Sing We Now of Christmas

When Jessica Martin met Johnny Devereaux that December, holiday magic filled the air but their love was no enchantment….he was, without doubt the love of her life and by summer, they were happy newlyweds with all their life and holidays ahead.
But when he failed to return home from a fishing trip on the Fourth of July, Jessica’s world is rocked to the foundation and when the authorities tell her that her husband is missing, presumed dead, she refuses to believe it.
As the months and seasons pass, no one else holds out hope but Jessica believes.
She knows he’ll be home for Christmas no matter what.  Her family calls her crazy, Johnny’s family tries to help her find closure but Jessica’s heart refuses to surrender hope.
When Christmas comes, the truth will come out to shock them all.

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EXCERPT #1 (Sweet):

“How did you know that’s what I was thinking?”
“I know you,” he said, “I don’t know how but I know you, inside.  I may not know yet what your favorite color is,”
“Or what season you love the most,”
“Christmas,” she supplied and he grinned.
“Or if you are seeing someone,”
Jessica smiled at him, feeling a rush of affection for him.  “I am now.”   
Johnny understood; she watched the knowledge of it soften his features and curl his lips into a sweet smile.  “Darlin’, you’re my woman, just like that.  I never saw it coming but now that you’re here, I’m glad.  I’ve wanted someone like you in my life for so long but I never knew your name or what you looked like.  I always kind of figured that my heart would recognize you when you showed up.”
“Did it?” Her voice sounded normal with no hint of the tears that ached within at his tender words.
He released her hands to put his right one in the center of his chest, over his heart.
“Oh, yeah, Jessica Martin, it totally did.”
No guy ever said such romantic things to her.  His words weren’t flowery or fancy but delivered in that Oklahoma twang; she savored each one and filed it away in memory to keep forever.   Before she could think up something to say back, the waitress brought their food and he took her hands in his again, this time to ask a blessing.
After that, hungry, they ate. First, they had the homemade soup, perfect for the cold winter’s night, then they enjoyed the rest of the meal.  Although the food was tasty, the burger juicy, the bacon crisp, and fries just right, Jessica could have dined on oatmeal and been just as happy.   They never stopped talking, their pauses timed to accommodate the other’s answers and by the time they headed back out into the snow-filled night, they both knew the basic life history of the other.
And more important than that they knew how much they loved each other, for now and for always.

EXCERPT #2 (Romantic):

Jessica daydreamed about their very first time together, that night they became intimate.  She’d come home late from her teaching job and found Johnny there, asleep on her couch.  When she went to change clothes, she found that he’d transformed her ordinary bedroom into a lovely bower, a romantic place where anything could happen – and did.
A vase of white, red, and pink roses stood on her dresser, the fragrance of the flowers heavy and sweet in the room. Jar candles sat near the posies on the table beside her bed, even on the headboard.  As they flickered, she caught their scent, a rich gardenia smell she liked, one that reminded her of the classic White Shoulders perfume.  A brand new comforter, soft and fluffy, covered her bed replacing the worn out old discount store navy blue bedspread.  Jessica stroked her hand across the surface, admiring the white comforter where big pink and crimson roses bloomed. Music flowed from her CD boom box, not rock, not country but the pleasant sounds of Mannheim Steamroller.  Impressed by the effort he’d made to create a romantic scene, she smiled.
If he could create this mood, then she could follow his lead.  Jessica opened a dresser drawer and searched.  She rejected the full-length flannel nightgown, the faded and well-worn nightshirt, the silky shorts she often slept in and pulled out the one piece of sexy lingerie she owned with triumph.   The satin baby doll still had the store tags from when she bought it at clearance after Valentine’s Day last year, unable to resist the pretty crimson garment.  She’d wondered who she might wear it for or if she’d ever have the nerve but tonight, inspired by his preparation, she changed into it.   She sprayed on a little Obsession and brushed her hair until it hung smooth past her shoulders.   Inside, she trembled from a volatile combination of nerves and desire but she walked into the living room with a siren’s strut only to find Johnny still asleep.  
She knelt down, noticing the way that his long eyelashes brushed his cheek and how a slight smile teased his lips.   Judging by his even breath he was deep into sleep country but Jessica bent down to kiss his mouth, slow and serious.  He responded before he awoke, his lips sculpting to fit hers and when he opened his eyes, he grinned.
“Hey, Johnny,” she said in the huskiest whisper she could summon.  “It’s bedtime.”
He blinked, still smiling. “Is it?”
“Then come here, honey,” he said, “let me rock you to sleep.”
He sat up and then snagged her with his arms.  He cuddled her on his lap and began to kiss her with gusto.  Johnny tasted her with the same eager zeal she thought he would have for a good steak, the perfect hamburger or maybe a fine wine.   Her appetite equaled his and she returned his kisses.   Her arms locked around his neck to hold tight as his hands roamed, caressing her with both ardor and appreciation.
When he gathered her up and carried her into the bedroom Jessica thought she would swoon with delight.  She loved it, adored being mastered and loved with such intensity.  He put her on the bed as her senses embraced all the sensual triggers around her, the rich aroma of gardenias, the delightful music that evoked emotion, the candlelit ambiance, and his touch against her skin.  Jessica gloried in it and surrendered.
Any lingering restraint, old fears from previous relationships that went sour vanished in the total power of Johnny’s lovemaking.   As they fondled and caressed, kissed and touched, Jessica crossed the last boundary to the total certainty that this man was the love of her life, her significant other, forever.
When they came together like a force of nature, on a grand scale like a cold and warm front intersecting, everything was right.   Their timing brought them home together on a slow, full rush of delight, a pleasure that enveloped and encompassed them both.  In those moments, that eternity that could never last long enough, they became one, united in a way that transcended any words, any laws, any binding.   Nothing could be more full or complete that this and with wonder, with joy, they both knew it well.
After, as they unwound with sweet lethargy they whispered together, words of love and promises that didn’t have to be spoken to be valid.   By the time that the shadows cast by the candles grew tall on the walls, they knew they would have to move but neither had energy or inclination.

EXCERPT #3 (Sensual):

He pulled her tighter against him and his mouth touched hers, light at first and then with strength.  Johnny engulfed her the way that floodwaters take over farmland, consumed her like a hungry man at a banquet and fired her like a tiny ember sparks a candle flame against the night.  His warm lips took hers, caressed them and made her whole again.   In his arms, her mouth on his, Jessica burned with passion, a fever that no one else could cure.   Her head swam with such dizzy delight that when he stumbled they both almost headed down the stairs.   He caught her up in his arms and carried her into the apartment, kicking the door shut behind him with one boot.
In one graceful shrug, he slid out of the snow covered jacket and it dropped to the floor.  Jessica unsnapped his shirt, one slow snap at a time, her hands burrowing beneath it to touch flesh.  He slipped her out of her black jeans and pulled that red sweater over her head, catching her hair and tousling it but she didn’t care.  Before it joined his jean jacket on the carpet, a splash of red beside the blue, she unzipped his jeans and let them slide down to his ankles.  Johnny stepped out of them, removing his briefs in the same motion and he caught her to him, kissing her this time until he robbed her breath.
Her hands roamed over his body, touching bone beneath the flesh, marveling at how lean he was now although he’d not been fat before.  His scars beneath her sensitive fingertips made her want to cry for him but that could wait because the living force that seared them both wouldn’t be denied.
That first time, he took her there, still standing, entering her with a roughness she liked and filling her with his cock.   Jessica bent backward, balanced against the edge of the couch so he could go deeper and when he did, she cried out with the pleasure of it.   He came like a shot, fast and true, and they both shouted together in a wordless cry.  Legs wobbly, knees weak, she leaned against him for support and he snatched her up into his arms, took her to the bedroom.
“More,” he whispered, “I need more.”
She made no protest but writhed against him in need.  That undeniable flame roared again between them, older than time, sweeter than heaven, stronger than death and they coupled, coming together twice more before they lay, legs wrapped together, arms across one another, sated for now.

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Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a full-time romance author.  A native of the old historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri, one time home to both Jesse James and the Pony Express, she now lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozark region.  Her romance novels include Wolfe’s Lady (December 2010 Evernight Publishing), Love Tattoo, (March 2011, Evernight), Love Scars (June 2011, Evernight), Love Never Fails (May 2011, Rebel Ink Press), Kinfolk (July 2011, Champagne Books), The Marriage Cure (Astraea Press, July 2011), Love Scars, July 2011 (Evernight Publishing). Love Tattoo, Love Scars, and Love Knots are the first three volumes of her Love Covenant paranormal romance series. Love Shadows, book four will be out in December.  Just released in October are Witness Protection Program (Rebel Ink Press, A Time to Love (Champagne Books. Coming soon are Sing We Now of Christmas (Rebel Ink Press, December 2011).  Upcoming in 2012 are five (for now!) more Rebel Ink Press titles (A Patient Heart, Miss Good Samaritan, Guy’s Angel, In Love’s Own Time), In the Shadow of War, and a novella, Long Live the King (Champagne Books).  Her work also appears in more than twenty anthologies and she has multiple short story/non-fiction credits.
She is a member of RWA, Missouri Writers Guild, EPIC, and the Ozarks Writers League.
Her work also appears in multiple anthologies. She earned a BA degree in both English and History from Missouri Southern State University as well as an AA Degree in Journalism from Crowder College.  She worked in broadcast media for a decade and also has a background in education.  Her weekly column “Hindsight” appears each week in the Neosho Daily News.
She is married to Roy W. Murphy and the couple has three children, Emily, Megan, and Patrick Murphy.
If Lee Ann – or Lee as many of her writing friends know her – isn’t writing, she’s reading or spending time outdoors.
In Neosho, Missouri, the small town she now calls home, she serves on the local library board, is active in the annual Relay For Life fight against cancer, has worked with the local Arts Council, and is active in her parish.

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Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
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