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Friday, December 19, 2014

A Brand New Christmas Scene ~ THE WREN

This never-before published Christmas scene features Matt and Molly from my historical western romance THE WREN. Blurb ~ Captured by Comanche as a child, Molly Hart was assumed dead. Ten years later, Texas Ranger Matt Ryan finds a woman with the same blue eyes.

The idea for this came about in a Facebook group - Pioneer Hearts - a collection of readers and writers of old west romances. (If interested, join here.) For the holidays, authors were challenged to write a brand new scene featuring characters from one of our books. We also shared a recipe, which follows the scene.



North Texas
December 24th, 1877

Matt shifted the two gifts to one hand as he opened the door to the bedroom he shared with his wife. Molly sat on the bed, her back against a pile of pillows. Balancing a plate atop her growing belly, she spooned a large bite into her mouth.

"Is that Rosita's caramel cake?" he asked. "I thought it was all gone." Rosita, his folks' cook at the SR Ranch, had baked her delicious concoction for the large family gathering this evening. It was based on a recipe his ma had long used, however Matt was certain the elderly Mexican cook added a few peppers to spice it up.

Molly nodded, unable to speak around the sweet dessert. Her auburn hair, having finally grown longer, tumbled out of the bun from earlier, and she still wore the deep green gown his ma had given her as a gift earlier in the week.

He approached the bed, sat beside her, and reached for a morsel of cake. Molly shifted the plate away from him. He laughed. "I can't have any?"

"It's the last piece." She glared at him. "And I'm eating for two."

Matt knew not to come between his wife and food. Having recently recovered her appetite after a long bout of morning woes, he was glad she could keep something down at long last. And now that her hunger had returned, it was like the force of a bull.

"I wanted to give you these tonight," he said and placed the boxes beside her.

She smiled, quickly consumed the remainder of the cake and set the dish aside. She opened the first gift, and went still.

"Where did you get this?" she whispered.

"My ma had it. After your folks were killed, and your sisters sent away, she went through the Hart homestead and collected whatever mementos she found. I had a new frame sent from Dallas. I thought you might like to have it."

Molly began to cry. Matt reached out to snag a crumb from her cheek. She kissed him, tasting of Rosita's cake, both sweet and spicy.

"We can put it on the mantle of the Rocking Wren when the house is complete," she said against his lips, referring to the ranch he was building just for her. She resumed staring at her gift. "This photo must've been taken before we left Virginia for Texas. I was probably only eight years old."

The portrait featured Molly with her mama and papa, and her sisters, Mary and Emma. Although she'd recently learned that Robert Hart wasn't her real father, he nonetheless remained close in her heart. Matt knew she would cherish a family keepsake such as this.

"I can't wait to show Mary and Emma tomorrow," she said.

Matt knew this was a special Christmas for Molly. After having lived with the Comanche for years, she'd hadn't celebrated the holiday since she was a little girl. And now, both of her sisters were with her—Emma had arrived weeks ago and promptly married his friend, Nathan Blackmore, and Mary, the oldest, had arrived just days ago with her husband and three children. They'd traveled from the Arizona Territory with Cale Walker—Molly's new-found half-brother—and his wife, Tess. Matt's folks had a full house at the moment, including his brother Logan, his wife Claire and her younger brother Jimmy.

He handed Molly the second gift. She swiftly discarded the paper and retrieved the item inside the box. Once again, she froze. Then, she beamed. Holding up the smooth and brand new slingshot, she raised an eyebrow and asked, "Am I allowed to use it in the house?"

"No."

She pulled on the rubber sling. "I'll call it 'Wren the Second'."

As a child, Molly had a knack for getting into trouble with a slingshot she'd labeled 'The Wren', since she imagined the rocks she used in it came from the wrens who laid a pebble-strewn path as a guide to their nests.

"These are very thoughtful gifts, Matt." Molly took his hand and brought it to her belly. He felt the babe move, and he marveled at the good fortune in his life since encountering, many months ago, a woman thought long dead.

"I have a gift for you," she added. "And I know what you're thinking, but that will come later, once the cake settles." She smiled, a bit bashful, and he grinned.

"For now, I have something else to give you." She covered his hand with both of her own. "Emma told me that we're to have a son."

Molly's younger sister had a knack for the 'knowing' of things. Matt never put much stock in such nonsense, but when Nathan—a former Texas Ranger alongside Matt—told him the wild tale of Nathan's adventure with Emma in the Grand Canyon, Matt found it difficult to discount Emma's abilities.

A son.

He leaned his head down and gently kissed the boy through the fabric of Molly's gown.

Matt had everything he wanted.

"If Rosita makes more cake tomorrow," he murmured, "I'll swipe it just for you."

"Promise?"

He sat up and gathered her into his arms. "I promise."


Copyright © 2014 K. McCaffrey LLC



Here's my modern take on Rosita's cake, although there's no caramel or peppers in mine. My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me many years ago, before my first child was born, and I've made it every holiday since. My son, the eldest, can eat an entire cake by himself, so I make this many times during the Christmas season. It's very easy and is a great housewarming gift or quick dessert for those last minute dinners.

REALLY RICH CAKE

1 18-1/2 oz. package yellow cake mix
1 3 oz package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup oil (I replace half of this with applesauce for a lower fat version)
1/2 cup water
1 6 oz. package chocolate chips
1 6 oz. choc. candy bar broken into pieces
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan and bake at 350deg for 50 minutes. Cool and serve.


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