Her latest release, “Carla Kelly’s Christmas Collection,” contains four Regency romance stories and was released on Oct. 8, 2013. You can get your copy from bookstores and online retailers.
“The Christmas Ornament”
Author: James Enders, Lord Crandall, is a brilliant Oxford don, but hopeless around women. His father and the father of a neighboring beauty are scheming for their children to make a match. James has no objections, but he just can’t seem to get the wooing business right. All he wants to do is return to Oxford.
James wondered how to broach the matter to his father, who seemed content to regard him with a certain fondness and continue his own career in front of the fireplace, reading when he felt like it, and dozing when he did not. Papa is glad to be here, James thought. He would be disappointed if I suggested that we return to London for Christmas. James decided that he would find stationery in the book room and write Sir Waldo a letter, telling him to choose another son-in-law who was not too shy to pay an initial morning call.
He was in the hallway, heading for the book room with the firmest of intentions, when someone knocked on the door. He knew that his father had gone out earlier to walk among the shrubbery and breathe deep of the brisk air, so he hurried to open it, waving away the footman. He opened the door, and there stood Olivia Hannaford.
He knew he would be surprised the first time he saw her – if he saw her – because at their last meeting at Tim’s funeral she was only eleven years old. Time does things, he thought, as he looked upon her loveliness. He remembered her from her childhood, but even then he was not prepared for that certain something about her that he – the most eloquent of men on paper and in lecture hall – was totally unable to explain. Sir Waldo was so right; I have never seen anyone like this.
There she stood, not greatly taller than he recalled from their last meeting, but so different. She wore a heavy grey cloak with the hood up, but her marvelous hair threatened to spill out of its boundaries. Wonderful, impudent hair, he thought, entranced by the curls. She was covered completely by the cloak, but her shape was a graceful outline. Time, which had done nothing to ameliorate her hair, had managed the subdue her freckles. They were the palest marks now, and completely bewitching. What a woman this is, he reflected.
“I wish you would ask me in,” she said. “My feet are cold. Jemmy, that wreath has to go.”
She stopped right in the doorway and stared at him, and then turned pointedly to look at the door directly next to him. “That one you are almost leaning upon. And please do not call me Miss Hannaford. I have always been Olivia to you, except when I was Oblivious, or Ollie, or … what was that other name Tim hatched?”
He thought a moment, resisting the urge to shake his head because he knew his brains would fall out and drop on the floor at her feet. “I believe it was just plain Livy.”
“You’re too kind,” she said with a smile of her own. “I believe it was Liver.” She held out her hand to him. “Livy will do, unless you are determined to be formal.”
She wore gloves, of course, and as he took her hand, he wondered how human bones could feel so delicate. I will have to take such good care of all this magnificence. He told himself, then said without another moment’s thought, “Olivia, you have superior bones.”
What just came out of my mouth? he asked himself in stupefied amazement. Goodness, but she will think I am crazy. He blundered on. “I mean … oh, hang it, I have seen a lot of bones in autopsies, but none of them ever felt like yours.”
Open-mouthed in total shock or wonder (he wasn’t sure which), her hand still in his, she stared at him.