Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, Lucy Naylor Kubash, and an excerpt from her Sweet Contemporary Romance short story, “Home for Christmas,” which is part of her The Christmas Wish anthology.
Bonnie and Charlie married after a whirlwind affair, but it all ended when Bonnie left with no explanation. Now she’s back and Charlie wants answers, about what happened to them and why she left, but especially about the three children she has in tow. Can they all really make it home for Christmas?
As an empty nester, Caroline is feeling lonely this Christmas. When she meets the new veterinarian in town, Joshua Kendall, and his two children, she’s more than happy to invite them to her library for a holiday program. Joshua’s children seem to have little interest in celebrating, but Caroline is determined to put smiles on their little faces, and to make Joshua find joy in life again.
Brant and Hope found love the second time around, but now their farm is struggling and it’s taking a toll on their relationship. Hope’s daughter has asked for one thing for Christmas, but Brant is certain it’s something they can’t afford. There is a new baby on the way, and he’s worried about more than just the farm. Will they find a way to rekindle their love and still make the Christmas wish come true?
Certain to get you in the Christmas spirit, here are three heartwarming stories about love and family and finding joy in the Season.
First Kiss Excerpt
The ranch house that night glowed with more light than it had in a long time. When Charlie came in from doing his chores, the warmth met him at the door. A fire burned cheerfully in the fireplace, Patty, Jim, and Ginger grouped around a blanket-wrapped Dee Dee on the sofa, and the aroma of freshly made buttermilk biscuits drifted from the kitchen.
“Hi Charlie. Look what I made.” Jim held up the crayon drawing of a horse. “I worked on it all afternoon. Bonnie says you have lots of horses. You s’pose I could see them?”
Charlie shed his coat and Stetson and went over to the three children. They looked so natural sitting there on the old sofa. He crouched down before them. Ginger licked his hands, and he petted the little dog.
“Maybe tomorrow. I’ll give you a tour of the ranch. How does that sound?”
Jim’s eyes sparkled. “Neat! You can keep this, if you think it’s any good.”
Charlie took the drawing.
“Thanks, partner.” He tousled the boy’s hair. “It’s not half bad.
“What about me? Do I get to see the horses, too?” Dee Dee’s face still looked peaked, but her cheek felt cool to Charlie’s touch.
“Soon as we get you well, darlin’. I’ll take you all for the grand tour.”
Patty glanced up from the paper snowflakes she’d cut out.
“These are for your Christmas tree. It looks kind of…empty.” She paused a moment. “Bonnie says we have to leave tomorrow to make it to Aunt Liddy’s.”
“But I like it here,” Dee Dee protested.
“And I wanna see the horses,” Jim added.
Charlie studied the three young faces. They’d been through a lot. They deserved some stability in their lives, and Bonnie sure as hell wasn’t giving it to them by traipsing back and forth across the state.
“You’ll see the horses,” he promised.
He found Bonnie taking dinner from the oven. She was leaning down and her hair fell like a satin curtain. Desire ripped through Charlie like the grip of a grizzly. He had to close his eyes and catch his breath before speaking.
“Patty says you’re leaving tomorrow.”
“The mechanic in Red Springs called and said the van is done and I can pick it up in the morning.”
“What about Dee Dee?”
“She’ll be okay. I’ll take her to the doctor when we get to Aunt Liddy’s.”
When he came up behind her, Bonnie chewed her bottom lip. Standing this close to Charlie was having an earthquake effect on her. She remembered what it was like to have him hold her, kiss her. Her legs were turning to jelly and she had to get away. Only she couldn’t seem to move in any direction except toward Charlie. Like a magnet he drew her to him. His big hands were gentle on her shoulders, and then her face was pressed to his broad chest. She felt his calloused fingers slipping through her hair and heard him murmur, Bonnie.
She lifted her face to him, and the kiss that followed was a long, slow rekindling of a fire left too long to smolder. They both trembled.
“I’ve missed you…so damn bad.” Charlie’s voice was raw with emotion.
Bonnie clutched the front of his shirt, feeling his warmth through the soft wool.
“You don’t have to leave.” He waited for her reply.
Tears filled Bonnie’s eyes. How she wished she could stay! But would it be any better this time? She feared not. Between her and Charlie there had been only this. Wonderful as it was, it wasn’t enough to sustain a marriage, and now she had the kids to think of.
“Supper’s ready.” She wiped away the tears and stepped out of Charlie’s arms.
He didn’t argue. If Bonnie didn’t want him anymore, he wasn’t going to beg. A man had to have his pride.
But pride didn’t keep him warm that night, and it didn’t fill the lonely hours after Bonnie and the kids were gone. On Christmas Eve, Charlie stood before the tree decorated with Patty’s snowflakes. He thought about the three kids who had come into his life so unexpectedly. Letting them go had been painful, almost as painful as losing Bonnie again.
Too late now. They were gone, and he had no idea where to find them. He wouldn’t know where to begin to look for Aunt Liddy.
Charlie touched one of the paper snowflakes, and a peculiar tightness gripped his throat. Then he noticed the writing on the snowflake. He pulled the ornament from the tree and looked closer. It was an address. Checking, he found the same thing written on all of them. With a smile, Charlie tucked the snowflake in his pocket. Jamming on his hat, he tugged on his coat as he went out the door. Before long he was driving down the highway to Gillette.
“The Christmas Wish” is available through: