Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Deb Stover

Dear Readers: The story of the Mulligans' first Christmas in Caisleán Dubh has been available free at my website since before the original release of Mulligan Magic. This story takes place between Mulligan Stew and Mulligan Magic, and is told from young Jacob Mulligan's point of view. I have decided to send the story directly to you as a holiday greeting this year as I work on the third book in the series titled Mulligan Secret. Young Jacob has become a teenager in Secret, so I'm starting to get ideas that a future book may very well bring a story of his very own. Perhaps with young Erin...? ☺
May you have a joyous and healthy Christmas and a fabulous New Year. And may all your days include a bit of magic.... Love, Deb

"Mulligan Christmas" by Deb Stover

For the first Christmas Eve in over a century, lights and laughter and love filled Caisleán Dubh. The downstairs and second floor renovations were now complete, and the work on the tower would begin soon. The Mulligans had packed up their belongings and moved into the family quarters in the castle two weeks before Christmas.
Jacob Samuel Mulligan understood miracles. His great-granny had always said, "Life is one big, fat miracle."
Back in Tennessee, he'd always had his mama and great-granny. Then Granny had died and they'd come to live in Ireland with his daddy's family. Mama had fallen in love with and married Uncle Riley, then opened her own restaurant called Mulligan Stew here in the castle. He'd never seen her so happy, and it made his young heart swell and press against his throat.
He wouldn't cry--only babies cried and he was a big boy now. Besides, he had no reason to cry. His mama was the smartest and prettiest mama in the whole world. Last Christmas Eve, they'd celebrated in their trailer with a tiny aluminum tree Granny had bought at the Red Shield Store. Every year for as long as Jacob could remember, Granny had placed her special star on top of that little tree, and every year Mama had cried and hugged Granny and Jacob. She always said she was the luckiest woman in the world to have them in her life.
And this year they were having Christmas in a castle! A real castle! Another big, fat miracle...
Too excited to sleep, Jacob slipped out of his new bedroom with its high ceiling and long windows, and down the curving stone staircase to the main floor. There in front of the massive windows overlooking the sea stood the biggest Christmas tree he'd ever seen. Uncle Riley had left the lights on tonight and they twinkled against the polished marble floor and the windows behind it. Wrapped packages peered out from beneath the branches, tempting and teasing, but Jacob didn't pause to shake or ponder their contents now.
He was a boy with a mission.
Silently, he padded barefoot across the cool floor to gaze up at the lush green branches and sparkling ornaments. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he reached into the pocket of his robe and withdrew an old sock that didn't have a mate. From inside the sock, he withdrew the slightly bent tin star his great-granny had placed on that ugly little tree back in Tennessee every year. He'd tucked it into this sock when he and Mama came to Ireland.
The tree was so beautiful--so perfect. And this crooked star with its tattered tinsel wouldn't look right on it. For weeks, he'd thought about asking permission to put it on the tree, but he'd kept quiet. Now, staring at it here beneath the light of the world's greatest Christmas tree, he hesitated.
"My daddy made this star with a hammer and a piece of tin before I was born, and my mama glued the sparklies to it," Granny had said every year. "It was the only ornament we could afford, and it helps me remember who I am and where I come from."
The wise old woman's words played through Jacob's mind and he gave an emphatic nod. Granny was still part of them, and her star belonged on this tree. He reached upward with it clutched between his thumb and forefinger, wishing he were tall enough to reach the very top.
Then, suddenly, a pair of strong hands gripped him around the waist and hoisted him higher. Unafraid, Jacob hung the star near the top of the tree beside the angel his aunt Maggie and Mamóhad placed there. The lights twinkled beside the star and Jacob could have sworn he heard his great-granny sigh in satisfaction.
Safely on the floor again, Jacob turned to look up into his new daddy's twinkling blue eyes. "Thank you, Uncle Riley."
Uncle Riley grinned his special crooked grin and hugged Jacob. "'Twas already a fine tree, but now it's perfect."
"Perfect," Mama echoed as she knelt in front of Jacob. "I'm so glad you remembered."
A tear rolled down Bridget Mulligan's cheek and Jacob reached out to capture it on the tip of his finger. "Look, it's a heart diamond," he said, remembering all the times Granny had called his little-boy-tears heart diamonds.
Uncle Riley knelt beside her and more heart diamonds rolled down Mama's cheeks. She gathered Jacob and his new daddy into her arms and said, "I'm the luckiest woman in the world to have you both in my life."
Uncle Riley looped his strong arms around Jacob and Mama and said, "'Tis the only place I ever want to be--here with you and Jacob."
"Merry Christmas!" Jacob shouted, his voice echoing off the high, domed ceiling. His parents laughed and hugged him, then they all rose and stepped back to gaze up at the glittering tree with its lonely tin star packed with more than one lifetime of memories.
Great-Granny was right. Life was one big, fat miracle and Jacob couldn't imagine it any other way.
Copyright Deb Stover, All Rights Reserved. For more information, please contact the author via the Internet.

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