Monday, December 19, 2011

Chirstmas Cheer from Forever Freed

If I could make one wish for Christmas, it would be that each of you experience the kind of love and companionship and togetherness and happiness we so often read about in books. And, to show you just what I mean, please enjoy this Christmas excerpt from my bestselling and award-winning vampire romance, Forever Freed.

*~~*~~*

A merrier Christmas had never been seen at Orchard Hill in its more than two hundred years. Ollie tore through her packages like a tornado and demonstrated her riding prowess by making circles around the great room on her new bike. Griffin promised to shovel a clear path for her around the circular drive later in the day. The rest of my family demonstrated their affection for Samantha and Ollie by showering them with gifts. They were both thrilled, although Samantha was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness. They had been drilling me for ideas for the girls for weeks.

Finally, Samantha couldn’t hold back any longer and insisted I open my presents from her. Everyone else had been exchanging gifts with their spouses, but all the activity quieted as Samantha led me to a tall object hidden beneath a loose-fitting decorated bag with a big red bow.

“First, the little one.” She handed me a red box with a white ribbon.

I looked up at her and smiled. Everyone watched me, and I think I would’ve blushed if I could’ve. Ollie danced around and tried to peer into the box when I lifted the lid.

It was an antiqued gold necklace with a tag-shaped charm. On its face were my initials: LAD. On the reverse was a hidden message:

the most magical
thing of all

I recalled those words vividly from our dinner in Milwaukee. I’d used them to describe her love for me. She was giving me her love to wear. I took a deep breath and nodded minutely in thanks when Catherine shot me a wave of reassurance and strength. I looked at Samantha and pulled her into my arms.

“I love it, Samantha. Thank you so much.”

I stepped back and pulled it out of the box, then clasped the chain around my neck. It was long enough to lie underneath my shirt.

Her smile was huge. “Okay, now the big one,” she said, pointing to the oblong bag behind me. The level of excitement in the room elevated.

“Can I help you, Lucien?” Ollie looked up expectantly.

“You take that side. I’ll get this side. We’ll lift it up slow, okay?”

She nodded and grabbed the edge of the bag. Samantha stood back and snapped a picture as Ollie and I pulled the wrapping over the top of the object. I dropped the plastic and looked at Samantha with an amazed expression. Standing before me was an antique mahogany two-sided music stand with elaborate carving. It was in excellent condition.
Samantha was so excited she could barely contain herself as she waited for my reaction.

When I didn’t say anything immediately, she explained, “One time you mentioned the name of your violin’s maker, which I now know helps you date it. This stand is French but was made at roughly the same time as your violin—”

I took two long strides across the room and grabbed her face gently with my hands and pressed my lips against hers. “It’s perfect.” I kissed her again. “No two gifts in the world could have been more perfect—more thoughtful—than the ones you gave me.”

She blushed. I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and rocked her gently back and forth. She smiled against my chest. Although I knew she had inherited money from her father, I was concerned about the expense of the gift. She was so proud of herself, though, I couldn’t express any hesitation about it whatsoever.

“Open mine now, Lucien!” Ollie held out a small box she had clearly wrapped herself.

I ripped off the paper and found a key chain with a pocket-sized digital screen. Ollie turned it on and dozens of images played on a slideshow: pictures of the three of us together, of Ollie from all different periods of her life, and images of some of Ollie’s angel drawings Samantha must’ve scanned.

“Ollie, this is the best present. Thank you so much.” I kissed the top of her head and handed the key chain to her when she stretched out her small hand. She sat with it next to Henrietta, who she’d taken to affectionately calling Henny—which Henrietta adored—and proceeded to describe the pictures to her as they changed.

I sat two presents from me on the couch next to Ollie. She eagerly ripped them open. The first was a collectible Golden Angel Barbie doll. She was beautiful with long golden hair, white wings with gold edges, and a flowing gown.

Ollie gasped and stroked at the plastic packaging over the doll. She set it aside but continued to look at it while her hands fumbled for the other package. Finally she pulled her attention away and ripped the paper until she could lift the lid. Inside sat a familiarly shaped black case.

“My own violin?” She gasped and flipped the clasps up on the lid to reveal a child’s violin.

“You’re always asking to play mine. I thought if you had your own, I could teach you, and we could play together.”

“This is so good, Lucien! Thank you! Can we play now?” She ran her hand along the length of the instrument.

“How about after everyone is done opening presents?”

She nodded and picked up the angel doll box. She didn’t seem to be able to decide to which to devote her attention. Henrietta laughed at her excited chatter.

I pulled Samantha down on the couch next to me. “Your turn.” I handed her a familiar blue box. She looked ready to protest. I kissed her and tapped the box. “Open it.”

She slid the ribbon aside and pulled the lid off, then opened the velvet box. Inside sat a solid circle of aquamarines set in white gold.

“It’s called an eternity ring, which is how long I plan to love you.”

She blushed furiously, which everyone would’ve sensed even if they weren’t looking at her. I slipped it from the velvet and placed it on her ring finger. To me, the gesture felt weighted with significance beyond the moment. She held out her left hand and admired it. “It’s stunning, Lucien. I love it.”

I brought her hand to my mouth and pressed my lips to the spot where the ring encircled her skin. “There’s one other thing.” I handed her a rectangular package.

She shook it. “It feels empty.” She laughed as she tore off the paper.

She lifted the lid and set it aside, then pulled out a manila folder. She pursed her lips and looked at me curiously. I stopped breathing in anticipation of her reaction. She opened the folder and frowned. She flipped haltingly through several of the pages. Her breath caught and she brought her hand up to her mouth. Finally she looked up at me with glassy eyes and shook her head back and forth.

I slid down to my knees in front of her and took her hand in mine. “Please say something.”

*~~*~~*

What could it be? Well, for that, you know what'll you'll need to do! *winks*

Thanks so much for reading, and have the HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAYS!
Laura Kaye


About Forever Freed:
~Bestselling Gothic Romance!
~NJRW Golden Leaf Best Paranormal of 2011!
~NJRW Golden Leaf Finalist for Best First Book of 2011!

A heart can break, even one that no longer beats.

I stalk my new neighbors, a single mother and her child, drawn by the irresistible scent of their joy and love. I crave their blood, starved for some healing respite from my ancient grief. Now to lure them into my grasp.

But they surprise me. Little Olivia accepts me without fear or reservation--talking, smiling, offering innocent affection that tugs at my long-lost humanity. Her mother, Samantha, seeks me out when she should stay away, offering sweet friendship, and calling to the forgotten man within me. They lure me instead.

Ah, Dio, Lucien, run and spare them while you can...

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