At the insistence of an old friend, Dizzy Franks and her son Porter take a vacation at The Tiara Islands Inn for Christmas. Porter isn't happy, nor are Dizzy's parents, and even Dizzy doesn't know why her friend was so insistent. Until she sees Dean Fulton, Porter's father, who she'd lost contact with before their son was born.
Her perfect holiday seems doomed, but there's more to the story than Dizzy knows and finding Dean again just might lead to the most perfect Christmas ever.
Freshly fallen snow glistened in the early morning light, making all the trees look like they’d been encrusted with jewels. Dizzy Franks bundled her unzipped jacket closed and shifted her stance. It was just cold enough to make her nose tingle, and every breath puffed a soft cloud that wafted away in the slight breeze.
She’d never seen the Tiara Islands Inn live up to it’s name so perfectly.
Curiosity had brought her here after a decade, that and an invitation from her old friend, the current owner, Julie Murdock. They’d worked here together for one summer, before what would have been Dizzy’s first year of college. It was where she’d earned her nickname. Diana Isabelle Franks, after her first drunken tumble into the lake, had forever been dubbed Dizzy. Somehow it had managed to follow her home, and ten years later, she still answered to it.
Beside her, a bored sigh sounded and Dizzy looked over and down to her son Porter. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
He shrugged. “It’s alright.” Shaggy blond hair the same shade as her own partially covered brown eyes flecked with gold. His dad’s eyes, set in a miniature version of his dad’s face. Dizzy ignored the little pang of regret, concentrating on the view as if she could will back the sense of peace she’d felt when she first stepped out of the car. It had been a long time since she’d looked at Porter and felt sorrow. It had to be because she was here, where he’d been conceived.
At nine, Porter was more interested in video games than his mother’s reminiscing, so she regretfully resumed their walk from the parking lot to the front office to check in. “Don’t be so pouty. We’ll have lots of fun. There’s a skating rink on the lake, and we can go tobogganing and snow shoeing. Tomorrow night there’s a bonfire and caroling, then on Christmas day, a scavenger hunt and a sleigh ride.”
His expression brightened momentarily before settling back into the sullen mask he’d been wearing for weeks. “Why can’t Gramma and Grampa come with us? It’s not Christmas without dinner at Gramma’s house.”
“We’ll be going there a few days after Christmas.”Dizzy reminded him.
“It’s not the same.”
No, it wouldn’t be the same. They’d never once missed a Christmas day with her parents since Porter was born. It was tradition to show up in their pajamas and eat a big breakfast before finally attacking the presents under the tree. She loved watching her son pretend to be patient while he was eating, his eyes straying to the brightly wrapped packages every few seconds as he tried to guess what might be in each one.
Her parents weren’t too happy with her about this trip either. Dizzy didn’t know what she hoped to accomplish, other than visit the friend she’d made all those years ago. She knew she could have simply driven up for a day, that staying at the inn for a week was a bit excessive, but Julie had been so eager to have her stay. She’d even offered to reduce the rate on the cottage. Dizzy wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise.
“I’m sorry, baby.”She murmured as she held open the heavy door to let him enter. The smell of cinnamon and baking bread welcomed them. “I wanted this to be a mother/son thing. We don’t get many chances to do things just the two of us.”
Porter’s blue eyes narrowed. “I thought you liked our trips with Gramma and Grampa.”
“I do.”She assured him quickly. “I love it when we all go camping, or to Wonderland or the Science Center.”She shot him a cheeky grin. “But I’m greedy and I like having my baby all to myself.”
As expected, his expression turned to a mix of horrified and pleased. He wouldn’t want to take trips with her in a few years, and instead would want to go with friends. Right now, he was still young enough to accept hugs and she planned to take advantage of that for as long as she could.
Dizzy bit back a sigh. “I know, but when we see her, you’ll have lots of stories to tell her.”
“And pictures.”Porter reminded her. “You said I could use your camera.”
She grinned and barely held back a squeal at the thought of the camera she’d bought for him for Christmas. “I remember.”
They stepped into the lobby and Porter’s eyes immediately darted to the two massive trees flanking the stone fireplace. Both were lit and adorned with strings of popcorn, cranberries and tin stars. “Wow, that’s so cool.”
“Remember when Grampa made popcorn garland?”
Porter laughed in delight. “Barney tried to climb the tree and ate it all.”Barney, her parents Jack Russell Terrier had managed to make it half way up the tree, before it fell over, knocking over the table housing the miniature village that her mom was so proud of. Barney and Dizzy’s father still hadn’t been forgiven two years later.
“This is going to be a great Christmas, Porter.”Dizzy promised. “The best Christmas ever.”
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