We're knocking on Thanksgiving's door and soon after, my first Christmas release will debut from Rebel Ink Press. I'm excited about this love story about hope, faith, and holidays so I'm sharing a little from Sing We Now of Christmas today. First the cover by cover artist and art director for Rebel Ink Press Carl J. Franklin, then the details, then the blurb and excerpt!
Sing We Now of Christmas
Coming December 3 Rebel Ink Press
When Jessica Martin met Johnny Devereaux that December, holiday magic filled the air but their love was no enchantment….he was, without doubt the love of her life and by summer, they were happy newlyweds with all their life and holidays ahead.
But when he failed to return home from a fishing trip on the Fourth of July, Jessica’s world is rocked to the foundation and when the authorities tell her that her husband is missing, presumed dead, she refuses to believe it.
As the months and seasons pass, no one else holds out hope but Jessica believes.
She knows he’ll be home for Christmas no matter what. Her family calls her crazy, Johnny’s family tries to help her find closure but Jessica’s heart refuses to surrender hope.
When Christmas comes, the truth will come out to shock them all.
After the storm that passed, the air felt sticky and hot. That heat made her almost sleepy and to stay awake, she reminisced about the night last December that she first met Johnny, at Rusty’s Nail in Joplin.
She got up to leave, unhappy because her friend, Susan, spent all her time with the lead singer of the band, and backed into someone. In her haste she almost lost her balance. Strong arms caught her and held her upright as a voice said, audible above the music but not loud,
“Whoa, there honey, take it easy.”
Jessica whirled, embarrassed, to mumble an apology. All her words faded away when she gazed into his eyes, dark brown and richer than sweet chocolate. He looked back with interest and she felt a strong sense of attraction. He wasn’t the kind of guy she would give a second glance under any other circumstance but tonight she couldn’t look anywhere else. Everything about him was opposite of what she liked in a man – she liked tailored, Brooks Brothers business charm and he radiated country cowboy.
He fit into his faded Wranglers as if they’d been made just for his long legs and his pearl snap button blue patterned Western shirt suited him. He towered above her, taller by several inches even without the worn cowboy boots he wore. She inhaled his scent, a potent mixture of musky cologne, tobacco smoke, and beneath it all, Irish Spring soap. His hands, still holding her arms, were warm against her bare skin and she was glad, now, that she’d worn the black silk halter top despite the cold instead of the red sweater she’d worn to school. Jessica made her voice work with effort, “Thank you.”
“No problem,” he said and she drank in his voice, strong and comforting with just enough Oklahoma twang to make it interesting. “Would you care to dance?”
“I’d love it,” Jessica said as he released his grip on her arms to grab her hand instead. “My name’s Jessica Martin.”
“I’m Johnny,” he said and she committed the name to memory, “Johnny Devereaux.”
He led her onto the tiny dance floor just as Mark began to sing the softer, sweeter vintage country song, Lookin’ For Love. The old Johnny Lee song she remembered from that movie, Urban Cowboy, now felt like a theme song. She recalled watching it one late night in college, hating the boot scooting dance moves and the mechanical bull riding but loving the scene where Debra Winger danced to this same music with John Travolta. Such a coincidence she mused, Johnny Lee, John Travolta, and Johnny Devereaux.
Johnny put his arms around her and she cuddled close against him for the slow dance. They swayed together, their easy motions in time with the music, and she felt safe. Jessica’s head fell short of his shoulder and so as they danced, she could hear the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. Above them, the stationary silver ball that must have once spun reflected the colorful Christmas lights strung above the bar and Jessica felt the strangest sense of coming home in his arms. She wanted to stay there forever, wrapped in that magic cocoon of his embrace, and hold this moment close to her heart.
Jessica savored that memory, just as sweet now as it had been on that incredible night. Sometimes she couldn’t believe it had just been not quite seven months ago, that until that December evening her world didn’t include Johnny Devereaux. Until then, she never believed in love at first sight but after that dance, they were together and in love. They never doubted the reality of it and by the time they married, down at the lake over Memorial Day weekend, neither did any of their family or friends. They were meant to be together, Jessica and Johnny like Lucy and Ricky.
Comparing them to other couples made her smile and some of her tension drained away. Everything would be fine as soon as she got down to the lake.
A Page In The Life
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
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