A hearty welcome to Candice Patterson! I think this is the first time I've hosted her! But nothiug better than a Christmas story to get things started, because we all know I LOVE CHRISTMAS STORIES!!! And I think this lady has a some firsthand knowledge of coppersmiths. So anyway, here's a peek at Bright Copper Kettles:
Christmastown, Vermont: where it’s Christmas 365 days a year…
To Darcy Carr the holiday is depressing enough without reliving it every day. Her thriving wreath business and faithful cat are no longer enough to distract her from the pain of her past memories or her current loneliness. Is her frosty neighbor, the only man in town with no Christmas decorations, just another Scrooge, or could he be the one she’s been looking for?
Coppersmith Dean Whitfield hasn’t celebrated Christmas—or anything else—since the death of his wife and unborn child. And he certainly has no desire to carry on the family tradition of crafting a star for the town’s Christmas tree, even if it will benefit a charity. Can Darcy and the joy of the season thaw his frozen heart and help him love again?
“I met the new wreath lady at church yesterday,” Ruth Simpson barked from her place in front of him. After a few beats, he realized she was talking to him. She crossed her arms and stared at him, as did her identical twin sister standing next to her. At least he thought she was Ruth. Maybe she was Ethel.
Gray hair brushed the collar of her thick denim jacket. The Christmas tree embroidered on the front was littered with beads, pearls, bells, and bows. Was that star a real working light?
Ethel leaned her wrinkled face closer. Or maybe it was Ruth. “The wreath lady.”
Ruth/Ethel curled the corners of her mouth. Hot pink lipstick bled into the fine lines branching toward her nose. “Her name’s Darcy Carr. She bought your parents’ place. Opening Twin Wreaths in the old parlor.”
Dean’s ears perked. He knew his parents’ house sold, but hadn’t investigated any further. A customer left, and they all moved up a foot.
“She’ll be selling wreaths and offering classes,” Ethel/Ruth continued.
Dean offered a tight-lipped smile to the town’s professional busybodies. “Good to know.”
Ruth/Ethel turned, tugging her sister’s arm closer to the counter. “We should sign up, Ethel.”
Ah, so she was Ruth.
“You haven’t seen her, have you? She’s the type that makes a sloppy t-shirt and sweatpants look like evening wear.”
Ethel gazed down at her paunch. “The type that makes the rest of us feel horrible about ourselves.” She shrugged. “I hear the bakery’s giving demonstrations on how to make German fruitcake. Let’s go there instead.”
Ruth shook her head. “I want to learn how to make a holly and twig wreath to put on Eddie’s grave. We’ll go to the bakery for dessert afterward.”
The line shifted again, and Dean moved forward, bumping his arm against a man groping for a package of clear packing tape on a rack beside him. Dean nodded his apology.
“Next,” hollered a sales clerk.
Double-trouble approached the counter. “What kinds of Christmas stamps do you have this year?” Ethel asked the clerk.
The employee named off several different varieties.
“Can I see them all?”
Dean hung his head. Good grief. This was why he avoided public places.
His customer’s package in the mail, Dean stepped out into the cold air and sucked in a deep breath. His claustrophobia subsided. He was sick of feeling trapped all the time. Like a caged animal, alive and well, viewing life in full motion around him but unable to participate.
All the way home, he avoided eye contact with as many tourists as he could, nodding at those he couldn’t. Pedestrians crowded both sides of Main Street, bustling with shopping bags like they only had hours until Christmas instead of thirty-five days. Bitter wind nipped his nose and ears, and a white cloud formed in front of his face with every breath.
His childhood home stood proudly up ahead. He missed the old place with the wrap-around porch. But nothing was the same since Bethany died. Nothing. Their short life together had been Indian summer and every day after a cold, bleak winter. Would the new owner find what he’d left behind?
“Blessed Assurance” echoed from the community church’s bell tower. Dean strode through his garage, passing Christmas decorations he ignored every day, and retreated to the silence of his workshop, blocking the music to a hymn he knew by heart but couldn’t bear to hear.
This story will grab you from the very first page and make you want to know the story behind the characters, but you'll just have to do a little reading of your own because I'm not about to spill the beans!
Needless to say, Darcy is a very well rounded character with secrets of her own, even as she opens herself to the public with her wreath making classes. And Dean is just a puzzle for Darcy to figure out as she stumbles her way through some treacherous waters in her yearning to get to know him even as she tries not to intrude on his privacy.
It seems God, and a couple little old ladies have a plan!
Sad and happy, sweet and bittersweet, this story has it all. Beautiful!