In honor of Valentine Day, here is an excerpt of a tender moment shared by Penelope and her “mystery man” Sam aka Tiny the Biker. Though it takes place at Christmas, the gift itself has its origins in and around February 14.
From The Possum Hollow Hullabaloo (Book 4)
|Book 4 of the Penelope Pembroke Series|
“I made a fire in the living room,” Sam said to Penelope as he watched her light the candles on the antique buffet where several polished chafing dishes caught the flicker of the flame and added to the soft glow of the room.
“Did you put up the fire screen?”
“Yes. It looks nice in here, Nell. Cozy. And there’s enough food to feed an army.”
“Wait until Mary Lynn and Harry get here with their haul. And Rosabel and Bradley.” She put the box of matches back in the drawer. “Rosabel said they’d be a little late because Bradley had something he had to do. Hopefully he’s checking to make sure that Hadden is locked up good and tight where Santa won’t find him.”
“How do you know he’s locked up at all?”
“Because you said it was over, so he’s either locked up or dead.” She shook her head. “God forgive me for not minding the latter.”
“I can tell you this much, because it’ll be in the papers tomorrow or the next day. The state police saved the school by a whisker.”
“You’re joking! Tell me no one tried to blow up the school!”
Sam nodded. “They brought in some bomb-sniffing dogs who found it, and this time it was the real thing.”
Penelope sagged against the buffet. “Whoever did it wasn’t looking for buried treasure under the school, I guess.”
“Nope. Anything else that needs bringing in from the kitchen?”
“No, it’s all in here.”
“Then come in the living room with me for a minute.” He held out his hand. They paused under the mistletoe between the pocket doors of the living room and shared a brief kiss, then a longer one. “I want to give you your Christmas gift from me now while we’re alone.”
“You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“You knew I would.”
“I guess I did.”
“Close your eyes, and hold out both hands.”
Penelope did both, then closed her fingers around a small box. A jeweler’s box. A ring? Surely not. He’s never even said he loves me.
“You can open your eyes now.”
She looked at the small box, wrapped in some of the red paper she’d used for Bradley’s and Rosabel’s gifts. “Sam, I…”
“Just open it.”Her hands shook as she untied the ribbon and peeled away the paper, revealing not a ring case but a box bearing the name of a jewelry store in Little Rock. When she fumbled with the lid, Sam lifted it off, pushed aside the layer of cotton, and took out a flat silver heart etched with something she couldn’t read.
“It’s beautiful, Sam,” she murmured.
He picked it up. “Mae hyn yn fy annwyl.” He showed her the inscription. “It’s Welsh.”
“What does it mean?”
He took her hand and led her to the sofa. “First let me tell you a story. Do you know who St. Dwynwen is?”
“I’ve never heard of him.”
“Her. She lived in Wales in the 5th century. According to some sources, she was the daughter of a king who forbade her to marry the man she loved. Other sources say the man betrayed her. Whichever happened, she never married and became a nun, but because she prayed for God to give happiness to all lovers, she—not St. Valentine—is the patron saint of lovers.”
Penelope’s eyes blurred with tears. She wondered if Sam could see her heart beating beneath her red sweater. “That’s a beautiful story, but I still don’t know what the inscription says.”
Sam fastened the thin chain around her neck. “The inscription is Welsh, and it’s from the Song of Solomon. Mae hyn yn fy annwyl means ‘This is my beloved.’”
Her tears spilled over. “Oh, Sam.”
He tipped her chin and extracted a handkerchief to blot her cheeks. “It’s a promise, Nell, the only one I can make right now.”
She laid her forehead against his chest and felt him rest his chin on her hair. “It’s enough. It really is.”
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