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Secret of the Season - A Whispering Pines Short Mystery (EBOOK)

Secret of the Season - A Whispering Pines Short Mystery (EBOOK)

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Everything is set for the O’Shea family’s first Christmas in their new home. After days of decorating, the house is perfect. Well, except for the glittering aluminum tree Lucy hates but her husband adores. It’s a silly thing, really, but when surrounded by two thousand acres of pristine pine forest, a silver tree just doesn’t feel right.

So Lucy and her best friend Dulcie head out with their kids, Dillon and Briar, in search of a proper Yule tree. But partway through their journey, Lucy makes a chilling discovery. A stranger is stalking them through the woods. And help is an hour away.


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Chapter 1
DILLON AND BRIAR, DRESSED IN THEIR footy pajamas, sat on big pillows on the floor with a huge bowl of buttered, salted popcorn between them. We couldn’t say which of them was more excited for the show to start. They’d both seen A Charlie Brown Christmas last year, but at only six years old, they didn’t remember anything other than Snoopy and Woodstock. How wonderful to have things you loved so much be like new again.
“How much longer, Mama?” Briar asked Dulcie, as she had every two minutes for the last quarter hour.
“What time does the clock say?” Dulcie was always one to insert organic education whenever possible.
Little Briar, with her raven-black hair and sapphire-blue eyes, pinched her lips and squinted at the clock on the fireplace mantle. After a few seconds, she casually leaned over to Dillon. “What time do you think it is?”
In his analytical way, my son talked his way through the problem. “When the little hand is on a number, that means it’s that number o’clock. Each number is five minutes, and eleven is the last number before the new o’clock. The big hand is on the eleven. The little hand is almost on the seven.” Except he had a hard time with l’s so his words came out eweven, wittow, and awmost.
Once she had all the facts, Briar calculated, “That means five more minutes until seven o’clock.”
“Excellent work, my darlings,” Dulcie praised. “You two make such a good team.”
I stood at the windows that covered the back wall of our house. Something my husband had insisted on rather than just a window here and there like the architect had drawn on the blueprints.
“If we’re going to live next to a lake,” Keven stated, “I want to see it every time I enter this room.”
He was so right. Tonight was cloudy, but I could just make out the still-unfrozen water through the darkness. And another surprise.
“Look.” I pointed outside. “It’s snowing. Can you believe it?”
It had been a chilly start to winter in northern Wisconsin. The mercury flirted with the freezing mark every night but hadn’t dipped below thirty-two. We’d woken to frost a few mornings, but this was the first snowfall.
The kids leapt off their pillows and raced over to see.
“Can we make a snowman, Mommy?” Dillon begged while pressing his face to a window, his breath fogging the glass.
“We’ll need a bit more than fifty-four flakes,” I teased, “but as soon as there’s enough, of course we will.”
“Fifty-four?” He squinted, doing a mental calculation, then stared at me, unamused. “I think there’s more than that.”
“You’re probably right,” I agreed and gently poked him in his ticklish ribs. “Should we put on our coats, go outside, and count?”

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