On A Cold Winter's Night
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by Leanne Burroughs, Amy Blizzard, Judith Leigh
Description: On a cold winter night--or any night in the year--snuggle up and enjoy five delightful stories designed to put you in the Christmas spirit. Homemade Christmas by Leanne Burroughs The Black Friday stock market crash of 1929 turns the world on its heels. Mark Donovan loses his job and returns to the farm he'd turned his back on so many years before. Maddy Stepson teaches at the local school. When the man she fell in love with as a child comes home, she not only has to compete with all he fell in love with in the big city, but stresses from the Great Depression that threaten to tear them apart. Christmas Wishes and Second Chances by Amy Blizzard Last Christmas, life was in perfect order for Dr. Elle Hennessy. But within one year, her life has been turned upside down by a broken engagement and a startling discovery. Unwilling to ruin her family's holiday cheer, Elle finds herself turning to Dr. Philip Wagner, her former fiancé, during her time of need when he extends a helping hand. With Philip standing faithfully by her side, the flames of love that had grown dim are rekindled and burning brightly once again. But is Elle strong enough to believe in the power of Christmas miracles and give their relationship another chance? Connecting Flights by Judith Leigh Stormy weather delayed baggage claims on Elizabeth Rawlings' return flight to Tallahassee. A double latte sounds like the perfect time killer. The crowded coffee shop necessitates sharing a table where she receives a jolt stronger than the lightning outside. Aaron Blake noticed Beth in the luggage return area. Now here she was, asking to share his table. The high school sweetheart he'd never forgotten, or stopped loving. Can a chance meeting turn out to be a lifetime connection? Noah's Arch by Patty Howell Archer Webster, a psychologist accused of stalking, seeks a top-notch defense lawyer to represent him. Referred to the firm of Adams & Adams, he finds himself having to decide who's the craziest: the woman accusing him or the attorney defending him. Burned from a previous case, Noah Adams accepts only female clientele. When Archer Webster seeks representation by her legal firm, she uses her male given name to her advantage. Or so she thinks. She soon learns the difficulty and embarrassment of straightening out a relationship begun on a lie. Can love at first sight overcome the hurdles of lies, deception, and trickery? Bonny Blue Christmas by Susan Barclay Annika's life is full and satisfying. She owns and operates her own restaurant, teaches cooking classes at the local college, and develops recipes in her few spare moments. Even though her mamma longs for a son-in-law, who has time for a man? Enter a dark-haired, blue-eyed man, whose worldly-wise taste buds expand her appreciation for ethnic food, and whose kisses leave her wanting more. How did she ever live without him? But when Joel's hidden secret comes to light, Annika's hopes for the future come crashing down. Will she recover? Is it possible to trust again? And can she face this Christmas alone? Leanne Burroughs, Amy Blizzard, Judith Leigh, Patty Howell, Susan Barclay
eBook Publisher: Highland Press/A Wee Dram, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [388 KB]
Reading time: 246-344 min.
"A wonderful group of authors has delivered to you a gift for anytime not just the Christmas season. Each one of these stories tells of heartbreak, of love in many different ways, of family bonds, and of faith in God. Separately they all offer great stories and when grouped together they also offer you a chance to maybe take and learn a lesson from each story as well."--Matilda, CoffeeTime Romance
October 29, 1929
* * * *
* * * *
"Stock market crashes! Thousands lose life savings!"
Mark Donovan rushed to the window and threw it open to hear what the newsboy outside was shouting. Please, God, I didn't hear that right. His world simply couldn't be crashing down on him. Not after he'd worked so hard. He'd moved to Chicago to live the big life. And that's exactly what he'd done.
Nightclubs, flappers, a huge home, a new Mercedes SSK Gazelle--a dream come true car--and wealth beyond anything imagined growing up. All thanks to the stock market. It had been the answer to his prayers.
Only he'd quit praying a long time ago. He was doing just fine on his own.
"Hey, boy. What's all the whoop-de-do about?" he shouted.
"Stock market crashes, sir! Thousands lose their life savings!"
This time there had been no mistake. He'd heard only too plainly. He didn't need the boy to repeat it. This had been the worst week of his life, ever since things had taken a down-turn last Thursday, but he'd thought sure things would change. They always had in the past. Slumps came and slumps went.
Shutting the window, he stumbled to his desk in shock, sitting heavily in his chair. Closing his eyes, he leaned back. He didn't move when the door crashed open.
"Mark! You have to come to the front of the bank. People are rushing in to withdraw their money. Did you hear? The newsboy outside is saying--"
"I heard, Scott." Mark still didn't move. "You were right last Thursday after all. We should have sold all our stocks immediately when the market plummeted. Margin calls are going to go out now. Not only have you and I lost everything, but the bank will probably have to close."
He rubbed his hand over his forehead. "What have we done, Scott? The bank invested our depositors' money in the market without consulting them. Those poor fools have lost their life savings and don't even know it yet."
* * * *
* * * *
Harmony Falls, Wisconsin
* * * *
Mark stepped off the bus. Would his sister really come fetch him? He wouldn't blame her if she didn't. It's not like he'd kept in close touch with anyone in his family.
He turned and caught his sister as she launched herself into his arms.
"You came. I was so afraid you wouldn't." Susie buried her face in his neck. "I was afraid your stubborn--"
"Pride would get in the way?" He drew back to look her in the eyes. Her inner beauty still shown through her beautiful green eyes. She looked so much like Dad had in his younger days, with his red hair and green eyes. It was the Irish in them--along with their too quick Irish temper.
"Well ... yes." Her smile lit up her face. "Now that you mention it."
He looked around the rural town he'd left so many years ago. The one he couldn't wait to escape. Couldn't wait to make his fortune. That certainly was never going to happen on the farm.
His gaze wandered back to his sister. "How can you even want me here, Susie? I said some horrible things when I left."
She reached up and brushed the backs of her fingers against his stubbled cheek. "That was then. This is now. You were young and foolish. And you saw the toll farming took on Dad. We've all done things in our life we regret. All that matters is you're my big brother. And you're home. Mama can't wait to see you."
They walked toward a Model T pick-up. How different from the sleek Mercedes he'd had to sell to help meet his debts.
"This is yours?"
She stiffened. "It might not be fancy like you were used to in Chicago, but it gets us where we need to go. And it's only five years old. $260 was a fortune to us, but it's paid for."
The dig hit home. He was here out of the goodness of her heart. He had to remember to temper his comments. "Where's John?"
"At home. He had a lot to do around the farm. Wanted to be done before we arrive. Mama wanted to come, but she wasn't feeling very good today."
Mid-stride, Mark stopped and stared at her.
"Mama's sick? You didn't tell me that. I would have--"
She raised a brow. "You would have what? Come home? Very little ever got you here. Why would I believe--"
He held his hands up in front of him to stop her tirade. Even though true, it hurt to hear.
"You've only been home four times since you left. Once for my wedding. Once for Daddy's funeral."
"I was here when both of your children were born," he rushed to interject.
"Like I said, four times."
When they reached the truck, he didn't open the passenger door. He just looked at her.
"What?" She opened the driver's door. "Are you planning to stand there and stare at me or are you going to get in the truck so we can go home?"
"Don't look at me like I have two heads. The responsibilities of farm and family belong to John and me. We share everything--chores and joy." Moving a strand of her bright red hair away from her eyes, she stepped on the running board and slid into the seat.
She chuckled when he shook his head. "You think Chicago is the only place where women are allowed to do things? Grow up, big brother. We might not have fancy flappers or expensive items like you've been used to, but there's not much I can't do. Johnny taught me to drive last year after his sister moved home and nagged him to teach her. So, now if he's busy working in the field and needs something for the farm from town or Claremont City, I can come in and get it for him."
"Madelyn's back?" He frowned, thinking. "I thought Ma wrote she went away to school."
Susie nodded. "She did, and she taught school in the city for a while, but she came back last year. She teaches in town now. That's why she needed Johnny to teach her to drive. So she could get into town after the town council offered her the job."
Mark shook his head. "Hard to think of little Madelyn all grown up."
Susie laughed. "You should only know, big brother." Facing forward, she started the truck. "You should only know."
* * * *
Tommy and Kathie, his nephew and niece, chattered away at the table while they drank milk and ate cookies. Memories washed over Mark. He and Susie used to do the same thing when they were six and eight. Only in their case, the ages had been reversed. They'd tagged right behind Mama's heels whenever she baked cookies. When he'd loved living at home. Before he knew the truth--his family was poor.
How he'd hated that word. Hated it still. But the stock market crash had leveled the economy. Many people had no job and no money. Last he'd heard, over three million people were unemployed. And he was one of them.
"Uncle Mark, will you come outside and play ball with me?" Tommy's shyness hadn't taken long to dissipate.
"No, he's going to stay inside and help Mama and me make a cake for dinner tonight." Kathie bumped Tommy with her hip to push him aside.
Mark rose to his feet. "I'd love to do both, but your dad's planning on showing me all the improvements he's made to the farm." He ruffled Tommy's red hair. Other than the color of his hair, the boy was a miniature version of John. "But we'll have plenty of time to play catch."
He grinned at the frown plastered on Kathie's face. "And if I know your ma, she wouldn't let me anywhere near the kitchen while she's cooking. I used to dip her pigtails in flour when we were your age." He pulled on one of Kathie's blonde pigtails to make his point.
"Uncle Mark!" Kathie's eyes widened. "You didn't."
"Yessiree, I did."
He rose and headed out the screen door to meet John in the barn. Oh, for those days when life had been fun and carefree.