Kissing Strangers The Twelve Days of Christmas #9 by D.S. Dehel Genre: Paranormal Historical Romance Print Length: 90 pages Publisher: eXtasy Books Publication Date: December 20, 2019
A haunting Christmas tale.
Christmas of 1899, the world looks forward to new discoveries, new inventions, and a new century. Wealthy heiress Viola Peery is looking forward to a new life and a husband, preferably one with a title, since her father has told her not to return from England without one.
A New Year’s weekend at Aescton Hall holds promise for Viola and eight other ladies of wealth. There, ten eligible bachelors will vie for their hearts and hands during dinners, skating parties, and—of course—balls. Both the charming Cedric Stanhope and the dashing Rhys Findlay catch Viola’s eye and pique her interest, and through flirty tea parties and nightly waltzes, she mulls her decision.
But one of the men holds a secret that will change her destiny and haunt her for the rest of her life.
The figurine stood four inches high and perhaps two and a half inches wide. From a faded scarlet ribbon, a waltzing couple dangled. Although the faces were indistinct, their body language implied them staring adoringly at each other. The woman’s scarlet gown swirled around her partner’s feet, giving the whole an impression of movement. With trembling fingers, Vi plucked it from her granddaughter’s palm. “Yes, that’s me.” Again, the lilting strains of the waltz and eyes the color of the sea after a storm filled her mind.
“It is you, or you made it?” Dottie’s forehead wrinkled.
“Both.” Vi set the figurine on the desk and levered herself to her feet. Gracefulness came hard at seventy-seven years of age. She crossed to her closet and tugged on the string. Above her head, a lightbulb snapped to life. There, on her neatly arranged shelf, in the far corner, sat a hatbox that had once been striped rose and gold, but now was a lifeless brown and pinkish-gray.
She turned to grab the chair she had been sitting on, but Dottie stopped her. “I’ll get it.” Dottie picked up the straight-backed chair and carried it to the closet. “What am I taking down?”
“The hatbox.” Vi pointed. “You may have to move the scrapbooks.” Those held other stories in them.
Dottie made unladylike noises as she shifted items about, and Vi was tempted to reprimand her, but she didn’t. The world had changed, and young women were free to behave uncouthly if they wished. “Here.” Dottie passed the ancient but still solid box to her grandmother.
“Thank you. Mind that you don’t slip getting down.” Vi nodded at the chair, and then she glided to a low table that sat in the middle of her study and placed the box on it. She slowly sank onto the late Victorian sofa. Do I want to remember? She found she did. Besides, the past intruded whether she wanted it to or not. She took a deep breath and for a moment could feel the ghost of her corset laces. Then she eased the lid off the box and pulled away the faded pink tissue paper, and the sensation vanished. Nestled on a bed of cotton wool were eight figurines similar to the one on the drawing table. The poses varied, and all of the dresses were different, but these clearly were a set.
“Oh, Nana.” Dottie’s voice was hushed. “Those are beautiful.”
Vi started. She’d forgotten about her granddaughter. “This was us.” Long ago.
D.S. Dehel is a lover of photography, good food, and the Oxford comma. When she is not immersed in a book, she is mom to her kids and spoiling her rather pampered feline, Mr. Darcy. She can also be found at the gym training for her next Spartan race and generally avoiding all adult responsibility. She adores literary allusions, writing sex scenes, and British television. Her devoted husband is still convinced she writes children's books. Please don't enlighten him.