Pennies From Heaven (The Bella Novella Collection Book 3)

BOOK: Pennies From Heaven (The Bella Novella Collection Book 3)
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Pennies From Heaven

 

The Bella Novella Collection, Book Three

 

 

By

 

 

Janice Thompson

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Pennies From Heaven

© 2016 by Janice Thompson

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

 

Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, New International Version
®
, niv
®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan.

 

All characters are fictional. Any resemblances to actual people or events are purely coincidental.

Acclaim for Janice Thompson’s Bella Stories

 


Bella Rossi is one of my all-time favorite characters in a contemporary romantic comedy, and Janice Thompson is at the top of my list when it comes to must read fiction! When I found out she was writing a series of stories called The Bella Novella Collection, I had them on my wish list before you could say Dean Martin!”

    
—Deena Peterson, Reader

             


I'm pretty sure Bella is my favorite book character of all time, and I was more than excited to find out Janice Thompson has brought us back into her life. Bella is back to doing what she does best - pulling off impossibly perfect wedding ceremonies. We also get to connect with DJ and the rest of Bella's crazy family.”

      —Karen, Reader

 


Bella never fails to capture the reader's attention and pull you in to the chaos of the Rossi family all the while leading you to the One who makes order out of our chaos. Can't wait to read the next installment.”

    
—McKinsey Jones, Reader

             


Bella and the Rossi clan are back and I couldn't be happier! I was so happy to read this book and felt like I was among old friends again....even the Splendora Sisters are back! This is a must read and if you haven't read the other Bella books by Janice Thompson, go grab them right now and get to reading them. They are ALL wonderful. Janice is one of my very favorite authors because I love Christian fiction and she knows how to write it.”

      —Amazon Reader

 

“Mama Mia, let’s escape! Let’s fall in love! Let’s eat Chicken Parmesan, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Bubba’s down-home barbecue without gaining a pound. It’s all possible when we hang out with Bella Rossi! You’ll root for the Rossi and Neeley families as they break down cultural barriers and rush toward each other, arms wide open.”

    
—Trish Perry, author,
Beach Dreams
and
The Guy I’m Not Dating

             

Dedication

To Peyton: You’re the only seven-year-old I know who dreams in French. One day you’ll really visit Paris and see the Eiffel Tower in person. Until then,
Je t’aime. Nina loves you.

 

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

Psalm 22:12 ESV

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Je veux passer ma vie avec toi.

Translation: I want to spend my life with you.

 

 

“Bella, you have a call.”

“Hmm?” I looked up from the messy wood floor of our living room, where my twin daughters, Holly and Ivy, played with their colorful blocks. “Who is it, D.J.?”

My hunka-hubby held out the phone, his smile both teasing and inviting. “An old friend from Splendora. Let’s see if you can guess.”

“Splendora?” The lovely little town in East Texas was home to many of our close friends and family members. Which voice would greet me on the other end of the phone? My BFF, Jenna? My brother-in-law, Bubba? One of the Splendora sisters? Who? I scrambled up from the floor and reached for my phone, more curious than ever.

“Bella?” A familiar voice greeted me, one bubbling with excitement. “This is Lily Rigas. Do you have a minute?”

“Lily!” I let out a little squeal and started jabbering a mile a minute. “How’s life in Splendora these days? And how are things at Rigas Roses? Now that spring has sprung, I’m sure everything is in full bloom. Am I right?”

“Well, we—”

“And what about all of the political squabbling in town? Have things finally settled down? I know D.J.’s mama has a lot of folks upset with all of her political chatter. Oh, but speaking of politics, I’ve noticed that Twila seems happy, now that she’s the mayor. And I know y’all have to be thrilled, now that Bubba’s BBQ is doing so well. Splendora has more options for eating out, right? That’s always a good thing, especially in a small town where options are limited.”

“Yes, but—”

“And I heard that Donny’s Truck Stop is expanding. Man! I guess that’s because Highway 59 is a full-blown interstate now. Teeny-tiny Splendora is really becoming a place on the map. Did you ever think you’d live to see the day when your little piece of heaven would be as populated as the rest of the Houston area? Probably not, but that’s just what’s happened, wouldn’t you agree? Splendora’s the place to be!”

“Which is exactly why I’m calling,” she interrupted. “I need to talk to you about—”

“The wedding facility? I saw that we booked a couple of springtime weddings. You and your sister are doing such a great job with the place, Lily. You want to talk weddings?”

“Yes, Bella. We’ve booked some weddings. And that’s why I’m calling. One of those weddings is—”

“I always say a springtime wedding is the best.” A little giggle escaped as I thought it through. “Flowers are in bloom. Everything feels so fresh and new. I just love it. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. I mean, if anyone knows what the whole ‘flowers in bloom’ thing feels like, it’s a girl in the rose business. Oh, but everything seems so much sweeter in Splendora.”

“Then you’ll love what I have to say, too, if you’ll just let me say it.” An exaggerated sigh followed on her end of the line and for the first time I realized I’d hardly let the girl get a word in edgewise. Oops.

“Go ahead, Lily.” I shifted the phone to my other ear and settled onto the sofa, keeping a watchful eye on the kids. From upstairs, I heard the pounding of little feet and knew that my son was up to mischief again. Hopefully D.J. would take care of it. “What is it?”

“One of those weddings is
mine
.”

“W-what?” I nearly dropped the phone, and the squeal that followed must’ve scared Holly and Ivy, who both started crying at the same time. “You and Cecil are getting married? I’m thrilled for you, girl.”

“Yes, we—”

“It’s about time, girl! And I’d like to think I had a little something to do with that, if you don’t mind my bragging. I did introduce you, after all. Well, I guess, technically, D.J. is the responsible party. He brought Cecil in to work on the wedding facility.”

“Yes, and I can never thank you two enough for—”

“My point is, the wedding will be amazing! I’m sure the people of Splendora will come out in droves. What sort of theme were you thinking? Indoor? Outdoor? Springtime is great for outdoor weddings. But really, indoors would be pretty, too. We could load up the chapel with colorful flowers and your bridesmaids could wear springy colors. Of course, you don’t want to copy your sister’s wedding, I’m sure. It was gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but you two are really nothing alike. I still say—”

“Bella, stop!”

The tone of her voice left little doubt: she meant business. Oops. “Sorry, Lily.”

“It’s okay. But we’ve got all of the details worked out. We’re getting married the last Saturday in April. I was hoping you’d be free that day so you could help me. I don’t think I’ll be very good at coordinating my own wedding.”

“Hang on a sec.” I reached for my laptop, opened it and waited for it to boot up. “Let me check my calendar app.” A few seconds later I had my answer. “You’re talking about the 30
th
, right? If so, I’m free. But man, that’s fast! What’s your hurry?”

“We don’t want to wait. I mean, when you’re really, really sure about something, you just want to get right to it. And we’ve been in a serious relationship for ages now so I feel like I’ve had plenty of time to plan, even though we weren’t officially engaged until now.”

“Right.”

“Anyway, I’m glad you’re available. I’ll need a lot of help with the details. Cec wants to get married inside the chapel because, well, he helped build it. Or, renovate it, anyway. But you’re right about how pretty it is outdoors in the springtime, especially at our family’s rose farm. So, we’re going to do a Parisian-themed reception outdoors. We’ve already contacted several of the vendors, but I just know I’m leaving some things out. It’s overwhelming, really. That why I need help, because I’m feeling so scattered.”

It wasn’t like Lily to be scattered, but then again, she’d never been a bride before.

“I just wanted to let you know because I’ll need help, Bella. Wedding planner to wedding planner. Bride to bride.”

“Bride to bride,” I echoed and then sighed.

From across the room D.J. looked my way. I mouthed the words “Cecil and Lily are getting married” and my husband’s eyes widened. Then I turned my attention back to my friend on the other end of the line.

“Lily, everything sounds beautiful. Paris in the springtime. Just like a movie.”

“Only prettier.” The girlish sigh that followed left no doubt as to how she felt about it. “I never really pictured how my wedding would be when I was younger. Strange, I know. But I’ve got it all worked out in my imagination now and I can’t wait. I hope to transport all of our guests to Paris, and I’d love it if you helped me take them there.”

“Sounds amazing. And I’ll help in any way I can.” Off in the distance one of the twins threw a block at the other and hit her on the arm, which caused a few tears. I jumped up to grab Holly and did my best to soothe her without interrupting the call. From upstairs the pounding of Tres’ feet made Lily’s next few words difficult to hear.

“Cec is building a replica of the Eiffel Tower in our rose garden,” she said. “Can you imagine? Oh, and the cake! I saw the cutest idea on Pinterest. A three-tiered cake with the shape of the Eiffel tower on the front, from top to bottom. I couldn’t quite figure out how they did it, but the tower shape had a bunch of words written on it. I showed the picture to Scarlet and she flipped. In a good way. She’s going to print up the love chapter from 1
st
Corinthians on sugar sheets and then cut out the various shapes for each tier so that when it’s all put together it looks like the Eiffel tower. Does that make any sense at all?”

I laughed. “Not really, but if Scarlet’s making it, it’ll be perfect. I’m surprised her Aunt Willy isn’t doing the cake, though, since she’s right there in Splendora. She’s one of the most magnificent bakers I’ve ever know.”

“She’s also the busiest, now that she and Donny are renovating the truck stop. But Willy has agreed to help Scarlet. I think she feels sorry for her, if you want the truth. I mean, Scarlet’s pretty far along in her pregnancy now and doesn’t need to be on her feet too much.”

“I know. I’ve never seen my brother so worked up. He’s going to be a great dad.”

“I’m so excited for Scarlet and Armando. And who knows. . .maybe one day Cecil and I will have little ones running around the rose garden.” She paused and I could picture the contented smile on her face. “In due season, I mean.”

“Looking forward to that day so I can celebrate with you. But first let’s get you married. We were talking about the sweets.”

“Oh, right. The cake isn’t the only sweet thing. The reception will be like a French patisserie. You know how much Jasmine loves to make candy and other sweet treats, so she’s onboard for all of that. And macaroons, too. They’re French, right?”

“I think so. And yum. . .macaroons. Your sister’s one of the best sweets-makers I’ve ever known. I can’t wait.”

“Me either. But our guests will be in a sugar coma before the afternoon’s over.” She released a giddy sigh. “Oh, Bella, you won’t believe the invitations we’ve picked out. They’re passports. So elegant looking, and that’s kind of the goal. We want to whisk people off to Paris. When they enter the wedding facility, I want them to feel like they’ve stepped inside of a postcard from France. And when they get to the reception, the whole thing has to look and feel like a Parisian garden, not Rigas Roses in Splendora, Texas.”

“So, like I said earlier. . .very different from your sister’s springtime wedding, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and that’s a good thing. You know how over-the-top Jasmine is. Everything on her big day was bright and loud and wacky. I want to use subdued colors: soft pink and white, with a bit of black for the Eiffel tower and so forth. Traditional Paris. It’s going to be inviting. Gorgeous.”

“Sounds like it.”

“So, when can you come to Splendora? I want to talk through our plans.”

I put Holly down and she and Ivy started squabbling right away. I gave them my best “Cut it out” look but they didn’t stop.

“I, well, I’d like to come sooner rather than later, but I don’t know when I can possibly—”

From upstairs I heard the thundering sound of my son, Tres, running down the hallway, along with a shriek from my daughter, Rosie. Her voice rang out: “Tres won’t share, Mama!”

“I’ll take care of this.” D.J., ever the handsome hero, bounded up the stairs, leaving me to tend to Holly and Ivy. I quieted them with a broken cookie that I found on the edge of the coffee table. Great parenting skills. Then I settled back against the sofa and listened to Lily carry on about her big day. She sounded like every other bride I’d ever known, excited, full of joy and possibilities, and slightly terrified. I understood those feelings well, having coordinated so many weddings over the past few years, and having planned my own, as well.

As I listened to her high-pitched plans, my thoughts swirled back in time to the day D.J. and I married. What a crazy, chaotic day that had been. . .a blur, really. And now, several years and four kiddos later, the blur had only intensified. Not that I’d trade my situation for anyone else’s. Oh no. My life as wife, mother, wedding coordinator and friend to all was pretty much all I’d ever hoped for. And now, as I planned for yet another big event, I had a feeling things were about to get even crazier.

Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

             

 

BOOK: Pennies From Heaven (The Bella Novella Collection Book 3)
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