And before anyone says anything about posting pics of cute kids… they be my kids and said kids will prob kill me now as they are 26 and 25…. Anyway, a little background for you. If you’ve read my previous series, Signal Me, Staci will need no introduction. She’s now grown up, with a son of her own. Since Lou had her own book – Dark Lake – and Jim got his HAE, Staci demanded her own story be told. So here’s part of it.
Needing a change of pace, elementary school teacher Kelly Seda accepts the school exchange position and flies from Ottawa to London. Exchanging jobs and houses for a year, he and six-year-old daughter Wendy have a less than a day to adjust before starting work.
Single mum Staci Kirk has carved out a life for herself and her young son Tommy. Fiercely independent and self-reliant, she’s found a good place where she can settle in but she’s all too aware that happily ever after applies only to other people—or in the romance books she writes.
The arrival of Tommy’s new teacher, also her next door neighbour, threatens to upset her carefully balanced apple cart but Staci knows it’s only a matter of time before Kelly packs his bags and flies back to Canada. No sense in starting anything she can’t finish.
However, life is never that simple. When the worst happens, there is only one person she can rely on to help.
Staci sat on the couch beside Kelly as Tommy and Wendy coloured happily at the table. The picnic lunch she’d prepared after the service had gone down a treat—despite the rain which had poured down in torrents since they’d left the church. She’d turned the table into a palace with a couple of blankets, made crowns out of sheets of cardboard, and the four of them had eaten inside it, with the kids pretending to be a prince and princess.
Kelly sipped his coffee. “That indoor picnic was a stroke of genius.”
She smiled. “We do that a lot in the winter. As long as Tommy eats, I don’t care where. Within reason, that is. The bedroom is a no no. It’s not easy being both parents.” She paused. “I’m a single parent.”
“I’m with you on that score. Hair, for example. I can’t braid to save my life and as for getting her part straight—forget it. Hence her really short hair.”
Staci laughed. “Whereas Tommy wants his hair cut like my dad’s. Nothing on the top and very little around the sides.”
Kelly roared with laughter. “Did you tell him that happens naturally when he gets older?”
“I tried, but he doesn’t want to wait. I placated him by promising a multi-coloured Mohican during the Christmas holidays.”
“How are you planning to do that? Just in case Wendy wants one at some point.”
“He did it for world book day back in March. He went in full Native American dress. He wanted to go as Pocahontas.”
Kelly tried to hide a grin but failed. “Isn’t Pocahontas a girl?”
“Uh-huh. Tommy’s argument was if the pantomime dame is a bloke why can’t he go as Pocahontas? But in the end I convinced him to go as Hiawatha instead. Funny enough, he preferred being the leader of a nation to a princess living in a foreign land.”
Kelly sipped his coffee. “I can totally understand that one. I think I would as well. Thanks again for bailing me out this morning with the dress.”
“It’s the least I can do. If I can get it off of her I’ll sew it tonight and let you have it back tomorrow. Will you hire a car whilst you’re here?”
He pursed his lips. “I honestly haven’t thought that far ahead. Both work and the school are within walking distance. The subway will get me most places—once I find the nearest station.”
“Half a mile up the road, but you need the mainline train to get to the nearest underground station. We’re too far out of the city for our own station. Buses work as well. Which school is Wendy going to?”
“Cannon Street Primary.”
“The same one as Tommy. It has a really good reputation and the scores are good. December is a bit of a late start for the year though.”
“Couldn’t be helped. Work transferred me here later than anticipated.”
“They’ll be gearing up for Christmas with nativities and parties and carol concerts. Bit like all the houses. The American way of decorating seems to be creeping over more and more each year. Tommy wants the tree and outside lights up now. I told him he has to wait another week or so.”
“Going back a bit.” Kelly finished his coffee and set the cup on a coaster. “What’s a pantomime?”
Staci paused. How on earth did she explain something so quintessentially British in a way he’d understand? “It’s a theatre play only put on at Christmas—with lots of songs and slapstick humour. Where the hero is played by a girl, and the dame is played by a bloke. There is usually a cow involved somewhere no matter what the story. It’s normally a fairy tale. So, Dick Whittington or Cinderella or Peter Pan. This year it’s Jack and the Beanstalk. I took Tommy last year, and he loved it. Are you here for Christmas?”
He nodded. “I’m not planning on going home until July. I’m hoping my parents will come over at some point, but Mom hates to travel. Despite having a passport, she’s never been outside Canada.”
Staci failed to contain her surprise. “Not even to step over the border at Niagara Falls? I did that one year, just so I could say I’d been to Canada.”
“Not even that.” Kelly shook his head. “The farthest she’s ever been is Toronto to visit my brother. Maybe a car would be a good idea. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the country while I’m over here.” He glanced at the rain pounding on the windows. “Assuming it stops raining. Does it ever stop raining here?”