Eggnog Trifle Trouble – Addison Moore

My name is Lottie Lemon, and I see dead people. Okay, so rarely do I see dead people. Mostly I see furry creatures of the dearly departed variety who have come back from the other side to warn me of their previous owner’s impending doom. But right now, the only spirit I’m surrounded by is the holiday spirit as I take in the grand ballroom at the Evergreen Manor. It’s a snowy Saturday night in early December—the night of the Jingle Hop Ball put on by an organization called the Christmas Angels whose prime objective is to raise funds for needy families and making sure underprivileged kids find gifts under the tree Christmas morning. It’s a fifty dollar a plate dinner, their biggest fundraiser of the year, and judging by the fact that all of Honey Hollow—heck, all of Vermont has turned out, I think they should well exceed the giving goals they’ve highlighted on the easel out front. I spot my mother, my sisters, and even my obstetrician here tonight. Everyone and anyone is under this roof, and I’ll admit, there’s something comforting being in a room full of friends and family. The ballroom at the Evergreen Manor looks magical this evening. It’s festooned with enough garland and twinkle lights to wrap around the planet twice, and the entire left side of the room is filled with pre-decorated Christmas trees as a part of the silent auction. The trees were donated by the Jolly Holly Tree Lot, and each one has been adorned top to bottom with a specific theme—snowmen, reindeer, under the sea—and there’s even a tree devoted to baking with miniature cookie sheets, rolling pins, and ornaments in the shape of delicious desserts. The tree lot donates these fully bejeweled evergreen beauties to a charity event each year, and each year it seems the trees grow that much more elaborate. “A Holly Jolly Christmas” blares through the speakers, the spiked eggnog is flowing, and the dance floor is flooded with glammed up women and dapper men. But the proverbial star on top of the Christmas tree this evening is the fact Santa is here, along with Mrs. Claus and his elves, to take photos with all the guests.

And judging by the line, everyone is desperate for a holiday picture. I look up to find Judge Essex Everett Baxter striding my way. Everett is my lethally handsome husband with his jet-black hair and commanding blue eyes, and it’s worthy to note those would be bedroom eyes. “Lemon”—he offers the flicker of one of his hard-won smiles—“you must be a thief because you stole my heart from across the room.” Detective Noah Corbin Fox steps up next to him and all but averts his eyes. “Lottie”—Noah’s dimples go off without warning—“if I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.” He relaxes in an all-out grin just as my trusty right-hand gal at the bakery, Lily Swanson, clucks her tongue at the spectacle. “Wow, who knew cheesy Christmas music brought out the cheesy in grown men?” Lily lifts a brow my way. “If you’re not careful, Lottie, one of them is bound to knock you up. Oh wait, that’s already happened.

” She swats me playfully with the dishtowel in her hand before getting back to the business of serving up my eggnog trifle at the dessert table. Each of the trifles sits in a glass footed bowl that I’ve lined with happy looking gingerbread men in keeping with the holiday theme. And because of those fresh baked gingerbread men, the entire ballroom holds the scent of ginger and cinnamon. Lily Swanson is a dark-haired beauty who works for me at my shop, the Cutie Pie Bakery and Cakery. She was more or less one of my high school bullies, but now that I sign her paychecks, we get along great. Go figure. My bakery had been asked to cater the desserts for the Jingle Hop Ball, and we’ve brought every holiday sweet treat known to Santa out tonight. But the one thing that seems to be moving ten times quicker than the rest of my yummy desserts is the aforementioned eggnog trifle. “I’m just glad you both finally arrived,” I say, pulling both Noah and Everett into an awkward three-way hug. My bourgeoning belly doesn’t do much to aid in the effort either.

Essex Everett Baxter is indeed a judge at the Ashford County Courthouse. That’s where we initially met. He was the judge presiding over a ridiculous complaint brought against me by my former landlord, but he sided in my favor and, suffice it to say, he’s had my favor ever since. We married last December while I was still dating Noah. It sounds horrible, I know. But Everett needed someone to marry in order to fulfill the requirement to get his full inheritance. It was pretty much a business transaction, but I’m glad I stepped up to the matrimonial plate. And now we’re essentially dating. It’s complicated. In fact, Noah, Everett, and I are far more complicated than I could ever put into words.

Let’s just say I dated Noah first, and things ended badly after I found out he forgot to tell me about the wife he had. They were legally separated and headed for a divorce, but it rocked me to the core regardless. Then I dated Everett and I discovered I loved him deeply. And sadly, I discovered that I loved both Noah and Everett. Again, horrible, I know. Then Everett suggested I see where things went with Noah before we committed, and then Noah did the same. And then, of course, there’s one more not-so-tiny detail regarding the three of us. I’m having a baby, and I’m not entirely sure which one of them is the father. You see, I was ending my relationship with Noah and starting one up with Everett, and I guess you could say the timing of my goodbye and my hello was far too close for my maternity math to ever be accurate. Everett leans in and lands a kiss right over my lips.

“You look amazing, Lemon.” Everett has almost only ever called me by my surname, and I don’t mind it one bit. “This old thing?” I pluck at the crimson velvet gown my mother lent me. The festive frock has more or less an A line design, so I could be harboring a beach ball under here and there would still be plenty of room. But as it stands as of yet, I’m not harboring a beach ball. My tummy is just about the size of a mixing bowl. “Thank you.” I give the scruff on Everett’s cheek a quick scratch. “And you both look handsome,” I muse as I inspect their matching suits and bright red ties. Albeit, Everett has his left arm in a cast.

Last October both his house and mine burned to the ground. We were next-door neighbors on Country Cottage Road, and there was a rogue electrical wire that zapped both of our rooftops—and, of course, there was that whole Hearst curse thing infiltrating my life at the moment but, honestly, I try not to think about that. Anyway, Noah lives across the street, and we’ve been staying with him ever since. But all that is about to change. Everett and I are renting the house directly across from Noah’s. Our neighbor, Hot Hannah of Beckham Butt Lift fame, was horrifically murdered last month—not in the house, of course, thus leaving the vacancy. We got the key to the place over a week ago, but the landlord has allowed us to paint and change some of the flooring so we’re not quite in yet. Noah growls over at Everett, “He saw what I was wearing, and I swear he went back in and changed his tie. But good news—” His affect brightens with the tease. Noah Fox has black hair with red highlights, dimples you could lose yourself in, and deep green eyes that give those pine trees that line our cozy little town a run for their verdant money.

“The paint is dry, the house has been airing out all day, and I think tomorrow we’ll be able to move all that furniture you ordered online out of the garage and into the living quarters.” “That’s great news,” I beam as I give his arm a squeeze. Two familiar females pop up in our midst. One happens to be my birth mother, and the other happens to be my daughter. “What’s great news, Lot?” Carlotta asks as she glitters in a dress that looks as if it’s made of silver tinsel. Carlotta is my biological mother. She left me on the floor of the Honey Hollow Fire Department when I was just a few hours old. It turns out, it was perhaps one of the best decisions she’s ever made for the both of us. We share the same caramel-colored hair and hazel eyes, but Carlotta’s got a few more wrinkles and gray hairs on me. “Did you find out you’re having twins? One belongs to Foxy and the other to Mr.

Sexy?” The tinsel-inspired gown she’s wearing shimmers like a seizure of light when she laughs. Mr. Sexy is the moniker gifted to Everett by the baristas of the world. And they’re not wrong in calling him that. Evie Everly Baxter, my stepdaughter that I share with Everett, retches on cue as she knocks her shoulder to Carlotta’s. “Please refrain from calling my dad sexy whenever I’m around.” She sticks her finger down her throat and pretends to gag. “All I want to hear is Everett or Judge Baxter.” Evie just so happens to be a sixteen-year-old female version of her daddy. She has brilliant blue eyes, long, glossy black hair, which happens to be perfectly coiled for tonight’s event, and she’s just as sharp as her father.

Carlotta chuckles. “How about I call him Essex?” She winks over at Everett. “Better yet, how about you take me out back, Judge Baxter, and earn me the right?” Now it’s both Evie and I groaning in unison. Aside from a select few women in Everett’s life, namely his mother, his sister, and on occasion Noah’s mother, the only other women who call Everett by his proper moniker are women he’s bedded. It’s sort of a naughty door prize he bequeathed to them. He was quite the playboy before he met me. Let’s just say the good judge could easily fill an entire correctional facility with the number of women he’s bedded. I’d reprimand Carlotta on the fact that her indecent proposal was wildly inappropriate, but I know that won’t do any good. I lean her way. “The great news is that tomorrow is our official moving day.

” Both Carlotta and Evie whoop and holler—right before they link arms and kick up their feet in unison. It’s an odd sight, which only goes to show that Evie is spending way too much time under Carlotta’s influence. Carlotta has been living with me while my grandma Nell’s house was torn down due to black mold. That was forever ago and the house is still in the process of being rebuilt, and ironically, my sanity is still in the process of being torn down by Carlotta. “We’re moving!” Evie grips onto Carlotta’s shoulders and gives her a violent shake. “I’ve got to tell my boyfriends.” Yes, sadly, boyfriends, as in plural. Carlotta gives Evie an equally violent shake right back. “I’ve got to tell Mayor Nash!” Mayor Nash is Carlotta’s plus one, and he just so happens to be my biological father. Although I didn’t learn of that until just over a year ago.

Evie takes off, and Carlotta is about to do the same before she backtracks. “Don’t any of you move a muscle,” she warns. “Just twenty more minutes and they’re going to unveil the big mystery item up for auction.” She’s right. There’s a huge velvet sheet covering something tall and slender in the middle of the auction area that’s still more or less a mystery to the partygoers, including me. I glance back at the dessert table and note the eggnog trifle is all but gone. “I’d better hurry to the kitchen and replenish the dessert table. When people pull out their wallets, their appetites tend to increase.” Carlotta’s eyes widen in a way that almost always spells trouble. “What are you up to?” I snip without missing a beat.

“Nothing.” She lifts her chin. “I just remembered I left something in the kitchen myself. I’ll meet you there.” She zips off like a bat in flight. “I’ll go with you,” Everett offers. “Me too,” Noah says, wrapping an arm around my waist. “Have you felt the baby move again?” “Sorry.” I grimace. “Not since that day in the back of the sheriff’s cruiser.

” Right after Thanksgiving dinner, the sheriff’s deputies thought it best to haul me down to the Ashford Police Department for questioning. It turns out, I accidentally put a hit out on Noah last month. Of course, I didn’t mean to do it. I was investigating a suspect, a hitman by the name of the Mad Hatter, and suffice it to say, things went sideways. Long story short, the Mad Hatter graciously poisoned Noah for me pro bono, much to my protest. Thankfully, Noah lived to tell about it. And between Noah and Everett, they made sure the charges went away—more or less. But Sheriff Turner let me know in no uncertain terms I’m still under the watchful eye of the department as they continue to carry out the bigger mob-related investigation related to the Mad Hatter. Noah, Everett, and I take off for the kitchen, and about halfway there the abomination of desolation sets foot in our path—Noah’s mother, Suze, and another woman with her, who just so happens to be dressed as the head elf’s official plus one, Mrs. Claus.

My nausea kicks in full tilt without warning. It’s funny how it’s not coming around as much as it did in the beginning, but for some reason, every time I bump into Suze Fox it seems to show up front and stomach-churning center. It’s not a shocker to me that Suze has the distinct power to make me sick. She never hesitates to let me know that I’m not her favorite person. Suze has short blonde hair with longer bangs that sweep over her eyes. She’s a staunch woman who perennially wears a sour expression and has the sour persona to match. She shares Noah’s deep green eyes, but that’s about where the similarities end. Suze has been living at my mother’s B&B for so long I forget why and when she moved in. My guess is she’s not so hot on committing to Honey Hollow, but this way she’s still in close proximity to her two sons. And her ex-husband just so happens to be shacking up with my mother at the B&B as well.

I can’t imagine living with my ex. That sounds like a nightmare. Unless, of course, the ex in question is Noah Fox. And that happens to be my exact living situation today. “Son.” She bares her fangs at her oldest child before looking to Everett. “Essex.” Her lips pull tug to the side with disapproval at the sight of me. “Lottie.” She sighs as if it were a chore to merely say my name.

“I’d love for you all to meet my good friend, Gloria Abner, the chair of the Christmas Angels—aka Mrs. Claus.” She nods to the woman with short red hair and topaz eyes. She looks to be about the same age as Noah’s mother, mid-to-late sixties, but unlike Suze, she has a sassy smile and a naughty gleam in her eyes. The woman takes a moment to size up both Noah and Everett, and I can’t help but frown at that. “Well, well”—Gloria shakes Noah’s hand first, then Everett’s—“it seems Christmas came early.” She gives a husky laugh, and her bosom does its best to bounce right out of the tight little sparkly number that’s piped with a feather white boa. She’s more of a naughty Mrs. Claus in that vampy little sequin getup, and it makes me wonder if she bought that outfit in the lingerie section rather than a costume shop. “Who in the heck knew Honey Hollow was where all the handsome men were hiding? And that Wiley?” She fans herself at the mention of Noah’s father.

“Suze, I have to question your sanity as to why you’d ever let a man like that go.” She leans toward the three of us. “Don’t tell Santa I said so. He just so happens to be my fiancé.” I can’t help but laugh. “Well, your secret is safe with us.” Noah nods. “Great party, Mom. The Christmas Angels really pulled off an extravaganza.” “It’s a Marshmallow World” begins to play overhead, and I can’t help but rock to the cheery music.

It happens to be one of my favorite Christmas songs. And it always has the ability to put me in a good mood—despite the presence of the queen of mean. Mrs. Claus, aka Gloria, flashes a toothy smile to Noah. “Your mama was supposed to be an elf tonight, but she decided she’d rather team up with her ex and dole out liquor at the bar.” Noah’s father is a part-time bartender. He’s here working the bar, along with my mother, Miranda Lemon, the woman he happens to be taking advantage of at the moment. Wiley Fox, yes, his aptly given moniker, is notorious for robbing widows blind. My mother is his next victim, but she’s too dazzled by his dimples to see straight. I can’t blame her all that much.

Noah is basically a knockoff of his father, and those Fox men have the ability to make a heart or two go pitter-patter. “Not that I blame her.” Gloria winks to Suze. “That Wiley Fox is a looker!” She indulges in another bosom jiggling laugh just as a pretty caramel-haired girl about my age, in her late twenties, steps up. She clears her throat as she enters our circle. “Excuse me, Gloria, but those friends of mine I wanted you to meet are standing by the mystery auc—” Her lips round out as she looks to Noah and Everett. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for either of these men to stop an entire herd of women in their tracks, or midsentence. I’ve witnessed Everett cause a car wreck or two from women craning their heads just to get a better look at him. And Noah has caused more than his fair share of kerfuffles as well. “Well hello, Honey Hollow.

” The young girl’s eyes spin wildly like a slot machine in Vegas once it greedily eats your money. Only, instead of dollar signs spinning in her eyes, I see Noah and Everett’s reflection in them. “Come now,” Gloria snaps. “Keep it in your pants, honey. Don’t you know by now I get first dibs around here?” she teases as they head off toward the auction area where that sheet of black velvet lies over something that appears to be at least six feet tall. “Gloria Abner is one of my dearest friends,” Suze snips my way. “I haven’t told anyone at the Christmas Angels about your floozy ways—partly because I don’t want to be kicked out of the league for being associated with someone with such loose morals. And I’m embarrassed that my own son has found himself tangled in this situation to begin with. Lottie, I’d appreciate it if you kept your pie hole shut for the remainder of the evening should you come across her again.” I gasp so hard at the audacity, I nearly inhale my earring.

“Mother,” Noah snaps as he pulls her to the side. “Don’t let her get to you,” Everett says as he wisely navigates the two of us straight to the kitchen, where we find Carlotta lighting an entire row of jarred candles across the island. But I’m not focused on that odd sight right now. All I see is red. “I can’t believe that woman,” I rant as Everett wraps his arms around me. “Did you hear the way she just outright insulted me? I mean, not that she was technically wrong, but it’s all about delivery, and Suze Fox doesn’t have one nice bone in her body.” Another groan works its way up my throat. “And exactly how alarmed should I be that her DNA might be mingling with mine in my belly? Everett, what are we going to do if this baby is Noah’s? Is a newborn a good candidate for psychological counseling? Because if Noah’s genetic material is involved, this kid is going to need it.” Noah steps in next to Everett, and I wince. “Sorry you had to hear that, Noah.

” He holds up a hand. “Don’t be. I’m the one that should be apologizing.” Everett’s chest expands. “It’s okay, Lemon. There’s still a fifty percent chance you have nothing to worry about.” Carlotta cackles like a madwoman. “All right, you three, step on over and inspect the latest candle sensation for all of your kinky needs.” She holds her hands out at the row of candles flickering in turn. And I can’t help but note an odd sight behind her.

“Carlotta? Why is there a grocery cart full of candles in the kitchen?” “How else am I supposed to get these into the ballroom? It’s my new schtick.” She broadens her chest with a touch of pride. “Now that it’s the spendiest time of the year, I thought I’d double up on my business ventures. Aside from A Whole Lotta Touchin’—my snazzy in-van massage service—I thought I’d jump into the scented candle game. They’re infused with essential oils, and I’ve got a candle for whatever ails you. Got a sore arm, Judge Baxter? Try Eucalyptus You Right Up. Got a broken heart, Foxy? Try A Hot Night with a Blonde. All the candles have fun and flirty names. And coincidentally, they all have the potential to lead to a fun and flirty good time, too.” A Whole Lotta Touchin’ is indeed the hot oil massage business Carlotta runs out of her van.

And yes, it’s just as skeezy as it sounds. And I’m the one they hauled to the sheriff’s station last month? Pfft. I’m about to ask her to put the candles out and help me carry the rest of my desserts out into the ballroom when from the corner of my eye I see something skipping right through an entire row of my eggnog trifles. I turn that way and, horror upon horrors, I spot a tiny brown mouse jumping from one creamy confection to the next and I lose it. “AAAGGHHHHH!” The scream shrills from me. Instinctually, I swipe up a wooden broom sitting to my right and wield it like a weapon. The tiny little mouse stops dead in its tracks, and I’d swear on all that is holy, it just looked at me with a worrisome expression. In fact, its little front paws are hovering over its mouth as if it were genuinely concerned, and it should be. Another scream rips from me as I try to lunge for it, but it jumps down the counter and heads straight over to Noah where it runs up his shoulder before bouncing onto his head. I aim that broom for Noah’s head while screaming as if my hair were on fire.

I do my level best to swat it off of Noah’s face and Noah does his best to deflect my every move as he lets a couple of salty expletives fly.

.

PDF | Download



Thank you!

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chapter1.us © 2018 | Descargar Libros Gratis | Kitap İndir |
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x