Winter Magic: 4 (The Hawks Mountain Series)

BOOK: Winter Magic: 4 (The Hawks Mountain Series)
10.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Table of Contents
Winter Magic


Elizabeth Sinclair


Bell Bridge Books


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events or locations is entirely coincidental.

Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-382-5
Print ISBN: 978-1-61194-336-8

Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 by Marge Smith writing as Elizabeth Sinclair

Printed and bound in the United States of America.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

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Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Photo/Art credits:
Owl (manipulated) © Arjenschippers |
Winter Scene (manipulated) room scene © Atlic Snezana



To Vicki Hinze. You know why, and now you owe me. :)

To Brittany Shirley, a friend with a beautiful heart and a winning personality. Thank you for everything.

To my fantastic critique group and my wonderful husband. Love you all.

Granny Jo’s Journal



I’m so glad to see you all again. As usual, while you were gone, things have been happening. Seems not a day goes by around here without something or someone finding a way to get everyone buzzing. But before we get into that, let me share some thoughts with you.

Today was my birthday. No, I’m not letting on how old I am. They tell me that that’s a lady’s privilege. Let’s just say I’m not getting any younger, and the so-called golden years should be called the arthritic years. Seems every day brings a new complaint that wasn’t there the day before. But you didn’t drop by to hear about my aches and pains. So let me get on with some random thoughts I wanted to share with you.

After I got home tonight from the birthday party that Becky and Nick threw for me, put my feet up and got out my sewing basket, I took note of how many years I’ve been walking God’s green earth. I realized just how much of life I’d seen and how many blessings have been given me: my darling Earl, Becky and her new husband, my brand new great grandson, my friends here in Carson, my beautiful mountain and
 . . .
well, I could go on and on, but I won’t. I also thought about how my own life could have been so much different if I had never met my Earl and moved to Hawks Mountain. But I’m so glad it did take that turn in the road. Otherwise, I never would have been showered with all those blessings, and I never would have met all you grand people.

So, while I thought about life, I started a new quilt, and it came to me how much our lives resemble a patchwork quilt. Each part of it’s a different square, a different color, a different design, and depending on where we placed each square of cloth and sewed it down, is how our life was fashioned.

Sometimes we work with a pattern, and sometimes it just comes out of our heads and by pure chance settles into something beautiful and worth keeping for all the years to come. Sometimes we have to take out the stitches and sew it up again because we missed an important stitch or because the thread broke, and then the square would become weak and wouldn’t last through the hard times. Sometimes, although the squares are identical, where they go in the pattern can make all the difference.

All right. Enough of my wandering thoughts. Let’s get down to why you’re here. What’s going on in Carson.

It’s almost Christmas, and the blue spruce in the town square is all decked out in colored lights with a brilliant star on top. We had a snowfall a few days back, and the town truly looks like one of those fancy Christmas cards for sale at Keeler’s Market, and my mountain looks like a bride ready for her wedding day.

I ran into Hunter and Rose at the Walmart over in Hanover a few days back. They had a shopping buggy just loaded with toys, two of each for their twin girls for Christmas. Those babies are growing like my prize roses after a good spring rain. They’re gonna be beauties, both of them, what with their Momma’s blue eyes and her winning smile, and unless I miss my guess, they’ll both have a bit of a temper, if that red hair is anything to go by. I have a feeling Hunter and Rose will have their hands full.

Davy Collins’s wolf had her puppies, three fuzzy little things. Davy’s as proud as any human daddy of Sadie’s litter. Shows them off to anyone who comes to call at their house. George still isn’t happy about his son having a wolf for a pet, but, now that he’s busy getting ready to run for mayor again, he’s backed off. Between you and me, I don’t think he’s got a prayer of being reelected, but so far, no one’s stepped forward to run against him. I did hear that Asa Watkins, the ex-school superintendent, might throw his hat in the ring. Can’t say that I’d vote for either of them. That’d be a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, if you ask me.

Once a week now, I’m giving quilting lesson to Sarah Abbott, the aunt of Jonathan Prince, the fella who built that big old house just outside of town. They’re planning a big shindig for around Christmas. Everyone says it’s gonna be the biggest thing to hit Carson since Jimmy Hardness streaked down Main Street in his birthday suit. They’ve invited the whole town, along with a bunch of the state’s higher-ups. It’s gonna be even bigger than the benefit they put on to raise money for the abused women’s shelter that Becky and Mandy Michaels held a few months back.

Speaking of Mandy Michaels, her and Lucas will have a real baby to contend with very soon, and there won’t be any fancy key to turn off the crying when it starts. But they’ll do just fine, I’m sure.

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. Reverend Thomas asked me to bake up a batch of Christmas cookies for the Sunday school classes, and I best get them in the oven before the afternoon drifts away. But you all stick around. As usual, I have a feeling things are gonna get real interesting around here. After all, it’s nearly Christmas, and magical things happen on Hawks Mountain around that time of year.

Blessings and love,

Granny Jo

Chapter 1

CHRISTMAS SEASON came upon Jonathan Prince as it did every year, like an unwelcome storm sweeping in off the cold, snow-capped mountains, disrupting his life and leaving piles of emotional debris in its wake. Emotional debris that reminded him of the loss he’d suffered on that Christmas day so long ago.

The custodian of the Christmas storm came in the guise of his aunt, Sarah Abbott, who loved Christmas as much as she did breathing. The rubble took the form of the holiday spirit she would indiscriminately scatter about the entire house—missing not one corner of the vast eighteen rooms.

He’d hoped that when they’d moved from Charleston into this new house outside the little mountain town of Carson that her seasonal decorating binge would have been left behind. However, to his utter dismay and deep disappointment, she’d seen to it that all her holiday paraphernalia had been moved along with them.

Jonathan had just gotten absorbed in a contract he’d been negotiating with one of Prince Publishing’s top authors, which he had to have reviewed by early afternoon, when the bringer of the yearly yule storm arrived in his study. She descended on him complete with a sprig of mistletoe dangling from her hand and an off-key version of
Frosty the Snowman
on her lips. He knew that despite his pleas and protestations, when she’d finished, his study would be cluttered with pine boughs, twinkling lights, grinning Santas, and potted poinsettias.

“I should have worked at the office in town today,” he mumbled into the sheaf of papers in front of him, wondering if he should tell her again why he hated the season so much. But that would have resulted in another of her long “heart-to-heart talks,” and he just didn’t have the emotional strength to bear that pain today.

“We’ll pretend that he is Parson—” Aunt Sarah abruptly stopped singing to scowl at him. “I heard that.” When he didn’t reply, she turned away to show Davis, the butler, where to place the boxes of decorations. “Don’t forget to bring those poinsettias in here,” she told Davis.

The put-upon butler headed for the door and threw Jonathan a look that said,
It wasn’t my idea

“You really need to find your Christmas spirit again, Jonny.” Sarah studiously began unpacking the red and green stash she’d carefully saved from year to year. In the midst of untangling a fake pine garland, she paused and looked at him. “I hate that you dislike Christmas so much.”

Jonathan turned his attention from the contract to his aunt. She knew why Jonathan disliked Christmas, but she hid behind her part in it by relegating his disdain for the season to him not having a family of his own to celebrate with, instead of admitting the real reason. As far as his father and aunt were concerned, if he got married, it would cure everything. But it wouldn’t. No matter what he did, the painful memories stubbornly remained.

Hauling a large wreath festooned with gold balls and white bows from a box, Sarah climbed on the step stool Davis had provided and hung the wreath above the fireplace. Jonathan shook his head and went back to his contract. She would not be happy until everything from basement to attic was bedecked in a red bow, a sprig of pine, a shiny ornament, a candy cane, or all of the above.

Tomorrow, he had no doubt, a gargantuan pine tree would magically appear in the sitting room, and Aunt Sarah would spend the day
dressing it
, as she called the hours-long process of placing ornaments and lights just so. By evening, it would be harboring Christmas in every branch. As the week progressed, the same phenomenon would take place in the living room, the dining room, and the entry hall. Soon, every corner of his home would remind him of the one holiday in the year Jonathan tried desperately to forget.

It wasn’t that he hated Christmas. It was okay—if you were a child with happy memories. But Jonathan hadn’t been a child since his twelfth Christmas, when his life had changed forever. Jonathan had changed forever. And his memories of that time were far from happy.

Perhaps things would have been different if his father and aunt had told him his mother was making frequent trips to the hospital and doctor’s office because her heart was failing. But they
lied, and his mother
died on Christmas Day.

He’d decided then that he no longer wanted anything to do with childhood and declared himself an adult. He’d packed away all his toys and buried his interests in the adult world. He’d also made up his mind to place his trust in people very judiciously.

The pencil holder being snatched from his desktop roused Jonathan from his morose thoughts. Before he could retrieve it, Aunt Sarah had removed the pens and pencils from the carved leather receptacle and inserted them in a smiling, plump, ceramic Santa, then plopped it down directly in front of him. When she reached for his coffee cup, intending to replace it with a snowman mug with a candy cane handle, he snatched it out of her reach.

He glared down at the plump backside of the jolly old elf holding his writing instruments, then back at her. “Please, leave me some dignity.”

Aunt Sarah paused in her labors, hands on her hips, and scowled at her nephew. “You’ve become a regular Scrooge.” Purposefully, she turned the Santa pencil holder to face him, cleared her throat, and then mumbled, “What you need, Jonny, is a child to help you find Christmas again.”

That translated to
What ailed Jonny was the lack of a family
. But even though she hadn’t said them, the unspoken words, the real reason he avoided anything to do with Christmas, hung in the air between them like a smothering fog.

Convinced that a wife would help him forget that terrible, long ago Christmas, Aunt Sarah and his father had been on a crusade to get him to the altar. And neither of them had any reservations about how they did it. Both had become quite adept at introducing it into any conversation, whether or not it fit.

Jonathan started to tell her that he had no time to discuss this, when the door opened, and his father came into the room. Lacking the white beard and the red suit, Henry Prince III looked very much like the ceramic elf taunting Jonathan from the corner of his desk.

It suddenly struck Jonathan how much his father had aged in the last few months. He was moving slower and wasn’t as active as usual. Along with that realization, came the undeniable, stark admission that Jonathan wouldn’t have his father around for too many more years. That rekindled the flame of loss that burned constantly for his mother until Jonathan had to take a deep breath to subdue the clog of emotion lodged in his chest.

Yes, his aunt and father had lied to him about his mother’s health. But they’d had their reasons, and he loved neither of them any less for it. And his life would be very empty without either of them.

“Good morning, my boy.” The older man looked around. “I see Sarah is spreading the Christmas spirit as usual.”

“I wish she’d spread it elsewhere.” Jonathan threw the snowman grinning at him from atop the mantel a deprecating glare, and then averted his gaze back to the pile of papers in front of him.

“And I see you’re just as cynical about Christmas as ever.” A twinge of sadness colored Henry’s words. The creak of leather and a tired sigh told Jonathan that his father had settled himself in the chair in front of the desk.

Suddenly it struck Jonathan why this impromptu family gathering was taking place. They were ganging up on him again. Glancing up at his father, then at his aunt, now busy arranging several pine boughs on the mantel above the fieldstone fireplace, Jonathan laid aside his pen. “Why do I get the feeling that you two are here for some nefarious reason?”

Sarah and Henry exchanged a conspiratorial look. Then both turned to him with expressions of child-like innocence.

Jonathan straightened in his leather chair. “Let me guess about the subject of this meeting.” He tapped his bottom lip thoughtfully, then stopped and leaned forward. “Could it be my lack of a wife?” Might as well get to the heart of the matter and get this over with.

His father laughed uncomfortably. “I must say, you’re getting a bit paranoid about that subject. Actually, we’re here to discuss the foundation’s annual Christmas gala.” Henry paused long enough to wait for his sister-in-law to place a small sleigh filled with a rowdy group of robust cotton snowmen on the coffee table, then come to join them. Before she took the seat beside Henry, she positioned a large pot of white poinsettias beside Jonathan’s desk.

His father smiled his approval and continued. “But since you brought up the business of a wife for you
 . . .
” Jonathan frowned. “Now, don’t be that way. You’re a very appealing young man.”

Leaning back in his chair, Jonathan groaned. Did they think they could wear him down with repetition? Well, he could be just as stubborn as they could. He had no intentions of marrying, now or in the future, and especially not just to please his two well-meaning relatives.

He’d been down that road a couple of times, and he found that the only thing women found appealing about him was how many zeros were in his bank account balance. First, there had been Jeannine, who wouldn’t accept his ring until he’d bought her a boutique to
prove his love
for her. When he’d foolishly agreed and looked into it, the place she wanted was not worth the asking price. He told her to forget about it, and she’d told him to forget about her.

The second time he’d tried was with Victoria. Already aware how fetching his bank account was, he’d asked her to sign a prenup. Outraged and declaring she was
not about to live like a beggar after their divorce
, she’d refused and walked out of his life. Obviously, a long marriage to him had not been her top priority.

They’d both lied about loving him simply to get to his money. So Jonathan was not about to stick his nose out there in the matrimonial marketplace again. And if anyone in this room cried “uncle” on that subject, it would be Sarah Abbott and Henry Prince III.

“Let’s make this easy. Why wait for the gala? Why not just strip me naked and hang a
Stud for Hire
sign on my chest, then parade me up and down Main Street?” Jonathan glared across his polished teak desk. “I’m sure there’s some single woman in town who would take me up on it.”

Henry frowned. “Now you’re being absurd. But you must admit, my boy, that the gala is the ideal opportunity for you to find a wife.” His father’s starched tone gave away his obvious lack of patience with his son.

Cringing inwardly at the old man’s persistent use of
when addressing him, Jonathan waited for the inevitable. Ever since Henry Prince retired from Prince Publishing and let his son take over, he’d filled his abundance of idle time with harassing Jonathan about producing a grandchild. When no mention was made of an heir today, Jonathan concluded that this time his father was allowing his only son the benefit of marriage first.

Avoiding Jonathan’s censuring gaze, Henry searched the pockets of his tan smoking jacket for the nonexistent, expensive Havana cigars he’d carried with him for half a century, but which the doctor had recently declared off limits.

Finally, he gave up and focused on his son again. “The way you carry on, you’d think we were asking you to sever a limb. All we want for you is a wife.”

 . . .
 . . .
 . . .
 . . .
wife,” Jonathan ground out. Ingrained respect for his elders was the only thing keeping his temper in check.

How many times, and in how many ways, did he have to say that? Perhaps one day, these two would realize that being single didn’t constitute the crime of the century.

He looked from one to the other of his dearest relatives. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you say that you two came here to discuss the arrangements for the Christmas gala, and not my marital status?”

BOOK: Winter Magic: 4 (The Hawks Mountain Series)
10.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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