Last Christmas, Santa made a wish…
Last Christmas Roz Henry lost her boyfriend and her job. With her beloved grandfather sick, she went home to the small New England town of Dickens. She’d found what she didn’t know she was looking for: a second chance with the boy she’d left behind all those years ago, Cooper Brown. A widower, Cooper had never forgotten his first love. Christmas brings rekindled romance and a proposal, just like a perfect Hallmark movie. But what happens after the happily-ever-after ending?
This Christmas, Santa’s wish is fulfilled…
A year has passed but Roz still hasn’t started planning the wedding, and Cooper’s starting to worry. Roz is, too. Is it just cold feet? Worry she’s not living up to her potential? Roz comes from a long line of selfless medical professionals, so what’s she doing working in a bookstore? She wants to be more than a housewife and mother, even though that life made her Grandma Tress happy. Her grandfather believed love never dies, but can it wither away from neglect? Roz loves Cooper, but she needs to be her own person first. Maybe a real happily-ever-after takes hard work, a lot of love, and some special Dicken’s Christmas magic.
“And they lived happily ever after.”
Cooper Brown pushed the button on the remote and clicked off the Hallmark Channel movie he’d been watching on TV. His fiancée Roz had started the movie, but when he joined her on the couch, she had wandered off a few minutes later. He’d toughed it out thinking she might return, but she was still sitting at a card table sliding puzzle pieces around the tabletop. She was putting together a thousand-piece, Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle to get her in the spirit, she said.
Climbing to his feet, Cooper tossed the remote onto the sofa and turned to look at Roz. She had recently become obsessed with jigsaw puzzles and wouldn’t stop until she finished. Sometimes she pulled all-nighters, leaving him to go to bed alone. He’d gotten used to her being in bed with him and didn’t like it when she didn’t join him before he fell asleep. Maybe it was because he’d enjoyed the comfort of sleeping with his first wife before she died. Brittany had sometimes beat him to bed and had always been there waiting for him with open arms.
He ducked his head and smiled at the remembrance. Brittany had been the sweetest thing that ever happened to him, and her death from breast cancer had nearly destroyed him.
It wasn’t fair to compare the two women. He loved Roz too. She’d been his high school girlfriend, until things happened and she’d gone off to college and then to a hotshot job in Chicago at the company that upended her life a year ago. They’d fired her just before Christmas, but on Christmas Eve the VP of Marketing had called to offer her job back with a promotion to director. Cooper had been sure Roz would take it, but she didn’t. Instead, she had accepted his proposal of marriage and stayed with him in Dickens. She’d taken a job at the Library Cat Bookstore on Main Street, a position so far below her capabilities he sometimes wondered if she was embarrassed to say she worked there.
They’d been engaged for almost a year. He didn’t know what was going on. Why hadn’t they planned a wedding? Did Roz regret not accepting that job last year?
Cooper walked over to the card table. “You going to bed?”
Roz looked up and met his glance. “No. I need a few more minutes to finish this section.”
Cooper turned with a sigh. “Sure thing.”
In the bathroom, he pulled off his shirt and jeans. He slept in his underwear in the winter. Tossing warm water over his face, he paused to look at himself in the mirror.
So much for happily-ever-after endings. He always asked himself what happened in the movies after the final blissful kiss. Given his experience this year, he knew things didn’t always end so happily. Real life wasn’t like the movies, was it? Loved ones died. Fiancées got cold feet. Daily, real people made the best of things.
A cell phone rang in the great room. It wasn’t his. He’d put his next to his side of the bed before coming into the bathroom. Grabbing a hand towel, he scrubbed his face dry and turned when he heard Roz come up behind him.
Her facial features were drawn. She was pale. “That was my Uncle Carl.” Her voice caught in her throat. “He said Grandpa Henry died tonight.”
Cooper dropped the towel and enfolded her in his arms as she sobbed.
The author of two popular Bluegrass romance series, Jan writes heartwarming contemporary stories about home and family, single moms, and children, and if the plot allows, about another passion—horses. Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town, Southern charm to her books and the excitement of a Bluegrass horse race or a competitive horse show.
The Ghost Mountain Ranch series is a contemporary western series with a good blend of mystery and happily-ever-after romance. The Dawsons of Montana is another four-book contemporary western series.
Jan leaves her contemporary voice behind with two paranormal gothic romances, Timeless and Tangled Memories, a Romance Writers of America (RWA) Golden Heart finalist. Her historical romance, My Lord Raven, is a medieval story of honor and betrayal.
A member of Novelist, Inc., Jan self-publishes her books with her husband’s help.