It’s Black Friday and Sydney Logan is celebrating by putting her collection of short stories on sale!! Grab Once Upon a December for .99 now!! And check out the excerpts from each short story!
Exclusive Excerpt: Excerpt from “What Child Is This?”
Please come home for Christmas this year? I don’t bother replying to my sister’s text. She knows I’m not coming home. I just power off my phone and stuff it back into my jacket. With a tired sigh, I lean back, close my eyes, and find myself doing the one thing I try never to do. I think about the mess I’ve made of my life. Ten years ago, I’d been an eighteen-year-old living in Paisley Springs, Tennessee—a tiny, rural town about two hours north of Nashville. Ten years ago, I’d been a popular athlete with dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. Ten years ago, I’d been the golden child of Dr. Benjamin and Olivia Fisher. Ten years ago, I’d been a boy in love. I still am. Life is full of highways, and some are just too long when you’re trying to find your way home. In my case, some forgotten roads completely disappear. Time erases them, to the point that you begin to wonder if they ever really existed in the first place. But they did. I know they did. I close my eyes and try to ignore the image that flickers behind my eyelids. In my mind, Emma Hayes is still eighteen years old. With her long red hair and deep green eyes, she’d always looked at me as if I was her dream come true. And I was, until I ripped those dreams away. We were together for more than a year, and it had been the happiest time of my life. But being crazy in love makes you do stupid things. Careless things. And then things happen that you never imagined would happen to you.
“Mistletoe Magic” “Doing some last-minute shopping?” Ethan asked. Melanie blinked rapidly before nodding. “I am,” she replied stiffly. “You?” He lifted the gold bag, giving it a little shake. She nodded. “For someone special?” “For my wife. You?” “My husb—” Her reply was cut short when the lights dimmed, and the elevator lurched to a stop. “Fantastic,” Melanie mumbled. The emergency lights flickered on, and Ethan pushed the alarm button before grabbing the elevator’s phone. Melanie listened intently as he barked orders to someone before slamming down the receiver. “The entire block is in the dark,” Ethan grumbled. He removed his jacket before settling himself on the floor. “What are you doing?” “Getting comfortable,” Ethan said. “The guy said it might be a while.” Melanie glanced down at her silk dress. “I’m not sitting on this dirty floor.” Ethan shrugged. “Suit yourself.” Melanie eyed his jacket. “Speaking of suits, isn’t that Armani?” “I have no idea which expensive name is stitched on the label.” She smirked. “But you know it’s expensive.” “There isn’t a suit in my closet that didn’t cost a fortune. My wife insists upon it.” “Maybe that’s because your wife has good taste.” “Maybe that’s because my wife is too hung-up on labels.” Ethan loosened his tie and sighed tiredly. “Just sit down. I hate enclosed spaces, and you’re making me nervous.” A stubborn Melanie remained on her feet, but the four-inch heels of her favorite boots weren’t the most comfortable, and after a few minutes, she finally relented and removed her coat. It was far less expensive than the dress, after all. She placed it on the floor before slowly sitting down. “See? Isn’t that better?” Melanie sighed loudly. “One of us should probably conserve our cell battery,” Ethan suggested, pulling his phone out of his pocket. “My Blackberry has a full charge, so I don’t mind keeping mine on if you’d like to save yours.” With a nod, Melanie reached into her bag and turned off her iPhone. “You don’t want to text someone first?” Ethan asked. “Your husband might worry if you come home late.” Melanie somehow resisted the urge to laugh. “No one worries about me,” she said. A brief look passed between them before they both quickly looked away.
“The Little Drummer Boy” Rum pum pum pum. It’s faint, but it’s there. A quiet, rhythmic beat that blends into the night. How this old man heard the sound is beyond me. “You hear it, don’t you?” With a nod, I look around, hoping to find the source of the sound. The man points toward the coffee shop’s covered alleyway. “Back there,” he says. The carolers begin their rendition of “O Holy Night,” and once again, I hear the “rum pum pum pum” coming from the darkness. Intrigued, I step away from the old man and walk slowly toward the alley. Each step brings me closer to the beat, until finally, I see a little boy, nestled in the corner. His only light comes from a lantern, and a snare drum rests in his lap. The drum is scarred and the strap is frayed, but it’s obviously his most prized possession. Probably his only possession. Does he live here? In this filthy alley? And where are his parents? “Shall I play for you?” His voice is just a whisper. His clothes are dirty and ragged, and the faded blue jacket he wears is about three sizes too big. “I heard you playing,” I tell him, keeping my voice soft and light. The last thing I want to do is scare the kid. “You’re very good. Are you alone?” He nods. “Where are your parents?” His face contorts in pain, and my stomach lurches. He can’t be more than five years old. Maybe six. “Shall I play for you?” he asks again. A little stronger this time. A little more determined. Because I don’t know what else to do, I nod. The covered alleyway has thankfully kept most of the snow away, so I find a flattened section of shredded cardboard and sit down. I don’t think about the fact that I’m probably ruining my thousand-dollar suit. I just sit and listen. The boy’s sticks pound the head of the drum. Rum pum pum pum. Rum pum pum pum. Each rhythmic thump pierces my soul, and when he comes to the end of his song, I reach inside my jacket for my wallet. “No, sir,” he says softly. “I don't need your money.” It’s hard not to laugh. The kid is surrounded by dumpsters and living in a cardboard box. If anyone needs my money, it’s this child. “What do you need?” “Just food.” “I can pay you with food?” The boy nods vigorously, and I notice his eyes are suddenly a little brighter. The poor guy is probably starving and could definitely use a bath. Dirt cakes his face, but he has the biggest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. “Why don't you come home with me?” I hear myself say. “My wife loves to cook.” He shakes his head. “I can't leave. My mom told me to stay here. I have to stay here.” “How old are you?” “I'm six, sir.” “Do you have a name?” “My name’s Luke.” “Well, Luke, my name is Justin Banks, and it's cold out here. It's going to keep snowing.” “Yes, sir,” he whispers, his voice trembling. “I could take you home with me for a little while. You could take a bath and eat some dinner with us.” At the mention of a bath, he smiles. “And then we can try to find your mom and dad.” The little boy bows his head, and when he looks up at me again, the light in his eyes is long gone. “My mom told me to stay here.” I close my eyes in frustration. I can talk a judge and jury into almost anything. Have I really met my match in a six-year-old living in a cardboard box? Maybe so. But I have a secret weapon.