Good morning. Welcome to the official first day of winter 2016-2017. Unfortunately, Old Man Winter has had a firm grip on this area for weeks now. It’s also the last Midweek tease before Christmas, so I thought you would enjoy something “in keeping with the situation” as the housekeeper says in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
This morning, my tease comes from Her Christmas Hero. This is a short read. If after you read this and want more, the digital book is available from all Amazon distributors. https://www.amazon.com/Her-Christmas-Hero-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B017TGEVAC
Widowed mother of four Laurie Wilson gets a shock when a check that was supposed to have been destroyed is cashed, leaving her in a financial lurch just days before Christmas.
Leland Ostler packed his heart in ice years ago and goes through the Christmas season paying lip service to the holiday. When he discovers Laurie Wilson is the girl he was fascinated by in high school and discovers her plight, he determines to make sure that family has the Merry Christmas it deserves.
This morning’s tease:
Laurie Wilson closed the file on her computer and removed her purse from the drawer. Reaching under her desk, she grabbed her boots.
“Please don’t tell me you’re going out for lunch in this,” Cassie said. “You’ve got to be crazy. I don’t understand why the city isn’t completely shut down.”
“It’s just a little sleet and snow,” she answered, smiling at her best friend. “We had far worse weather than this when I worked in Buffalo. Besides, it’s supposed to let up later this afternoon.” She exchanged her leather pumps for her worn knee-high boots. Her feet would be soaking wet by the time she got back. She should’ve bought those waterproof boots on sale last week, but Michael had needed basketball shoes. How could a boy’s feet grow so quickly?
She frowned, hoping the weather gods were right. If it got worse … The last thing she needed was for the schools to close early. Mrs. Bingley, the neighbor who babysat for her when the kids were sick or had a professional activity day, was still visiting her daughter out west and wouldn’t be back for another three or four days. Laurie had used up all of this year’s sick leave and vacation time, and she couldn’t afford a day without pay this close to Christmas.
“I have to go over to Caswell’s and pick up the tablets I ordered for the kids. Since the price was so good, they’ll sell like hot cakes, and Mrs. C. promised to set four aside as long as I got in there before five today.”
“That was nice of her. You’re such a good mommy,” Cassie said. “Don’t forget to grab a sandwich or something while you’re out. You’re losing weight again. The one thing those kids of yours don’t need is a sick mother.”
“You’re preaching to the choir. I’ll be fine. Christmas this year is important. It has to be the best one ever, and you know it.”
“Frank was a jerk. I won’t speak ill of the dead, but those kids are better off without a father like that, and a man who beats on his wife, don’t even get me started.”
“He wasn’t always like that,” Laurie said, falling back into her abused wife persona and defending the man. She shook her head. No. Months of counseling had taught her not to make excuses for him. “Be nice; without Frank, I wouldn’t have those kids, and I can’t imagine life without them.”
“Fine. The sperm donor did do something right, even if it was for the wrong reasons since all he wanted to do was keep you under his thumb, but I’ll never forgive the man for treating you and those angels that way. Dying was the best thing he ever did for you guys. You’d better get going. You’ve only got an hour. I’ll cover for you if you’re a few minutes late.”
“Thanks, Cassie. You’re the best.”
Laurie hurried to the closet, took out her cornflower-blue coat, slipped it on, tying the hot-pink scarf around her neck, and jamming the matching cap down on her head. She rushed down the hall as quickly as the heels on her boots would allow and turned the corner, running right into a solid wall of muscle and fine wool.
“Whoa, there. Where’s the fire?” he asked, holding her upright.
“Sorry, sir,” she said, avoiding eye contact with the man a good six inches taller than her own five-foot eight inch frame. He let go of her arms where the skin burned beneath his touch even through the three layers that separated the flesh. She bent down and grabbed her purse, noting the strap had broken. Damn. Something else that would need to be replaced. Why was it she constantly ran out of money before she ran out of things to spend the money on?
She nodded and mumbled a second apology, escaping into the elevator as soon as the doors opened, making sure to keep her eyes averted. Of all the people to run into: Leland Ostler, the firm’s CEO, and Mrs. Colter, his administrative assistant. No doubt the woman would be clock-watching until Laurie was behind her desk once more.
Moving as swiftly as she could along the slush covered sidewalk, Laurie kept her head down watching for icy spots that could end up in an embarrassing spill. Cassie was right, it was much worse out here than she’d imagined. The possibility school would be over earlier than expected worried her. Mike had a key, but a ten-year-old wasn’t an adequate babysitter for his nine, eight, and six year old siblings. It was only for a couple of hours, but who knew how many things could go wrong in that short time period? Marcia, the neighbor’s teenage daughter, usually went into the house and stayed with the children until Laurie got home, but the teen had finished school last week and gone south with her family.
Stop borrowing trouble. It’s Christmas. The sleet will stop. Think positive.
Now, don’t forget to visit the rest of this week’s teasers.