Hello and welcome to the first Tuesday Tales’ post of 2017. I wish you all health and happiness in the coming year. As promised, I’m continuing for three more weeks in Candy Kayne’s Christmas. It’s my intention to then go back to Wedding Bell Blues.
Tuesday Tales is a weekly blog where select authors post from their work in progress. Each post is based on a word or picture prompt. In December, we were given six pictures, two of which were to be used for our shorter 300 word picture prompts. I decide to use all six as I presented excerpts from this novella.
Today’s word is POINT and here is the picture I chose to add to the story today. Here’s your post. It’s just over 1500 words.
After the drive from hell in which she silently cursed Phil Stockton more than once, Candace pulled into the parking lot at the winery, noting it was half-full.
“Looks like most of the gang’s all here,” Sally said, waving to a couple getting out of their vehicle. “There’s Amy and Nate. I’ll bet their ride in along River Road was worse than ours, but it’ll be gorgeous out that way tomorrow with the sun shining on all the new snow.”
“If you say so. Personally, I would be happy if it stopped snowing. There’s Cynthia Warner,” Candace indicated the middle-aged woman getting out of her car. “I can’t believe she came out here by herself. I heard she was going to pack up and sell the diner.”
“She might, but you know what the experts say about making any drastic changes right away. I understand her son and daughter-in-law are interested in taking over, so she may be waiting to pass it along to them.”
Candace chuckled. “Maybe. It’s a good point. Eden’s Eatery is still the best place to eat in town, and it is open year-round. She buys her coffee from me.”
Sally nodded. “I supply her with flavored chocolates, too. We’d better get in there. Phil won’t like waiting.”
Ten minutes later, coat, mittens, and all the rest of the cold weather paraphernalia she wore neatly put away in the closet, Candace pulled her flats out of her purse and slipped them on.
“Candace, so glad you could make it,” Phil said, handing her a cup of mulled wine. “Try this. Ruth came up with a new recipe that should warm you up nicely.”
“Thanks.” She reached for the cup and sipped cautiously, delighted to find she liked the taste. “Not bad. I’ve never been a fan of the stuff, but I could grow to like this.”
Phil smiled. “Good. I’m hoping to sell the recipe to our newest member.”
She frowned. “New member? Of what?”
He put his finger up to his lips and hurried away.
Frowning at the secrecy, Candace glanced around the winery’s party room. She had to admit Ruth and Phil had gone out of their way this year. It was true they hosted most of the weddings and parties in the area in the winter, but the greenery was spectacular, especially the twenty-foot pine tree. The only time she’d seen a larger one had been in New York City. She wouldn’t go there now. Musing on that tree and Rockefeller Square meant thinking about Judson again. To do so would suck the pleasure right out of the occasion.
“Despite the less than stellar driving conditions, it looks as if every one of the business owners from Willow Grove has made the trek out here,” Sally said, coming over to stand with her again. “I was just talking to Elmore. He’ll come over after the meeting to see if he can boost my engine.” She reddened. “I mean my car’s engine.”
Candace laughed. “Of course. I never imagined it would be anything else.”
The fifty-eight-year-old widow and the garage owner, ten years her junior, were seeing one another, and it was the worst kept secret in Willow Grove. No one said anything about it, though, happy to see two lonely friends find one another.
“Elmore told me Phil insisted he be here tonight, even though he may have to run out if he gets a call. Phil has some big announcement to make, but you know the man. To him everything is important.”
“If you’re talking about my husband, then you’re right,” Ruth Stockton said, joining them.
“Everything around here looks amazing, especially that tree. Phil’s gone overboard,” Sally said, her face conveying her admiration more than her words did.
“I agree,” Candace added. “Everything is gorgeous and must’ve cost the earth.”
Ruth chuckled. “You know it. Phil claims he’s investing in the future, but Sally, he’s like a kid let loose in a candy store. He’s been working on this deal for weeks and just got the go ahead two days ago. Between that and the other thing, the anticipation has been driving him crazy. I swear he’ll end up with an ulcer.”
Candace grinned. “And the other thing, it’s confirmed?”
Ruth nodded and smiled. “It is. Plain eggnog for me tonight.”
Sally squealed. “You’re expecting? That’s wonderful.”
“Not so loud,” Ruth said, but she glowed. “Phil wants to break all the news tonight. You don’t want to steal any of his thunder.”
Holding her wine in one hand, Candace embraced her friend with the other. “I can’t even imagine how thrilled you both are. What a marvelous Christmas gift.” She tamped down her envy. She’d wanted children, lots of children, but that wasn’t to be.
“The doctor says everything is fine. He’s given me a July due date.”
“July? I thought you were only two months along.”
Ruth laughed. “So did I, but apparently I’m not. Thank God he’s telling everyone tonight. I need to get some different clothing. I can’t zip up my jeans.”
“Ladies and gentlemen. If I can ask you to be seated now and have my lovely wife up here with me, we can get this started,” Phil said into the microphone.
Ruth nodded toward the stage. “We can talk more later.”
Candace watched her walk up to the podium. The look of love on Phil’s face as he embraced his wife created an ache inside her. Would a man ever look at her that way?
“Candace, Sally,” Amy called from a table on the left side of the room, and they hurried over to join her and Nate.
“Haven’t they done a great job?” Amy asked as they sat. “I heard he’s going to host a breakfast with Santa for the local kids on the twenty-third.”
“Whatever this news Phil has must really be something. He’s spent a fortune on this little shindig,” Nate added.
She nodded. “Yeah. This is the biggest thing to happen to him yet.” Ruth’s secret was safe until Nate told everyone. She wouldn’t steal his thunder.
“Is Cathy here? I haven’t seen her.”
“She’s just gone to the bathroom. Here she comes now,” Amy answered. “She drove in with the Richardsons. I don’t blame her for opting not to travel alone. The roads are bad and will probably be worse when this is over. I’m glad Nate put the chains on the tires.”
Richardsons was the town’s main hardware store. While there was one of the bigger chain stores in the Seneca Shopping Center a few miles away, most of the locals got their hardware and fishing supplies from Rick.
“Can I have everyone’s attention?” Phil asked. He held Ruth close to him. “I have two announcements to make tonight, and I would like to start with the personal one. As you know, Ruth and I have always dreamed of having a big family. I’m thrilled to announce that Lucas will have a baby brother or sister this summer. It’s an unexpected miracle, but Ruth’s got a bun in the oven. She’s pregnant.”
The room erupted in cheers and people rushed the dais to congratulate the couple.
“You knew, didn’t you?” Amy accused. “Don’t deny it. It’s written all over your face.”
“Now, if I can have your attention again, I would like to explain the other issue behind today’s meeting—not that my going to be a daddy isn’t news enough.”
“Syd, turn down the lights, will you?”
The room darkened, and seconds later the screen lit up with the words Serendipity All-Season Resort. The image was of Silver Mountain and the old flour mill, but in the sketch, the mountain had ski runs on it and the flour mill was a hotel.
“Starting after Christmas, Serendipity Construction will begin renovating the flour mill into a five star luxury resort. The man in charge of the project, William Lamont, also purchased the Jessup house out on River Road. He’s already got Avery working on fixing it up for him. He’ll be moving in mid-February. Ruth and I will host a welcome to Willow Grove dinner for him and his family. Now, let me show you his plans for Silver Mountain. Willow Grove is getting a ski resort of its own for Christmas.”
The crowd cheered as loudly as they had earlier. Wasn’t this just what they’d all wanted?
Candace listened as Phil outlined the plans, her mind racing through the possibilities of what this might mean for her and her shop.
“I don’t get it,” Candace said an hour later as they were driving back into town. “I know everyone sees this as a wonderful opportunity, but something doesn’t feel right. Why would that Mr. Lamont and his company want to buy from us when he could get it cheaper by buying directly from the manufacturer?”
“He could get things like the coffee makers cheaper, I agree, but you roast and flavor that coffee yourself, just as I make all my sweets. Keeping the hotel in business with two hundred chocolates a day won’t leave me much time for making anything else. I’ll have to hire more staff, but this is a dream come true. Willow Grove will be a destination all year long.”
Candace shook her head. When things seemed too good to be true, they usually were. She’d learned that lesson from Judson. Mr. Lamont had to have an angle. When they discovered what it was, she hoped no one would be hurt.
Don’t forget to check out all the other delicious stories coming your way today on Tuesday Tales.