Today’s post is an excerpt from Christmas Day of 1944 in my unpublished novel, Rocks and Flowers in a Box:
We stepped into a winter wonderland after the service concluded. White dusted our shoulders as we made our way to the Speedster. When we reached the car, we stopped and looked at the heavens.
“This was always my favorite part of Christmas as a kid,” I said. “I hoped for snow to be falling when church let out at midnight.”
“That means it’s Christmas Day.” Tristan kissed me. “Merry Christmas, my darling.”
“Merry Christmas, my everything.”
Tristan opened the door for me. I got in. He joined me a moment later. He didn’t turn the car on, and when the silence drew long, I cast a puzzled look at him.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
A soft laugh escaped from his lips. “Nothing is wrong. Nothing at all.”
“Then why so quiet?”
“I was just thinking how much I enjoyed this evening.” HIs hand took mine over the shifter.
A smile eased onto my face, my worries evaporating. “I’m so happy to hear it.”
With a gentle smile on his face, Tristan started the car and drove home. The snow was still falling with the grace of angels singing. I imagined that first Christmas night when the baby Jesus lay wrapped in his mother’s arms in a manger as I stepped out of the car and gazed at the sky. The stars were obscured, but it was the same sky as nearly 2000 years ago. What amazement, what fear the shepherds must have experienced when the Heavenly Host appeared among the stars and proclaimed the birth of the Savior!
“Thank You,” I whispered to God, then withdrew my gaze and took my husband’s hand.
We entered through the side door, throwing on the light. After peeling off our coats, gloves, and hats and hanging them, Tristan said, “There’s something I want to share with you before we head to bed.”
“Oh?” I sent a puzzled look his way, but he was already leaving the kitchen.
I followed Tristan into the living room.
“Please, sit,” he said, gesturing toward my father’s armchair. He flipped on the switch, and the tree bloomed with light.
I eased into the comfort of the cushions. Tristan got down on one knee and reached under the tree among the few gifts. He withdrew one and set it on my lap.
“Go ahead. Open it.”
“Shouldn’t I wait until morning?”
“I want you to see it now.” His eyes danced in the low light.
Smiling, I ripped the edge of the paper, careful to keep it in good condition for the following year. A box about three inches thick stared up at me. I removed the lid and stared at a bound stack of paper, only it wasn’t just any stack of paper. On the first page were the words “A Flower Among Rocks.” Then “By B.R. Stevenson.”
My mouth hung open in awe as my eyes shifted from the manuscript to Tristan. “Is this—?”
Tristan covered my hands with his and squeezed. “It is. It needs to go to my agent and be edited, but this is the first draft of my next novel. I contacted Riggs two weeks ago—the day after you received your brother’s letter, in fact. He’s anxious to receive it. I mailed it to him the next day.”
“That’s wonderful, Tristan!” I took his face in my hands and kissed him. “You did it! You really wrote another book, and to think I’ll be the first to read it… Thank you so much!” I flung my arms around him.
He returned the hug, awkwardly leaning forward as he knelt in front of the chair. He laughed. “Let’s just say a certain someone was the inspiration.” He tapped my nose.
“You are the sweetest, most thoughtful man on the planet. I can’t wait to read it. And this copy…it’s mine?”
He nodded, chuckling more. “You may have wondered what took me so long. I had to type out another copy.”
“You could’ve used carbon paper.” I laughed.
“That would’ve been the sensible thing to do, and we know me and sensible don’t match.”
“Truer words were never said.” I lost myself in laughter and hugs.
When our chuckles subsided, Tristan said, “But seriously, Lorna, I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be living a life like this. You have done more than you’ll ever know. When I told you I wrote when I was down and out in the past, that was true. Being married to you, though, sparked something new and alive in me. I found you were my inspiration to write now.”
He pulled me to standing and tucked me into the crook of his arms. “I’ll never, ever stop loving you.”
I cried happy tears into his shirt. “There you go, being all poetic with words again, reducing me to a blubbering, incoherent mess. How could I not love you?”
He chuckled, scooped me into his arms, and carried me into the bedroom.