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Small Town Christmas
SERIES: Serendipity, Indiana series, Book 1
GENRE: Clean/Wholesome/Sweet, Holiday
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: 20,000 to 34,999 (small novella)
HERO’S AGE: 30-39
HEROINE’S AGE: 30-39
HEAT LEVEL: Chaste (Hold my hand)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: None (as in zero, or no more than 1)
Single mom Melissa is moving back to Serendipity, Indiana to raise her young son and run her new business, in spite of a painful past and the fact that the man who broke her heart years ago still lives there.
With his dad’s death, the work of the family Christmas tree farm has fallen to Jim Standish. But how can he hold everything together for the sake of his family, when his past is pulling him apart? Nobody can do it all, and there’s an obvious solution for the Standish family. But in Serendipity, there’s often more going on than a casual observer will ever know.
A new tragedy puts Melissa and her son in closer contact with the Standish family. Ignoring the past, and Jim Standish’s part in it, is no longer an option.
This is a story about second chances: facing difficulties of the past and not only moving on but becoming stronger because of them. It’s also a story about “coincidences” in life that may be more than that.
A delightful touch of Christmas magic makes Small Town Christmas a story that ends with a sigh!
READ AN EXCERPT
Melissa Singer and her four-year-old son, Matthew, just arrived in Serendipity, Indiana – Melissa’s hometown – where she’s bought the home of her dreams. Longtime friends Alice Williams, Francie and Carla Standish, and their mother, Lillian, dropped in with an impromptu meal. Matthew went with Carla down the street to the corner store and returned with more than just the cups they set out to purchase.
Carla and Matthew returned in a little while, with plastic cups and a surprise.
“Mommy! Mr. Jim comed to see us. He haves a big truck.”
My breath caught. Mr. Jim?
I met them in the living room. Carla carried the plastic bag with red cups poking out the top, and Matthew, his face beaming, held the hand of the one guy I had dreaded running into.
It felt like a hundred years had passed—or maybe fifteen minutes. He had filled out some since high school, but looked fit and healthy. His handsome face had frown lines now, along with the ones from smiling. I knew a little bit of what had etched some of those lines, and tried not to care. I crossed my arms. “Hi, Jim. Long time.”
“Melissa Singer. This is quite a surprise.” He looked past me to his other sister, his mother, and our friend Alice. “I see I’m the last one in my family to know you’re back in town.”
“Mr. Jim haves a big truck,” Matthew said it more softly this time, looking up at me then to Jim and back again. Obviously, was aware of the strain between me and this man.
I crouched down and gently took my son’s hands in mine. “What color truck is it, Matthew?”
“Blue,” he whispered, his eyes wide.
“Wow,” I exclaimed. I looked up to Jim from Matthew’s side. “Blue is Matthew’s favorite color of truck, Jim.”
He smiled, looking more like the Jim I had fallen for so long ago. “So he told me. Um, so you’re MM Investments? I saw the property transfer listed in the paper.”
I stood, still holding one of Matthew’s hands. “Yes. This is a business venture for me.”
A brow cocked. “Ah. Completely impersonal?”
“Most people don’t come back to Serendipity for business reasons.” His smile became strained. “Most people, once they leave, don’t ever move back to town.”
I wouldn’t let Jim’s attitude get to me. He had reason to be bitter about those who left and didn’t return.
“I didn’t expect to move back. Things just kind of fell into place. Matthew and I are excited to be here.”
He seemed pleased with that. “Are you now?”
He stepped closer and briefly touched a finger to the little cleft in my chin, a touch that had been intimate and endearing back in the day. “You don’t look all that happy about it, Mel.”
With great restraint, I kept myself from swatting his hand away. “I may not look happy now, but I bet I looked lots happier before you got here,” I whispered.
“Food, people!” Francie’s yell wasn’t exactly tactful, but at least it broke the tension of the moment.
Matthew tugged my hand. “Can Mr. Jim be at the picnic?”
“Um…” Jim and I both started to speak.
“Probably Mr. Jim needs to go someplace else right now,” Carla suggested, her eyes on her brother’s.
Lillian took Jim by one hand and Matthew by the other.
“Mr. Jim is my little boy, Matthew,” she said sweetly, gently steering them in the direction of the kitchen. “His daddy and I taught him very good manners.” She sent Jim a warning glance. “He works hard at his job, so I’m sure he’s hungry for dinner. But afterward, he’ll need to leave right away. Isn’t that right, Jim?”
“Sure is. Thanks, Mom.” He looked around at me. “Thanks for inviting me to stay, Mel. I appreciate it.”
He appreciated the fact that I hadn’t invited, and wouldn’t have invited, and that if it had been just him and me, I’d have gladly kicked him out. But this was my first day back in town, I was tired, and there were witnesses. I could play nice just this one time.
“Mr. Jim let me drive his truck,” Matthew told Lillian as they disappeared into the kitchen.
Carla whispered in my ear, “Translation: Sit in it, with the key out, hold the steering wheel, and make engine noises. Matthew asked, and in Jim’s defense, I don’t know how anybody could have looked into that little face and said, no.”
I counted silently to ten. What an interesting introduction to Serendipity it had been so far.
Meet Magdalena Scott
USA Today Bestselling Author Magdalena Scott writes sweet romance and romantic women’s fiction. A lifelong resident of Small Town America, she invites readers into her world to find out what’s hidden just below the surface of those tiny dots barely visible on the map. Romance, mystery, and the journey to be one’s best self are all part of a day in her neighborhood. Readers have commented that they’d like to move to the imaginary towns Magdalena writes about, which she takes as high praise indeed.
Magdalena is a practicing minimalist, having downsized from a 3,000 square foot house to a studio apartment, where her Giant Closet continues to resist taming. When not writing at home or spending time with family and friends, she loves to travel–carry-on baggage only–and is always pleasantly surprised at the kindness of strangers.