IMG_4807I wasn’t even sure I’d find the time to write my annual holiday letter this year. Whoa Daisy, 2014 was a busy year. Between getting married to the love of my life and finding my perfect, fulfilling and oh so rewarding career, I’ve barely had time to watch Scandal!

As I’m sure you recall, at the end of 2013, I was devastated after my fiancée Hutch left me for his stepmother and her son. The school I’d worked for since college closed after its headmistress, said stepmother, absconded with the school’s funds and its soccer coach, said fiancée. I was down on my luck and suffering from low self-esteem.

But last New Year’s Eve, my life changed. I was planning on spending the night alone in my tiny apartment, watching “Love Actually” for the millionth time, when my old roommate Sabrina called me in a panic. Her brother, Beau, a Navy SEAL, was in town unexpectedly and needed a date to a big party Baldur, Sabrina’s Icelandic celebrity chef boyfriend, was having at his restaurant, Matur. I hurriedly highlighted my hair, pulled on my favorite tiny red dress, and Ubered to the festivities. It was a magical evening. Beau was broad shouldered and gorgeous with raven hair cut just a little too long. As the last seconds of last year ticked away, we looked into each other’s eyes–his were the green of purloined emeralds–and, suddenly, our lips met.

When Beau told me in the morning that he was heading back that night to his submarine so he’d be back in time for his next assignment–singlehandedly taking out the biggest arms dealer in Costa Rica using a strategy based on the teaching of modern Vikings, I was crushed. I was sure this alpha male with eyes the color of a new leaf glistening in the rain was the man of my dreams. I sobbed into my mimosa(s) and vowed, henceforth, to guard my fragile heart.

I realized I needed to focus on getting a job so that I could afford both my rent and the vet bills for Princess and Duchess, the two gentle strays I had taken in after finding them wandering about nearby Picture Perfect Park one wintery day. Every morning I scoured the ads online, searching for another teaching position, but no one seemed to be hiring Elementary Calligraphy teachers. Finally, in desperation, I accepted a job as a receptionist at Broad Peter Industries, the wildly successful company owned by the Cabesa family and run by the eldest Cabesa son, Ricardo.

I thought I was going to be working for Human Resources, but, after just one day on the job, I was mysteriously reassigned to work directly under Ricardo Cabesa. I didn’t know much about the man other than what I read in the society pages: He was 37, worth billions, and had a different overly tall supermodel in his bed every week. I will confess, I was a bit terrified of working for someone with such a reputation, especially when Human Resources told me Mr. Cabesa required absolute discretion on the part of those who worked in his “inner sanctum.”

The first few weeks of working for Mr. Cabesa flew by. I was learning so much about the company and its complicated business–they made money by moving money from one country to another via a system run entirely on Samsung cell phones.

Then, one day it happened. Mr. Cabesa asked me to come into his office and shut the door. I was nervous, but he was a sublimely sexy billionaire with golden hair that put the sun to shame and eyes as blue as a clear Maldivian sea. I found myself obeying his command. Once there, he took me by the hand and led me into a smaller chamber lined with mirrors, hidden behind a pale puce door I hadn’t noticed any of the hundreds of times I’d been in his office. We were there, alone, and, as he leaned into whisper in my ear, I found myself growing weak with desire coupled with fear.

“I need you to do something,” he growled. I steeled myself. “What?” I asked, sure he was going to require me to do something, well, you know. “I need you to wax my back.” “What?!?!” I yelled. “You heard me. I need it. I have a date with Giovanna Ana Beatriz, Brazil’s highest paid model tonight and I missed my aesthetician appointment today.”

Well, what could I do? Let me just say, the man has a low pain tolerance.

Even though Mr. Cabesa was paying me the big bucks to help him with his personal grooming, I knew it wasn’t the job for me. So, on the first of May, I quit and, after packing all my possessions into six suitcases, moved back in with my parents who, due to their allergies, gave me, Princess, and Duchess the room over the garage. Honestly, returning to the small town of Sugar, Texas was not what I’d hoped for myself at the ripe old age of 25. Jobs are scarce in the Southern part of East Texas. Finally, after weeks of searching, I was hired as the office manager of Best County’s Sheriff’s Office. (I think my handwriting won them over.)

Well, let me tell you, that office was a disaster when I started. The current Sheriff, one Cade Slade, was as challenging a man as I’ve ever met. I don’t think any one has ever been as rude to me as he was–the man defined the word cocky. Everything about his strong jaw, mobile lips, and silver eyes made me crazy. And not only was he impossibly handsome–that man’s backside in a pair of worn jeans would make Angelina dump Brad in a heartbeat–he was also arrogant. He was so sure that his eight years of being the head lawman for the County made him an expert on how the cases should be filed. Really, as if anyone is still using that ancient last name, first name system. But, I am a strong woman and I didn’t back down. I explained that if the cases were organized first by type (murder, assault, theft, streaking) and then by importance (the nuances of this did prove to be difficult to agree on), the office would work more smoothly.

Sheriff Slade and I butted heads for months but, incredibly, despite his pig-headed behavior, something about him made me damp and bothered. I tried to ignore the stirrings his 6’6″ toned, pretty much perfect body created in my belly, but, the man is gorgeous. He, however, did not appear to have the same feelings for me. I mean, yes, we did keep accidentally having multi-orgasmic sex in the file room, but I knew it meant nothing to him.

Then, fate intervened.

Beau, the buff and brave Navy SEAL I’d met at New Year’s, came to town to do some necessary to the nation undercover work. One rainy fall night, I walked into the town’s only bar, The Sip and Slip, and there he was. He bought me a Cosmo–actually four–and asked if he could walk me home. He swept me into his arms as we stood on my doorstop on Sweet Pea Lane and kissed me and I knew he was… not the one.

Cade Slade had stolen my hoo-ha and my heart. As I pulled away from Beau’s embrace, about to tell him goodnight, the man of my fevered dreams pulled up in his vintage pick-up, jumped out, and strode up the driveway.

“You’re mine, Tara,” he hollered. “I was staying away from you because you deserve more than just a small town hero but I can’t do it any more. Marry me, run the office, and make me the happiest man in the world. But first, I’m gonna kick this guy’s ass.”

Well, you will be relieved to know, I was able, with the help of Princess and Duchess, to keep the boys from needing more than a few stitches. Beau left–he later began dating Cade’s little sister Carrie–holding an ice pack to his beautiful brow and Cade and I finally had sex in a bed. We were married on Christmas Day. And, not only did Best County embrace my filing system, it’s now being used by all the surrounding counties in Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

So, all in all, my year turned out like a dream come true. I hope yours did too! Wishing you the best in the New Year.

All my love,

Mrs. Tara Tropeful Slade