by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Alexis Fletcher hasn’t had a merry Christmas in five years-not since her mother passed away. Every December she remembers the joy her mother brought to everyone during the holiday season and feels the pain of her absence, even more so now that she and her sister are barely speaking. More than anything, Alexis wishes her family could be whole again.
However, with her wedding fast approaching, Alexis might just be ready to make some holiday memories with a new family of her own. Alexis’s fiancé, Chase Dupont, is everything she ever dreamed of. He’s kind, handsome, fully supportive of Alexis’s career, and the CEO of a large company. But outside forces threaten to derail this happy couple from ever reaching the altar.
As tensions rise, a dramatic event causes Alexis to question everything. Will fate give her what she needs to finally embrace the season that has brought her so much pain? Will Alexis get her wish for a happy holiday? Or will her Christmas prayer go unanswered?
Chapter 1 – A Christmas Prayer
It was Black Friday, and while millions of folks were out chasing some of the most colossal deals of the century, all Alexis wanted was for this whole Christmas season to be over with. There were times when she wished she could feel differently, but ever since her mom had passed away five years ago, she hadn’t wanted anything to do with it. Of course, she did still recognize and mentally rejoice at the beautiful birth of Christ, but when it came to huge family celebrations and festive gatherings, she wanted no parts of them. What she did instead, mostly, was pray that New Year’s Day would come as quickly as possible so she could get on with her life.
Alexis curled her body into a tighter ball, picked up the remote control, and looked toward the flat-screen television on her bedroom wall. It was shortly past one in the afternoon, yet she still lay in her dark mahogany sleigh-style bed with her pajamas on. She just didn’t feel like doing anything, and the fact that almost every news channel she turned to showed massive shopping crowds and footage of customers and workers being trampled, well, that made Alexis want to turn off the TV altogether. As it was, she had already been trying her best to avoid every one of those sappy Hallmark Christmas card commercials, and she’d certainly been staying clear of one of her personal favorites—the Hallmark Channel itself, since they were doing what they did every year: airing those depressing Christmas movies day in and day out, twenty-four seven .
If only her mom were still here, Alexis would be so much happier. Even now, she couldn’t help thinking about how much her mom had loved, loved, loved Christmas. It had been by far her favorite holiday, and she’d adored it so much that she would immediately begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving. She would celebrate in various other ways, too, the entire month of December, including playing some of her favorite Christmas carols, such as “Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger,” and “The First Noel.” Then, on the twenty-fifth, she would host a huge family dinner. She bought gifts for everyone, she baked and cooked and baked and cooked some more, and on Christmas afternoon, she would say, “I almost hate to see the sun go down, because Christmas will be just about over.”
This was how it had always been, and it was because of these kinds of sentiments that Alexis was full of happy childhood memories. She even had fond memories from her adult life…that is, until her mom had passed. Now her heart was consumed only with sadness.
Alexis flipped through more channels, sighing heavily. But then she came upon one of her favorite movies, This Christmas, starring Loretta Devine, Regina King, and Idris Elba. She could tell the movie had been on for a while because Chris Brown was already walking toward the front of the church, preparing to sing…“This Christmas.” Alexis watched and listened, though she wasn’t sure why she tortured herself this way, because not once had she ever watched this scene without breaking into tears. It was such a reminder of her mom and the way she had loved and doted on her family. It also reminded Alexis of how her mom had taught her children exceedingly strong Christian values. She’d raised Alexis and her younger sister, Sabrina, to treat all people the way they wanted to be treated and to keep God and family first in their lives. The two of them had been very blessed to have such a loving, caring, and compassionate mother—and it meant everything.
Alexis watched Chris Brown singing from the depths of his soul and then saw family members standing and walking into the church aisle, embracing one another. It was after this that Alexis’s eyes welled up with tears, and she cried uncontrollably. She missed her mother so tremendously that her chest ached. Then, to make matters worse, the next scene showcased the entire family gathered around the dinner table. They looked as though they couldn’t be happier, and Alexis couldn’t help thinking how this was the way she’d once felt, too.
But as the saying went, that was then and this was now. Her mother was gone, and as far as Alexis was concerned, there wasn’t a single thing or person that could make her feel better about it, not even the people Alexis loved. Paula, her best friend since childhood, had been trying to lift her Christmas spirit for years, and so had Alexis’s fiancé, Chase, for the time he’d known her. But if anything, Alexis seemed to feel sadder with each passing year. In fact, this year she’d begun dreading the whole idea of Christmas as early as September. She wasn’t sure what had set her off, exactly; all she knew was that not long after Labor Day, the thought of Christmas had entered her mind and she’d become depressed. It was as if the simplest anticipation of it all had been enough to ruin Alexis’s day, which was the reason she’d taken that particular afternoon off. This hadn’t been hard to do, since she was self-employed as a motivational speaker and her hours were flexible, but she still hated that mere thoughts of Christmas affected her so gravely.
It also didn’t help that she and her sister, Sabrina, were usually at odds about one thing or another. Alexis and Sabrina had never gotten along the way sisters should. They were just too different, she guessed. But at least when their mom had been alive, they’d worked harder at it and tolerated each other more. Now, Alexis practically had to beg to see her niece, Courtney, and there were times when Sabrina still told her no just to be spiteful. The two of them had a lot of bad history, but that was a whole other story and one Alexis didn’t want to think about because it was far too distressing.
As one thought after another raced through her mind, Alexis wept like a child. She was miserable, and she wished she could sleep for the next week. She knew this wasn’t logical, but she just wanted this awful pain to go away. She wanted to be at peace, and before long, she glanced over at the bottle of amitriptyline on her wooden nightstand. Her doctor had prescribed it for insomnia, and although she only took one ten-milligram pill at bedtime, and sometimes only half a pill, she contemplated taking much more. Or maybe all she needed to do was take two of them, because she knew one woman who took twenty-five milligrams for unexplained abdominal pain and another who took more than that for depression. If Alexis only took twenty milligrams, she wouldn’t be overdoing it, and she also wouldn’t likely wake up until many hours from now—meaning she wouldn’t have to think about the loss of her mom or anything relating to family or Christmas. She would simply be able to sleep away her sadness, and by tomorrow, Black Friday and all the hoopla surrounding it would be over. She was sure the media would continue covering all the shopping stories throughout the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday, but at least the biggest shopping day of the year would have ended, and she’d be one day closer to January 1.
All she had to do was bide her time, and things would return to normal. They had to, because after all, she and Chase were getting married in June, and the last thing she wanted was to be an unhappy bride. She was engaged to the man of her dreams, and she looked forward to becoming Mrs. Chase Dupont III. This was what she kept telling herself, anyway—especially since her future mother-in-law was the most heartless woman she’d ever met. Still, what woman in her right mind wouldn’t be thrilled about marrying a man like Chase? He was gorgeous, well educated, and CEO of a Fortune 500 company called Borg-Freeman Technologies—which, interestingly enough, was the same position his father had held for years before his passing. He’d also placed a five-karat ring on her finger, and he truly loved her. By most people’s standards, Chase was everything a woman could hope for, so Alexis tried to remember that.
But for now, she reached over and picked up her pill bottle, opened it, swallowed two pills with water, and lay back down. She closed her eyes and smiled. In a few moments, she’d be sound asleep and wouldn’t have to think about Christmas at all…and she certainly wouldn’t have to think about Chase’s mother—or the disastrous time she’d had with them yesterday during Thanksgiving dinner. She wouldn’t have a problem in the world, and just knowing that made her feel better already.
( Continued… )
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On Sale Date: October 28, 2014; Novella – Pages: 192
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Meet Kimberla Lawson Roby
New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has published 20 novels which include THE PRODIGAL SON, A HOUSE DIVIDED, THE PERFECT MARRIAGE, THE REVEREND’S WIFE, SECRET OBSESSION, LOVE, HONOR, and BETRAY, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR, A DEEP DARK SECRET, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, ONE IN A MILLION, SIN NO MORE, LOVE & LIES, CHANGING FACES, THE BEST-KEPT SECRET, TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING, A TASTE OF REALITY, IT’S A THIN LINE, CASTING THE FIRST STONE, HERE AND NOW, and her debut title, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, which was originally self-published through her own company, Lenox Press.
Kimberla Lawson Roby has sold more than 2,000,000 copies of her novels, and they have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few, and both BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and CASTING THE FIRST STONE were #1 Blackboard bestsellers for four consecutive months in both 1997 and 2000. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.
Kimberla is a 2013 NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the recipient of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Author of the Year – Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the 2014 Literary Excellence Award from Black Pearls Magazine, the recipient of the 2014 AAMBC Award for Female Author of the Year, the recipient of the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for CASTING THE FIRST STONE, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, and in 2001, Kimberla was inducted into the Rock Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame (Rockford, IL).
Each of Kimberla’s novels deal with very real issues, including corruption within the church, drug addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, social status, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness, care-giving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, and overweight issues to name a few.
Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her 21st title, A CHRISTMAS PRAYER will release onOctober 28, 2014.