Did you get an e-reader for Christmas? Like Australian Stories? ~~ #kindle #Australia #Football #MFRWAuthor

Can their new love survive the scrutiny of the public eye?
After his father’s heart attack, Australian Football League player Tyson Gaspaldi takes his parents on holiday to a small place at the New South Wales coast.
One morning, following a surfing session, he comes across a crying woman on the beach. Everything about her intrigues him, and he can’t walk away. She’s not only sexy and humble, but, as he soon finds out, vulnerable as well.
It’s only been a few months since Katie Cassidy lost her sister in a car accident.
Still overwhelmed by the loss, a chance encounter on the beach with an attractive stranger awakens unexpected emotions inside her. She’s instantly drawn to his caring nature, but also his looks.
However, Tyson’s past quickly catches up with them, causing Katie’s childhood demons to return, and the road to romance becomes anything but smooth.

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Over an hour later, Tyson took the next wave back to shore. He shook the water out of his hair and wiped his face before he walked back towards his car. As he struggled with his surfing board against the gentle breeze, he saw a woman sitting only a few feet away from him. Her body shook from her sobs as she wiped away her tears. It was none of his business, yet he stopped. He disliked the feeling of pity and helplessness creeping up on him. Inhaling a deep breath, he turned and walked towards her.

“Hi there,” he said quietly so as not to startle her.

She quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and turned to him. Shading her eyes with the other hand, she echoed his greeting, “Hi.”

Ty’s gaze went out over the ocean before looking back at her. The thin long-sleeved shirt which hugged her curves nicely, and the cargo pants she wore, gave her a very casual, but sexy look. She smoothed a loose strand of her curly light brown hair behind her ear and met his gaze. Although teary and red, the beautiful green colour of her eyes shone through brightly. He knew he couldn’t walk away. He looked at her for a second or two, noticing the tight lines of her lips. Still, she had a beautiful mouth. Even though her lips were slightly swollen from crying, there was an urge inside him to touch them and find out what they felt or tasted like. He sighed. Not that long ago he’d burnt his hands with a girl in his life and had sworn off the opposite sex, but there was something about the woman in front of him that drew him in and intrigued him. He’d always been a sucker for a lady in distress.

“Are you okay?” he asked, scratching his head.

Her mouth curved into a tentative smile. “Yes, I am.”

He frowned. “Was that sarcasm in response to a stupid question?”

“Yes, it was.”

Damn, she had a gorgeous smile that made his stomach tighten. She didn’t offer more.

After a brief, but silent moment, he offered her his hand. “Tyson.”

She ignored his hand. “Nice meeting you, Tyson.”

He chuckled. “This is where you tell me your name.”

She let out a sigh as she looked away from him. It was a fine line he was walking. He was well aware of it. More than anything else, he wanted to help her. It was in his nature. She was hurt, and it seemed she was alone as well.

“Apologies, I didn’t mean to come on to you. But I’ve never been good with going past a girl who cries.”

“Does that happen often?” she asked as she turned back to him.

“Actually, no.” He laughed. “Only with my little niece.”

A tiny smile appeared on her face. “How old is she?”

Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “My niece? Turned four just a few days ago.”

She stared at him as he waited for her next question. Yet, it never came.

“I’m kinda getting cold here,” he said after a long moment. “Could I invite you for a coffee or tea?”

“No, but thank you for the offer. And thank you for caring.”

“Will you be here again tomorrow?”

A small sigh escaped her lips, and she shrugged slightly. “Not sure.”

He nodded and stood.

“It’s Katie,” she said as she stood as well.

Ty’s heart skipped a beat. “Nice meeting you, Katie.”


Katie stared after Tyson. She couldn’t believe how fast her heart was still beating. It’d been a short conversation, but his smile and his touch had done all sorts of crazy things to her insides. With one final hiccupping sob, she picked up her jacket from the sand and walked across the dunes towards the parking lot. For the first time since Paige’s death, she experienced a sense of joy. It had only been a couple of minutes that she’d talked to Ty, a stranger, but she liked him. Wiping the last tears from her face, she walked to her car, recalling those chocolate brown eyes beneath his black lashes and the straight line of brow. But it’d been his smile that’d been so contagious. His teeth were even and white, in a nice contrast with his olive skin. Anticipation rushed through her as she contemplated returning the next day. In her mind, she imagined touching his body. He’d looked so damn sexy in his wet suit, unzipped down to just below the navel, revealing a muscular chest and powerful shoulders. She’d certainly been attracted to his tall, athletic physique. And she liked the way his dark, damp hair had started to curl slightly around his face.

Katie walked towards her car across the street when she heard her mother’s voice. “Here you are, love.”

Katie turned and smiled. “Mum? What are you doing here?”

Her mother placed her hand on Katie’s shoulder. “Caring for my little girl.”

A smile tugged at Katie’s lips, appreciating her mum’s words. “I needed a little time out, I

“I had a feeling you’d be coming down to the beach,” her mum said before placing a kiss on her daughter’s forehead.

Taking a deep breath, she leaned into her mother’s embrace, enjoying the comfort of a parent. “I miss her so much, Mum,” she said, her voice nearly breaking. The tears streamed down her face once more as her chest tightened again. Grieving was so painful, emotionally and physically. Yet, for the first time since her sister’s death, Katie felt something other than mourning. Something different. Sadness had suffocated all other emotions, but today something had surfaced. She wasn’t sure whether it was good or whether she was ready for it, but she’d never believed there was a timeline to grieving a person.

“We all miss her, darling, but she wouldn’t want us to stop living. Her life’s come to an end, you will need to live your life with twice as much enthusiasm, with four eyes, with two hearts and—”

“Without her,” she finished her mother’s sentence.

Her mother gave a slow nod. “Have you been working this week?”

Katie drew in her lips before she answered. “Yes, I have, but I took today off. Only today.”

“You need to keep this job, love.”

She inhaled deeply. “I know.”

Her job in the administration at the local shopping centre was nothing much on the career ladder, but it paid the rent and the groceries every week. Her boss had been very considerate since her sister’s sudden death, and helped her juggle her time off as well as catching up with her night classes in marketing.

Her mother turned Katie in her arms. “How about a little walk along the beach?”

“I’d like that.”

As they headed towards the dunes, her mum said, “You two loved the beach. Some weekends, you’d snuck out of the house and come here in the early hours. I was always worried, but your dad would say —” She imitated her husband’s deep voice. “They’ll be all right. The girls have the sea in their blood.”

She laughed. “But I always saw that tiny little bit of relief on his face when you two came back. You can’t be too careful near the water.”

Katie joined her mother in her laughter. “We’d watch the boys surf.”

“I liked my idea of you two building little sandcastles better.”

“Mum, we were teenagers.”

Her mother shrugged. “I was in denial. Sue me.”

Side by side, they walked along the shore, both comfortable with the silence, enjoying the fresh breeze off the water.

“I feel close to her when I’m here,” Katie said as they stopped to watch a few dolphins swim past.




~~ "Christmas Under the Snow" From "Kristy's Queer Christmas"


*From "Kristy's Queer Christmas," Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1904.


It was just before Christmas, and Mr. Barnes was starting for the nearest village. The family were out at the door to see him start, and give him the last charges.
"Don't forget the Christmas dinner, papa," said Willie.
'"Specially the chickens for the pie!" put in Nora.
"An' the waisins," piped up little Tot, standing on tiptoe to give papa a good-bye kiss.
"I hate to have you go, George," said Mrs. Barnes anxiously. "It looks to me like a storm."
"Oh, I guess it won't be much," said Mr. Barnes lightly; "and the youngsters must have their Christmas dinner, you know."
"Well," said Mrs. Barnes, "remember this, George: if there is a bad storm don't try to come back. Stay in the village till it is over. We can get along alone for a few days, can't we, Willie?" turning to the boy who was giving the last touches to the harness of old Tim, the horse.
"Oh, yes! Papa, I can take care of mamma," said Willie earnestly.
"And get up the Christmas dinner out of nothing?" asked papa, smiling.
"I don't know," said Willie, hesitating, as he remembered the proposed dinner, in which he felt a deep interest.
"What could you do for the chicken pie?" went on papa with a roguish look in his eye, "or the plum-pudding?"
"Or the waisins?" broke in Tot anxiously.
"Tot has set her heart on the raisins," said papa, tossing the small maiden up higher than his head, and dropping her all laughing on the door-step, "and Tot shall have them sure, if papa can find them in S—. Now good-bye, all! Willie, remember to take care of mamma, and I depend on you to get up a Christmas dinner if I don't get back. Now, wife, don't worry!" were his last words as the faithful old horse started down the road.
Mrs. Barnes turned one more glance to the west, where a low, heavy bank of clouds was slowly rising, and went into the little house to attend to her morning duties.
"Willie," she said, when they were all in the snug little log-cabin in which they lived, "I'm sure there's going to be a storm, and it may be snow. You had better prepare enough wood for two or three days; Nora will help bring it in."
"Me, too!" said grave little Tot.
"Yes, Tot may help too," said mamma.
This simple little home was a busy place, and soon every one was hard at work. It was late in the afternoon before the pile of wood, which had been steadily growing all day, was high enough to satisfy Willie, for now there was no doubt about the coming storm, and it would probably bring snow; no one could guess how much, in that country of heavy storms.
"I wish the village was not so far off, so that papa could get back to-night," said Willie, as he came in with his last load.
Mrs. Barnes glanced out of the window. Broad scattering snowflakes were silently falling; the advance guard, she felt them to be, of a numerous host.
"So do I," she replied anxiously, "or that he did not have to come over that dreadful prairie, where it is so easy to get lost."
"But old Tim knows the way, even in the dark," said Willie proudly. "I believe Tim knows more'n some folks."
"No doubt he does, about the way home," said mamma, "and we won't worry about papa, but have our supper and go to bed. That'll make the time seem short."
The meal was soon eaten and cleared away, the fire carefully covered up on the hearth, and the whole little family quietly in bed. Then the storm, which had been making ready all day, came down upon them in earnest.
The bleak wind howled around the corners, the white flakes by millions and millions came with it, and hurled themselves upon that house. In fact, that poor little cabin alone on the wide prairie seemed to be the object of their sport. They sifted through the cracks in the walls, around the windows, and under the door, and made pretty little drifts on the floor. They piled up against it outside, covered the steps, and then the door, and then the windows, and then the roof, and at last buried it completely out of sight under the soft, white mass.
And all the time the mother and her three children lay snugly covered up in their beds fast asleep, and knew nothing about it.
The night passed away and morning came, but no light broke through the windows of the cabin. Mrs. Barnes woke at the usual time, but finding it still dark and perfectly quiet outside, she concluded that the storm was over, and with a sigh of relief turned over to sleep again. About eight o'clock, however, she could sleep no more, and became wide awake enough to think the darkness strange. At that moment the clock struck, and the truth flashed over her.
Being buried under snow is no uncommon thing on the wide prairies, and since they had wood and cornmeal in plenty, she would not have been much alarmed if her husband had been home. But snow deep enough to bury them must cover up all landmarks, and she knew her husband would not rest till he had found them. To get lost on the trackless prairie was fearfully easy, and to suffer and die almost in sight of home was no unusual thing, and was her one dread in living there.
A few moments she lay quiet in bed, to calm herself and get control of her own anxieties before she spoke to the children.
"Willie," she said at last, "are you awake?"
"Yes, mamma," said Willie; "I've been awake ever so long; isn't it most morning?"
"Willie," said the mother quietly, "we mustn't be frightened, but I think—I'm afraid—we are snowed in."
Willie bounded to his feet and ran to the door. "Don't open it!" said mamma hastily; "the snow may fall in. Light a candle and look out the window."
In a moment the flickering rays of the candle fell upon the window. Willie drew back the curtain. Snow was tightly banked up against it to the top.
"Why, mamma," he exclaimed, "so we are! and how can papa find us? and what shall we do?"
"We must do the best we can," said mamma, in a voice which she tried to make steady, "and trust that it isn't very deep, and that Tim and papa will find us, and dig us out."
By this time the little girls were awake and inclined to be very much frightened, but mamma was calm now, and Willie was brave and hopeful. They all dressed, and Willie started the fire. The smoke refused to rise, but puffed out into the room, and Mrs. Barnes knew that if the chimney were closed they would probably suffocate, if they did not starve or freeze.
The smoke in a few minutes choked them, and, seeing that something must be done, she put the two girls, well wrapped in blankets, into the shed outside the back door, closed the door to keep out the smoke, and then went with Willie to the low attic, where a scuttle door opened onto the roof.
"We must try," she said, "to get it open without letting in too much snow, and see if we can manage to clear the chimney."
"I can reach the chimney from the scuttle with a shovel," said Willie. "I often have with a stick."
After much labour, and several small avalanches of snow, the scuttle was opened far enough for Willie to stand on the top round of the short ladder, and beat a hole through to the light, which was only a foot above. He then shovelled off the top of the chimney, which was ornamented with a big round cushion of snow, and then by beating and shovelling he was able to clear the door, which he opened wide, and Mrs. Barnes came up on the ladder to look out. Dreary indeed was the scene! Nothing but snow as far as the eye could reach, and flakes still falling, though lightly.
The storm was evidently almost over, but the sky was gray and overcast.
They closed the door, went down, and soon had a fire, hoping that the smoke would guide somebody to them.
Breakfast was taken by candle-light, dinner—in time—in the same way, and supper passed with no sound from the outside world.
Many times Willie and mamma went to the scuttle door to see if any one was in sight, but not a shadow broke the broad expanse of white over which toward night the sun shone. Of course there were no signs of the roads, for through so deep snow none could be broken, and until the sun and frost should form a crust on top there was little hope of their being reached.
The second morning broke, and Willie hurried up to his post of lookout the first thing. No person was in sight, but he found a light crust on the snow, and the first thing he noticed was a few half-starved birds trying in vain to pick up something to eat. They looked weak and almost exhausted, and a thought struck Willie.
It was hard to keep up the courage of the little household. Nora had openly lamented that to-night was Christmas Eve, and no Christmas dinner to be had. Tot had grown very tearful about her "waisins," and Mrs. Barnes, though she tried to keep up heart, had become very pale and silent.
Willie, though he felt unbounded faith in papa, and especially in Tim, found it hard to suppress his own complaints when he remembered that Christmas would probably be passed in the same dismal way, with fears for papa added to their own misery.
The wood, too, was getting low, and mamma dared not let the fire go out, as that was the only sign of their existence to anybody; and though she did not speak of it, Willie knew, too, that they had not many candles, and in two days at farthest they would be left in the dark.
The thought that struck Willie pleased him greatly, and he was sure it would cheer up the rest. He made his plans, and went to work to carry them out without saying anything about it.
He brought out of a corner of the attic an old boxtrap he had used in the summer to catch birds and small animals, set it carefully on the snow, and scattered crumbs of corn-bread to attract the birds.
In half an hour he went up again, and found to his delight he had caught bigger game—a poor rabbit which had come from no one knows where over the crust to find food.
This gave Willie a new idea; they could save their Christmas dinner after all; rabbits made very nice pies.
Poor Bunny was quietly laid to rest, and the trap set again. This time another rabbit was caught, perhaps the mate of the first. This was the last of the rabbits, but the next catch was a couple of snowbirds. These Willie carefully placed in a corner of the attic, using the trap for a cage, and giving them plenty of food and water.
When the girls were fast asleep, with tears on their cheeks for the dreadful Christmas they were going to have, Willie told mamma about his plans. Mamma was pale and weak with anxiety, and his news first made her laugh and then cry. But after a few moments given to her long pent-up tears, she felt much better and entered into his plans heartily.
The two captives up in the attic were to be Christmas presents to the girls, and the rabbits were to make the long anticipated pie. As for plum-pudding, of course that couldn't be thought of.
"But don't you think, mamma," said Willie eagerly, "that you could make some sort of a cake out of meal, and wouldn't hickory nuts be good in it? You know I have some left up in the attic, and I might crack them softly up there, and don't you think they would be good?" he concluded anxiously.
"Well, perhaps so," said mamma, anxious to please him and help him in his generous plans. "I can try. If I only had some eggs—but seems to me I have heard that snow beaten into cake would make it light—and there's snow enough, I'm sure," she added with a faint smile, the first Willie had seen for three days.
The smile alone he felt to be a great achievement, and he crept carefully up the ladder, cracked the nuts to the last one, brought them down, and mamma picked the meats out, while he dressed the two rabbits which had come so opportunely to be their Christmas dinner. "Wish you Merry Christmas!" he called out to Nora and Tot when they waked. "See what Santa Claus has brought you!"
Before they had time to remember what a sorry Christmas it was to be, they received their presents, a live bird, for each, a bird that was never to be kept in a cage, but fly about the house till summer came, and then to go away if it wished.
Pets were scarce on the prairie, and the girls were delighted. Nothing papa could have brought them would have given them so much happiness.
They thought no more of the dinner, but hurried to dress themselves and feed the birds, which were quite tame from hunger and weariness. But after a while they saw preparations for dinner, too. Mamma made a crust and lined a deep dish—the chicken pie dish—and then she brought a mysterious something out of the cupboard, all cut up so that it looked as if it might be chicken, and put it in the dish with other things, and then she tucked them all under a thick crust, and set it down in a tin oven before the fire to bake. And that was not all. She got out some more cornmeal, and made a batter, and put in some sugar and something else which she slipped in from a bowl, and which looked in the batter something like raisins; and at the last moment Willie brought her a cup of snow and she hastily beat it into the cake, or pudding, whichever you might call it, while the children laughed at the idea of making a cake out of snow. This went into the same oven and pretty soon it rose up light and showed a beautiful brown crust, while the pie was steaming through little fork holes on top, and sending out most delicious odours.
At the last minute, when the table was set and everything ready to come up, Willie ran up to look out of the scuttle, as he had every hour of daylight since they were buried. In a moment came a wild shout down the ladder.
"They're coming! Hurrah for old Tim!"
Mamma rushed up and looked out, and saw—to be sure—old Tim slowly coming along over the crust, drawing after him a wood sled on which were two men.
"It's papa!" shouted Willie, waving his arms to attract their attention.
"Willie!" came back over the snow in tones of agony. "Is that you? Are all well?"
"All well!" shouted Willie, "and just going to have our Christmas dinner."
"Dinner?" echoed papa, who was now nearer.
"Where is the house, then?"
"Oh, down here!" said Willie, "under the snow; but we're all right, only we mustn't let the plum-pudding spoil."
Looking into the attic, Willie found that mamma had fainted away, and this news brought to her aid papa and the other man, who proved to be a good friend who had come to help.
Tim was tied to the chimney, whose thread of smoke had guided them home, and all went down into the dark room. Mrs. Barnes soon recovered, and while Willie dished up the smoking dinner, stories were told on both sides.
Mr. Barnes had been trying to get through the snow and to find them all the time, but until the last night had made a stiff crust he had been unable to do so. Then Mrs. Barnes told her story, winding up with the account of Willie's Christmas dinner. "And if it hadn't been for his keeping up our hearts I don't know what would have become of us," she said at last.
"Well, my son," said papa, "you did take care of mamma, and get up a dinner out of nothing, sure enough; and now we'll eat the dinner, which I am sure is delicious."
So it proved to be; even the cake, or pudding, which Tot christened snow pudding, was voted very nice, and the hickory nuts as good as raisins. When they had finished, Mr. Barnes brought in his packages, gave Tot and the rest some "sure-enough waisins," and added his Christmas presents to Willie's; but though all were overjoyed, nothing was quite so nice in their eyes as the two live birds.
After dinner the two men and Willie dug out passages from the doors, through the snow, which had wasted a good deal, uncovered the windows, and made a slanting way to his shed for old Tim. Then for two or three days Willie made tunnels and little rooms under the snow, and for two weeks, while the snow lasted, Nora and Tot had fine times in the little snow playhouses.

Original Post




Two little children were sitting by the fire one cold winter's night. All at once they heard a timid knock at the door and one ran to open it.
There, outside in the cold and darkness, stood a child with no shoes upon his feet and clad in thin, ragged garments. He was shivering with cold, and he asked to come in and warm himself.
"Yes, come in," cried both the children. "You shall have our place by the fire. Come in."
They drew the little stranger to their warm seat and shared their supper with him, and gave him their bed, while they slept on a hard bench.
In the night they were awakened by strains of sweet music, and looking out, they saw a band of children in shining garments, approaching the house. They were playing on golden harps and the air was full of melody.
Suddenly the Strange Child stood before them: no longer cold and ragged, but clad in silvery light.
His soft voice said: "I was cold and you took Me in. I was hungry and you fed Me. I was tired and you gave Me your bed. I am the Christ-Child, wandering through the world to bring peace and happiness to all good children. As you have given to Me, so may this tree every year give rich fruit to you."
So saying, He broke a branch from the fir-tree that grew near the door, and He planted it in the ground and disappeared. And the branch grew into a great tree, and every year it bore wonderful fruit for the kind children.

Original Post

Instead of Book Hooks ~~ "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Anderson

The Little Match Girl

by Hans Christian Anderson

Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening-- the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.

One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.

She crept along trembling with cold and hunger--a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!

The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year's Eve; yes, of that she thought.

In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. "Rischt!" how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but--the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when--the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant's house.

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when--the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

"Someone is just dead!" said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

"Grandmother!" cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!" And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were with God.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. "She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

Instead of Tuesday Tales ~~ "The Holy Night" by Selma Lagerlof

"The Holy Night"

by Selma Lagerlof

 There was a man who went out in the dark night to borrow live coals to kindle a fire. He went from hut to hut and knocked. "Dear friends, help me!" said he. "My wife has just given birth to a child, and I must make a fire to warm her and the little one."

But it was way in the night, and all the people were asleep. No one replied.

The man walked and walked. At last he saw the gleam of a fire a long way off. Then he went in that direction and saw that the fire was burning in the open. A lot of sheep were sleeping around the fire, and an old shepherd sat and watched over the flock.

When the man who wanted to borrow fire came up to the sheep, he saw that three big dogs lay asleep at the shepherd's feet. All three awoke when the man approached and opened their great jaws, as though they wanted to bark; but not a sound was heard. The man noticed that the hair on their backs stood up and that their sharp, white teeth glistened in the firelight. They dashed toward him.

He felt that one of them bit at his leg and one at this hand and that one clung to this throat. But their jaws and teeth wouldn't obey them, and the man didn't suffer the least harm.

Now the man wished to go farther, to get what he needed. But the sheep lay back to back and so close to one another that he couldn't pass them. Then the man stepped upon their backs and walked over them and up to the fire. And not one of the animals awoke or moved.

When the man had almost reached the fire, the shepherd looked up. He was a surly old man, who was unfriendly and harsh toward human beings. And when he saw the strange man coming, he seized the long, spiked staff, which he always held in his hand when he tended his flock, and threw it at him. The staff came right toward the man, but, before it reached him, it turned off to one side and whizzed past him, far out in the meadow.

Now the man came up to the shepherd and said to him: "Good man, help me, and lend me a little fire! My wife has just given birth to a child, and I must make a fire to warm her and the little one."

The shepherd would rather have said no, but when he pondered that the dogs couldn't hurt the man, and the sheep had not run from him, and that the staff had not wished to strike him, he was a little afraid, and dared not deny the man that which he asked.

"Take as much as you need!" he said to the man.

But then the fire was nearly burnt out. There were no logs or branches left, only a big heap of live coals, and the stranger had neither spade nor shovel wherein he could carry the red-hot coals.

When the shepherd saw this, he said again: "Take as much as you need!" And he was glad that the man wouldn't be able to take away any coals.

But the man stopped and picked coals from the ashes with his bare hands, and laid them in his mantle. And he didn't burn his hands when he touched them, nor did the coals scorch his mantle; but he carried them away as if they had been nuts or apples.

And when the shepherd, who was such a cruel and hardhearted man, saw all this, he began to wonder to himself. What kind of a night is this, when the dogs do not bite, the sheep are not scared, the staff does not kill, or the fire scorch? He called the stranger back and said to him: "What kind of a night is this? And how does it happen that all things show you compassion?"

Then said the man: "I cannot tell you if you yourself do not see it." And he wished to go his way, that he might soon make a fire and warm his wife and child.

But the shepherd did not wish to lose sight of the man before he had found out what all this might portend. He got up and followed the man till they came to the place where he lived.

Then the shepherd saw the man didn't have so much as a hut to dwell in, but that his wife and babe were lying in a mountain grotto, where there was nothing except the cold and naked stone walls.

But the shepherd thought that perhaps the poor innocent child might freeze to death there in the grotto; and, although he was a hard man, he was touched, and thought he would like to help it. And he loosened the knapsack from his shoulder, took from it a soft white sheepskin, gave it to the strange man, and said that he should let the child sleep on it.

But just as soon as he showed that he, too, could be merciful, his eyes were opened, and he saw what he had not been able to see before, and heard what he could not have heard before.

He saw that all around him stood a ring of little silver-winged angels, and each held a stringed instrument, and all sang in loud tones that tonight the Saviour was born who should redeem the world from its sins.

Then he understood how all things were so happy this night that they didn't want to do anything wrong.

And it was not only around the shepherd that there were angels, but he saw them everywhere. They sat inside the grotto, they sat outside on the mountain, and they flew under the heavens. They came marching in great companies, and, as they passed, they paused and cast a glance at the child.

There was such jubilation and such gladness and songs and play! And all this he saw in the dark night whereas before he could not have made out anything. He was so happy because his eyes had been opened that he fell upon his knees and thanked God.

What that shepherd saw, we might also see, for the angels fly down from heaven every Christmas Eve, if we could only see them.

You must remember this, for it is as true, as true as that I see you and you see me. It is not revealed by the light of lamps or candles, and it does not depend upon sun and moon; but that which is needful is that we have such eyes as can see God's glory.

Snippet Sunday - Little Beginnings 21/12//2014 #Romance #Love #amwriting


Jeri lives in Hobart where she owns a gallery. Since her divorce, many years ago, she's finally ready to "be" with a man again. But finding the right one seems to be harder than she thought.

Jeri heard the noise of Ely packing up his tools and everything inside her tensed. Shaking her head, she let out a sigh. She didn’t know him and couldn’t believe how much he’d occupied her thoughts the last couple of hours.

When the echoes of his steps in the hall brought her back from her thoughts, she stood and walked towards the door, hoping she didn’t make a fool of herself.

“I’m sorry, Ely.”

He stopped, and then shrugged. “No probs. You don’t need–”

Jeri shook her head. “It’s not that.” She let out a long breath. “By any chance, were you supposed to meet someone at the Main Street Restaurant?”

The change of expression on his face said it all. The smile disappeared and was replaced by a look of anguish.


She nodded. “Agree.”


Thank you all for your support and kind comments.
 I do appreciate each single one of them!

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May I introduce: Helen Pollard "Warm Hearts in Winter"


Warm Hearts in Winter
by Helen Pollard

We're finally enjoying our Summer at this end of the world, reading "Warm Hearts of Winter" would a nice change in the daily routine. Please welcome Helen Pollard, a fellow Astraea Press author who's become a good friend over the last few months.

1 - I love the blurb. Tell us how you came up with the idea for "Warm Hearts in Winter"

When I was young, my family visited the village of Haworth in Yorkshire (home of the Bronte sisters) every year near Christmas. On the drive, I would watch the passing scenery and wonder who lived in those old stone houses looking out over the beautifully wild landscape. That childhood imagination eventually came up with Jack, a widowed novelist who uses his old stone house as a retreat for solitude, writing, and nursing his broken heart - until temporary personal assistant Abby comes along …

The fantasy of being cozied up with a handsome hunk while the wind howls outside, and long evenings by a log fire with nothing to do except get to know each other … Mmmm. How could I not want to write about that?

2 - When you're not writing, you love to read. What's on top of your tbr list and what is your favourite book and why?

I've been reading a lot of romance lately – naturally - so although I have a couple of fellow Astraea Press authors' books at the top of the Kindle pile which I'm very much looking forward to, I also fancy something different – maybe a thriller. I don't read them too often and I'm not keen on anything too gory, but I like the pace of Harlen Coben or Michael Connelly, so I think one of those will be next.

As for my favourite book, it's hard to pick just one, but I think it would be The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger. It made a huge impression on me in my mid-teens. We had to read it in school and not all my friends enjoyed it, but I really got Holden Caulfield. I read it in the early-eighties and had no idea it had been written thirty years before until I was nearly at the end of the book.

3 - Tell us a little bit about your current project.

I've just finished a romance set in northern Portugal. It took a lot longer than I thought it would because I got caught up in the release of Warm Hearts in Winter and all that went with it, so my writing went by the wayside for a few months. I finally set myself a tough deadline for finishing it, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

It's another contemporary romance but the characters, setting and feel of it are very different to my last book, and I enjoyed the contrast. I have my next project vaguely plotted in my head, but I'm not allowing myself to start it until after Christmas- I thought it might be nice to reacquaint myself with my family for a while!


Forced by circumstance into the world of temping, when Abby Davis accepts an assignment in the wilds of Yorkshire as personal assistant to a widowed novelist, she assumes he is an ageing recluse.

Thirty-something Jack Blane is anything but. Still struggling to get his life and writing career back on track three years after his wife’s death, Jack isn’t ready for a breath of fresh air like Abby.

Snowed in at his winter retreat on the moors, as the weeks go by and their working relationship becomes friendship and maybe more, Abby must rethink her policy of never getting involved with someone at work … and Jack must decide whether he is willing to risk the pain of love a second time.


Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She firmly believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor - to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love ... and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers. They share space with a Jekyll and Hyde cat that alternates between being obsessively affectionate and viciously psychotic. Antiseptic cream is always close at hand.

When Helen’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.



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 Abby chewed her lip in anxious concentration as she peered through the windscreen, her fingers gripping the steering wheel so hard her knuckles were white. The narrow country road would be hard to negotiate at the best of times, but in the dark and the snow it was almost impossible. Despite her slow speed, the full beam from her headlights barely showed a bend until she was almost upon it — but since there was nowhere to turn around, all she could do was grit her teeth, stay calm and fervently hope her satnav didn't lead her down a sheep track or into a swollen river.

She allowed herself a soft curse at the weather and directed another at Casey while she was at it. It was all her fault this was happening. No, that wasn't true. Her friend was only trying to help, and it was because of their friendship that Abby had been foolish enough to accept this assignment. That and the fact she'd had little choice in the matter. Her recent bad luck — if that was what you could call it — hadn't allowed her the luxury of choice. She needed a job. Her best friend managed a temping agency. A job came up. Abby had exactly ten minutes to decide whether to accept the post of personal assistant to some thriller writer she'd never heard of. Casey had heard of him and recommended she did. Actually, she reminded her she was in no position to refuse. It would be a challenge, Casey said. Unusual, Casey said. Abby trusted her and accepted.

And now look. Desperate to set off before the weather deteriorated, she'd packed in such a hurry she'd probably forgotten half of what she needed, and she'd been driving for two hours through conditions that only got worse by the minute. She wasn't sure her ageing car could take much more. The wipers were clogged with the thick snowflakes that swirled across the windscreen, reducing visibility to virtually nothing. She had no idea what she would do if something came in the opposite direction — although she was so far out in the middle of nowhere she doubted there was another soul around. That is, apart from Jack Blane — her new boss for the next few weeks — who in his wisdom had chosen to write his latest novel miles from civilization on the bleak Yorkshire moors in the worst winter weather for years. Abby had heard writers liked solitude, but this was ridiculous!

Just as she was beginning to think this whole thing must be a bad dream, her satnav archly informed her she was nearly there. Abby slowed her car to a crawl, peering over the steering wheel like an old lady who'd forgotten her glasses.

"Nearly where?" she asked the machine's know-it-all voice.

A dark shape loomed at the side of the road, and she screeched to a halt. Not a bright move. The car skidded nearly full circle, and Abby had to fight both the wheel and her own panic to regain control. Her heart thudding, she opened the driver's window and stuck her head out. A house of forbidding dark stone, dusted liberally with snow, stood silhouetted against the grey sky. Abby glared at her satnav and back at the house. Well, this must be it. There was certainly nowhere else in sight.

"Great. Out of the frying pan and straight onto the set of Wuthering Heights," she muttered.

Get hooked on "Love Will Find You" - #MFRWHooks #romance #Football


Welcome to another MFRWHook!


"Love Will Find You" is set in Australia, a small coastal town in
 New South Wales as well as in Melbourne.

I hope you get hooked by this Snippet
After his father’s heart attack, Australian Football League player Tyson Gaspaldi takes his parents on holiday to a small place at the New South Wales coast.
One morning, following a surfing session, he comes across a crying woman on the beach. Everything about her intrigues him, and he can’t walk away. She’s not only sexy and humble, but, as he soon finds out, vulnerable as well.
It’s only been a few months since Katie Cassidy lost her sister in a car accident.
Still overwhelmed by the loss, a chance encounter on the beach with an attractive stranger awakens unexpected emotions inside her. She’s instantly drawn to his caring nature, but also his looks.
However, Tyson’s past quickly catches up with them, causing Katie’s childhood demons to return, and the road to romance becomes anything but smooth.
Today's hook :-)
“I still can’t believe he played me so perfectly. He really acted like he cared. And the thing is, he could’ve had any woman closer to Melbourne. I mean, didn’t you see the photo of his ex-girlfriend? This is an eight-hour drive for sex. It doesn’t make sense, Teagan.”
When her friend didn’t respond, Katie turned to look at her. She seemed in deep thought, but finally replied, “I agree.”
“Did you see his picture in the paper? I mean, holy smokes, Teagan, any sane woman would nibble on him.”
Teagan laughed. “I’m getting all hot just listening to you.”
Katie joined her friend’s laugh, but pushed her on the shoulder. “Go away. You’re plain dirty!”
There was a moment of silence as they both sipped at their drinks before Teagan said, “What do you mean by ex-girlfriend?”
“You said I should have a look at the photo of his ex-girlfriend,” Teagan clarified.
“The one in the newspaper.”
“That’s his ex? This whole scenario is getting really weird. I should read the article.”

4 Stars:
I really enjoyed this book. The main characters popped off the pages right from the start and the author sprinkled a fun and quirky set of secondary characters throughout.  
4 Stars: 
If you’re looking for a character-led romantic read with realistic emotion, then I can definitely recommend Love Will Find You.