Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Christmas Miracle of Lydia Perkins

So, I'm working on Book Two (a.k.a Twelve) but in the meantime, here's a little something fun I wrote for the holidays.  Meet Lydia, a single mom who's doing her best to keep the Christmas magic alive for her two boys. Don't worry, there will be romance!
The Christmas Miracle of Lydia Perkins
Part 1

Lydia wiped a blob of goo off her cheek. Every girl knew cookie dough was delicious, but cookie dough stuck to your face?  Not so much. 
Time to get a new mixer, she mentally noted, one that won’t flip food all over the place. A second thought trailed after the first one, But how can we ever afford that? She’d barely paid the mortgage this month, and had already maxed out the credit card on gifts for the boys. Whatever. She could pay it off.  Probably. By next Christmas.
“Mommmyyyyy!!!!” Her youngest son screeched to a halt behind her, yanking on her apron strings to get her attention. As if the yelling wasn’t enough. 
She turned to him, squatting down to look him in the eyes, “What is it, Jimmy?” 
“He said he’s going to kill me!” If this line had been uttered by someone else, someone without a cowlick and two front teeth missing, it might have caused more of a dramatic reaction. Jimmy never captured the right amount of tragedy, no matter how he tried. And he did try. “He said he’ll push me out the window!”
Lydia gave him a look, that special look that convinced children their mothers really did have eyes in the backs of their heads. “And what did you do?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
“I was just playing with my toys…” His little boy mouth pulled down at the corners.
Her eyes narrowed, intensifying the Mother Look. 
After squirming for a second, he cracked. “Well…he took my G.I. Joe, so I threw a Lego at him.  I didn’t mean to hit him in the head…”  His round hazel eyes showed genuine regret.
“What’s the rule about throwing toys?” she grilled him.
“Don’t throw toys,” he replied flatly.
“Correct. Now, you have a choice, you may play quietly with your toys and be respectful to your brother or you may go to timeout and miss dessert.”
“But mommmyyyyy…” he stretched the word out until it was practically unrecognizable, little more than a whine.  She’d thought it was so adorable the first time he’d lisped it in his baby voice.  Now she wasn’t so sure.
“Make your choice, Jimmy,” she said, holding up one finger.
“I’ll be nice,” he said, sighing and turning away.
“Tell your brother he can be nice too, or no cookies!” she called after his retreating form as she stood back up. She heard the resulting tussle as she turned back to her cookie dough. Mom said be nice or you don’t get any cookies,” Jimmy said smugly. Sighing again, she flipped the mixer up to full speed to drown them out. They wouldn’t really kill one another.
After a minute, she scraped down the sides of the bowl and folded in the chocolate chips. The day had started out so nicely too. These days, dreams were a single mom’s only escape. And last night’s had been a doozy. She’d found herself back in high school—in her size 8 high school body, no less—and on the same stage where she’d performed in numerous musicals. Her co-star, a tasty blonde with bright green eyes, decided they needed to practice the kissing scene.  Dipping her tentatively, he pecked her quickly before pulling her upright again. 
“Unconvincing!” the Nazi-of-a-director called from the audience.  “Pretend like you like each other, for Pete’s sake!”  At this her partner had dipped her full Old Hollywood style, planting a firm kiss on her lips. Lydia, taken completely by surprise, was a bit shaky when he set her back on her feet. “That’s more like it!” the director yelled encouragingly, “Except not so wooden, Lyddie! Again!”  
Her green-eyed partner looked straight into her eyes, smiling mischievously. “Let’s show them how this is done.” 
Lydia was prepared when the spin and dip came, this time pulling their bodies together to lean into his kiss.  It was meant to be a regular stage kiss, all glitz and no heart. Instead, the whole world blurred at the edges and dropped away as they melted into one another. Then, somewhere in the middle of that never-ending kiss she sensed a strange dampness on her cheek…was he actually licking her?  Or worse, was she drooling?  Oh please, let it be anything but drool! 
It was at this point that her boys had burst into her room screaming bloody murder, and she woke to find the dog lapping affectionately at her face. Perfect.
A day that began like that warranted chocolate at the end, she rationalized, and dipped a finger into the dough to make sure she hadn’t forgotten any ingredients. Everything was accounted for, so she grabbed a spoon and began scooping balls onto trays and sliding them into the oven. She had just dusted off her hands when the doorbell rang. She made her way to the door, automatically admonishing the boys to play nice as she passed their room. Easing the door open, so as to not decapitate any stray action figures, she looked out onto the porch to see an unknown man.  She left the locked screen door in between them, just in case.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I don’t mean to be a bother, but my truck stalled and my cell phone’s dead.  Could I borrow your phone?” Near-death scenarios flooded Lydia’s mind as she looked up at him, the most prominent of which was the classic single woman attacked by a wild man who carried her off and ravaged her in the woods. 
Probably an improvement on my love life
“Just a minute,” she said, leaving him standing on the porch, the screen door separating them as she searched the house for her purse.  “Are you boys okay?” she called down the hall. 
“Yes, mommy,” they chorused in their little boy voices, their tones beautifully innocent.
“Just keep playing in your room, please,” she instructed.  “The cookies will be out in a bit.”  She located her purse and after digging for a moment, pulled out her cell phone.  Unlocking and pushing open the screen door, she handed it to the man.
“Thanks,” he said, his lips curving up into a crooked half-grin. “I really am sorry about this, I feel like such an idiot.”
“Oh, it’s fine,” she replied. “Anything else you need?” 
“No, I’ll just call Triple A and get out of your hair.” He turned away, tapping numbers into the phone. He didn’t seem like the type to drag a girl into the forest to have his way with her.  More’s the pity, she thought, he’s rather cute, like a tall Bradley Cooper. She relocked the screen door, but with a sudden attack of conscience that she’d treated him like some sort of mass murderer/rapist, she ran to pull a batch of cookies from the oven and slide a few onto a plate. Hushed little boy voices drew her attention as she headed back to the porch. Their faces were smooshed against the screen door and they were whispering to one another as they peered out at the stranger on the porch.
“Jimmy, Tommy, didn’t I ask you to play in your room?” Her free hand perched on a hip.
“But who is he, mommy?” Tommy asked, his brown eyes wide.
“Someone in trouble,” she replied, moving him gently aside so she could slip out.  She flashed her boys the “stay put” look before turning to the man.  He clicked the phone shut and handed it back to her. She took it, offering him the plate of cookies with the other hand.
“You don’t have to do that,” he said, eying the cookies. “You’ve helped me out already.”
“It’s nothing,” she responded, holding the plate out again. “I know what it’s like to be stranded.” She waggled the cookies under his nose and added, “And they’re fresh from the oven.” 
“Well…all right,” he said, picking one up and taking a large bite, his eyes grew as wide as Tommy’s had been a moment ago. “Oh my gosh! These are amazing!” he said around a mouthful of cookie, crumbs falling as he spoke.
“Thanks,” she smiled, while the boys giggled behind her. How many times had she admonished them not to talk with their mouth full? And now, here was a full-grown male doing exactly that. No wonder they were amused.
“Boys,” she turned to them, pulling the serious look back onto her face, “You may go to the kitchen and get one cookie each.” The giggles faded as they raced off.
The man was reaching for the last cookie when she turned back.  “Cute boys,” he said, stuffing it into his mouth.
“They’re a handful,” she said shaking her head. “But usually they’re very sweet.” Just then they came scampering back, a cookie in each hand and one poking out of their mouths.  Lydia rolled her eyes, “See what I mean?” she said.
He snickered. “They have good taste.”
“So, did you get hold of Triple A?” she asked, recalling why he’d come in the first place.
“Yes, they’ll be here in a bit,” he said. “Thanks again, for everything.  I should probably go wait at the truck so I don’t miss them.”
“Wait a minute,” Lydia said, ducking back into the house, shooing the boys before her as she went.  She grabbed a plastic bag, scooped several more cookies into it, and zipped the top shut before hurrying back outside.  Holding it out, she said, “Take these. You’ll save me from dealing with too much sugar detox later,” she said jerking a thumb toward the miscreants still gaping at them behind the screen door.
“Thank you,” he said, smiling as he made his way down the steps. “Help and free cookies, it almost makes me want to break down more often.” She watched him for a moment, and then turned to enter the house, careful to bolt both doors behind her.
The boys looked owlishly up at her.  “Who was he, Mommy? Was that Daddy?” Tommy asked.
She shook her head sadly. “No baby, his car just broke down and he needed some help.” She patted him on the head consolingly. “Daddy’s gone, sweetie, and he’s not coming back.” Both boys hugged her around the legs, helping to ease the tight knot that had settled in her stomach when she thought about the past. 
* * *
Thanks for reading! You can read the rest of Christmas Miracle here: Part II, Part III. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

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