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Authors: Myra Johnson

Tags: #Contemporary Women, #Fiction

One Imperfect Christmas

BOOK: One Imperfect Christmas
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One Imperfect
Christmas
 

One Imperfect Christmas

 

Copyright © 2009 by Myra Johnson

 

 

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-4267-0070-5

 

 

 

Published by Abingdon Press, P.O. Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
www.abingdonpress.com

 

 

 

All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form,

 

stored in any retrieval system, posted on any website, or

 

transmitted in any form or by any means—digital, electronic,

 

scanning, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without written

 

permission from the publisher, except for brief quotations in

 

printed reviews and articles.

 

 

 

All scripture quotations are taken from the

 

HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(r). NIV(r).

 

Copyright © 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society.

 

Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

The persons and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the

 

creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons living or

 

dead is purely coincidental.

 

 

 

Cover design by Anderson Design Group, Nashville, TN

 

 

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

 

 

Johnson, Myra, 1951-

 

One imperfect Christmas / Myra Johnson.

 

p. cm.

 

ISBN 978-1-4267-0070-5 (pbk. : alk. paper)

 

1. Guilt--Fiction. 2. Christmas stories. I. Title.

 

PS3610.O3666O54 2009

 

813'.6--dc22

 

2009014260

 

 

 

 

 

Printed in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / 14 13 12 11 10 09

 

 

 

 

 

 
CONTENTS
 

Dedication

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

11

 

12

 

13

 

14

 

15

 

16

 

17

 

18

 

19

 

20

 

21

 

Discussion Questions

 

 

 

For Jack,

 

my husband, my best friend,

 

whose love and support keep me going on this journey,

 

and for our daughters, Johanna and Julena,

 

who never stopped believing in their mom!

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

To the founding members of “Seared Hearts,” my former critique group, who guided the early stages of this story: DiAnn Mills, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and Martha Rogers.

 

To all the anonymous contest judges who helped me hone and polish the manuscript.

 

To my award-winning critique partner, Carla Stewart, for sharing her friendship, writing advice, and nursing expertise.

 

To the fantastic ladies of Seekerville: Audra, Camy, Cara, Cheryl, Debby, Glynna, Janet, Julie, Mary, Missy, Pam, Ruthy, Sandra, and Tina. Whenever I need a good laugh, a shoulder to cry on, a kick in the pants, or professional insights, you're just an email away.

 

To the staff, volunteers, horses, and clients of SIRE, Houston's Therapeutic Equestrian Center, for your dedication, courage, and inspiration.

 

A thousand thanks to my wonderful editor, Barbara Scott. Your patience, honesty, expertise, and friendship have blessed and sustained me through the incredible experience of seeing my first published novel become a reality.

 

And finally, thanks be to God, with whom all things are possible!

 

1

 

N
atalie Pearce padded into the kitchen in her new velour robe and fuzzy orange-and-white slippers that looked like little foxes. They were a Christmas present from her husband, Daniel, just three weeks ago. The gift tag had read: “To one foxy lady!”

First thing in the morning, straw-blonde hair still tangled from sleep, she felt anything but foxy. Still, her cheeks warmed as she considered inviting Daniel back to the bedroom for a few more minutes of snuggling. Then she remembered this was Saturday—her day to play “coach's widow.” After nearly fifteen years of marriage she still hated her husband's erratic schedule. On Christmas Eve her parents had celebrated their forty-eighth wedding anniversary, a legacy of love Natalie hoped she and Daniel could emulate. But was such a dream even possible when the two of them seemed to operate in different time zones?

 

She paused at the breakfast table and set her hands on her hips. As usual, he'd left the newspaper in shambles, the comics pulled from one section and the sports page decimated after he'd clipped all the articles covering Putnam Middle School's athletic teams.

 

Daniel breezed into the kitchen, sneakers squeaking on the ceramic tile floor. “Hey, hon, sorry about the paper.” He planted a toothpaste-flavored kiss on her parted lips. “I'd sort it out for you, but I'm already running late. I'm meeting Carl at Casey's Diner to carpool to the tournament.”

 

Natalie fought to keep her smile in place as she gave him a playful punch in the stomach. “What's new? Get out of here before I decide not to let you go at all.”

 

“Promises, promises.” He wiggled his dark eyebrows.

 

“Seriously, before you go … ,” she said in her sexiest voice. She clutched the lapels of his red Putnam Panthers jacket and pulled him toward her.

 

With a seductive grin, Daniel drew her into his arms. “Sweetheart, I told you, I'm already running late.”

 

She chuckled and bit his ear. “Sorry, Coach, I just wanted to ask you again what time your parents will be here.”

 

“Woman, you break my heart!” He slammed a hand to his chest as if he'd been shot. “Ah, now I get it. You want to know exactly how much time you have to clean the house.”

 

So she wasn't the world's greatest housekeeper—one trait she
didn't
inherit from her mother. Who cared about a little clutter on the kitchen counters, or last night's pizza pan still soaking in the sink? So what if she hadn't dusted since Thanksgiving? Hard to do with Christmas decorations covering every flat, dusty surface in the house.

 

Daniel seemed to read her thoughts. He tilted her chin until she reluctantly met his gaze. “Next weekend. Promise me, okay? The Christmas decorations need to come down.”

 

She pushed out her lower lip. “Only if you stay home and help. It's depressing to do it all by myself.”

 

“I'll check my schedule.” He gathered up his car keys and canvas briefcase and then slicked a hand through ash-brown hair still damp from his shower. “Mom and Dad won't get here before three at the earliest, so you've got plenty of time to enjoy your coffee.” He glanced at his watch. “And I don't. I'm out of here, sweetie. With any luck, I'll be home in time for dinner.”

 

“That'll be the day.”

 

The door to the garage banged shut behind him, sending a puff of wintry air into the kitchen. Moments later Natalie heard the ancient green Bronco grumble a couple of times before starting up. The poor thing must have nearly 200,000 miles on it. How Daniel kept it running, she hadn't a clue, but what with paying the mortgage on their dream home and keeping their thirteen-year-old fashionista daughter in designer jeans, replacing a vehicle wasn't in the budget. She sent up a quick prayer for Daniel's safety on the road and hoped the weather held. The last she'd heard, the predicted snow wouldn't arrive until tomorrow morning.

BOOK: One Imperfect Christmas
10.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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