Secret SantaBy: Kathleen Brooks
A Bluegrass Series Novella
McKenna Mason Ashton pulled over to the side of the road and looked at the town that had been her home for almost two years. She smiled as she remembered the first time she pulled over at this same spot.
She had been driving her cherry red BMW M6 and thought the tree-lined streets of Keeneston resembled Mayberry. Her opinion of Keeneston had changed from the time she arrived though. For one thing her M6 sat in the garage. She closed the door to the pickup truck her husband had bought her and looked out at the trees, now bare of leaves, covered in colorful Christmas lights. Big red bows were tied to the lampposts, which were covered in a dusting of snow that had fallen during the night.
The small town that had seemed so foreign to her after living in New York City was now her home. The people and customs she couldn't understand before were now part of her daily life. She now knew that going to "the sales" meant going to the thoroughbred sales and not to Bloomingdale’s. That gossip was really just a way for the town to stay connected. Plus, she'd made enough on some of the bets placed at the Blossom Café to buy her ten-month-old daughter Sienna a new winter wardrobe on her latest shopping trip to New York City.
After fleeing from New York she never thought she'd find such pleasure in working as a small-town district attorney. She didn't miss the 80-hour workweeks she had put in at her old law firm or the dance clubs she visited on occasion with some of her co-workers. They couldn't compare to the joy and love she felt coming home to her husband, Will, and their daughter, Sienna.
Kenna slid back into her truck and drove up Main Street toward her office. She passed the cute stores selling antiques and Christmas decorations. She waved to Daisy Mae Rose as she swept the snow off the sidewalk in front of the Blossom Café with a broom. Miss Daisy's slender, elderly form was covered with a thick knee-length purple down coat. A poof of her white hair was tied back into a bun this morning and accessorized with purple earmuffs. Miss Daisy waved back as Kenna made her way toward her office. She waved at John Wolfe who was making his way to the café and Martha, the D.A.'s cranky assistant, as she crossed the courthouse parking lot.
She had found all this waving and honking so strange before, but now she knew all these people. They were her friends and colleagues and it was just natural to smile and wave. Today was December 23rd, the last day at the office before the long Christmas weekend. She couldn't wait to experience Sienna's first Christmas. She had never been so excited before, or felt so blessed.
Kenna took one last look at the short Main Street with Christmas decorations covering the storefront windows and Christmas lights twinkling over the doors before she turned down the alley between the historic buildings. She parked her truck behind the law office she shared with Henry Rooney, the town's only defense attorney, and headed to work.
She pushed open the back door and wiped her red Manolo Blahniks on the tan doormat before taking off her black wool pea coat and hanging it up beside the door. She walked down the hall of the once old historic house to her office. She had decorated it in a cheery yellow and had sheer navy blue drapes hanging across the oversized window. Pictures of her with Will, Sienna, and her best friend, Dani, covered one whole wall.
Kenna dropped her bag next to her large rectangular desk and turned to see her best friend leaning against the doorframe. Her Royal Highness, Danielle De Lucca Ali Rahman, stood clad in jeans, a white boatneck sweater and tan Uggs. The white sweater popped against the bronze colored skin she inherited from her Italian father. Her long black hair was pulled back into a stylish ponytail. Her retro purse, a deal she found at Miss Lily Rae Rose's yard sale, hung loosely by her side.
"What are you doing here? Isn't Mo's family in town?" Kenna asked.
Dani's husband, Mohtadi Ali Rahman, was the prince of a small island country in the Middle East and his parents were in town for a couple of weeks. The king, queen, and Dani had differing opinions of what was an acceptable behavior for a princess. Dani believed in being the same person she had always been. However, the king believed she should be dressed up and paraded around the elite circles of royals from around the world.
"Exactly. Which is why I'm here, avoiding lectures of duties and endless diatribe on the fact that I'm not with child yet." Dani rolled her ice blue eyes and walked into the room to take a seat in one of the leather chairs facing Kenna's desk. "Plus, it really pisses the king off that I still work." Dani laughed with a twinkle in her eye. It was the way their relationship worked for them. They fought and each time she stood up to the king, he loved her more.