My Novels ~ Christmas, and You Too Series

Yes, I’ve begun a Christmas time romance series, called, Christmas, and You Too.

      christmas scavenger hunt FINAL small  christmas_snowball_fight small  christmas_song_on_third_avenue-small

The first, Christmas Scavenger Hunt, is well on its way. It’s about two-thirds done. I was planning originally to release it in time for this past Christmas, but some shoulder surgery and therapy waylaid its progress, and not wanting to waste these beautiful book covers, I’m working on them now, so that they’ll be completed in time for Christmas, 2018.

You know as well as I do, that Christmas comes quickly each year, so this will give my loyal readers something fun to read at the end of the year, while preparing Jesus’ Birthday Party.

I’m thinking I may share chapters along the way to tempt my readers into excitedly looking forward to their winter romance. So, continue reading to see how Christmas Scavenger Hunt begins.

*****

Christmas Scavenger Hunt

Prologue

 LONGVEIW COMMUNITY CHURCH

Singles Sunday School Class

Invites you and a guest

To

A Christmas Scavenger Hunt & Late Night Dinner

At

The Martin’s Residence

2317 Marquette Drive

Charlotte, North Carolina

Saturday, December 8, 2017

Six o’clock P.M.

Dressy Casual

Please RSVP by December 1st

399-555-4980

$10. Per Person ~ Remit to Jamie Martin or Tegan Bennett by Sunday, December 3rd

 *****

Chapter 1

    “Did you even proofread the wording before printing them out?” questioned Cyndy, holding her invitation so close to Jamie’s face that Jamie had to lean back in her seat to focus it in. Although Cyndy was laughing as she asked, there was an edge to her voice that not one of the nine planning committee members could miss.

    “What do you mean?” Jamie asked, reading through her own invitation, confusion flooding her face.

    When everyone waited silently for her to read through for yet the third time, Cyndy became impatient and plainly asked, “Jamie, what’s the name of our church? Are you dyslexic or something?” The questions were starchy in their presentation, and several of the planning committee members winced at Cyndy’s curt voice.

    “Longview Community Church,” she replied, still not understanding what Cyndy was getting at.

    “Read what you put,” instructed Cyndy.

    “Longview Community Church,” read Jamie aloud. She looked up from the invitation to Cyndy, shaking her head with raised shoulders, and with her eyes, begging for explanation. The extreme confusion registered in her bunched together brows, and the quiet grunt that escaped her lips.

    With her eyes wide, her head shaking back and forth, along with hands outstretched in frustration, Cyndy fine-tuned the question.

    “Jamie, how do you spell ‘Longview’?”

    While reading her invitation, Jamie began reading the letters one at a time.

    “L-O-N-G-V-…” Before another letter passed through her lips, Jamie gasped, then cried out.

    “Oh, no! I spelled it wrong! The ‘I’ and the ‘E’ are in the wrong positions!”

    Tegan, ever the peace-keeper, couldn’t abide leaving poor Jamie “out in the cold” to suffer the teasing she was about to receive around the large dining table at Jamie’s parents’ spacious and elegant home.

    As she looked around the circumference of the long table, Tegan could actually look at Bob, Connie, and Cecilia, seeing in their eyes that they were getting ready to let loose either hateful comments at Jamie, or tease her mercilessly.

    “Oh… you know, I never even noticed that!” responded Tegan, pulling her own invitation copy from her purse, which had previously been resting on the floor next to her chair. “You’d think someone who has a minor in English would have seen that right away. Huh!”

    “Okay, okay,” said Bob, who was already moving on to new items in his hyper-active brain.

    “Listen,” he continued, “Let’s move on. There’s nothing we can do about that now. And, I only have two questions rolling around in my head right now. Number 1, whose gonna pass that guacamole down here so that my naked tortilla chips don’t end up getting thrown down the garbage disposer? And number 2, isn’t is it time we started working on the scavenger hunt items?”

     “Yeah, with the dinner menu completed,” concluded Tegan, “I guess we should put our heads together on the hunt items. And… I’ve gotta tell you, my brain doesn’t work like that, plus I’ve never been on a scavenger hunt, so I’m relying on you guys to carry the bulk of this part of the planning.”

*****

    “Ok, read ‘em back, Jamie.”

    “Aw’right…” Jamie began, “here goes. Unnumbered, but… A chewing gum wrapper from a stick of gum, an unused Kleenex tissue, one shoelace from a pair of shoes being worn, a pencil with bite marks and no eraser, one strand of hair from someone with different color hair than your own, an unused breath mint or candy mint (wrapped), a penny dated before the year 2000, a ticket from a past community musical event, a Get Well card with the words ‘I love you’ handwritten in it, an uncooked…”

    Of course, Connie couldn’t take it any longer. She was getting restless, so she simply and matter-of-factly stood, pushed back her chair and announced that she needed to get home to feed her cat, Mrs. Abernathy, and get some sleep for work the next day. The only words to pass her lips before exiting the table, the room, and the house were, “Thanks, guys. I think this is going to be a winner!”

    All eyes followed her out of the room, and once they heard the front door slam shut, Jamie resumed reading the list. Not one person said anything about Connie’s abrupt rude departure. Probably because this was her routine. Being one of the oldest in the Singles class at thirty-four years of age, she seemed to see herself as one of the class who could pretty much come-and-go as she pleased.

    But, while there were no comments made, there were eight sets of eyes remaining that completed both a full eye-rolling and sigh before turning back to Jamie’s recitation.

    “Oh… uh… An uncooked piece of pasta, a receipt from a purchase made in the last two weeks, a lipstick kiss mark on a piece of paper, a paper clip, a Styrofoam cup, a blank Post-It, a Flex Straw, an empty water bottle, a candy cane, and…”  After dramatically pausing, she concluded, “A Christmas tree branch. And, that’s where we stalled. By my count, that’s eighteen items.”

    “Just give us a few minutes,” interjected Lynn, an overachiever who couldn’t cope with the idea that the list of twenty items no longer would have twenty.

    “Ya know, there’s really nowhere it’s written that a scavenger hunt has to have a certain number of items, much less specifically twenty. What if we just end it where we have it? I mean, even eighteen items will take a long time. Remember, we have to drive from place to place to retrieve those items, then drive back here in time for dinner at ten o’clock,” supplied Tegan. She widened her eyes and looked around the dining room table, searching for approval of shortening the list in the other seven sets of eyes.

    ‘No… no… wait! I just thought of two more.”

    No longer was anyone considering Tegan’s suggestion. They’d re-focused their attention on Lynn,  who had both fists shaking fiercely in midair, like a child who was extremely excited, or agitated, over something.

    “Number Nineteen. Hug someone that is six inches taller than yourself. Number Twenty. Give a kiss to a stranger.”

    The group almost erupted into applauds of excitement. Every last one of them thought those two items were practically ordained.

    Tegan looked around the group. She was stunned that all of them wanted to do something that, to her, seemed completely forward and intrusive.

    “Guys, you remember that we’ll be out in public, right? I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being physical with someone I don’t know.” Tegan’s face was all scrunched up as she even considered doing either of the items already added to the list.

    Being the youngest in the Singles Class had its disadvantages. Tegan was still in her last year at the university, studying Nursing. Everyone else in the class had already graduated and were in the workforce, some of them for more than a decade. Many, actually… most of them looked at Tegan as “the child” in the group.

    Lynn made the suggestion that Tegan might perhaps prefer to stay at the Martin’s house with the “food crew” while the others went on the scavenger hunt. She didn’t say it, but the implication was that maybe Tegan wasn’t “mature” enough to handle the last two hunt items.

    Tegan had just taken a breath before responding, but Bob jumped in before a word escaped her mouth.

    “Hey, I’m good with those two, but does anyone see a problem with one of them?”

    It could be seen in the facial expressions of everyone at the table, including Tegan, that they were mentally reviewing the two specific items. When everyone ultimately returned their gazes to Bob, shrugging to him that they had no idea what he was referring to, he expounded.

    “Well, number nineteen says to hug someone that is six inches taller than yourself. Since I’m six feet tall, it means I’d have to locate someone that is six-feet, six-inches tall. Don’t ya think that puts me at quite a disadvantage? I don’t know about any of you, but someone of that height doesn’t come along very often. Especially, a girl, ‘cause if you think I’m hugging some guy while out in public, I’m here to tell ya that’s not gonna happen!”

    The whole group let forth a unison laugh. Then Jamie said she was mentally seeing Bob chasing down some ginormous guy, lunging at him, and trying to give him a huge hug in front of everyone at the mall. When she shared this, starting with, “Can’t ya just see Bob chasing down…?”, it caused a whole new round of laughter that only stopped when Jamie said maybe they should make a “qualifier” for that particular item.

    “So ya don’t wanna chase down a basketball player and lay a wet one on him, huh?” asked Jamie, with a wide-eyed I’m-so-innocent facial expression. That, of course, caused a whole new round of laughter. Only then, Jamie, who was known by all the females in the committee to have a weak bladder that was especially triggered by laughter, jumped up from the table, excusing herself to the bathroom. That alone kicked up the laughter a notch or two, until most of the female committee members were laughing so hard that they were shedding tears and laying their heads down on the table until the hilarity died down. The three guys present were, of course, clueless.

    Meanwhile, Tegan was thinking.

    Her brother, Jason, was six-feet two-inches to her five-feet six-inches. So… she’d hug him. Number nineteen taken care of. He wouldn’t be at the party, of course, because he was just in his second year of college, but she would get him to meet her someplace in town during the scavenger hunt, and they’d hug. Knowing him like she did, she just assumed he’d require some kind of “payment” for inconveniencing him on his free night out with his buddies from their church, but whatever it was he bargained the hug for, wouldn’t be something outrageous. Probably he’d demand a few dollars, maybe as much as five, in exchange for a hug that he’d let her give him, while hidden in the shadows of a parking lot or some such place. That’s ok, she could do that!

     Before Jamie even returned from the bathroom, the committee had made the “qualifier” for number nineteen, which said girls must hug someone six inches taller, and guys must hug someone six inches shorter.

    Once that was taken care of, the rest of the Christmas Scavenger Hunt and Late Night Dinner business was concluded, only taking another fifteen minutes. Tegan was glad the evening was over. She was tired, and desperately needed sleep to begin a seriously busy school/workday. The truth was, however, she mainly wanted to end the evening because she couldn’t shed the continually re-enforced knowledge that she was considered among the Singles as a “kid”, when in reality, she would graduate in just a few months, which would automatically send her from the College class into the Singles class anyway.

    Just because she was the only one on the committee that didn’t have a significant other, didn’t mean Tegan was an immature little child that needed to be kept in her place. Funny thing was that the only reason she bumped herself up into the Singles class a year before graduation was because of Jamie. The two of them had been best friends since Jamie was a senior in high school and Tegan was a junior. The two girls couldn’t bear to separate, not only on a daily basis now, but on Sundays too, so Tegan just snuck on in to the Singles class like she belonged there. No one questioned, and by the time anyone found out, she had been an accepted member of the class and its social life.

*****

    While preparing herself for bed that night, Tegan was thinking heavy thoughts. She mentally went around the dining room table back at Jamie’s parent’s house earlier that evening, realizing that out of the nine there, she was the only one without someone special in her life.

    It wasn’t that she wasn’t happy with her life thus far. In fact, she was beyond grateful that the Lord had given her such a great Christian family, a brother that she adored, and in a few months, she’d be graduating into a profession that she was still astounded that she’d be a part of.

    But… oh, how she would love to have someone that she was in love with and was in love with her… someone she could share secrets with… someone who wanted to plan a life together with her… someone who would make her feel cherished… and do so for a lifetime.

    It wasn’t that she was dissatisfied. She even believed that when it was God’s Timing, He would bring her a man that she could respect, laugh with, and travel through life with.

    No, it wasn’t that she was unhappy. It was just…

    When Tegan crawled into bed and turned on her side facing the wall that held her Dreams board, she saw by the moonlight that shone through the window adjacent to the board, that the blank space in the right lower corner had nothing posted and no picture, Everything else was there… mostly memorabilia. The first locket a boy in middle school had given her, the ticket to the first dance she’d ever attended (also in middle school), the first “love” letter she’d received (her freshman year of high school), and several other items that brought a small smile to her lips, along with sweet, sentimental memories.

    But, in the lower right corner, there remained an empty space that had individual and colorful construction paper letters push-pinned above its vacancy that read, “The One.” No picture, no love note… nothing. It brought a sigh from Tegan.

    Although her lips whispered, “Oh, well…”, a moment later she had to swipe a tear, actually two, one from each eye.

    But, swiping away a long lock of her voluminous, but dirty blond hair that had slipped rogue-like away from the rest, obtrusively dropping from the bunch and sliding into position over her right cheek and eye, she sighed. With actual disgust, Tegan batted it back to where the others resided down her back. Tegan Clayton closed her eyes, and after cursing her luck in having ugly dishwater locks, she drifted into a lonely, and not too hopeful sleep.

    The last words to actually escape her lips, albeit in a whisper were, “This atrocious hair color is probably what has scared away all the guys.”

*****

Keep watch. Who knows when the next chapter may appear?