I have a story releasing today as part of the Christmas-themed anthology, Holiday Kisses. My contribution is called I'll Be Home for Christmas and it's a riff on the classic Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life.
In n my version, Scout Patterson from my Oberon series is the George Bailey-esque character and Edge (my main angel from Edge of Heaven) steps into the Clarence role. I love writing holiday stories to begin with, and this one was a lot of fun to write--even if I needed to create a spread sheet just to keep track of all the changes that would have taken place in the new alternate timeline. Here's a little excerpt to show you what I mean:
Blurb: All Scout wants this holiday season is to get home in time for Christmas. But when your home is in quirky little Oberon, California, nothing is ever that simple.
It’s the night before Christmas and Scout Patterson is on her way back to Oberon, until a chance meeting with a meddlesome angel has her dreaming of a weird Christmas—one in which she sees what life in the little town might have been like if she’d never returned.
It’s not until I get to the school and see the sign on the door wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday that I remember the note that came home last week announcing today’s early closure. Now what?
Pausing at the top of the school’s front steps, I consider what to do next and decide to call Lucy. As one of my two closest friends, and Nick’s cousin, she’s the logical person to have picked up Cole—and the most likely to know what’s happened to Nick. When no one picks up at her house either, however, I’m ready to scream in frustration. I stomp down the stairs and back to the car—only to find Edge waiting in the Mustang’s passenger seat.
“What are you doing here?” I snap, forgetting in my annoyance that it’s his car. If he’s here to take it back, he can damn well drop me off at Lucy’s on his way.
“That’s almost funny,” he replies. “I was about to ask you the same thing.”
“I’m just trying to locate my family,” I explain as I open the driver’s door and climb back behind the wheel.
“I was afraid of that.” He shakes his head sadly. “You didn’t understand a word I said to you earlier, did you?”
Ya think? I grit my teeth to keep from screaming, slam the car in gear and tear away from the curb. “I don’t understand any of this!”
“Obviously not. So, where are we headed?”
There’s that “we” again. “Well, since I can’t reach anyone by phone, we are going to drive to my friend Lucy’s house. Hopefully, Cole’s with her.”
“If you say so,” Edge answers doubtfully. “But you’ll probably want to stop for gas. It’s an awfully long drive to Arizona.”
“Who said anything about Arizona?”
“That’s where Lucy’s spending Christmas this year—with her parents.”
“No, she’s not.” If that was the plan, I’d know about it. “Her family’s coming here. We’re all having dinner at her house tomorrow.”
“New life, remember? That was the plan. Was—past tense. Christmas hasn’t had the same meaning for Lucy since the divorce.”
“Who’s getting divorced?” “Gotten. Lucy and Dan. Greco-Cavanaugh marriage? Kaput.”
“You’re out of your mind,” I snarl, practically standing on the accelerator as I power through the deserted intersection. I must be too. Why am I still in the same car with him?
“Stop sign,” Edge observes as we fly past it.
“Never mind the sign. Talk, damn it!” To my surprise, he does. “So, d’you remember how they went through that rough patch a coupla years ago? They worked it out in part because you were here for Lucy to unload on. You took her side, gave her a chance to calm down and reassess the situation. You also located her son when he went missing. When none of that happened, when you weren’t here for her, or for Seth…things got complicated.”
“What do you mean, ‘it didn’t happen’? Sure, it did.”
“Old life, yes. New life, not so much.” Nodding at the rearview mirror, he adds, “I think he wants you to pull over.”
I glance in the mirror as well and see the lights of the cruiser behind me. “Oh, shit.” I will never hear the end of this. I steer the car to the curb, turn off the engine, close my eyes and wait for the inevitable humiliation. “This day just could not get any better.”
Edge chuckles in response. “I know. It’s great, innit?”
“License and registration.”
My eyes snap open. I know that voice. “Ryan? Oh, thank God.” I gaze in relief at the big cop who occasionally partners with my husband. “Look, I’m trying to locate Nick, but he’s not answering his phone. Do you happen to know where he is?”
“License,” Ryan repeats in cool, implacable tones. “And registration.”
“Better do as he says,” Edge advises as he hands me the required paperwork.
I take a quick look at the registration and freeze. “Wait. That’s not... What?” This car is registered in my name? And the address listed is the Venice Beach condo I just unloaded?
“Is there a problem, ma’am?”
Edge nudges my elbow. “Don’t make a fuss. Just say no.”
“No,” I say, feeling faint. “No problem.”
Ryan plucks the docs from my hand with a terse, “Wait here.”
As he heads back to his car, I turn on Edge. “What did you do? Tell me I did not just hand forged documents to the police!”
“Of course not.” He has the nerve to sound affronted. “That would be illegal.”
“Then tell me what’s happening—the truth, this time.”
“Do-over remember? I re-set everything in your life to the way it was before you returned to Oberon.”
“So, this is actually my car—my old car—the one I totaled, the car I owned when I first moved back here?”
“Now you’re getting it.”
“Then what’s this nonsense about Lucy being divorced? How is that the way things were before I came back?” Edge drops his head in his hands and groans. “I spoke too soon. No, Scout: your life got re-set. Everyone else’s lives continued the way they would have if you’d never come home.”
“You’re saying that, in my timeline, Lucy didn’t get divorced; and that was because of me?”
“That’s an oversimplification, but basically—yes.”
“And in this timeline, she is divorced, and that’s also because of me?”
“Again, not entirely because of you, but…”
“Everything okay, Ms. Patterson?” Ryan asks, making me jump. I hadn’t noticed him returning. He’s gazing at me suspiciously, still without a trace of recognition. “You haven’t been out celebrating, have you? Do I need to ask you to step out of the car to take a sobriety test?”
“What? Of course not! You know I’d never drive drunk.” Not after what had happened to Nick. My heart clenches a little as I recall my husband’s accident—the rumors, the accusations, the bitter aftermath.
“He doesn’t actually know that.” Edge leans in to whisper. “Also, FYI? You’re the only one who can see or hear me. Don’t recall if I’d mentioned that?”
Perfect. “I’m fine. I promise. I’m just having a really stressful day.”
“All right, well…I’ll take your word for it,” Ryan replies as he hands back my paperwork—and a citation for the stop sign I’d run. “For now. But don’t make me sorry.”
I can’t resist making one last appeal. “I don’t know who put you up to this, Ryan, but it really isn’t funny. Please, tell me you know who I am?”
He pauses, for a moment, studying my face, then shakes his head. “Nope. Sorry.”
“But you were at my wedding! It was right after you were shot. Come to that, I was at your wedding, too.”
“Well, they do say that everyone’s got a twin. You’re obviously confusing me with someone else. I’ve been to my share of weddings, but I’ve never tied the knot myself, and I’ve never been shot.”
“Never…?” The Ryan I know has been shot several times. If Edge is correct—which I don’t believe—is that my fault too? I turn to ask him, but the seat beside me is empty. I clamp a shaky hand over my mouth to keep from screaming. This can’t be happening.
The blood’s pounding so loudly in my ears that I almost miss Ryan’s next remarks. “I tell you what, though. I absolutely will remember you after this. And if I run into you again under similar circumstances, I won’t be inclined to let you off so easy. You got that?” I nod in response. “All right then. Happy holidays,” Ryan says as he turns to walk away. “And careful driving.”
Experience the magic of romance this Christmas. Holiday Kisses is a festive collection of eight exclusive Christmas stories that will make you fall head over heels in love. Are you ready to take a journey with us? Get into the Christmas spirit with these swoon-worthy romances this holiday season.
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