A Longview Christmas
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Every Christmas Eve, Luke and Mary Cassidy’s friends and family gather to celebrate the holiday. From the kitchen wafts the scent of sugar cookies, fruit cake, and hot cider, not to mention all the other goodies. Gathered around the piano singing carols is a prelude to the Christmas Eve church service. This year Mary is worried about her beloved Luke’s health and she’s keeping an eye on the newly wedded Rob and Kayla. The poor girl is having a hard time keeping her cowboy hog-tied. Then there’s Cale and Michelle. She loves Michelle like the daughter she never had, and Mary is afraid the silly girl will let her pride get in the way of her happiness with the young vet who has bought into the practice. A match maker’s work is never done it seems. What better season than Christmas to give true love a tiny push?   



Publié par
Date de parution 01 novembre 2015
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781771457804
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0016€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


A LongviewChristmas
By Nancy MBell
Digital ISBNs
EPUB 9781771457804
Amazon Print ISBN9781771458160

Copyright 2015 by NancyM Bell
Cover Art by MichelleLee
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rightsunder copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may bereproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, ortransmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical,photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior writtenpermission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of thisbook
To everyone who loves Christmas, and especially tothose match-makers among us, who like Mary, just can’t resistgiving true love a bit of a nudge.
Chapter One
Mary Cassidypulled the sheet of sugar cookies out of the oven and set it on thekitchen counter. Bright sunlight slanting through the windowblinded her for a moment. She paused and rubbed the back of herhand across watering eyes. Blinking to clear her vision, shesurveyed the line of cookie sheets sitting on every available spacein the large kitchen. Almost done! One more batch of shortbread andthen the almond crescents and I’m finished with the cookies.
Her handsautomatically readied the icing, adding ingredients and stirringwhile Mary went over the remaining preparations yet to becompleted. Christmas Eve, her very favorite day of the year, well,except maybe for the day she married Luke. Her hand stilled on thefrosting and tears clouded her eyes. The old fool was out in theclinic looking after the few animals who weren’t well enough to gohome for the holidays. It was just a few weeks since the man camehome from the hospital himself. Mary pressed her free hand to herheart and swallowed. She’d come so close to losing him, her worldwithout Luke would have no meaning. Never one to dwell on morbidthoughts, she shook herself and turned her attention back to herpreparations.
By her count,there should be about thirty people dropping in throughout theevening. The Cassidy Christmas Eve open house was a must stop forfriends and family. In the small village of Longview, Albertaeveryone was either friend or family it seemed. Of course, some ofthe inhabitants had gone to the mountains or to visit far offrelatives for the Christmas season. Still, there would be a steadystream of revellers throughout the night. She glanced at her watch.Michelle should be showing up soon. Mary shook her head; hopefullythe girl had worked things out with Cale. Such a silly thing to letpride stand in the way of their love for each other.
The older womangrinned remembering some of the arguments she and Luke used to haveover things that seemed very important at the time, but amounted tonothing when seen from the perspective of long years later.Thoughts of Michelle’s troubles turned her mind to Rob and KaylaChetwynd. The poor girl was having trouble keeping that scallywagin line. Mary’s lips thinned. This time last year Rob had justdumped Michelle, his fiancée and childhood sweetheart and came homefrom the National Finals Rodeo married to little blonde Kayla. Inher opinion, Michelle was far better off without the boy. He’dalways had a wandering eye, but Michelle would never hear a wordagainst him.
“Hey, Mary!”Michelle held the back door open to allow the three-legged blackdog to enter before her. Close on Storm’s heels, her youngoffspring better known as Crazy Puppy, bounded through the door. Heskidded to a halt at Mary’s side, tongue lolling out his mouth,gaze fixed on the cookie in her hand.
“Hey, yourself.C’mon in and shut the door, you’re letting the heat out.
Michelle closedthe door and shed her coat, hanging it on the hook by the door. Shedropped her Stetson on the hat rack nearby and crossed the room tohug the older woman.
“So, what stillneeds to be done? You look like you’ve got things under controlhere.” Michelle surveyed the cookie sheets cluttering the room.“You want me to help put these on trays? Or are some going intotins as gifts?”
“Those overthere,” she gestured with her chin, “need to be put in those tinspiled on the settee in the living room.” Mary deftly transferred anassortment of cookies unto plates and trays decorated withChristmas napkins. “These ones are for tonight. Lord, I hope I madeenough.”
Michellelaughed. “Looks like you’ve made enough to feed a small army,Mary.”
“You know howthose boys eat,” Mary replied. “I doubt there’ll be much left. I’vegot some put away for tomorrow’s dinner already.”
“Do you want anassortment of cookies in each tin? Where are the paper doilies togo on the bottom?” Michelle busied herself arranging a row of tinson the dining room table, the lids waiting beside them.
“Here’s thedoilies.” Mary tossed her a large package of paper napkinsemblazoned with red ribbons, holly, and Christmas trees. “Anassortment would be great, except for the three tins for Harvey. Heonly likes the shortbread and sugar cookies. Maybe do up one tinwith shortbread and the other two with sugar cookies. Oh, you’llhave to help me ice those sugar ones first though.”
“Is the icingready? I’ll try not to make too much of a mess. You know howunartistic I am.”
“Here you go.”Mary handed over a bowl of white icing and another with greenicing. “The coloured candy balls and gee-gaws for the decorationsare already on the table.”
“Oh, you areasking for trouble.” Michelle laughed. “You expect me to draw treeson these things and decorate them? I’ll do my best, but I’m notresponsible for the outcome.”
“Just get toit, missy.” Mary waved a spatula at her.
“Slave driver,”she retorted.
Mary waiteduntil her friend was engrossed in applying the green icing to thecookies before she broached the subject that was on her mind. “Haveyou talked to Kayla today?” She watched for Michelle’s reaction outof the corner of her eye.
“Not today,”Michelle replied. “I saw her at the UFA yesterday.”
“How was she?”Mary persisted.
Michelleglanced up with a puzzled expression. “Okay, I guess. Why? Rob dosomething else stupid lately?”
“Not that Iknow of. Watch that icing, girly!” Mary pointed to the string ofgreen oozing out of the sleeve of icing.
“Oops, sorry.”Michelle caught the escaping confection on her finger and licked itoff. “Tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.” She grinned. “Why areyou asking about Kayla?”
“Just wonderinghow those two are getting on after all the trouble he stirred uplast spring and summer. I don’t see too much of his mom since shemoved up to Turner Valley.”
“As long as hestays away from me, I don’t really care what he does. I do feelsorry for the girl though. She’s got her hands full keeping himfrom falling off the wagon again. I hear he ran a little wild inVegas and she had to track him down and drag him out of a fewcasinos during the NFR.”
“So, youhaven’t heard from him then?” Mary persisted.
Michellestopped what she was doing and came to lean in the doorway to thekitchen. “What’s up, Mary. Spill, what are you pussy footingaround? Did Kayla say something to you?”
“No, no. Ofcourse not! It’s just…I’ve been wondering how you and Cale aregetting on, now you’re back from the NFR and all.”
Michelle hid agrin. “What exactly are you wondering about?”
Mary busiedherself with collecting the now empty cookie sheets and slidingthem into one side of the double sink. She pointedly avoidedlooking at Michelle. “Well, are you still hiding out in yourtrailer over at Pat’s? I can’t imagine it’s very comfortable inweather like this.” She turned on the hot water tap and added dishsoap.
“I can see thewheels turning in that head of yours, Mary! What scheme have youcome up with that you plan to implement if I say I’m still in thetrailer?” Michelle crossed the kitchen and reached around the olderwoman to stop the flow of water.
“What, me? Inever scheme, as you so baldly put it.” Mary feigned astonishmentand hurt feelings.
Michellesnorted. “Yeah, right! Like you never stole my distributer cap outat East Longview last year so Cale had to drive me home from theconcert.”
A grin slidacross Mary’s face though she fought to conceal it. “Okay, maybeI’ve been guilty of giving a nudge here or there, but I don’tscheme,” she insisted.
“Call it whatyou like, everyone knows you and your cronies have your matchmaking coffee meetings every week. The village is on to you.”Michelle leaned a hip on the counter and slung a dish towel overher shoulder. “Start washing those cookie sheets, woman, or we’llnever get finished.”
“Chelly, youwound me to the quick! Us ladies get together to quilt and crochet,that’s all.” She plunged her hands into the soapy water, the colourstaining her cheeks not just from the heat of the kitchen. “Younever answered my question, are you still at the trailer, or haveyou come to your senses and gone back to Cale’s?”
“Man, you’relike a dog with a bone.” Michelle dried a cookie sheet and set inwith the others on the counter.
“Well?” Maryquit washing to stare at her.
“Fine, yes Caleand I talked and I’ve taken the trailer and the horses back to theranch. They need a break from work, and you’re right, the traileris like an ice box when the wind gets to blowing. Satisfied?”
“Did you workthings out? Everything back to normal now?” Mary persisted.
“Sort of, Iguess.” Michelle dropped her gaze and busied herself with anothercookie sheet.
“What does thatmean?” The older woman raised an eyebrow at her.
She sighed insurrender and frustration. “It means that I’m staying in Cara’s oldroom, but at least he’s talking to me and acting almostnormal.”
“Whose choiceis that? You staying in Cara’s old room, I mean?”
Michellehesitated and considered her answer. “Both of us, I guess. I’mstill pissed that he doesn’t believe me when I say I’m over Rob.Cale still isn’t sure I’m really ready to settle down, at least Ithink that’s what he thinks. Has he said anything to Doc, or toyou?” Hope gathered in her heart.
“Not to me, andif he’s spoken to Luke about it I haven’t heard. Chelly, it’sChristmas, surely you two can work this out. Until this mess withRob, you’ve looked happier and more settled than I’ve ever seenyou.”
“Let’s hope Robstays away from me and that Kayla can keep a leash on that idiot,”Michelle retorted.
“Chelly…” Marypaused and wiped her soapy hands on a towel. “Maybe it’s not myplace to say this, but our own momma is gone and I’ve alwaysthought of you as the daughter Luke and I never had…”
“Out with it,Mary. Whatever it is you feel you need to say, you know I’ll loveyou no matter what.”
“C’mon, let’stake a break. I’ll pour the coffee, you get some of those cookiesfor us. The bakers need to quality test the wares. Marygrinned.
Mary settled atthe table and regarded the young woman across from her. “Chelly,you have to be careful about sending mixed messages—”
“What’s thatsupposed to mean?” Temper flared in Chelly’s eyes.
“Don’t gogettin’ all uppity with me. You need to hear this.”
“Fine, go on.”Michelle frowned and leaned back in her chair.
“You can’tblame Cale for being cautious, you two haven’t been together allthat long and he’s heard all the stories about how you idolized RobChetwynd from the time you were in diapers together.”
“I can’t changethe past, for heaven’s sake. And I can’t change the fact I wasblind and stupid not to see what was happening right under my nose.Why do people feel like they should stick their noses into it?”
“You know howit is, Chelly. There’s those who just want to stir the pot andwatch it boil over, and there’s them who are worried Cale will upand leave if things go bad between you two. They figure if he knowsthe lay of the land going in he can decide if he can live with itor not.”
“Okay, I guessI can understand that. But still—”
“I’m not done,Michelle. You need to keep your distance from the boy. Carolyn’salways indulged that boy, apple of his daddy’s eye and all that. Hethinks he can have his cake and eat it too.”
“Meaning Kaylaand me, I suppose?”
“Yup, and anybuckle bunny who happens to cross his path. But, the point I wantto make is, you need to let him crash and burn. Don’t go running tohis rescue when he screws up.”
“I don’t dothat!”
“Why did you gopick him up in Okotoks then? Why not tell him to call hiswife—”
“I did!”
“Okay, but thenhe gave you some sob story and you went running off to his rescuelike a good little girl, didn’t you? He wants what he can’t have,and right now that’s you. Old habits are hard to break, and Rob hasbeen part of your life for a long time. Keep your eyes open wherehe’s concerned and don’t let him play you.” Mary reached over andgrasped Michelle’s hand. “Cale is a good man and he loves you,right now he’s just not sure how much you love him, or if it’s justyou indulging a fantasy of playing house in Rob’s old home.”
“I see yourpoint. You make me sound like some kind of idiot, though. As if Idon’t know my own mind.”
“Do you,Michelle? Know what you really want?”
“Yeah, I do. Ilove Cale and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I don’tcare where we live. If he wants he can sell the old Chetwynd place,we could buy George out of his half of our ranch, or we could setup somewhere else. I don’t care, as long as Cale is there, it willbe home.”
Mary regardedher thoughtfully. “I do hope you truly believe that, honey. I’mtrying really hard to get Luke to retire and just act as aconsultant to the practice. Carrie is all set up in the small suitebehind the clinic and she’s willing to stay on and work toward apartnership in the business with Cale.”
“You guysaren’t thinking of moving are you?” Michelle swirled the remainingcoffee in her mug.
“Heaven’s no,child. What would we do with palm trees and heat? I love the winterand it just isn’t Christmas without snow. No, we’re staying put,and eventually Carrie will find a place of her own.”
“Thank God, forthat. I couldn’t stand it if you left Longview.”
“Enoughlollygagging, we’ve got fruitcake to get in the oven and mincetarts to make, and … darn it all, where’s my list?” Mary got upfrom the table and stepped over Storm on her way to the sink. Thedog thumped her tail and opened one eye.
Michellefollowed her and washed her mug out in the soapy water still in thesink. Crazy Puppy woke from his nap and careened around thekitchen, skidding on the linoleum and wiping out a chair. Stormraised her head and barked once at him.
Michellegrabbed his collar when the puppy galloped by her. Holding tightshe managed to corral the wriggling dog. “Man, I thought neuteringhim would slow him down.” She laughed. “I’ll take him out in theback yard for a bit and see if I can run off some this energy.”
Mary grippedthe dog’s collar while Michelle put on her outer wear. A blast ofcold air and the scent of impending snow swept through the heat ofthe room when she opened the door. “Release the hound!” Michellejoked and followed Crazy Puppy out into the fenced yard.
Chapter Two
Mary leaned onthe counter and watched the girl and the dog romping in the freshsnow. Hopefully, Chelly really had worked things out with Cale. Itwould be a shame to see her go through more nonsense, and reallywith no need. Maybe this little episode would help cut the tieswith Rob and put an end to those childhood dreams. She shook herhead, images of Michelle and Rob as young kids paraded through herhead. She’d always had an inkling Chelly was more of an easy habitfor Rob than him actually being in love with her. Over the yearsMary had made attempts to point things out to the girl, but herwarnings fell on deaf ears. That poor girl, Kayla, now she had herhands full trying to tame that boy. Although, he did genuinely seemto love his wife. More power to her.
The timer onthe oven dinged shaking her out of her reminiscing. Standing hereday dreaming wasn’t getting the baking done. Mary paused as shepulled a tray of mince tarts from the oven and popped in two ofbutter tarts.

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