Christmas is the season of giving gifts. Some people think that gift giving makes Christmas less meaningful because it introduces commercialism into what they consider a strictly religious holiday. And I don’t want to downplay that part of Christmas, I go to church and I know whose birthday we celebrate – although it is my contention that Christ was probably born in October – but that doesn’t really matter. We don’t have to know a specific date to celebrate a great gift.
In my home we have always done Santa Claus. Now that it’s just Jess and I, we still go all out. I am in charge. He makes me a list and I make him one, but I make sure that we have the same number of gifts, I get the paper and all that is necessary to make everything pretty. As Jess has grown older (he’s 9 years my junior – little brothers!) his tastes in gifts has changed. We went through the transformer phase and the super hero phase – although I will tell you ladies, he’s not above wearing a cape, even now. We went through the video game phase – actually – that phase is still on-going, I think I bought at least a half dozen PS3’s this year. Then we went through the clothes-horse phase, the pimp my pick-up phase and the ‘I have everything I want – let me travel!’ phase. Whew! But in the midst of keeping up with what he wants and what I want to spend my money on, I have discovered something important, that you probably already know - the most important gifts don’t cost a dime.
I have raised Jess since he was nine years old, I was eighteen at the time and probably didn’t do everything right. Most likely, I have made mistakes in my parental/sisterly role. It is highly possible that I spoiled him, and probably told him too many times how handsome and smart he was – CAUSE HE BELIEVED ME!!! Ha! But I also know I did some things right because he is kind and loving and brilliant and the best friend I have ever had. So, the most important gifts that I have given him were not toys or clothes or even a vehicle – it was security, a sense of worth and unconditional love.
Read that last phrase again – because that’s what we all need – security, a sense of worth and unconditional love.
The men and women who serve in our military give of themselves that we might have those things as a country. They give us freedom, which in turn makes us feel secure. We as a nation owe our sense of worth to the fact that there are brave people in our midst who are willing to step in between us and any enemy we might have. These same men sometimes are called upon to offer the ultimate sacrifice of life or limb for our preservation. We are blessed.
So, doesn’t it make sense that we should, in turn, be willing to offer those same gifts to our soldiers, our veterans, our wounded warriors? I am privileged to be participating in this Wounded Warrior Project and to be donating in their honor. The link is below – and I encourage you to donate also. The greatest gift we can give is to lay down our lives for our friends and some of them have done so – it is very little we do to repay them, to offer a gift like this at Christmas.
I recently had a book released that featured a Marine who was a POW, the book is called FORGET ME NEVER. It was not a SCP release, but I’m sure they won’t mind, considering the theme. Patrick fights for his country, and his one greatest fear – is not bullets or roadside bombs, or even being away from home – his greatest fear is being forgotten. So many of our soldiers feel like that have been forgotten, they come home to find that living is harder after their gift of service than before. We shouldn’t let that happen – so in honor of Wounded Warriors – I post an excerpt from FORGET ME NEVER. – and it’s a tad racy!
The link is here
“Come on, Savannah. Take a chance. I dare you. Go over and ask him out to lunch.”
Savannah jumped for the second time in an hour. She was caught. “I didn’t know you were here, Tam. I figured after four margaritas and three wine coolers you’d be in bed till tomorrow.”
“No, way. Nana Fontenot said today was the day you’d meet - and I quote – ‘the warrior who will be your husband’. And that alpha male in camouflage, my dear friend, is a warrior in anybody’s book. If that marine isn’t your destiny, I’ll eat my Dooney and Bourke purse doused with Tobasco Sauce.”
“You’d better marinate it for a while. I’m afraid it’s gonna be a little chewy.” Good grief, she had forgotten about the old soothsayer’s prediction. As much respect as Savannah had for other people’s beliefs, she didn’t give much credence to the idea she would meet her future husband today. Although . . . if she had a choice, the man they were staring at would fulfill all of her dreams.
“I double-dog dare you.” Tammany wasn’t going to give up.
“Double-dog? Is that supposed to make me want to do this more?”
“No, it’s supposed to shame you into doing it. Now, get over there and make him want you!”
She couldn’t believe the other woman was suggesting that she just stroll over there and proposition him. As much as she wished she could pull it off, the whole idea was totally ridiculous. He would say ‘no’, that was a forgone conclusion. Even if she were a normal girl, she didn’t have what it would take to attract a man like him. “You must believe in miracles.”
“Yes, and I also believe in magic.”
Her friend sounded so certain. Of course, they were just work friends. Tammany had no idea about her past. So far no one at the Center knew about Carville except her bosses. Mr. Randolph had acted sort of shocked, but he had kept her confidence. And Mr. Davis, her main boss, had said it didn’t matter one whit to him. He had a brother with AIDS so he was sympathetic to such things and how such a devastating diagnosis could affect the family. In many ways AIDS was the new leprosy, both were misunderstood diseases. A little tremble of apprehension washed over Savannah, the whole idea of asking a man for his attention sent her into nervous dithers. “You know I respect Nana Fontenot. But in this case, she must have gotten her magical wires crossed.”
“Nana Fontenot is never wrong,” Tammany insisted as she stretched her lithe body and yawned, causing one bespeckled gentleman to stump his toe on the concrete floor as he appreciated her curvy body. “That little hoodoo woman has predicted more marriages, births and deaths than the weather channel predicts rain storms. Hell, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. So, what are you waiting for? Go get him. He’s yours – Nana Fontenot said so.”
Closing her eyes, Savannah took a deep breath and calmed her nerves. Tammany only had her best interest at heart. Glancing at her friend, she was amused to realize that she had come to town in her sleeping clothes. The camisole and shorts were what she had worn to bed the night before. Of course, Tammany could get away with it. She looked sexy in anything. After their night at Mulate’s, all three friends who had attended her birthday dinner capped off the evening with ice cream sundaes and cake on the Benoit’s houseboat. It had turned into a slumber party, but Savannah had slipped away early because of her work schedule.
They had all met through the Culture Center - either as volunteers, coworkers or benefactors. Tammany Benoit, Francesca Leger, and Cato Vincent were beautiful, popular, and self-assured; everything that Savannah Doucet was not. But that hadn’t seemed to matter to them, they always treated her as if she were one of them – and she was. Tammany had seen to that.
Tammany had been her first real friend. Friends had been hard to come by for Savannah. No matter where she had lived or what school she had gone to, it hadn’t been long before everyone would know and be talking about her stigma. The circumstances of her birth were recorded in her medical file and the fact that she was a Carville baby would leak out. Some teachers had even announced it in class as part of the education process, or at least that’s what they claimed. They would always explain that Savannah didn’t have leprosy, but the look in their eye or the tone in their voice would always convey a little bit of fear. So, it had proved impossible for Savannah to ever fully escape her past.
But Tammany had been good to her and that kindness had been a rare commodity in Savannah’s life. So when Tammany asked her to do something, Savannah found it almost impossible to tell her ‘no’. “You just want to see me humiliate myself.” She knew that wasn’t true, but Savannah felt a little grumpy – and a little hung-over. Thank goodness her shift at the Acadian Memorial ended in fifteen minutes. Although if the gorgeous hunk of a soldier they were eyeballing planned to be here all afternoon, it was going to be hard to tear herself away. God! She had never seen a more perfect man! He was big – really big. Standing with his legs spread in a commanding stance, it was obvious he covered the ground he walked on and people trembled when he past by. Savannah licked her lips. What she wouldn’t do to get her hands on a guy like that!
“It’s your birthday, Savannah. Be good to yourself. This man could be your soul mate. Think of him as a gift.” Punching her in the side, she joked. “I’ll help you unwrap him.”
“He looks busy; I don’t want to disturb him.” Savannah procrastinated.
“Are you kidding? His very presence is disturbing everyone else. I saw how those college girls were acting before you herded them outside. Besides, you’re an expert on this stuff, Miss. Doucet. Go over and offer your assistance. It’s your job! Now!” Tammany gave her a little push.
Apparently he was doing research on the Acadian refugees. Why not offer her services? And while she was helping him, she could pretend to seduce him. She couldn’t help but laugh at herself a little. “He does look like he needs help.” Yea, she’d like to help him with a lot of things – like undressing, taking a shower, possibly even a back massage.
“Do it, Savannah. You’re through here for the day, and I’ll stay until tardy Tulah Belle comes. This is your chance; you don’t want to be the oldest virgin in St. Martin’s Parish for another year!”
“Oh, all right!” She yelled so loud everyone turned and looked at her – except sexy Rambo, of course. Tammany wasn’t going to leave her alone until she at least tried to hook up with this guy. Savannah’s dateless state was worrying Tammany to death. So, she had to at least make her friend think she had a date the soldier. Yea, that’s what she would do. She could save face and the Marine could leave unencumbered. “I’ll still make a complete fool out of myself,” Savannah grumbled as she took one step forward. To make matters worse, Fred March was watching her closely and he didn’t look happy. The man scared her a little bit. Gracious, now she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Tammany jerked her back. “Give me those glasses.”
“But, I need them.”
“Only to read.” Savannah lost the battle, Tammany confiscated her spectacles and pushed her out of her safe zone into the scary world of sexual gamesmanship. Walking as casually as she could with her heart in her throat, she stepped close to the marine. His height made her look up and up. Gee, he must be well over six feet. Of course, at five foot three she had to look up at almost everyone over the age of twelve. Clearing her throat, she whispered. “Excuse me, but I’m in a pickle. I’ll give you twenty dollars if you’ll pretend we’re going out to lunch together.”
Patrick had been trying to find the surname LaVerdure on this vast list of names for about fifteen minutes, but he wasn’t having any luck. All of the immigrants were recorded by ship manifesto, so he had to look in several different places. Deep in concentration, it was a second or two before he realized someone was speaking to him. The unexpected words coming from over his left shoulder irritated him a little bit. “I’m not the kind of man that can be bought, honey. And if I could – twenty dollars wouldn’t touch me,” Patrick drawled.
“Dang, it’s just my luck to pick a man with principles. What would you say if I threw in a couple of dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies to sweeten the deal?” She might not be much of a temptation, but she could cook. That was one of the things Savannah missed about not having a family. Cooking for one wasn’t fun.
Her quick comeback amused Patrick. If the woman was half as sexy as that husky little voice, he was in for a better treat than cookies. Turning, slowly – he let the anticipation build.
Oh, hell yeah! His day just got a helluva lot brighter.
A curvy little honey wearing a demure, lacy dress stood looking up at him with hope in her eyes. “Well, hello Miss Prim and Proper. You look like you’re in dire need of mussing up.”
Savannah ran her palms down the sides of her dress and smiled, sheepishly. “Don’t tell anybody, but these are the clothes I wore yesterday. I didn’t have time to go home and change.”
“Really, did you have a good time last night?” Patrick was enjoying this. “I bet you made some guy a happy man.”
“No, no,” Savannah fanned her hands in denial. “I went out with the girls.” Knowing Tammany was taking all of this in – not to mention Fred March, she repeated her request. “Would you consider playing along with me? It’ll save me some embarrassment. Should I make it twenty-five dollars?”
Patrick didn’t have a clue what was going on. He had no idea what kind of game the little dove was proposing, but he definitely wanted to play. “All right, I’ll tell you what - I say forget the money. I’ll take you to lunch, but I want a half dozen kisses plus the cookies. Deal?”
“Kisses?” Was he kidding? “Are you saying you’ll go to lunch with me?” she asked in surprised. “No, you don’t understand. That’s not necessary.” Holding up one finger to pause the conversation, she glanced over her shoulder to the blonde at the help desk who looked back at them and winked big. “Lord, does she have to be so obvious?” she muttered. Leaning toward him with a conspiratorial air, she twisted her mouth into a cute little sideways knot and whispered. “Actually, I’m trying to bribe you. I know you don’t really want to go out with me. Just pretend for a bit. Please?”
For a moment, Patrick didn’t know what to say. Was she serious? Why wouldn’t he want to go out with her? “Who’s pretending? I want food for lunch and you for dessert.” Patrick loved to flirt and he needed it – he was in for a long dry spell in Afghanistan. A sweetheart like this would be good fantasy material for the long hot nights ahead with only his hand for company.
He waited to see what she would do and what happened next made the earth move under his feet. She smiled. Her whole face lit up with the sweetest smile he’d ever seen. Patrick lost the ability to speak. He knew that smile. He had fallen in love with that smile on a Halloween night seventeen long years ago. The drawing he had made of her beautiful face and that incredible smile was in his duffle bag in his truck. He never went anywhere without it. Even though he had doubted the experience, for years he had looked for her everywhere he went. Since joining the marines and seeing the horrors of war and the despair of humanity, he had laid down his dreams. But he couldn’t seem to let go of the drawing or the memory. And now here she was, standing in front of him like a gift from above. His Destiny.
“Really? You’d actually take a chance on me?” For a brief moment Savannah let herself imagine what it would be like to go on a date. A thrill rose in her chest almost making it impossible to breathe. She had missed so much in this life because of Carville. But there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
“I’m not a gambling man, baby. But I can recognize the Queen of Hearts when I see her.” Patrick was having a hard time keeping his hands off of her. They hadn’t even exchanged names and he felt totally proprietary about her. It was like his heart recognized her or something. No, chance didn’t have a damn thing to do with this. Meeting Destiny was fate.
“No, you misunderstood me. All I want is a few minutes of your time.” With a hand on one hip and a thoughtful expression on his face, he seemed to be deciding if he were wasting his time with her. “I promise I’ll make it worth your while.” She blushed, realizing how that sounded. Lord, he looked even better up close. From across the room he had been the total package. Up close, he was absolutely stunning – deep dimples and the bluest eyes this side of heaven. “What I mean is - I just noticed that you seem frustrated. My name is Savannah Doucet and I’m something of an expert with this stuff,” she pointed at the wall. “Is there some way I can help you?”
“I’m Patrick O’ Rourke. And it’s very nice to meet you.” Very nice. Feeling playful, he chose to deliberately misunderstand her. “So, you’re an expert at relieving frustration? That might be interesting.” Mouthwatering, that was what she was.
“Oh, my goodness,” she put her hands over her warm cheeks. “No, I’m not an expert at that. I don’t have any feminine wiles.” Savannah was flustered. Taking a second to look around the Memorial, she was relieved to see they were alone except for Tammany who was on the phone and not paying them any attention at the moment.
“I beg to differ,” he flirted, blatantly. Stepping back, he slowly took an inventory of her body from head to foot. His love was just a little bit of a thing: small bones, lush mouth, dark hair and huge black eyes – no they weren’t black. Are your eyes blue?” He could lose himself in those dark, haunting eyes. This woman was off-the-charts sexy.
Frowning slightly, she answered him. “Yes, they’re a drab navy blue, I guess.”
The look he was giving her was so intense; it made her feel like tiny flames of fire was dancing over her skin. Savannah couldn’t help but stare back.
“I don’t think they’re drab at all. I think they’re beautiful and mysterious.” What was an even bigger turn-on was the intelligence that shone out of them. Patrick felt his heart pound as they engaged in a mutual eye-fuck. Damn, he had it bad!
Savannah didn’t know what to say. She was in unknown territory. This man seemed to be flirting with her. There had to be some mistake. Maybe she wasn’t experienced enough to tell when someone was serious or teasing her. It would be better to get the conversation back on a safe topic. “Are you looking for a particular name on the wall?”
She was nervous. He could tell. Damn, she was cute, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on her. “Actually, I’m looking for the LaVerdure family. But, I’m not having any luck.”
A surge of courage welled up in Savannah. It was as if someone else was in charge of her body. For once, she wanted to be normal and see how it felt to flirt with a man. Going for broke, she decided to see if she could a reaction out of him. “Well, today’s your lucky day. Because I’m just what you’ve been looking for.” She took one small finger and drug it down his bare arm from the bend of his elbow to his wrist.
“Hot damn, baby.” Patrick hissed as closed his eyes. His whole body went into lust mode. She didn’t know how right she was. It was true, she was just who he had been looking for – for what seemed like forever. “You have my complete and utter attention.”
“If I have your attention, then open your eyes, Patrick. Watch me.”
Like his heart would give him a choice? She didn’t know it, but he was completely at her mercy. “Yes, mam.” He bet Savannah could get him to do most anything her heart desired. Mesmerized, Patrick watched her every move. She backed up about six inches, glanced around the room, and what she did next shocked the shit out of him. First she graced him with a saucy little wink, then proceeded to let her gaze slide down his body – and swear-to-God - she got hung up on his manhood like it was a speed bump. Little hot-stuff looked his bulge over real slow, he didn’t have to glance down to see what she could see, he could feet his dick rise as fast and hot as the temperature on a sultry Louisiana day. There was no doubt about it; his cock enjoyed being at the center of her attention.
She didn’t stop there. Oh, no. Sweet-doll checked out his thighs, his knees – hell - she even stared at his feet, probably wondering if his size twelve combat boots were any indication of the size of his cock. (It was, by the way.) Patrick couldn’t help but chuckle as she took the time to follow the same path back up. The little minx stared at his package until he was fully erect and throbbing.
“Did you get the response you were after?” He couldn’t help but laugh. Damn, he wanted to touch her so much. He was so happy. Again, she smiled. And he couldn’t help it – he grinned right back. Patrick wanted to pick her up, twirl her around and carry her off into the sunset. He was so glad to see her; it was like being reunited with a long lost friend.
“Actually, I got a lot bigger response than I ever dreamed. I’ve never done that before. One of my girlfriends did that to a guy at Mulate’s last night.” Leaning close to him, she whispered. “You are a lot more well-endowed than Leon.”
“Give Leon my sympathies.” Patrick was enchanted. “Are you always so bold?” It didn’t matter if she was or not, he wanted her anyway.
“No, I’m not bold at all. I’m usually very shy.” A look of guilt washed over her face. “Gee, I guess I had better level with you. I hate to start any friendship out with half-truths.” She took him by the arm and turned him so they both faced the wall. To quote an old song, the simple touch of her hand on his arm was giving him day dreams about night things right dab in the middle of the day. She stood on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. “Do you see my friend over there?”
“You mean the blonde with the mile-long legs?” There was no way he could have missed the looks that she and Savannah had been exchanging. Was he attracted to the other woman? He might have been, if there had been no Savannah. But since laying eyes on his Destiny – there was no other woman in the world. “And I certainly wouldn’t classify you as a bother. I think you’re adorable.”
“You don’t have to be kind.” She spoke so off-handedly that Patrick realized she wasn’t taking anything he said seriously. Now why was that? He watched her glance over at the young woman behind the desk again who winked and gave them a thumb’s up. “Yes, that’s my friend Tammany. She’s very beautiful.” Damn, she was caressing his arm, petting him and Patrick didn’t think she was even aware of it. “She wasn’t going to leave me alone until I tried to ask you out. But I can’t be mad at her; she only wants what is best for me.”
Teasing her was fast becoming his favorite sport. “So, you don’t really want to help me with my research? You just want me for my body?”
Thanks for reading – here’s the blog hop link and the Wounded Warrior link.
Thanks for stopping by.
All comments will go into a hat for ebooks – please leave a Christmas message for our troops and I will see to it that it is posted in the proper place.