Read The Christmas Lamp Online
Authors: Lori Copeland
Also by Lori Copeland
A Case of Bad Taste
A Case of Crooked Letters
A Case of Nosy Neighbors
Child of Grace
Brides of the West Series
Roses Will Bloom Again
Men of the Saddle Series
Belles of Timber Creek Series
Three Times Blessed
One True Love
Monday Morning Faith
Now and Always
The Christmas Lamp
The Christmas Lamp
Copyright © 2009 by Copeland, Inc.
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Mobi Edition October 2009 ISBN: 978-0-310-56068-5
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Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Christmas lamp : a novella / Lori Copeland.
1. Christmas stories. 2. City and town life—Missouri—Fiction. 3. Missouri—Fiction. I. Title.
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Interior design by Christine Orejuela-Winkelman
To my family: Lance, Randy,
Maureen, James, Abi,
Anabelle, Joe, Josh, Rick,
Shelley, Audrey, Russ,
Gage, and Grandma Opal.
Love you forever.Special thanks to Sue
Brower, a woman who has
allowed me to write my passion in
Table of Contents
Roni walked to the break room refrigerator and took out a piece of cheese and a handful of grapes. Bumping the door closed with her hip, she heard it; the telltale sound of a crash, and then lights and ornaments hitting the pavement.
Judy sprang from her chair. “Good grief! This is a record even for Nativity.”
Moving to the window, the women peered out. Roni heaved a sigh of disbelief when she spotted a silver Acura SUV buried in spruce. Tinsel dangled from the headlights.
A man peered out the driver’s side window. Moments later the tall, well-dressed man wearing corduroy slacks and a sports shirt unwound his frame from the driver’s seat and got out of the vehicle.
Closing her eyes, Roni drew a deep breath and announced. “The new consultant is here.”
The two women reached the door simultaneously.
Bounding toward the accident, Roni quickly assessed the situation. The city crew seemed untouched. One or two looked slightly dazed, but the consultant’s expression was more “what hit me” than angry. “Is everybody okay?” Roni called as she approached the chaotic scene.
“I’m fine,” the newcomer said. He glanced at the workers. “Anyone hurt?”
The men shook their heads, eyes scanning the mess. Roni extended a hand. “You must be the new consultant.”
He took the outstretched hand. “Jake Brisco.”
“Roni Elliot. I manage the City Administration Office.” Her gaze assessed the dark-haired consultant, and then moved to the third finger of his right hand. Empty.
Her eyes snapped back. “I am so sorry. Someone should have warned you about the tree.”
Jake brushed spruce needles off his slacks. “Does it always sit in the middle of the intersection?”
“Always,” Roni assured with a smile.
And it always got hit. Nativity wouldn’t be itself without their holiday decorations. And the tree was always first to go up, and the first to come down. Literally. It was hit at least twice every Christmas, and sometimes more.
“Well.” Jake studied his vehicle, hands on his trim hips. “I guess there’s no real harm done.”
“Come inside while they clean the mess off,” Roni invited. “We have fresh coffee.”
“No thanks.” He set to work picking tinsel out of the bumper. “I’m going to check into my hotel room. I’ll be in first thing tomorrow morning.”
Roni glanced at Judy, who was busy assessing the new boss. She glanced at Roni and gave her a thumbs-up.
Was she kidding? The man couldn’t drive! Roni turned back to Brisco, who was now crouched on his hands and knees parting the spruce. “You’re Mary Parson’s grandson?”
“That would be me.” He tossed a handful of boughs aside, grumbling under his breath.
“We heard you were coming.” For the past few weeks that had been the town buzz. The new consultant is coming. Mary Parson’s hotshot grandson. Everything is going to be different. The town will be saved. She assessed the good-looking Superman. Right. He couldn’t miss a twelve-foot spruce sitting in the middle of the intersection.
This man was going to save Nativity from going under?
That evening, Roni locked the office, relieved to have the hectic day behind her. Jake Brisco wasn’t exactly friendly, but then having a spruce hit your fancy car, as Mom used to say, “would sour a body’s disposition.”
The new consultant had appeared to have a sense of humor. Once they separated his car from the tree, he calmly picked spruce needles out of his grill and noted that his decorating was done for the year. Roni was grateful he wasn’t coming into work until morning. There’d be a little breathing space between the incident and getting down to business.
Roni turned to see Dusty Bitterman, who owned the insurance office two doors away, striding toward her. The affable grandfatherly figure flipped her a piece of peppermint candy.
She caught it with both hands. “Thanks, Dusty. You’re my first holiday greeting of the season.”
“It’s the best time of the year. You doing okay this fine day?”
“I’m on my way to see Mary. I understand her grandson blew through town earlier.”
Blew through was correct. Mary Parson lived on the outskirts of Nativity, a woman who rarely joined community activities anymore even though she’d been a founding area resident. Folks said that until she had her first heart attack she’d been involved with everything, but once her husband passed away she’d turned into a recluse. Everyone knew of Mary but most knew little about her. Dusty visited her weekly to see if she needed anything, but even he admitted that she rarely did, and that she preferred her solitude.