Welcome to DAY 10 of the 12 Days of KMR Christmas! Today I’m giving away an exclusive short story called A Christmas of Ice (you’ll get the title by the end lol)
Read it here:
“Wow, Leslie pitched that one,” Erica sang melodramatically next to me.
“Next time you start the song, Erica,” I chastised playfully. Everyone grumbled good-naturedly, despite the incredibly high rendition of the Christmas carol we have just sung.
“Don’t look now, but there’s a really cute guy staring at you, roomie.” Erica bumped into my shoulder before launching into another song.
As the last notes echoed, the family who lived in the house we were standing in front of clapped, the man rushing out to offer us money. We declined politely and walked to the next house.
The house owners gathered on the porch as I noticed I was being watched. Carter grinned at me, adjusting his hat as his blond bangs peeking out from under the brim. He slipped a few steps closer to me, putting only a few people between us.
“What is that boy doing?” I mumbled to myself.
“Leslie, the Andersons were nice enough to invite us to bring all our friends over here to carol in their complex, and you’re wasting time staring at boys?” Erica demanded in a sarcastic voice, parroting the words I had said to her not ten minutes earlier.
“Well excuse me!” I pretended to huff at her words. “What do you expect me to do when my boyfriend insists on standing at the opposite side of the group and grins at me the entire time?”
“Is he playing hard to get?” she asks “Because I’m pretty sure you caught him freshman year when he asked you out to dinner, and you ditched our study group for him.”
“Oh please, you would have dropped study group for a boy that cute too,” I replied as we stepped up to a house covered in icicle lights. The cold wind hits me in the face, blowing back my hair. Suddenly I wished to be back inside.
“Honey, I ditched study group for boys half as cute as your man.” We giggled together, leaning in to keep warm. My friend started the next song as the others joined in.
Erica had been in charge of the entire outing, from getting our adopted college church family to allow us to take over their neighborhood, to picking the songs we would sing. The cold night air left me dying for the hot apple cider and hot chocolate the Andersons had waiting for us back at their home.
An elderly couple greeted us at their doorway at the next home, the husband draping a blanket over his wife’s shoulders. They held hands as they waited for us to start our song.
As if possessed by the need to please them, I started one of my favorite carols, slowly filling the street with its soft melody. I could hear a few of the carolers struggling to sing as high as me, prompting me to be louder to fill the space they left when they dropped out.
My voice caught for a moment as a hand slipped into mine, startling me. Looking to my right, I discovered Carter had managed to sneak up on me. He pulled me close to his side and sang with me, finishing the song. He immediately started singing another—this one faster. The rest of the group didn’t know it, but the song held special meaning to me, having been written in my hometown. The last words dropped off and the older woman clutched her hand to her heart.
“Lovely, just lovely,” she murmured. Her husband thanked us profusely before escorting his beautiful wife inside.
Carter buried his lips in my hair sending a shiver down my spine.
“Not too cold, are you?” Erica glanced sideways at me. “You look pretty cozy to me.”
“Oh be quiet.” I waved my hand at my friend, threatening her.
“I certainly wouldn’t be quiet about the fact that I have been dating for as long as you have been, if I were you,” she mocked, eyes sparking like the lights on the house we were stopping at.
“It will be four years next month,” I said—far too dreamily—and lean into my boyfriend. “Quite honestly, I’m surprised we’ve made it this long. I thought for sure by now Erica would have smothered me in my sleep one night so she could steal you away.”
Carter grinned before leaning around me, giving my roommate a dramatic wink. “Shhh, you weren’t supposed to tell her about the plan.”
His joke sent us all into a ripple of laughter. The children hanging out of the windows shouted to us, asking why we are laughing. Carter quickly picked a peppy song and we all race through three rounds of it before we move on. Reindeer and a snowman littered the next yard.
“Besides, I could never smother you,” Erica said. “The dorm walls are far too thin. Gina and Louise would hear and come save you.”
The kids—still hanging from the snowflake covered windows—shrieked as Carter leaned over and kissed me. Erica picked up their chanting and the entire group whistled at us as we walk to the final house on the street. It was dark and would look abandoned if not for the few strings of unlit lights on the front porch.
“I don’t think anyone is home,” I said as we walked part way up the drive.
“Let’s sing anyway,” Marcia, our hostess, said, nodding enthusiastically to the group. She grinned at me and motioned for me to sing. After a quizzical look, I joined the song my best friend has already started singing beside me.
The world was silent as the song comes to an end. We were about to move on when the entire place sprang to life. Lights flipped on all around us, wrapped through the trees and around the porch. Fountains of twinkle lights cascaded in the side yards, blinking like fireflies. The soft glow of the yellow lights filled the space and gave the dark night sky a dreamy look.
Carter grinned at me and grabbed my hand. Glancing around I notice no one else in our group looked confused. Carter pulled me closer to the house and spun me around to face him as my eyes still searched to take in the atmosphere around us.
Music suddenly filled the air, echoing off of the houses, and yet the entire world seemed incredibly still. Carter took a step away from me, hands outstretched between us. I grinned foolishly as he smiled at me. We watched each other for a moment as the snow started to build on our hair and shoulders. Somehow I missed the start of the flakes.
Carter belts out the lines of the song about snowmen asking if we’re married—the same song written in my hometown he had sung before. Only when I hear people screaming around us, do I finally understand.
The ring sparkled like the icicles that decorated the Anderson family home as Carter bent down on one knee. I heard only his words as he spoke of his love for me. Throwing my arms around him, he spun me in circles, elated at my answer. We danced in the moonlit snow in the soft glow of the twinkle lights as the song continues. Our friends picked up the words, shouting loudly for the entire neighborhood to hear. When we finally slowed our dance, I realized the voices were much louder than before. Carter twirled me, bringing me to a stop to face the abandoned house where I found my entire family surrounding the steps.
Carter—a Christmas miracle all my own—had given me the best gift he ever could: a promise to be with me forever, and my family there to witness my happiest moment to date.
My parents escorted me inside and I realize it’s not just my family, but my new family-in-law as well. The inside of the house was decorated as lovely as the outside. The air was filled with music as everyone sang around the piano. I had never seen it coming.
The night was incredible, full of laughter, friends and fun. I yelled at my caroling group for keeping the secret from me, but they just made jokes about getting coal for it.
“Are you happy?” Carter asked as I curled against him on the couch.
“How did you do this?” I asked him, smiling.
“Christmas is a time for miracles, Leslie. It’s also the time employees get time off from work and bosses are more than happy to give an earlier day, especially if it means they work an extra day closer to the big event.”
“You even got our families,” I said, still in disbelief.
“Family,” he corrected. “Our family.”
“How long have you been planning this?” I asked.
“About as long as the trip to Bethlehem,” he joked. His smile turned serious. “Leslie Ann Matthews, I have loved you from the moment I met you.”
“Hey! Here’s the perfect song to end the night, dedicated to Leslie and Carter!” Erica shouted above the crowd.
She burst into the Hallelujah Chorus and we all sang along.
Each day for the first twelve days of December, I’m giving away one exclusive gift to my fans! Several presents will be free books, others will be some awesome swag! You can only get each gift on the day it’s offered, though, so make sure you join me here every day until we’re done! Enjoy the short story! See you tomorrow for another awesome swag gift!