Christmas Edition of Everyone’s Story

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Welcome to a special edition of Everyone’s Story. As you can see, I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit here on my blog. This week and next (until my first guest of the New Year appears on January 5th) I’m sharing a little about my Christmas romance novella, And You Came Along, and offering a couple of BookGiveaways (and if by chance you’ve already read it, feel free to gift it to a family member or friend).

I wish all of you a joyous Christmas and a peaceful New Year. May 2018 be a good year, one of smiles, health, and many blessings that only He can possibly arrange for us.

May you all enjoy a great book!!

 

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BookGiveaway:

I’m offering 2 randomly chosen commenters 1 ebook edition of And You Came Along. The winners will be announced Friday morning EST on January 5th.

** For Giveaways: it’s not necessary to insert your private email information within comments.

Back Cover Blurb:

A Mother’s Christmas Wish

All single mom Jacey Tucker wants for Christmas is for her young son to have a home and a smile. What she never expected was an eviction notice from her apartment, or the loss of her job. Now she can’t leave Kindred Lake, Pennsylvania fast enough.

A Wounded Detective’s Second Chance

Zander Paxton, wounded on duty while trying to save the life of his partner, needs a new residence for the second half of his recovery. His hometown of Kindred Lake offers promises, but it may be too late to make up for his past.

She heads south. He travels north. In the middle of a blizzard, five days before Christmas, they collide and wreck their vehicles, and nearly each other, on an ice-covered road. The kindness of two strangers provides a cabin for shelter, a place where pain is soothed and hope is renewed . . . until their pasts catch up to their present and threatens a forever separation. Is true love ever mistaken?

Excerpt: 

And You Came Along by Elaine Stock

 

Chapter 1

Jacey Tucker shoved open the red-and-green tinsel-decorated doors of Rick’s Diner and nearly barreled into an exiting elderly couple. Peggy and Tom, two regulars at the Kindred Lake, Pennsylvania, dining hot spot. Her heart pounded at the near miss. This depressing day was moving quickly from bad to worse.

“Pardon me.” She tightened her grip on four-year-old Caleb’s hand.

“Oh, you’re fine.” Peggy patted Caleb’s cheek and glanced at Jacey. “My, you look troubled, dear.”

With a fixed smile in place, Jacey held back the truth clogging her throat. “It’ll be okay. You two have a great day.” She stepped aside as the couple exited into the frigid, blustery morning.

Peggy and Tom might have a nice day, but her own odds were pretty slim. By this time on a normal Tuesday her son would be at the church’s preschool and she’d be buzzing around the diner serving hungry customers. The notice she’d received in the mail, the one now sizzling in her coat pocket, changed everything.

Caleb covered his ears. “Mama, the music’s loud. Everyone’s loud.”

Jacey lowered his hands. “Hold on, pumpkin. It’ll be quieter when we go in the kitchen.”

Her son was right, though. Between the easy listening radio station blasting Christmas tunes from the corner stereo speakers and the gabby breakfast crowd hyped on coffee, the volume was high. She just hoped her boss’s reaction to her news didn’t exceed the restaurant’s decibels.

Waitresses swirled around the tables like ballerinas in the Nutcracker suite. The aromas of cheesy egg omelets, sweet maple syrup, and fried bacon drifted through the restaurant and flopped Jacey’s empty belly.

Caleb wiggled free from her hand. “Too tight.”

“Sorry, sweetie.” Her son was the only one she could cling to these days. She drew an imaginary heart on his chest with her index finger. “Here’s a great big heart ’cause I love you.”

Her little guy giggled.

“Hey, Jacey.” Mandy, a co-worker, stopped before them. The redhead balanced a tray of three dishes overflowing with pancakes and fruit-topped waffles. She flashed a sideways smile at Caleb. “Hi, cutie.”

Caleb’s eyes widened and he pointed to her head. “You got a fuzzy Santa hat. I want one.”

Jacey shook her head. “Another time—”

Mandy slid off the festive garment and plopped it on Caleb. The big hat sagged and rode his tiny shoulders like a cape. “Know what you can say to folks?”

Caleb beamed. “Ho ho ho.”

“You’re such a smart boy.” Mandy looked at Jacey, worry lines wrinkling her brow. “Better see Rick. He’s pretty ticked at your no-show.”

“Well, he’s going to have to understand.”

Mandy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.”

“Where is he?”

“Out back.” Mandy jutted her chin at a booth packed tight with five men. “Gotta go.”

“Sure, see you later.” She could only hope this messy situation would pass and she’d work beside her friend later.

Caleb worked his coat zipper up and down. “Can we go home?”

Home.

Her belly twisted again. “Let’s find Rick first.”

She held her breath in expectation that Caleb’s patience remained strong . . . and her boss’s too. After peering through the kitchen door’s window to check for exiting traffic, she knew she couldn’t delay the inevitable any further. “Caleb, want to help push the door open?”

A sweet grin lit his face. He loved this game and they’d played it often during his frequent visits. He stuck his arm out. “One, two, three.”

They inched forward in the one direction she didn’t want to go. Five men, including Rick, buzzed about as they fried, grilled, scooped, and plated food, making small guy-talk. Then, as if Jacey had cast a spell on them, silence spread from one worker to another as they noticed her and Caleb. Rick jabbed the boom box, deadening the frantic hard rock music. The quiet combined with the harsh white lighting made her wobbly. The questioning stares didn’t help.

Rick pushed away from a center prep area, a giant mound of chopped carrots before him. His steely gray eyes darkened and he placed the knife on the cutting board.

“I can explain.” The words gushed from Jacey’s mouth, though no others followed. She’d mentally rehearsed exactly what she would say to her boss, but as she studied the man’s grim expression, reasoning failed her.

Rick wiped his hands on the apron wrapped around his slim waist. For a cook who constantly tasted his creations, he’d managed to avoid packing on the middle-age pounds. Jacey wished he looked more like a jolly round Santa. One with the kind, gentle face she needed.

She swallowed dryly. Christmas, with all its fond memories of celebrating, might very well be making an appearance in five calendar days, but the way life was going it might as well be five months from now. She glanced at Caleb. Her poor boy. It was looking more like no fa la la holiday for him either.

Rick hurried away from the prep area and loomed before her, his scowl all the evidence she needed as to which way the conversation was heading.

The door crashed open as Mandy and another server burst into the kitchen.

“Table five’s griping about the wait,” the older waitress said.

Mandy flashed a little smile at Jacey then hung another order on the clip over the serving counter. “And my group of ten bottomless pits have decided they’re not full enough.” She sighed. “Get those eggs cracking.”

A discordant melody of clangs and claps ensued as the men hustled to get the food out. Rick motioned for Jacey and Caleb to step to the side. He ordered the guys to keep hopping with the food orders.

“You always manage to dish out explanations and this one better be good.” He pointed toward the door separating the packed dining area from the white and metallic silver kitchen then squeezed his mouth into a thin line. “You were supposed to be here at seven. We’ve had one crowd after another out there. We could have used you.”

“I picked up my mail.” She cringed, aware of how lame she sounded.

Caleb righted the lopsided red felt hat. “Mama got Christmas stamps.”

Rick smiled. “Nice hat, Mr. Santa. Eric is making a yummy dessert. Go on over. I bet he’ll give you a taste.”

A thin, ponytailed man, barely more than a teenager, waved from the pastry workstation in the corner. “Come on over, pal. I’m making chocolate pudding pie.”

Jacey’s breathing eased as her son trotted toward the friendly guy. The joy of her little boy’s growing independence stopped there as she again faced her boss. To his credit, he didn’t cross his arms. He wasn’t naturally intimidating, but every business owner had a limit. She licked her dry lips. “I received unexpected news today.”

He glanced at the wall clock. “It took you three hours to chill from it?”

Her hands shook. The paper she’d slipped from her pocket dropped to the tiled floor. She retrieved the notice and it almost dropped again from her sweaty hand. She opened her mouth to explain, but Rick cut her off with a shake of his head.

“I’ve bought into enough of your excuses. An ill mom. Apartment hopping. A broken-down car. What is it today?”

She waved the morning’s freshly delivered bad news like a white flag of surrender. “Listen, Rick. Please. This is an eviction notice. Caleb and I need to find a new home. Fast, like today or tomorrow tops. I need a few days off.”

“A few days off? During the holiday season? Our busiest time of the year?”

A chill pricked her arms and she shivered. “It’s not my fault.”

“I’m going to have to let you go. I have a business to operate. You know I don’t expect anything more from my staff than I demand of myself. I work seven days a week and more than twelve-hour shifts despite the personal stuff happening in my life.”

She craned her neck to check on Caleb. He’d just followed Eric into the walk-in cooler. Out of earshot. “But I have a child to take care of . . . and now no home.”

 

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Buy Links for And You Came Along, available in both print and ebook:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Elaine’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Special Holiday Edition of Everyone’s Story: Visit with @ElaineStock and check out her #BookGiveaway. (Tweet This)

Sample excerpt of @ElaineStock’s #Christmas novella, And You Came Along. #BookGiveaway #AmReading (Tweet This)

Author’s Bio:

Elaine Stock is the author of Always With You, which released in January 2016 and has won the 2017 Christian Small Publishers Association Book of the Year Award in fiction. Her novels fuse romance, family drama and faith in a clean fiction style. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and contributes to the international “Happy Sis Magazine.” In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active six-year-old blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.

Places to connect with Elaine:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

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Watch for cover reveal, blog tours, and Pre-Order Sale news of the January 22nd release of my next stand alone novel, Her Good Girl, a family drama and coming-of-age story of a whole family.

 

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