Forty days till Christmas...can they open their hearts in time?
Kirsten Morrison runs the Secret Santa Society and loves making others happy. Although she knows opening your heart can be painful, her secret wish is to find a special man to share Christmas with....
Volunteering to wrap children's gifts isn't something Michael Brewster would normally do. But, facing his first Christmas alone, he finds himself on Kirsten's doorstep.
As they work together, an undeniable attraction flares between them. Is a kiss under the mistletoe the start of their Christmas wish come true?
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October 09, 2007
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Excerpt from Their Christmas Wish Come True by Cara Colter
Forty days until Christmas...
THE doorbell ringing sounded like a cannon going off, the balls landing and exploding inside his own head.
Michael Brewster groaned, rolled over, pried one eye open and looked past an empty beer bottle, lying on its side, to his bedside alarm clock.
Six o'clock. Morning or evening? Morning. Who the hell would call on him at six in the morning? He pulled a pillow over his head, but the door chimed again, and then again. Groggily, grumpily, like a bear coming out of hibernation, he groped over the side of his bed, found a pair of jeans and pulled them on.
Bare-footed and chested, he stumbled down the hallway and threw open his front door. The bracing November air cleared his head, and he reluctantly bit back his temper.
His neighbor, Mr. Theodore, stood there, wizened as a little elf, looking impossibly cheerful given the early hour and the fact that the sky was a dark, leaden gray behind him, promising a grim day.
"Top of the morning to you, Michael." With his head thudding and his mouth feeling as if he'd cleaned toilets with his tongue the night before, Michael wanted to snap at the old man and slam the door. But how could he?
Michael had recently moved back to the home he'd grown up in, and Mr. Theodore was part of the treasured memories that had drawn him back here, to the house that still smelled of his father's pipe. Michael and his brother, Brian, had raided Mr. Theodore's garden and picked his carefully tended flowers for their mom. They had broken the branches of his crab apple tree while climbing it, and played Halloween pranks on him.
Despite that history, or maybe because of it, Michael had felt initial wariness when Mr. Theodore had approached him about working around his house. A carpenter by trade, Michael was financially in a position where he never had to work again.
Besides, by saying yes, would he leave himself open to being preached at? Mr. Theodore had always had an eclectic spiritual bent. He sang in his church choir, he was at ease discussing the Dalai Lama over the back fence. He usually had a book in hand of philosophy or poetry: Leopold, Thoreau, Frost.
But in his more honest moments, Michael wondered if maybe he'd actually said yes hoping his aging, well-read neighbor had an answer to the bankruptcy of his own spirit.
Everybody else seemed to have answers, theories about life and death and meaning, that they were, in Michael's opinion, much too eager to share.
Mr. Theodore, however, had given no advice. While Michael rebuilt front steps and installed new windows, Mr. Theodore offered only small talk--how to look after geraniums, which of the neighbors made the best chocolate chip cookies-- and endless work. When one job ended at his aging house another magically appeared.
But six in the morning? Mr. Theodore was pressing his luck.
"I was just wondering--" Michael sighed inwardly, tried to guess. What hadn't he seen? What repair had he overlooked in Mr. Theodore's project-ridden house? Leaking roof? Dripping bathroom sink? Despite the hour, and a monstrous hangover, Michael was aware of feeling relieved. Something to do today, after all.
There was always something else to do, thank God. With nothing to do, Michael would surely be more lost than he already was, as lost as he had been before Mr. Theodore had come and knocked on his door for the first time and pulled him away from the perfect digital images of the huge plasma television set, the only purchase he had made with all that money.
Michael Brewster had not expected to end up unspeakably, unbelievably rich, at twenty-seven years of age. Had he ever dreamed it, he surely would not have seen it as a curse. But it was.And he would give all that money back in an instant if only--
"Christmas lights," Mr. Theodore announced happily.
He must have registered Michael's confused look. "Christmas," Mr. Theodore said. "It's almost Christmas. Today is--" he consulted his watch for confirmation "--November 15. I always put up my decorations on November 15."
But Michael hadn't gotten much past the Christmas part. Peripherally, on the edges of the haze he lived in, he must have realized stores were decorating for Christmas, that fall color was gone and winter-gray had set in.
And yet, it felt as if he'd had no warning.
And the question that burned in him, that made him toss and turn at night, that made him pace the floor, that made him drink too much beer and stare for hours at a TV screen in an effort to shut it out, was suddenly right there on his tongue. He tried to bite it back but it felt as though the question was going to strangle him if he did not ask someone, say the words, finally, out loud.