Genesis 5020

My Story for His Glory

Right On Time Christmas Chapters 7 and 8 December 7, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 3:15 pm
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Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

Here is your next installment of Right On Time Christmas. If you don’t like romantic, kiss-y stuff you might want to skip these chapters 🙂

Chapter 7

Christmas shopping, so not what Stephen wanted to be doing right now. But it needed to be done and he needed to do it when Josie wouldn’t be home to insist on going with him.The mall gave him a headache, the blasting Christmas carols,  the lights, the people.

Yeah, the people.

Stephen tried to move out of the way when another person bumped into him without an apology. It was supposed to be the season of peace but making his way through the stores was anything but peaceful.

He finally got to the perfume counter that Mom loved. Every year she always asked for the same thing. But it made her happy. He slid down the counter looking for the exact one when he ran into someone. Now he was the rude person. Except he would apologize.

“I am so sorry…” His words died in his lips when he looked up into the most beautiful blue eyes he ever saw. “Caylee.”

“I was wondering who was being so pushy. Should have known it was you.” Caylee laughed. What a great laugh.

He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since the Wassail festival. Who was he kidding. He hadn’t stopped thinking about her since she landed in his yard a week and a half ago. Had it only been that long? It felt like forever since that happened. Since he almost kissed her.

“Sorry. Looking for perfume for my mom.” Stephen finally found the ability to speak again.

“Me too. I think they wear the same kind.” Caylee pointed down at pink bottle.

“Yep. That’s what I need too.”

A sales clerk came and checked both of them out.

“Well, it was good to see you.” Her gaze seemed to search his face. He didn’t want her to go, maybe she didn’t want to go either.

“Hey, if you don’t have any place else to be maybe you could help me.” Stephen thought fast. “I have to get something for Josie and she is so picky I usually get her a gift card to American Eagle but it would be way more fun to watch her open an actual gift, could you help me find something for her?”

Something flickered in Caylee’s eyes. Did she not want to spend more time with him?

“Sure, I have some time.” Caylee flashed her perfect smile and made his heart kick up a notch.

They spent the next half hour laughing and joking over different outfits for Josie, imitating her response to some of the crazy stuff they picked out. They finally settled on a pair of skinny jeans and and top that Caylee thought would go well together. Stephen really didn’t care. All he cared about was the great time he was having with Caylee.

“Starbucks?” Stephen wasn’t ready to say good-bye.

“You like Starbucks?” Caylee raised her eyebrows.

“I don’t get the fancy-shmancy stuff. Regular coffee for me. But you look like the type who might like a latte of something like that. Plus, after all your help it’s the least I can do.” Stephen hoped he didn’t sound as desperate as he felt. When had his feelings changed from trying to stay away from this girl who broke his heart over and over to wanting to spend all the time he could with her?

“I’d love a latte.”

They made their way to the crowded food court and found Starbucks. Stephen ordered a Venti Cafe Verona and Caylee ordered a Tall Peppermint Mocha. Miraculously they found a small table among the crowd. They sat in silence for a few minutes sipping their hot drinks.

“So, tell me about this girlfriend of yours.” Caylee looked at him over her steaming cup.

Really? She wanted to talk about Sarah?

What was wrong with him? He was going to marry her, of course he should want to talk about her.

“Well, her name is Sarah. We met at school, we’ve been dating for about two years. She’s great.” Wow, that sounded rehearsed and unfeeling.

“I’m really happy for you. I meant what I said the other night. You deserve to be happy. I hope she will make you happy.” Caylee looked down at her cup. Did she mean that or did she think that was what she was supposed to say?

“Are you seeing anyone?” He really didn’t want to know the answer to that but he figured he should ask.

“I was.” She took a deep breath. “We broke up the day I landed in your yard. It wasn’t what I was expecting.”

So she got her heart broken. About time. No, that wasn’t right. She didn’t deserve to be hurt, no one did.

“I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m sure God has someone out there for you.” How Christian of him. He wanted to be that someone for so long but it couldn’t be. As much as he did like her now and missed her he couldn’t risk his heart again. She had trampled on it one too many times. The damage was done.

Chapter 8

“Yes, mom. I’m doing fine.” Caylee reassured Mom for the tenth time in the a ten minute phone conversation.

“We are leaving Florida on  Tuesday and should be back in Michigan by Thursday evening. We are so excited to see you.” Mom had to be smiling, it came through her words.

“I’m excited to see you too.”

“Are you going to the parade of lights tonight?”

Ah, yes. Another tradition in Holly. The Saturday after the Wassail Festival was the parade of lights. This time the town would be lit up with vehicles decked out with Christmas lights.

“Probably not.” Caylee had no desire to go alone and even though the thought of calling Josie, a.k.a. Stephen, crossed her mind she couldn’t do it to herself or him.

“You should give Stephen a call. I’m sure he’d be glad to take you.” Mom, she was always a Stephen fan. Truth was, Caylee was a Stephen fan, but Stephen was no longer a Caylee fan.

“I don’t want to bother him. You know he is asking his girlfriend to marry him.” Caylee needed to make that clear.

“Yes, his mother mentioned that. But she didn’t seem too convinced it would work out.” Was there something Mom wasn’t telling her. Did Mrs. Meyer say something to give Mom hope. To give Caylee hope?

No, Caylee would not hope in that.

A knock sounded at the front door. “I gotta go Mom, I’ll see you Thursday. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Caylee peeked out the window before she opened the door. Her heart jumped in a way it had no right to jump. Excitement flooded through her like a new string of Christmas lights.

He came.

She pulled open the door. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to get you out of the house, again.” Stephen gave her a smile that made her believe he cared.

“No Josie this time?” Caylee leaned against the door.

“Nope. She’s already there. But she did mention that you would probably be moping around tonight.”

“She’s was right. Give me five minutes. Come on in.” Caylee stepped back and let Stephen in.

“I haven’t been in here since I picked you up for our senior prom.” Stephen’s face paled immediately.

Yeah, the night she ruined their friendship. But they were making amends. She wished she had known then what she knew now. They didn’t come any better than Stephen Meyer.

Guilt flooded Caylee and she was at a loss for words. What could she say? An apology too late, did it still count?

“Go get ready. The parade starts in twenty minutes.” Stephen must not want to talk about it either. Good.

Caylee made fast work of changing into something more presentable for public viewing. Soon they were parked and made their way to the mass of people.

“Follow me. I have a secret place where I  like to watch.” Stephen reached for her hand and electricity seemed to shoot up her arm. Her hand fit perfectly inside of his, as if they were always supposed to be together. How silly. If that were true they would have been together a long time ago.

But wonder if that wasn’t their time, wonder if now was the right time?

———

Stephen pulled Caylee to his favorite spot to watch the parade. He discovered it when he was a kid, no else had managed to find it in all these years.

He tried to focus on the activity around him but that proved to be an issue. All he could think about was the warmth of her hand. Why weren’t they wearing gloves? At the moment he didn’t even care. He was holding Caylee’s hand and taking her to his secret place.

They ducked under a small bridge and came around to the other side. And the crowd was gone. The parade would pass over this bridge but for some reason no one ever bothered to cross over to this side of it. Often times the river was too high from the rain and snow, but not this year.

“What do you think?” Stephen looked down into Caylee’s eyes, his heart lurched and ached. He loved her. . . still. What was he going to do?

“It’s perfect.” She gave him a smiled that stole his breath and it took every ounce of control to keep from pulling her close.

He could stop holding her hand now, but he had no desire and since she didn’t pull away he kept holding on.

Soon decorated tractors and trucks drove by. Trailers pulling carolers singing festive music. It wasn’t a lengthy parade, unfortunately, and before long it was time to leave. He still didn’t let go of her hand.

His girlfriend was coming to town in four days and he just admitted he was in love with someone else, someone who didn’t love him. Granted, he only admitted it to himself, so it didn’t count. Right? He would get over this once Sarah was around.  

He opened the car door for her and finally let her go. That’s what he needed to do in his heart too, let her go. But wonder if . . . no, he bought an engagement ring for Sarah.

“So you think you’ll stick around Holly?” Stephen asked as they made their way back to her house.

“I hope so. I just need to find a job.” Caylee shrugged and stared out the window.

“You okay?” Had Stephen crossed the line holding her hand so long?

“Fine.” She drew in a deep breath and looked over at him. “I missed this stuff.”

“Me too. Holly is small but it is charming. Like you.” He couldn’t help joking with her.

“Looks who’s talking. I was bigger than you through most of high school.” Caylee shoved his arm.

“Don’t remind me.” Stephen hated that it took him so long to put on weight and actually start looking like a man. “I’ll walk you up.” He said once they pulled in her driveway.

Stephen climbed out knowing full well that walking her to the door was extremely dangerous. He would say goodnight and be on his way.

“Thanks for dragging me out again. I needed that.” Caylee stepped onto the porch, her gaze cast to her feet.  

“You’re not okay. What’s wrong?” Not thinking Stephen lifted her her chin and searched her face for a sign for what was going on. “Did I do something?”

“No.” Caylee shook her head and tried to look down again but he held tight. “When I said I missed this stuff I meant our friendship. I missed you.”

Did she still think of him as a friend because every desire in him was not friendly. “I missed  you too.” His words came out choked.

They stood there and stared at each other, Stephen fought the urge to kiss her. He was tired of always doing the right thing. He always did and looked what it got him. Nothing. Not the woman he loved.

Slowly, he lowered his lips to hers, giving her time to back away if she wanted. She didn’t. He still held her chin and softly, tentatively, placed his lips on hers and pulled away a centimeter, savoring the feel of her lips. Soft and smooth.  Lips he had dreamed of kissing for as long as he could remember.

He could see the frost from the their breath mingling, becoming one. He leaned in again, still tentative, searching for her consent. He started to pull away again but this time her hands wrapped around his neck and that was all the encouragement he needed. His hands found her waist and brought her closer to him. He hungered for her in a way he never hungered for any other woman. The woman he thought about for years was in his arms and kissing him back.

He could sense the kiss becoming more than he could handle, more than what was right, he needed to stop, hold back, even though he didn’t want to.

“Wow.” He breathed but kept holding her.

She rested her head in her his chest, her breathing heavy. “What was amazing.”

“Yeah.” Stephen smiled. Amazing indeed.

She looked up at him. “So, now what?”

He had no idea.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have encouraged you to kiss me. It was wrong, you have a girlfriend.” Caylee stepped out of this arms and he immediately felt the emptiness.

“Um, I’m pretty sure I kissed you.” Stephen raked his fingers through his hair. “I guess I need to break up with Sarah.”

Caylee’s eyes widened. “No.”

“Wait, what? Why not?” After that kiss she didn’t want to be with him?

“Think about it first. This was impulsive. You bought an engagement ring for this girl. You can’t decide after one kiss you should break up with her. I just got out of a relationship. I think we both need to think so we don’t ruin anything.” Caylee looked so serious. But she was right. Maybe this was a curiosity thing and his feelings would go away after a couple of days.

“Okay, you’re right.” But his heart wouldn’t be changing, it never had. He had settled for Sarah, never believing this moment with Caylee would transpire. He didn’t want to push her, not this time because this time was the right time.

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Right On Time Christmas: Chapters 5 and 6 November 30, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 2:03 pm
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Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is your next installment of Right On Time Christmas. I hope you are enjoying Caylee and Stephen’s story.

If you missed the first four chapters you can catch me here and here.

Have a blessed weekend!

Chapter Five

“Oh, please stay one more day.” Josie leaned over and pulled on Caylee’s arm. They had finished lunch and were starting to clean up the dishes.

Stephen shook his head and headed for the kitchen with hands full of dishes. His sister had a way of getting whatever she wanted. And she wanted Caylee to spend one more day and help put up the tree.

“I really should go home.” Caylee’s gaze darted around, never landing on him, but he could tell she wanted to stay. Was she lonely? She always had someone to fill her time.

“To what? An empty house?” Mom joined Josie. “Stay and put the tree up with us. You can go home tomorrow.”

“If you’re sure.” Caylee looked at him now. For approval again? What was going on with her?

“Yes, we’re sure.” Dad chimed in.

“It’s all set. And tonight we can have a slumber party and you tell me all about your life in Columbus.” Josie jumped.

“There’s not much to tell.” Caylee looked at the floor. Something happened in Columbus. Must be the reason she was back.

Soon they were dragging boxes down stairs and playing Christmas music. It took hours to decorated the tree and the house, Mom had a place for everything.  

They ordered pizza for supper and laughed and sang while they ate. It was ten o’clock before they were finished and everyone was tired and ready for bed.

“You have school tomorrow young lady. You need to get to bed.” Mom kissed Josie’s head.

“Okay. Let’s go Caylee.” Josie pulled on her arms and dragged her up the stairs. Stephen hardly talked to her all day. Which was probably for the best. She would leave tomorrow and they could go on living their lives as they had before.

Everyone dispersed and Stephen went up to his room. He slipped on a pair of athletic pants and t-shirt and laid in bed. His mind kept going back to Caylee crying in church. What was up with that? What was really going on with her? His mind made up all kinds of stories.

Finally, he gave up. He headed downstairs to watch t.v. and hope that would put him to sleep. His heart dropped when he saw Caylee sitting in front of the lighted Christmas tree, her knees drawn up to her chin. She almost looked like an angel sitting there.

He stopped and studied her for a minute. He studied her a lot when no one was looking and sometimes he studied her when someone was looking, it was only bad when it was Caylee who caught him looking. Like this morning when he took her in wearing that sweater that hugged her in all the right places.

So many times he had  thought she was the woman for him, the girl he would marry. They seemed perfect together. But it never happened. She never returned those feelings.

Her blond hair hung long down her back, almost to her waist. He needed to stop starting.

“Hey.” He cleared his throat and walked toward her and sat down.

“Hey.” She jumped and gave a little smile.

“Can’t sleep?”

“Nope. You either?” She looked over at him.

“Nope.” Because all he could do was think about her.

They sat side by side staring at the tree, mesmerized by the lights.

“What ya thinking about?” The question slipped out before he could think about the consequences of asking her.

“Hope.”

“Hope? What about it?” It was then Stephen noticed the trail of tears on Caylee’s cheeks. His arms ached to pull her close and comfort her.

“I lost mine somewhere along the way. But I think I found it today.” Her voice was a whisper, she sounded so fragile.

“I’m glad to hear it. Mom always says things happen for a reason, maybe you crashed here so you could go to church today and hear that message.” It wasn’t so they would find their way back to each other.

“Maybe you’re right.” She turned toward him and their gazes collided, crashed and something shifted in the atmosphere. Heat seemed to radiate between the two of them. She was beautiful, everything he always wanted and still did.

“I should try to go to sleep.” He  had to get out of there before he lost all control and kissed her. Kissed her like he always dreamed about. The way the light from the trees danced in her eyes made her even more attractive.

“Me too.” She pushed herself up and he followed. Caylee lost her balance and he reached for her.

“Woah. You okay?” Stephen wrapped his fingers around her upper arms and made the mistake of looking right into her eyes again, he could get lost there.

“Yes.” The word came out breathy and sent  heat rushing through his body.

Silence hung in the air and they stood there, neither one of them moved. But wanted to. Oh, yeah, he wanted to. He wanted to move right onto her lips and end the agonizing mystery of what they taste like. Did she want him too? 

“Good night.” And just like that it all ended. She stepped away and ran up the stairs.

Fine. He had a girlfriend. A serious one at that. He cleared his throat and headed for the bathroom. Time for a cold shower.

——-

Caylee fell into bed. What was that? Why didn’t Stephen kiss her? Why did she want him to? What was wrong with her? She needed to get out of this house, the sooner the better.

Yes, first thing tomorrow she would go home. No one would talk her into staying any longer.

She almost lost herself in his blue eyes and that couldn’t happen again.

Caylee pulled the covers over her head and waited for sleep to sweep her away before her thoughts did.

 

———

Caylee quickly dressed and headed down stairs. Hopefully, no one else was awake yet and she could get out of the house without talking to anyway, especially Stephan. The feelings he stirred in her were totally out of line. He was dating someone, he obviously wasn’t interested in her. If he was he would’ve kissed her last night and he made no move to do so.

No sounds emanated from the kitchen. Good. She could slip out undetected.

“Going somewhere?”

Caylee’s heart jumped to her throat and she froze in the kitchen doorway.

“Um, home.” Why did she feel guilty?

“Why not some breakfast first?” Mr. Meyer smiled over his mug.

“I really need to get home. I’ve been imposing long enough.” Caylee relaxed a little, her shoulders sagged.

“You aren’t an imposition. You’re like family.” He put his mug on the table.

“Well, thank you for that, for everything. You all have been so kind. But I really need to get home.” She stepped closer to the door.

“Okay. If you think it’s best.” Something lay hidden in his words.

“I do. Thank everyone for me and I’m sure I’ll see you around.” She forced a smiled and slipped out the door into the the cold November wind. Freedom. So why didn’t she really feel free? Why did she feel like she was running away?

Caylee made her way through the slushy, barely there, snow that had gotten her into the mess in the first place. She climbed into her car and it started without trouble. Before long she puled into her driveway.

Home.

Chapter Six

Stephen clutched the steering wheel of his Chevy Malibu. Four days. Four days since Caylee left. Left without saying a word. He missed her and he hated that truth. He had no business missing her.

He made a right into downtown Clearwater, a larger neighboring town next to Holly. After he almost kissed her she hightailed it out of there. Sure, she had called to thank Mom but that was it. Not a word to him.

She didn’t owe him anything. He had a girlfriend. Who would be coming to visit in just over two weeks. Hence, the reason for the trip to the jewelers. He had finally decided it was time to ask Sarah to marry him and he would do it while she visited for Christmas. It would be perfect. His final declaration that he was free from Caylee.

He pulled into the parking lot, shut off the engine and took a big breath. His heart pounded in his chest. Nerves. This was the right move.

He nodded to make himself feel better, it didn’t work, and climbed out of the car. Christmas music filled the air of the small shop. The place was decked out with decorations, Christmas spirit filled the atmosphere.

Glass cases lined the walls. He walked over to one and started looking.

“May I help you?” An older man stood behind the case.

Stephan stood up and cleared his throat. “Yes. I want to buy an engagement ring.”

“Wonderful. A Christmas proposal?” He smiled and wrinkles deepened around the man’s mouth.

“Yes. Do you have recommendations?” Stephen sure hoped so. He had no idea where to start.

“Oh, well, that all depends on the one receiving the ring. Tell me about the young woman you are in love with.” The man’s eyes softened.

“Well, we’ve known each other since before we could walk. I’ve always known I would marry her, even though she didn’t know it. She’s much more special then she realizes and deserves to be the happiest woman I know.” Wait, what? That wasn’t Sarah.

“Then you need something very special. Something unique that will show her how truly one of a kind she is.” The man slide down the case and motioned for Stephen to follow. No way he could admit that he just described the wrong woman.

The man brought out a beautiful princess cut diamond surrounded by several smaller stones. It would look perfect on her long, slender finger.

“What do you think?” The man smiled again and leaned forward.

Stephen turned it every which way, the light caught the diamond and shimmered. “Yes, I’ll take it.”

The words left his mouth without thought. He had  just agreed to buy the perfect engagement ring for Caylee.

——-

Saturday night and Caylee sat at home alone. So pathetic. The annual Wassail festival would be in full swing soon. She sat curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and staring at a Christmas tree she decorated by herself. Every time she looked at it she couldn’t help but think about the kiss Stephen almost gave her and how badly she wanted it. In all the years she had known him she never wanted him to kiss her. Wanting him to now wasn’t fair to him and how shallow of her. Because he was better looking, more filled out? Was it because she was lonely? Or could there be something deeper behind her desire? Could now was the right time for them?

That couldn’t be, he was dating someone and he deserved to be happy and she couldn’t do that for him. She only caused him pain.

The doorbell rang and pulled Caylee out of her pathetic thoughts. She tossed the blanket aside and dragged her sad self to the door and swung it open, not sure who could be visiting her.

“I’m mad at you.” Josie’s smile betrayed her words. What a breath of fresh air.

“I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye.” Caylee did feel bad about leaving so abruptly but she couldn’t risk seeing Stephen, her feelings for him where freaking her out.

“Well, I came to find you and take you to the Wassail festival. So go get bundled up and let’s go.” Josie pushed her way into the house.

“That sounds like fun.” Caylee smiled and hurried to throw on a sweater and thicker socks. She gave her face a quick perusal. Eh, good enough, she didn’t have anyone to impress and Stephen obviously wasn’t with Josie. Or was he? “Hey, you can’t drive yet so how did you get here?”

“How do you think? My sad excuse for a brother was sitting around just like you so I made him bring me. He’s waiting in the car and not very patient, so hurry.”

That changed everything. Quickly Caylee changed into a more flattering sweater, which was silly since she would be wearing a winter coat, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. She threw on some mascara and slid some lip gloss on. She stood back from the mirror. Not great, but better. It would have to do. Josie would know she was trying if she did too much.

“Okay, I’m ready.” Caylee stepped out of the bedroom.

A slow grin pulled across Josie’s lips. “Hm. Interesting.”

“What?” Caylee tried really hard to school her features.

“Nothing.” Josie wove her arm through Caylee’s and pulled her out the door. “Let’s go Wassailing. Whatever the means.”

Stephen gave a little wave as they headed to the car, Caylee waved back, mouth dry, heart pounding. She didn’t want to like him but she did.  

“You can ride shotgun.” Josie skipped away and when around the back door.

Okay, could she be more obvious?

Caylee climbed into the front seat and immediately took in the woodsy scent of Stephen that hung in the car. It took all her strength not to take a big whiff.  

“Hey.” Stephen gave a small smile. “Sorry, she insisted.”

“I’m glad. I was just sitting around feeling sorry for myself.”

“Same.” Stephen laughed and put the car into reverse.

Josie made excited chatter as they headed downtown. It was dark already, and Christmas lights hung from the lampposts, with wreaths dotting the doors of storefronts. Parking wasn’t easy but they eventually found a spot. People lined the sidewalks. Sanata always made his grand entrance the night of the Wassail festival. Children bounced up and down on their heels in anticipation. Many sat on their parents shoulders waiting for the man in the red suit.

“I forgot how much I loved this.” Caylee let the words slip from her thoughts.

“Me too.” Stephen wore a big, silly grin.

“See, aren’t you two losers glad I dragged you out?” Josie slipped between them and put her arm through the crook of both of theirs.

“Yes, dear sister,” Stephen laughed.

Caylee stared up at him, with his cheeks rosey from the cold his blue eyes danced even more under the Christmas lights. He took her breath away. An ache started in her chest and spread to her throat. She blinked back tears. Why? What was wrong with her?

“Hey, you okay?” Josie shook Caylee.

“Oh, yeah. Just cold.” Oh my, how long had she been staring at him?

“Well, after Santa comes by we can go get some wassail.” Josie smiled like she didn’t believe Caylee for a minute.

“Sounds good.” Caylee nodded and focused on the street.

Soon Santa came by throwing candy and waving at the crowd. Christmas carols filled the air sung by the local high school choir. Memories stirred in Caylee’s heart. She truly did love this town.

“I see some of my friends. I’ll catch up with you guys later.” Josie ran off before Stephen or Caylee could protest.

Now they were alone. Again.

“Should we get some wassail?” Stephen lifted one side of his mouth.

“Sure.” Caylee had never been tongue-tied around Stephen, she was always in control around him, he never had any effect on her and now she couldn’t think of a clever thing to say.

They followed the crowd to the large pots of the hot cider. They each got a cup and gathered around the large bonfire. The spiced cider warmed her insides, even though brushing Stephen’s arm through her heavy coat was having the same, if not more, effect on her.

Several students from the high school choir lead the group in Christmas carols. Soon Caylee found herself joining in and even heard Stephen sing a few off-pitch notes.

They laughed with the group of carolers as they came together in song. Music could do that to people.

After about a half-hour people started heading home. Stephen sent Josie a text asking where she was. She told him she would meet him at the car so they headed back to their parking spot.

Silence hung heavy between them while the walked. The last time they had been together they almost kissed. Where do you go from there?

“Why did you leave without saying goodbye?” Stephen shattered the void with the worse question possible.

Did he really need to ask? Didn’t he know?

“I just thought it would be easier.” Caylee tried to keep the answer generic.

“Easier for who?”

Caylee swallowed hard, heat rushed to her face despite the cold. “For everyone.” For me, I was afraid if I saw you again I would throw myself into your arms and beg you to give me another chance.

“Well, Mom was kind of upset by it. She thought I said something to make you run off.” Stephen turned toward her slightly. “It wasn’t anything I did was it?”

“No, of course not.” Of course it was. He almost kissed her.

“Good. I’m sorry I got so close that last night. I was wrong. I do have a girlfriend.” Stephen’s voice softened.

“Yeah, Joise told me.” Caylee’s throat ached again. What would have happen between them if he didn’t have a girlfriend? Yeah, because her track record with men was so great. She would ruin any hope of a friendship with Stephen. She couldn’t allow that to happen. It was better to be friends then not to have him in her life at all. She needed to remember that. Stephen was a great friend. Always had been. And that’s all he ever would be. “It is serious?”

“Yeah, I guess. I think I’ll marry her.” Boom. A weight fell on her chest. That was it.

“That’s great.” She managed to choke out.

“I bought a ring.”

“Then I guess you are serious.” Caylee bit her lip to keep from crying. “You deserve to be happy.” Her words sounded forced even to her her ears.

“Thanks. So do you.” Stephen bumped her arm

Did she deserve to be happy? She wasn’t so sure.

 

 

Review and Giveaway: Lost Christmas Memories by Dana Mentick November 26, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:29 pm
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About the Book

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Book: Lost Christmas Memories

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas

Release Date: November 1, 2018

A witness with amnesia

Can she trust this Gold Country Cowboy with her life?

Tracy Wilson witnessed a murder—but after a head injury, she can’t remember what she saw. Now someone plans to silence her for good, and only cowboy Keegan Thorn believes her. With a killer after her at Christmas, Tracy is running out of time to remember…and falling dangerously hard for the cowboy who could break her heart.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Dana MentinkDana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com.

 

Guest Post from Dana

Writing this book was bittersweet for me. It was lovely to finally be able to tell youngest Thorn brother Keegan’s story, but I sure am sorry to say goodbye to this series! It was such fun to write about these four kinsmen and the family bonds that held them together through all manner of murder and mayhem! Here at Mentink Manor, we have recently sent a bear cub away to college for the first time. It feels like I have lost a limb now that my Boo Boo is gone! Fortunately, we will enjoy having her home for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though it won’t be a cozy country Christmas like it is for Keegan (we live in a city of 80,000 here in Northern, CA) we will be thrilled to have all our family home to celebrate together (Mama Bear, Papa Bear, two cubs, a naughty terrier, and a senior citizen box turtle!) I hope you enjoy this last installment in the Gold Country Cowboy series. I am sending along our best wishes for a blessed holiday season, from our Mentink household to yours!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 22

Christian Bookaholic, November 22

Among the Reads, November 22

Inklings and Notions, November 23

Just Your Average reviews, November 23

Blogging With Carol, November 23

Because I said so -adventures in parenting, November 24

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 24

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, November 24

Moments, November 25

Simple Harvest Reads, November 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 25

Genesis 5020, November 26

SusanLovesBooks, November 26

Remembrancy, November 26

Kat’s Corner Books, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 27

Quiet quilter, November 28

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28

Book by Book, November 29

A Rup Life, November 29

To Everything A Season, November 29

Older & Smarter?, November 30

Have A Wonderful Day, November 30

Cafinated Reads, November 30

KarenSueHadley, December 1

Lighthouse Academy, December 1

Daysong Reflections, December 1

Bibliophile Reviews, December 2

A Baker’s Perspective, December 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 2

Janices book reviews, December 3

Bigreadersite, December 3

Texas Book-aholic, December 4

Carpe Diem, December 4

Godly Book Reviews, December 5

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 5

Christian Centered Book Reviews, December 5

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away a grand prize of a copy of Lost Christmas Memories, a $50 Amazon gift card and this cute reading charms necklace!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d626/lost-christmas-memories-celebration-tour-giveaway
My thoughts:
I have had the privilege of reading every book in this series and it has turned me into a Dana Mentink fan. If her name is on the cover I am reading it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed each book in this series and I couldn’t wait to read Keegan’s story because I knew it would be a good one. The woman who captured his heart would have to be special and Tracy was that.
I loved her grumpy grandpa as well 🙂
It was nice catching up with the characters in the previous books and seeing where their relationship where at as well.
This is a story of redemption and healing broken pasts. I wonderful read!
Visit Dana here.
Grab your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.
A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 
 

Right On Time Christmas Chapters Three and Four November 16, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:03 pm
Tags: , ,
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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Chapter five and six won’t come for a couple of weeks due to Thanksgiving next week, I have a review scheduled for Friday.

Chapter Three

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to you coming here, too.” Stephen moved the phone to his other ear.

“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with your parents. They are always so kind.” Sarah gushed. Was her voice always this annoying? No, he was just tired. He loved Sarah.

“They can’t wait to see you either.” Stephen lied. When he told his parents Sarah  would be coming to spend Christmas with them they didn’t seem overjoyed. Mom had expressed that she didn’t feel like she was the one God had for him. He knew who she thought but it obviously wasn’t God’s plan.

A scraping sound came through the window. He walked over to the front window and pulled the curtain to the side. Caylee stood at her car and scraped her windows.

“Listen, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Oh, okay. I love you.” Sarah sing-songed through the line.

“Love you too.” But for the first time Stephen wondered if he really meant it. Seeing Caylee was messing with his heart even though she didn’t do anything to mess with it, being around her was enough to throw him into chaos.

He threw on his snow gear and headed outside. It was only twenty degrees out. This was not normal Michigan weather this early in the season. Typically this type of weather waited until after Christmas. But you never knew what to expect in Michigan.

He stepped outside and the cold wrapped around him and chilled him. He trudged toward Caylee, she didn’t even looked up, completely concentrating on her windows.   

“What you are doing?” Stephan yelled over his scarf.

“Scraping my windows.” Caylee glanced up, her cheeks a bright red, her eyes sparkled blue.

“Duh. I can see that.” He stepped up beside her, snow up to their knees and still coming down. “Why are you scraping your windows? You know you can’t leave yet.”

“I don’t know. I felt like I should do something to get my car ready to go home. I hope I can be out of your hair by tomorrow.”

He would love to have her in his hair, her fingers dance their way across his scalp. What would it feel like to be that close to her?

“I wouldn’t count on it. Besides, I’d be more concerned about the car starting then the ice on the windows.” Stephen looked down at her and she gazed up at him, her lips wet and red. He wanted to kiss her. He’s wanted to kiss her since he was in sixth grade, if he was honest. He thought there were times when she wanted the same thing but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Seriously?”

“Unfortunately, yeah. With the temperatures being so low and your car being buried you’ll be lucky if it will start even when you can get out.”

“Great.” Her shoulders slumped, she must really want to get away from him.

“Sorry. What’s your rush anyway?” Stephen bent down and grabbed a handful of snow. “We could recreate that snowball fight we had when I kicked your butt.”

“If I remember correctly, which I do, I kicked your butt.” Caylee’s gaze landed on the ball of snow in Stephen’s hand. Something sparked in her eye and she bent to get her own.

“How does one decide who wins?” Stephan packed the ball tighter and took few steps back, gearing up. This could be fun.

“Who ever cries for mercy first and it was you.” Caylee unleashed her snowball without warning and landed it right in his face.

Stephen wiped the wetness away. “That wasn’t fair. Now you have declared war.”  He drew back and let his snowball fly. She was quick though and turned, only getting hit in the back. She ran around the other side of the car and ducked.

Fine, he would take cover too. He hid behind the trunk and the snowballs started flying along with the laughs.His gut hurt and tears froze on the rims of his eyes from laughing so hard. When was the last time he laughed like this?

After a few minutes of stillness Stephen decided to sneak around the car and nail her. Her laughter sent flutters in his stomach. Her giggles had always sounded like music to him, although he never told her that and never would.

The snow made his approach quiet..

“Hey, what’s going on?” Her voice rose over the car.

He didn’t answer but snuck around the corner of the car and he found her squatting down with her back to him. Perfect.

“Hey.” He called. She turned and he sent his snowball sailing and landed squarely on her forehead.

“You jerk.” She came after him, tripped and they both fell. For one beautifully awkward moment she laid on him, face to face. So close he could have leaned up and  kissed those gorgeous red lips. But that would be wrong. She made her feelings for him crystal clear years ago.

Although the way her heart pounded against his own he wondered . . . probably from the snowball fight.

Silence filled the space between them and they both seemed speechless, their breath coming out in puffs and mingling.

She was so beautiful, after all this time, she still messed with him by being her. He couldn’t take it. He started tickling her and pushed her off.

“Still ticklish I see.” They both laid on their backs, side by side, heads turned toward the other.

“Unfortunately. And you always knew right where to get me.”

No, the truth was, she always knew where to get him, in the heart. They held each other’s gazes. He needed to break this spell.

“You know it is supposed to warm-up to about fifty tomorrow. Everything should melt so hopefully your car will start and you can go home.” Stephen put up the wall between them again.

Somethings shifted in her eyes. Disappointment?

“Great.” She turned her head to look up at the sky.

“Yep. But it’s cold now so we should head back in.” Stephen stood and offered his hand to her. Even with gloves separating them and the freezing temps the heat that radiated between them was real. He pulled her up and she bumped into his chest.

“Sorry.” She mumbled and looked down. A piece of wet hair stuck to her cheek.

“No problem.” He took off his glove and reached out to move the hair from her cheek and in the process his thumb gently rubbed her cool skin. If possible her cheeks became even more red. She looked at him, her eyes sparkled and searched his face. What was she looking for? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Love?

It would only take a second to pull her close and kiss her but he couldn’t . He wouldn’t put his heart out there for her to trample on again. And with that one thought anger burned in him for all she had done to him.

“You’re freezing. Let’s get back in and get some coffee and those cookies you made earlier.” He forced a smile and swallowed down all the words he wanted to say. How could he desire someone that made him so angry?

“Sounds good.” She gave a shaky smile and stepped away from him.

Give her time and she would continue stepping away from him, that’s what she always did.

 

——-

Melinda dropped the curtain and stepped away from the window. She rushed up the stairs and fell to her knees beside her bed. How many times had she found herself in this position, praying for her kids, for their salvation and futures? And here she was again, but this time with clarity.

“Father, I know you see all things. I trust and believe that. I believe that you are a right on time God, nothing happens by accident. I don’t believe Caylee’s accident was really that, I believe you brought her here for a reason. Please open Stephen’s heart to forgive Caylee for all the times she hurt him. Open Caylee’s heart to see how much Stephen has always cared for her and still does, even though he won’t admit it. This is the time, I can feel it, Lord. You brought Caylee into our yard for such a time at this, right on time this Christmas.”

Melinda leaned back on her heels and sighed. Relief flooded her heart and peace surrounded her. She would keep on praying for those two because she has always believed they belonged together and she still did. Now, if only they would see it before it was too late.

Chapter Four

“We’re going to church, want to go?” Mrs. Meyer smiled up from her morning coffee when Caylee entered the kitchen.

“Oh no, I just got up.” Caylee hadn’t been to church since last Christmas when she went with her parents. When did going to church become a holiday thing? Probably when she started dating guys that didn’t care about church.

“It doesn’t start for an hour and half. You have time.” Mrs. Meyer tone left no room for argument.

“Are the roads clear? I could just go home.” If her car started.

“They’re getting cleared, it’s much warmer today so the snow is melting. But we would love to have you go to church with us before you rush home to that empty house.” Mr. Meyer took his eyes of the paper.

Yeah, but would Stephen be okay with it? She really needed to get away from him. Being around him messed with her head.

“Go on, go find something from Josie’s closet. She’s meeting us at church, she will be so excited to you. You were like the older sister she always wanted.” Mrs. Meyer raised an eyebrow.

“Okay.” Caylee turned and ran upstairs. She found a pair of khakis and a navy blue sweater and got ready for church.

When she made it back down stairs Stephen was at the table eating breakfast by himself.

“Morning.” He set his mug down and studied her. Yesterday she thought he might try to kiss her. In all the years they had known each other he never made a move. She always wondered if he ever really found her attractive. Which was fine if he didn’t since she was always dating someone else. Mostly. Unless there was a dance coming and then for some reason she never had a date dance and always defaulted to Stephen. That probably wasn’t the best idea, it must have given him false hope that she actually like him. She could never think of him as more than a friend in high school. But now that they were older . . . she could definitely think of him as more than a friend.

“I guess I’m going to church with you guys.” Caylee poured a cup of coffee and grabbed a blueberry muffin.

“That’s what mom said.” Stephen took a bite of his muffin. “I started your car. You should be good to go later today.”

“Thanks.” Caylee swallowed. He was in a hurry to get rid of her. He definitely didn’t want to be more than friends now. She couldn’t really blame him. Maybe he was dating somone.

They ate in silence until Mr. and Mrs. Meyer announced it was time to go. Like kids they got in the back of their Edge and road to the church Caylee had grown up attending in the center of town.

Caylee entered the church and memories rushed over her. All the hope that once stirred in her. Her unfaltering faith in God, in His goodness, His plans for her. When did she stop trusting in that?

College.

Not that she went crazy, but she was always looking for affirmation from others and stopped getting it from God. She wanted attention from other people and that took her eyes of the cross. Wow. How come she never saw that before?

“Caylee, I can’t believe it’s you.”

Caylee turned and was swallowed in Josies arms.

“Hey sweetie.” Caylee hugged her back. She had grown up so much, into a beautiful young woman. Sweetie wasn’t the right word to use but she would always be like a little sister.

“Nice outfit.” Josie winked. “You make that sweater look way better than I do.”

“Thanks. But I doubt that, you are a beautiful young woman.” Caylee touched the girl’s light brown hair.

“Looks who’s talking.” Josie wove her arm around Caylee’s.

“Stop hanging on her.” Stephen stepped up beside them.

“Oh, you’re just jealous.” Josie laughed.

Stephen quickly walked away. Was there truth to that? Hmmm, interesting.

“You know he’s never gotten over you.” Josie whispered in her ear. “But now he’s dating this chick named Sarah. She’s even coming here for Christmas. But with you here, who knows.” She gave a Caylee a grin.

Stephen was dating someone. Heaviness pressed down on her chest. Of course he was. He was a great guy, handsome, had a future with a good job. He loved Jesus. He deserved someone.

“I have no intentions of breaking up your brother and his girlfriend.” She forced the words out of her mouth. Why did it feel like he had betrayed her? The way he teased yesterday, touched her face, took her hand. Did she see a depth of caring beyond friendship? Maybe it was her imagination.

“Well, maybe I’ll help you do it.” Josie pulled her into the sanctuary and pushed Caylee into the pew first so she was sitting next to Stephen. This girl was a ball of energy.

The message started with Joy to the World. She loved Christmas music. Then they  moved into some contemporary songs. Some of them she knew others were new to her but each one spoke to her heart, to a hidden place she had covered up and hadn’t looked at in a long time.

The pastor spoke about hope. The hope of Jesus coming to earth and we all know how the story ends. But the people didn’t know, they had to trust.

What did Caylee hope in these days? The next boyfriend? That he would be the one to love her no matter what? Tears filled her eyes as the truth sunk in. She had taken her eyes off of Jesus for so long so forgot what it meant to hope in something that mattered. She desperately needed to get back to real hope and today was the first step.

She sniffed and out of the corner of her eye she saw Stephen turn towards her. Great, he didn’t need to know how far from God she had gotten.

The pastor wrapped up the message and they ended with a couple of more songs that spoke of surrendering to Jesus. Yes, that’s what she needed. As she lifted her voice she lifted her hands and gave herself to Jesus again. She would keep on doing that until she stopped taking her self back from him.

 

Review and Giveaway: The Unannounced Christmas Visitor November 12, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:03 pm
Tags: ,

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About the Book

The-Unannounced-Christmas-Visitor-200x300

Book: The Unannounced Christmas Visitor

Author: Patrick Higgins

Genre: Christian fiction/Christmas

Release Date: November 18, 2014

What if angels really did come from the most unlikely of places? That’s exactly what happens in this heartwarming story, set in a homeless community in Anywhere USA. Sent to Planet Earth by his Maker, disguised as a homeless person, Enoch was on a mission: to rescue a man whose life was slowly but steadily spiraling out of control

Inspired by Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it,” this story will stir your soul like never before, guaranteed! 2016 IPA (INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHER AWARDS) GOLD MEDAL AWARD WINNER.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

Patrick higginsPatrick Higgins is the author of “The Pelican Trees”, “Coffee In Manila”, the award-winning “The Unannounced Christmas Visitor”, and the award-winning prophetic end times series, “Chaos In The Blink Of An Eye.”

 

Guest Post from Patrick

Why I wrote the book: Inspired by Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it,” this story will stir your soul like never before, guaranteed!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 10

Lighthouse Academy, November 10

The Power of Words, November 11

Christian Centered book Reviews, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 12

Bogging With Carol, November 12

God’s Little Bookworm, November 13

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 13

Girls in White Dresses, November 14

Moments, November 14

Mary Hake, November 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 15

For the Love of Literature, November 15

Inklings and notions, November 16

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 16

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 17

Bibliophile Reviews, November 17

Vicky Sluiter, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

Godly Book Reviews, November 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 19

Luv’N Lambert Life, November 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 20

Texas Book-aholic, November 21

Janices book reviews, November 21

Carpe Diem, November 22

Bigreadersite, November 22

amandainpa, November 23

A Baker’s Perspective, November 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Patrick is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d5c7/the-unannounced-christmas-visitor-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

I really appreciated the message of this book. The storyline was very engaging and it spoke on so many truths we often try to ignore. We see the homeless but do we really see them, do we see their story and that they are a child of God as well?

With that being said I struggled with the omniscient point of view (popping from head to head, I prefer third person). I was also irritated with the constant saying of Lydia Jensen, or John Jensen at the beginning of every chapter, the stating of their last name. But those are just my personal pet peeves. I don’t need to be reminded of their last name every chapter.

It was also a very preachy book. Which is fine for a believer reading it, but I think a for non- believer it might be a bit much.

But like I said, I enjoyed the overall story and message just a few things that pulled me out every now and then.

Grab your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 

 

Right On Time Christmas Chapters 1 and 2 November 9, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 8:24 pm
Tags: ,
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Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

So . . . I wrote this short Christmas story a couple of winters ago. God has been reminding me of His call on my life to write and I have been ignoring that call big time, making excuses and I know it needs to end.

I have dusted it off a bit and thought I would share it with my readers in installments. Today you will get Chapters 1 and 2. There are Eleven chapters so that will take us until December 14th I believe. 

It’s nothing fancy, I could probably do a lot more with it but if I keep telling myself that it will never see the light of day, so I will share this with you and hope you are blessed by Caylee and Stephen’s story. 

The title was inspired by a camping friend of ours. As we sat around the campfire one night sharing some struggles and questioning God’s timing he said, “God is a right on time God.” That stuck with me and inspired the name and theme of this book. 

God is never early or late. He is right on time, no matter what we think 🙂 

Chapter One

A blanket of white covered the windshield of Caylee’s car. Pain radiated in her head.

“Are you okay?” A baritone voice called from somewhere. This had to be a dream. Yes. That’s it, including everything leading up to that moment. A dream and tomorrow she would wake up and her life would be completely normal, whatever that was.

But the pounding in her head made her believe everything might be too real.

“We’ll get you out.” A different, deeper voice, called.

“Please don’t.” Caylee whispered. She didn’t want to face the reality of her life. Everything was so wrong, and the day after Thanksgiving too.  

A man stood outside her window, scarf wrapped around his face, hat pulled low. If she didn’t know better she might believe she was getting car jacked.

The man pulled on her door and it barely budged.

“We’re going to have to dig you out.” The man pulled down the scarf briefly and her heart jumped. It couldn’t be who she thought it was. That would be crazy. Maybe she needed to get her head checked out.

Another man appeared with two shovels. They began digging and all Caylee could do was close her eyes and hope once again that this was all a bad dream.

God, I know I’ve been ignoring you lately but if you could perform a miracle right now and allow me to wake up in my bed in Columbus that would be great.

The door creaked open and cold air rushed in and wrapped around her, like the coldness that wrapped around her heart a few hours ago when Josh dumped her.

“Are you okay?” Caylee looked up and this time the scarf was down. It was him. Stephen Meyer.

Her response caught in her throat so she nodded.

“Caylee Thomas?” Recognition lit up Stephen’s eyes.

“That’s me.” Caylee still hadn’t moved from her seat.

“Is everything okay?” Mr. Meyer came to the door. “Caylee. Oh my goodness. It’s been years. Are you okay?” He reached out his hand to help her out.

“I’m fine, just shaken.” Caylee  placed her hand in Mr. Meyer’s and stood. She allowed her gaze to slide over to Stephen. He probably still hated her. Who could blame him if he did? She quickly looked at the snow covered ground, much safer then looking at Stephen.

“Let’s get your inside.” Mr. Meyer wrapped an around around her shoulders and lead her through the three foot high drift that wrapped around her car. Michigan had way more snow than Ohio. She probably should have looked at the forecast before heading to her parents but her heart wanted to be home and nothing else mattered. That might not have been the best decision.  

All three stomped their feet in the mudroom and removed their outdoor gear without much talk, still frozen from the cold. Caylee had passed through this room as a child more times than she could count. She never expected to be here again.  

Once everything was removed, and the warmth of the house started to thaw out Caylee’s fingers, they moved into the kitchen.

Mrs. Meyer stood in by the table waiting for them, her eyes lit up and she rushed to Caylee, wrapping her in a hug that spread warmth to her toes. “My sweet girl. Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine.” Caylee choked back the tears that wanted to come pouring out. Nothing could be further from the truth. A replay of the day flashed in her mind. Josh, who she thought was finally going to ask her to marry him, dumped her the day after Thanksgiving, she got into a car accident and now she stood in the house of the boy she totally ignored for years, or maybe didn’t ignore enough, and whose heart she crushed over and over. Fine was not the correct word to describe her current situation.

“Let me get you some hot chocolate.” Mrs. Meyer finally released her and pulled her toward the dining room table.

“That really isn’t necessary. If I can dig my car out I can get home.” Caylee tried to stop walking, from being pulled further into the Meyer family, it was way too easy to sucked in.

“The storm isn’t letting up tonight. No sooner would we get a few inches dug and it would fill right back in.” Mr. Meyer sat the table.

“Well, what am I going to do?” Caylee sunk into a chair, exhausted and confused. Her muscles ached from being so tense in the cold.

“You can stay here tonight.” Mrs. Meyer rubbed her back.

“What?” Caylee and Stephan spoke in unison.

“She can’t go home in this.” Mrs. Meyer walked away as if the deal was done.

“I can’t stay here.” The words were out before she could stop them.

“Sure you can. It’s not safe for anyone to be driving in this whether. Your Mom and Dad wouldn’t want you out in this.” Mr. Meyer sipped the coffee his wife placed in front of him.

“What were you thinking driving in this?” Mrs. Meyer slide Caylee a cup and sat down next to her.

“It wasn’t snowing in Columbus when I left.” She couldn’t tell them she her only thought was to escape the heartache that followed her to Columbus and didn’t seem to let up no matter how hard she tried. And that was the problem. She tried to do everything in her own strength and that never worked.

“Maybe you should have checked the weather.” Stephen mumbled. Yeah, he was as happy as she was to have her there.

“Stephen.” Mrs. Meyer swatted his hand.

“No, he’s right. I wasn’t thinking.” Caylee glanced up at him. They made brief eye-contact and her stomach tightened. His eyes looked bluer and he had finally filled out. The poor guy had been so scrawning in high school she weighed more than he did. But now muscles stretched the fabric of his shirt, muscle she had to tear her eyes away from before someone noticed her stare.

“I thought your parents were out of town?” Mrs. Meyer drew her eyebrows together.

“Yes, they’re in Florida until the twenty-third.” Please, don’t ask any more questions.

“Then why bother coming home now?” Stephan asked the question and seemed to know the answer judging by the hard look he gave her. She was running away from something.

“I needed a break.” Caylee clenched her jaw. True, partially.

“Well, drink up your hot chocolate and then you can get to bed. We have the guest room all set up because you just never know.” Mrs. Meyer smiled over the rim of her cup. Her eyes twinkled and she winked.

Caylee brought her drink to her lips and sipped. The warmth of the chocolaty drink spread through her and made her feel too at home in this house she once knew so well. She would spend the night and then tomorrow the roads would be cleared and she could go home and forget this ever happened.

Chapter Two

Stephen slipped on a pair of athletic pants and a hoodie. The smell of coffee drew him downstairs into the kitchen. The room was empty. Hm, must have been Dad got up early and made coffee.

He walked to the window and looked toward the barn. Sure enough, Dad was out there doing something. He was always tinkering around in the barn, he had to stay busy. Mom on the other hand had no problem being still, especially when it came to being with Jesus. But right now she was probably still asleep. Since retirement she seemed to sleep in more. She deserved it.

The coffee beckoned him and he pulled a mug from the cabinet, poured that rich, inkiness into the dup..

He took a big gulp. Yes, this was coffee. All his years in college he never managed to make coffee as good as Mom or Dad. And now he was home, for good. Crazy. He never thought he would move back to Holly, but here he was with a great job waiting for him as a software programer.

He sat down at the kitchen table and took another drink. The floor creaked above him. Had to be Mom or Caylee.

Caylee. Just the thought of her tightened his stomach and he grasped his mug tighter.The one woman he hoped to avoid when he moved home and now she was in his house. The one girl that grabbed ahold of his heart at a young age and never let go. God sure had a sense of humor. He gave that girl so many chances, put his heart out for her again and again and she used him and stomped on it every stinkin’ time. Well, never again. He would never trust her. God had to understand that. He couldn’t expect him to welcome Caylee with open arms this time. Besides, Stephen had moved on. Was dating Sarah, who was great. Everything he ever wanted. Certain he would marry her.

Until last night.

The way his heart hammered in his chest at the sight of Caylee and the fear that she might have been hurt made him realize he might not be as over her as he had thought. But his reaction had to be from surprise. At least that was what he told himself.

“Do I smell coffee?” Caylee appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, dressed in the same clothes she wore last night, skinny jeans and burgundy sweater that made her gorgeous blonde hair shine like the sun. Still beautiful. More so now than in high school.

“Yeah, help yourself.” Again, with the beating of his heart. Surprised, that was all.

“Thanks.” Caylee found the mugs and the creamer. She had spent a lot of time there when they were kids and nothing had changed. She sank into the other kitchen chair, took a sip and sighed. “I needed this.”

“Me too.” Silence followed. He had no idea what to talk to her about and he didn’t want to keep looking at her gray-blue eyes. That only reminded him of all the times he held her in his arms at dances and wanted to get lost in her gaze. But she always kept him at arm’s length. With the amount of dates they’d been on they never even kissed. Which was good. Definitely good.

“Where is everyone?” She glanced around the silent kitchen.

“Dad is outside and Mom must be sleeping.”

“Where is Josie, I know your mom said something about her being gone?” Caylee lifted her mug and took another sip.

“She went to a friends last night before the weather got bad.” He was grateful. His younger sister was full of drama. She was the princess and being fifteen didn’t help any of that. There was a big age difference with Stephen being twenty-four and Josie seemed to get whatever she wanted..

“I bet she’s grown up. I haven’t seen her in six years at least.” Caylee sipped her steaming coffee.

“Yeah, she’s grown up all right. Along with her mouth.” Stephen chuckled.

“She always was a bit of a handful.”

“Still is.”

When was the last time they had a conversation? After prom, senior year. If you could consider that a conversation. It didn’t end well and now everything felt forced, fake. Once they were so natural around each other, they knew each other so well. Now they were like strangers sitting across from each other.

The back door flew open along with a gust of wind.

“It’s freezing out there.”  Dad called and shook the snow off his boots.

“Have they plowed the road yet?” Stephen could only hope. The sooner Caylee left the better.

“Not yet and they are calling for more snow today.” Dad hung up his coat. “You might be stuck here for a while.”

Caylee’s eyes widened. “I’m sure I can get out.”

“I’m sure you can’t. Not in that Verano you’re driving.” Dad grabbed a mug and poured himself a cup of coffee.

No, she needed to leave today, this was too awkward. Why would God place the one person he never wanted to see again, in his house?

“I can call a tow truck.” Caylee sounded as desperate to leave as Stephen felt.

“You will do no such thing.” Mom entered the kitchen wrapped in a pink robe. “You’re parents aren’t even home. You might as well stay with us for as long as you need to. You can wear Josie’s clothes, you’re about the same size. Beside, Josie just texted me and said she won’t be able to come today, they are snowed in and I need help making cookies. These two aren’t much help in that area.”

“I don’t want to impose on your family traditions.” Caylee’s forehead crinkled.

“I’ve known you since you were a baby. You are family. You’ve just been away for awhile. Family does that sometimes.” Mom placed a hand on Caylee’s head. She was always full of hope. Even when Stephen told her all that Caylee had done she still had hope that Caylee needed time to grow up and she would come around. But Stephen had no plans in waiting for that to happen. He had moved on. In fact Sarah would be coming to Holly for Christmas. That would help put his heart on track, headed toward Sarah, not Caylee, which is what was happening with each passing moment he sat and talked to her.

Caylee looked at him like she was asking for permission. Did she really need his approval? She would hopefully be gone by tomorrow. What was another day?

“Yeah, stay and help Mom. I don’t want to make any cookies and if you leave she’ll force me to.”

“It’s all settled then.” Mom beamed.

Yeah, it was all settled. Then why did his stomach feel completely unsettled?

 

——–

This couldn’t be happening. Caylee shoved her hands into the sugar cookie dough. She should not be here. She should have stayed in Ohio and talked to Josh and figured things out. She would call him later. By now he probably saw the big mistake he made in breaking things off with her.

“What did that dough ever do to you?” Mrs. Meyer chuckled. Caylee looked down at her hands that were now pounding the dough.

“Sorry.” Caylee mumbled and unclenched her hands. “I think it’s good.”

“I’ll be the judge of that.” Stephen’s voice came from behind her. Before Caylee could turn around he reached around her and plucked a piece of dough from the bowl. In the process his arm brushed her’s and warmth spread all the way up her arm and into her cheeks. He smelled good too. He had no business touching her and smelling good and growing up and filling out and being handsome. He was always cute but now, well, he was downright hot. “Yep, it’s good.”

“Thanks.” Her voice caught and she cleared her throat. She could have sworn she heard him stifle a laugh and walk away. He couldn’t know the effect he had on her. Then he would have the upper hand and she had always had the upper hand with Stephen. Look where that had gotten her.  

“That boy. Always sneaking my dough. Some things never change.” Mrs. Meyer laughed and gave Caylee a sideways look.

“And sometimes everything changes.” Caylee bit her lip. She shouldn’t have said that.

“Change can be good.” Mrs. Meyer grabbed a bunch of the dough and started rolling it out. “Tell me why you came home when you knew your parents weren’t even going to be here?”

The lady didn’t beat around the bush.

“I needed to get away from Columbus.” Caylee plunged her hands back into the bowl of dough even though it was thoroughly mixed.

“Hm, okay. But why did you have to get away? Don’t you have a job you need to get to on Monday?”

Ha. Another sore spot. Her degree in theatre hadn’t really helped her get a job or keep one. She considered applying to the community theatre in Holly, but what were the chances they would have an opening?

“No, I don’t have a job. I worked on and off at a small theatre in Columbus but nothing steady.” She removed her hands and washed them off.

“Oh, yes. I forget you went into to theatre. So you have nothing holding you in Columbus then?” Was it Caylee’s imagination or was Mrs. Meyer prying?

“Well, I was dating someone.” The words slid out slowly.

“You were?”

“We broke up yesterday.”

“The day after Thanksgiving?”

“Yeah, well, I don’t think he meant it. I’m thinking maybe I overreacted. I should probably call him soon.” Caylee forced a smile. Who was she kidding, he clearly told her she bored him. He wanted more of a physical relationship and although her spiritual life wasn’t what it used to be she wasn’t willing to compromise all she knew was right. And that is why no relationship lasted. No guy she met was willing to wait until marriage. So many times she thought maybe she should give in. If she did maybe they would get married and then she wouldn’t be sinning anymore. But she never could talk herself into it.

“Wouldn’t he call you if he didn’t mean it?” Mrs. Meyers pressed cookie cutters into the dough, never looking up.

Wow, this woman didn’t let up.

“I guess he would.” With those words the truth wrapped around her heart like a snake choking out every ounce of hope she had tried to hold on to. She had lost another man because she wasn’t willing to compromise. God, if you want me to follow your will why don’t you bring me a man who wants that too?

I have.

Caylee glanced around the room, sure someone else had to have said that. But no one was in the kitchen but Mrs. Meyer and unless she could miraculously change her voice to a bass it couldn’t have been her.

“Everything okay?” Mrs. Meyer smiled up at her.

“Sure. I just picked a really bad time to try to start over.” Caylee dusted off her hands.

Mrs. Meyer looked her directly in the eye. “Funny, I was thinking you got here right on time.”

 

The Christmas Heirloom October 22, 2018

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About:

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

My thoughts:

This is by far one of the best collections I have ever read. But look at the authors, how could you go wrong?

I am a fan of each of these authors and none of them disappointed me in these novellas. Each story was unique and drew me in. I loved the connection running throughout each story and some characters that popped up from their previous novels. I had a moment of, “Wait, what? I know that character.” How fun.

If you are looking for some good Christmas romances you won’t go wrong this collection.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley.com. All opinions are my own.