The Magic of Christmas
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by Betty Gordon
Description: Five holiday stories of discovery hope and love. The Phone Call -- One day and one minute in the life of Agnes Riley. Chicago winters can be cold and lonely for those in their twilight years. Case in point, ninety-one year old Agnes Riley. The Magic Apron -- A remarkable granny, a magic apron, and a tiny fairy guide a family to forgiveness, and unite them with love. Santa's Clown -- Samantha covers her face with paint, wears a seductive, sequined costume, pokes fun at sadness and creates laughter, but not everyone enjoys her antics. The tale celebrates understanding and acceptance. Christmas Past, A Forgotten Bride -- A Christmas tradition and a young woman's search for spirits lead to an unbelievable story filled with fear, love lost, and mystical discoveries. Eternity -- Hurricane devastation, the Gulf of Mexico, a mysterious ship, and a magical meeting between a handsome man and a beautiful woman bring this story to life in unexpected ways.
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, 2010 Spring, Texas
eBookwise Release Date: November 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [121 KB]
Reading time: 75-105 min.
Laura worked her way through twisted metal, shredded lumber, and broken glass. The Enduring Mermaid took a hit from the latest hurricane that throttled the Texas Gulf Coast and moved inland far enough to do extensive damage to all in its path. She had worked hard to create a clothing shop in The Heights, one of Houston's unique areas, and now her life and business had been dissolved into gritty jello.
Laura looked through the shattered window at her shingle swinging in the subdued breeze. She couldn't believe it was intact. She recalled the day she met the artist who designed the sign, a caricature of her as a mermaid with long flowing red hair and sparkling green eyes. He said it would bring her good fortune and whether it was the sign or something else, her shop had flourished--at least until the storm.
She might be down, but not out. She needed to get a contractor to bring The Mermaid back to life.
* * * *
Repairs threatened to dissolve her savings and no money was coming in. Laura couldn't pay her assistant, Marina, and she couldn't imagine operating without her. She doubted the single girl from the Bahamas had saved anything after coming to Houston six months ago. How long would, or could, she remain? Her assistant kept telling her she loved the shop, but how long could she live on that love?
Laura had to generate income, but first she had to find an isolated place where she could cut herself off from the public, from the destruction around her, and put her mind in order. In the past, she had gone to Galveston for serious thinking and now in spite of the damage on the beaches, it was the only place to repair her wounded heart. She had to center herself and get The Mermaid back on track.
Once in Galveston, she drove down the highway fronting the Gulf toward West Beach. The beaches were deserted--strange, eerie. After what seemed an endless search, she found a somewhat secluded place away from everything but a few beach houses that had thumbed their noses at the storm. When she saw a small clump of shrubs that had also resisted devastation, she could have jumped with joy. Sand and rock formed a platform close by--a perfect place for meditation and to feel one with the sand, one with the water, and one with a universe that had been toppled by Ike's fury. No one had wandered into this sequestered spot, at least that she could tell, and she wasn't complaining. She felt safe--no one would give her trouble with Dog, a large, black Doberman, by her side. Dusk soon spread itself over the water creating weird shadows, fingers searching the water. She spread a blanket on the sand and fell on top of it before retrieving a sandwich and water from her small fridge. Dog ran and played while she ate. As she followed his black form, she watched small bubbles gather on the shore and creep onto the sand before returning to the Gulf's hour glass--mesmerizing. She leaned her head back forgetting the shop, forgetting the devastation, forgetting everything but the fragrance of salt air and musical sounds of waves touching shore.
Dog interrupted Laura's reverie by dropping a small piece of driftwood on the blanket. He backed off and ran back to the wood before she reacted. She stood and pitched the wood toward the water. Dog retrieved it, waiting for a repeat performance. After the second time, he stood at water's edge with a low growl building in his throat.
"What is it, boy?"
Dog stood immobile.
Laura continued to stare into the Gulf and then she saw it--a ship of some kind, but it wasn't coming to shore. It charged against the waves heading toward Louisiana. The ship moved side to side like pictures in a pop-up book. Darkness made it impossible to tell much about it, but it looked like an old pirate ship...impossible? Not in Galveston. There had been reports of seeing Jean Lafitte's ship--could this be it?
In a few minutes, the vision faded and Laura's focus shifted. A full moon's beam followed something or someone moving through the water coming toward the coast. Dog's ridge hair stood at attention. She whispered for quiet. Who would brave the Gulf after dark? Laura and Dog backed up giving some distance between them and the suspicious form. She stared in disbelief as the figure materialized into a man and from what she could tell, a well-built one. Once out of the water, he ran down the beach. Laura stared until he faded from sight. She waited another thirty minutes hoping he would return, but finally gave up. She gathered her things and made her way to the car with Dog trotting beside her.
It was a little over an hour's drive to the Heights. She had planned to ready the house for Christmas--her favorite time of the year. Even though ole Ike had roared into Texas in September, it managed to put the damper on the holidays for most, but it wouldn't for her. She had her tree, undecorated, but still a tree, in the house with boxes of ornaments and trimmings begging to be used.
After arriving home, Laura showered and decided it was too late to start decorating. She grabbed a book and crawled in bed. In ten minutes she was asleep dreaming of a handsome man coming from the water, standing in front of her, pulling her to her feet, embracing her and teasing her lips with air kisses before finally pressing his lips to hers...
Laura's dream was shattered by the sound of the doorbell. Dog raced toward the door with barks capable of making the strongest heart shrink. Laura grabbed her gun off the nightstand and followed. Then she heard Annie's voice shouting her name.
"Laura. Laura, let me in."
When she opened the door, her closest friend was propped against the doorframe, disheveled and trembling.
"Dear God, what happened to you?"