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A Candle in the Window [MultiFormat]
eBook by Cassidy McKay

eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: Legends say that in Victorian England during Christmas time, candles were traditionally placed in the front window of a home to welcome passersby who were in need of shelter or food. Others say the tradition has been traced to even further back in time than that, with roots in both magical and/or religious traditions. This year, after a heartfelt but unheard Christmas wish, Shelby Lassen invites more than a stranger into her home one snowy December evening--she invites the promise of true love, and the hope of the season.

eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2009


4 Reader Ratings:
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Prologue

Legends say that in Victorian England during Christmastime, candles were traditionally placed in the front window of a home to welcome passersby who were in need of shelter or food. Others say the tradition has been traced even further back in time with roots in both magical and/or religious traditions.

This year, after a heartfelt but unheard Christmas wish, Shelby Lassen invites more than a stranger into her home one snowy December evening. She invites the promise of true love and the hope of the season.

* * * *

Chapter One

The key grated in the rusty lock as Shelby opened the front door to her grandmother's cabin in the mountains. Her sigh went unheard as the door shut behind her, closing out the sight of the covered front porch with the mound of firewood neatly stacked and placed against the house in preparation for the sudden winter storms that blew up frequently in these mountains.

Dust covered everything. Boxes still sat open where they had been placed in anticipation of decorating. Shelby remembered her G'ma had always been very much into traditions, especially those surrounding Christmas. But when she fell unexpectedly ill last year just before Christmas, everything had been left undone, waiting for her return. The neighbors had locked the cabin for her when she went into the hospital. But she'd never come back. On Christmas Eve, G'ma took a turn for the worse and never recovered.

Shelby looked around at the little cabin, the phrase "a place for everything, and everything in its place" having nothing to do with this home. The smell of neglect and abandonment permeated everything, and the lingering air of sadness colored her perceptions of the little place.

She'd lost touch with her G'ma just after her mother died when she was eight. She supposed it was because she reminded her too much of the daughter she'd lost, but Shelby had never asked her father why G'ma didn't come around any longer. He was always sad, and she learned which triggers to avoid, as his withdrawn silences were even harder for her small brain to manage than not knowing about her mother's family. But the memories she had of Christmas and celebrations at G'ma's when her mother was still alive were bright and full of cheerful remembrances.

Dad died shortly before G'ma did and, when Shelby received the unexpected letter from G'ma with condolences and an invitation for Christmas, she had been thrilled to regain contact with her. The phone call from G'ma's solicitor came the day before she was to come out for Christmas last year when he informed her of her grandmother's death. Shelby was devastated. While everything had been left to Shelby as the only living relative, paperwork and legalese had delayed her inheritance almost a year. Finally completed a few short weeks ago, all of the I's were dotted, and all of the T's were crossed. Shelby had to take time off work to come up and straighten things out before the cabin could be sold. There were all of G'ma's things to sort through, and it needed a thorough cleaning before anything else could be done.

Shelby wasn't due back at work until after the New Year, so she'd brought enough clothes and fresh food to stay the entire time and pack up the cabin. She tutored students privately and had arranged a substitute to cover for her until the children went home for the holidays.

Looking around, she saw ages worth of work before the cabin would be ready to show to prospective buyers. Pushing her long sleeves up over her elbows, she straightened both her back and her mindset and set out to look around the house to figure out what needed to be done first.

"Christmas decorations back in these boxes first, I guess," Shelby announced to the empty room. Looking at the boxes, she saw they were clearly labeled as to what went in them and numbered neatly. Number two held glass balls for decorating, boxes of tinsel strands, and the plastic poinsettias she remembered being all over G'ma's house during Christmastime when she was little.

The box labeled number three held ceramic figurines, each in a carefully labeled box with the tissue paper to wrap them still inside. Small wicker Santa's and elves with reindeer populated the rest of the box, each in their own protective containers. These hadn't been taken out yet. Obviously, G'ma had been decorating when she'd been taken to the hospital.

Box four was empty. The label showed it had held the thick plastic evergreen boughs that lined the staircase railing to the upstairs. The dust-covered wrappers of the medical supplies, used when G'ma had been picked up by the ambulance, were still lying at the foot of the staircase. The trailing green bough that had not been attached to the railing yet showed where her last Christmas decorating had taken place.

Shelby trailed her hand through the thick dust on the railing, running it over the stiff plastic evergreens with red holly berries. She slowly slid to the ground among the discarded medical wrappings, gasping as the long held-back tears slowly ran down her face, gathering momentum. Her emotions followed suit, and the gut-wrenching sobs released everything she'd been trying to hold on to since her father died, followed so closely by her G'ma.

A loud meow broke into her sobbing, and a strangely colored Siamese cat bounded down the staircase, followed by the crack of thunder and a flash of lightning. Wondering how the cat had gotten into the house, Shelby dried the sodden tracks of her tears, giving a hiccupping laugh as the cat made itself at home on her lap, purring and rubbing until she started petting it.

"You sure know how to spot someone in trouble when you see them, don't you, kitty cat?" The loud purring agreed, as the cat rubbed and purred some more. Shelby felt the large round belly announcing a possible mama kitty to be and lifted her up to confirm that it was indeed a girl cat. "Looks like you got into a little trouble yourself there, girl. Maybe that's your name, huh? Trouble?" A loud meow seemed to add an exclamation point onto the name. "Okay, we'll call you Trouble then, little one, at least until we find who you belong to."

Shelby doubted the cat belonged to anyone; she was skin and bones except for her large belly, but she certainly seemed friendly for a stray. She stood up, placing Trouble gently on the ground, and started up the stairs to find an open window or someplace the cat could have come in. After searching fervently, followed by the insistent Siamese cat, she gave up after not finding any openings.

A quick search of the pantry yielded gold as far as Shelby and Trouble were concerned. A large, unopened bag of cat food had Trouble quickly crunching away as Shelby poured it into a bowl for the starving cat. Also in the pantry were canned goods galore and cleaning supplies. G'ma had been well stocked for any emergencies that might come up. On the top shelves, hurricane lanterns were set next to boxes of waterproof matches and bottles of lamp oil.

Shelby grabbed the cleaning supplies and took them to the living room, ready to start in on the depressing job of packing up her G'ma's possessions.


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