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Christmas by the Fire Blog Hop! Part 1

August 14, 2014

Welcome to the Written Fireside August Blog Hop!

wf hop pic

Fifteen authors from Harper Impulse will write fifteen stories all starting from one shared starting paragraph written by competition winner Georgia Beyers!

Be sure to check out all the awesome stories and enter the giveaway! There are books to be had and the chance to win a $70 Amazon gift card!

Join us by the fire!

Lori Connelly – Aug 1,2,3

Erin Lawless – Aug 4,5

Mandy Baggot – Aug 6,7

Aimee Duffy  – Aug 8,9

Teresa F. Morgan – Aug 10,11

Angela Campbell – Aug 12,13

Lisa Fox – Aug 14,15

Lynn Marie Hulsman – Aug 16,17

Linn B. Halton – Aug 18,19

Carmel Harrington – Aug 20,21

Charlotte Phillips – Aug 22,23

Romy Sommer – Aug 24,25

Jane Lark – Aug 26,27

Zara Stoneley – Aug 28,29

AJ Nuest – Aug 30,31





Christmas Wishes – PART ONE

Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniel’s heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon.

She sighed and wiped the sheen of clammy fog off her forehead with the back of her hand. Of course, the heartbreak hadn’t happened yet, but it was inevitable. There was no way around it. She could already picture her eight year old nephew’s face when she showed up for Christmas Eve dinner tonight empty-handed. If only she had been a little faster, worked a little harder. A fat drop of rain hit her square on the nose and she scowled as she swiped the moisture away. At least the setting was right. It was a nasty day in San Francisco, cold and rainy and damp. The perfect day to ruin someone’s holiday.

A bus came and went, depositing passengers on the sidewalk, picking up others while she wallowed in her own disappointment. For weeks, she had tried every scheme she could think of to get Daniel the Limited Edition Elite Superstrike N-16 Blaster that the superhero whose name she could never remember always carried into battle. She’d trolled the internet, contacted every friend she had in every state, got up at the crack of dawn to go to toy stores miles and miles outside of the city. Not a single one of her bright ideas had panned out. Today, she had spent the day exhausting her last lead, her very last hope of getting him that gun in time for Christmas. She’d heard a rumor that one, last shop had a gun for sale and was willing to sell it to the highest bidder. She’d gathered all her cash, grabbed her AmEx, and traversed the city in search of her quarry. But once again she was too late, and the toy had been sold to someone else.

She touched the gift card she’d gotten for Daniel in her jacket pocket. Her lips twisted. So lame. Sure, it was just a toy, and the kid would probably get over it, but she had promised—swore—she would get it for him. It was the thing he wanted most for Christmas, and he didn’t ask his mom or his dad or even Santa Claus for it. He asked her.

And she had failed.

She glanced down the street, but the bus she needed was nowhere in sight. Not that it mattered. Dinner at her sister’s wasn’t for hours. Last minute shoppers milled around the stop, chatting amongst themselves or staring anxiously down the street. Women with designer baby strollers prowled the sidewalk, organic coffee in hand. A Salvation Army volunteer rang his bell in front of the pharmacy, his beard saturated from the damp. She shifted to the left as a woman laden with bags took the seat on the metal bench next to her. Charlotte glanced at the brightly wrapped presents peeking out the woman’s bags and then quickly away. Unlike her, that woman was going to make someone’s Christmas happy.

Her phone buzzed and for one, brief moment, she thought about ignoring it. She was not in the mood for any kind of Christmas cheer. But curiosity got the best of her, and she gave into its siren call. A small smile touched her lips when she checked the caller ID and saw that it was her best friend, Liam.

She put the phone to her ear, but before she could even say hello, he blurted out, “Charlotte, listen to me. You need to get to Union Square right now.”

“Why?” she asked, grimacing as a black sedan splashed mucky water up onto the curb. Grit and debris landed a few inches away from her toes. “I’m all the way over in Noe Valley.”

“I’m at a store behind Nordstrom’s that’s about to sell a few of those guns you want,” he said in a harsh whisper. “There are a lot of people here already and more are coming. You need to get here fast.”

She sat up straighter, her misery forgotten. “How is that possible? It’s sold out everywhere.”

“Apparently not. They have at least one here. I can see the box from where I’m standing.” He paused, and she could hear some kind of commotion in the background, raised voices and the sounds of a scuffle. “Hurry up, Charlotte.”

Adrenaline pumped through her veins. Maybe she wasn’t a failure after all. “I’m on my way.”

She ended the call and leapt to her feet. She was going to get that toy no matter what. A cold wind slapped her in the face as she stared down the street, searching for the bus. There was nothing but passenger cars for miles and miles and Charlotte chewed on her lower lip. No time to wait. She stuck out her hand to hail a cab, but none stopped. She bounced on her heels as cars zoomed by. Union Square was way too far away to walk. She needed to get there now. She spotted a cab on the opposite side of the street and without a single hesitation darted through traffic for it. Her fingers closed on the handle just as the driver was about to pull away, and she tugged the door open. There was no time for pleasantries or chatty small talk. She barked out the address and sat at the edge of the faux-leather seat, willing the driver to go faster.

She spotted Liam as soon as she exited the cab, his six-foot-two frame towering over most of the crowd. He smiled when she approached, his grin lighting up his hazel eyes. That grin had always made her feel a bit giddy inside and still gave her the same deep, little flutter it had given her the very first time they met, way back in their freshman year at Berkeley.

“Hey, beautiful,” he said when she joined him at his side.

Her cheeks flushed, but she automatically suppressed the tingle that wanted to race through her blood. Liam was an unabashed flirt. It was dangerous to take him too seriously. She looked around at the crowd gathered on the sidewalk, men and women braving the cold and misty rain in the hope of getting their hands on the ultimate prize. “Anything happen yet?”

He held up a small white piece of paper. “It looks like they’re going to hold a lottery.”

“Where do I get a ticket?” She put her hand on his shoulder and stood up on her tiptoes, searching for anyone official. He put his arm around her waist to help anchor her, and she chose not acknowledge just how good that arm felt around her, how nice it was to be close to him.

“I think they might be all gone. I haven’t seen anyone from the store in a while.”

“Great.” It was the story of her damn life this Christmas.

“Never fear,” he said, giving her a one-arm hug. “I will get you that toy.”

She looked up at him, a small smile playing on her lips as her gaze followed the strong line of his jaw, the sharp angle of her cheekbones, the twinkling mirth in his eyes. Fondness made her heart ache. He was a great friend and she loved him a lot—maybe a little too much. “My hero.”

He grinned back at her and brushed a stray lock of hair off her forehead. “Damn right, babe.”

She opened her mouth to tell him not to call her babe, as per their usual routine, but was cut off when the front door opened and two men in polo shirts emerged.

“Hello, everyone,” one of the men said. “We have three Superstrikes for sale.” He pointed to a basket the other man was holding. “I’m going to draw three numbers. Those people will be able to come inside and purchase the toy.” He gestured toward the street and the crowd’s head turned as one to see the four police officers standing at the perimeter. “We ask that the rest of you leave immediately after the winners are drawn.”

People grumbled, nervous tension and aggression building in the air. Charlotte took a little step closer to Liam, glad that she was not alone. She had a feeling things could get out of hand very quickly if the crowd decided to do something rash.

“All right,” the man said and reached into the basket. “The first number is…”

Charlotte held her breath, looking over Liam’s shoulder as the numbers were read, willing his ticket to be a winner. The last number was called and there was a moment of silence before a woman on the other side of the crowd shrieked and held up her ticket.

“There are still two more,” Liam whispered.

The guy from the store chose another ticket, and then another, neither of which matched the numbers on Liam’s ticket. Anger, frustration, and unbearable sadness made Charlotte’s chest heavy. Once again, she had failed. The people around them dispersed slowly, shambling away like shell-shocked zombies. She released her deathgrip on Liam’s forearm and shook her head. “Well, I guess that’s it then.”

Liam’s mouth tightened and he looked like he was about to say something when the store’s front door chimed and one of the winners emerged, a middle-aged man in a dark trench coat. “I’m not done yet,” he murmured and strode toward the man. “Hey,” he called just as the guy was about to turn the corner.

The man stopped and Liam caught up with him. “Hey, I’ll give you two hundred dollars for that toy.”

The man smirked and shook his head. “No way, kid. The thing only cost ninety bucks as it was and I can get over a grand for it on eBay.”

“Not the day after Christmas you won’t,” Charlotte said, as she joined them. “Once Christmas is over, it loses all its value. Nobody cares about getting it on December twenty-sixth.” She reached into her jacket pocket and touched the cash she had gotten out of the bank earlier for her last buying mission. “And we’ll give you three hundred dollars for it.”

***Stop by tomorrow for Part Two!***

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