Rocky Hill Holiday Romance
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Free Spirit Press
Date of Publication: 2017
Number of pages: 80
Word Count: 20,000
Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill
Because love never dies…
Everyone knows Christmas is a time for family but not for Harry Barnes. If he had his way, he would close his eyes and not open them again until January second when all the fuss was over. Once upon a time he had loved the season but that was a long time ago. His wife Annie and daughter Erin are gone and he hasn’t spoken to his only son, Sam, in years.
The Christmas candlesticks he’d lovingly carved for Annie and their children are buried in the attic under a thick layer of dust along with memories that could break a man’s heart . . . if he still had one left to break.
After years of living on military bases all around the world, Sam Barnes has moved his family back home for keeps but they might as well still be in Japan or England or Timbuktu for all the difference it makes. His father’s heart is still closed to the idea of family and there is nothing Sam can do to change it. Not even if the only thing his twelve-year-old daughter Riley wants for Christmas is the grandfather she has never met.
But then on a snowy Christmas Eve in Rocky Hill, Harry and Sam are visited by a determined mother and daughter who have just a few earth hours to bring their family together or lose them forever.
When it comes to the holidays, I am a traditionalist. Whether it’s the movies we watch, the music we listen to, or the food we eat, I look forward to revisiting those old (and beloved) favorites every single year.
One of our most cherished traditions is our Christmas Eve Brownie Extravaganza. Deep. Dark. Still warm from the oven. Crowned with a ginormous scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a holiday-red maraschino cherry.
Why limit this delicious guilty pleasure to just Christmas Eve? These brownies would be delicious any day of the year!
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1-1/2 cups butter (6 ounces), melted
3 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
Beat eggs, adding sugar and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and butter. Blend until light and airy. Add flour, then nuts (if using.)
Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven in two 8-inch pans for 25-30 minutes. Do not overcook. They should be moist in the center. The timing is personal. Keep checking and take it out of the oven when it’s reached the degree of doneness that warms your heart.
Top with ice cream and enjoy.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
He heard a sound like autumn leaves crackling underfoot, and then felt a soft rush of cinnamon-scented air as a small form appeared then disappeared right in front of his eyes.
He watched, paralyzed with fear and hope, as she took form one more time, looking less like a hologram and more like a flesh and blood woman. The woman he had loved since he was sixteen years old.
“Annie!” Her name tore from his throat and spilled into the space between them. This was his Annie, before sorrow and sickness had taken their toll.
Bubbles of laughter danced in the air around her. “I did it! How about that, Harry? I did it!”
He reached for her hand but it was like grasping cotton candy. His brain was a bowl of overcooked oatmeal. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
The room began to spin. He could feel himself starting to go under and he put his head between his knees.
“Low blood sugar,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t miss that at all.”
“It’s not low blood sugar,” he managed, gulping in some air. “I’m talking to a ghost.”
“If you want to put it that way, I guess you are.”
What other way was there to put it? He had buried his beloved wife six months ago and now here she was in their living room acting like nothing had happened.
He took another huge gulp of air then lifted his head.
“I’m still here,” she said, her tone softening. “You can trust your senses.”
“Why?” he asked, his disbelief beginning to show cracks. “How?”
She spread her arms wide. “Look at this place! You’d never know it was Christmas Eve.”
“It doesn’t feel like Christmas Eve.”
“It would if you put some effort into it. Put up a tree. String some lights.” She aimed a sharp look in his direction. “Place the candles in the window where they belong.”
Her brows darted into a scowl. “Did you forget your promise?”
“That promise was made a long time ago. Things change.”
“I don’t have a family anymore. When I lost you, I lost everything.”
She reached out and for a second he imagined he felt the touch of her hand. But that was crazy, wasn’t it? She was no more real than Santa Claus or Easter Bunny.
“I’m here because I love you,” she said. “And because you need me tonight.”
Tears threatened to overwhelm him. He wanted to believe.
“I need you every night, Annie. That’s never changed.”
“But tonight is the night you asked for me.”
One moment he was standing there next to the refrigerator with a carton of brown eggs in his hand.
The next moment the eggs were on the floor in a yellow and white mess and his Annie was in his arms.
He had lived long enough to know that second chances didn’t happen often in life.
This time he wasn’t going to let her go.
About the Author:
Barbara Bretton is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifty books. Her titles have been published in twelve languages in over twenty countries by Harlequin, Berkley, Crown, Pocket, and Free Spirit Press. When Barbara isn’t writing, she can be found knitting, reading, and cooking in New Jersey with her husband and a house filled with pets.
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