Christmas at Burrows Bay – WIP

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Prologue

MacInnes Mansion, December 24, 1904

Agnes was watching their guests dance as Rory walked over.  “You look beautiful tonight.”  He took her hand.  “Why don’t we show them how it’s done?” 

Leading her out to the middle of the ballroom, he swept her into a waltz.  “No polkas tonight,” he whispered.

“I was thinking of something a little more romantic,” Agnes replied.  She wrapped her arms around his neck.  “This is the best party we’ve had yet.”

He kissed her, then spun her around again.  “That’s because you three organize the most successful parties on the island.”

“T’Eqwem is so happy with John.”  She glanced at their friends, then over at Rachel.  “I wish we could find someone worthy of her.”

Rory knew exactly what she meant.  He had a suspicion that all the recent parties were not just for his business.  His wife was playing matchmaker for her friend.  While reluctant to get involved, he did have one idea.  “I’ve been doing quite a bit of business with Warren Chambers.  He’s a self-made man you know.”

“Is that so?”  Agnes smiled.  She knew her husband thought any man who’d been handed a fortune probably didn’t deserve it.

“Aye, and he’s right over there,” Rory replied, turning her towards the parlor.

Agnes noticed Rachel walk past the piano on her way out of the room.  “I’ll be right back.”

Rory watched her go and sighed to himself.  This party would go on for hours, and all he wanted was to spend some time with his wife.  They’d met at a Christmas Eve party and made a point of celebrating that anniversary every year. 

Agnes greeted a few more of their guests on her way to the parlor.  It was snowing tonight and some of them were arriving late.  Finally reaching her friend, Agnes touched Rachel’s arm.  “You look lovely in that dress.”

Rachel smoothed the blue skirt.  “Thank you.  I don’t know why I’m so nervous tonight.”

“I think it’s because you sense something wonderful might happen.”  Agnes smiled and glanced over at Warren Chambers.  “Rory says he’s a self-made man.”  She raised an eyebrow.  “But more importantly, he seems to like him.”

“Really?”  Rachel turned slightly, so she could get a better look at this Mr. Chambers.  “Rory said that?”

“He did, and we both know how rarely that happens.”  They smiled at each other knowingly.  Rory had a lot of business acquaintances, but he was careful when choosing his friends.  John was one of the few men he really trusted.

“I find this Mr. Chambers most interesting.  Shall I ask him to dance?”  Rachel knew it was a bold thing to say, but she felt like doing something bold tonight.  Another Christmas and a new year in front of her, and she didn’t want to face it alone.

“Why don’t I introduce you?” Agnes replied, taking her arm.  “He seems to be looking in your direction already.”

Rachel blushed slightly as she realized Agnes was right.  Mr. Chambers was looking right at them and walked over before they could make a move.  “May I have this dance?” he asked, bowing to Rachel. 

Agnes watched them go, then turned and caught Rory’s eye.  She walked over and whispered, “Don’t forget our anniversary.”

“Never,” he replied, taking her hand and waltzing past some of their guests.  “Did I mention you look beautiful tonight?”

“You did indeed,” Agnes replied, “but I never tire of hearing you say it.”

“You look beautiful tonight,” Rory repeated, then kissed her.  “Happy anniversary.”

Agnes smiled up at him.  “Happy anniversary, Darling.”

Chapter 1

MacInnes Mansion, Christmas Eve

Gabbi looked up at Matthew and smiled.  “So, this is what married life is like.  I have to say, so far I’m really enjoying it!”

“Seeing that we’ve been married less than three hours, it might be a little too early to form an opinion.”  He twirled her around the dance floor again.  “But I agree, so far it’s been pretty wonderful.”

“And we haven’t even gotten to the honeymoon,” Gabbi whispered into his ear.

Matthew gave her a long kiss that promised a lot more to come.  “Maybe we should think about leaving pretty soon,” he finally said.

Gabbi glanced around at their friends and family, some dancing with them, others talking in the entry or parlor.  “I think Moira and Jack could handle the goodbyes.”  She grabbed onto him a little tighter as he dipped her. 

“Better pay attention,” he teased.

“Maybe, I should lead,” Gabbi replied, staring up at him as he held her.

He slowly brought her back up.  “Life is never going to be boring with you, is it?”

“Not for a moment,” she promised.

“Are you two having fun?” Moira asked, walking over to join them.  “If you want to leave pretty soon, Jack and I can handle the goodbyes.”

“Cuz, it’s like you read my mind sometimes.”  Gabbi looked from Moira to Matthew.  “Shall we?”

As they walked towards the entry, Gabbi glanced out the window.  “Is it snowing?”

Moira walked over and looked more closely.  “It is.”  She turned to Gabbi.  “I thought you said it didn’t snow very often at Christmas.”

“We get a little more snow than Seattle,” Matthew said, walking over to the window, “but this is really coming down.”

“Maybe we should say something to the guests.” Moira walked over to the parlor and touched her husband on the shoulder.  “Jack, it’s snowing.”

He turned to her and raised an eyebrow.  “Didn’t you say something about wanting a white Christmas?”

“True,” Moira agreed, “but not at the cost of Gabbi and Matthew getting to the airport tomorrow morning.”

“How much snow is there?” Jack walked over and pulled the curtain back at the front window.  “It must be three inches out there.”

“That’s not a lot for Montana,” Moira admitted, “but it is for this area from what you and Gabbi have told me.”

Jack walked into the ballroom and said something to Matthew, who nodded and indicated the musicians should stop playing. 

“If I could have your attention,” Jack said and the guests in the parlor stopped talking as well.  “It looks like the snow is really coming down.  It might be best if we end the party a little early, so people can get home before the roads get any worse.”

“If anyone would be more comfortable staying here,” Moira added, “we have rooms upstairs you can use.”

Jack nodded.  “It might be difficult to get a taxi out here, so if you’ve had a little too much champagne, please stay.”

“I’ve got my truck if anyone needs a lift,” George offered.

“So do I,” Emma said.

Moira looked around and smiled.  She loved being part of such a wonderful group of friends and family.  She saw her parents and walked over to join them.  “If you’d like to stay in one of the rooms…” she began.

“Thank you, Dear,” her mother replied, “but we’ve got our hotel room.  And your father knows how to drive in a little snow.”

Moira nodded.  “Maybe you could give Carol a ride to the hotel?” 

Gabbi’s friend from her old apartment building had come to the wedding.  Hearing her name, Carol walked over and winked at Moira.  “Actually, that handsome man over there just offered to drop me off.” 

“Arthur?” Moira asked, glancing over at their attorney. 

“What about Arthur?” Gabbi asked, joining them.  “Carol, thank you for coming today.”

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” Carol replied.  “The house is even lovelier than I remembered.”  She gave Gabbi a big hug.  “Quite the catch you have there.”

Gabbi glanced over at Matthew.  “Yes, he is.  Now, what’s this about Arthur?”

“I told Moira not to worry about me, I already have a ride back to my hotel.”  Carol smiled.  “Guess I didn’t do too bad myself.”

Gabbi couldn’t help a giggle.  “Carol, he’s our attorney.”

“I won’t hold that against him,” Carol said, giving Moira a quick hug and walking over to Arthur.  “Let’s go.”

Arthur helped Carol with her coat, then walked her out.  “I did not see that coming,” Moira said.

“I did.”  Gabbi smiled.  “He’s definitely her type.”

“Really?” Moira asked in surprise.

“Arthur’s quite the catch,” Gabbi said.  “And I should probably get my handsome husband back to our hotel before the snow gets any deeper.” 

Moira hugged her.  “Have a wonderful time!”

Everyone shouted their goodbyes as Matthew helped Gabbi on with her coat and they walked out to the car.  “It would be closer to go to your house,” Gabbi said as he opened her door.

“With my family staying there?” Matthew shook his head.  “I think we’ll be fine driving to the hotel.”

“Good point,” Gabbi agreed, then smiled as he held up a bottle of champagne.  “I didn’t see you take that.”

“You weren’t paying attention,” he teased.

“My mistake,” Gabbi said as he got into the car.  “I promise to pay attention the rest of the evening.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Matthew said, taking her hand and kissing it.  “You are so beautiful.”

“You look pretty amazing yourself,” Gabbi replied.  “Now, let’s go to the hotel and enjoy that champagne.”

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