Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online

Book: Holiday Wishes by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
the snow held off.
    Jason sat at the counter in the diner and sipped coffee while he listened to town gossip. Word was the Hennessys’ eldest had the chicken pox and would be scratching himself through the holidays. Carlotta’s was selling Christmas trees at half price and the hardware store had a sale on ten-speeds.
    Ten years before, Jason would have found the conversations mundane. Now he sat content, sipping his coffee and listening. Maybe this was what had been missing from the novel he’d been trying to write for so long. He’d been around the world, but everything had always been so fast paced, so urgent. There had been times when his life as well as his story had been on the line. You didn’t think about it when it was happening. You couldn’t. But now, sitting in the warm diner with the scent of coffee and frying bacon, he could look back.
    He’d taken assignments, a great many of them dangerous, because he hadn’t given a damn. He’d already lost the part of himself he’d valued. It was true that over the years he’d built something back, inch by gritty inch, but he’d never found the whole—because he’d left it here, where he’d grown up. Now he just had to figure out what the hell to do with it.
    “Guess they serve almost anybody in here.”
    Jason glanced up idly, then grinned. “Paul. Paul Tydings.” His hand was gripped by two enormous ones.
    “Damn it, Jas, you’re as good-looking and skinny as ever.”
    Jason took a long look at his oldest friend. Paul’s hair was thick and curly around a full, ruddy face offset now by a bushy moustache. His bull-like frame had assured him a starting place on the offensive line. Over the years, it had thickened into what was politely termed a successful build. “Well,” Jason decided. “You’re as good-looking.”
    With a roar of laughter, Paul slapped him on the back. “I never expected to see you back here.”
    “Nor I you. I thought you were in Boston.”
    “Was. Made myself some money, got married.”
    “No kidding? How long?”
    “Seven years come spring. Five kids.”
    Jason choked on his coffee. “Five?”
    “Three and a set of twins. Anyway, I brought my wife back for a visit six years ago and she fell in love. Had a jewelry store in Manchester, so I opened one here, too. I guess I’ve got you to thank for a lot of it.”
    “Me? Why?”
    “You were always filling my head with ideas. Then you took off. It made me think I should try my hand at seeing a few places. In about a year I was working in this jewelry store in Boston and in walks the prettiest little thing I ever laid eyes on. I was so flustered I never imprinted her credit card. She came back the next day with the blank receipt and saved my job. Then she saved my life and married me. Never even would have met her if it hadn’t been for you talking about all the places there were to see.” Paul nodded as his coffee was served. “Guess you’ve seen Faith.”
    “Yeah, I’ve seen her.”
    “Throw a lot of business her way, being as three of my kids are girls and all of ’em are brats.” He grinned and added two packets of sugar to his coffee. “She’s as pretty as she was when she was sixteen and dancing in the town hall. Settling in this time, Jason?”
    With a half laugh he pushed his cooling coffee aside. “Maybe.”
    “Come by the house and meet the family, will you? We’re just south of town, the two-story stone place.”
    “I saw it driving in.”
    “Then don’t go out again without coming in. A man doesn’t have many friends who go back to red wagons with him, Jason. You know”—he glanced at his watch—“seems to me Faith breaks for lunch about now. I’ve got to get back.” With a last slap on the back, Paul left him at the counter.
    Thoughtfully, Jason sipped at his coffee. He’d been away ten years, a long time by any standard, yet everyone in town he ran into saw him and Faith as a couple. It seemed it was easy to blink away a decade. Easy for

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