enchanting christmas impossible dream
Once upon a time, Christmas (Chrissy) Mooney believed she’d set the world on fire as a concert violinist. Then she indulged in a whirlwind affair with a charismatic stranger who declared them soul mates when they parted. She never imagined he’d turn his back on her when she announced she was pregnant. Scorched by his betrayal and then a cruel twist of fate, she denounces her dreams and focuses on her child—never realizing the extent of her cynicism until she reads her daughter’s letter to Santa.
Desperate to rediscover joy, Chrissy applies for help from Impossible Dream.com. When Mason Rivers blows back into her life, rocking her with a revelation and a mission of his own, she’s so busy shielding her heart that she’s oblivious to the stirring magic. Until Mason points out the most basic ingredient for happiness… Believing is everything.
What they’re saying
Read on for Chapter 1
impossible dream / book 2
bc ink, december 13, 2015
what people are saying
“A wonderful book full of zany and endearing characters. Though it is a novella, Ciotta manages to pack a lot of emotion, romance and excitement into this shorter length–along with loads of holiday details and spirit!” —Amazon reader review
“It has heartbreak, longing, sweet romance, and steaminess all in a quick read. What does that mean? Almost instant gratification! Beth creates characters that jump off the page!” —Amazon reader review
“Like all of Ciotta’s books, Enchanting Christmas is well-written and will leave you wanting more. She has added her touch with her quirky characters that help make and series she writes a hit. You’ll love this wonderful, heartwarming story!” —Amazon reader review
“A second chance at love with wonderful characters and real heart felt emotion. This story will touch your heart and enchant you. Very highly recommended!” —Amazon reader review
Once upon a November
Here’s the thing about small towns. Especially small towns that are almost ghost towns. The people who’ve bothered to stick around go whole hog when it comes to making merry. Festivals, fairs, bicentennials, holidays. They adorn the storefronts—even the abandoned ones—drape banners from the traffic lights—singular in this case—hang decorations from the lampposts.
Even with Thanksgiving a full week away, Nowhere, Nebraska—population 1000 and dropping—was already decked out for Christmas. Chrissy didn’t mind the visual aspect. But she did mind the assault on her ears and heart. Ringing from every speaker in every store, seasonal classics celebrating all things St. Nick and baby Jesus. Lyrics and melodies geared to inspire wonder, faith, and hope.
Chrissy had a beef with music in general, but songs of yuletide joy made her particularly twitchy. Just now a symphonic rendering of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas scraped over her soul like a rusty blade. Even though her friend’s voice and the clatter of food being served overshadowed the wistful melody, Chrissy turned downright cranky. So much so that when Georgie finished sharing her exciting news, Chrissy responded with a churlish, “No can do.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?”
Georgie flicked her long, dark hair over her shoulders then angled her head and studied Chrissy with squinty emerald eyes. “You look like you just sucked on a whole bag of lemons. Not for anything, but for someone whose name is Christmas, you sure are a Scrooge.”
Chrissy, who’d been born Christmas Joy Mooney twenty-eight years ago this coming December twenty-fifth, smirked at one of her oldest and dearest friends. “Bite me.”
Undaunted, Georgie pressed on. “Come on. A weekend getaway! Holiday wonder in the Mile High City! A magical adventure for the Inseparables plus One! Even Sinjun is flying in.”
The “plus One” being Chrissy’s four-year-old daughter, Melody. The “Inseparables” meaning Chrissy, her cousin, Bella Mooney, and their longtime friends Georgina Poppins, Emma Sloan, Angel Drake, and Sinjun Ashe.
Sinjun was the only long-distance member of their BFF club and Chrissy, the youngest of the lot, was the only one who had a kid. None of them were married, although Bella was engaged and Angel was twice widowed. The six of them had been a close knit group ever since they were children. They’d made a pact, swearing friendship forever and a lifetime in Nowhere. Sinjun had fudged the second part but that wasn’t her fault. She’d only been thirteen when her Mom announced they were moving to the east coast. It wasn’t not like Sinjun could refuse.
“Listen,” Georgie said. “The second weekend of December is the only weekend that works for everyone. Including you. I asked about your availability two weeks ago.”
“But you didn’t say anything about a trip to Denver.” The mere mention of that city knotted her stomach.
“I was in the planning stages, and now I’m not. It’s all set and it wasn’t easy. You have to go. It won’t be the same without you!”
“All right, all right. Calm down.” An intensely private person, Chrissy glanced over her shoulder. “People are listening.”
People being a handful of citizens who’d braved a bitter cold night in order to enjoy the cozy ambiance and good food of Nowhere’s historical Café Caboose. Historical because the main part of the eatery was a late nineteenth-century rail car, renovated and augmented with a long luncheon counter, spinning stools, and several cushy booths. The Inseparables had been meeting here every week for close to fifteen years. They were as much a fixture as the “Travel by Train” clock with the buzzing neon lights hanging above the front door.
Or at least they used to be. Tonight it was just Chrissy and Georgie.
“Sorry,” Georgie grumbled under her breath. “It’s just we see less and less of each other these days. This,” she said indicating their table for two, “is a prime example. When’s the last time three out of five of us bailed on our weekly dinner? I know everyone’s busy. Hell, you’re busy, but you made it. And I thought, ‘Great! Okay! At least I can celebrate with you.’ I worked my butt off coordinating a fabulous, affordable, magical getaway. I’m sorry I snapped, but a little enthusiasm would’ve been nice. Just saying.”
Looking dejected, Georgie—who’d been suffering a crazy string of bad luck for months—turned her attention to the menu.
Feeling like a jerk, Chrissy slumped back against her upholstered seat and dissected her prickly mood. Yes, the music had lit her fuse, but she’d been on a slow burn for years. Amazing that her friends and family continued to love her because, honestly, most of the time there wasn’t a whole lot to love. Resentment, anger, and self-disgust had turned her into a Grinch on wheels. She’d even abandoned her given name, Christmas, because it only reminded her of the spirited dreamer she’d once been.
Almost five years had come and gone since Mason Rivers, tabloid serial-dater, had tainted her life. She’d finally grown tired of her restless and bitter mindset and a few months back had vowed to adopt a more positive approach to life.
She’d braved a new haircut—a sassy, shaggy “do” that complimented her naturally straight, platinum locks. Launched Gypsy Folk Yarns, an on-line knitted goods store that offered her unique designs—scarves, cowls, ponchos, caps, and gloves, to name a few. Between her new knitting endeavor and her longtime job at Buzz-Bee’s Bakery, finances were finally looking up. She’d even gone on a couple of dates although those hadn’t been nearly as satisfying or successful as her new cyber business.
She wasn’t sure anyone understood how difficult it was for her to break free of the week-long affair that had changed her life. Naïveté and poor judgment had led to a shattered dream and broken heart. Certainly no one knew the depth of her anxiety regarding the welfare and happiness of her sweet daughter. Like most of the Mooneys, Chrissy internalized her ugliest battles.
“I’m sorry,” she said to Georgie after the waitress took their orders. “I didn’t mean to be a buzz kill. Tell me more about your plans.”
“I’m all ears.” Even though my interest is half-hearted.
Georgie, who was famous for shrugging off rejection, lit up like a freaking Christmas tree. “I know finances are tight,” she said. “I’m barely getting by myself. Trust me, this getaway is ridiculously affordable. We can car pool to Denver in four hours and you won’t believe the rate I got on a two bedroom suite. Also, think of the money you can save on last minute Christmas presents by shopping at the outlets.”
“There is that,” Chrissy said, trying her best to get on board.
“Angel’s been to Denver during holiday season. She swears Melody will think she’s visiting the North Pole. The seasonal decorations are out of this world. The only thing I couldn’t secure were seven tickets to the Mile High Christmas Extravaganza,” Georgie said. “Already sold out. Can you believe it? But there are plenty of holiday displays and festivities including a parade!
“I don’t mean to pressure you,” she went on, “but we’re all in need of a breather from this dying town and our intensifying challenges. Even Bella, who’s disgustingly in love with Savage, expressed a desire to kick up her heels with the girls.”
Chrissy felt her resolve slipping. She knew everyone needed a break from the pressures of their individual lives. Hell, she needed a short reprieve from the mounting stress regarding her and Melody’s future. She hadn’t discussed it with anyone other than her mom and dad, but she’d been wrestling with the advantages of moving to a larger town. Melody would start Kindergarten next year and, as a child who’d been born profoundly deaf, her learning options via local schools were limited. Chrissy wasn’t thrilled about distancing herself from family and friends, but Melody’s education was a massive consideration.
“It’s just…I wish you would have picked another destination,” Chrissy said while mindlessly fiddling with her knife.
“What’s wrong with Denver? Yes, it’s out-of-state, but it’s a heck of a lot closer than Lincoln or Omaha.”
Rather than turning in on herself, Chrissy sat straighter. A couple of months back, via an ultra-private video chat, Sinjun had mentioned how Chrissy’s secrecy regarding the father of her child only gave the man more power over her life. Chrissy wasn’t ready to reveal all, but she saw no advantage in another lie. Therefore, she stated her problem with Denver. “He-who-shall-not-be-named lives there.”
Georgie gawked. “Benedict Romeo?”
Cheeks burning, Chrissy shushed her.
“The dirt bag who sicced a lawyer on you?” Georgie whispered. “The sack of—”
“Yeah. Him.” Chrissy folded her arms over her churning middle.
“You told us he lived somewhere in state.”
It was one of the few facts, albeit vague, that Chrissy had given up. “He did. Until recently.”
“I thought you severed all ties after—”
“But you’re keeping tabs on him?”
“Not on purpose.” Chrissy sighed knowing she had to give up something else otherwise her friend would press for a full account. “He was mentioned in the news a while back. Relocated to Denver on business.”
She’d been researching state wide assistance and advancement for the deaf and hearing impaired—she did that a lot—when she’d tripped upon an article announcing the relocation of Mason Rivers, golden boy and heir of Rivers’ Audio & Video Inc. Or RAVI as the company was now famously known. The fact that Mason and his family made millions revolutionizing and promoting audio equipment and concert venues while the daughter he’d forsaken lived in silence was just one of the reasons Chrissy resented the manipulative heartbreaker.
“He’s a musician, right?” Georgie asked. “What? Did he get famous or something? How did he rate a mention in the news? When? Where? The newspaper? Television? Radio? Online? For God’s sake, Chrissy. It’s been five years. Give up the ghost.”
She shook her head. “My dad and brother would kick his ass if they knew who he was.”
“Can’t say he wouldn’t deserve it.”
“Except he could retaliate.” Mason’s lawyer, or rather his mega-rich family’s lawyer, had made that point loud and clear. “I can’t risk it.” Tamping down her growing frustration, Chrissy blew out a breath. “Listen, I don’t want to talk about him and I don’t want to risk running into him. Especially not with Melody along. Hence my problem with Denver.”
“The on-going mystery regarding the identity of Benedict Romeo aside,” Georgie said, “what are the chances of running into him in a city as big Denver? Although I guess any chance is bothersome. I’ll cancel the trip.”
Georgie was backing off, just like Chrissy hoped. Even so, she felt no joy in her friend’s acquiescence. In fact, her mood worsened.
“We don’t have to do a full-out holiday weekend,” the resilient woman went on. “Maybe I can book us a cheap cabin closer to Nowhere. Who needs Christmas hoop-la? We can make our own magic. Also, not to spoil the surprise, although I am, we’d planned on celebrating your birthday that weekend. You always get shortchanged on celebrations considering you were born on Christmas day. Anyway, that’s another reason why the trip wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Chrissy frowned. Why do I feel like the most self-absorbed person on the planet? No Inseparable’s life was a bed of roses and yet no one else had a stick up their butt like she did.
“I may be a Scrooge,” she said as the waitress showed with their food, “but I refuse to ruin everyone else’s fun, not to mention my birthday surprise.” She glanced at Georgie, feeling like a jerk because Georgie, although a bit of a screw-up, had a heart as big as Nebraska. “I know you worked hard to make all the arrangements. And Angel’s right. Mel will love it. Sorry to be a pain. Count me in.”
Georgie beamed then faltered. “What about risking a run-in with he-who-shall-not-be-named?”
Chrissy shrugged, pretending indifference and willing optimism. “Like you said, what are the chances?”