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Welcome to Lucky Palms

Warning — Contains mild sexual content

It’s a gorgeous, sunny day when we arrive in Lucky Palms. According to the real estate broker, this weather is typical for the area. With its breathtaking scenery and warm temperatures, desert life is something the kids and I could learn to love. I’d purchased a traditional 5-bedroom home that was perfect for our big family. Our new address is 100 The Green, Lucky Palms.

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I couldn’t wait to show it off to the kids. Jenna and I are carrying Logan and Lucas as we make our way towards the front door. Kevin looks a little put out that Jenna has Logan in her arms. Jenna tousles Kevin’s hair and says, “Don’t look at me like that. You’re getting pretty big for piggyback rides, little bro. Come on. Let’s check out the new house.”

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The first thing Jenna and I did was get Logan and Lucas settled in their new bedroom. They’re happy playing with their blocks, chattering away with each other in toddler-speak.

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Kylie and Kendra found a chest full of dress-up clothes and spent the afternoon pretending to be princesses. When I peek in on them, I see Kylie practicing her princess wave.

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Meanwhile, Jayden, our resident virtuoso, discovers the musical instruments I had stashed in the office and begins pounding out a tune on the keyboards. He plays amazingly well for his first time, and I’m proud of my son’s innate talent.

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After Kevin had checked out his room, I tell him there’s a surprise in the back corner of the yard. I watch through the window as he runs outside, his face lighting up with excitement as he sees the tree house and immediately begins climbing the ladder.

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Jenna loves spending time outdoors, and she was thrilled to see there’s a swing in the backyard, too. I knew that would be exactly the kind of fun that would appeal to my eco-friendly daughter. The only power necessary to operate the swing comes from her own two legs.

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While the kids are all busy, I go into the boys’ bedroom and use their computer to check out the online dating service. It’s a strange feeling, not knowing a soul in Lucky Palms other than my own kids. It’s daunting and a rush at the same time.

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I set up my profile and check out the available men in town. There are a few men who pique my interest, and I send them messages to see if they’re interested in me as well.

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The smell of fresh-baked cookies wafts my way from the hallway. As I come out of the boys’ room, I see Kylie with a plate of sugar cookies. “Hi, honey. Did you bake those cookies all by yourself?”

“Yup. I used our new easy-bake oven. I’m bringing the leftovers downstairs.”

“They smell delicious. I’m proud of you, Kylie.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

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Kendra joins Kylie downstairs to watch TV for a while. The triplets’ birthday was right in the middle of our move, and we all decided to celebrate once we got to Lucky Palms.

Kendra says to Kylie, “K, do you think we were smart to wait until we moved to have our birthday party?”

Kylie thinks about it for a moment and then says, “Yup, absolutely. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having a princess birthday party, would we?”

Kendra just laughs. “Yeah, and Kevin will probably dress up in his usual king of the castle outfit and try to rule over our kingdom again.”

“But two against one always wins, doesn’t it, Kendra?” Then they both burst into a fit of giggles and say simultaneously, “Girl power!”

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It’s officially time for the birthday festivities to begin. Since we always go in birth order, we all sing Happy Birthday to Kevin first.

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As a teenager, Kevin became Athletic, taking after his father Garret. Kevin is also Good, though he’s slightly Insane, and he’s a Supernatural Fan.

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Up next was Kendra. She put a lot of thought into her birthday wish and then blew out the candles.

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As a teenager, Kendra became Inappropriate, in addition to being a Good Couch Potato who Loves the Outdoors.

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Finally, it was Kylie’s turn to blow out the candles on her cake. She clapped her hands in excitement as all eyes were on her.

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As a teenager, Kylie became a Loser, in addition to being Easily Impressed, Disciplined and Grumpy.

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By the time we’re done celebrating the triplets’ birthday, we’re all exhausted. So, we each have a piece of cake and then head right to bed. As I walk into the boys’ room to say, goodnight, I see Kevin climbing into his bunk wearing a tux. “Kevin, put your pajamas on!”

Kevin just mumbles, “Mom, I AM wearing my pajamas,” as he crawls under the covers and falls fast asleep.

Knowing he’d be tired for school in the morning if I woke him up and made him change, I just let it go. I didn’t want to believe my baby was truly insane. If he wears the wrong clothes sometimes, I’ll learn to just look the other way.

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The kids were settling in well at their new school, and I knew it was time for Logan and Lucas to join their older siblings. I’d taught them everything I could at home, and they were eager to learn more. Tonight we’ll celebrate their birthdays. Logan is up first since he’s a few minutes older than his twin. He looks so excited when he sees his cake. “Come on, sweetie. Help Mommy blow out the candles.”

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As a child, Logan became Grumpy, as well as Friendly and a Genius. He resembles his father Jameson even more now.

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Next up is Lucas. As they did with Logan, everyone cheers as I help Lucas blow out his candles.

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As a child, Lucas gained a Good Sense of Humor as well as being Brave and Absent-Minded.

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My eldest twins, Jenna and Jayden are ready to graduate from high school. We celebrate with — what else — cake! First up is Jenna.

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As an adult, Jenna became Athletic, in addition to being an Eco-Friendly Loner who Loves the Outdoors and is a bit of a Mooch. Her goal is to become an International Super Spy. Jenna wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and make a career in law enforcement. Alec is a police officer in Moonlight Falls. I remember vividly the sight of Alec in his uniform, and I wonder if my daughter feels the same attraction to men in uniform as so many women do. On second thought, I probably don’t want to know.

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Next, Jayden steps up to his cake, amongst the cheers of his family. Jayden, my Social Butterfly, has always craved attention, so we make sure to hoot and holler extra loud for him.

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As an adult, Jayden became Lucky, in addition to being an Excitable, Mean-Spirited Virtuoso, who’s also a Social Butterfly. Jayden now styles his thick hair just like his father does, although he’s a blonde like me. Jayden wants to be a Hit Movie Composer, and with his innate musical talent, I’m sure he’ll have a very successful career.

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Soon Jenna and Jayden will be moving out on their own, but for now, it’s late, so it’s time for everyone to get ready for bed. Lucas takes the opportunity to ask Kylie for a bedtime story before it’s lights out. Since he sleeps in the upper bunk, I let them use my bed for story time.

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The next day all the kids are in school except Jenna and Jayden. For the first time since we arrived in Lucky Palms, I have the day all to myself. The sun is shining, the temperature is in the 70’s and there’s a slight breeze. It’s a perfect day to be outside, so I head to the park. I catch a glimpse of a handsome man in business attire near a picnic table and assume he’s on his lunch break. I walk over and introduce myself.

“Hello, Jill. I’m Vaughn — Vaughn Afonsine. You must be new in town, yeah?”

As soon as he utters his first sentence, I swoon a bit. Whoa. Listen to that British accent. I could listen to you talk all day.

“Oh, um…” Geez. Stop stuttering and pull yourself together already. “Yes, we just moved here from Moonlight Falls.”

“Ah, that explains it then. I’m quite certain I would’ve recalled seeing someone as beautiful as you.”

“Thank you, Vaughn. You’re quite dashing yourself.”

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We talk for a while, and I notice another handsome man in a business suit check me out as he walks behind Vaughn. Yes, things are definitely looking up in Lucky Palms.

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I finally get up the nerve to ask Vaughn if he’s single. He says he has a girlfriend, but his expression says he wishes he didn’t. “Friends then?” I ask.

“Yes, definitely. This relationship is quite new, and I don’t know whether it will last or not. Only time will tell.”

“It was nice meeting you, Vaughn. Perhaps we’ll run into each other again around town.”

“I do hope so. Lovely meeting you as well, Jill.”

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As I walk away from Vaughn, the fair-haired man I had seen earlier makes his way over to me. He, too, is dressed quite formally for the park.

“Well, hello, lovely lady,” the stranger drawled. “What might your name be?”

“I’m Jill Thomas, and you are…?”

Charles Landgraab, sugar. Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He takes my hand and raises it to his lips, brushing a feathery kiss on my knuckles.

“I’m going to venture a guess that you’re not originally from Lucky Palms, are you, Charles?”

“No, darlin’, I reckon my accent gives me away, doesn’t it? I was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. Just moved here a year ago.” Oh, my … a bonafide southern gentleman.

“I just arrived recently myself.”

“Well, then, welcome to Lucky Palms! Perhaps you’ll allow me to show you around.”

“That would be wonderful, if your wife or girlfriend won’t mind, that is.”

“Oh, sugar, I assure you I’m single. Please tell me you are as well,” Charles implores.

“Yes, Charles, I am.”

“Well, that’s the best news I’ve heard all week!”

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We spend the next few hours hanging out at the park, getting to know one another. Once I know the kids will be in bed, I invite Charles over for a nightcap.

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When we enter the house, I walk into the living room, with Charles following me. I’m about to offer Charles a drink when I feel his hands wrap around me from behind as he whispers in my ear, “Jill, darlin’, I’ve been wantin’ to hold you all night. Thank goodness we’re finally alone. I was taught that a gentleman who respects a lady keeps his hands to himself — well, in public, that is.”

I place my hand on top of the one Charles has resting on my hip. “Ah, and here I thought you just weren’t that into me.”

Charles drops his head back and lets out a laugh. “Oh, darlin’, that couldn’t be further from the truth.” He peppers hot kisses on my neck, inhales deeply and says, in that slow-as-molasses voice of his, “Mmm … you smell so good, sugar. And, you feel like heaven in my arms.”

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Then he shifts me to the right, tilts his head and brushes a soft kiss over my lips as I run my fingers through his thick, silky hair.

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I turn around so I can look at Charles, and he gives me a warm smile as he wraps his arms around me, pulling me close.

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In an instant, Charles is kissing me again. Without the awkward angle of our first kiss, we can both explore each other fully. Charles kisses me again and again — long, deep, kisses — slow and sweet like his southern drawl.

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“My, my, sugar, it’s gotten awfully warm in here. Did someone turn up the thermostat or is it just the pleasure of your company that has me so overheated?”

“Oh, Charles, you’re quite the charmer, aren’t you?” All of a sudden, I notice Charles is wearing a plain silver band on his left ring finger, and my mood takes a nosedive. “Charles, is that a wedding ring you’re wearing? You assured me you were single.”

“I am single, sugar. The ring is just a prop. You see, unfortunately, I’m a bit of a celebrity in Lucky Palms, and I wear the ring to ward off advances from women who want to use me for their fifteen minutes of fame.”

“Well, that’s a relief. That’s not me at all. In fact, I’d like to stay under the radar as much as possible. You see, I have a secret, Charles — one that’s caused me some heartache in the past.”

“You can trust me, sugar.”

I take a deep breath and say, “I’m fated to have 100 babies in my lifetime, and each pregnancy must be with a different father.” I let that settle for a minute before adding, “I’m a serial monogamist, Charles. I’m faithful to my lovers during our time together. However, once the babies reach a certain age, the relationship must end to continue the cycle. Each man knows what he’s getting into beforehand, and I’ve remained on good terms with most of them.”

“I see. Yes, that is quite a task, isn’t it? While I imagine it must be difficult on the fathers, it must be a thousand times more difficult on you, sugar.”

“Well, certainly a hundred times more difficult,” I reply. With that, Charles and I both smirk and let out a little nervous laughter.

“How can I help, darlin’? Would you grant me the honor of fathering a child with you?”

“That would make me very happy, indeed.”

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Charles took my hand and said, “Well, there’s no time like the present. Lead the way, sugar.”

We walk the short distance to my bedroom. While I set the mood by lighting a few candles, Charles removes his jacket and scarf. He puts one hand around the nape of my neck and slants his lips across mine in a heated kiss, pulling me flush against his firm body, his other hand splayed across the small of my back. When we come up for air, our breathing ragged, we remove our clothes impatiently until we’re down to our underwear. Then Charles leads me to the bed.

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We make love several times that night.

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Charles insists, “It’s just to be sure you get pregnant, sugar.”

“Uh-huh. I’m sure that’s the only reason. I can see you’re not having any fun at all,” I smirked.

Charles couldn’t help but laugh. “OK, fine — you got me there. A gentleman never kisses and tells, but I do believe the lady enjoyed herself as well, did you not, Jill darlin’?”

I just shrug and say, “I had an OK time, I guess.”

Charles glares at me in mock anger, saying, “Just OK? You guess?” He grabs me and tickles me relentlessly until I take it back, which, of course, I do. Then he holds me in his arms for a while.

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In the wee hours of the morning, Charles decides that it wouldn’t be proper for the children to see a man they’ve never met coming out of their mother’s bedroom.

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So, he kisses me soundly, and we both begin to get dressed.

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Charles leaves with a spring in his step and a smile on his face. It’s been a very good day, indeed. For now, I’m going back to bed to dream about ultra-blonde babies with freckles on their tiny faces. Lucky Palms might just be lucky for me after all.

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