

“Would you believe me if I told you all will be well?” he asked.

“No.” She shifted and then gazed up into his eyes. “But tell me anyway.”

“All will be well.”

Her brow creased. “How can you sound so sure?”

“Because your siblings love you.” He kissed her wrinkled forehead smooth. “And you love them.”

“Of that, I’m certain. But what of you and Markham and Lord Rayne—?”

“Rayne loves Julia.” He trailed his lips to her nose. “We must simply trust that love will bring us together on this, and every, holiday to come.”

Honestly—Bromton ran the back of his hand down her cheek—he didn’t know how Katherine consistently renewed her internal wellspring of love, but he was proof of her love’s alchemic power. So, he reasoned, Rayne would become proof of Julia’s. As for Markham—well, anyone could see he and his wife were besotted.

One day—perhaps even Christmas Day—they would all come together, past hurts fully healed.

“I have full faith Julia will eventually wear Rayne down. Look what you and Clarissa have done to Markham and I? Once known as the Ace of Spades and the King of Hearts, we’re now docile as puppies…”

“Docile?” she scoffed.

He oophed as she playfully swiped his shoulder, but the cloud of doubt in her eyes had dissipated, just as he’d hoped.

She was beautiful, his wife. And brave and wise and tireless about bringing those she loved together. In short, she was worth every trial he’d undertaken to win her heart.

He bent his head, meeting the warm softness of her lips and delighting in the tingle that never ceased to shiver through his veins whenever they kissed.

“I love you, Katherine.”

“And I love you.” She sighed. “I feel better now.”

Gently, he pressed her head into his shoulder. “Rest, then?”

She closed her eyes. “I think I will.”

Despite his faith and her trust, he’d little proof the planned celebration would be everything she hoped. Perhaps—he rubbed the stubble on his chin—the time had come for him to do a little decorating of his own.

Lord Markham & Clarissa, Lady Markham

Using the greatest care, Markham fastened a string of pearls around his wife’s neck. Then, he rested his hands on her shoulders and met her gaze in the small looking glass propped up against the gatehouse wall. Instantly, he forgot the worries that had plagued him of late and, instead, lost himself in Clarissa’s midnight hair, her porcelain skin, and her lupin-blue eyes.

For a heady moment, all the promise he’d felt when they’d first wed returned. Then, he remembered just what was at stake this evening—both his fledgling marriage and his family.

His little sister Julia, the little sister he and Katherine had practically raised, had given herself to Clarissa’s brother, Rayne—a former friend famous for his diamond-hard exterior, and infamous for interfering in Bromton’s betrothal to Katherine.

At the time of Markham’s wedding to Clarissa, Rayne had been planning on leaving England for good, sparing Markham the trouble of forcibly reviving a wounded friendship. But Julia and Rayne’s anvil wedding had changed everything, putting an abrupt end to Markham’s honeymoon bliss, and placing at risk everything he loved.

Markham swallowed roughly and dropped his hands to his wife’s waist. “As always, you look simply splendid.”

“Thank you.” She turned to face him, remaining inside his embrace. “Now, are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?”

He pursed his lips, struggling to find words. “I wish…I wish you didn’t have to face the coming evening.”

“I’m glad we are here, do you understand? I’ve always been partial to Bromton Castle’s gatehouse, and now I’ve wonderful memories to cherish.” She placed her palm against his arm. “Although I know we wouldn’t have pursued Julia and Rayne to the border if your sister hadn’t kidnapped my brother…”

“Julia did not kidnap—” He paused. “Oh, very well. Julia did disguise herself as a footman and jump on the back of Rayne’s carriage. But you cannot tell me she forced Rayne to wed. Rayne has always done just as he pleased.”

“Believe me, I am well-aware of my brother’s shortcomings, and I would never suggest Julia forced Rayne to do anything. Still, I wish I’d been a fly on the wall when he discovered...” She squeezed her eyes closed and shook her head. “Perhaps not. But, no matter how they came together, you must admit Julia is happy.”

Markham nodded reluctantly. “That she is.”

Clarissa moved her hands up his tensed back muscles. “And her happiness makes you happy, does it not?”

“You know my sisters mean the world to me,” he said glumly.

“I do.” She smoothed the pads of her thumbs over his cheeks. “Which means there is more to this than just your fears for Julia.”
His breath caught. “Yes.”

“I assume you’re worried that any difficulty between you and my brother will somehow spill over to us?”

His shoulders deflated. “Am I that obvious?”

“Only to me.” She lifted herself to her toes and touched her mouth lightly against his forehead. “You’ve no need to worry. I repeat—I’m glad things have turned out as they have. We are all family, now.” She dropped a kiss into the hollow of his right cheek. “Even if I weren’t pleased,”—she moved his head and kissed the hollow on his left—"I am absolutely certain nothing can come between us that we don’t allow.”

Ah, her scent. Night Jasmine—warm, open, and welcoming. “I want to believe you, love.”

“Then believe.” Her lips twisted into a wry smile. “The truth is, Rayne and I are helpless when it comes to you and Julia. As for Katherine, she brought the mighty Marquess of Bromton to his knees, did she not?”

Markham chuckled. “In a crowded soiree, no less.”

“Yes.” She smiled at the memory. “You could have knocked me over with an Ostridge plume, I swear.”

His arms tightened around her waist. “I wish I’d been with you that night.”

“At the time,” her tone teased, “I wouldn’t have wanted you with me. I thought you the worst kind of rake, you know.”

“Liar.” He cupped her bottom. “Admit it. You may not have liked me much, but you lusted after my famed rakish skills.”

To further his point, he caressed the spot on her inner thigh that left her shivering. She made a gravelly sound in her throat.

“You’re playing with fire, lapin.”

Her pet name for him—a reference to his eager lust—never failed to enflame him…as well she knew.

“You have but to command me to stop.” He wet his lips. “And I will stop.”

Her lids drooped over eyes that were no less knowing. “And if I command you to trust your heart to my hands?”

“Keep training your nails down my neck,”—he smirked—"and I doubt I’ll have a choice.”

She lowered her voice. “I’m serious, Markham.”

He gazed down, feeling peace steal back into his heart. She was right. Nothing could or would come between them.

He brushed his lips against hers, savoring the heat that blossomed between them.

“I trust my heart to your hands, forever and always,” he vowed.

As she ran her fingers through his hair, he closed his eyes, forgetting everything that wasn’t her hands against his skin. He’d never get used to the privilege of her touch.

“I am dressed and ready,” she whispered. “And that means I’ve plenty of time to turn my attention to you…”

Lord Rayne & Julia, Lady Rayne

Rayne decreased the breakneck speed of both horse and sleigh until he and Julia came to a skidding stop in front of Bromton Castle. The thrill of the ride was nothing next to the exhilaration of his wife’s gleeful giggle and the warm feel of her body tucked close to his side.

Why did Julia’s laugh make him feel invincible?

He didn’t know, but he was about to face a long afternoon and evening with her family, which included two of his formerly close friends, whom he’d once tried—in a terrible lapse of good judgement—to hurt.

He’d take all the invincibility he could get.

As one of Bromton’s grooms trotted up the lane from the castle’s stables, Rayne considered the power inherent in a genuine laugh. While his friend Farring had always used laughter to his advantage, Rayne had been too conscious of his own consequence—too concerned with how he appeared.

That, of course, had been before he’d met the whirlwind that was now his wife.

He continued to ponder the advantage of well-placed humor as he transferred the ribbons to the groom and climbed down from the perch.
“Is my brother here?” Julia asked.

“Lord and Lady Markham arrived not ten minutes past,” answered the groom.

“You see?” Rayne smiled up at her. “Had I gone as slow as you were urging, we would have been late.”

Julia rolled her eyes. “I’m not yet used to this much ice!”

He placed one, firm arm about her legs and reached the other up toward her waist. “Let go,” he urged. “I’ll catch you. I promise!”

She squinted. “Just like you promised to maintain a steady pace?”

He widened his eyes, all innocence. “Oh, but I did maintain a steady pace.”

“Ha!” The curls that had escaped her bonnet jiggled as she shook her head no. “The horse’s mane nearly froze all spread out like a flag in the wind.”

“Steady is not necessarily the same as slow. Admit it. You loved every minute.”

“I did.” She gripped his shoulder and then jumped down into his arms with a girlish squeal.

Yes, indeed. There was something to this idea of laughter.

Of plain, silly, simple diversions.

He scooped her close and inhaled. She smelled of fresh air and winter sun. Chill? What chill? The cold air mattered little while he cradled her against his chest.

Without offering to put her down, he headed to the stairs.

“Are you going to carry me all the way to the door?”

He twisted his lips as if considering. “Maybe.”

“Rayne!” She exclaimed, mockingly scandalized. “What will the servants say?”

“They’ll say,” he suffused his voice with a prudish lilt, “there goes that rascal Rayne and our benevolent Marchioness’s hoyden of a little sister.”

“You aren’t a rascal!” She exclaimed, offended on his behalf, more so than her own.

“I wasn’t finished, Lady Rayne,” he interrupted.

“A thousand pardons, my lord! Do go on…”

“And then, they’ll wink at one another, and whisper,” he lowered his voice, “thank heaven someone brought that rogue up to scratch!”

“As if I’d ever try and change you,” she replied, all wind-roughened cheeks and fierce sincerity.

Wouldn’t try and change him, huh?

A smile tugged at the side of his mouth. She’d no idea how much she’d changed him already…not because she wanted him to be different, but because he wanted to be his best, for her.

He paused at the edge of the stairs leading to the huge oak doors.

And “for her,” he understood, meant for her family, too. A family that—after he’d stolen their jewel—had put on a brave face and extended him tentative welcome, despite the damage he’d caused.

Surely, the least he could do was place everyone at ease. If only he could think of a way to break the ice between Markham and himself with a laugh. But what would prove he had actually changed?

His eyes widened with inspiration.

The sweetmeat game!

He grinned at the memory. If he could get Markham to join him in the silly little challenge, it would be a start…and at the very least, a laugh.

Impulsively, he pressed his lips to Julia’s forehead.

A spot of wet tingled against the tip of his nose. Then, tiny white crystals were gathering in her eyelashes.

“It’s snowing,” he said. The urge to laugh along with Julia bubbled up in his chest as the sound of jingling bells filled the air.

Her arms tightened around his neck. “Isn’t it just like a dream?”

“Yes,” he agreed, with a deep-throated chuckle.

Her sleepy, half-lidded expression did little to dim the love shining in her eyes. Love that still seemed no less than a miracle.

Surely magic was on his side tonight.

Katherine (Lady Bromton), Giles (Lord Bromton), et all.

Not long after the men—Giles, Markham, Rayne, and Mr. Warren—joined Katherine, Clarissa, Julia and Giles’s mother in the parlor, Giles’s mother and stepfather announced their intention to retire to bed.

Katherine sunk into Mrs. Warren’s embrace.

“Well done, love,” Giles’s mother whispered into Katherine’s ear. “I cannot recall a happier Christmas feast ever being held in this castle. I bless the day you agreed to wed my wayward son.”

Tears pricked at the corners of Katherine’s eyes as she pulled back. “Do you really think dinner went well?”

Mrs. Warren nodded. “The conversation was lively and varied, and your pudding was perfection.” Giles’s mother took her husband’s arm. “Don’t you agree, Mr. Warren?”

“Absolutely,” Mr. Warren replied. “And before we retire, I must compliment your decorations, Lady Bromton.”

Giles cleared his throat. “I take that to mean you approve of the holly to garland ratio?”

Mr. Warren chuckled. “Right down to the sprig.”

Giles winked and Katherine felt herself blush. Then, he kissed his mother goodnight and, together, he and Katherine turned back to the room.

Katherine cast a worried glance between Markham and Rayne.

Yes, the meal had surpassed expectation. Yes, the conversation had been lively and the good will sincere. But she still sensed tension in her brother Markham. Tension she was at a loss to address.

“Well,” Katherine asked brightly, “would anyone like to put forth a suggestion for the evening’s next entertainment?”

“Hot-Cockles?” Julia suggested, eyeing Markham.

“Oh, no,” Markham replied. “You just want an excuse to hit me.”

“Me?” Julia raised her brows and pointed to herself in mock shock. “Now why would I want to do a thing like hit you? Especially when you’ve been so terribly obliging all evening long?”

Uh oh. Katherine sighed. Clearly, she wasn’t the only one who’d perceived that all was not quite right with Markham.

She stepped toward the pianoforte, about to suggest carols, when Rayne lifted a pouch he had concealed and set it upon the table directly in front of her brother.

“How about a sweetmeat elocution challenge?” Rayne asked.

Katherine’s gaze flew to Julia, who shrugged as if to say, I’ve no idea what Rayne has planned.

“What’s a sweetmeat elocution challenge?” Clarissa asked.

“A little contest I made up to trick Julia into practicing her enunciation,” Katherine explained, though she’d no idea why Rayne should know about the game.

Julia’s jaw dropped. “My sister the sneak!!”

Markham a-hemmed, looking pointedly at Julia. “Katherine wouldn’t have needed to resort to such tricks if you hadn’t been such a difficult pupil.”

“And just how do you know about the sweetmeat elocution challenge?” Clarissa asked Rayne.

“I certainly didn’t tell him,” Julia replied. “I’ve never won once.”

An interested glint entered Giles’s gaze. “If I recall, Farring and Markham used to play from time to time. Markham always invited Rayne and I to join in but we…declined.”

“More than declined,” Markham clarified.

Rayne grimaced. “I believe I made it clear I thought the pastime was the most revolting thing I’d ever witnessed.” He cleared his throat. “And that Markham was childish for suggesting the task, and Farring a fool for participating.”

Clarissa made a disparaging noise. “Too much for your consequence, hum?”

“At the time, yes.” Rayne’s gaze slid to Julia. “But I’ve had reason to reassess some of my earlier opinions.”

“You?” Markham snorted. “Willing to set aside your dignity for a bit of sport?”

Rayne nodded. “In this company, at least. Think of it as a gesture of goodwill.”

Clarissa laughed. “Far be it from me to decline when my dear brother wishes to be humbled! How does one play?”

“Well,” Rayne replied, “if I remember correctly, we all sit in a circle. For every round, we place one sweetmeat into our mouth, and recite the following, ‘If Dick drunk drink in a dish; where's the dish Dick drunk drink in?’ The one who can sound the phrase clearly with the most sweetmeats in his—or her—mouth, wins. Markham, will you take part?”

Markham nodded, a slow smile spreading his lips. “I’m in!”

“I’ll play as well!” Katherine decided. She wasn’t exactly sure what was happening, but if anything could help this family come together, she was game!

…Ten rounds of ‘Dick drunk drink’ later, everyone but Markham and Rayne had bowed out, laughing. How could one not, with everyone mumbling their way through the ditty, their cheeks puffed out like red squirrels with a mouthful of nuts.

On the eleventh round, Markham and Rayne elected to speak at the same time, much to their wives’ humor and delight. Even Giles couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Come on Markham!” Clarissa shouted.

“You can win it, Rayne,” Julia urged.

Giles leaned over to Katherine and whispered, “Looks like blood isn’t thicker than a wedding band, after all.”

Rayne held up a finger, sucked in his lips and rearranged the sweets with his tongue. Then, word for word, he went through the phrase, clear enough for all to understand, even if he did have to stop once or twice.

Clarissa folded her arms. “You always did have a big mouth, Rayne.”

Julia lifted her chin. “Can Rayne help it if he’s so sweet that sugar just melts when it touches his tongue?”

Markham sputtered and coughed, losing by default. He waved his hands in defeat and then turned away, attempting to digest the candy with some measure of dignity. Rayne wrinkled his nose at Julia, shook his head, and covered his mouth with a napkin while he did the same.

“You know, Jules,” Rayne said, “I might never be able to live that down.”

“I know.” Julia folded her arms. “But you won, didn’t you?”

“Hardly fair!” Clarissa cried. “Markham might have won if Julia hadn’t made him laugh!”

“A valid point.” Rayne acknowledged his sister’s protest. “I’m willing to call it a draw. What say you, Markham?”

“Oh no!” Markham wiped his mouth. “I concede. I should have been on guard for one of Julia’s tricks.”

Julia shrugged, beaming her most charming, dimpled smile.

Rayne met Markham’s gaze across the table and then they broke into laughter.

Giles moved behind Rayne and rested his hand on Rayne’s shoulder. “Good go, both of you.”

Without needing explanation, Katherine understood that, somehow, all three men had mutually acknowledged their past bond. Now she could call the evening a success.

She beamed at her new brother-in-law. Rayne returned her smile before shyly glancing away. Julia had been right all along. There was more to Rayne than was first apparent.

“How about another game?” Julia suggested. She elbowed Markham. “Hide and seek, perhaps? Markham and Clarissa excel at that game. If I recall correctly, that is.”

“Only when wee little fiends remove door latches.” Markham narrowed his eyes. “I’ve yet to forgive you for vandalizing the priest hole, you know.”

“I don’t believe you.” Julia reached out and grasped Clarissa’s hand. “I think the ends clearly justify the means.”

Katherine sighed happily. “How about we all—"

“A-hem,” Giles interrupted.

All eyes turned toward to her husband.

“If you’ll pardon,” he said, “I’ve already prepared the next task.”

Katherine cocked a brow.

“I’ve hidden several sprigs of mistletoe in the castle. Each couple’s task is to find as many as you can. Naturally, you’ll want to observe tradition—a kiss for every berry.”

Markham turned to Clarissa. “Far be it from me to let good mistletoe go to waste.”

Rayne stood, offering Julia his arm. “Shall we throw in our lot, my love?”

“Oh, absolutely!” Julia replied.

“Katherine and I will retire, and leave you to your searching.”

“Good night to you, then.” Rayne inclined his head to Markham.

“Rayne…” Markham reached out as if to shake Rayne’s hand. Instead, he pulled Rayne into a masculine embrace. “I don’t think I’ve properly welcomed you to the family.”

Rayne pat Markham’s back. “Nor I, you.”

Katherine sniffled as she blinked. She did love a happy ending.

“Off with you all,” Giles said laughingly.

Rayne embraced Clarissa, and Julia, Markham, before both couples, in turn, bid good night to Katherine and Giles.

As the doorway closed behind them, Katherine turned back to her husband. “You didn’t tell me you decorated, too.”

“What can I say? You inspired me….and the best news is, there are berries aplenty. I doubt we’ll see them again until twelfth night at the very least.”

She smiled as she moved into his embrace.

“I told you all would be well,” he murmured.

She placed her head on his shoulder. “You were right.”

“I usually am. Though one could argue your exceedingly careful placement of holly sprigs ignited the magic.”

“Never mind holly sprigs… Dare I hope you saved a few mistletoe berries for us?”

“Oh, hellion.” He placed his thumb beneath her chin and raised her face. “I fully intend to smother you with kisses…no mistletoe required.

The End

*Authors Note:

Although the word Marzipan wasn’t used until later, the almond paste “candy” was certainly in existence, and marzipan-like squares were what I had in mind.

Similarly, the phrase “tongue-twisters” is late Victorian, and so I used one that dated back at least to the 1600s and called it something else.

As far as the game, I once played something similar with marshmallows. It *is* very revolting…and, if no one minds looking ridiculous, very, very funny.

Wishing love and holiday magic to all readers of Ramblings from this Chick.

Thank you for having me!

In an act of revenge, Lord Rayne kissed Lady Julia and was sent packing to America. But now he’s back to settle his affairs and give away his sister in marriage, until he meets up with the alluring yet innocent Lady Julia again. He doesn’t regret their first kiss, but he was never good enough for her.

Lady Julia had two years to forget the moody and mercurial Earl of Rayne. But one look, and she knows they’re meant to be together. Be damned with his and her brother’s objections, she’ll just jump on the back of Rayne’s departing carriage and compromise them both thoroughly.

Only, Julia never expected her forbidding Lord to be so good at resisting temptation...

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  1. First Christmas with the family is always stressful! I love reading stories that bring characters from various stories together.

  2. Christmas stories are the best feelings throughout
    the year.
    Thanks for the chance.
    Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all.
    Carol Smith

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I am going to make my family do this game on christmas day. It sounds hilarious.
    clarksuzannah (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. Looks like a wonderful book❤❤

  7. Thanks for the adorable story, Wendy! (I"ve got Scandal in both print and ebook, so I'm not entering.)

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you, Glenda <3 I can always send you some other book if you win!

  8. \What a fun story! That game sounds like a blast! I may have to try that with my family!

  9. Wendy, thank you for this short story! Now I want to know the characters in their stories! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

    1. Thank you, Alice! Wishing you a wonderful season, too!

  10. lovely scenes. thanks for sharing!

  11. Omg I know that game, and yes it was with marshmallows. Hmmm damn I can't remember what it was called. My daughter played it during her sleepovers.

    1. I don't remember the name, but it's fun, lol! Thanks for reading, Lily!

  12. Sounds great. Will have to read all their stories.
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

  13. The Lord's of Chance Series sounds great! Thank you

  14. Thanks for sharing the great Christmas scenes.

  15. I enjoy Christmas stories!
    Happy Holidays πŸŽ…

  16. I love feisty heroines! Can’t wait to read.

  17. Clever title! I'm glad you added the author's note - not because I would have contested any of that, but because I didn't know any of it and learned so much! Happy holidays!

  18. That was such a great story, thank you so much for sharing it, Wendy! Merry Christmas to you and yours! xo