o us part. Kit ran her fingers over the wedding album and let out a ragged sigh as the pictures of her wedding day came into sharp focus. Her favorite picture had always been of the moment they had sealed their marriage with a romantic kiss at the altar. Now she could barely stand to gaze upon the image. A tugging sensation pulled at her heart strings. Never in a million years had she imagined that her marriage would be over after four short years.
In sickness and in health. Kit had gotten choked up reciting those particular words as she’d exchanged vows with her husband, Jayden. Her father had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and she’d watched her parents accept the news with grace and love and vows to stick it out together, come what may. God had been right by their side as they had promised to love each other for a lifetime.
For richer or poorer. Jayden had signed a multi-million-dollar contract with the Colorado Cougars and received several impressive endorsement deals. They were wealthy now, miles and miles away from the way they had grown up in Hope Valley. Neither one had come from a rich family like the Somers. They had both hailed from humble beginnings. Sometimes she almost wished they were poor. Things had been a lot easier with little or no money.
For better or worse. She let out a brittle laugh. They had surely seen better days. They had been head-over-heels in love and optimistic about their future together. And now they were firmly entrenched in the worst of times. But they had mutually decided to stop trying to save their marriage. They had filled out the paperwork for a legal separation. And now they were barreling toward a divorce.
Until death do us part. Tears rolled down Kit’s face and she didn’t even bother to wipe them away. Once upon a time she had dreamed of forever with Jayden. They had been so in love. And they had wanted kids together. A family. Month after month Kit had cried when the pregnancy test results came in. Negative.
When it became clear that their journey to parenthood wouldn’t be an easy one, they had both vowed to do whatever was possible in order to make it happen. Treatment after treatment had failed, leaving their marriage weighted down under the strain of it all. They had finally experienced the joy of discovering they were having a baby, only to be devastated when Kit lost the baby. She shuddered as the devastating memories consumed her. Kit had tried not to dwell on the baby they had lost, but bit by bit it had contributed to the demise of their marriage.
She had to deal with reality head-on. Her marriage to Jayden was over. They were done. Everything had fallen apart at lightning speed. And she still didn’t know how things had imploded so quickly. Where had the love gone?
How had they fallen out of love with one another? Why hadn’t they fought for their marriage? For a future together? She felt like a fraud. They had exchanged their vows at Hope Valley Church in front of hundreds of friends and family and Jayden’s teammates. Kit felt as if she was reneging on a promise she’d made to God. She felt so deeply ashamed.
The doorbell pealed insistently, dragging Kit out of her thoughts about her failed marriage. She stood up from her cozy, oatmeal-colored couch and made her way past the fully-decorated Christmas tree and toward the front door. When she pulled it open, her cousin Tasha was standing there.
“What’s with the crazy message you sent me?” Tasha strode into Kit’s house and, once she was inside, turned back toward Kit with her hand on her hip.
“It wasn’t exactly crazy,” Kit said, shaking her head at her cousin. “I was very direct and to the point.”
“So you’re seriously bailing out on Christmas?” Tasha asked, her eyes as wide as saucers.
Kit walked back toward her spacious living room and settled back down on her couch. Her cousin walked behind her and sat down on a love seat.
“I wouldn’t use that word.” Kit wrinkled her nose. “It sounds so negative.”
“Kit. Please don’t go to the cabin for Christmas. Christmas won’t be the same without you.”
Kit hated disappointing her family members, but she needed to get away from it all. She had been given divorce papers to sign and it was heartbreaking to have to deal with it over the holidays. All she wanted to do was bury her head in the sand. If she couldn’t do that she would head out of Dodge for the holidays. The thought of facing people in the midst of such a personal crisis was daunting. She needed to lick her wounds in solitude.
“I need to get away, Tasha. I’m sorry if that seems as if I’m disappointing everyone, but I’m doing the best I can to wade through this mess and make it out in one piece. I have to be selfish at the moment. Otherwise I’ll shatter into a million little pieces.”
Kit put her head in her hands and began to cry. She had been strong for so long. Through infertility treatments. Through marital arguments. Through stress and strain. Through dealing with her husband’s status as a superstar NFL player. It had all been too much to deal with. And now she felt broken.
“Oh, Kit. I’m so sorry,” Tasha cooed as she placed her arm around her shoulder. “I know you’re hurting. I’m sorry if I sounded harsh.”
Kit allowed herself to sob against her cousin’s shoulder. If you couldn’t fall apart in front of family members, who could you fall apart in front of? Kit asked herself.
“I thought we were going to be together for the rest of our lives,” Kit wailed. “I have no idea how things fell apart so quickly. And now I’m preparing to sign divorce papers. So forgive me for stepping away from life for a bit, but I’m bringing the divorce papers to the cabin so I can move forward with serenity and peace and clarity of mind.”
“Oh, Kit. I’m so sorry,” Tasha said. “If there was any way I could make things better for you, I’d go to the ends of the earth to do it.”
Kit poured her heart out to her cousin, not caring how she sounded or what she looked like. Her heart was breaking. For the first time in her life she didn’t care about the holiday season or decorating a Christmas tree or spreading cheer in Hope Valley.
She was getting divorced from the love of her life. This year Christmas would be skipped over on her calendar. She would bury her head in the snow and pretend that it was any other day. There would be no rejoicing. No jubilation. She wouldn’t eat turkey or stuffing or apple pie with vanilla ice cream. There wouldn’t be anyone to kiss under the mistletoe. There wouldn’t be any stockings hanging from her fireplace. And she surely wouldn’t be tracking Santa Claus on her Santa tracker on Christmas Eve. She just wanted to get through this holiday in one solid piece.
Bah Humbug! Kit London would be signing divorce papers and officially severing ties with the love of her life. And it was more painful than she’d ever imagined.
Tasha walked out of Kit’s house and dug her cell phone out of her purse. She punched in a number and held the phone up to her ear. Relief coursed through her as she heard the familiar sound of her cousin’s voice. “Hey, Robin. It’s Tasha. We need to get together with Georgia and talk about Kit and Jayden. Things have gotten out of control. Kit is planning to head to the cabin for Christmas. She’s signing divorce papers. We have to take action. Asap.” Tasha nodded as she listened to Robin. “Yes. Operation Matchmaker is in full effect. We have to take drastic measures to help save their marriage. And we don’t have a moment to spare.”
Jayden London navigated his sleek, dark Jaguar into the driveway of his parents’ house. He parked the car and sat for a few moments in the driver’s seat, his heart feeling as heavy as an anchor. It was supposed to be the happiest time of the year, filled with fellowship, faith, family and friends. Happiness went hand in hand with Christmas. It had always been an automatic feeling for him. Joy. Light and Love. That feeling of holiday cheer that seeped into your bones like osmosis.
This year was a struggle. He wasn’t feeling any of those things. He felt like a big huge failure. It wasn’t often that Jayden used the F word. FAILURE. He was an athlete after all. A top notch professional football player who had fought past adversity to establish himself as a premiere member of the Colorado C