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Kissing Under the Mistletoe

By:Smashwords Edition

missed the signs this time around. Now she could see that her breasts were fuller, her waist slightly thicker.

Jack splayed his hands over her belly. “You’ve always glowed during pregnancy, but this time you’re more beautiful than ever.” He drew her close and whispered against her lips, with utter certainty, “We’re finally going to have a girl.” It was crazy, but she swore she felt it, too—the slightly different energy inside of her compared to the six boys she’d carried.

But there were more miracles to come when they found out they were having twins! And what lucky little girls Lori and Sophie were to have six older brothers to protect and care for them.

A gust of wind through the trees outside the cabin brought Mary back to the present. Realizing she was still holding Lori’s wrapped ornament in her hands, she laughed with delight when she finished opening it.

Dozens of plastic goggle eyes stared out at her from the round ball. Only Lori would think to glue moving eyeballs all over an ornament. As a professional dancer and choreographer, Lori was always in motion—but, at the same time, she didn’t miss a thing. More often than not, she was the one moving from one sibling to the other giving expert advice. Neither her twin sister nor her older brothers escaped her notice. Her intuitive comments were always delivered in her typically sassy way, of course.

Mary hung Lori’s ornament on the tree, then moved back to the box to take out a small, white felt bag. Sophie—aka “Nice,” as Chase had christened her so many years ago—had quite possibly put the most thought into her ornaments. Sophie was now a librarian, but even as a small child she’d think things over for a long time before taking action. She was quiet enough that people sometimes made the mistake of discounting her. But Mary never had. Sophie was incredibly sweet, extremely wise, and she’d always had a gentle patience that Mary still worked hard to attain most days.

She remembered the day Sophie had asked to be taken to the local sewing shop, right before Christmas. Mary had tried to teach all of her kids to sew, but the only two who had any interested in needles and thread had been Smith and Lori, probably because they were always putting together costumes for plays, musicals and dance recitals. Of all her kids, Sophie had had the least interest in sewing, so when Sophie made her request Mary wondered if her daughter could have had a sudden change of heart.

The minute they walked into the store, Sophie made a beeline for the button drawers. One by one, she carefully studied the buttons before making her choices.

Mary loved to sit back and watch her children’s minds work. They never ceased to surprise and delight her. Keeping an eye on her daughter as she chose new fabric for bedroom curtains, Mary watched Sophie take her pile of buttons to the counter to pay. When the woman at the register asked what they were for, Sophie told her, “They’re a Christmas surprise for my family.”

Mary nearly laughed out loud at the confusion on the woman’s face. Clearly, the woman believed Sophie would be giving out buttons for Christmas presents. Mary couldn’t wait to discover Sophie’s plans.

When they returned home, Sophie disappeared into her bedroom with her bag of buttons and Mary’s sewing kit. For the rest of the day, Mary was so busy baking treats and wrapping presents in preparation for Christmas Eve that she was surprised when Sophie stood up after dinner and announced, “I’ve made a special Christmas ornament for everyone in the family.”

Reaching into a little bag she’d made out of white felt to hold the buttons, Sophie walked slowly around the table and placed one button on a string in each of her siblings’ hands.

Marcus was the first to hold his up. The large black button with flecks from all the colors of the rainbow swung from a dark string Sophie had threaded through one of the holes. Smith’s button ornament was a bright red and silver that caught the eye at every angle. Chase’s was a simple yet masculine navy blue. Ryan grinned at the way his button had been painted to look like a baseball. Zach’s button was sleek black, like one of the race cars he dreamed of driving. Gabe’s button had flames etched onto the front of it. Lori’s was the flashiest of all, covered in sparkles and glitter. The button Sophie had chosen for herself was a rectangle that looked like a miniature hardcover book.

“What a fantastic surprise,” Mary said as she marveled at the way Sophie had managed to brilliantly capture each of her siblings’ personalities with buttons, of all things. Each of the kids agreed as they headed over to the tree to hang up the ornaments.

Sophie slid onto Mary’s lap. “This one’s for you, Mommy.”

Sophie had placed a heart-shaped button in Mary’s palm. Her eyes were already full when Sophie took one more button out of the bag.

“I made one for Daddy, too.” This final button was covered in brown corduroy and was warm and solid in Mary’s hand. “Do you think he’d like it?”

Mary hadn’t been able to prevent two tears from spilling down her cheeks. “He would have loved it.”

As a burst of wind shook the tall pines outside the log cabin and Mary came back to the present, she realized she was standing in the middle of the living room, holding the felt bag against her chest, over her heart. Moving back over to the tree, she carefully hung each of the buttons in a group on the thick green branches, then placed the bag back into the box.

Only two ornaments were left—the first ones that Mary and Jack had ever given each other as a young married couple. She lifted them out and went to sit in the chair by the fire. After unwrapping them carefully, she placed them side by side on her lap and ran her fingers over the familiar contours.

And as Mary closed her eyes to savor her memories of falling in love with Jack Sullivan, the first snowflakes of winter began to fall….

Chapter One

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