A Mother's Gift
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Sari Shepard
Word Count :5111
Publication Date :2016-12-06
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-0926-5
Inherent in every Mother’s Gift is her own bid for immortality.
It’s Christmas Time, and widower Daniel Holquist is struggling to raise his fourteen-year-old daughter Kennedy by himself. He’s peered across the barren dreamscape of loneliness, and found another soul seeking the fulfillment inherent in commitment. Kara Mello has taken over production of the Christmas Pageant at Daniel’s church. She’s found her way to Daniel’s heart, but found a fourteen-year-old sentry jealously guarding it.
Kennedy has enshrined her mother’s memory. To make matters worse, she can’t find the “Forget Me Not” broach they shared—a talisman she coveted as the symbol of their time together. Angry and forlorn, Kennedy makes life miserable for Daniel. Even worse, she makes his relationship with Kara impossible.
But at their darkest hour, Kennedy finds the broach in an unlikely place—sitting on her bed in crumpled up wrapping paper. At first, she blames Kara’s five-year-old daughter Hope. But she soon learns the truth—her mother had carefully planned its rediscovery, along with a note explaining her hopes and dreams for Kennedy’s future, as well as Daniel’s.
It’s up to Kennedy to right some very head-strong wrongs she committed. Luckily, her mother’s gift to her was far more than a broach.
Daniel Holquist stood in the Teen Miss department at Hammat’s Fashion Apparel, waiting for his daughter Kennedy to come out of the dressing room. In a failing effort to avoid feeling like a fish in a bowl, he fixed his gaze on the aisle, watching the holiday shoppers bustle about. When Kennedy stomped out and tossed a pile of clothes in the return bucket, he stood straight and put his hands in his pockets.
“What’s wrong with the jeans?” he asked.
“They don’t look right,” she grunted without making eye contact.
“They look the same as the seventy-dollar ones, but the rhinestones are blue instead of pink.”
“I know, Dad,” she replied sarcastically. “Everything’s a rip-off. I’m just trying to waste your money.”
“Look, sweetie. Get the other pair if you want. This whole shopping thing was never my strong point. I feel like everyone’s looking at me.”
“Try not leaning on the girls underwear rack. Ever wonder what those benches near the registers are for?”
“Oh, no,” he argued. “I’m not leaving a fourteen-year-old alone in this mayhem. You may be a grouch, but you’re all I have.”
Kennedy rolled her eyes and huffed, then grabbed the jeans with the blue rhinestones. Daniel followed her into the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd droning their way through the aisle to the tune of Silver Bells. Standing ten deep at the register, he pursed his lips and took in a deep breath. “Ms. Mello called,” he offered with a playful nudge.
“I’m sure she did,” Kennedy sassed, tapping away at her cell phone. “She’s called every night this week.”
“Actually, she asked for you.”
“I’m not gonna be in the pageant,” she mumbled.
“Kensie, I can’t help but think Mom would have wanted—”
“To live,” she snapped, dropping her brows to shoot an irate sneer. “She would have wanted to be alive. Then she could argue with Ms. Mello about why I have to be a five-foot tall angel holding a bunch of crying baby angels from running back to their...their mommies.” Kennedy’s hazel eyes welled with tears as she dropped her gaze to her phone and went back to texting.
“She was going to ask you to be Mary,” Daniel offered with a trailing sob.
“Great. Patronize the kid who lost her mom.”
“Could you at least think about it? It’s her first year running the show. She’s trying. It was Mrs. Haywood who made you be the Angel Gabriel all those years.”
“Tell her not to get her hopes up,” she griped as the line moved forward.
Jingle Bells chimed in Daniel’s shirt pocket. Taking out his phone, he tapped the screen and answered, “Hi. Sorry I didn’t pick up before. Father-daughter stuff.”
“I understand,” said Kara Mello. “Think maybe you and Kensie might want to stop by for some hot cider on the way home?”
“I’d love to,” Daniel offered, shifting his eyes to Kennedy’s angry glare. “But it’s been a long day and Kensie—”
“Would rather roll in reindeer droppings,” interrupted Kennedy in a whisper.
“No problem,” replied Kara. “We still on for the weekend?”
“Y-yeah. So far, so good. I’ll call you Friday.” He tucked his phone back in his pocket, hoping Kennedy would be satisfied with her sarcastic quip.
She wasn’t. Stuffing her phone in her back pocket, she complained. “You don’t have to send me to Grandma and Grampa’s just to disrespect Mom’s memory. I can stay home alone.”
“Kensie, I lost her, too...a year ago. This is my second Christmas as a widower. I’m not sure what you expect of me.”
“Maybe I found it hard to see you two all over each other.”
“You walked in on us the first time we held hands.”
“She was practically sitting on your lap and you had the lights turned down.”
“We were watching a movie.”
“What kinda name is Kara Mello, anyway?” she asked, changing the subject. “It sounds like a candy bar.”
“Her maiden name was Levin. She divorced her husband, but hasn’t changed it back.”
“She’s a nurse. It’s tough to change your name when you have a professional license.”
“Well, someone should have told her about hyphens.”
“So if she changed her name, you’d be okay with her?”
“Don’t do me any favors.”
“How ‘bout we stop by for ten minutes?”
Kennedy rolled her eyes. “No one stops by for ten minutes,” she griped. “Except Auntie.”
Daniel hugged her up to his side. Kennedy resisted, but at half his mass, it did her little good. He stroked her long, full brown hair and kissed the top of her head. A woman in the line to their right tendered a knowing smile and stepped up to the register as Kennedy pulled back.
“Stop it, Dad!” she insisted. “And I’m not—repeat not, entertaining her brat.”