For champion professional knitter Dymphna Pearl, inheriting part of a sun-blasted ghost town in the Texas hill country isn’t just unexpected, it’s a little daunting. To earn a cash bequest that could change her life, she’ll have to leave California to live in tiny, run-down Fat Chance for six months—with seven strangers. Impossible! Or is it?
Trading her sandals for cowboy boots, Dymphna dives into her new life with equal parts anxiety and excitement. After all, she’s never felt quite at home in Santa Monica anyway. Maybe Fat Chance will be her second chance. But making it habitable is going take more than a lasso and Wild West spirit. With an opinionated buzzard overlooking the proceedings and mismatched strangers learning to become friends, Dymphna wonders if unlocking the secrets of her own heart is the way to strike real gold…
EXCERPT FROM WELCOME TO FAT CHANCE, TEXAS
Blanche and Earrings were Dymphna’s two least sociable rabbits. They had just hopped around the rabbit-run - a large section of the yard given over to exercising the angoras - when Erinn arrived with the mail. Because Dymphna lived in the guesthouse, she didn’t have her own address, so they shared a mailbox. Dymphna had offered to get a P.O. box. It always made Dymphna slightly uncomfortable that Erinn, who owned the beautiful main house, always delivered Dymphna’s mail to the backyard. But Dymphna rarely had to feel awkward – she got very few deliveries, other than “Rabbits Quarterly.”
“You have a letter,” Erinn said, walking across her own back porch and down the steps into the yard. “Very good stationary, too.”
Dymphna finished locking the rabbits’ pens and brushed her hands over her jeans before taking the envelope.
“How do you know it’s good stationary?” Dymphna asked. “Is it like thread count?”
Dymphna’s knowledge of fiber was often her gauge for comparison.
“All writers can instinctively rate stationary,” Erinn said. “It’s a gift.”
Dymphna could never tell when Erinn was joking, so she nodded and took the letter. It was from “The Law Office of Wesley J. Tensaw”. She stared down at it and frowned.
“Why would I be getting a letter from a law office?” Dymphna asked.
“As Carl Jung once said, ‘Often the hands will solve a problem that the intellect has struggled with in vain.’.”
“Meaning…Open the letter.”
Dymphna looked up and saw that Erinn had taken a seat on the top step of the porch.
“All writers instinctively want to know what’s in someone else’s mail,” Erinn said. “It’s a curse.”
Dymphna opened the letter carefully. She didn’t want Erinn to think she was not respectful of good stationary. She read every line over three times, trying to process it. Without a word, she handed the letter to Erinn who read:
The Law Office Of Wesley J. Tensaw
43298 Avenue of the American Stars
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Ms. Dymphna Pearl
612 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Dear Ms. Pearl,
This office represents the executor of the Estate of a prominent, internationally known client. The testator instructed that his Will cannot be read unless you, among others, are present. Until the reading I am not at liberty to discuss either his identity or any other provision of the Will – except to note that it would be particularly against your interest to mention the reading or to show this letter to the press. Please call Ms. Rhonda Kimberly at the phone number above to confirm that you will attend the reading at 10:00 am on Tuesday, August 12. Ms. Kimberly will give you the address (which must also remain confidential). I look forward to meeting you.
Very truly yours,
Wesley J. Tensaw
Wesley J. Tensaw
“Do you think it’s real?” Dymphna asked.
“Well, Wesley Tensaw is definitely real. A heavy hitter in the legal community,” Erinn replied. At Dymphna’s astonished look, she confessed, “I Goggled Tensaw when I saw the envelope. I told you, it’s a curse.”
Dymphna arrived at the Beverly Park Circle address at 9:48 on the appointed morning. Erinn was insistent that Dymphna attend the reading.
“Think of it as an adventure,” Erinn said.
“I’m not really a huge fan of adventure,” Dymphna had replied.
“Don’t be silly,’ Erinn had said. “Anybody who hates adventure does not raise rabbits for a living.”
Erinn had a way of making Dymphna feel much more interesting than she found herself on a daily basis. So there she stood, across the street from the gates behind which twisted a long driveway lined with palm trees. She’d parked across the street from the intimidating drive. She looked down at her brown skirt to make sure there was no rabbit hair sticking to it. She also wore a white blouse with billowy sleeves and a brown cloche hat she’d knitted the night before. She always felt more secure – more grounded -when she was wearing something she’d created from the fur of one of her rabbits. She wasn’t sure how you dressed to meet anyone involved with a prominent, internationally known person, but these were the best clothes she had. Mr. Tensaw’s secretary gave her no information other than the address and another warning not to speak to the press. Was she meeting his family? Why weren’t they meeting in an office? The longer she stood, the more questions she had.
Celia Bonaduce is a producer on HGTV’s House Hunters. She is the author of the Venice Beach Romances and lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband in a beautiful, “no-pets” building. She wishes she could say she has a dog. You can contact Celia at www.celiabonaduce.com.