Title: A Different Christmas, A University Park Series Novella
Release Date: November 30, 2015
The final chapters in Raven and Lexi’s epic love story that began with Opposing Sides.
Having been through hell and back, Raven and Lexi beat the odds stacked against them and came out on the winning side together. For the past several months, Raven’s been working hard to show Lexi he can be the husband she deserves and the father their soon-to-be born twins need. Playing pro-football is proving to be more challenging than they thought.
As the weeks pass and her due date nears, old demons resurface, threatening to destroy what they’ve worked hard to rebuild. The birth of their twins reminds them despite long practice sessions, football games, and the holidays, what’s most important is the greatest gift of all: love.
**This novella takes place before the epilogue in The Winning Side and A Different Side. This is a standalone story, but it is recommended you read the series.**
I pulled into the park and stopped a few feet shy of the valet stop. Night had set in and the weather was a nice sixty degrees. Perfect for a train ride and a stroll through the park.
“We’re here.” I leaned over and helped Lexi remove the mask.
“Oh wow.” She blinked a few times and looked around. “This is beautiful, Raven.” She peered out the window like kid anxious to run through an amusement park. “Do they always decorate the park with Christmas lights?”
“Yes, Celebration in the Oaks has been a New Orleans’s traditions since I can remember.”
“I bought us tickets for a train ride, which takes us around the park to see the Christmas lights.”
“Oh that’s perfect.” She smiled and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“If you’re up to it, we can walk around afterwards. If not, I understand.” I wasn’t sure if she could handle strolling through the park with her big belly. I felt bad for all the weight she was carrying around.
“Exercise is good for me, so I don’t mind.”
“We’ll see how you feel after the train ride.” I pulled forward to the valet porter.
We got out of the vehicle and walked toward the train station. Festive holiday music played and thousands of lights twinkled in a variety of colors. Some outlined the huge oak trees and others draped the moss-covered cypress trees. Various lighted displays were spread throughout the park creating a magical winter spectacular. Decorated Christmas trees lined the walkway giving it a cozy, intimate feel.
“This reminds me of last year when you took me to downtown Fort Worth and we went ice skating.”
“I know.” I laced my fingers through hers. “This was the weekend we hooked up and you stayed with me.”
Lexi stopped and turned to me. “Oh no…”
“Happy Anniversary, baby.”
She covered her face with her hand. “How could I forget?”
“It’s okay.” I chuckled. “You got a lot going on.”
“Not more than you.” Disappointment laced her beautiful features. “No wonder you gave me the diamond earrings during dinner.” She shook her head. “I thought you were giving me an early Christmas gift. I’m such a loser.”
“No you’re not.” I drew Lexi close to me. “You’re about to give birth to twins. I don’t think that puts you anywhere in the loser category.”
“But I didn’t buy you anything.” Her hands rested on my chest.
My eyes wandered behind her as the deep voices tried to enter my head. Telling me Lexi would never marry me. That she’d never be my wife. That all of this was just temporary. I shook my head and aligned my eyes with her. “There’s only one thing I want from you, Lexi.”
Her gaze tore from mine. “I know. Please be patient with me. Okay?”
I lifted her chin, bringing our gazes together again. “I already told you, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Good. Because I’m not going to let you.” She smiled and then backed away, latching on to my hand. “Come on, let’s go have some fun. I might not be able to ice skate, but we can at least enjoy the lights.”
“You got it, baby.”
We boarded the train for the two-mile ride around the park. We laughed and talked the entire time as we passed the blinking Christmas displays, which included the animated Cajun Night Before Christmas display and the iconic snowman, Mr. Bingle, a New Orleans’ favorite. It was fun and festive and by the smile on Lexi’s face, I knew she was having a good time.
“The lights were beautiful,” Lexi said, as I helped her step off the train. “I’m so glad you thought of this.”
“I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea, since you were so far along.”
She waved off my comment. “I’m pregnant, not handicap.”
“I know, but it can’t be easy lugging around two babies.”
“It’s not.” She huffed. “But it’s only temporary.”
“Thank, God.” I wrapped my arm around her. “Because I miss you lying naked on top of me.”
A soft moan escaped her lips. “I miss that, too.”
“How long do we have to wait?” I cautiously asked.
Her eyes darted to the sky. “I think six weeks, but it might be longer for C-section. I don’t know, but don’t let me forget to ask.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t.” Apparently I wasn’t the only one missing the great sex.
“So, have you decided on the names?” I held up my arm, pointing at my watch. “Times ticking.”
“I know.” Lexi nodded repeatedly. “But this isn’t my decision alone. You have to agree, too.”
“Okay. Then let’s decide tonight.” I spotted a vendor selling coffee and pastries.
“You want something?”
“Do you have to ask?” She winked. “You know my weakness.”
About the Author:
Born and raised in the United States of America in the great state of Texas, CM Doporto resides there with her husband and son, enjoying life with their extensive family along with their Chihuahua, Mexican Red Head Parrot and several fish. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, where she is associated with the Young Adult Special Interest Chapter. To learn more about her upcoming books, visit www.cmdoporto.com and sign up to receive email notifications. You can also like CM Doporto’s fan page on Facebook and follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
As always, until next time...
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