A Trip Back to Snowy Pines (Book II in the Christmas Village Trilogy)

BOOK: A Trip Back to Snowy Pines (Book II in the Christmas Village Trilogy)
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A Trip Back to Snowy Pines

 

Lisa Pendergrass

 

Copyright 2015 by Lisa Pendergrass

 

Smashwords Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trip Back to Snowy Pines

 

This book is dedicated to the idea that we
all have angels who come into our lives just when we need them.
Thank you to one of my favorite Christmas movies – It’s A Wonderful
Life for all the quotes that make it a movie that is part of our
lives! A Trip Back to Snowy Pines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1


You look at me as if you don’t know me.”
… Mary Hatch

December 21st

 

“It’s Christmas Lola. Why don’t you just come
with us?”

 

Lola McCauley looked at her husband Chris and
she knew he meant it. She knew nothing would make him happier than
for her to take his hand and follow him and Ethan out to the car to
spend Christmas together… a family. But Christ didn’t know
everything. And most of all he didn’t know that them being together
was the last thing on earth that Lola wanted to happen. So instead
of taking his hand she shook her head and said the well-rehearsed
mantra she’d chanted to herself for the days. “No I really
shouldn’t. The of the term temporary separation are clear. He’s
yours until Christmas morning. I’ll see him later than day. He’s
been so excited about this ski trip.”

 

“He’s not going to be excited when he
realizes you’re not going to be with us.” Chris argued.

 

“You’re his father. He’ll be fine. Besides,
he has to get used to this.” She explained, looking back him to
watch their chubby five-year-old son Ethan running in the yard with
the neighbor’s dog.

 

Chris shrugged and turns to watch him as
well. “Lo, I made one stupid, thoughtless mistake, but you’re the
love of my life. I have no intentions of getting used to a life
that doesn’t include us spending out lives together raising our son
as a family.”

 

“It’s not that simple… and it isn’t only your
decision.”

 

Lola watched his face fall and hated herself
a little. When he looked sad like this he looked exactly like the
sweet faced fourteen-year old who’d moved in across the street from
her when she was eleven. Sometimes it seemed she must have loved
him on sight. Other times she wonders if she ever loved him at all.
Maybe they were just two stupid kids who enjoyed making out and
thought they could build a life together based on that alone.

 

“Come on daddy, let’s go!” Ethan begged
tugging on Chris’s hand.

 

They looked so much alike it sometimes
knocked the wind out of her. They have the same wavy,
chestnut-brown hair, the same natural olive skin that turns to a
flawless copper-tone tan at the first hint of sunshine, and the
same golden-brown eyes that looked like sparkling topaz when
they’re happy, and like melted chocolate ice cream when they’re
sad.

 

“See, listen to our son. Time’s a wasting.”
She said motioning toward the driveway.

 

Chris looked down at Ethan and said, “Did you
kiss Grandma Goodbye?”

 

Ethan wrinkles his nose and Lola stepped in
to his defense. “Mom’s asleep. No need to wake her.” She leaned
down and looked at him and the fact that she was about to go one
solid week without seeing him, especially at Christmas, was almost
enough to make her cave and go with them. He’d never been away from
her for more than a night and now they would be apart for four
days. It suddenly felt like too much.

 

“Okay, so I’ll talk to you every day and
you’ll send me lots of pictures, right?” She asked, fighting to
keep the tears from her voice, and for the first time Ethan looked
like he was questioning whether he wanted to do this.

 

“I’ll miss you a whole lot, mommy.”

 

“You and daddy will be having way too much
fun to miss me. And I’ll see you on Christmas day. Santa will come
see you with daddy and with me.”

Why can’t he just see me all at the same time?” He asks, rubbing
his ear. When Lola first graduated from nursing school and began
working it was on the night shift so she put one of Chris’s old
baseball jerseys that had become her sleep shirt in Ethan’s crib so
he would be comforted by her scent. By the time he was three he
dragged it everywhere, and rubbed his ears with it when he was
upset. He finally let it go a little over a year ago, but when he’s
upset he still tended to rub his ears.

 

“Come on buddy. We’ve talked about this,
remember?” Chris says, and Lola is grateful because she’s not sure
she could have done it. “We’re going to have a great time and then
you’ll be home with mommy and have a great time again.”

 

She watched them walk out to Chris’s late
model Explorer and wave as Ethan climbs in the backseat, but then
she turned quickly hearing her mama’s admonishment that watching a
car drive away is bad luck.

 

A memory of being 5 or 6 and having mama
leave her at home to go on a date flashed through her mind.

 

“Go in the house and stay away from the
window. You know, it’s bad luck to watch mama drive away.”

 

Somewhere along the line Lola realized that
she more than likely said that because it made her feel guilty to
drive away with her watching at the window, but she held to it just
in case there was any truth to it. And because at the end of the
day… she was still her mama.

 

She walked back into the house and, speaking
of mama, there she sat at her Formica kitchen table – the one that
was long out of style when Lola was a little girl – smoking a
cigarette and drinking her umpteenth cup of coffee.

 

“Mama you’re smoking in the house.” Lola
scolded weakly. Hollow words, but she needed to say something.

 

“He’s gone.” Mama says by way of
explanation.

 

“But it’s disgusting and it’s bad for the
house… not to mention bad for you.”

 

She stubs it out and crossed the room to
squeeze Lola’s shoulders. “Lighten up baby girl. You don’t care
about this house. You don’t even care about my health.”

 

“Mama, that’s a horrible thing to say. Of
course I do!” Lola argued. It was true she and her mother had
shared more than few rough patches through life, but she’d never
doubted her mother’s love and she’d always felt the same about
her.

 

“Oh, you know what I mean. It’s just that
this house is a dump, and I’ve done far worse to my health than
these things.” She said, lighting up another and then coughing…
whether for effect or for real, Lola couldn’t be sure.

 

Alice Hayes was once what some would have
called a looker. She was tall and lanky with just a few curves,
glossy blonde hair and a laugh that made men positively stupid. But
too many cigarettes, too much alcohol and three decades of bad
relationships had left her faded, bitter and brassy. Lola saw
enough of herself in her mother to never forget how easy it would
be to follow in her stiletto-heeled footsteps.

 

“While this house might be a dump, we’re
here. And I’m thankful for it.” Lola said looking around at the
worn carpet and faded walls. It wasn’t the worst place she’d ever
lived; but it certainly couldn’t compare to the little townhouse
close to the University of Maryland Medical Center where she worked
as a nurse. She and Chris had purchased it just last year and with
a little love, a lot of attention and a whole lot of sanding,
painting and elbow grease - they’d turned the 3 bedroom, two story
brownstone into her dream house.

 

“I’ve not always been the best mother, but
you know as long as I have a roof over my head, you’ll have a home.
The same goes for Ethan… and anyone else who should come along.”
She stated, clucking Lola under the chin. Lola hugged her
impulsively and was just about to give into her urge to wallow when
her mother’s demeanor turned steely. “But let me just say this Lola
Catherine – Chris McCauley is the best thing that ever happened to
you, and I don’t know what exactly he’s done, but I know beyond a
shadow of a doubt it’s not enough to be worth you leaving him and
tearing apart your family.”

 

“Mama, you don’t understand.” Lola said
exasperatedly.

 

“He’s doesn’t beat you?”

 

“No ma’am.”

 

“And you say he’s not cheating on you.” She
pressed further.

 

“Mama, I wish it was that simple but it’s
not. I love Chris. And I know he’s a good father and a good
husband. There are just things going on with us that make it
impossible for us to be together. I wish you could just respect
me.”

 

“Lola, I’ve been married four times. You were
there for three of those. I’ve been in a dozen other equally
destructive relationships. Some of them I couldn’t get out of fast
enough when I realized they’d gone bad and others of them I fought
tooth and nail to hang on to. But they all had one thing in common.
At least one of us wanted out. Chris looks miserable and so are you
so that tells me you two don’t want out. So why don’t you pick up
that phone and call him back before he gets too far away and spend
Christmas with your husband and your son.”

 

“Mama, I love you but you really don’t know
what you’re talking about.” Lola said angrily. “I’m going to
work.”

 

“I thought you were off till tomorrow
afternoon. Aren’t you working the night shift while Ethan is gone?”
Nightshift nurses made slightly more money so Lola was picking up
some shifts while Ethan was gone for the extra money.

 

“I am, but I have a patient… a little girl
who was in a car wreck and she’s by herself. Her mother was killed,
her father’s in critical condition and she had surgery today. I
promised I’d check on her.” Lola said, grabbing her handbag and
keys.

 

“Take a coat.”

 

“It’s 73 degrees outside.” Lola argued.

 

“The weather is going to break eventually and
when it does it’ll hit quickly. Mark my word.”

 

***

 

“What are you doing here girl? I thought you
were off till tomorrow night at 11:00.” Asked Abby, one of the
respiratory therapist from the pediatric floor.

 

“Yeah, I swapped with Hillary so she could be
on dayshift while her kids were out of school. But the little girl
in 732 had surgery to set her wrist fracture today. I promised I’d
check on her.”

 

Abby wrinkled her brow, and studied Lola with
dark brown eyes. “And where’s your little boy?”

 

“He’s skiing with his dad.” Lola answered,
looking down at a chart, but not really seeing.

 

Abby snapped her head around, her springy
black curls whipping around her smooth brown skin. “Please tell me
you two didn’t go through with the separation. That is not the kind
of man you separate from voluntarily.”

 

Lola shook her head. “We’re just taking some
time.”

 

“Hmmhmm. Sounds like a mistake to me.” Lola
heard her muttering as she walked away and Lola headed down the
hall, wondering if she was right.

 

She opened the door and found the olive
skinned brunette girl asleep with her arm heavily bandaged. Florrie
Gentry had seen more tragedy in the last 48 hours than she’d
probably seen in her entire ten years of life. Lola checked her
chart and then sat down beside her bed. She realized as she sat
there, that with Chris and Ethan gone, she had nowhere else to be.
It was an unsettling thought.

 

Three months ago everything in her life had
been so set… so settled. She’d really been happy, truly happy and
sure of things for the first time ever. And then the rug had been
pulled out from under her. Suddenly it felt like things were being
tossed at her, decisions having to be made, choices forced on her
that she’d never thought she’d have to choose. But then she looked
at Florrie Gentry and she knew that her choices were nothing
compared to what Florrie was facing… especially if her father
didn’t come through.

BOOK: A Trip Back to Snowy Pines (Book II in the Christmas Village Trilogy)
4.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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