Authors: Teresa Hill
Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Love Stories, #Christmas Stories
The McRae's Series
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Copyright © 2000, 2011 by Teresa Hill. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
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One year at Christmas, a couple I know received a call from a social worker desperate to find a temporary home for a little girl.
My friends, it seems, were still on the county's approved list of foster parents, although they'd already decided not to take any more foster children into their home. They'd gotten their hearts broken once before by the system.
But the social worker begged. It was Christmas, and the child had nowhere to go. In the end, my friends took the little girl into their home and their hearts. She came to them on Christmas Day, and I'm happy to say, she's been there ever since.
It takes a special kind of courage to love a child who's not your own, at least not in any legally recognized terms. I admire people willing to take the risk. And of course, the writer in me couldn't help but think—a child in desperate need of a home at Christmas.... There must be a story of my own there. And here it is.
What follows is fiction, but this book is dedicated with love to my friends Scott and Jan and to their daughter Krysta.
On the first day of Christmas, eleven-year-old Emma sat in the backseat of the social worker's car, her little brother Zach on one side of her, baby Grace sleeping in a car seat on the other side.
The light was fading fast, streetlights coming on, and the entire neighborhood glowed with the light of thousands of tiny Christmas bulbs strung on just about everything she could see. Snow was falling, big, fat flakes, and everything was so pretty.
For a moment, Emma thought she might have stepped inside the pages of one of the Christmas books she read to Zach or that maybe she'd shrunk until she was an inch high and was living inside one of her most prized possessions—a snow globe.
It was so beautiful there, inside the big, old, magical-looking house, so warm, so welcoming. Emma could make it snow anytime she wanted with just a turn of her wrist, a bit of magic that never failed to delight Zach and the baby. She thought nothing bad could happen in a place like that and often wished she could find a way to live inside the little ball of glass.
Blinking through the fading light and the gently falling snow, she thought for a moment the neighborhood they were driving through looked oddly familiar, though she was sure she'd never been here before. She would have remembered the big, old houses reaching toward the sky, with all those odd angles and shapes, the fancy trim and silly frills that seemed to belong to another place and time.
Rich people's houses, she thought, the knot in her stomach growing a bit tighter. What would anybody with a house like that want with her and Zach and the baby?
Zach leaned closer to the window, his nose pressed flat against it, fogging a little circle of glass. "It's almos' Chris'mas. Ever'body has their tree and stuff up."
"I know, Zach." There were wreaths on doors and on the old-fashioned black lampposts topped with fancy metal curls, the lights perched delicately on top. There were stars made of bright Christmas lights, even Christmas trees in people's yards.
Emma had never seen people go to so much trouble for Christmas. They must have spent hours. And the money... It must take a lot of money to decorate a house like this just for Christmas. She couldn't imagine what the insides of those houses must be like. She and Zach and the baby didn't need anything fancy. Just a place where they could stay together. She couldn't bear it if they were separated. Emma had to make sure that didn't happen.