Friday, July 13, 2018

Christmas in July!

Come join the festivities at N.N. Light's Book Heaven and check out another Christmas excerpt!

It's Christmas in July! Or at least it is in my book TRUTH AND SOLACE. We're celebrating books set, or partly set, during Christmas in this fantastic promotion. Like the third, and concluding, novel in my Love at Solace Lake series. The fun part is you can enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a $100 US Amazon gift card!

Christmas is a time for food and families. Maggie, the heroine of TRUTH AND SOLACE, is a chef so she's all about food. She volunteers to help cook Christmas dinner for Luke's family; his grandmother Phyllis, stepfather Reese and his mother Abby. This Christmas is bittersweet for all of them because it's likely Abby's last:

Once the toasts were done, Maggie and Phyllis excused themselves to put the final touches on dinner. Phyllis bustled around, checking pots on the stove that didn’t need checking and rearranging table settings that were perfectly fine. Maggie knew keeping busy was her way of coping. She’d give her something to do.

“Phyllis, do you think we should have whipped cream with the pie?”

“Yes, I think that would be lovely. Abby loves whipped cream…”

Her voice trailed off. They both knew Abby was unlikely to eat much of anything. Maggie spoke quickly, not wanting her to dwell on her sadness. “I brought some whipping cream. It’s in the fridge.” Phyllis’ face brightened. “I’ll whip it up. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

She set to work immediately, pulling Abby’s electric mixer from the cupboard. By the time she’d finished, the potatoes were tender and ready to mash. Maggie drained the heavy pot and handed the masher to Phyllis. She pounded away at them as if they were the cancer in her daughter’s body and she could obliterate it by sheer force of will.

If only it were that easy.

Maggie removed the turkey from the oven and set it on a large platter to rest while she made gravy. Once Reese carved the turkey, they’d be ready to eat.

Luke wheeled his mother’s chair to her spot at the end of the table and then poured the wine he’d brought for himself, Maggie and his grandmother. He gave Abby and Reese more sparkling grape. After everyone sat, Abby lifted her glass, her hand trembling slightly.

“I’d like to propose a toast. To us, and the merriest Christmas ever. For this one day, let’s forget about illness and remember how much we love each other and how much we enjoy being together. Reality will come back soon enough, but for today, let’s forget. Merry Christmas.”

The silence was deafening. Maggie should have known Abby would feel the tension all around her and know her family was hurting. Her cancer was the elephant in the room they couldn’t ignore. They needed to address it head on. Maggie touched her wine glass to Abby’s. “I second your toast. Here’s to the merriest Christmas ever, with good food and good friends. Today, let’s only think happy thoughts. On this happiest of days, I say cancer can go f*** itself.”

Reese let out a guffaw and Abby laughed out loud. She covered her mouth with her free hand as it turned into a cough. But she was able to quickly bring the cough under control, for which Maggie was profoundly grateful.

“I’ll drink to that,” Abby said.

Reese lifted his own glass. Maggie hadn’t seen a genuine smile on his face in some time. “I think that’s a toast I can get behind.”

Phyllis shook her head as she touched her glass to Reese’s. “That’s my roommate, potty mouth girl.”
A fresh round of laughter erupted around the table. Sadness dissipated as if a window had been thrown open and a fresh breeze had blown through the house.

From across the table, Luke smiled into her eyes and lifted his glass to her in a silent salute. Maggie raised her glass and saluted back. As Abby said, reality would hit soon enough. For today, she wanted to play a game of pretend where everything was possible, like believing Abby could return to full health.

And Luke would want to stay in Minnewasta with her.

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