Hello, readers. We’re happy to share our gifts to you, a short Christmas story that will run from December 12 through December 21. Please join us and comment each day to win what we call a BOOK BLAST! We will pick two names an if you will, you’ll get books mailed to you from our authors. Several books!!! So comeback often and enjoy our gift to you.
Jean C. Gordon
The seconds seemed to turn into hours as Grace stared at him, not saying a word. He dropped his hand and shuffled his feet. Starting fresh, not over, had sounded like a good idea when he'd thought of it. Her gaze darted to the Christmas tree and his followed to the keepsake ornament he’d given her the last Christmas they’d spent together. He still had the one she’d given him, too. The guys had razed him, but he’d taken the ornament with him everywhere after he’d left—had had to leave—so he’d have a part of her, even if he couldn’t have her.
Grace dropped her head, and his heart sank with it. He could make it all up to her if she’d let him, if she could let go of the past. That’s what had come between them before. His mistake had been giving into what she said she’d wanted instead of what he knew in his heart was right. Then, he’d hardened his heart against what was right because that was the only way he could go on.
Her shoulders shook and she released an almost inaudible gasp. She must have spotted the wrapped gift he’d slipped under the tree when she hadn’t been looking, the small square box with the overpowering lavender bow. Lavender, her favorite color. He swallowed. That had probably been a dumb idea, too. He placed his hands on her shoulders and squeezed gently, her warmth filling him. She leaned back against him. Yes, let me support you.
Before he could drop his hands and wrap them around her waist, Grace jerked away. Despite the cracking fire in the fireplace, cool air rushed between them. She spun around, the look of anguish on her face scraping his heart raw.
“I’ll go,” he rasped.
“No, I’ll go. I have to get out of here. I need to breath.” She rushed toward the kitchen.
Her steps faltered.
“It’s ten degrees outside.”
“Argh!” She broke into a full run, or as much of a full run as she could manage around the furniture.
He lunged after her. He was an idiot. Why couldn’t he ever say what he meant to Grace? If only he’d been able to write her a letter with the words he’d put in the message in her ornament before he’d let the distance between them grow too wide.
“Grace, what’s wrong?” Jeb said as she burst into the kitchen.
“Nothing. Everything. Let me go.”
Jeb turned his wheelchair just enough to block Jericho so he’d have to knock the man over to reach Grace.
“Do as she says,” Jeb said. “She’s like my Martha that way. She needs to work things out alone.”
Being alone was the last thing Jericho thought Grace needed. But he’d certainly been wrong about her before, starting with leaving that last Christmas when she’d told him to and not letting her know why or where he’d had to go. At least she’d grabbed her coat and hat and gloves along with her keys as she’d dashed out.
“What was that about?” Mary Noel said, popping back into the kitchen from the pantry.
“Grace. She’s gone. She said she’d needed to be alone.” The words spilled out of Jericho.
“And you let her go?” Mary Noel’s gaze drilled his. “Both of you?” She rubbed her hands as if wiping herself clean of the pair of them, placed her hands on her hips and faced Jeb. “Don’t interfere. Leave them alone. They’ll work it out, you said. Well, see how well that went.”
“Mary Noel,” Jeb cautioned, moving his chair enough so that Jericho could slip by.
“Stop right there, Jericho,” Mary Noel ordered. “What are your intentions toward our Grace.”
“I love her. I always have.”
“That’s what I thought. Grace is like her grandmother. Martha was my best friend. I say that the only way you’re going to salvage this. young man, is for us to join forces and run some serious interference.”