Wednesday, September 07, 2022

A Lucky Texas Thanksgiving by Liz Alvin

A Lucky Texas Thanksgiving
by Liz Alvin


Where’s a little good luck when you need it? Lia Brown sure could use some! She’s fallen prey to the Cute Guy Syndrome, and now she’s lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment. She vows no more cute guys, but that’s not an easy promise to keep considering she’s driving across the country with the cutest guy of them all. They’re headed to his family’s hometown of Dragonfly, Texas, for Thanksgiving. Lia was lucky enough to catch a ride with him, or maybe lucky isn’t the right word. She tries to keep a tight grip on her heart, but that’s a fight she’s rapidly losing. Hopefully, this cute guy will be different from the rest. 


In the first of three holiday romances, USA Today bestselling author, Liz Alvin, takes you to Dragonfly, Texas, a small town that Lia Brown hopes will bring her some much-needed luck!  



A Lucky Texas Thanksgiving 

By Liz Alvin 

Chapter One 

“You’re like a cartoon bad guy,” Mason Riggs said as he entered his brother’s office. “All you need is one of those long mustaches you can twirl. Maybe you should work on your evil cackle. Add some realism to this.” 

Declan Riggs looked up from his computer and frowned. “I’m not the bad guy here. No one is.” 

Mason nodded toward the room filled with employees outside Declan’s office. “All those folks would disagree. They’re nervous. You’re taking off for a whole month. Kiss of death.” To illustrate his point, he made a kissing noise followed by a pantomime of being strangled. 

“Cut it out. You’re making things worse. You know I’ll be back. I’m just driving Mom to Texas. After Thanksgiving, I’ll be back here working. No one is going to lose their job.” 

Declan stated this fact firmly. He meant it. He’d do whatever he needed to do to make sure everyone stayed employed and that the firm stayed profitable. Sales of their latest video game were a little slow, but the one they were releasing in December should zoom off like a rocket. The beta test had been practically combustible. People were excited about the game, and even the press they’d gotten was good. “The new game is golden.” 

“TGP thought they were putting out golden games, too, right up until they went bust.” Mason dropped into the chair facing Declan’s desk. “Tim told me today he’s going to lose his house, and Erica keeps pacing and worrying about supporting her kids. You going to Texas for all of November makes everyone jumpy.” 

His brother was exaggerating. Tim and Erica were calm, rational senior managers and well aware of the prospects the company had. They knew about the tests and the steps he was taking to keep everyone employed. 

Still, he’d agree it wasn’t ideal to have one of the owners away for a month. 

“So why don’t you go instead?” Declan said to his brother. “I’ll stay here and make sure the game gets released with no problems.” 

Mason recoiled like he’d been slapped with a dead fish. “Nope. Not doing it. I have plans this month. November is all you.” 

His brother was being shortsighted.  

“You either drive her to Texas in November or drive her back to Maine in December. One or the other. You could get your part over with now.” 

“It’s better if I handle the drive back,” Mason said. “Let’s stick with the original plan. You drive her down in your nice SUV in November; I’ll fly down at Thanksgiving. Then you fly back. I’ll stay through December with her and then drive her back in your fancy SUV. Works much better that way.” 

A small, insistent headache started forming in Declan’s right temple. He wanted to protest this plan on behalf of himself and his SUV, but since Mason drove a red sports car, any argument he’d make was moot. 

“If I’m so valuable, maybe I shouldn’t go at all. You could handle both drives,” Declan pointed out. “You could even use my SUV.” 

“Ha! Yeah, right. You’re not the only one needed around this company, you know,” Mason said.  

He was right, of course. Both brothers worked hard on the company, and both were responsible for its success.  


Mason unfolded himself from the chair. “Good. So, I’ll focus on calming employee nerves. You focus on Mom and her trip.” 

With that, he walked out into the work area where all the cubicles and staff offices were. Forty-three people now worked for them at the Bangor-based video games company he and his brother had started eight years ago. The company had changed and grown with the market, and even though they were small, they were profitable. 

At least they had been until the last game sales had dropped. But that happened. You couldn't bat a thousand all the time. Some games soared; others stalled, then plummeted. Ker-splat. 

His trip to Texas wasn’t going to hurt the company. Mason acted like the internet didn’t exist. He’d stay in touch with the team, work at the hotels along the way, and hold video conferences once he got to Dragonfly. 

He’d grown up in Dragonfly with his brothers Mason and Ian. Their mother had grown up there too. It was a nice small town. Not a lot happened, but since it was only seventy miles from Amarillo and not on the moon, the internet was as strong there as it was anyplace else.  

Their brother Ian now lived on the family ranch, which he wouldn’t be able to leave to drive their mother home. That meant the job had to be done by Declan and Mason. 

Seeing Ian would be a plus of this trip. Actually, he didn’t mind going to Dragonfly; he minded how they had to go. Driving a couple thousand miles across much of the country in November wasn’t his idea of fun. But their mother couldn’t fly because, a few months ago, she’d had what the doctor called a mini-stroke. He’d told their mother to stay off planes.  

Resigned, Declan picked up his phone and called his mother. It went to voicemail, so he told her the plan. Rather than call him back, she texted a few minutes later.  

Great. I’ll let Lia know. 

Declan frowned, then texted, Who is Lia? 

Four hours later, his mother texted, I’ll explain when you pick me up on Thursday. She followed this with a smiley face. 

Great. Susie Riggs was bringing a friend along on this trip.  

 Just what he needed. 


Lia Brown could hardly wait to get out of this town. She glanced at her watch as she climbed out of the rideshare car, then pulled her purple suitcase up the driveway of Susie Riggs’s house. Bangor had not been lucky for her. Not at all. 

Not that it was Bangor’s fault. No, the blame belonged to a cute guy. Three cute guys, actually. Cute guys were the bane of her existence. Cute Guy A had convinced her to move to Bangor so they could continue their relationship. Then Cute Guy B had convinced her to move into a funky old apartment building that he said had ambiance and whimsy. Finally, Cute Guy C had convinced her to go to work for him at his one-person accounting firm. 

Phooey. All three cute guys had ruined her life. Cute Guy A had cheated on her almost immediately. Her broken heart had led her to taking off on a dream trip to Europe that had spackled the tear in her heart but also gobbled up her savings. She’d come home, broke but happy, until she found out that the apartment building Cute Guy B highly recommended was literally crumbling and was now condemned. And before she could catch her breath, Cute Guy C closed the office with no notice. Just an email that said he’d send her last paycheck when his finances improved. 

Yeah, right, like that was ever going to happen. 

No more cute guys for her. They were bad luck. 

She sat her small purple suitcase on the driveway and headed to the front door. Despite it snowing yesterday, the driveway and walkway at Susie’s house were clear. She lived in an age-restricted senior community with quaint little houses and clean and tidy sidewalks. In the center of the community was a pool and tennis courts, and over by the road, there was a club house that looked like it had a restaurant. 

The place kind of made Lia wish she was over fifty-five. 

The front door was open when she got up the walkway. Susie, who was probably in her sixties but looked much younger, was placing her suitcases by the doorway. Her graying hair was styled in a fashionable bob, and her clothes were always chic and expensive. Even her suitcases were ritzy. Four beige suitcases sprinkled with designer logos sat in the foyer. 

Money. What a great thing to have. 

“My son should be here soon,” Susie said. “If he’s grumpy, ignore him.” 

With that pronouncement, the older woman turned and headed back inside her house.  

Yeah, she’d ignore him. The son was the only reason Lia had considered not accepting Susie’s offer of a ride to Texas. No offense to her, but men weren’t high on her list of positive influences at the moment 

But beggars couldn’t be choosey, and since she was pretty close to becoming a beggar, she’d heed that saying. 

Susie appeared again, this time carrying a makeup case. “I know I’m forgetting something.” 

Lia glanced at the four large suitcases and the makeup case. Personally, everything she owned would fit in one of those cases, so she couldn’t imagine what Susie had forgotten. Maybe the toaster? 

“Thanks again for doing this,” Lia said. “Your son won’t mind, will he?” 

Susie waved one hand like she was swatting a mosquito. “Of course he won’t, and I’m     thrilled you’re coming with us. My son, Declan, doesn’t chatter. I can’t sit in a car for days on end with someone who doesn’t gab.” 

Lia wasn’t sure she’d make a good gabbing partner, but she was willing to try. 

Susie snapped her fingers. “I forgot my coral lipstick.” With that pronouncement, she spun around and disappeared down the hallway.  

Lia waited for a couple of minutes, and when Susie didn’t reappear, she decided she might as well make herself useful and take the suitcases to the driveway. Lia grabbed the handles of the two largest ones and almost fell over. Good grief! What was in these things? Gold bullion? How had Susie managed to carry them to the doorway? 

Lia recentered her weight, knelt down to get more force, and then pulled again. One of the suitcases had lifted a fraction of an inch off the ground when a deep voice behind her said, “I got it.” 

Yurrikk,” Lia screamed, turning quickly and smacking right into the owner of the deep voice. 

“Whoa,” Deep Voice said, placing a hand on her arm and steadying her. “Don’t fall.” 

When her footing was stable once again, she took a step back and looked up at the man in front of her. Talk about whoa. He was gorgeous. He was tall, had to be over six feet, and had deep black hair. What caught her attention the most were his light blue eyes. They were what her mother used to call sky eyes because they were as pretty as the summer sky. 

Just what she needed. Someone cute. She’d secretly been hoping Susie’s son would look, well not exactly troll-like, but less . . . gorgeous. 

Realizing she was staring and frowning, she stuck out her hand. “Lia.” 

He shook her hand. “Declan.” 

“The son,” she said to herself rather than to him, but he still nodded once. 

“Yes, the son. You’re the friend.” 


 He glanced beyond her at the pile of Susie’s luggage. “Mom’s been busy.” 

Lia looked behind her. Susie was still inside the house. That lipstick must be hiding. Not sure what else to say, she settled for, “Thanks for giving me a lift. Your mom’s a nice lady.” 

What a doof! He had to know his mom was a nice lady. He’d grown up with her. 

“How do you know Mom?” His deep voice sounded calm, but there was enough of a tiny hint of suspicion in his tone for her to notice. A million humorous scenarios danced through her mind, but Handsome Man didn’t seem in the mood for laughing, so she settled on the truth. 

“I know her from the accountant where I used to work. Your mom came in a few times a year. I ran into her last week, and she offered to give me a ride.” That was the abridged version, but close enough. 

Or maybe not. The son frowned, deep lines appearing on his handsome face. “I think something is missing from your story.” 

A whole lot of “somethings” were missing from her story. She tapped one shoe, trying to decide how much to tell him. Finally, she went for broke. 

“Here’s the whole story. My boyfriend cheated, then bailed. I went to Europe to get over him, and when I got back, I discovered my apartment building had been condemned while I was gone. The foundation cracked like an old cookie. Then, before I could do anything about that problem, my boss abruptly closed the office and disappeared. Just poof! He was gone. I was applying for a job at the mall and ran into your mom. Told her what happened and how my sister lives in Amarillo and that I was thinking about moving in with her and her family until I got back on my feet. Except I had no way to get to Amarillo. But then Susie said she was going to some small town near Amarillo and offered me a ride.” She paused and looked at him. His frown had intensified, and his dark brows were now furrowed over his narrowed blue eyes. “Um, I guess it was serendipitous.” 

She drew in a deep breath. Man, he smelled good. Like sandalwood. 

“Maybe she decided to go to Dragonfly just so she could give you a ride,” he said. 

That hadn’t occurred to her. Why would it? “No one would do that.” 

He shrugged, and she forced herself to not notice how broad his shoulders looked in the blue shirt he was wearing or how easily he lifted the suitcases. Things like that were not going to impress her anymore. Not her. She was resolute. 

“You’d be surprised what my mother does.”  

He turned and walked toward the driveway. Lia looked after him, then snagged the makeup case. She headed down the sidewalk, not happy with what she’d learned. She’d already felt bad about accepting this ride, and now she might be the reason the older woman was taking the trip in the first place?  

“You’re wrong, right?” she said to Declan when she reached the car. “Your mom didn’t decide to go on this trip because of me.” 

He shoved first one, then the other suitcase in the back and turned to face her. “Would it bother you if she did?” 

“Of course it would. For a lot of reasons.” She handed him the makeup kit, and he added it to the collection in the back. 

“Like what?” 

He didn’t sound mad or annoyed, just curious. She, however, wasn’t curious. She was upset.  

“Like I can’t afford to pay my share of this trip. At least not right away. Your mom said I didn’t need to worry about it, but that was before I learned I might be the reason for the trip.” 

He shrugged, apparently unconcerned about his mother’s motivation. 

A new and potentially more upsetting reason occurred to her. “You two aren’t in a cult, are you?” 

A loud laugh burst out of him. He had a nice laugh—not that she was noticing. 

When he finally had himself under control, he said, “No, we’re not in a cult. And we’re not kidnapping you. There is no nefarious motivation here. Our family does own a ranch near Amarillo, and it’s not surprising that Mom wants to go visit. As far as the cost of the trip, don’t worry about it. This is Mom’s idea. We’re picking up the tab.” 

His explanation made her feel a little better. It sounded like they weren’t going to harvest her kidneys. 

“Where’s your luggage?” he asked. 

Lia started walking toward her small suitcase. It sure was going to stand out in the back of that SUV, like an erratic weed in the middle of a meticulously groomed flowerbed. 

“Dragonflies,” he said. 

Unsure how to respond or what game they were playing, she settled on, “Ladybugs.” 

A small smile formed on his face, and he nodded toward her suitcase. “Your suitcase has dragonflies on it.” 

Lia picked it up and looked at it. He was right. In addition to the flowers, the suitcase had small dragonflies on it. She’d bought the suitcase used a few years ago because it was purple. She hadn’t given it much thought beyond that. “I never noticed.” 

“Rumor has it that dragonflies are good luck. At least, that’s the story people tell in the town of Dragonfly,” he explained. “Here. Give it to me.” 

He was being nice, she knew, but unlike Susie’s megaton suitcases, her little purple case weighed almost nothing. “I’ve got it.” 

They were partway to the car when she asked, “So are they?” 

“Are they what?” 

“Good luck. Dragonflies,” she said, hoping that was true. She could use some good luck right now. 

“Don’t know. But your suitcase certainly is apropos considering we’re heading to a town named Dragonfly.” When they reached his car, he took the suitcase from her and added it to the collection in the back. “Guess it’s a good sign.” 

“That would be nice,” she said. 

Whatever Declan had been about to say was cut off by a loud “you-hoo” shouted from the doorway. “Isn’t anyone going to help me?” 

Declan sprinted up the walkway, with Lia trailing after him. She needed to talk to Susie and make sure she was okay with the financial aspect of this trip. Fancy hotels were beyond her budget right now. Truthfully, most hotels were beyond her budget these days. 

When she reached the doorway, she found Susie excitedly directing Declan to carry several huge shopping bags filled with wrapped presents. 

“Christmas is almost two months away,” Declan said. “You know, there are stores in Texas.” 

His mother waved one hand at him. “Pooh. Don’t fuss. It’s just a few things. Oh, Lia, have you met my handsome son?” 

Before Lia could say anything, Susie continued, “Put the presents in the backseat. They can keep me company on the drive.” 

“You should sit up front,” Lia said. The last thing she wanted to do was sit by Susie’s “handsome son.”  

“I hate sitting up front. There’s more room in the back, and Declan has a TV in the back. I plan to watch movies on this trip.” 

“Maybe Lia would like to watch movies with you,” Declan said. 

Susie’s face brightened. “Of course. She’s welcome, but she may need to sit up front and give you directions.” 

“I know how to get there,” Declan said. “Plus, we have GPS.” 

Susie walked over and gave her son a hug. Declan hugged her back. Oh, come on now. He was handsome, which she was doing her best to ignore, but now he also was nice to his mom? 

This was unfair. 

Declan grabbed the shopping bags and headed back to the SUV. Susie stayed behind and was locking the front door. Sensing this was her opportunity, Lia walked over to stand next to her. “I’m not going to be able to pay my way, at least not right away. He said the trip was on you guys, but Susie, you need to let me pay my share.” 

Susie turned and looked at Lia, her blue eyes, so like her son’s, flashing with humor. “Don’t be silly. Declan doesn’t mind.” 

Lia didn’t like the sound of this. “Declan? He’s paying for the entire trip?” 

“Yes. I would, but he insists. Don’t worry about it. He’s got loads of money and not a soul to spend it on. This trip will do him a world of good.” She locked the front door, then turned toward Lia. “He needs to get away from his computer and have some fun before life passes him by, so you and I will make sure he enjoys this trip. That’s your only responsibility. Let’s make it memorable.” 

Before Susie could walk away, Lia asked, “You didn’t decide to go on this trip just because I wanted to get to Amarillo, right?” 

Susie’s expression turned serious. “I did not. I’ve wanted to go to Dragonfly for a long time. Meeting you was the sign I needed.” She smiled, then patted Lia on the arm. “You nudged me into action.” 

Unsure how to feel about all this, Lia gave up and followed Susie to the driveway. Declan was leaning against the SUV, watching them. She met and held his gaze for a few moments and felt the familiar tug of attraction. Uh oh. 

Stop it! She didn’t know if the trip would be memorable for Declan, but she was going to make certain it wasn’t memorable for her. 

If she’d learned nothing else in life, she’d learned no more cute guys. They always meant trouble. 


Author Bio 


Liz Alvin has loved to read and write for as long as she can remember. She started writing stories in second grade and never stopped. Over the years, she has won numerous awards and writing contests. Her favorite stories to share are those with love, happy endings, and lots of humor. Falling in love should be fun, and she works to incorporate that joy and humor in her writing. 

Liz lives in Texas with her own personal hero. They have two grown children who thankfully live nearby. They also have an assortment of rescue dogs and a cat because pets are bundles of love covered in fur! 

Visit Liz at 


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