From ghost town to growing community, it’s been a few years since a group of strangers inherited property in tiny, deserted Fat Chance, Texas. And besides creating businesses, they’ve developed friendships and romances too. But plans to pave the town may put Dymphna Pearl and her beau, Professor Johnson, on opposite sides of Main Street. In his zeal for the project, he’s making great decisions for Fat Chance, but not for them as a couple. Disgruntled, Dymphna heads back to Los Angeles to collect the rabbits she’s created a special place for in the hot Texas climate. But the professor is in for another surprise…
Professor Johnson didn’t even know about Dympha’s sister, Maggie, and when he meets her in a most unexpected way, he begins to understand why. In the meantime, Dymphna is off pursuing an exciting venture to let the world know about Fat Chance—one that will bring a talented new crew to the eclectic group. The kitschy little place they call home is clearly destined for bigger, better things—-but with so many changes a-coming will the same be true for everyone in Fat Chance, including the professor and Dymphna?
Excerpt from Livin’ Large in Fat Chance, Texas:
Dymphna had to admit, now that Fat Chance had a road, the fact that they could get Professor Johnson’s Outback up to the farm was pure luxury. It would have been hard to sneak off if she needed him to carry her bag up the trail.
The sun was rising over the farm as Dymphna tucked one small bag into the back of Professor Johnson’s SUV. She felt guilty taking his car, but not guilty enough to stay. The farm was still in shadows, but she was able to make out Thud’s form shooting through the open back and climbing into the passenger seat. He was extremely agile for a large dog. Or at least, extremely determined.
“Thud!” Dymphna called in a hoarse whisper. “Get out of the car.”
Dymphna tiptoed over to the passenger side and opened the door. Thud thumped his tail. She grabbed his collar. As soon as she was in range, Thud dealt her a slobbery kiss. Dymphna wiped the drool on her sleeve, grabbed his collar, and pulled. The dog didn’t budge.
“Come on, Thud,” she said. “Get out!”
She was not usually this stern with the bloodhound, but there was no time to lose. Dymphna had hoped to be gone by the time Wobble, her crabby rooster, crowed. Even though it was still mostly dark, she could hear Wobble flapping around the yard. The rooster was putting his all into it this morning, looking like a vintage Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad, perched on the fence and flapping his wings in the hazy morning light.
“I’m going to miss you.” Professor Johnson’s voice pierced the fog.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t wake you,” she said.
“You didn’t,” Professor Johnson said. “Thud did.”
Dymphna knew a scowl from her would not matter in the least to Thud, so she didn’t bother.
“I . . .” She paused, then started again. “I just think it’s easier this way. We said goodbye last night . . . and . . . I mean, I’ll be back. Soon.”
“I have your car,” she said, trying for a confident smile.
“And I guess I have your farm,” he said.
He had a point. While she was gone, Professor Johnson would be here, taking care of her goats and chickens, as well as packing the orders that came in for her jams and jellies. He would also have to keep an eye on Dymphna’s friend Crash the duck, who remained a wild bird but would show up at the farm every now and then to let her know he was fine.
Both of them had agreed that it was time for Dymphna to return to Los Angeles and collect her Angora rabbits. Professor Johnson and Powderkeg had made a climate-controlled environment here on the Fat Farm that was just waiting for the rabbits. When she and Professor Johnson had first started discussing the details of retrieving the rabbits, their relationship was not as strained as it was now. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it seemed as if when times were tough, the entire town pulled together. When they first got word that the trail was to be paved, it seemed like the answer to their prayers. The asphalt wasn’t even dry before the bickering began. While the town prospered, both sides claimed victory: Professor Johnson’s side thought the uptick in the town’s prosperity was due to the new access to town and would only get better if they continued paving Main Street. Dymphna’s side felt that as long as people were making their way into town, why ruin the historic nature of the place? Folks in the area were well aware of the squabbling among the Fat Chancers and snickered about Team Professor and Team Dymphna. It was idle gossip for those not involved, but tensions were running high at the farm. Neither Dymphna not Professor Johnson took things lightly.
As the time approached for her to leave for Los Angeles, Dymphna felt she was escaping. Her thoughts turned more and more to her life in Santa Monica, the days before Fat Chance, the years before Professor Johnson. She’d had a good life there, living in the guesthouse of her best friend, Erinn. Erinn was a Broadway playwright who had reinvented herself as a TV producer and documentarian. Erinn’s family had become Dymphna’s family. Fat Chance had completely overwhelmed Dymphna and she’d somehow never made it back to Southern California. Now she was homesick, daydreaming about long walks along the coast, drinking tea at Erinn’s sister’s tea shop in Venice, catching up with how her rabbits were doing from Erinn’s mother, Virginia, who had been watching over the three rabbits that remained in her care. Virginia had moved into Erinn’s guesthouse when Dymphna made the bold move to Texas, but Erinn had said Dymphna would always have a room in the large Victorian on Ocean Avenue that Erinn somehow managed to hang on to, even with her feast-or-famine career.
Although unspoken, neither Dymphna nor Professor Johnson was sure she was going to come back immediately. Dymphna kept pushing away the thought that she might not come back at all. Tears pricked her eyes. This farm was as close to “home” as any place in her life.
Of course I’ll come back, she scolded herself.
“The rabbits will love it here,” Professor Johnson said.
The sun had made its way over the hills. She could see him clearly now, his T-shirt and sweatpants wrinkled from sleep, his hair wild from last night’s passionate goodbye. Dymphna’s heart lurched when she saw that he was barefoot—he had obviously run out of the house as soon as he understood what the empty side of the bed meant.
Of course I’ll come back.
“Were you going to say goodbye?” he asked.
She knew if she looked at him, she would see the little boy who no one got to see but her. The little boy who trusted her not to hurt him.
So she didn’t look. Instead, she tugged again at the dog.
“Thud, seriously,” she said. “Out.”
“Do you want to take him with you?”
This is why she had wanted to leave while he was still asleep. He could be such a dear man—when he wasn’t infuriating her.
No,” Dymphna said. “He’s been at the farm for years now. I don’t think he’d want to go back to Los Angeles.”
“But you do?”
“For a little while,” she said softly.
“Get out of the car, Thud,” he said evenly.
The dog jumped out of the passenger side and Professor Johnson closed the door with a solid thwack.
“It’s a long drive,” she said. “I really better be going.”
“I washed the car,” he said.
“Oh?” Dymphna looked at the Outback. Now that the sun was up, she could see it was sparkling clean.
“Thank you,” she said.
She started to put her arms around him. She wanted to hold him and say all the things that she never said. She loved him. He was the best thing that ever happened to her. She would be back. She took a deep breath, but he was the first to speak.
“If Main Street were paved, the car wouldn’t be completely trashed by the time you got through town,” he said.
Dymphna kissed him on the cheek, gave Thud a squeeze, and got in the car.