Excerpt for One Last Christmas - A Christian Christmas Novella by , available in its entirety at Smashwords







ONE LAST CHRISTMAS

A Christian Novella











By



RUTH KYSER



Copyright © 2017 by Ruth Kyser. All rights reserved worldwide. Smashwords version.





No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—without the prior permission of the author.

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Cover Design by SelfPubbookCovers.com/FrinaArt_20509





In memory of my father, who loved Christmas

and always made it a special time for us children.

I can never hear the story of the first Christmas read from the book of Luke

without hearing my Daddy’s voice reading it.

Every Christmas Eve it was a family tradition for him to read it out loud.

Miss you, Daddy!



For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,



---Ephesians 3:14-15







CHAPTER ONE





Cate Thomas stood in the driveway next to her cousin’s car, hugging her frigid arms to her chest. She should have grabbed her coat before coming outside. This was Michigan, and even though they had yet to receive any significant snow, it was early November, after all.

“Are you sure you’ll be okay staying in this big old house by yourself, Cate?” her cousin, Janet, asked. Janet was three years older than Cate and being the mother of two youngsters, she tended to be a mother hen.

“I’m sure. Quit your worrying.”

When Janet gave her ‘the look,’ it was all Cate could do not to laugh. Her cousin was so predictable.

“Really, Janet. I’ll be fine.”

Cate turned and looked over her shoulder at the huge Victorian house where she’d been living with their grandmother for the past nine months.

“This house is home to me now, and it won’t bother me at all to stay here by myself.” She felt a few tears building behind her eyes. “I’m just gonna miss Grams. That’s all.”

Janet reached out through the open car window to touch Cate briefly on the arm, a few tears in her own eyes.

“I know, sweetie. We all will.” Cate saw the other woman take a deep breath and blink a couple of times, trying to clear her eyes of the moisture.

“Well then, I gotta get going. But don’t forget—Candy and I will be here next weekend to help you start going through things. We have time right now to come help, and I know we all want to get the sorting done. Plus we need to thoroughly clean the house. Christmas will be here before we know it.”

Christmas is a comin’, and we’ve got things to get done. Cate could almost hear her grandmother’s voice echoing through her mind.

She gave her cousin a little smile, nodded in agreement, then stepped back from the car and waved as Janet backed her late model Ford sedan out of the driveway. Cate knew Janet was anxious to return home to the neighboring town where her husband and children waited for her, and Cate didn’t blame her. She would have been looking forward to going home to her family too—if she had one.

But now with the loss of Grams, Cate was all alone.

She stood and watched Janet drive away, pasting a smile on her face as her cousin gave her car’s horn one last little beep before going on her way. Then, feeling the cold wind hit her again, Cate turned and hurried up the back steps of her grandmother’s house, across the porch, and through the back door into the warm kitchen. There was still a little leftover hot cocoa in the saucepan on top of the stove, so she poured it into a mug and plopped down in one of the chairs around the small kitchen table, savoring the warmth of the drink.

Sitting in the silence of the big old house, Cate felt as if it wrapped itself around her like a warm blanket. The only sounds she could hear were the old furnace in the basement kicking on, and the slow tick of the kitchen wall clock. After having family staying here with her for the past week because of the funeral, the house seemed incredibly empty and quiet now that they’d all gone home.

Cate knew her cousins worried about her living here alone, but they didn’t understand how much she loved this house, and how much it reminded her of their grandmother’s love. She still couldn’t believe Grams had left the house to her in the will. The letter her grandmother had left with her attorney for the three girls had explained her wishes, though, and why Grams made the decisions she did. After leaving some money to her children, Grams had been very specific when expressing what she wanted her granddaughters to receive.


Janet and Candy, you are both married and settled in your lives—with your own homes. I want you to pick out any furniture, paintings, or knickknacks you want from the house (Just don’t fight over anything).

I don’t know if you’ll understand my reasoning or not, but the house is to go to Catherine. She’s the only one who is still single, and because she’s given up so much of the past year to care for me in my illness, it seems only fair.

As I’ve told my attorney, after the monetary bequests to your parents are fulfilled, the balance of the estate is to be divided between you three girls. . .


Cate was honored and touched that her grandmother had left the beautiful old Victorian house to her, but wasn’t sure what she was going to do with it. It was an enormous house for someone who wasn’t married and didn’t have a family to share it with.

Yet.

That was how her Grams had always encouraged her—with that little three-letter word, ‘yet.'

One of these days the right man will appear, Cate, and when he does, it will change your entire life. Just trust in God’s timing. His way is always the best.

Cate could almost hear her Grandmother’s voice echoing through the room. She’d heard her Grams say those same words to her so many times.

Even though Cate had dated several different young men in high school and then again in college, she’d never found one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She was beginning to think God intended for her to go through life alone—and if that was His will, then she was okay with it.

She finished her cocoa and rinsed out the mug and left it in the sink to wash later. Then gazing through the lacy curtains out the kitchen window that looked over the back yard, Cate turned and grabbed her jacket and gloves from the line of coat hooks near the back door. The late afternoon sun was still shining, and she wanted to see what shape Grams’ flowers were in. Grams had always loved her flowers—especially her roses. There were rose bushes of almost every kind and color in her flower beds—both hybrids and tea roses. Cate supposed it was now her responsibility to see to them and was doubly thankful she’d spent many hours over the years helping her grandmother ready the flower beds for winter.

The back yard was surrounded by a white painted picket fence, and the roses were all on one side of the yard where they received the necessary hours of sun. Cate strolled across the lawn toward the bed, thinking as she looked over the roses that one of these days she needed to spend an hour or so trimming them back and covering them so they’d survive the brutal Michigan winter. The weatherman said it was supposed to be sunny tomorrow, so maybe it would be a good day to get the job done. Who knew when it would start snowing? By this time last year, they’d already had ten inches of white stuff on the ground.

Hearing a car’s motor, Cate turned and walked around toward the side yard, pausing midstride at the sight of an unfamiliar blue sedan pulling into the driveway. Now who was here?

A tall man wearing horned-rimmed glasses, dressed in blue jeans and a short black pea coat hanging open over a blue denim shirt, exited the car and strode up the sidewalk toward where she stood. Her eyes quickly scanned the face of the man approaching her, trying to decide if she knew him. He looked to be about thirty years old—maybe a few years older than she. His light brown curly hair was a little long, and he wore a serious but friendly expression as he reached the closed gate of the picket fence.

“May I help you?” she asked.

A gentle smile softened the man’s features as he stood with his right hand resting on top of the gate. “Good afternoon, miss. Yes. I’m looking for Lenore Smith.”

Cate felt the smile freeze on her face, and there was a sharp pain of loss in her chest at the sound of the precious name. She dropped her eyes quickly, hoping the tall stranger wouldn’t notice the tears that threatened to spill. Hopefully, sometime in the future hearing her grandmother’s name would get easier but right now the loss was still fresh and the ache still new.


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