Thanks for coming by! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season!
If we haven’t met, I’m Lisa Kessler and I write dark paranormal romance. To help celebrate the season, my award-winning novella NIGHT ANGEL is on sale for .99 through Christmas Day!
I also have a new holiday release out now! ICE MOON is the only book in my Moon Series to take place during the holidays… What more could you ask for than a sexy werewolf for Christmas, right? LOL
This book was such a wild ride to write, and I can’t wait for you to read it!
Jared Ayers works outdoors, embracing a solitary life, hiding from his inner demons. But after so many of his Pack brothers have found their mates, he starts wondering if there might be a mate in his future too. His world turns upside down after he’s hired by the “Ice Queen of Lake Tahoe”. One touch is all it takes. One touch to send the wolf howling within…
A gifted psychic with pyrokinesis, Taryn Goldstone wields fire beyond her control- sometimes with dire consequences. With Jason, she discovers that some flames are meant for passion-and healing. She has enemies who covet her powerful gift, but they are about to learn just how far a wolf will go to protect his mate.
Thanks so much for coming by my blog! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter and check out the free Christmas short story “A Miraculous Burden” below.
A Miraculous Burden – By Lisa Kessler
The cold night wind stung her skin. Tugging her wrap tighter, Tera squinted as she followed the wise-woman through the icy snow flurries. She kept the worn recipe book clutched against her chest. Gradually she made out the shape of the modest cabin, and hustled inside after her mentor.
Ivy went directly to the hearth and stoked the fire, sending sparks dancing up through the crooked chimney. “Close the door, child, before we lose all the heat.”
Tera shoved the heavy oak door closed with one hand, still grasping the book with the other. The wind howled outside, clearly offended by the barrier. Tera carefully placed the book on the butcher block and approached the fire where Ivy was already free of her woolen shawl.
“Will you cook up magic tonight?” Tera removed her wrap without taking her eyes off her mentor.
Ivy turned, and Tera did her best not to fidget under the weight of her gaze. Her lips curved at the corners, exposing well-worn wrinkles from past smiles around her bright green eyes.
“Magic?” She feigned innocence and freed her long hair from her mahogany hair sticks. “Where do you dream up such things?”
Ivy reached up to grab some of the hanging herbs from the ceiling. Tera couldn’t hide her smile. Ivy was an elder in their village, and although streaks of silver wove through her dark hair, and her fair skin bore lines of age, her spirit remained untouched.
Tera would never forget the day Ivy selected her as an apprentice. For years Tera had dreamed of cooking, not only food for her future family, but magic for her village. During the past year, she shadowed the wise-woman’s work, concocting everything from cold remedies, to cakes celebrating new life in their community.
The cycle of seasons passed her by in a blur of activity.
And tomorrow they would celebrate another Feast of Lights. Young ones would play with bunnies made of wool and stuffed with dried straw. Nervous young men would ask girls to dance, and candlelight would remind them of the Star.
Had it been a year already?
The door flew open. Tera jumped before she recognized the hulking figure stepping over the threshold.
“Husband!” Ivy rested her spoon against the rim of her mixing bowl and rushed to embrace him.
His deep laughter filled the small space as he kicked the door closed with his boot and kissed Ivy’s forehead. “Woman, you nearly knocked me back out into the cold.”
The biting wind left his cheeks flushed with color, but it was Ivy’s kiss that made his blue eyes light up.
She took a step back with her hands on her hips. “I did no such thing. If my eagerness to kiss you is a bother, I will control myself next time.”
“That was no complaint, love.” He grinned. “More like a boast.”
She laughed, and returned to her mixing bowl, while Kerst disappeared into the back room. The more Tera got to know both of them, the more she thought they would have made great parents. But after many years together, they never conceived any babes. Tera often wondered if they had shed tears over their childless lot, but if they had, no lingering bitterness gathered within these walls.
Truth be told, she’d never seen a happier couple.
Ivy squinted down at the page, bringing her candle closer. “Child, read the last ingredient for me.”
Tera leaned in. “Nutmeg.” She glanced over at Ivy as she searched the hanging herbs. “Do you want me to get your spectacles?”
Ivy stopped her searching. “Goodness, no.”
“There is no shame in wearing spectacles.”
The wise-woman pulled a dried herb down, and frowned. “It’s not shame that keeps me from the spectacles.”
“What then?” Tera took over mixing while Ivy crushed the herbs into the dough.
Ivy smiled and shook her head. “I am happy with my view of the world.”
“But the blurring–”
She reached over to stop Tera’s hand in the mixing bowl. “When I look at my husband, I see the man who chose me to be his all those years ago. When I spy my reflection in the cooking pot, I see the girl who once dreamed of her first kiss.” Her gaze moved toward the fire. “When I wear the spectacles, the years are blatant. Clear vision. Bah.”
Waving her hand, her warm smile returned. “My spirit is still young. The world changes, age colors our hair and lines our faces, but our souls are still bright. I have no need for spectacles to convince me of anything different. I see the world just fine.”
Kerst came out of the back room wearing his tall black boots. His white beard was in stark contrast to his red jacket.
Tera’s brow furrowed. “Are you leaving us again, Sir?”
His blue eyes cut across the room to his wife. “You did not tell her?”
Ivy rolled balls of dough in her hands. “She came to us just after the Feast of Lights last year, remember?”
His deep throaty laugh filled the room. “Of course I remember. I told you she wanted to cook after she wished for a mixing bowl and wooden spoon.”
“I never told a soul about my wish.” Tera’s jaw went slack. “I burned a letter for de Kerstman…”
He nodded and gave his wife a wink. “Best you tell her everything, love.” He bent to kiss her and straightened with a jolly smile. “Tera, you have been a blessing to my sweet wife. Thank you.”
He stepped to the door. “Keep the fire warm for me, my love.”
Ivy smiled. “Be safe, husband.”
The snow landed lightly in his hair and on his red coat as he went out to his sled. Tera whispered, “Your husband is de Kerstman.”
Ivy nodded with a wistful sigh. “That is what they call him now. And every year the fabric of time stretches for him as more of the world’s children believe.”
“De Kerstman is real.” Tera struggled to remain calm, forcing a slow breath into her lungs.
Ivy nodded. “He is real because we make him so. He lives in all of us.”
“You truly are magic. You both are.”
“The faith and hope of the season is the magic, child. We only try to bring joy to the little ones and keep their hope alive.” She met Tera’s eyes. “And if you are willing, the task will fall to you and your husband one day.”
“To me?” Her head spun at the thought.
“Of course.” A conspiratorial smile warmed Ivy’s features. “No one lives forever, but it is our obligation to keep the stories alive for the children. I will teach you all that I know, and when the time comes, you and your future husband will be ready to carry the most miraculous burden you could ever imagine. The choice is yours.”
Someone pounded on the door before Tera could answer her. She opened the door and her breath caught in her throat when she found Wolter smiling down at her. “Good eve, Tera. May I come inside?”
She stepped aside and closed the door behind him. He tugged his fur cap free, revealing his thick mane of golden hair. He nodded toward Ivy. “Good eve to you.”
“And to you, Wolter,” Ivy replied with a knowing smile.
He wrung his hat in his large hands. “Might I have a word with Tera?”
“Of course.” Ivy went to the hearth, placing cookies in the hot Dutch oven, providing them with a modicum of privacy.
Tera held her breath as he pulled off one glove and took her hand in his. “I have grown fond of your smile and the sound of your laughter.” Her cheeks flushed with heat as he stammered, “If you would honor me, I would like nothing more than to dance with you at the Feast tomorrow.”
Her heart fluttered in her chest. Tera bit her lower lip to keep from blurting out her answer. She glanced over at the fire only to find Ivy, grinning with tears in her eyes. She nodded, gesturing for Tera to answer him.
She looked up at Wolter, trying not to think about the future. Would he be willing to make and deliver toys to the village children? Would he understand the magic?
He lifted her hand and kissed her knuckles. “Say yes,” he whispered.
Tera nodded. “Yes.”
His face lit up with a grin. “Thank you!” He slipped his glove back on and pulled the cap back into place before bending to kiss her cheek and whispering, “Dancing with you at the Feast of Lights was my only wish in my burnt letter to de Kerstman this year.”
Tera couldn’t help but smile.
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