A Christmas for Hope

Table of Contents

 

A CHRISTMAS FOR HOPE

copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

About the Author

Trademarks Acknowledgment

A CHRISTMAS FOR HOPE

 

KASSANNA

 

Passion in Print Press

www.passioninprint.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright 2012 by Kassanna

 

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

 

Published by

 

Passion in Print Press, LLC

 

3052 Gaines Waterport Rd.

 

Albion, NY 14411

 

Visit Passion in Print Press, LLC on the Internet:

 

www.passioninprint.com

 

Editing by Lawan Williams

 

ebook format ISBN#978-1-60820-833-3

 

Issued 2012

 

This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of International Copyright Law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines and/or imprisonment. This eBook cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this eBook can be shared or reproduced without the express permission of the publisher.

 

Dedication

 

To the ladies in planners for their encouragement. Thank you. For my mom (Sandi) who still tells me there is no such word as can’t. And for my husband Shon who kisses my temple and tells me to finish the book already. I appreciate you taking the kids to the park so much. Especially for the men and women who serve in the armed forces and risk their lives for my freedom.

 

Chapter One

 

The bed rattled as Lucas flipped over onto his back. Overheated by the abundance of blankets on his body, he pushed them down to his waist. He reached down to scratch at his calf and remembered it was no longer there. He’d lost everything below the knee of his right leg. Lucas straightened his body and stared up at the ceiling. Everything came rushing back. The acrid smell of smoke choked him, the heat from the blaze that had erupted in his truck licked at his torso. Lucas shuddered, shaking off the memories. He’d been wounded—the crippling came after an ambush while on deployment in Afghanistan. Now he was home, living under his parents’ roof, and a fucking cripple.

 

He eased up and supported his upper body with his elbows, rolling his head to work out the kinks in his neck. The shelf on the wall across from his bed held his track trophies with his letterman’s jacket hanging next to them, another painful reminder of what he’d lost. Life certainly hadn’t worked out the way he planned. He should’ve been married with a couple of kids by now. Instead Michelle took one look at his war torn body, covered her mouth, and ran from his hospital room. She didn’t bother to contact him in person after that. No, he got a “Dear John” letter explaining it wasn’t him, it was her. What a load of shit.

 

He twisted his body and swung his leg over the mattress. His prosthesis leaned against the bed. It was supposedly the best on the market at the time and he’d just been fitted for it. Lucas pulled the limb toward him, grabbing the sock that would protect his stump from chaffing. While he rolled it on, he stared at the desk calendar on his nightstand. This was the worst year of his life. A few months from Christmas, then New Year’s, hell he’d made it this long. At least he no longer wanted to drive off the nearest bridge. There was no holding back the weary sigh that passed through his lips.

 

“You okay, son?” Bill, his father, stood in the doorway staring at him. Concern was evident in his dad’s eyes.

 

“Yeah, I’m good.” Lucas plastered a smile on his face. “Absolutely perfect.”

 

“You know, Lucas, it’s always darkest before the dawn.” His dad stepped into the room and leaned against the wall.

 

“So you keep telling me.”

 

“It’s November, the beginning of the holiday season; magical things always happen during the holidays. You ready to go to the VA hospital?”

 

“Sure, give me a few.”

 

“One more thing. You might want to shower and shave. I saw some very nice looking nurses and a few doctors out there.”

 

Lucas rose and walked to his chest of drawers. He pulled a drawer open and selected a few pieces of clothing. Before he crossed into the hallway, he stopped and met his dad’s gaze. “Why bother, who would want me?” Lucas brushed past his father and headed for the bathroom.

 

In the lavatory, he threw his clothes on the toilet tank. Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten up this morning. It was getting harder and harder to find the will to face another day filled with emptiness. He listened to the springs squeak and the other faint noises his false leg made as he maneuvered around the tiny bathroom. Scattered around the sink were his toiletries, things he hadn’t used in a month. Maybe more, so long now he couldn’t remember. He wrapped his fingers around the cold porcelain rim of the pedestal sink and stared at his reflection in the mirror. “You’re alive, that’s something a lot of your brothers in arms can’t claim. Suck it up, soldier.”

 

Lucas gripped the hem of his t-shirt and pulled it over his head. He looked down at the ridged and puckered skin marring his torso. His chest had taken the brunt of the blast from the missile that had blown his convoy to shit. For the most part, he’d healed. The pale angry lines that bisected his side from his neck down told his story of how his leg had been stolen from him. He twisted his head to one side and studied his face, rubbing the stubble on his jaw. A shave wouldn’t hurt; he thought to himself, the whiskers were starting to itch anyway. Lucas took a step back and shoved an arm around the shower curtain to turn the knob. The soothing sounds of water falling filled the tiny room.

 

He could honestly say his parents had not skimped on the renovation of his bathroom when they converted it so it would be handicapped accessible. His folks were the rock that had anchored him in the shit storm that his life had become. Lucas took a deep breath, sat on the toilet, removed the prosthetic leg, and grabbed a wash cloth from the inset shelf. He rose. Closing his eyes, he dropped his head back. The tight muscles slowly gave in to his will to relax. He opened his eyes and watched a billow of steam rise from the top of the shower stall. A knock at the door called his attention to it.

 

“We need to get out of here in twenty minutes, Lucas, if we’re going to make your physical therapy appointment on time.” His father’s voice was muffled through the door.

 

“Okay.” He called out as he pulled the shower curtain to reveal the seat he needed in order to bathe himself. It squeaked under his weight as he slid on to it and threw the wash rag to the floor. He leaned forward, rested his elbows on his thighs, and let the water pound against his head and shoulders. It poured over his hair and rolled down his neck. A few tears fell to the tile floor to mix with the liquid. He lifted his chin toward the shower head to wash away any remaining signs of his weakness.
Just get through the day
. He bent to grab the cloth under his foot and snatched the shower gel from the shelf. The feel of the soft cloth brought his body to awareness; his cock slowly hardened to a rigid staff. The smell of pine from his body wash enveloped him as he gently stroked himself. The banging on the door jerked him from his reverie and his shaft shrunk in his palm.

 

The metal rings shrieked against the iron bar as he shoved the curtain away and yelled out. “I’m coming.” Lucas glanced down at himself and couldn’t help but see the irony of his words.

 

§ § §

 

Hope leaned back in her chair and slid a foot under her butt. Pretty soon she wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. It was getting harder to maneuver around her belly. At a little over her twenty-fourth week of pregnancy she could honestly relate to all the women in her Lamaze class that complained about their various ailments. Somebody upstairs must be on her side because she didn’t really show until a month ago and then, bam, she was big as a house overnight.

 

She rolled her shoulders and studied the man that stepped through the wide glass doors of the Veterans Administration Physical Therapy Center. She rubbed her belly and tilted her head to see around the couple who had stopped to chat at the reception desk. He had an uneven gait. She narrowed her eyes and studied his walk, the way his jeans moved with his stride. It dawned on her that he was missing a leg. She continued her perusal. Loose jeans. She pursed her lips at the fact that she couldn’t gauge his package.
Damn hormones.
Flat stomach, nice pectorals; damn, why couldn’t he show up in workout gear like everybody else. Strong arms, too. He turned his head and she got a full view of his face. She sucked her lip between her teeth and decided somewhere angels were crying because they had lost one of their own.

 

He had a low-cut dirty blond beard, high cheekbones, and straight nose. She leaned forward and squinted; her belly bumped the desk’s edge and a few papers slid to the floor. Sighing, she swiveled the chair around and grunted as she bent to pick up the errant documents. She wrapped an arm around her belly and rocked back and forth, hoping to snag the damn things.

 

“Miss, do you need help?” A kind male voice came to her from the other side of the counter. “Lucas, get around there and help her.”

 

Hope stopped what she was doing and closed her eyes to her mortification. Please don’t let it be him. She opened them to see the man she’d been ogling push through the half door and move around the desk’s corner. He squatted and she straightened. Their eyes met and she sucked in a breath and tried to swallow at the same time. She choked. The coughing fit racked her small frame. He moved forward and slid his hand down between her shoulder blades, gently tapping her back. Electricity slithered down her spine from where his hand landed and made her pussy clench. She eased to the side, away from his touch, and felt his palm drop away.

 

“Sorry.” He shifted and bent to retrieve her notes.

 

She heard the thread of disappointment in his voice. “No, it’s not…” She placed a hand on his shoulder and felt another zap of voltage tear through her fingertips. Hope hastily pulled her hand back. “…that.” She looked up as he rose and offered him a weak smile.

 

He lifted his lips in a half smile and thrust the lined sheets at her. She latched on them and held tight as she held his clear slate gaze. Hope cleared her throat. “What I was trying to say was that I appreciate your help.”

 

For the briefest of moments, she saw a real smile. Dimples etched his cheeks and his eyes crinkled at the corners. Her heart stopped.

 

“I’m glad I was able to.” He straightened and moved to the front of the counter.

 

Hope shuffled the papers while she caught her breath. When she raised her head to look at him she was taken aback by his scowl. She followed his line of sight and lit upon her boss, walking their way, beaming brightly. Hope pulled a stack of files over to her.

 

“The two Mr. MacIntyres. It’s so good to see both of you.” Lana rubbed the arm of the older man as she passed them and took a seat behind the counter.

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