Ghost of Christmas Past

christmas tree

Here’s a little holiday flash fiction story I wrote for the Sweet Romance Reads Newsletter. (If you haven’t signed up for it yet, you are missing out on great stories and content!)

Enjoy Katie and Troy’s story!

***

“Please, Aunt Katie? Can’t we please stay up just a little longer?” A small hand tugged on Katie Barton’s fingers along with her heartstrings.

Despite the smile threatening to tip the corners of her mouth upward, she shook her head at her five-year-old nephew Michael.

“You little hooligans already talked me into letting you stay up later than you should.” Katie grabbed three-year-old Ross as he tried to run past her into the kitchen. With him tucked under one arm and Michael hanging onto her leg, she took two steps down the hall before the doorbell rang.

“Mommy?” Ross asked as Katie changed direction and hurried to the door.

Katie would give her sister and brother-in-law a long lecture if they cut another date night short. Even if it was two days until Christmas, they deserved an evening to enjoy each other and not worry about their rambunctious children.

She was perfectly capable of caring for the boys, even if her cozy little house currently looked like a war zone. The two little rascals with impish smiles and chocolate-colored eyes had their doting aunt wrapped around their little fingers.

Katie’s jaw dropped as she opened the door and stared into the face of a ghost from Christmas past. Technically, Troy Davis wasn’t from Dickens’ tale, but a heart-wrenching memory she’d never forgotten.

“Katie?” his mellow voice settled around her like a long-awaited caress. “Katie Barton?”

Stunned into silence by his sudden appearance, Katie nodded.

Michael leaned forward, his little face filled with awe at the sight of the tall soldier dressed in fatigues. “Who are you?”

Troy grinned and hunkered down so he didn’t tower over the boy. “I’m one of your mommy’s friends.”

Ross pointed at him. “Where my mommy? Where Daddy?”

Confused, Troy glanced at Katie. From her shared resemblance to the boys, he assumed they must be her kids. Although he thought she was still single, if she had a family, he wouldn’t waste her time.

“They’re on a date, right Aunt Katie?” Michael grabbed Troy’s hand and pulled him inside the house.

“Amy’s boys?” Troy asked as he stepped inside and closed the door behind him, shutting out the cold. Lights twinkled from a Christmas tree and a cozy fire crackled in the fireplace, creating a homey, inviting atmosphere.

Katie nodded again. “Have a seat.”

Before anyone could protest, she rushed down the hall with her nephews, tucking the boys into bed.

Troy lingered by the fireplace mantle, staring into the flames when she returned to the living room.

“I can’t believe you’re here, that you’re really here.” Katie raced across the room and put all the love she’d saved up for the last eight years into her hug.

Surprised by her reaction, Troy wrapped his arms around the girl he’d never forgotten. For the first time since he kissed her goodbye and answered the call of duty, he felt at home.

Katie grinned up at him with the teasing smile he’d seen thousands of times in his dreams. “What are you doing here?” She pulled him down on the couch beside her.

“Hoping for a Christmas miracle.”

At her quizzical look, he placed a kiss to the back of her hand. “I know we broke things off when I was deployed, but I love you, Katie. I’ve never stopped loving you. Do you think we could try again?”

Tears mingled with the love in her eyes as she threw herself into his arms. “There’s nothing I’d like more.”

Troy held her close, determined he’d never let her go again. “Merry Christmas, Katie.”

 

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