cover art
Editions:ePub
ISBN: 978-1-942583-10-3
Pages: 177
Kindle
ISBN: 978-1-942583-10-3
Pages: 177

This collection includes the evocative and haunting, ”Riding for Christmas,” and the offbeat and heartwarming, "Up on the Housetop.”

Riding For Christmas:

A mesmerizing tale of interstellar time travel and romance!

Jane MacKenzie, visiting her grandfather’s abandoned ranch, discovers something in the snow. When she opens the ribbon-wrapped box, it mysteriously returns Sam Harrington, who “disappeared” in an 1885 blizzard.
There’s nothing alien in this enduring tale of holiday homecomings and the hope of love that lasts a lifetime.

Up on the House Top:

Will her Christmas be ho, ho, ho? Or oh no, no, no?

Gini knew Christmas in Wyoming would be challenging as she headed over the frozen crick and through the woods to the family cabin. The lights are going out in her mom’s attic, the guy who broke her heart is on the porch…and there are aliens on the roof.
According to her mom, it’s going to be the best Christmas ever.

Do something for you (or someone you love) and make "All I Got for Christmas" what you GET for Christmas!

Excerpt:

From "Riding for Christmas:"

Wyoming Territory, 1885

It was almost Christmas morning, the dead, dark, quiet part of the night. The birds had hushed, the wind had stilled, the darkness itself was quiet with waiting. The snow was white on the ground, smooth, as if someone had spilled white paint on everything familiar.

Into that stillness, that darkness, that whiteness, Sam Harriman rode his white horse, Falcon. The clatter of the horse’s hooves broke the silence like shattered glass. Horse and rider charged down a wide dirt path in the thick of the black woods. Shreds of mist scattered in their wake.

He’d had a fair amount of whiskey that night, but he was young and strong and sure of himself, so he rode hard, the chill night air clearing his head. He was determined to reach his ranch before daybreak.

But as he rounded a curve in the path, Falcon stopped abruptly.

“No, you don’t. You come on, you. I’m weary.”

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The horse snorted, nervous. Sam could hear the faint sound of bells drifting through the moonlit trees. Sleigh bells, no not sleigh bells. Church bells from town welcoming the promise of Christmas? No, not that either.

And then, soft but near, there came the sound of a woman’s voice.

“Weary you say? I can make you so you will never be tired again.”

Sam turned, but there was no one there, and there was only silence, pressing in around him, and the horse’s ragged breathing, the single caw of a bird.

In those small hours of the night, his imagination was playing tricks, that was all.

“Go on, Falcon. On!” Sam shouted at the horse.

Falcon gave a toss of his head, and took off at last, but there came the woman’s voice again, soft, seductive, whispering in Sam’s ear as he rode.

“You’ve heard my voice, can you feel my touch?”

And he did feel something, the brush of a branch maybe, on his leg.

He looked down and saw a shadow on his skin. He slapped his hand on his leg hard enough to sting. The shadow slipped away.

“Faster,” Sam urged his horse.

He dug his boots into the horse’s flank, hard. Fear was creeping over him, like a vine.

His fear was contagious, and Falcon took off at a dead run, veering from the road, hurtling through the forest that grew thick along the base of the Wyoming plain.

Branches slapped at Sam, scratched his face and arms, as the horse plunged down a hill and into a clearing. Sam yanked the reins. Falcon bucked wildly.

“He can sense me on his back.” The woman’s voice was soft and cool.

Sam spun in the saddle and came face to face with a woman, clinging to his waist.

He tried to shake her off, but she held on tighter.

Falcon reared full and Sam could not stop him. He fell from the saddle, thrown hard on the ground.

He couldn’t breathe for a moment, stunned by the impact.

Something cold rose up around him, an icy mist. Through the cloud of it, as if from a great distance, he watched the woman stroke his horse, calming him. Then, she slipped from the saddle, with effortless grace. She glided across the grass to Sam, trailing a long dark cape through the snow, but somehow not marring the surface one iota. He struggled to his knees but could not stand. He had broken something.

The woman knelt beside him, stroked his hands, until his ruddy skin looked waxy to his own eyes in the moonlight. A chill passed through him, and he tried to pull his hand away, but she held on. Behind her a light so bright it hurt to look at it filled the sky. Turned black to white and white black. He was traveling through that light somehow, he was trapped inside it.

“You are lovely to touch, lovely to see,” she crooned. “Fair haired, blue eyed, those full, sweet lips.”

He was strong, she was small and slender, yet he could not loosen her grasp. He could not budge her. She shoved him back on the ground, her body cold and firm and beautiful against his.

“What have you done to me?” he asked.

“I have a present for you,” she said. And from the folds of her cloak, she drew out a small box. It was silver, and it seemed to glow, reflecting the light of the snow, stilling the light of the stars in the sky. “It is almost Christmas,” she whispered.

He struggled against her, but she pressed it into his hands.

And then she smiled, and leaned down close to kiss him. He could feel the warmth of his breath slipping into her. A delicious cold rippled through his chest.

He could not take his eyes from hers, their liquid silver.

A raven cawed from a tree branch. Sam looked away from the woman, toward the sound. The bird was black and ragged against the white of the moon.

And then the moon itself was swallowed up by that white, white light. White light everywhere. He was floating through it, it was pulling him in, lifting him off the ground.

His heart beat, fast, faster. He realized that for a moment or longer it had not beat at all.

Panicked now, he managed to toss the silver box aside. He reared up at the woman, pushed at her, but she only smiled. She was heavy as rock, cold as ice.

“Who are you?” he managed.

“You may call me Eternity, for I am yours.”

She gave him a long kiss, and it was rather like drowning. He knew then what it was that had broken. His heart.

And from "Up on the House Top:"

Up on the spacious porch, the front door opened, spilling a hopeful shaft of light onto the white drift piled up there. The figure in the square of light wasn’t her mother, who had gotten steadily smaller with each passing year and rolled in a wheelchair these days. Did she see the broad shoulders of a guy—

“Gini?” The voice was man-deep and twanged a chord of memory she’d thought she buried too deep to twang.

It couldn’t be the boy next door, her best friend besides Van, her first love who’d left without looking back—

He strode forward, the porch light briefly falling around him like a spotlight.

Dexter James Tolliver. In the flesh.

Her head tipped to one side. In the much-better-than she remembered flesh. And wearing the uniform of the local sheriff. Her thoughts did a kind of spin, but considering she had a Thing—a Thing that was kind of a marriage proposal that she wasn’t thinking about—pending at home, the hallelujah chorus seemed inappropriate.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Riley on Smart Girls Love SciFi Romance wrote:

"I found Riding for Christmas to be magical. Interfering aliens, an intelligent heroine, a caring cowboy hero and a special box all combine to create an enchanting story filled with hope, fate, romance, and miracles. I truly loved this story."

"Up on the House Top is as magical as its counterpart in the anthology. With the magic comes a healthy does of family togetherness, quirkiness, and Christmas spirit. Just another Pauline Baird Jones book that left me smiling!"


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