It’s almost Christmas. My children are beside themselves with excitement (we’ve already baked cookies for Santa). Thank goodness a certain elf is around to help keep them out of Santa’s treats until Sunday night.
In my original drafts of Don’t Ask Me to Leave, the novel opened in the Miller home on Christmas, with the first blended family meal. As I went through the editing process, that changed, but I ended up including a Christmas scene eventually.
As a little “Christmas gift” to blog followers, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 22 of Don’t Ask Me to Leave. Hope you enjoy it! Happy holidays to you and yours!
Rachel balanced an overloaded vegetable tray on one arm as she skirted the bottom of the steps and headed into the living room. Was it already Christmas? Did she really have to go back to work in a week? She sighed and focused on the soft, dazzling lights adorning Nadine’s Christmas tree.
Like everything else in the house, the tree looked straight from the pages of House Beautiful. Blue and silver ornaments sat nestled in the needles, attached with handmade wire ribbon bows. Olivia would approve…wherever she was these days.
Rachel took a deep breath, the glorious pine aroma filling her nose. She’d never had a live Christmas tree before. Gorgeous, yes. Worth the hassle? The jury was still out.
She snagged a carrot stick from the tray and swirled it through the ranch dip. It had been a fun trip back on the farm to cut it down. Beau sang carols as he sawed through the tree trunk, mixing up the words and making Rachel and Nadine laugh until their sides hurt.
It was a good memory. Thankfully, there seemed to be more of those lately–to Beau’s credit.
Rachel picked up another carrot and looked over at the packages that somehow seemed to multiply every time she left the room. Even though Nadine had sworn weeks ago that she’d finished shopping, new boxes kept appearing, labeled with names of people Rachel couldn’t remember even meeting.
LikeGeorge Bivins, the mail carrier, and that one for Kayleigh Foster–wasn’t she the girl at the bank?
Nadine’s generosity was impressive.
Rachel had tucked her meager contributions on the far side, all in gift bags instead of Nadine’s beautifully wrapped boxes. She’d purchased several for Nadine, but only one gift for Beau.
It had taken awhile to come up with that one. Rachel hadn’t planned on getting him anything–they were just friends, after all–but then Nadine invited him over for Christmas dinner.
Rachel grimaced and picked up a celery stalk. He’d like it or he wouldn’t. Hopefully it was okay, though. She shrugged and padded back through the house in her thick white socks to the kitchen. “Hey, Nadine, did you want the candy tray in the living room too?”
Beau nipped a buckeye from the tray and popped it in his mouth. “She might not, but I do. Here you go.” He passed the tray to Rachel with a lopsided grin. “Sit it by my chair.”
Nadine laughed and tossed down her dish towel. “I think we’re done here. Why don’t we go open some presents?”
“All right!” He scampered past Rachel into the hallway.
“I’m glad somebody’s excited.”
Nadine picked up her glass of sweet tea and fell into step beside Rachel. “Are you doing okay, hon?”
Rachel looked up at the ceiling. Surprisingly, she was. Thoughts of David lingered, but she’d accepted his missing presence. “I’m all right. Actually, I was thinking about Olivia.”
“Oh. Yes, I’ve wondered about her too. But I’m sure she’s all right.”
“Yeah. I, uh, I sent her an e-mail the other day.”
Nadine’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know that. Did she reply?”
“She did.” Rachel shifted the heavy plastic tray to her other hand. “She’s fine. Her dad got her a job at a firm down there, and he gave her a contract to redecorate his office building.”
“So she’s keeping busy, then.”
“Apparently. I asked her if she could come visit sometime, but she said she couldn’t get away. I guess I’ll never see her again.” Rachel sighed. “Who’d have thought that I’d miss her?”
“I’m sorry, sweetie. She’ll come around one day. You’ll see.”
“I hope so. I still have her presents under the tree, just in case.”
“We’ll ship them to her.” Nadine kissed Rachel’s cheek. “Now, come on. Let’s go in there before Beau opens everything without us.”