Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Holiday Wishes by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
everyone, he added, but for himself and Faith. Maybe he could brush away the years, the time lost, but how could he ignore her marriage and her child?
    He still wanted her. That hadn’t changed. He still hurt. That hadn’t eased. But how did she feel? She’d told him the night before that she’d never loved another man. Did that mean she still loved him? Jason dropped a bill on the counter and rose. There was only one way to find out. He’d ask her.
    * * *
    The Doll House was crowded with children. Noisy children. When Jason walked in, shouts and laughter bounced off the walls. Helium-filled balloons hugged the ceiling and cookie crumbs littered the floor. In the doorway of the workroom was a tall cardboard castle. Just in front of a shiny white curtain stood a puppet of Santa Claus and a green-suited elf. With a lot of chatter and exaggerated effort, they loaded a glittering golden sleigh with colorful boxes. Twice the elf fell on his face while lifting a box and sent the children into peals of laughter. After a great deal of confusion, all the presents were loaded. With a belly-bursting Ho-ho-ho! Santa climbed into the sleigh. Bells jingling, it rocked its way through the curtain.
    To the clatter of applause, a series of puppets crossed the stage for bows. Jason saw Mrs. Claus, two elves and a reindeer with a telltale red nose before Santa took the stage with a ringing Merry Christmas! Jason didn’t even realize he was leaning back against the door and grinning when Faith popped around the castle for a bow of her own.
    But she saw him. Feeling foolish, she took another bow as the children clambered up. With the ease of a veteran kindergarten teacher, she maneuvered them toward the punch and cookies.
    “Very impressive,” Jason murmured in her ear. “I’m sorry I missed most of the show.”
    “It’s not much.” She combed her fingers through her hair. “I’ve been doing it for years now without much variation.” She glanced over at the group of children. “It doesn’t seem to matter.”
    “I’d say it does.” He took her hand and brought it to his lips while a group of girls giggled. “Very much.”
    “Mrs. Monroe.” A little boy with carrot-red hair and a face full of freckles tugged on her slacks. “When’s Santa coming?”
    Faith crouched down and smoothed at his hair. “You know, Bobby, I heard he was awfully busy this year.”
    His bottom lip poked out. “But he always comes.”
    “Well, I’m sure he’ll find a way to get the presents here. I’m going to go in the back in a minute and see.”
    “But I have to talk to him.”
    The pout nearly did her in. “If he doesn’t make it, you can give me a letter for him. I’ll make sure he gets it.”
    “Problem?” Jason murmured when she straightened up again.
    “Jake always plays Santa after the puppet show. We give out a few little things. It’s nothing really, but the kids depend on it.”
    “Jake can’t make it this year?”
    “He caught the chicken pox from the Hennessy boy.”
    “I see.” He hadn’t celebrated Christmas in years, not since . . . since he’d left Faith. “I’ll do it,” he told her and surprised himself.
    Something in her expression made him determined to be the best St. Nick since the original. “Yeah, me. Where’s the suit?”
    “It’s in the little room off the back, but—”
    “I hope you remembered the pillows,” he said before he sauntered away.
    She didn’t think he’d pull it off. In fact, five minutes after he walked away, Faith was sure he’d changed his mind altogether and continued out the back door. No one, including the group of kids with mouths full of cookies, was more enchanted than she when Santa walked in the front door with a bag over his shoulder.
    He had the chance for one booming Merry Christmas before he was surrounded. Too stunned to move, she watched the children bounce and jump and tug.
    “Santa needs a chair.” Jason sent her a long, intense look that

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