Sing We Now of Christmas
Johnny Devereaux's vintage truck!
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 they left Rusty’s Nail, together, he offered to feed her and suggested a family restaurant down the road in Neosho. When they arrived over snow packed roads, the place was open but not busy. She saw no other cars in the parking lot but the lights were on and when they entered a waitress waved her hand over the empty dining room.
"Go ahead and sit anywhere," she said. "I’ll bring you menus unless you know what you want."
"We’ll take coffee and then we want two Neosho burgers run through the garden, pickles on the side, and fries. And we’ll take the soup if it’s not too late," Johnny said and the waitress nodded.
"You’re easy customers. I’ll be right back with your coffee and the soup. It’s beef vegetable tonight."
They settled into a booth near a window that looked out on the adjacent supermarket parking lot. Beyond that, the main business drag stretched empty and quiet in the snowstorm. If she peered hard enough, Jessica could still see their tire tracks but they were halfway covered over now.
"Do you get down to Neosho much?" Johnny asked, stretching both hands across the table to capture hers. When she shook her head, he added, "I work down here, punch press operator at Busy Bee Manufacturing so I moved here last summer."
Jessica, who assumed until that moment that he lived in Joplin like she did, wondered if he wouldn’t be around as much as she’d hoped. With their instant, incredible attraction she figured they’d be together as often as possible, but she’d had disappointments in long distance relationships before.
"What do they make?" she asked, trying to hide her momentary consternation but he picked up on it.
"We have contracts for all kinds of metal shelving, racks, parts and all kinds of stuff," Johnny answered, meeting her gaze with his calm, self-assured eyes. "Don’t you worry that I live too far away – it’s not fifteen minutes to get up to Joplin and back, less in good weather. I’ll come see you. Ain’t nothin’ that will stop me from that."
She giggled with relief. "How did you know that’s what I was thinking?"
"I know you," he said. "I don’t know how but I know you, inside. I may not know yet what your favorite color is…"
"Or what season you love the most…"
"Christmas," she supplied and he grinned.
"Or if you are seeing someone?"
Jessica smiled at him, feeling a rush of affection for him. "I am now."
Johnny understood. She watched the knowledge of it soften his features and curl his lips into a sweet smile. "Darlin’, you’re my woman, just like that. I never saw it coming but now that you’re here, I’m glad. I’ve wanted someone like you in my life for so long but I never knew your name or what you looked like. I always kind of figured that my heart would recognize you when you showed up."
"Did it?" Her voice sounded normal with no hint of the tears that ached within at his tender words.
He released her hands to put his right one in the center of his chest, over his heart. "Oh, yeah, Jessica Martin, it totally did."
No guy ever said such romantic things to her. His words weren’t flowery or fancy as he delivered them in that Oklahoma twang and she savored each one, filed it away in memory to keep forever. Before she could think up something to say back, the waitress brought their food and he took her hands in his again, this time to ask a blessing.
First, they had the homemade soup, perfect for the cold winter’s night, then they enjoyed the rest of the meal. Although the food was tasty, Jessica could have dined on oatmeal and been just as happy. They never stopped talking, their pauses timed to accommodate the other’s answers and by the time they headed back out into the snow-filled night they both knew the basic life history of the other.
And more important than that they knew how much they loved each other, for now and for always.