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#WurdyChristmas 5: Lucy’s choice, Lucy’s world

free-wallpaper-christmas-treeWelcome to the fifth – and final – part of my #WurdyChristmas treat short story. Yesterday I asked you to make a tough decision for Lucy – so did she choose to stay in the beautiful winter world, or return home to change her own life?

Thank you for getting so involved in this story – it’s been so much fun to write! Read on to find out what happens when Lucy makes the biggest decision of her life…

SILVER BELLS AT TONY & FRANK’S ©Miranda Dickinson 2o16


You can stay here. Permanently. And you’d never want for anything, never feel lonely again. Or you can go back. Make things different in the way you’d like them to be. It’s your choice…

What kind of a choice was that?

Lucy looked at her grandmother – her beloved Gran who, even this evening before everything happened, she would have given anything to see again. Here Gran was, as vibrant and vivacious as she had ever been in life, dancing with Bing flippin’ Crosby for heaven’s sake – and Lucy wanted more than anything to stay by her side. Who decided Gran would be the one asking her to make an impossible choice? It seemed unnecessarily cruel. But, if it meant Lucy could see her grandmother whenever she wanted, was it worth the risk?

Who would miss me if I stayed here? Her parents, for sure. Maybe her workmates at Tony & Frank’s. Certainly not Aaron Morgan. Had he ever really cared about her, or only about what he got out of their relationship? She could be safe here in this startling winter world. She could be happy…

So, she should stay.

‘Gonna have to hurry you, kid,’ Bing said.

Lucy’s choice was easy, wasn’t it? She was surrounded by beauty – the dazzling snow sparkling like diamond dust on everything in sight; by joy – the look in Gran’s eyes when she danced with her hero; and by possibility – the village in the distance that invited her to explore and the handsome stranger in whose arms she had found such freedom. Beauty, joy, possibility – what more could anyone wish for?

Choose carefully, the note back on Sophie’s desk had said, your choice will change your life

Tony had been right – Lucy wanted her life to change. What better than a fresh start in a beautiful place? Because what was the alternative? Return home as a dumped girlfriend, face the inevitable questions about what happened and maybe even get in trouble for spending the night in the restaurant. Not much of a choice.

‘Lucybobs, what does your heart tell you?’ Gran asked.

How can you ask me that? Lucy felt tears prickle her eyes. Her heart longed to stay where people she loved were. Given the chance to remain in contact with Gran why would she ever choose to walk away?

‘I don’t know,’ Lucy said. ‘What would you do?’

Her grandmother held up her hands. ‘I made my choices in life, dear. This has to be one of yours.’

Bing nodded. ‘It’s your gig, kid. If anyone else made this decision for you, you’d regret it.’

He was right, of course. This whole experience had begun with someone else’s decision. It had to end with Lucy’s own.

And that’s when it hit her.

This is my choice. It’s all been about my choices.

Without realising it, Lucy had been slowly taking back control of her own life tonight. The choices she had made hadn’t seemed like they belonged to her – investigating a song she remembered from childhood, picking a gift, choosing a door to walk through – but with each one she had felt stronger, become braver.

They were all looking at her now, Gran, Bing and the beautiful stranger – all willing strength and courage into her with their smiles.

‘I think –’ she began…


A huge pile of snow glanced across her right shoulder, almost knocking her over.

‘He shoots! He scores!’

Lucy regained her balance and turned to see two familiar faces engaged in a snowball fight. Both were still dressed in evening suits but each had added a candy cane-striped scarf and camel-coloured overcoat to their attire.

‘Boys, boys! The lady was just making her decision,’ Bing frowned.

Tony and Frank’s gaze instantly dropped to their snow-covered feet like naughty children being reprimanded for too-rough playground games. ‘Sorry.’

‘I should think so, too. My granddaughter deserves more respect. So, Lucybobs, are you staying here?’

The snow had begun to fall again and Lucy felt the soft kiss of pristine white flakes against her skin. This world – wherever it was – was breathtaking. The prospect of staying here forever threatened to steal Lucy’s heart…

Apart from one, tiny detail.

It wasn’t real.

‘No,’ Lucy replied – noticing the sky dim a little, ‘I don’t think I can.’ The sun hid behind a vast bank of white cloud that had appeared from nowhere. ‘I love you, Gran – and it’s an honour to meet you, Mr Crosby. But this isn’t the change I want to make.’

One by one the tiny white lights on the bandstand began to extinguish. A long shadow passed from the top of the rolling, snow-covered hills to the valley far below, lights in the small village that huddled there disappearing, too. Seth gave a low bow and was lost in the encroaching dusk. Bing saluted Lucy, kissed Gran’s hand and, with a slow turn, vanished.

Lucy felt her heart swell when Gran stepped forward and took both her hands. It was bittersweet: this could only be another, more final, parting.

‘My darling girl,’ Gran said, her falling tears sparkling as if they contained glitter. ‘You did it.’

‘I love you. Don’t leave me yet!’

But Gran was shimmering now, her body becoming stardust. Lucy felt the pressure of her grandmother’s hands on hers becoming less and less – and she let out a sob as Edith Smith finally melted into the darkening snowscape.

‘I – I didn’t say enough,’ she cried, her hands still outstretched as if she could catch the last few stars where Gran had stood. ‘There was so much more I wanted to tell her.’

Tony’s almost-transparent hand rested lightly on Lucy’s shoulder. ‘You did good, Lucy Smith. We should get you home, if that’s where you want to go?’

It hurt, but it was the only choice.

Go back. Make things different in the way you’d like them to be.

Gran had known the best decision all along.

‘Aww, boss, just one more snowball,’ Frank pleaded, as the last of the light faded from the incredible winter world. His voice seemed to be coming from a long way away now. As Tony’s laugh rang out with a metallic, hollow echo, Lucy braced herself…


Lucy’s cheek was cold and her head hurt. An indistinct sound was playing somewhere nearby, repeating over and over. Not a song this time, but something Lucy couldn’t yet place. Slowly, she lifted her head and found herself at the red vinyl table in the first booth where she’d fled as soon as she had reopened the darkened restaurant.

Except Tony & Frank’s was dark no longer.

From every table, booth wall, serving hatch, window and stool that lined the bar, tiny sparkling white lights shone. It was almost as if the interior of Tony & Frank’s had become the bandstand in the winter world Lucy had just left. The restaurant was ablaze with light. At the far end where the serving hatch revealed the now illuminated kitchen, the Founders’ busts sparkled with scarves of looped silver tinsel Lucy couldn’t remember them wearing during her evening shift. Tony appeared to be grinning, while Frank grumpily surveyed the empty restaurant.

Had she dreamt it all?

The nondescript sound came again, this time more insistent. Bewildered, Lucy rose and moved towards the front door, her shoes leaving damp footprints across the black-and-white chequerboard floor. She couldn’t think how her feet could have become so wet. Unless…

This time when the sound repeated, Lucy immediately recognised it. The knocking continued until she found the front door key on the giant bunch of keys in her pocket.

‘Okay, okay, I’m coming.’

‘Police,’ said a gruff voice from the other side of the door.

Great. Turning the key in the lock and pulling open the heavy oak-and-glass door, Lucy dug out her brightest smile. ‘Hello, officer.’

The middle-aged police officer at the entrance didn’t smile back. Instead, he peered around Lucy to look into the restaurant. ‘Are you alone, madam?’

‘I am. I’m supposed to be finding a taxi to take me home.’

The police officer’s brown furrowed into a frown. ‘Can I ask why you were here, alone on Christmas Eve –’ He checked his watch. ‘– Ah, my mistake. Christmas Day…’

Soon it will be Christmas Day

Not soon. Now! Lucy looked at her watch – and saw the hands had moved to read three o’clock. She had come back to change her life, just as she’d told Gran she would.

‘Well?’ The police officer’s radio crackled into life and he turned away to angrily bark a reply into it.

How Lucy was going to change her life was still an unknown. Like the song that first sounded in the kitchen, like the destination behind the impossible doors. But she had already made choices that had changed her experience tonight – and she was determined to change the rest of her life for good.

The squeak of the front door summoned her attention. Leaving the police officer to argue with the disembodied voice of his colleague back at the station, Lucy made her way to the entrance – just as another policeman entered.

Lucy froze.

Hair the colour of a clear midnight sky. Winter blue eyes that sparkled in the light of the fairy lights in the restaurant…

‘Hi,’ he said, looking over at his colleague, then around the lavishly lit restaurant. ‘Are you the only person present?’

Lucy managed a nod, instantly feeling dumb.

‘We were patrolling the retail park and we saw the lights come on.’

‘I’m sorry, that was me.’

‘And how did you get in?’ He had taken a notebook from his pocket and was now awaiting her story. He lifted his pen to the pad and Lucy remembered how strong the stranger’s arms had been as they had held her. What would it be like to be cradled in them in real life…?

What am I thinking? This isn’t the same man

‘I let myself in,’ she rushed, hoping her answer would mask the growing flush creeping up her neck. ‘I’m assistant manager at Tony & Frank’s.’

‘Right. Any reason you’re here on Christmas Eve?’

‘Christmas Day,’ Lucy corrected him, blushing again.

The PC looked at his watch. ‘So it is. Merry Christmas.’

Lucy was about to reply when the older police officer returned. ‘Have you taken her statement?’

‘I’m doing it now, Sarge.’ The young PC turned back to Lucy. ‘So, you let yourself in – because…?’

Lucy sighed. ‘Because my boyfriend dumped me this evening after work and I didn’t bring my car, so I let myself back in with my keys.’

‘For what purpose?’

‘To call a taxi… Probably to wait it out until daylight. Then I’ll walk home.’

‘Have you seen the weather outside? You won’t be walking very far.’

Lucy peered through the window and gasped. Every inch of the car park where Aaron had trashed her heart was now covered in glittering, shimmering snow. ‘Oh – wow…’

‘Not to worry, Miss…?’

‘Smith. Lucy Smith.’

The midnight blue eyes seemed to sparkle. ‘We can give you a lift home, Miss Smith – can’t we, Sarge?’

The older police officer looked less than impressed. ‘Well…’

‘Aw, come on. It’s Christmas. And we can hardly leave Miss Smith here.’

‘I suppose so…’

Lucy, weary from the rollercoaster she had been on, smiled at the thought of reaching her own bed before daybreak. ‘That would be wonderful, thank you.’

‘Right. I’ll radio in. Miss Smith, could you turn off all these lights and secure the premises?’

‘No problem.’

Lucy was aware of the young PC’s eyes on her as she closed down Tony & Frank’s for the Christmas break. When the last set of lights had been turned off, she offered him a shy smile. ‘All done.’

‘Great. Our car’s out here.’ Together, they began walking across the newly fallen snow to the police car parked in splendid isolation on the deserted car park.

‘I’ll be glad to get home,’ Lucy admitted.

‘I’ll bet. So, your fella dumped you?’


‘On Christmas Eve? That’s harsh.’

‘It is. It was. But – I think I’m better off without him.’ As Lucy said it, she understood. The first way she could change her life was to make sure she didn’t let anyone else treat her as second best. She wouldn’t waste any more tears over Aaron Morgan. Tonight had taught her that she deserved more. She had left so much behind in order to return here – she had to make her decisions count.

‘Guy sounds like an idiot to me,’ the police officer said.

‘Maybe he was.’

‘Trust me, I see a lot of idiots in my job.’ He gave a self-conscious smile and offered Lucy his hand. ‘PC Seth Bell. At your service.’

When Lucy took his hand it felt warm and familiar…

* * * *

In the darkened restaurant, silence returned. Above the open serving hatch to the kitchen, two plaster busts kept watch over Tony & Frank’s. A length of silver tinsel shuddered to the black-and-white chequerboard-tiled floor, where it sparkled in a pool of pale blue emergency light.

And in the middle of the table in the first booth, a small silver box dotted with diamond-hearted stars began to glow…


©Miranda Dickinson 2016

Thank you for reading, voting and helping Lucy Smith choose! It’s been a privilege to write this story with you and for you. There’s just one last poll for you to vote on…

#WurdyChristmas 2: What Happens Next?

wurdychristmas-free-short-storyWelcome to the second part of my exclusive #WurdyChristmas treat short story, Silver Bells at Tony & Frank’s. Yesterday, I asked you whether Lucy Smith should open the door or walk away…

Overwhelmingly, you voted for her to open it!

What happens when she steps into the darkened restaurant kitchen, following the strange, echoey Christmas song? Find out below – and then vote in the poll at the end to choose what happens next. Happy reading, lovelies!

SILVER BELLS AT TONY & FRANK’S – PART TWO ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

Should she go in?

Lucy stared at the double doors for just a moment, then pushed them open. In the course of her average day as assistant manager at Tony & Franks she would pass through these doors maybe a hundred times and never even think about it. But this entry into the darkened kitchen felt different – as if by choosing to walk in she could alter the course of her life.

What am I thinking?

As the doors swung shut behind her, Lucy stopped in the middle of the black-and-white chequerboard tiled floor and laughed. The events of the night were obviously taking their toll. She wasn’t on the verge of a life-changing adventure – she was recently dumped, exhausted and stuck in a closed restaurant until she could work out a way to get home for Christmas.

‘Get over yourself, Lucy Smith,’ she said out loud.

Almost in reply, the song swelled in volume.

Silver Bells, Silver Bells

Lucy’s breath caught in her throat.

It was still slower than the song she and Gran had giggled their way through Christmas Eve waltzes to. And it still sounded far away, even though its volume suggested it was nearer

But that was impossible. Wasn’t it?

Lucy gazed around the familiar space that in this almost-light now appeared alien. The stainless steel worktables, large flat-top grills imported from New York by the 1950s-diner-inspired restaurant chain and banks of industrial-sized refrigerators formed an unfamiliar landscape, washed in pale blue light. She wondered if any of her workmates had seen the kitchen like this. Maybe Sophie, her manager, possibly Dragan and Malik, the head chefs… Seeing it like this, without its frenzy and noise, felt like a privilege.

Hear them ring… Soon it will be Christmas Day…

Lucy glanced at the clock above the grill. One minute to midnight. But that wasn’t right, was it? It had been past midnight when she’d found herself abandoned in the car park by Aaron. The batteries must need changing. She’d make it her first job on Boxing Day when she returned to work after her too-short Christmas break.

Christmas. She’d only ever envisaged it with Aaron for the last three years but tomorrow – today – or whenever it was – was going to be different. What was she going to do? She’d planned to spend Christmas Day snuggled up with the man she thought she’d be engaged to. It was far too late to make other plans, and her own home was woefully unprepared. Working long shifts at Tony & Frank’s in the run-up to Christmas meant she’d only just bought and decorated the small, slightly wonky tree she’d picked up for half price from the large B&Q across the car park from the restaurant. It reminded her of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree from the cartoon she’d watched over and over on video as a kid with her cousin Kerry, until the ancient VHS tape snapped. ‘More twig than tree,’ Dad would call it.

Mum and Dad would always make room for her at their Christmas table. They never had just family on Christmas Day. Dad said it was Mum’s Italian heritage that dictated every meal should be able to stretch to however many waifs and strays deigned to drop in. Lucy usually loved being part of the eclectic mix of neighbours, friends and virtual strangers her mum invited for Christmas dinner, but now the thought made her shudder. Too many questions. None of which she could answer.

The song had reached an end and for a moment there was silence. Lucy waited. Sure enough, it began again, noticeably louder than before. It echoed around the empty kitchen, calling her closer…

To her surprise, Lucy wasn’t scared, more intrigued to find the source of the music. It definitely wasn’t the sound system – there were no speakers in the kitchen and all the controls were behind the front of house desk by the restaurant’s main entrance. And the music seemed to come from the furthest corner, where Sophie had small office. Tony & Frank’s called it a ‘Team Leader Epicentre’. Most of the staff called it ‘Sophie’s Cardboard Box’. Four wobbly fibreboard walls boxed the tiny space from the main kitchen area. In the summer it was so stifling that Sophie often abandoned it altogether, choosing a booth in the restaurant as her workspace instead.

That’s where the song is coming from!

Following the music, Lucy crossed the kitchen and pulled the bunch of keys from her pocket to find Sophie’s office key. But when she reached the door, it was already ajar. That was odd. Sophie was a stickler for routine – to leave her office unlocked was most unlike her. Of course she may have been distracted tonight. She’d been keen to get back to her new kittens, the thought of her partner Eric cat-sitting them all night apparently terrifying. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ she’d told Lucy, ‘Eric is a total sweetheart but my kittens miss me when I’m not there. If they start to play up, I don’t think he’ll cope. They’re like gremlins who still have fur…’

When she stepped inside, the song seemed to suddenly surround her, the volume rising as if in celebration of her arrival. Surprised, Lucy took a step back and yelped as her shin banged into the leg of Sophie’s desk. Her hand shot to the edge of it to steady herself and her fingers brushed against something cold…

Lucy looked down. By her hand was a small silver box. Over its lid a burst of stars had been engraved, the centre of each one sparkling with a tiny diamond. It looked as if it had been carved from ice and sprinkled with starlight. Beside it lay a velvet drawstring bag. The beautiful midnight blue velvet had been printed with a shower of gold stars, tied with a delicate cord that could have been made of spun sugar. Lucy bent to get a closer look – and noticed the note.

Beside the box was a gold-edged sheet of notepaper, a message written in looping script across its surface in bright purple ink:

Hello Lucy Smith.

Tonight, Christmas magic is yours to choose.

But which gift shall it be?

Silver or velvet? Box or bag?

Choose carefully – your choice will change your life…

Lucy stared at the gorgeous gifts. Both were stunning – she had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. Could one of these really be for her? She could hardly believe it. But then, nothing since the end of her shift at Tony & Frank’s had made sense tonight.

Her fingers hovered over the box and the bag.

Which one should she choose?

TO BE CONTINUED… ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

What do YOU think? Should Lucy choose the silver box or the starry velvet bag? Vote NOW in the poll below – and come back tomorrow to find out what happens next!

Anna Browne’s Christmas Party – PART FOUR

I really hope you’re enjoying my sparkly Christmas treat – it’s been lovely to have your input on which characters I have to write about each day. Today, you voted for NELL SULLIVAN and MAX ROSSI from my fifth novel, Take A Look At Me Now, although a few more characters also split your vote – so watch out for them below…

Here’s PART FOUR – and read on to find out which characters you can vote into tomorrow’s penultimate episode. Happy reading!

Anna Browne’s Surprising Christmas Party ©Miranda Dickinson 2015


‘Elsie! You made it!’ Anna hurried across the stateroom to gather Elsie Maynard into a huge hug.

‘I was starting to think we’d never get here,’ Elsie grimaced, casting a glance at her companion’s pained expression and quickly changing tack. ‘But Woody saved the day.’

‘Just call me Zorro,’ Woody grinned, planting a kiss on Anna’s hand.

‘Look at this place!’ Elsie said, her eyes bright as she took in every detail of the room. ‘You’ve done an incredible job.’

‘Thank you. It’s come together really well.’ Anna watched her guests mingling, laughing, chatting, making new acquaintances and celebrating old friendships. For weeks during the planning of this party they had been simply names on a list, with little to suggest what they might have in common, or how well they would gel in a shared environment. Ben had joked that it was like organising a wedding reception, where only you were the glue that held everyone together.

‘No matter how well you know everyone there will always be that worrying risk that they might all hate each other when you’re not in the room.’

‘Oh, thanks for that. I feel so much better now,’ she’d replied, pretending to take offence. ‘I’ll make sure the local police have their riot squad on hand, just in case.’

‘Anna Browne, you think of everything…’

The memory of his cheeky smile warmed Anna’s heart as she stood with Elsie and Woody, watching The Pinstripes band working their way through their first set. An older couple were already on the dance floor, the man twirling his wife to Lovely Day, much to the delight of their fellow guests. It was so wonderful to see a couple still so much in love and Anna knew enough about them to know what their love had cost them.

Was she the glue that held everyone together? She was probably the only person in the room who understood why each of her guests were special, but that made Anna feel even more privileged to have been able to bring such an incredible group of individuals together. Some she knew by acquaintance, others she had known for a long time, but one thing united them besides her: each person had amazing personal stories. Her grandmother used to tell Anna and her brother Ruari when they were little to pay attention to the stories people told.

‘A hundred-thousand stories pass you by every day as you walk down the street,’ she’d say. ‘Often the most ordinary-looking individuals carry the most exciting stories.’

Anna considered the countless stories in the room tonight, the experiences, loves and losses that each guest carried with them; and gazed down at her beautiful red dress, evidence of her own real-life adventure.

‘Great band, angel.’ Woody was nodding appreciatively as he watched The Pinstripes. ‘So together and tight. Reminds me of a support band Hellfinger had in Tokyo, ’86…’

Anna smiled as Woody launched into one of his incredible reminiscences. Tonight was a night of stories: hidden, known, shared and yet to be discovered…

* * * *

‘Magsie Parker, you dance like a dream,’ grinned Dudley as he twirled his wife gently underneath their joined hands.

‘We’re the only pair on the dance floor,’ Mags replied, blushing as she saw the group of guests watching approvingly. ‘You could have waited until more people were dancing.’

‘Not when I’m with the woman of my dreams,’ her husband said, chuckling as he pulled her close. ‘I want the world to watch us.’ He grinned over Mags’ shoulder at the lead singer of the band who gave him a huge smile and blew a kiss. ‘Our Rom’s singing up a storm tonight.’

Mags gave a little wave at her niece, feeling a swell of pride. ‘She’s a star. They all are. And to think that motley crew of scruffy teenagers who used to hang out on Our Pol could make music that beautiful.’

‘I reckon that’s your doing, Magsie.’

‘Now how do you work that out?’

‘Well, all those Saturday afternoons they spent nattering on our narrowboat, eating your cakes. I’d say your baking was responsible for making them chase their dreams.’

‘Dudley Parker, you daft beggar! My baking has nothing to do with that. They’re a talented bunch.’

‘I’m telling you, your cakes are magic, bab. They change the way people think about themselves. You look at those customers at the café. Right bunch of misfits they were before they tasted your baking. And now look at them! We’ve had weddings, job changes and even a round-the-world cruise that started out as a conversation over your Lemon Drizzle. It was your cakes that got them talking.’


‘Yes bab?’

‘Shut up and dance.’

‘Right you are.’

* * * *

The last song of the band’s first set ended and the room was filled with warm applause. Battling a sudden attack of nervous butterflies, Anna approached the microphone, cue card in hand.

‘Um, hello everyone and thank you so much for being here this evening. As you know, we’re raising money for a brilliant charity that does so much to help people with cancer and their families. Many of you here tonight have been personally touched by this dreadful disease or know someone who has watched a loved one battle with it.’ Anna’s gaze inevitably drifted to Elsie, who was nodding in agreement; and Harri Langton to her right, who had lost both parents to cancer. ‘I would like to introduce my friend, Nell Sullivan, who has come all the way from San Francisco to be here. Could we give her a round of applause, please?’

The guests did as they were asked, parting as a smiling woman hurried over to Anna.

‘Hey gorgeous,’ she said, kissing Anna’s cheek.

‘Are you ready?’

Nell nodded. ‘Absolutely. Video is cued and ready to go.’ She took the microphone from Anna. ‘Good evening…’

Anna moved back into the crowd, smiling as a handsome, dark-haired man put his arm around her shoulder.

‘Great party, Anna,’ he whispered.

‘I’m so glad you two could make it, Max.’

‘Are you kidding? We had to be here. This party’s practically by royal appointment. I hope the video works. Some of the art collective put it together for us last week.’

‘It’ll be brilliant,’ Anna assured him.

‘You should see the outtakes,’ he grinned. ‘Our elderly neighbours stole the show.’

Right on cue, an old couple appeared on the screen.

‘Is this thing on?’

‘Stop yanking that, Saul Alfaro. The boy knows what he’s doing.’

‘I never in my whole life thought I’d have one of these little microphones like the newscasters on TV. Testing, testing…’ The party guests laughed as the old man leaned over his tie microphone and spoke loudly into it.

The video flashed and the couple were now seated in what appeared to be a very beige living room.

‘I lost my brother to cancer,’ the old man said. ‘And then my niece found a lump. She’s doin’ good now, but we were all so scared for her for so long.’

‘My mother, God rest her soul. And two of my cousins,’ the old lady added. ‘Too many of my friends, also. You’d think if they can put a man on the moon they could cure this disease already. There has to be a way to stop it.’

The video cut to an American diner, where a woman of uncertain years dressed in a tight-fitting leopard-print top and jeans, a white apron tied around her waist, was serving coffee and plates of enormous cinnamon toast slices to her customers.

‘My sister’s husband survived it,’ she told the camera. ‘But I have plenty of friends who didn’t. It’s an evil disease and it respects nobody.’

A view of the San Francisco Bay flicked onto the screen, Nell appearing walking alongside the water with another woman who looked as if she could be her sister. ‘Here in America I’ve seen the great work cancer charities are doing to support cancer sufferers and their families, with counselling, respite care and help after a loved one has been lost. That’s why I’m proud to support Anna’s fundraiser at Hillford Hall tonight. I ask you to please consider giving generously and thanks for watching.’

The film ended and Nell smiled at the gathered guests. ‘We just wanted to show you all that cancer touches everyone, all over the world. This wonderful party tonight has been put together by our lovely friend Anna and I think you’ll agree she’s done a phenomenal job.’

The room erupted in warm applause, causing Anna’s cheeks to redden.

‘So please, enjoy the night, give what you can and thanks so much for being here.’

Anna embraced Nell when she rejoined them. ‘That was fantastic. Thank you.’

‘Hey, you guys should come visit soon,’ Max said. ‘You’d love it.’

‘I might just do that. So, how are you enjoying your stay?’

Nell smiled. ‘It’s so good to get away for a few days. We’ve been so busy lately and I missed home so much. It’s great to be back, catching up with old friends – and staying in a gorgeous stately home isn’t too bad, either.’

‘She thinks she’s in Downton Abbey,’ Max said, wrapping his arms around Nell. ‘I reckon she’ll be installing a servant bell in our apartment when we get home.’

Nell beamed up at him. ‘We might need one, soon. Although I think we won’t be the ones shouting orders.’

Anna gasped as Nell patted her stomach. ‘No! You’re not…?’

Nell and Max giggled together.

Anna squealed and threw her arms around them both. ‘Oh wow! I’m so happy for you! When?’

‘Due April 5th,’ Max said, kissing Nell’s head. ‘It was a bit of a shock, but we’re getting used to the idea now.’

‘So this will be my last trip home for a while,’ Nell said. ‘But you have to come out and see us when little one’s here.’

‘I will! Definitely.’

Stories, Grandma Morwenna said, were everywhere, jumping out at you when you least expected them. Real life was more remarkable than anything you could dream up in the pages of a book. As Anna hugged her friends again she couldn’t help thinking her grandmother was right…


©Miranda Dickinson 2015 – All Rights Reserved

Who will be the next guests at ANNA BROWNE’S CHRISTMAS PARTY? Choose TWO from my sixth novel, I’ll Take New York:

  • Bea James
  • Jake Steinmann
  • Russ O’Docherty
  • Grandma Dot
  • Otis Greene
  • Jessica Steinmann

Comment below, or TWEET ME (using #WurdyParty), or comment on FACEBOOK by 8PM TONIGHT to register your vote! All will be revealed in PART FOUR, coming tomorrow…

#Wurdy5k BONUS TREAT: Merry Christmas, lovelies!

We-ell, I couldn’t finish the #WURDY5k treat bonanza so close to Christmas and not offer you a festive treat or two, could I?

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments about the past five days! I hope you’ve enjoyed the fun!

And so, as an extra bonus treat, I have a singalong EP to download for free and a very special Christmas Short Story, PLUS read on for an exclusive competition!

To help your festivities go with a swing, here’s my Sparkly Christmas Medley, featuring seven of my favourite Christmas songs. Click on the cover below to download for free:

Sparkly Christmas Medley EP cover


And here is a lovely, sparkly, magical Christmas story, The Christmas Window, to warm the cockles of your heart! Click the cover below to download for free:

The Christmas Window by Miranda Dickinson


And last, but by no means least, here’s a special competition to round off my #WURDY5k celebrations nicely. I am offering one person the chance to appear in the acknowledgements of my seventh novel, A Parcel for Anna Browne, which will be published by Pan Macmillan in September 2015.

To win, all you have to do is email me: mirandawurdy@gmail.com and tell me WHY you should appear in the thank you section of my book.

I will announce the winner on Twitter after Christmas. Best of luck – and have a very happy, merry and jolly Christmas! xx

#Wurdy5k Treat Five: Short Story – Remember

I promised on Twitter that when I reached 5,000 followers, I would do something very special. So, welcome to #WURDY5k – five days of exclusive treats to say thank you for your support!

For your fifth treat, here’s Remember – a spooky short story I wrote with the sole intention of scaring myself. It’s about one woman’s fascination with memorials – untended graves and roadside tributes. Discover how it shapes her life in more ways than she could ever have imagined… Click on the cover below to download the story for free, with my thanks!

Remember Cover

That’s officially the end of my #WURDY5k treats…

…but you know me, always one with the surprises! SO, watch your inbox at 3pm tomorrow for a bonus surprise!

#Wurdy5k Treat Four: Short Story – First Steps in Selfishness

I promised on Twitter that when I reached 5,000 followers, I would do something very special. So, welcome to #WURDY5k – five days of exclusive treats to say thank you for your support!

For your fourth treat, here is First Steps in Selfishness – a short story I wrote about a woman who wants to lead a double life. But what would her family think if they found out she’d lied to them? Will she go through with the daring thing she intends to do? Click on the cover to download the story for free, with my love!

First Steps cover

Watch out for your fifth #WURDY5k treat tomorrow…


#Wurdy5k Treat Three: Short Story – Love, Loss and Coffee Cake

I promised on Twitter that when I reached 5,000 followers, I would do something very special. So, welcome to #WURDY5k – five days of exclusive treats to say thank you for your support!

For your third treat, I have Love, Loss & Coffee Cake – a short story written about my much beloved characters Auntie Mags and Uncle Dudley from my third novel, It Started With a Kiss. I touch a little on their story in the book, but wanted to tell it from Mags’ point of view, long before the book begins. It’s one of the stories I’m most proud of and I really hope you enjoy it. Click the cover to download the story for free, with my thanks!

Love, Loss and Coffee Cake cover

Watch out for your fourth #WURDY5k treat tomorrow…

#Wurdy5k Treat Two: Short Story – Son of the City

I promised on Twitter that when I reached 5,000 followers, I would do something very special. So, welcome to #WURDY5k – five days of exclusive treats to say thank you for your support!

For your second treat, here is Son of the City – a story I wrote for my friends at Gallery Church, Birmingham about how hope can be found in the hardest situations. Click on the cover to download it for free, with my love!


Hope you enjoy the story! Watch out for your third #WURDY5k treat tomorrow…

#Wurdy5k Treat One: Short Story – New York Spring

I promised on Twitter that when I reached 5,000 followers, I would do something very special. So, welcome to #WURDY5k – five days of exclusive treats to say thank you for your support!

For your first treat, here is New York Spring – a nostalgic New York story with a hint of mystery that I wrote for the lovely Sabine Edwards as part of the Authors For Japan auction. Click the cover to download it free, with my thanks!

New York Spring by

Hope you enjoy the story! Watch out for your second #WURDY5k treat tomorrow…


Here’s a FREE short story for you!

You know I love to spring surprises on you… Well, here’s an exclusive short story as a Thursday treat with my love!

I wrote this story last year based on a character who was in the original first draft of Take A Look At Me Now. Originally, Nell went to her local coffee shop to mull over the news about losing her job instead of just walking around the car park as she does in the finished novel. I cut manager Tony and his branch of the Ben’s Beans coffee shop franchise out in the end because it slowed the pace, but I still wanted to tell his story.

A Nice Place to Sit is the result…

A Nice Place to Sit by Miranda Dickinson

It’s about the need to feel part of somewhere and something, even when life seems to suggest that there’s no longer a place for us. It’s about finding positives and meaning in bad situations. And it’s a story of hope.

I hope you enjoy it!

Click HERE to read and download the story for free…