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A Christmas Waltz for Linda, #2

A Christmas Waltz for Linda, #2

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Will they embrace the chance to rewrite their love story, or will the haunting shadows of the past keep them apart forever? Thirty-five years after breaking a youthful promise, famed actor Walt Kinkade returns to Huckleberry Falls, stirring long-buried emotions in Linda Jackson, a widow who thought she'd moved on. As Walt seeks redemption and Linda confronts her past, they both face a critical question: can a second chance at love heal old wounds, or will it reopen them?

 

Main Tropes

  • Second Chance Romance
  • Later in Life Romance
  • Redemption Romance

Synopsis

Will they embrace the chance to rewrite their love story, or will the haunting shadows of the past keep them apart forever?

Walt Kinkade left for acting school with a promise to love Linda forever. She never heard from him again. Thirty-five years later and a famed actor at a crossroads in his career, he’s back in Huckleberry Falls, hoping to heal and make amends. Though a widow now, he learns that Linda moved on long ago and found love again. Walt never did. Seeing Linda makes him want to do more than be friends, but why would she trust a man who ditched her and disappeared without a word?

Linda Jackson has everything she needs—great children and grandchildren who light up her life, and wonderful memories of over three decades with her late husband. But an old photograph of the lost love of her youth keeps popping up, reminding her of a time which nearly destroyed her.

Then the man himself shows up as a guest at her married daughter’s home. Seeing Walt and learning the truth stirs something in Linda that she thought she’d never feel again. Does she dare give him a chance to break her heart a second time?

Intro Into Chapter One

“Oh, wow, Mom. This is beautiful. Who’s the guy you’re with?”

Merry held up the all-too-familiar photograph. Memories crashed into Linda, making the attic take on the remembered chill of December, even carrying a threat of snow. The room swayed, and she had to set down the box rather than risk dropping it.

Linda took the picture with a trembling hand. Staring at the excitement in her younger self’s face, she could almost hear their voices. Walter, after a separation of four months for college, had finally returned to Huckleberry Falls for the express purpose of taking her to the Christmas Ball.
* * *
“But I can’t leave the ball to go to the park dressed like this,” Linda told Walter as she spread her hands along the flow of the white chiffon dress she’d worked on for weeks just for the event. She looked up and met his delicious dark eyes, her brows arched.

“You’re so beautiful.”

Walter pulled her into the shadowed corner of the community center’s crowded ballroom. He wrapped her in his arms and nuzzled her neck, making goose bumps erupt along her arms and a shiver of delight run down her back. Oh, how she’d missed him this semester. Six more months and she would graduate from high school. Then she’d go to the University of Wyoming too, and they’d be together all the time.

“You have to come. I’ve got something special planned.” Walter glanced across the room to where his rich father was wheeling and dealing with his business cronies. “Besides, I don’t want to waltz with you around the rent.”

Linda hated when he called his dad that; it was so disrespectful, like his father wasn’t good for anything but paying the rent. But the man had never approved of his only son dating the daughter of a lowly rancher. It was so Neanderthal. But it still made Linda uncomfortable whenever Walter spoke of the man so discourteously.

“Please come, mon cœur.”

My heart. Hers melted at the endearment. How she’d missed hearing it. He’d started calling her that after he’d taken a trip to France last summer with his dad before Walter had headed for college. Now he was home again, but tonight was the last of his three days here. His father was dragging Walter to Colorado to ski over Christmas, despite having a home near one of the best ski resorts in the country. The only reason she was getting to see him at all was because he’d insisted on taking her to the ball.

“All right. I’ll come, but you have to promise I won’t get frostbite.”

“I promise to keep you plenty warm.” Walter nuzzled her neck before pulling her along to the coat check. “Rod’s bringing Shelley in his car.”

Linda smiled to herself. Of course they were coming. Walter and his best friend Rod went almost everywhere together.

“Your father was just looking for you,” the lady at the counter said as he handed her their tickets.

“What did he want?” Walter growled. “Never mind. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to get you in trouble. If he asks, I’ll be back in an hour.” He took their coats from the woman and hurried Linda away, his friends following.

Walter was silent as he opened the door of his Porsche and helped her get her flowing skirt inside. He still said nothing as he drove away from the community center.

They’d been friends their whole lives and sweethearts for two years. Linda knew something was bothering him. He sometimes needed to stew on things for a while before he would talk about them with her. But he was leaving tomorrow, and she probably wouldn’t see him again until her graduation in June. His father had forbidden Walter to call her during the school year, saying she was a distraction.

He stopped in front of a small park near the edge of town. The full moon peeked through a break in the clouds and lit the white field with a flickering glow. If she hadn’t known it was impossible, she’d have thought he’d arranged the festive scene with its background of snow-covered pines.

“We have to hurry,” Walter said. “Rod’s going to take a picture of us dancing.”

Linda let him urge her from the car and didn’t argue when he slid the nice warm coat from her shoulders and tossed it on the Porsche next to his overcoat. She could tell this was important to him.

Walter took her hand, and they made their way to the middle of the field. Fortunately, children had played in the snow earlier, packing it down, so it wasn’t too deep. The layer of new snow, while just a dusting, gave it the illusion of being undisturbed and pristine except for their footprints.

But Linda’s feet were freezing already. It’d have to be a brief dance. She shivered, and Walter wrapped her in arms. He squeezed her to him for a second before sliding his arms into the position taught in their high school social dance class.

“You ready?” he called to Rod.

“Go!” Rod’s girlfriend Shelley turned on a boom box, and the sound of Johnny Mathis’s Christmas Waltz blasted the air.

Walter and Linda had danced together so often over the years that as soon as he moved into the Viennese Waltz, her numbing feet automatically followed. As he twirled her around, he met her gaze with an intensity that took her breath away. It was like he was trying to imprint this moment into her memory by the sheer power of his eyes.

For a few seconds, she forgot the cold, warmed by the love she saw there. It made her feel cherished, the most important thing to him. Then her stiffening foot caught on the hem of her skirt, and she stumbled. Walter didn’t hesitate but swept her into his arms and held her close.

“You got some good ones?” he called to Rod, carrying her toward his car.

“You bet.”

“Can we go somewhere warm now?” Shelley asked with a shiver in her voice.

“I promised a fire and hot chocolate after,” Rod replied with a chuckle, opening the door to his car. “Night, you two.”

“Thanks again.” Walter set Linda by the passenger door and helped her put her coat on. “Don’t worry. The heater should warm us up fast.”

“It better,” Linda said as she hurried into the Porsche.

She could barely feel her feet, and her teeth chattered. But it’d been lovely for him to set up a picture opportunity. She couldn’t wait to see Rod’s shots. Also a college freshman, he was studying photography and had plans to open his own shop someday.

It wasn’t until Linda had warmed enough to feel her toes again that she realized they were still at the park.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, bringing their clasped hands to her lips.

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