Christmas Wedding


Christmas Wedding 
Serendipity, Indiana – Book Three

December First—Jim proposed, and Melissa accepted. With just twenty-five days to make it happen, is it possible to create the perfect Christmas Wedding?

Jim Standish is ready—right this minute—to marry the love of his life, with a quick trip to the courthouse. But Melissa Singer wants the event to be beautiful, romantic, and memorable. And on Christmas Day! 
Everyone in the Standish family is doing their best to help. But they’re also busy with the holiday season on the Standish Family Christmas Tree Farm. An unwelcome reminder of the past appears, the dress designer is working overtime, and nothing seems to go right.

They just have 25 days to make this event happen. Is it possible to create the perfect Christmas Wedding?
Christmas Wedding is a wholesome, heartwarming small town romance that will make you believe in second chances – and in Christmas magic.                                

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Christmas Wedding
Serendipity, Indiana–Book Three
USA Today Bestselling Author
Magdalena Scott
 Copyright ©2015
December 1st
“So, what do you think, Mel? Is it time?”
I tore my gaze from the beautiful snow-covered Christmas trees all around us and looked at Jim. He winked then turned his attention back to his driving.
Had I missed something while in my reverie about work? My real estate office was doing well, but there was always something that needed my attention—and I wasn’t doing any extras for work this month because of helping out in the evenings at the Standish Christmas Tree Farm.
I glanced at my six-year-old, Matthew, sitting between us on the truck’s bench seat, but he didn’t seem aware of whatever topic I had missed out on. He was mesmerized by the snow flurries we were driving into as the pickup made its way down the driveway and onto Tree Farm Road.
“Sorry. I must have missed something. Is it time for what, Jim?”
“You know. Getting married.”
My heart immediately started to thump. “Married?” I whispered. “Now?”
Jim chuckled. “Not right this minute. We don’t have a license for one thing.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Mr. Standish?”
“I don’t think so. Bride, groom, license.” He glanced down at Matthew and grinned. “Mini best man.”
“Mr. Jim, the man has to be on the floor,” Matthew told him then looked at me and smiled. “Right, Mommy?” It took me a moment to realize he was referring to seeing a man down on one knee to propose marriage.
“Exactly what I was thinking. You haven’t been on the floor, Jim.”
He chuckled good-naturedly. “Aha. Isn’t that kind of old-fashioned?”
I relaxed, enjoying the topic as it became a bit lighter. “I don’t care if it is old-fashioned. I’ve waited long enough for my proposal—a couple of years or a couple of decades, depending on how you want to count. Besides, I think we both deserve to look back on the traditional one-knee memory.”
“I wanna see you do it, Mr. Jim. I only watched it on TV.”
Jim groaned. At the intersection with Highway 56, he turned left toward our hometown of Serendipity. “Ganged up on again. I guess I should be getting used to it.”
“Matthew and I are a package deal, so yeah, probably so.”
“And what a package it is.” Jim smiled and shook his head. “Very nice indeed,” he said softly.
My face grew warm as I anticipated our goodnight kiss—a few stolen moments of togetherness.
When we turned onto North Main Street and my house came into sight, I sighed happily as I had done each time I approached it since moving here. If it hadn’t been for the old Osborne place going up for sale, I might not have moved back to Serendipity after twenty years away. The big solid house had always inspired a feeling of strength and security in me when, as a kid, I had ridden past it on my bike. Later, on the night of our senior prom, the house had taken on a new importance in my life. A couple of years ago when I lost my real estate job in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I decided to buy a real estate business in Serendipity from a couple who were retiring. It had been an upheaval, especially for Matthew, for us to move two hundred miles south to the hilly, southern part of our state and my little hometown where I hoped I could give him a similar childhood to my own. Similar in location at least—but vastly better in other ways.
Jim pulled into my concrete drive that followed the north edge of my yard. He killed the engine. “Your Christmas decorations look great, Mel.”
I had hired a teenager to help me string white lights all along the front of the house, outlining the shape of the big square home and also highlighting the deep front porch. The evergreen bushes by the porch wore nets of white lights. I had restrained myself from doing more, though it had been tempting. I know the kid was relieved to see the last box of lights emptied and also glad that we’d lucked onto a warmish day in late November to get the job done. The exterior lights turned on and off with the porch light, thanks to a helpful neighbor’s ability with wiring. Tonight—December 1—was the first day I had switched them on, and I had been eager to do it as soon as I closed my office for the day.
“Mommy let me help do the candles in the windows,” Matthew announced. “They’re not real ones with fire. They plug in the wall.” He sighed. “But they look pretty.”
Jim patted Matthew’s leg and opened the driver side door. “They sure do, pardner. Pretty like your mommy, right?”
“Yep. You gonna per-pose, Mr. Jim?” Matthew held his hand out to catch snowflakes, which were falling faster now. “You can come in the house if it’s too cold out here.”
Jim looked at me, and I nodded. I was surprised to feel nervous about it.
Key in hand, I headed to the side door, the way I always entered from the driveway, but Jim took my hand and tugged me gently toward the front porch. “C’mon, Mel. We’d just as well do this in full view of the folks of Serendipity.” Matthew changed direction and trotted along beside us, adjusting his knit toboggan cap that Jim’s mom had made him for Christmas last year.
Jim took me by the shoulders and positioned me on the front porch. “Okay. You stand right there. This house has been important to our past. Now it can be important to our future.” He crossed his arms and looked at Matthew. “What do you think, Matthew? Should you stand by Mom or kneel down with me?”
“I don’t know, Mr. Jim. I only ever saw a man and lady.”
“Well, we need to make this work for us, Matthew. Hmm. I think you should stand next to your mom.” Matthew climbed the two steps and stood next to me, and I took his hand. Jim knelt on the sidewalk at the foot of the steps and looked up at us.
“Melissa Mae Singer, I love you and I always have. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
My eyes filled with tears. “Yes, Jim. Gladly!”
Jim smiled up at me then turned toward Matthew. “Matthew James Singer, would you do me the honor of being my son?”
“Oh.” Matthew looked from Jim to me. “Can I, Mommy?”
I squeezed his hand gently. “You sure can, sweetie.”
“Okay. Sure, Mr. Jim!” He ran down the steps and into Jim’s arms, nearly knocking him down. We laughed together as Jim stood and swept Matthew up into an embrace and gave him a noisy kiss on the cheek. Fluffy snowflakes landed on their shoulders, and I floated down the steps to my family.
Matthew patted Jim’s face. “You did that real good, Mr. Jim. Did you practice?”
Jim mussed the little boy’s hair and frowned to himself. “Once, a long time ago. This one was lots better in every possible way. And now that I’ve got it right, I’ll never have to do it again.”
I stood on tiptoe, one hand on Jim’s arm and one on Matthew’s back, and met Jim’s lips for a tender kiss. There was hope in it, heartfelt promises, and at the edges, the passion we wouldn’t be acting upon tonight.
When the kiss ended, Jim sighed heavily. “I don’t like to see this day end, but I guess we have a first grader who needs his sleep. As does the most beautiful and efficient realtor in the county.”
I laughed. “And a lawyer with impeccable taste.” We all went up to the front door, and I opened it with my key. “Good night then.”
“Wait! You’re married now. Mr. Jim is gonna sleep here, right?”
Jim patted Matthew’s shoulder. “Sadly, pardner, it isn’t quite that simple. That was just the proposal. We still need to have a wedding.” Jim took my hand and kissed it lightly, waggling his eyebrows as he looked at me. “I don’t suppose we could schedule half an hour tomorrow to meet at the county clerk’s office and get our license, walk upstairs, and let the judge marry us?”
I shook my head. “No way, mister. I won’t insist on a huge affair, but I want something more personal than that. Plus we need to have everybody there.”
Jim gulped. “Everybody?”
I laughed and punched him on the arm. “Your family. Mine, if they’re interested. And I always pictured Alice and Carla and Francie as my bridesmaids.”
“Oh, please. Seriously?”
“As you said, Jim, we’re only doing this once, and we should do it right so we can look back on the memories—and the pictures, of course—for years to come.”
“Tuxes, fancy dresses, photographer, rent a big hall in Louisville—”
“No. The church and fellowship hall are fine.” I hugged Jim. “We can talk about it tomorrow. Try not to have nightmares.”
Jim staggered wildly to the door. “One minute you’re fine and the next minute you see your whole life flash before your eyes, including a giant dollar sign.”
I pointed at the door. “I promise not to break our respective banks. Out.”
Matthew and I went upstairs. After he brushed his teeth and put on his flannel pjs, we spent a few minutes choosing books to read before I turned out the lights. I leaned back in the rocker, admiring the brightly decorated walls that I had redone with the help of Jim’s sisters, Carla and Francie, and our friend Alice. Trucks of every color and description traversed the walls. The girls and I had painted this room shortly after Matthew and I moved in—one of the few changes needed to make the beautiful home ours. But now what? Would Jim live here with us or would we all live in his much smaller cabin on the tree farm? If we moved, where would my real estate office be located? I loved having it in the large room downstairs with a view of Main Street. 
December 2nd
I stepped into Carla’s shop, Creations, announced by the bell above the door. She emerged through the purple velvet curtains that led to the workroom.
“Hey, Mel. This is a nice surprise.” Carla glanced at a mirror as she passed, quickly checking her perfect hair and makeup. “What’s up?”
“Wedding,” I whispered, though it would have been fun to shout.
“Yes!” She gave me a bone-crusher hug. “When’s the happy day? How did he propose? Do Francie and Alice know? And Mom? What does Matthew say?” She took my left hand. “And where, may I ask, is the diamond?”
“That’s a lot of questions. Let’s see—he proposed on the front porch of my house under the Christmas lights, with the snow falling—”
“Oh, swoon. That’s pretty romantic for my big brother.”
“—you’re the first to know outside of Jim and Matthew and me. And Matthew feels kind of responsible because he told Jim he had to propose on one knee.” I smiled, remembering. “It was perfect. As to an engagement ring—there won’t be one.”
“What? That cheapskate. After the big rock David gave Emily, you’d think he would have some idea what’s expected. And back in the day, the ring Jim gave Diana was—” She clapped a hand over her mouth.
I shook my head. “Carla. Jim and I have talked. Things are different at this age.”
“Don’t you ‘at this age’ me. I’m almost that age, and I flatly refuse to accept a less-than-perfect bridal experience. For myself or for you.” She held up a hand to stop my response. “It’s not as if you’ve worn out the carpet walking down the aisle, Mel. As it’s your first trip and about twenty years late, I say let’s do it up right.”
I took her hand. “I’m sorry you’ll be disappointed with some of our plans, but Jim and I have decided to do things our way. I’m here to talk bridal gown with you. That’s why I thought you might need to know right away. Jim and I are going to tell Lillian after work and then let the others know. I imagine the entire first grade has heard it already though. Matthew is thrilled.” I sighed. “I need to contact my family, for whatever difference it will make. We’ll book the church and see a florist and a caterer. Eventually, we’ll go to The Jewelry Box to choose our wedding bands. I’m sure we’ll manage to get everything together.”
Carla was pulling out fabric swatches. “And the date is when?”
“Christmas Day. I hope that’s not a problem.”
She stared at me, goggling. Her mouth moved but no sound came out.
“I—you must be kidding me.”
“No. Actually it was Matthew’s suggestion. Christmas has been so important to us and to the whole family, so December 25th is the perfect day.” I smiled. “Right?”
“Next Christmas, I hope?”
“This one.”
She sank onto a white and gold antique chair, clutching the fabric samples to her chest. “That’s less than a month.”
“It’s almost a month. Today’s just the second. So—do you mean you won’t have time to make me a dress?” My breath caught. “I understand, Carla. I’ll get something off the rack at a shop in Louisville.”
She stood up again. “You will do no such thing.” She grabbed my hand and jerked me toward the workroom. “Get that coat off, and let’s take some measurements. I swear, if this family could give me a break during the Christmas season, I’d probably pass out from the shock.”
That evening, Jim and I held hands as we walked into the Christmas shop. Matthew followed behind silently, afraid he would blurt out the news to Lillian that he’d been telling his friends at school all day. As the mom of two of my best friends when I was a kid, Lillian had been a surrogate mother to me. What Jim and I had been through hadn’t been easy for her, I knew.
Lillian was ladling hot wassail for a customer. Once she had rung up that and their tree and other shop purchases, she leaned on the counter, smiling at us. “I hear the Standish family is adding two new members on Christmas Day.”
Jim slapped his forehead. “Oh, my word. Where’d you hear that, Mom?”
“Several sources. You know Serendipity. Bad news travels fast, but during the Christmas season, good news is even faster.” She took my hand and Jim’s. “I’m thrilled.”
“Do you think it’s crazy to get married on Christmas Day?” I asked, looking around as more customers entered the shop.
“Honey, it’s not crazy at all. I love the idea. What better day for you to marry a man who lives on a Christmas tree farm?” Her eyes misted. “Harry would have loved the idea of a Christmas wedding. You know, he never gave up thinking the two of you would find happiness together.”
Matthew had walked around the counter and put his arms around Lillian’s waist. She leaned down and kissed the top of his head. “Matthew, this will be a wonderful Christmas, won’t it?”
He nodded emphatically. “Can I talk about it now? Mommy said I gotta be quiet for a minute.”
“Yes, absolutely, we want you to talk about it. Why don’t you and your mommy and Mr. Jim go tell Mr. David? He’s just outside, I think.”
As the customers arrived at the cash desk, we started to leave. I quickly leaned across the counter and kissed Lillian’s cheek. “Thank you so much, Lillian. And thank you for telling us about Harry. I hope somehow he knows Jim and I are together again.”
She teared up a bit and waved me away with a whispered, “I’m sure he does.”
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Learn more about the rest of the Serendipity series on my Serendipity page, here.