This Divine Night by Mary Caelsto
Genre: pagan inspirational romance
Sensuality: sweet to mildly sensual
Cover Art by Celia Kyle
A joint publication between Pink Petal Books and Jupiter Gardens Press
Claire learned the hard way not to want what she can't have. But this year, she couldn't help but listen to a children's choir at a local mall during the holiday season. When a young girl's Silent Night solo moves the man standing next to hear to tears, she does what any decent human being would do-she offers him comfort. This holiday season, a pagan teaches a Christian the true meaning of the holiday season and in turn, he makes her dreams come true.
Note: This book contains both Christian and pagan religious themes.
The sight of so many red-cheeked nine-year-olds brought back way too many memories for Neil's piece of mind. Yet, he couldn't look away from the grade school choir arranged in front of the mall's main department store. Swallowing hard, he watched the music teacher cue the children into an enthusiastic rendition of Jingle Bells that had several mall shoppers stopping to listen. He stood near the back of the gaggle of parents and shoppers watching the choir. As he watched one young girl, her hair in twin braids, he knew that had things been different, that could have been his daughter, Susie.
Neil Vanner swallowed hard and mustered his strength. The song ended, swinging into a boisterous version of Rudolph. His heart tightened and his fingers curled around the handle of the shopping bag carrying a sweater for his sister-in-law. Cheryl was pregnant with hers and Jacob's third child, providing another child to carry on the family name. He'd lost his child and figured he didn't have a chance for another.
A woman stopped beside him. The scent of cinnamon wafted up from the jar candle in her bag. A stocking cap covered her light brown hair, though strands brushed the shoulders of the navy wool jacket she wore. The chilly air brought color to her cheeks, though he saw a hint of make-up on her eyebrows and her red lips. A soft, almost wistful smile curved her mouth. She looked like someone wanting what she couldn't have. Kind of like him.
The song ended, and the young girl with the braids stepped down to the front of the risers. The woman on the piano began the familiar strains of Silent Night.
A lump formed in Neil's throat.
His daughter's favorite song.
The woman shifted her bag to the other hand.
The child began to sing, her high, clear voice so perfect it could have come from an angel. Neil's mind flashed back to a concert similar to this one, just about two years ago. Susie taking center stage. The music teacher-Miss Carolton-smiling gently at his daughter. His encouraging nod to her. She had caught his eyes, her bright blue gaze filling with joy when she realized he had made the concert. Then, the song had begun, and his daughter had sung.
The bustling mall fell away, and he was once more remembering paternal pride as his daughter made nearly every shopper pause and listen to just a tiny piece of heaven. A snowstorm and a windy mountain road had taken his angel from him.
A tear gathered in the corner of his eye. Don't do this. His mental admonishment did little good.
He remembered his daughter's arms around him as he'd helped her board the plane to visit her mother in Colorado. "I'll be good, daddy, I promise," she'd said. "I love you." She'd kissed his cheek, and then hurried to join with the airline attendant who would be accompanying her.
He'd watched her go, a little ray of sunshine on a dreary December day. Her pink coat had shone like a beacon. She'd smiled and waved, charming the passengers in the security line. He'd stood at the window, watching the 747 take off, already counting the days until it'd land, bringing his daughter back to him.
Three nights later a state patrol officer had called and shattered his world.