A Christmas Legacy 5
Thanks for stopping by. This is day five of my Christmas gift to you this year. It's a short story based on characters from my book, An Unexpected Legacy. If you missed day four, you can go catch up here.
This section is just a bit longer than the others have been because I wanted to do it full justice. I hope you enjoy the end of this Christmas story.
“Well, look at that.” Chad stood at the front window early the next afternoon.
Presents had been opened that morning, and Jessica hadn’t noticed anything that would have caused Chad and Aunt Ruth to have such mischievous looks about them yesterday afternoon. She’d tried to settle in and simply enjoy the day with her family, but the sense of something not quite right still hung about her shoulders and clung tight. She rubbed her upper arms as she moved to stand next to Chad and look outside.
Gentle white flakes drifted from the sky. Already the grass was more white than brown. Her breath fogged the glass as she let out a breath of wonder. Snow on Christmas.
“Think it will last long?” Brittney looked through the other window.
“Probably not. This is Arkansas, after all. We almost never get a white Christmas.” Her dad peered over their shoulders.
“Humbug to you, too, Daddy.” Jessica smiled and took in the wonder of the fluffy crystals swirling in the breeze. “It’s so beautiful.”
“Let’s go walk in it.” Chad tugged at her hand.
“Walk in it? It’s going to be so cold.” She resisted only for a second. After living in central Texas for several years, she yearned for weather like this every now and then. There was nothing more magical. “Maybe we can borrow scarves and gloves from Aunt Ruth.”
It only took ten minutes to find enough cold weather gear to satisfy Jessica. Then, out they headed into the winter wonderland. The bit of accumulation crunched under their shoes as they walked down the driveway. Chad clasped her mitten-ensconced hand and swung their arms between them. She giggled as she stuck out her tongue to try and catch a flake. Nothing like snow could bring out the inner child quite so quickly.
Without discussing a direction, they both turned and meandered toward the park down the street. Chad dusted off one of the swings and motioned with a bow for her to sit. She lifted her legs as he gave her a gentle push, sending her flying through the swirling precipitation.
“This year has been so different than last year.”
“If I remember correctly, we ended up here on Christmas night last year, too, though.” Chad laughed.
“And you gave me my necklace.” She glanced over her shoulder with a grin. “And told me you didn’t want anything from me.”
He reached out and caught her swing to slow down her momentum. “And I still feel exactly the same way, though I do love that pocket knife you had under the tree.”
“I’m glad you like it. It took forever to decide on the perfect gift.” She stood and snuggled into his arms.
“Hm?” She didn’t want to move away from his warmth.
“I have a question for you.”
“Okay.” She back away just enough to be able to look up into his blue eyes.
He loosened his hold and got down on one knee.
She gasped and swallowed hard. Everything from the weekend suddenly seemed to make more sense.
“I’m going to need to take this off for a minute.” He tugged at the mitten she’d insisted on wearing.
“This ring.” He held up a diamond that looked familiar, though she couldn’t remember why. “When Uncle Andy gave this ring to your aunt, he meant it as a promise of a lifetime of love. Their story didn’t get the finish they wanted. Aunt Ruth said it’s time this piece of jewelry has a happy ending. Will you let me promise to love you forever and help me give this ring the story it deserves?”
She nodded, fighting the lump in her throat. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”
He slipped the cold metal on her finger and then pressed a kiss to her hand. She tugged him up, needing to be in his arms, to feel him and know this wasn’t simply some magical fantasy playing out in the unexpected winter wonderland. As his lips found hers and he swung her around with a “whoop” that was sure to be heard all the way back to Aunt Ruth’s house, she couldn’t stop the laughter that bubbled up.
“This is why you and Aunt Ruth have been acting so sketchy since we arrived, isn’t it?” She poked him in the chest as he set her back down.
"Aren’t you glad you didn’t walk in a minute sooner and ruin the surprise yesterday?”
She backed up and put her hands on her hips. “Wait. When you answered my question yesterday about who I was marrying, you knew you were going to do this?”
“I can’t wait to see you in that dress.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
She shook her head, bent down and scooped up some of the wet snow. “Right now, I think you need to be the one wearing white.”
He yelped as her snowball slammed into the side of his head. “Hey! This was supposed to be romantic.”
“It was. And now I get to get back at you for making me worry the last few days.” She threw another missile.
“Oh, this is war.” He knelt down to get his own weapons.
“Bring it on!”
“We want to play, too.” Brittney and Trevor came walking up. “And Mom says hurry back because she wants to see the ring on your finger.”
“She knew, too?” Jessica threw a ball at her sister. “I’m declaring war on everyone!”
“I think she can take it.” Brittney’s snowball caught her in the shoulder.
They tossed the wet projectiles at each other all the way back down the street. On the porch, right before joining the others inside, Chad stopped Jessica, pulling her into his arms.
“You know, a year ago, we shared our first kiss here.”
“Here’s to many more.” She pressed a quick one to his lips and then slipped inside to find her parents.
“That wasn’t nearly long enough.” Chad complained as he slipped from his jacket.
“We’ve got a lifetime to do that.” She smiled and admired the ring once more. “But right now, I want to go rummage around in the attic and find my Grandma’s wedding dress.”
“That’s the perfect way to have a white Christmas.” Her mom came up behind and hugged her. “Ruth is already up there. Let’s go.”
Time to start planning her happily ever after.
Fun historical note: they really did get almost a foot of snow in Arkansas back in 2012, when this is set. I giggled when I looked it up. Thanks so much for revisiting these characters with me. I did enjoy seeing what they got up to after the end of the book.
And if this has made you want to check out these characters in their original setting, you can find that story here.
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