It’s the start of Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. Along with my normal weekend chores today, I started the bread bake for this week–I normally bake the bread we use for stuffing the turkey. Today the first loaf is done and cooling in the kitchen, and it smells really good. The other two will have to wait until Wednesday, when I’m off from the day-job so I can do kitchen things.
There are a lot of things I am thankful for, there always are. Just today, I can think of plenty. My family is healthy. We’re all well-fed. We have roofs over our heads, and jobs to keep us that way. My washer and dryer work, so all of the week’s laundry is just about finished at last. My bread machine still works after nearly twenty years (and me finding out, accidentally, today that the lid is removable, though it does now have a couple nicks in it), and makes scrumptious bread for us. I have a roomful of books to read. I still have time off to schedule at the day-job before the end of the year. The great 80s music that is playing from downstairs right now. I had an idea for a new story (or several stories?). So many things.
Before I go back to my Thanksgiving prep list to make sure I don’t miss anything this week, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from the fourth story in my shifter series.
Laney looked like she might cry.
Anton tamped down the urge to smile.
“Oh,” she said after a few seconds, “you really shouldn’t have, Lareina.”
“Nonsense.” His aunt hugged her tight with one arm. “You’re family now. And they’ll look much better on you than sitting in a locked box.”
Laney’s gaze flicked to his, and he grinned at her.
“Put them on, dear.” His aunt winked at him. “Let’s see.”
Reluctantly, Laney took the earrings out of the box and fumbled them on.
“Perfect,” Lareina said firmly.
Laney murmured another thank-you, but he’d bet she was wishing for a way out.
“And they’ll go with Mom’s necklace,” he said helpfully.
Laney shot him a drop-dead look, which he ignored, crossing to sit on the arm of the loveseat beside her. He brushed her hair back to see the platinum and emerald dangling from her ear. “Very pretty.” He leaned down and feathered a kiss at her temple.
Exhaling a long breath, she turned to his aunt. “They’re lovely.”
Anton rubbed his hand in a small circle between her shoulder blades, feeling a little of the tension ease.
His aunt patted her knee. “Why don’t I refill your glass? I need to check the bread anyway.”
He waited until Lareina had bustled away with Laney’s half-empty wineglass, then he claimed the spot beside his mate. “What’s wrong?”
She met his gaze, then dropped hers after a moment. “It’s too much.”
He dragged in a slow breath. “It’s family.”
She swallowed. “But I’m–”
“My mate,” he said firmly, and her gaze snapped back up to his.
She clamped her teeth on her lower lip.
Anton set one hand at the back of her neck and leaned closer. “Merry Christmas, Laney,” he whispered.
She shut her eyes, but not before he caught a glimpse of tears.
Anton kissed her lightly, wondering if she would kiss him back. She did, but only for a moment then leaned away, blushing. He touched her jaw, holding her shiny gaze. “You okay?”
She nodded once, swallowing.
“It’s a lot,” he mused, “all of them.”
Laney shrugged, looking away. “Not so bad. There was always a houseful when I was at home.”
Of course. “How did you spend the last two Christmases?”
She nibbled at her lower lip for a second. “I worked the first one, and last year I spent the day at a homeless shelter, serving dinner. Less lonely, plus I got to remind myself things really weren’t so bad for me.” She shrugged once more.
Anton wished again that he’d done more damage to Shepley the other night. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer.
Now I’ve got to finish this list so I can get some writing done before I call it a day! What are you thankful for this week?
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