This week, I’m posting more than a snippet for Secret Santa’s Rundown Sleigh: A Holiday Romance Novella. Tuesday of this week I wrote a post with tidbits of information about the Mighty Mac or the Mackinac Bridge in Northern Lower Michigan. You’ll find the bridge briefly mentioned in this excerpt.
I hope you enjoy a sneak peek from another one of my October new releases. Not including my coloring book, these two books were my eleventh and twelfth published books since 2014.
A feel-good holiday romance novella.
Excerpt from Chapter Three:
Later, after the others got settled in, Terra dialed her mom’s phone to return a call from earlier. Her sister answered. “Hi, Grace. Can I talk to Mom?”
“Mom’s asleep. She took her sleeping pill early tonight. She apologized for not waiting for your call.”
“Did you remind her I won’t make it for Christmas? It breaks my heart.”
“She knows. We’ll celebrate Christmas when you get here. Mom’s so out of it lately, and you’ll be here in a couple days.”
“Grace… I’m sorry you won’t be home with your family. I tried, honest I did.”
“I know. It’s all right. Vance is bringing Liam here tonight, but it’s a slow go with the roads, and he had to wait to get across Mighty Mac because of high winds. We’ll stay on a few days since he’s off work. He doesn’t know how to explain Grandma’s illness to our toddler. I told him I’d handle it. Mom asks for Liam, so I want them to come. Liam won’t r-remember h-her.”
Terra saddened at the break in her sister’s voice. “I’m glad they’re coming to be with you. Give Mom a kiss for me? Take pictures for Liam to look back on.” Terra sniffled. “I better go so I don’t wake Kylee and the little girl who lives here. Maisy is her name and almost the same age. They’re in sleeping bags on the floor. This family is so kind. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay them. Talk to you tomorrow.”
“I’m sure they expect nothing. Give Kylee a hug when she wakes. Love you.”
Terra peered at the family room filled with holiday decorations strung on green roping—a tall and full tree, Christmas music boxes and snow globes, sparkly snowmen, family photos over the mantel—some with Maisy and Jude with her mom. Terra’s heart twisted to think of Maisy losing her mom at such a young age.
Christmas carols played in the background. Stopping in this village and running into Alanna couldn’t have come at a better time, but she so missed spending each moment possible with her mom before she… Terra bent over her lap and placed her hands over her face to hide tears that refused to stay back. The music stopped and footsteps halted abruptly. She sat up to wipe her eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you sitting there. I came to check on Maisy.”
Terra looked up at Jude who stood near the tree, ready to turn off the lights. She swiped at another fallen tear. “It’s okay. It’s your room. I’m the intruder.”
He walked around the couch with its back to the door, to the window to look outside, and then he faced her. “The snow’s drifting. It’s bad out there. Can I get you anything?” He peered outside again. “You all right?”
Shocked at him talking to her so candidly with an actual tone of concern in his voice caused her to open up. “This is my last Christmas with my mom, and I can’t be with her.” Knowing she would soon burst into tears again, she apologized in advance, “I’m sorry.” She covered her face with her hands again. Liquid poured into a glass and his footsteps came closer. She glanced up and recognized the bottle of brandy on the table.
“Here. Sounds like you could use something stronger than tea. Do you mind if I have a seat?”
She took the glass. “Thanks. No, not at all. I don’t know how to thank you for letting us stay in your home. I’ll repay you—”
“Payment isn’t necessary, Terra.”
She’d been lonely too long, and the sexy, raspy way he spoke her name, gave her a shudder. What was his story other than being a widower? “You have a sweet little girl. Thanks for taking Kylee out to the stable. I don’t understand her openness. It’s unlike her. She and your daughter have hit it off.”
“Welcome,” he said, then downed his drink. “No problem. I know what you mean though. Maisy doesn’t make friends easily. She has a rough time at school.”
“Oh? That’s too bad.”
“Yeah.” He lowered his voice and scooted to the edge of the loveseat. “She has reading issues and in fact, has a paraprofessional helping her in some of her classes. She goes to a special class too. The kids tease her. I don’t know how to make it right.” He looked off as if trying to figure it out this moment.
“I home school Kylee.”
He lifted his head. “Maybe I should look into teaching her at home.”
Terra shrugged. She could neither say yay or nay about him home schooling. The plan worked for her and Kylee. “I don’t know what to tell you. It has its pros and cons. Talk to someone who is doing it. There are forums and groups online. I can give you the URLs.”
“Hmm. Maybe I will if I can find the time to teach her. Thanks. Listen…” Jude paused. “Some friends are having a Christmas thing tomorrow night—with Santa. It’s a private party… You and Kylee should come as our guests. You’re here anyway and might as well enjoy it. Ride into town with Alanna. She’s going to the church service afterward, but she’ll be at the party first. You’re welcome to…” He cleared his throat. “Maisy will be in town with my sister. Christmas Day after opening gifts, Alanna’s family is spending time with Rico’s parents if the blizzard isn’t still brewing.”
Terra tried to read his eyes. She rose and paced to the window. “Sounds nice, but I’ll call the hotel again to see if they have any cancellations. I can’t intrude on your family more than I have. It’s snowing a lot. Wow, with those big flakes, we’ll have another six or eight inches. I love the crystalline blanket of snow beneath the security lights.” She peered out farther into the yard. “Do I see some kind of sleigh out there?”
“Seriously, you’re welcome to stay here. I know you have nowhere to go.” Jude came to stand behind her, chuckling. “Yeah, it’s a farmer’s old bobsled or wood wagon you hook up to a horse. The old guy used it for winter work, but that isn’t what I use it for. I don’t know where she got the idea, but Maisy calls it a bobsleigh, so I guess that’s what it is now. I’ll be putting it to use tomorrow night. My buddy Andy, is usually my top elf, but he got sick and can’t make it—”
“There you are!” Alanna stood at the doorway with a playful grin directed at Jude and then to Terra, and back to her brother. “Hey, Rico talked to Andy. I wanted to make sure you know he can’t make it tomorrow, Jude.” She gave a big smile. “Let Terra and Kylee be your elves. Maisy would love it. Good night all.” She rushed away.
He hurried toward the door as if to catch Alanna. Instead of exiting, he returned to stand beside Terra—silent momentarily. Again, he paced but ended up right back with her at the window. “You know, my sister is right. Come along. Have you ever been an elf? Maisy comes with me. Of course, bring Kylee.” Jude grinned. “Who doesn’t like a sleigh ride on a snowy Christmas Eve? In fact, instead of an elf, you’ll be Ms. Claus.”
Terra smiled at his friendliness, but it caught her off guard too. He hadn’t exactly been hospitable since she’d been here. His bright eyes and grin added to his handsomeness. This truly had to be a fairy tale or a dream. It sounded like fun, but…should she? It’d at least be fun for Kylee and better than doing nothing on Christmas Eve in a stranger’s home.
End of excerpt.
Oh, there is so much more to come in this novella!
Check out the book description and more on my site’s book page.
Thank you for reading.
Let it Snow: 3333873 – Pixabay
Rundown Sleigh- ©Bounder32h- Dreamstime