This holiday trio contains three stories featuring beloved characters from the Sweetwater Canyon series.
Thanks for Love – A Thanksgiving Novella
Is faith and forgiveness enough to make a family of four survive and thrive?
After Sarah's horrific ordeal with Amanda, all she wanted was to be in Tom's arms forever. But now she's not sure she is the best person to bring this family together.
When it looks like the wedding is off, Connor and Grady put together a plan to get the family they've always wanted. A Thanksgiving Day wedding, with all of Broken Bow in attendance is in jeopardy. Can the boys get the bride to show up?
Christmas Courage – A Christmas Novella
A week before Christmas, Kat's father turns up on their doorstep and wants to be a part of her life. As far as Theresa is concerned, when Doug walked out fifteen years ago, leaving her with a two-year-old child and a mountain of debt, he forfeited all claims to Kat's life. He does not get to waltz in like Santa Claus and re-claim her.
Kat needs more than courage to navigate this Christmas season. She needs a miracle.
The Hogmanay Stranger – A New Year's Novelette
The Sweetwater Canyon musicians celebrate Hogmanay in Scotland with Rachel's father, Gavin Cullen. Since his wife's death eight years ago, Gavin has never been the same. Running the bed and breakfast inn is what has kept him going.
When a young, homeless stranger is given a room in the inn on New Year's Eve, he's met with great caution. Clearing the cobwebs of the past in order to begin anew is a tradition at Hogmanay, but can the Cullen family let go?
Maggie Lynch writing turns ordinary people into special people in the reader's minds. She's published over twenty books and a bunch of short stories and articles. Her series Sweetwater Canyon his highly acclaimed and these three special holiday stories will give you a glimpse of why. A Sweetwater Canyon Holiday Trio will warm your heart during the cold winter days. You can find out more about her work at magielynch.com – Dean Wesley Smith
"You will fall in love with the characters, and you won't want to stop reading until you see how it all ends."– Avid Reader at Amazon (for Thanks for Love)
"The characters are so wonderfully well-defined and true to life with all their complexities, joys and pains. It's a pleasure to see how they interact with each other and the world around them, and somehow deal with everything they face in life."– Mysterious Amazon Reader (for Thanks for Love)
"This novelette is a very touching emotional story that's really a beautiful read– Amazon Customer (The Hogmanay Stranger)
"I wanted to cry for both dreams realized and the rewarding reality of true relationships in this story. This book will bring tears to your eyes and gladness to your heart as Kat learns about her past and gets a look at her future."– Evie Bohn (Christmas Courage)
Tom had a firm hold on each of the boy's hands. Grady on his left and Connor on the right were practically pulling him through the hospital corridor to visit Sarah. Tom still wasn't one hundred percent convinced this was the right thing to do. But he'd learned that Sarah was strong-willed and she was usually right when it came to people's needs.
As they turned the corner toward Sarah's room, Tom stopped and pulled the boys to him. "Grady. Connor. I need to tell you something before we go in."
"What?" They both asked, barely able to stand still.
"We already know everything," Connor, the oldest, said. "We know she's sick, we know not to bounce on the bed and all that stuff. We remember."
"Yeah, we 'member," Grady echoed in his four-year-old voice. "Don't worry. We careful."
"Also, she may look a little funny," Tom said. "Like a little red or black and blue."
Connor's eyes opened wide. "Did she get in a fight? Did someone try to hurt her like Daddy? Did someone try to kill her?"
"No!" Grady said. "No! No one kill Miss Sarah. No!"
This was exactly why Tom had been afraid of telling the boys anything about Sarah's injuries. He'd handled this part badly.
Tom looked up at the voice. There was Sarah, standing in the hall with her walker. A vision in blue. She was covered from head to toe, but she didn't look really hurt. None of her scars showed. How did she do it?
Grady and Connor pulled at him. "Miss Sarah. Miss Sarah," Connor yelled. "Are you okay, Miss Sarah?"
Tom walked toward her, still hanging on tight to stop the boys from rushing her or pushing her over. When they reached her, Grady slipped out of his hand and wrapped his arms around Sarah's legs. "You're not killed, Miss Sarah. I'm glad you're not killed."
Sarah chuckled. "No, Grady, I'm not dead. I'm just recovering from some surgery."
Connor stood close to her but didn't hug her. He stubbed his toe in the ground. "You're not a zombie either."
"Come here, Connor." She wrapped her arm around his small shoulders. "I hope I don't look like a zombie. I tried very hard to look pretty today."
He hugged her tight. Tom stepped behind her for support and whispered in her ear. "You are a miracle, Sarah. How did you manage this?"
She smiled broadly. "The Sweetwater Canyon fairies can do magic." She tried to turn toward her room again, but the boys held tight to her legs.
"Boys?" She patted each of their heads. "I think I'm going to fall over because I've walked too much today. Can we go back in my room, and Mr. Tom can help me get back into bed? Then I can talk and answer all of your questions. Okay?"
They both nodded but didn't let go of her.
"She can't walk with you hugging her," Tom said. "Connor, you're the oldest. You get on that side." He pointed to the right. When Connor moved and took Sarah's right hand, Tom moved to her left and supported her with a firm arm. He felt her sag a little as she took on his support.
"What about me?" Grady asked. "I wanna help, too."
Sarah pointed to the door to her room. "If you would go in there and crawl up on the bed that would help. Make it good and warm so when I get in it I'm not cold. Okay?"
Grady raced away and Tom, Connor, and Sarah slowly moved back into the room. They found Grady snuggled up on the raised head part, and moving his legs back and forth.
"When my feet are cold in bed, this is what I do to make it warm," Grady said. "You try it, Miss Sarah. I think it's warm now."
"Thank you, Grady."
Tom helped Sarah to sit and then slowly raised her legs back onto the bed. He watched her grimace, but she didn't groan as she settled back in.
Sarah put an arm around Grady. "Thank you, it feels just right." She patted the side of the bed. "Connor, would you sit here please and keep the other side of the bed warm?"
Connor eagerly climbed up and she drew him into her side.
"Mr. Tom, would you pull the blanket over my feet and raise the foot of the bed a little?"
Tom complied, then pulled the chair he'd been sleeping in for three nights up to the bed's edge and gently laid a hand on her blanketed thigh. "We're all here now," he said. "One big happy family."
Sarah's eyes sparkled with unshed tears and he stood slightly to embrace her and the two boys. "All here," she echoed. "Thank you."
After only a few seconds, Grady pointed to Sarah's shirt. "Are those stars?"
"Yes," she said. Happy she'd stood up and decided to keep the shirt on. "Where do you think these stars are in the sky?"
"Right over our house?" Grady asked.
"That's exactly right, and when I get home we are going to sit outside and look at the stars and see what kinds of pictures they make. Do you know there is a picture of a warrior, and flying hourse, and a bow and arrow, and many things in the sky?
Grady's eyes widened. "Really? You aren't making this up."
"I know. I know." Connor said. "In school it's called consta…consta…lations."
"That's right," Sarah squeezed him against her side a little more. "Constellations."
Connor shifted a bit away from her. "Miss Sarah, can I ask you something?"
"Of course," she said.
"How come you have to be in the hospital? What happened to you?"
Tom braced himself for what she might say.
"Well, I kind of got caught up in a situation I couldn't control. And things happened that made me hurt. I got some cuts on parts of my body, like when you get rope burns on the tire swing but worse. So, I had to come to the hospital and get all fixed up."
Connor cocked his head to one side. "I don't see any cuts."
"I covered them up pretty good," she said. "But the worst part is I had to have all my hair shaved off."
"Really?" Grady asked. "Does that mean you have cancer?"
"No. I don't have cancer," Sarah replied. "It will start growing back really soon."
Connor swallowed. "Can we see or will it hurt too much."
"I can show you, if you don't think it will scare you."
"I'm brave," Connor said. "I can handle it, but if it's really bad I'm not sure about Grady."
Grady looked up at Sarah. "I'm brave too!"
"Okay. I'm going to take off my scarf. Are you ready?"
Both boys nodded, but their eyes grew wide as they watched her every movement.
Sarah slowly pushed back the scarf from the top of her head. "Do you see the redness there?"
"I see it," Connor looked at her. "Does it hurt real bad?"
"No, it's getting all better," she said.
"I wanna see more," Grady reached toward the scarf himself.
Tom reached out and stayed Grady's hand. "We have to be gentle. If we accidentally scratch her it might hurt."
Sarah pushed the scarf back until her scraped, bald head showed on its own. The two boys just stared.
"Mr. Tom," Grady said. "Please kiss it and make it better. Miss Sarah did that for me once and it really helped. But she can't kiss herself."
Sarah smiled and looked up at Tom. "That's a good idea, Grady. Mr. Tom, will you kiss it and make it better?"
Tom stood and leaned over. First he kissed her forehead. Then he kissed her on top of her head. "Are you feeling better?" he asked.
"Yes, I am," Sarah answered.
"Do it some more," Grady demanded. "It's a really big ouch." He pointed to the side of her head. "Kiss it there." Tom obeyed. Then Grady pointed to the other side. "Kiss it there." Again Tom obeyed.
Then Grady stood up and looked at everything. "I don't know if you have enough kisses, Mr. Tom. This is a lot."
Sarah burst out with laughter. "I think Mr. Tom has enough kisses, but I'm already feeling better so he can stop now."
Connor stared at her, his head down and his lips in a pout like he was about to cry.
She squeezed him toward her and nuzzled the top of his head. "I'm thinking I could get a part in a monster movie, what do you think?"
"I don't know."
"A zombie," Grady shouted and then laughed. "You could be a zombie and walk around like this." He held his arms in front of him and let his tongue hang to one side.
Tom couldn't help but chuckle.
"No, " Connor looked up and clenched his jaw. "Miss Sarah is too pretty for a zombie."
"Well, thank you, Connor," Sarah touched her head to his.
Connor's mouth again turned to a pout and his lips trembled slightly.
"Hmmm…it seems to me like you have some more questions. Is that right?"
"I don't know." Connor stared at the end of the bed.
"You don't know what?" Sarah asked.
"I don't know how this could happen. Who did this to you? Was it the bad man who killed my Daddy? Did he find you and hurt you?"
Tom stared at her and shook his head.
Sarah pulled Connor back into her side. "It was a person who really needed help, but didn't know how to ask for it. And I was there. Do you know how sometimes you get really mad and you really want to hit something?"
"And if you do hit somebody, you feel really bad and can't hardly remember what you were so mad about?"
"That happened once when I was little," Connor said. "I was really mad at Grady because he took one of my toys and I hit him. And he started crying. And then I felt really bad. I was scared, because I didn't want to hurt Grady, I just wanted my toy."
"That's kind of what happened to me," Sarah said. "A person got really mad at me because they couldn't get what they wanted."
"Is…that person going to get mad at me and Grady? Is she__I mean, could that person hurt us too? Connor asked.
"No," Tom said. "That person is in jail and will be there for a very long time."
Connor let out a breath. "Good." Then he relaxed against Sarah again. A few minutes later he heard Grady's little snores against Sarah's other side.
"Mr. Tom?" Connor whispered. "Are you and Miss Sarah going to be our mommy and daddy now? I don't want to go back to school without a mommy and daddy," he said. "I don't think our mommy really wants us anyway."
Tom looked at Sarah again. All he could think about was all the complications. How did she do it? How did she keep moving ahead in faith when everything around her was a storm?
"You know how much we love both of you, right?" Sarah said. "You know we will all be living on the farm again, just like a family. Even if we aren't officially your mommy and daddy, it doesn't change how much we love you."
"We have special permission to be your guardians," Tom continued for her. "Do you know what guardian means?"
"Yes, you explained that before. It means you take care of us." Connor sighed. "Okay. I guess that's okay…but…"
Tom waited for what followed but nothing more came out. "But what? What's really wrong, Connor?"
"But, I don't want to call you Mr. Tom and Miss Sarah anymore." Connor said.
"What do you want to call us?" Sarah asked.
"I can't tell you because I don't think you want me to say it. Also, I don't know how to explain it right."
"We can take our time," Tom said. "You try to explain it and we will see if we can help."
Connor crawled off the bed and stood next to Tom. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. "It's too hard."
"No matter what you say, we love you," Sarah said. "There is nothing you can say that will make us stop loving you. We will always be here for you, Connor."
He paced back and forth near the bed, his lower lip quivering. "If I …" He shook his head. "I can't say it." He paced some more. "I want…" Tom saw his eyes water and Connor swallowed several times. He didn't know what to do. What was so scary for him to ask?
"Connor, come here," Sarah said. "Give me your hand."
Connor did what she asked and she squeezed his hand.
"Now, close your eyes. Remember when I told you that you can tell God anything?"
"I want you to keep your eyes closed and talk to God right now. You can talk out loud or you can talk to him in your mind. You choose. You tell him what is so hard to tell us. Even if you can't explain it, God will understand. Okay?"
Connor nodded again. Then he knelt beside the hospital bed.
"Dear God. Miss Sarah said I could talk to you. I want to believe you can hear me, but I'm not sure. I have a problem and I don't know how to talk to Mr. Tom and Miss Sarah about it." He let out a big breath.
"I know they love me, but they don't really want to be my mommy and daddy. But the problem is I really want Mr. Tom to my daddy now because I don't have a daddy. I know Miss Sarah says he's in heaven now but I don't hear him talking to me and I want a daddy who talks to me. And I love Mr. Tom and I think he could be my daddy who talks to me. But he doesn't want me to call him daddy, and I don't know what to do."
Connor started crying softly. "And I don't know if I love my mommy anymore. I think she hurt my Daddy, but I can't tell anyone because I don't know for sure. But that is what the sheriff thinks even though he didn't tell me. And no one wants to tell me the truth and I don't know what to do."
Connor buried his face into the side of the bed as he sobbed. "I'm only seven." He choked out the words. "I need a daddy and a mommy, but no one really wants me. God, please help me."
"Tom!" Sarah cried softly.
Tom gathered Connor into his arms and climbed onto the side of the bed so that both he and Sarah could hold him.
"God hears you, Connor, whenever you talk to him. I try to talk out my questions too. One of the things Miss Sarah and I have talked about is doing the right thing for you and your brother."
Connor lifted tear filled eyes to Tom. "Really? What did you talk about?"
"Sarah kissed him on the forehead. "We talked about how much we love you and Grady and how we want to take care of you in the best way possible."
"I'll never replace your Dad," Tom said. "He was a great man who loved you very much. But I would be happy to be your second dad, if you'll have me. And I'd be ecstatic if you call me Daddy. I want to be your daddy more than anything in the world."