BURYING HIS GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST By Tracy Cooper-Posey
Contemporary Holiday Romance Short Story
Just in time for Christmas, “masterful” (Romantic Times Magazine) author Tracy Cooper-Posey gives us a Christmas romance story that only she could write.
Nearly twenty years ago, Dane walked away from Narelle on the eve of their wedding. To escape the humiliation, Narelle fled from outback Australia to big city New York, to focus on her career.
Now she’s back home for Christmas, with every intention of burying the last of her feelings about Dane by good, old-fashioned confrontation….
A Christmas-in-Australia, second chance romance short story that you really don’t want to miss from an Amazon #1 Bestseller in Short Fiction.
Contemporary Holiday Romance Short Story
BARNES & NOBLE
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EXCERPT FROM BURYING HIS GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2022
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
If someone had predicted, last Christmas Day, that this time next year, Narelle would be sitting on a beach, sipping champagne and wriggling her bare toes in warm sand, she would have laughed at them.
Yet here she was.
Only, it wasn’t Bora Bora or the Maldives, or some other packaged resort with palm trees. Western Australia didn’t come with palm trees, unless they were planted deliberately.
But the beach sand was bone white, the sun was dazzling. The water was…oh, it was everything she remembered! Green at the edges, shifting to turquoise blue, and so still and clear that the corrugated sand at the bottom gleamed in the sun. There wasn’t a skerrick of seaweed anywhere. Farther out, the water deepened to dark blue, and the low humps of waves rose gently.
At the end of the shallow bay, the headland of sharp red rocks thrust into the warm air. The water was choppy there, churning over the reef that surrounded the headland. She’d walked upon that reef many times…a long time ago.
“Mom!” Dylan shouted. It sounded as though it wasn’t the first time he’d called.
Narelle sat up carefully, so her champagne didn’t spill. The backs of her legs were damp against the fabric of the folding chair. Seven in the morning and it was already warm enough to swim. “What is it, Dylan?”
Her oldest son slogged through the sand to where she was sitting with the other women while the men set up the barbecue—which was nothing more than a grill resting on rocks over a fire.
Dylan was seventeen and would graduate high school in June. At home, he was full of swaggering young adult confidence. He didn’t look so sure of himself now. “They don’t have coffee, mom! I’m gonna get a headache if I don’t get coffee. That stuff on the plane was gross.”
“There will be tea later. You’ll feel better when you’ve had breakfast.” She gave him a smile. “We talked about how different it would be, remember? This is just part of the difference.”
Dylan wore long bathing shorts and nothing else, but unlike the other children here, his chest was very pale. All her kids looked washed out and white. A few days in the Australian sun would fix that.
Her son looked around the beach, scanning the people moving across the sand, making drinks, preparing food, chatting and laughing, building fires and even more drinking. Most of the local kids were already in the water, doing handstands, shallow diving, floating and splashing each other.
Narelle had never got around to taking her kids to swimming lessons. Hockey and football and soccer had filled their days. “Why don’t you paddle at the edge of the water?” she suggested.
Dylan looked at the water doubtfully. “There’s just…so many people!” he breathed. His voice lowered as he added, “They’re really all your family?”
“Many of them,” Narelle said, trying not to laugh. “And they’re your family, too.” Her kids were really out of their element here. “Some of them live in the houses we passed when we drove from the airstrip last night. Do you remember?”
“Along the track with the potholes?” Dylan said. “Those houses are all part of the farm?”
“Station. Yes. All the families from those houses are here, too. They’re station hands and workers and they’re joining the big house for Christmas Day.” She added gently, “Not everyone is here yet, either.” Marion Williams and her family had not arrived, although they were expected. Marion…and Dane.
Dylan rubbed his temple with a motion that reminded Narelle sharply of his father. “I need coffee,” he grouched.
“They’re making billy tea,” she assured him, as she spotted one of the men scooping a handful of loose tea into a can with a wire handle. “That will more than make up for no coffee.” She remembered the bitter taste and the caffeine kick, and her mouth watered. It had been too long since she’d drunk tea that strong. Tea bags just weren’t the same.
“Billy tea?” Dylan sounded offended. Then he added, “More differences?”
“More differences,” she confirmed.
He turned on one heel and trudged toward the water. Emily, Julian and Harper stood close together, watching their big brother. He murmured something and all four moved hesitantly toward the water.
Jenny leaned toward Narelle. “Poor darlings! They look lost.”
“They’ll reorient quickly enough,” Narelle said firmly, hoping it was true.
“Breakfast will help. You guys must be flat out buggered after the flight.” Her sister glanced over at the plastic folding table where the breakfast supplies were being added. She squinted against the bright sun. “Garlic marinated prawns, bacon, lamb chops, fruit salad…and champagne, ‘course.” She held out her glass toward Narelle. “It’s so good to have you back for Christmas.”
Narelle clinked her glass against Jenny’s, but didn’t drink. She knew how much drinking happened throughout a typical Christmas Day in her family. She had to pace herself.
“Ah! There’s Marion and Dane, finally,” Jenny glanced up at the hard-packed dirt where everyone parked their utes, station wagons and four-wheel drives.
Narelle gripped her champagne glass. She didn’t look up at the parking area, but her heart still jumped about.
You’re stronger than ever, she reminded herself. Time to end this. You’re here to bury ghosts, Narelle Kelly.
She sipped her champagne steadily as she listened to the men around the fire pit call out greetings to the new arrivals. The light, high voice was Marion Williams, Dane’s mother. She still sounded opinionated, even though she was in her seventies.
When Narelle heard Dane’s deep voice, giving a laconic answer to the questions thrown at them as they descended to the beach, invisible fingers rippled down her spine. She shivered, despite the warmth of the morning.
She frowned at the bubbles in her glass. She was over the man, damn it! Shivering at the mere sound of his voice wasn’t part of being over him. It was just nerves, she decided. She had come a long way for the moment which was about to happen.