J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

A Christmas Story

Just for fun, I’ve posted an excerpt from my award winning novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. I’m getting into the holiday spirit! (Books by J.D.R. Hawkins are available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and iUniverse.com.)

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art

As planned, David and his family arrived at the Copeland’s for their annual Christmas party. Once they entered, he looked around at the sparkling room, aglow with candles and firelight. The parlor was filled with guests, all of which he recognized. They were dressed in their finest holiday attire. Someone was playing “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” on the piano. Relieved to see Callie in the corner, standing beside Jake, and behaving like her old self, he smiled at the sight of her. She was dressed in a purple velvet gown, her bare shoulders exposed, and her blond hair tied up to accentuate her long, slender neck. Jake was attired in his Sunday suit. Once they saw him, they headed his way.

“Oh, David, darlin’,” she cooed. “I am jist so happy to see y’all!”

With a wry grin, he replied, “We’re happy to be here, Miss Callie.” He winked at Jake. “Have you received any proposals yet?”

Jake winced at his friend’s veiled reference, and slightly shook his head, which made David chuckle.

“Why, whatever do you mean?” she asked, the innocence in her voice betraying her demeanor. She slinked up close to David, so close that he could feel her warm breath, and it made his face flush. Like a snake coiling around its victim, she wrapped her arm around his. “Were you fixin’ to make one?”

It was Jake’s turn to chuckle. “Now, honey, leave him be. He’s got big news to share.” Turning to the room filled with friends, Jake hollered, “May I have your attention, please!” The voices died down, and he announced loudly, “David’s pa will be back here for Christmas!”

The attendees cheered.

“So will my husband!” added Mrs. Samuels.

The gathering applauded again.

“We must have a feast prepared for our soldiers returnin’ from the war!” declared Mrs. Copeland. “In honor of all they have done for us!”

“Here! Here!” responded Mr. Copeland, raising his champagne glass.

The room toasted in unison. David glanced over at his mother, who was beaming at him.

The following morning, he and his family attended church, where they received a grand reception. Everyone had heard about Hiram’s homecoming, and bestowed well-wishes upon them. That afternoon, David busied himself by getting caught up on chores he had let slide over the past few months. He wanted his father to be proud, and impressed with his efforts to take care of the place, just like he had promised. Even though it was the Sabbath, a designated day of rest, he worked through it anyway, reasoning that he only had four days to finish the task.

The next few days were filled with anticipation, and last-minute preparations for Christmas. While the girls decorated, David worked diligently to finish his handmade gifts, and Caroline cooked. The family spent every waking moment getting ready to receive their loved one.

Soon, it was the day before Christmas. David awoke to discover that it was drizzling, which wasn’t unusual for that time of year. Pulling himself from his warm bed, he dressed, ate a quick bowl of grits, and went outside to tend to the livestock. By the time he finished, he was cold and damp, so he returned to his room, changed, and sat down on the bed with his guitar. He hadn’t played it in quite a while, but decided he should learn a few carols, so he practiced “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night” several times. While he worked out the chords to “Boars Head,” he heard a knock at his door. Josie entered, wearing a brown coat over her green calico dress.

“Ma says it’s time to go fetch the tree!” she announced, barely containing her excitement.

Grinning at her exuberance, he laid the guitar down across his bed. “All right, li’l’ sis. If you insist.”

He threw on his coat and hat, and followed her outside to the barn. After he had saddled Renegade, he gave her a foot up. As he led the colt out toward the woodlot, he noticed that it had stopped drizzling. He clucked to Renegade, who responded by prancing.

“Your horse is the funniest critter!” Josie giggled. “He must know it’s a holiday!”

“Reckon so. He’s mighty high-strung today.”

“He’s like this every day!” exclaimed Josie, bouncing atop the colt.

“That’s fine if he is. Jist makes him more competitive. He already won those two races I ran him in last month, and I’m fixin’ to run him a heap more this spring.”

Renegade slowed to a walk as brother and sister approached the woods.

“Reckon tonight ole Santee Clause will be makin’ his appearance,” David remarked casually.

To their amusement, Renegade blew in response. Caleb and Si came loping up, eager to find out what they were missing, and the two hounds nearly tumbled over each other in their rush.

Josie laughed at them. “Let’s find the purtiest tree out here for Pa,” she suggested.

“That’s a right good idea.” He grinned up at his sister, who smiled back down at him.

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