Congratulations! You have made it to the end of the scavenger hunt! And now, for your very special surprise: a sneak peek at my WIP known as:
This WIP is still under quite a bit of construction – all I have is a few scenes that haven’t been connected together in a linear timeline yet. (Writing out-of-order is fun, amirite?)
But you lucky folks (ha, lucky…this WIP is about Irish immigrants…I’m terrible at puns) get to see the first draft of…the Christmas scene!
Because no marriage of convenience story is complete without a fuzzy warm Christmas scene to make you squeal all the squeals, right?
Christmas Day, 1849 — “Here,” Owen reached under their small, pitiful tree, and grabbed a rectangular shaped package.
Catherine blinked. She hadn’t seen that last night.
Owen held it out to her and she took it, mentally noting it felt almost like a book. Slowly, she took off the twine and paper wrapped around it, avoiding Owen’s surprisingly nervous gaze as she did so.
She stopped and looked up at him, then back at the words ‘HOLY BIBLE’ staring at her. He had gotten her a Bible?
Her eyes started to burn.
“I…” She unwrapped it fully and ran her hand over the leather cover. He got me a Bible. He remembered.
She opened it and had scarcely read the small inscription inside the cover when the first tear fell. No one had ever been this thoughtful towards her before.
She placed it onto the table as though it were glass and turned back to him. He looked somewhat alarmed, and asked, “Is something wrong? Do you not-”
She cut him off with a tight embrace, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears. Then, a mere moment later, she felt his arms come up and wrap around her in return.
“Thank you,” she said through even more tears. “Thank you so, so much.”
Her eyes snapped open. “Oh!” She abruptly let go, tearing herself away from him, and dashed into their room.
She finally located what she was looking for and rushed back into the main room. Owen looked befuddled until he spotted the package in her arms.
“I…might have gotten something for you too,” she admitted. “Well, I actually made it…with help. But…here.” She handed it to him with shaking hands. Will he like it? Please, Lord, let it be he likes it!
Owen unwrapped it, letting the paper fall to the floor. Catherine held her breath and crossed her fingers behind her back. Please like it, please like it…
A smile spread across his face and he immediately spread out the brand-new coat.
Still tentative, she asked, “Do…do you like it?”
Owen nodded. “Absolutely.”
“I noticed your other coat was tearing and had a few holes in it,” Catherine said as he studied the tiny stitches. “So I…I asked Mrs. Watson for help to make you a new one, it being winter and all. I did all of the sewing, I just needed help with the cutting and whatnot.”
Why was she blurting all of this out?
Owen met her gaze, still smiling. “Thank you, darling.”
Catherine felt both a swell of pride at him admiring her handiwork and a flush in her cheeks at being called ‘darling’.
He started putting it on and on a whim, she reached out and helped straighten it. “Is it warm?” she asked.
As she brushed away tiny specks of dust and hair and the like, she noticed Owen looking at her.
That ‘look’ was in his eyes again. The one she hadn’t been able to identify. She absentmindedly brushed at non-existent specks and said, “I hope it lasts you a long time.”
Realizing some strands of her hair had fallen into her face, she reached up to brush them back. Owen did it at the same time and their hands touched.
Cheeks red, Catherine dropped her hand. Owen’s touched her cheek, gently.
Was he going to kiss her? She tilted her chin up in expectation and was surprised at herself for doing so. Owen’s eyebrows reached his hairline, but he didn’t question. She rose up on her toes as he dipped his head.
They both halted for a bit before their lips touched.
As the kiss grew, her arms came up around his neck and he drew her closer in response.
Was this love? That is, the kind that was shared between a woman and her husband?
The moment ended all too soon, and the awkwardness began.
“I, uh…” Owen sheepishly chuckled, his forehead pressed against hers. “I should probably tend to the animals.”
“Okay,” she breathed, her cheeks nearly bursting from smiling so much. He left, sending her a smile over his shoulder as he grabbed his hat and disappeared out the door.
Catherine hugged herself, still smiling. Her gaze flitted back to the Bible, and she took it up, holding it close.
For the first time since her wedding day, she actually felt like a bride.
This is me every single time I read this: 😊
I hope you all enjoyed this secret snippet, and God willing, I hope to someday share Finnegan’s Valley as a fully published novel!