Title: Star of Bethlehem (Flowering holiday novella)
Author: Sarah Daltry
Cover: Shoutlines Design
This is a holiday novella-length story that follows Forget Me Not and Lily of the Valley.
“With you, Jack, it was the first time I ever felt real. It was the first time anyone looked at me and saw substance. It was the first time I wanted to make someone see me.”
Jack: New Year’s Eve. I’ve somehow managed to get here, and now I’m wearing a hideous and unreasonably itchy sweater, because I want to impress Lily’s family. I want to do anything for this girl who has made me believe in second chances.
Lily: The house is beautiful and shining with light, but it feels empty. At least until Jack gets here. I know how desperately he wants this – a family, love, a home. If I can be the person who can give it to him, it’s all I need, but I hope I can keep him from seeing how hollow it all really is.
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I take his hand and pull him down beside me on my bed. I feel so complete in his arms, as if nothing can go wrong when he holds me. It’s all the other stuff. The world, people, pressure. Maybe it’s a little fear that things just ended with Derek. That one day, as quickly as I fell for Jack, I also fell out of love with Derek. I don’t have enough experience to know if that’s normal. What if it happens again?
“What? Tell me,” Jack whispers.
“Have you ever felt like your entire life is some surrealist’s joke? That you think you’re in control of it, while really, you’re probably just…”
“A melting clock?” he finishes and laughs. I look at him, disappointed that I can’t explain it, but also relieved that he doesn’t care.
“All the fucking time,” he says. “I know you’re scared. I know I’m scared. But I seem to remember you telling me that I should remember what matters. I made you a promise, princess. Yes, your house intimidates me. Your life intimidates me. Hell, loving you intimidates me. But I’m in this. I’m here. Present. Entirely. I’m looking only forward. And all I see is you.”
“Take the damn book,” I tell him. “I just wanted to show you that I have faith in us. It was a conscious decision to give you something that was a very special gift to me, to tell you that I trust you with it, because I trust you to be there. Long term.”
He takes me in his arms and kisses me. I decide I won’t stop him if he goes further, but he doesn’t. Our bodies crackle with the energy between us, but as much as the sex thrills me, Jack does so much more for my mind than his body could even do. I can’t believe how alive I feel when he’s near me. Perhaps it’s selfish. Perhaps it’s desperate. But I want him here in my life; I want him with me, because I love being this aware.
I speak against his cheek, while his hands slowly explore my body. It’s sensual but not sexual. He’s studying me like a work of art. “I don’t want to fall out of love with you. I thought Derek was all I ever wanted. I don’t want to be in the same place with you a year from now.”
“You won’t be,” he tells me.
“How do you know?”
He kisses along my face, brushing his lips against my cheek, my forehead, my nose, but never reaching my mouth. “I don’t know how. But I do.”
I love that he can put aside his doubts to ease my own. I know Jack’s had so much trouble in his life, and the fact that he can comfort me, when my problems are so petty and stupid in the scheme of things, is one more thing I love so much. “I know I’m shallow. But I don’t want to be, Jack.”
“You’re not shallow. You’re not empty. Anything you think of yourself – it’s crazy. If you want to talk about surreal, it’s the fact that you think you’re less than something. Maybe you didn’t get shit on the same way I did in high school, but clearly, people have underestimated you. They missed out on you. And you have every right to be hurt. But, Lily? No one will ever hurt you again.”
I smile. “Thanks. I’m sorry I’m being so moody. It’s probably hormones or something. I think I’m just frustrated.”
“Yeah?” He laughs. “Well… I mean… I can help you relieve some of that.”
He’s on top of me and I don’t care that it wasn’t exactly what I meant. I don’t care that someone could walk in. Someone probably will walk in, since eventually they’ll come looking, but I don’t care at all. I want to belong to Jack, and I don’t know any other way to do so.
I loved this little novella. I didn't know you could cram so much in such a short little story. The drama is a little tense but this is Jack and Lily we are talking about. They are perfect together. I loved that Derek crashed the party (I won't say anymore). Jack gets to meet Lily's parents in this lovely little read and I couldn't get enough. It was the perfect in between book. I can't wait to pick up the next one and read it!
Trailer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU54lLTu7qk