While struggling to return to their time, they fall in love with two handsome soldiers. As Christmas approaches, Megan and Jackie are torn between their new lovers and their desire to return to their time. At the last moment, they must make the difficult decision and, because it is Christmas, a miracle happens.
The Christmas Town is a thrilling adventurous novel interspersed with humor and romance. It's a great read any time of the year, but it's an especially cozy read during the winter months around Christmas.
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********************They crept along, eye-weary, back-weary and bone-weary. They’d been driving for over an hour and they had not seen another car, road sign, house or town.
“Okay, I’m freakin’ out,” Megan said. “I mean, if we don’t see some sign of life in the next few minutes, I am going to freak out!”
“Let’s try to stay calm.”
“I wonder if this is instant karma,” Jackie said, her shoulders stooped, eyes darting about nervously.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, how we got this car. I know you lied to that man back there. I know it. Your mother doesn’t need medication, and now we are being punished.”
“Don’t blame me,” Megan said. “If it hadn’t been for me, we wouldn’t have gotten the car in the first place.”
“And I wouldn’t be out in the middle of freakin’ nowhere!”
“Look, don’t start something you can’t finish,” Megan said.
“I just can’t believe you lied to him.”
“Stop it! Okay? Maybe I feel bad about it.”
Jackie was sweating. “I doubt it, and that was a nasty thing to do. I mean that was just wrong. He was so nice to you and you just lied to him. And, it’s Christmas.”
“I said, stop it!” Megan said.
“I thought there was something funny about the way you acted when he shook your hand,” Jackie said.
“Jackie, that’s enough. Just let it go! While we’re arguing we could be passing a house or motel. I don’t see anything but this blinding snow.”
The wind howled like a wild animal, and snow blew across the road, piling into drifts against the base of trees.
“How far have we gone so far?” Megan asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe 40 or 50 miles.”
Megan blew out an audible sigh. “I feel like I’m in a snow globe and some crazy kid just keeps shaking it.”
“Dramatic,” Jackie said.
“Scared,” Megan shot back.
Megan thought she saw a sign ahead, caked in snow and leaning precariously to the right, as if a burst of wind would blow it down.
“Jackie, stop! Look. I think there’s a sign over there. See it?”
Jackie slowed, saw the sign and stopped. “God, I hope it tells us where we are.”
Megan struggled into her coat and gloves and pulled on her hat. She shoved the door open, braced against the wind, and got out. Snow lashed at her face and she turned away, protecting her face with her hand. She trudged through nearly a foot of snow until she reached the sign, illuminated by the car beams. With her right hand, she brushed snow from the sign, little by little, until she was able to read HOLLY and then GROVE 1 MILE. A little black arrow pointed right. Megan looked right, shading her eyes, and peered into the distance. She saw something. She saw the shadow of a covered bridge, looming out in the blur of snow. That must be it. The town was across the bridge. Energized, she whirled, stomped back to the car and got in.
She was breathing rapidly. “It’s wild out there,” she said, shivering. “There’s a bridge just ahead. Holly Grove is about a mile away.”
“Sounds quaint,” Jackie said. “I hope they have a motel and an all-night restaurant.”
Jackie drove toward the bridge, the narrow road to the bridge looking dark and foreboding.
“Wait a minute, Jackie.”
Jackie paused before making the turn. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I just hate to leave the main road.”
“Megan, across that bridge is a town. We have passed absolutely nothing on this ‘so-called’ main road. Please, let’s just get across the bridge and spend the night in Holly Grove.”
Megan nodded, still reluctant.
Jackie made the turn. But at the threshold of the bridge, Megan called out again.
Jackie hit the brakes again, irritated. “Megan, what?”
Megan stared at the bridge. It wasn’t a large bridge, probably no more than 90 feet across a rocky stream, but something gnawed away at her, some ineffable feeling of danger that she couldn’t put her finger on.
“Megan?” Jackie said, seeing a far-away look in Megan’s eyes. “What are we waiting for?”
“Okay, okay...It’s just that...”
Jackie nudged the car forward and it rattled across the bridge. The two girls held their breath in the cave-like interior, darkness swallowing them, the wind screaming through the cracks all around them.
When they finally exited on the other side, they released trapped air from their lungs.
“Wow, that gave me the creeps,” Megan said.
Jackie looked about uneasily. “What a freaky night this is.”
They passed through a gray and white shroud of blowing snow. Suddenly, as if a curtain were being drawn from both sides of a stage, a gust of wind passed over the car and blew the snow away.
Jackie stopped the car. The girls looked at each other, then blinked around in astonished wonder.
“What happened?” Megan asked.
Jackie was speechless.
There was snow on the ground, but only two or three inches. There was no sound of wind, no blowing snow, just a few gentle flurries. The whispering sound of the windshield wipers was loud in the sudden silence and Jackie switched them off. They sat there, staring.
Jackie rolled down the window and felt a cool, intoxicating breeze on her face. She looked up into the sky and saw a few stars and a ghostly near-full moon swimming over the top of a distant shadowy mountain.
Megan opened the door and stepped out, without hat or gloves. She turned in a circle, smelling fresh pine, hearing the splashing stream they’d just crossed. It was quiet, a deep satisfying quiet that relaxed her. She took an easy breath and smiled.
“Jackie... it’s beautiful,” she said, as she held out her hand to catch a few random snowflakes.
Jackie stepped out. It was still cold, but not a punishing cold. There was a softness in the air. Megan looked at Jackie, her brows raised in query. She shrugged. Jackie shrugged. It was as though they were suddenly watching the world at a slower movie projector speed.
Jackie saw a glow, just ahead, advancing toward them. She pointed, excited. “Megan, look! A light or something, up ahead.”
Megan turned. “Yes! What is it?”
Through the smoky cloud of fog, two glowing headlights slowly approached.
“It’s a car! Megan, it’s a car. Let’s wave it down. Hurry!”
Framed in the headlights, the girls walked to the front of the car, and waved, using both arms. The car began to slow to a stop.
Megan gave Jackie the thumb’s up. Jackie stayed back, but Megan moved toward the stopped car as the driver’s window rolled half way down. Megan drew up along side and looked in to see an elderly man, with wary, watery eyes peering up at her.
White vapor puffed from her mouth as she spoke. “Hi there. Thank God you came by. We’re lost and we haven’t seen anything or anybody for miles.”
The man didn’t blink. He just stared. He stared at Megan. He stared at Jackie. He stared at their car.
Megan noticed his car. It was old—a very old black car—dusted with snow. She noticed the running board and heavy fenders. It looked like something out of the Bonnie and Clyde movie her father repeatedly watched.
Megan was actually looking at a 1934 Ford Tudor Sedan, two-door body.
“Can you help us?” Megan asked.
“Well, what do you want me to do?” he barked.
“We were trying to get to Portland and we must have missed the turn-off somewhere back.”
“I’ll say you did. You’re a good 30 miles away from it. You’re going in the wrong direction.”
“We haven’t seen a motel or anything. Is there somewhere we can spend the night?”
He kept looking at her strangely, then he stared at Jackie again, and then at their car.
“What is that?”
Megan followed his eyes. “What? Our car?”
“Yeah. What is that?”
“It’s our car.”
He shook his head. “Dang, I ain’t never seen a car like that before. What is it?”
“It’s a Ford. A Ford Fusion Hybrid.”
“A what!?” he asked, pinching up his face and cupping his ear with his hand. “What did you say it was?”
“It’s a Ford. Can you please tell me where the nearest town or motel is?”
He couldn’t pull his eyes from the car. “Ain’t never seen anything like that.”
“Sir, please! We are very tired and very hungry.”
He looked at her again and jerked a thumb behind him. “Holly Grove is about a mile up the road.”
He rolled up his window, threw the car in gear and plodded off. Jackie waved. As he passed the Ford Fusion, his eyes bulged wildly, face blank with shock. He pressed down on the accelerator, hurrying off into the night.
Megan strolled back to Jackie.
“What did he say?” Jackie asked.
“Well, I guess he’s never seen a hybrid before.”
They got back into the car and continued on into the uncertain night, straining every muscle to see the town. Moments later, they came to some railroad tracks, bumped across them and saw a white sign with black letters that read
WELCOME TO HOLLY GROVE VERMONT POP 5,400
About the Author's: Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse
Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse began writing poems and short stories at an early age, and graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s Degree in English Literature. Douglas grew up in a family of musicians, astrologers and avid readers. Some of Elyse Douglas’ novels include: “The Astrologer’s Daughter,” “Wanting Rita,” “The Christmas Diary” and “The Christmas Town.” They currentlyreside in New York City.