I haven’t written an arranged marriage before because it’s hard to write them so they make sense…unless they are historical or maybe scifi. And these characters were in it for maximum emotional impact! Here’s a little taste:
Christmas was only a few weeks off. Doug loved Christmas. Her eyes brimmed again and she brushed aside the tears. Last ones, at least until we get back in the truck. Pushing her curls back from her face, she fastened them with a silver barrette and sailed back out into the hallway. Tony waited there, and held out his arm for her to take. This time she shook her head. “I have to do this myself. Stand on my own two feet. Doug would want me to.”
“He always told me, if anything happened to him, to take care of you, you know.” But he let his arm drop to his side and settled for walking at her side to the doors marked Stearns, Stearns, Holliday and Steele. “This is us. I am not sure why we have to be here. We did our wills together, left everything to each other. Except for a few bequests to charity. But nothing that should require a formal reading.”
Tony held the door open and shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out. Maybe he decided to give me his tools.” Instrumental holiday music streamed out and she longed for the bad eighties tunes from the elevator. Directing her gaze away from the tasteful, silver and blue decorated Christmas tree in the corner, she tried to ignore it all. This Christmas was not happening at her house. Why would it?
“Like you need that ‘handyman set’ he kept around the house. If you want it, it’s yours, no matter what. Do you want it? To remember him by?”
He chuckled. “Nah. I don’t want anything of his. I have a lot of good memories of him and he and I , and of the three of us together. The Three Musketeers.”
An older woman sat behind a big glass desk. She stood when they entered. “Hello, Mrs. Steel. I am so sorry for your loss. Mr. Steele was well-liked by everyone in the office. Is this Mr. Chavez?”
“Yes,” Kim said. “This is Mr. Chavez.” The strain of keeping her voice steady about killed her, but the woman’s kind expression soothed her enough to go on. “I think we are expected.”
The woman spoke into her desk then stood. “Follow me, please. The rest of your party has already arrived.” Opening a door behind her desk, she waved them through then joined them in the hallway behind. “I will take you to Conference Room 3, and Mr. Stearns will be in shortly. He has been quite distraught as you can imagine.”
The conference room held a long, glossy wooden table capable of seating at least twenty people but only two seats were occupied. A half dozen folders were distributed in front of the occupied chairs and several others.
“About time you got here.” Her mother-in-law rested her folded hands on the folder at her place. “Is that what you wear to show respect to your dead husband?”
Kim’s wobbly knees tightened. “Good morning to you, too, Mother Steele.” She cleared her throat. “Edna.” She’d used the term of respect during her marriage, but the woman was the least motherly person she’d ever met and enough was enough. Edna Steele wore a dark tailored suit and low heels. Her dark-blonde hair, so similar in color to her late son’s, was in a neat twist at her nape. Everything expensive and in very good taste. At nearly sixty, she looked barely fifty. Kim as sure she herself looked older at the moment. But she’d kept the peace for all these years and didn’t have the strength to care any longer.
“Good morning, my dear.” Her father-in-law rose and came around the table to kiss her cheek. “Although not very good.”
Her heart broke for the man. At least twenty years older than his wife, he’d always been kind to her, despite his disappointment that his only son chose to make his way in the world so far from home.
She rested a hand on his arm. “No, not very good.” Before she could say more, the elder Mr. Stearns, senior partner, entered and moved to the head of the table.
“If you don’t mind, I will dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the reading of the will. I know Mr. and Mrs. Steele have a flight to catch and a copy of the document has been provided to each of you. As in most cases where a couple has been married for a number of years, Doug left the bulk of his estate to his wife, to Kim. There are a few bequests go over, but nothing out of the ordinary.”
I love Christmas baking and movies and music and writing Christmas stories. It’s no secret because I have a stack of them in my backlist. Often they are part of the 1Night Stand Series at Decadent Publishing. This year I was privileged to be part of two wonderful projects. Today I’d like to share a little about Celebrate! Liz Crowe has been writing about the Love family of Lucasville Kentucky for quite some time but as our holiday present, she invited several of us to join her for a huge Christmas celebration in her world.
If you’d like to hear more about us and check out all the author giveaways, join our group!
My story is Love is Coming to Town and here’s a taste: Lucasville had been the nicest town Summer had been through so far. The headlights from whoever had been behind her on the road disappeared before she got there, which eased her paranoia. Holiday decorations glowed along the main street, dispelling the darkness of the snowy winter afternoon. At home, they would have already celebrated the solstice, welcomed the dawning after the longest night of the year with food and drink and dancing. A drum circle. Even a silly solstice tree hung with strands of popcorn and cranberries, birdseed pressed into the shapes of birds and animals, and other goodies to feed their friends in nature. Half the time it was so warm the cranberries melted off in puddles of goop before the birds could get to them, but the ants liked that.
Lydia and Bob would tell the story of how they first moved up to the big ranch in the mountains, along with a bunch of their friends, in the late 1970s, to form a utopia. God, she’d grown up with those people. Peace-loving, kind, and maybe a little out of touch. Home schooled, she’d learned to read from the author of a series of sci fi books set in an alternate universe, discussed philosophy with a disillusioned Harvard professor, and learned basic math from a rocket scientist who declined to work in an industry with military potential. She hadn’t known they were geniuses, but they were. Lydia had been in movies. Not that she’d shared that with her daughter. Living off the grid, with only the electricity provided by the early gen solar panels courtesy of yet another one of the geniuses in their community, she never even saw a movie or much TV until she insisted on getting a job.
For the last year or so, she’d been waiting tables at the diner/truck stop at the base of the mountain while she considered whether to go to college and study for a degree. On the always-on TV, she’d been surprised to see her mom in a black and white art movie on the late late show. When she’d asked, Lydia shrugged it off and went back to brewing mead.
Beekeeping was her art now.
The lights of Lucasville faded from her mirror and left her alone on the road again. Growing up in a puppy pile of siblings and commune brothers and sisters, she’d never been alone before. Amazing how a few months with him could change her outlook. The drifts of glistening white at the sides of the road soothed her. In a crowd, he could be anywhere, but here, he could not hide. As long as she saw no other vehicles, she was safe. She just had to keep going, but for how long. Forever? A hand cupped over her belly she murmured soothing nonsense.
Her parent s had provided her with a safe, happy childhood. Leaving them so Mike wouldn’t be hanging around the farm was the least she could do. How far could she be from Canada now? Somehow, in her mind, crossing that border would offer the protection she needed. It had worked for Vietnam draft dodgers, a couple of whom had lived with them off and on over the years, and the country was mentioned with reverence every time politics came up. A place to escape from a new, terrifying regime.
She’d go there and get a job waiting tables or something, raise her baby in peace and tranquility and state-provided health care. Summer could do it. She could protect the baby and her family from the fallout of her naiveté. Bob and Lydia and the others hadn’t meant to leave her so unprepared for life; they’d merely sheltered her and the other kids from ugliness, taught them the beauty of living on the land…and neglected to take into account the real world rolling on outside their pretty white picket fences.
It wasn’t their fault she’d fallen into the hands of an abusive man. Not entirely.
The bus shimmied again and she gripped the wheel as the rear fishtailed. She sailed toward the side of the road on a patch of invisible ice. Stop, she had to stop it and stamped on the brake. The slide became a spin and her heart raced as she flew down the road, the elderly bus turning around and around, her view of unending whiteness stealing any sense of direction until, as the blacktop curved, she flew into a snow bank at the side of the road and stopped.
The rattling, spluttering engine gave one more kachunk and stopped.
The single working windshield wiper stopped.
The heater stopped.
The falling snow did not stop.
Winter Fairy Tale by TL Reeve
Stolen Kisses by Merryn Dexter
Winter Awakening by TL Reeve
Winter Solstice Run ~ Giveaway!
I know it takes time to write a thoughtful review and it makes all the difference in our day when you do! Thank you kind reviewer!
op Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 starswonderful story
By theresa on December 14, 2016
New to me author that has another great story in the Carly Phillips Kindle World of Dare to Love. Kim and Tony are great and the chemistry is wonderful. can they be together. did her husband really do this. Will Tony be able to go through with this because of how much he loves Kim. Can not wait to find other great reads by this author
1 Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 starsThis novella is a page turner with characters I actually love and want to know better
By Patricia Tierney on December 18, 2016
I had given up on reading romances because they either sound a little fluffy or angry. Then along comes A Daring Contract by Kate Richards. This novella is a page turner with characters I actually love and want to know better. Her writing is believable, interesting and heart felt. Take a bad situation and flip it into an unexpected romance with a happy ending and I’m a fan forever. Must read more!!!
Thank you for your feedback.
As a romance writer, I have the privilege of sharing the journeys of characters who come alive for me. My family is sometimes unsure if I am talking about a character or a regular life friend in conversations…a common author problem. Sometimes I think our families need a support group in order to live with us. But they are real to me, and while I usually have an idea generally where a story is going, when the tale begins to unfold, the story people are in charge. That was very much the case in A Daring Contract. I hope you will enjoy the story and kind reviews are very welcome. In fact, I have a few review copies to share. Email me at email@example.com if you’d like to read one and post a review!
A life cut short…
A drunk driver’s bad decision to get behind the wheel has ended the life of Attorney to the Stars, Doug Steele, leaving his wife, Kim, alone, less than a month before Christmas. Without the support of their best friend, Tony Chavez, she’d never have made it through the funeral.
A mysterious document…
At the reading of the will, Doug’s attorney presents Kim and Tony with a contract they signed the previous holiday season under the influence of eggnog. They don’t remember it, but the signatures look real. Seems they agreed, if Doug ever died, to marry before the next Christmas. If Tony hadn’t been in love with her since they were five, he’d laugh it off. Or cry.
You’re invited to a beach wedding…
It’s ridiculous, cannot happen, and Tony will never marry a woman who doesn’t love him as much as he loves her. Not even for his late best friend. Except somehow their event is the latest secret-location celebrity event. The A-list is coming. And one night in Kim’s arms has shown him even more why he cannot marry her. He loves her too much. And she cannot possibly feel the same way. Can she?
Celebrate! With Liz Crowe and the Love Brothers this holiday season! The book will release on December 15th but why wait to get into the spirit!
You can join our party here
Sign up for a Rafflecopter giveaway
Or pick up the first book in the Love Brothers series here