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Kissing Christmas Goodbye

Kissing Christmas Goodbye

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Kissing Christmas Goodbye

Bewertungen:
4.5/5 (11 Bewertungen)
Länge:
147 Seiten
2 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Nov 17, 2020
ISBN:
9781094414591
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Full of Christmas wonder, eggnog, and endearing characters, Wendy Darlymple’s Kissing Christmas Goodbye is a charming tale of getting a second chance at love. Christmas is Lizzy’s favorite time of year; even when divorcing her husband forced her and her daughter to move back in with Lizzy’s parents. Max hates Christmas and all the pomp and candy canes that goes with it. What’s worse is the house he’s renovating is smack dab in the middle of the uber festive Candy Cane Lane. Just when Lizzy thinks she can convince her grinchy neighbor Max to participate in the neighborhood-wide decorating, her world is threatened when Lizzy’s ex demands their daughter spend Christmas with him and the other woman.
Freigegeben:
Nov 17, 2020
ISBN:
9781094414591
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Wendy Dalrymple crafts highly consumable, short and sweet romances inspired by everyday people. When she’s not writing happily-ever-afters, you can find her camping with her family, painting (bad) wall art, and trying to grow as many pineapples as possible. Keep up with Wendy at www.wendydalrymple.com!


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Kissing Christmas Goodbye - Wendy Dalrymple

Chapter One

Lizzy Wahl opened the blinds to her childhood bedroom window and winced at the early morning light. Sunbeams spilled into the east-facing room as they did every morning, assaulting her eyes like cheerful daggers. Growing up, Lizzy had hated the effect so much that she used her babysitting money to buy a pair of thick blackout curtains. Her mother had replaced the dark window treatments for the season with a pair of wonky red-and-green poinsettia print curtains that she had sewn herself.

The curtains weren’t the only things that had changed in her childhood bedroom since Lizzy had moved out nearly ten years ago. A massive sewing table overflowing with craft supplies, bows, wrapping paper, and projects occupied the area where her computer desk had once been, and a very expensive exercise bike that was never used stood in place of her dresser and mirror. Instead of her Spice World poster, her mother had hung an enormous framed photo of a kitten with angel wings and a halo. All in all, it wasn’t exactly the kind of space that made Lizzy feel comfortable. But the room still had her old queen-size bed, a door, a roof, Wi-Fi and air conditioning. For the time being, it would have to be good enough for her and Sophie.

Lizzy rested her chin on the windowsill, taking in the view of her old neighborhood once again. She was happy at least to awaken to the sound of squawking blue jays instead of the whirr of motors, honking horns, and the constant din of noise that always seemed to permeate the walls of her Bushwick apartment. Her life in Brooklyn had been a world away from this tropical suburbia she’d grown up in, and for a long time, city livin’ had suited her just fine. Lizzy had resisted coming home for so long, and truth be told, she’d still rather be cramped in a third-story walk-up than spread out in her family home. But it wasn’t like she had another choice in the matter.

It was the day after Thanksgiving, and Lizzy knew as she surveyed the block that she didn’t have much time to muse about her lot in life. Her father was probably already awake and rummaging around in their shed, pulling out boxes of lights, red-and-white striped painted archways, inflatable Santas, and illuminated reindeer. Lizzy had already resigned herself to a day full of front-yard decoration duties and hoped that her six-year-old daughter would be more enthusiastic about helping than she was. By that evening, every modest little home in their Pinellas Park, Florida, neighborhood would be lit up from roof to roof in spectacular Candy Cane Lane fashion.

As Lizzy continued to dread the hours of decorating ahead of her, the door to the old Lovelace house across the street burst open. A small eek of surprise escaped her lips and her shoulders tightened as she watched a figure emerge from the darkened entryway. The home had been abandoned for nearly two years and had quickly become an eyesore in their otherwise tidy little community. During that time, Lizzy’s father had decorated the property every holiday season with a half-hearted effort, installing a few inflatables in the yard and the customary illuminated candy cane arches down the sidewalk. Lizzy had expected to have to help decorate the abandoned home again to keep their uniform neighborhood holiday aesthetic going. This year, however, it looked like she might be off the hook.

Lizzy instinctively crept low, peeking just over the windowsill to get a good look at her new neighbor. A giant emerged from the darkness, filling the entryway with his height and girth. He was a lumbering hulk of a man dressed in black from head to toe, his arms and chest so massive and imposing that he had to turn slightly sideways to exit the run-down home. His hair was long and dark, twisted and gnarled as though it had been through a mosh pit ages ago and left to its own devices. Dark sunglasses covered his eyes, and a long, dark beard consumed his face and flowed across his chest. He slung a black sack over his back as he stomped toward a motorcycle parked on the side of the house, his boots thudding loudly against the pavement. He straddled the bike, and as the engine roared to life, Lizzy felt a gentle tug at her elbow.

Mama, Sophie whispered, staring out the window at the spectacle of the man. "It’s Krampus."

What?

Lizzy’s daughter rolled out of their shared bed and padded over to her iridescent unicorn backpack. She opened her bag, retrieved a large red-and-gold picture book, and immediately opened it to a bookmarked page.

See? she said, displaying the vintage illustration to her mother. "Krampus!"

Where did you get this? Lizzy said, eyeing the gruesome image. She had seen the beastly-looking yuletide creature before, but she couldn’t pinpoint where.

From Nana Greta, Sophie said, retrieving the book. She says that he’s Santa’s shadow. He comes to take away the bad children at Christmas!

I’m going to have a talk with your Nana Greta, Lizzy said, shaking her head in disapproval. Her soon-to-be-former mother-in-law was a generally sweet but at times eccentric woman. Sophie had a wild imagination as it was, and she didn’t need Nana Greta adding fuel to the fire.

You know Krampus isn’t real, right?

Santa’s real, isn’t he? Sophie argued.

She had Lizzy there.

Lizzy narrowed her eyes and tried to decipher whether or not six was too young or just the right age for the Santa talk. Besides, Sophie’s father would likely not be thrilled about Lizzy making a big decision like informing their daughter that Santa wasn’t real without his consent.

Well, that man definitely isn’t Krampus, Lizzy countered. He didn’t even have horns.

"Not ones that you can see," Sophie argued.

Lizzy shook her head. She knew she wasn’t going to win this round. Sophie was right though; there was something … uncanny about the similarity between the illustration in the book and the person across the street.

Lizbeth, are you awake?

The sound of her mother’s voice shook Lizzy from her thoughts about their unusual neighbor. Theresa Tucker’s twangy greeting echoed into her bedroom from the kitchen, causing Lizzy to have yet another nostalgic flashback. It was the same call to breakfast she had heard a thousand times before.

Comin’, Ma! she called out.

Lizzy sighed. Well, Miss Sophie, she said to her daughter. Better get out there and eat some of Grandma Theresa’s breakfast casserole.

Does it have meat? Sophie asked, scrunching her nose. Besides folklore and mythology, Sophie had also recently discovered veganism.

Most definitely, Lizzy said, pulling her daughter in for a hug. You don’t have to have any if you don’t want to.

Okay.

Lizzy secured her mass of auburn tresses in her signature ponytail, shuffled her daughter out to the kitchen, and steeled herself for yet another conversation about her parenting skills. She loved her family, but coming home always meant having to defend life choices that her mother and father often deemed alternative. Though her parents were certainly quirky and liberal in their own tastes and lifestyle, when it came to their only daughter, they could be downright conservative. Sophie’s newly adopted diet was sure to be a point of contention.

As Lizzy headed out the doorway of her bedroom, she turned and looked back toward the not-so-vacant home across the street. Her daughter was right; there was something odd about the imposing, unkempt man that had lumbered out of the old Lovelace place. And although Lizzy didn’t know it, she would find out soon enough.

Krampus stuffs bad little children in his sack and beats them with switches, Sophie said matter-of-factly in between bites of oatmeal. Her grandma Theresa regarded her with a scowl, then shot a disapproving look in Lizzy’s direction.

Lizbeth Anne, what have you been teaching my granddaughter?

It’s not me this time, Lizzy said, taking a bite of breakfast casserole. Ian’s mom gave her a book.

Psh, Theresa said, waving her hand. I oughta give that woman a piece of my mind. Sophia Grace, you’re coming to church with Grandma Theresa this Sunday.

Theresa was a feisty fifty-eight-year-old version of her daughter, only with a cropped bouffant of dyed auburn hair. Though Lizzy and her mother looked similar on the outside, their personalities couldn’t be more different; Lizzy preferred to be passive, while Theresa Tucker didn’t think twice about speaking her mind.

Mom, you know we don’t— Lizzy started.

Oh yes you do, Theresa said, cutting her daughter off. As long as you’re under this roof, you come to church, and that’s that.

"Grandma Theresa, the man across the street is Krampus, Sophie said, crossing her arms. He looks just like him."

Ha, her grandma laughed. "Well, Max Ingle is a beast of a man, but I assure you, he is not some holiday demon."

You’ve met him? Lizzy asked, her interest suddenly piqued.

"Oh yes, awful man, Theresa said, taking a sip of coffee. He downright refuses to decorate. He’s going to ruin the continuity of lights on our entire block."

Well, maybe he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Lizzy countered. "Not everyone goes to church on Sunday, Ma."

Do you know, your father offered to decorate the sidewalk with candy cane poles in front of his house? He wouldn’t have to do a darn thing, but he still said no. That man wouldn’t budge, Theresa sniffed.

Maybe we can bring him some cookies, Sophie chimed in.

Lizzy’s eyes narrowed. You just want an excuse to go see him up close, don’t you?

Sophie shrugged her shoulders. I know a vegan oatmeal cookie recipe, she offered. We could try to just be nice.

Lizzy pondered the idea for a moment as she finished her breakfast casserole. If she was being honest with herself, she would admit that she was just a little curious about their next-door neighbor, too. Lizzy’s parents had offered her services as the head organizer of their neighborhood Candy Cane Lane decorating initiative, since she didn’t have a job at that moment or anything else to do, apparently, so it was up to her to get everyone on the block on board. George and Theresa Tucker were the reason that their little neighborhood was on the map, after all; if her parents hadn’t started the holiday lights tradition and kept it going over the last four decades, Candy Cane Lane wouldn’t be quite the spectacle that it was. If anyone was going to get a stubborn neighbor to budge before their annual Christmas block party, it would have to be her.

Okay, Lizzy said. We’ll decorate today and make some cookies to bring over tomorrow. You have to help your grandpa set up the decorations out front first, though.

Deal.

Sophie grinned at her mother from ear-to-ear, her elf-like expression both melting Lizzy’s heart and stabbing it at the same time. With long, thick lashes and a head full of dark, glossy hair to match, Sophie was the spitting image of her father. Seeing her ex reflected in their daughter was something that used to be heartwarming to Lizzy, but now Ian’s expression staring back at her was almost heartbreaking. It was a feeling she was going to

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