Christmas of Hope
Tambra Nicole Kendall
“Stop, Daddy!” Hope Claus stood on tiptoe and pointed at the window of The Magic Café. “I want some hot chocolate with lots and lots of marshmallows. Please.”
“Great idea, Sweetheart.” Nick Claus‟ stomach rumbled in agreement. He must have walked from one end of the mall to the other at least ten times. He smiled at the thought. Hope must have looked in every single store. My daughter is a professional shopper at five years old. I’m in deep trouble.
A chill wind gusted, pushing hard against his back. He rolled his shoulders and shifted his body to protect Hope. Nick shoved the shopping bags into one hand and opened the door.
Hope scampered inside, impatience making her feet dance in place. “Hurry, Daddy!”
“I’m right behind you, Sweetheart.” Once inside, a blast of heat redolent with the comforting scents of cinnamon and peaches wrapped him in its embrace. It hung like a sweet promise in the air. A deep breath assured him of a fresh batch of peach cobbler was recently pulled from the oven. No one made it better than Marienne Tucker. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on top made it pure heaven.
Her small hand reached for his. Love spilled over warming his chest spreading throughout his body. He would do anything to protect to protect his baby.
He scanned the room for a place to sit. Plenty of seats were available at the moment. They must have just missed the lunch crowd. Thank God, he couldn‟t suffer another noisy horde right now. “I’m looking for the best place to sit, Hope.”
Shopping at the end of the season was total chaos and Hope loved every minute of it. The lights, decorations and music delighted his little girl all the way down to her Claus soul.
Five years ago when his wife died a part of him died too. Since it was his fault, he didn’t deserve a second chance. The one thing he desired to regain, to feel the childlike joy his daughter experienced. The longing grew to regain the magic and wonder of the season with each passing year. He wondered if the dark spot in his heart would ever heal. Due to his family’s pressure he recently admitted he wanted to have a relationship, but not now. He needed slow and steady. He loved them, but damn it all they’ve been extra pushy lately. This wishy-washy feeling wasn’t like him. He hated it. Aggravation stirred inside him like a hive of angry bees.
“Daddy, you’re tummy is grouchy. It’s loud.” Hope patted his stomach forcing his attention away from his thoughts.
“How about you choose the where we’re going to sit?” The last time he let Hope chose their seats she became the entertainment committee for a table full of senior citizens.
She pointed to the seat near the back. “Back there.”
“Good choice!” He started to move when Hope stopped him.
“Daddy, take a big sniff.”
“No, bigger. Like this.” Hope demonstrated.
Nick took a bigger sniff. What was he supposed to smell? His daughter gave him an are-you-stupid look.
“Peaches in that gooey stuff, we like. Peach Yummy.”
“I’m going to order some. We can share.” Nick pointed Hope in the direction
of the spot she chose.
Maybe his family was right about him dating again. If he tried and it didn’t
work out, they might not be so anxious to shove him into something he wasn’t ready
for. Strange, after all these years, the only female who stirred his interest was Hope‟s
kindergarten teacher, Linnet MacDougal.
Beautiful inside and out, Linnet elicited feelings he thought had died with
Victoria. This scared him. He wanted to let go and open his heart, but couldn‟t
survive it breaking another time. He had to consider Hope. She was his first concern.
Maybe he could date occasionally. Not let the relationship get out of control. The
When he got up the nerve, he’d ask Linnet out. They could go out a few times
and then she’d be out of his system. This was for his peace of mind.
The dulcet sounds of the Mediaeval Baebes CD Mistletoe and Wine played
through the speakers. The soft sounds started to soothe his tense muscles and his
stomach rumbled again, louder and harder.
“Ooooh, look at the tree!” Hope clapped her mitten-clad hands together and
stomped her feet in excitement. She held out her hands. “I want these off, Daddy.”
Nick grinned at Hope’s enthusiasm. “Marienne did a good job, didn’t she?”
With a sweeping glance, his inner vision burst into a kaleidoscope of color. Warm
orange, reds and pinks whirled and pulsed with the love and laughter from its
His left brow shot up in surprise. Wards of protection glittered in an intricate
weave of bronze, gold and silver around the room. His admiration for Marienne rose
even more. It explained why the atmosphere kept the good inside and the riffraff to
a minimum. Threaded through the subtle spell, he detected something familiar about
the magickal signature entwined with Marienne’s. Uncle Nicholas?
You can purchase Christmas of Hope from Amazon.
A Recipe from Janet Warren’s cookbook, A Feast of Scotland.
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 bottle sparkling white wine
The juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup Drambuie
2 cups lemonade
Mix the dry white wine, lemon juice and Drambuie together in a jug and chill. At the last minute add the sparkling wine and the lemonade.
Add plenty of ice to the punch before serving.