Is your shopping done? Have you sent your long distance gifts off? Living away from my dear ones, I have to be organized and get things mailed off early. That’s just the way things are in New Parish for Christmas. Sarah and Hannah live a good distance away from their family so they have to think about how to still show their love… In Return to New Parish, Hannah spends her first Christmas there with Sarah and her family. She gets a little more of the culture, lifestyle, and love the family has for each other and for Christmas… She also gets to know Max’s extended family, (one of them, a little more than she wanted to know).
Hope you still have some of that hot cocoa for this week’s post…
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
Chapter 5 – Christmas Party
“… With guests arriving Hannah and the others were busy filling the tables with finished goodies as quickly as possible. Hannah saw Hope stick her finger in her mouth to hide the icing that had found its way there when she sat the last of the cupcakes in order for the Christmas tree cupcake cake. Hope winked at her, smiled, and hurried back to the kitchen.
There was lots of laughter and smiling faces as people began to flow into the Fancy Room, some Hannah recognized from the day before. Mary and some of her mothers came in requiring hugs, Hannah didn’t mind so much anymore, she was getting used to it. She heard Bing Crosby begin singing White Christmas faintly in the background, smiling, she thought, “Perfect.”
Sarah came up behind Hannah quickly grabbing her arm as a man with dark graying hair, came through the door. Hannah noticed him immediately, his presence seemed to command attention even though he wasn’t doing anything to draw it. Hannah figured he was around six feet tall, just a bit shorter than Max. Sarah was pulling her toward this man shouting softly, “Brother Michael! Brother Michael, this is my sister Hannah.”
“Oh, hello, Hannah,” he smiled warmly at her.
“Hi,” Hannah smiled back, noticing that he had piercing blue eyes, which reminded her of Max and his uncle. “So you’re the man in charge here?” she teased.
Brother Michael winked at her and replied, “Yes, but I deny any responsibility.”
They all laughed at his deniability clause. Hannah felt instantly at ease with Brother Michael. She liked everything about him, the way he easily smiled, the way his eyes seemed to look into her soul in a way that made her feel like he knew her and who she was. “This man is amazing,” she thought to herself.
“We’re glad you’ve come to our little town,” Brother Michael welcomed her. “Sarah tells me you want to stay,” he said, almost asking.
“Yes,” said Hannah firmly. “I do want to stay. Sarah’s found happiness here,” she shrugged, “and, I’d like to do the same.”
“Sounds good to me,” Brother Michael smiled at her.
“So what do I do first?” she asked.
“Oh, well, you have to talk to the church leader about baptism, then set an appointment to talk to him about the matching system and marriage,” Brother Michael thoughtfully explained, holding up a finger for each thing she had to do.
“Okay, aren’t you the church leader?” she asked a little confused by this information.
“Why, yes, yes I am. Oh, would you like an appointment with me?” he asked smiling.
Hannah caught the tease now and understood. “Yes, sir, I would like an appointment,” she smiled. Sarah was having a small giggle fit next to her and Hannah gave her a “thanks for that” look.
“How about this next Wednesday, around 10:30 in the morning? I’m off for Christmas holidays, then so we’ll have plenty of time to talk about the gospel and everything we need to talk about.” He said, smoothing his hair down, as a gust of wind blew through their conversation when more guests came through the front door.
“Sure, that’ll be great,” Hannah replied, “Where?”
“My house,” Brother Michael winked. “Sarah knows where.”
“Okay,” Hannah smiled, feeling energized at the prospects of this new beginning.
“Oh, hey! Hannah you didn’t meet Karen and Marla yesterday,” Sarah said. Then, proceeded to introduce her to the ladies that had entered the room, with the previous gust of wind.
They were warm, friendly, and welcoming like so many people here had been. Hannah felt like she’d found a place to belong and to be happy, maybe… There was also another feeling floating around inside her. She couldn’t put her finger on this new feeling yet, but it was helping with regaining her inner calm. She felt like the battle for peace in her life was gaining ground.
After meeting Brother Michael and his other two wives, Hannah felt like the party really got underway. Things shifted from Bing singing to Alex James returning home. He entered wearing a maroon colored cowboy shirt like the one he had on the previous day, denims, and black cowboy boots. Hannah growled at herself inside for noticing, but he kept haunting her dreams, so she tried to excuse her inventory of him based on that. He was smiling and shaking hands with people and evoking laughter, as he made his way to the piano. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but, her experience with him taught her that he was always joking around so she just considered herself lucky not to be in his line of fire.
He began to play and the guests were either singing or dancing to the music. Mary came over to her, grabbed her by the arm, and pulling her toward the area that had been cleared for dancing said, “Come on, dance with me. Sarah’s nauseous again and she volunteered you.”
“What?” Hannah asked in confusion.
“It’s a line dance,” Mary said, as if that explained everything.
“I don’t know how,” Hannah protested.
“Neither do I,” Mary laughed.
They joined the line of people dancing and did their best to imitate their movements. Hannah laughed so much during the dance that her stomach muscles were getting sore. When the dance was over, she and Mary went to get something to drink and ended up near the Christmas tree. The music stopped and Hope came over to the piano, nodded to Alex and he began to play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Hope sang the song beautifully, Hannah was so entranced by her voice, it was as though she couldn’t see or hear anything else.
When the song was over Hannah whispered, “Wow, she’s got an amazing voice.”
“Oh, yeah,” Mary nodded agreement.
As they stood there talking, Hannah heard a thud and crash sound behind her. She turned just in time to see the bottom of Alex James’ stool speeding toward the other side of the room. Alex was lying on the floor in front of the piano looking confused. She quickly surmised that for some weird reason the top of the stool had detached from the bottom and they had gone their separate ways.
The bottom of the stool was on a trajectory that was heading straight for Cilla who was bringing in the cake they had painstakingly made earlier that day. Cilla was carrying the cake gingerly in front of her when she saw the stool bottom coming for her, she quickly sidestepped to avoid the imminent collision. When she did this she bumped, hard, into a rather large rotund man, which caused her to lose the cake. It wasn’t just lost, it was airborne. Hannah could see it sailing through the air almost in slow motion. The cake was soaring towards her, she reached out for it, trying with all her might to catch it. She might have done just that, but Alex James was still on the floor – she tripped over his feet and legs landing on top of him. What happened after that was something that would replay over and over in Hannah’s mind for the rest of her life.
Hannah could feel herself falling and landing awkwardly on top of Alex James. She could feel him trying to catch her and keep her from hurting herself or him. It was where he caught her that was the problem. One hand on her side as she came down, that was okay, it was where the other hand went that had infuriated her – his comment didn’t help either.
Alex James’ right hand was firmly grasping her left breast. As their eyes met and he said, “Well, these girls are real.”
A flurry of movement happened next as Hannah threw a punch with her right fist, then her left. Alex caught both before they landed. Hannah then reverted to using her knees…
As they rolled over and over on the floor in an all out effort from Hannah to cause injury to Alex he shouted, “Whoa, calm down little lady!”
Hannah didn’t calm down, she continued her efforts to punch him or knee him in the groin. He tried to stay on top of her to defend himself, but she managed to throw him off and regain the advantage. There were many grunts, groans, and exasperated growls that passed between them during the roll.
Everyone around them moved quickly out of the way, giving them room to roll. The room filled with laughter.
In a panic, Sarah shook Max’s arm, “Pull her off him! She’s in nonstop battle mode! She won’t stop!”
“No, ma’am,” Max refused smiling, “I always let other men deal with their own women troubles.”
“You’re enjoying this!” she accused him.
“Yes, ma’am,” he chuckled.
“Brother Michael,” Sarah implored him for help, “Please pull her off him, she won’t stop!”
Brother Michael laughed so hard that champagne came out his nose, but didn’t move to help his brother.
There was a mixture of laughter, some were simply chuckling, but most were laughing so hard they were in need of holding on to something or someone to remain standing.
A shout of, “The eight seconds are up Alex, you can jump off now,” sounded from near the Christmas tree.”
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