A CHRISTMAS DAY EXTRACT FROM FIERY POSSESSION
On Christmas day, a beaming Glory came into the bedroom with an armful of brightly wrapped presents. “Merry Christmas, Jo.”
“How do you do it,” Jo groaned, as she raised herself up on the pillow. “You can’t have got to bed before one o’clock.”
“Two to be exact,” Glory chortled. “I don’t need no beauty sleep, wouldn’t help if I did. Little fellow awake yet?”
“No, I fed him about four.”
“I liked hearing you laugh again. Here you are, the girls have sent something for both of you. Breakfast in bed.” As Glory wagged a stumpy forefinger in front of her, Jo’s eyes widened at the huge emerald surrounded by diamonds.
“What a beautiful ring, is it new?”
“You haven’t worn it before.”
“I keep it for special occasions.” Glory’s make up was even more heavily applied than usual. “It came from my husband’s family.”
After Jo got dressed, she went for a walk. Francy was still in bed as were the others, all except Rosa who drove herself to early morning mass. She enjoyed walking along the deserted street, with herself and a dog or two as the only moving things.
No word from Luke, especially at Christmas, confirmed her belief that he felt nothing but lust for her. She wouldn’t have minded so much for herself, but to ignore his baby son was unforgivable.
On arrival back at Glory’s, she passed by the private kitchen and sniffed appreciatively at the appetizing smells wafting through the open window. A hot summer day, with the sky so blue it almost hurt the eyes, and the distant mountains shimmering in the hazy heat, yet there would hardly be a household in the whole country not having a traditional English meal. Hot plum pudding, roast turkey or chicken.
She walked into the sitting room where Glory sat nursing Mark. “There you are my darling, have you been a good boy?”
“Of course he has, and he loves his Auntie Glory.” She kissed one plump, baby cheek.
“Sorry for being late. I went for a stroll and forgot the time.”
Benny arrived first. “Howdy, Jo. Howdy, Glory.”
“Merry Christmas, Benny.” He beamed when Jo and Glory both gave him a parcel. Jo had made handkerchiefs for everyone with the recipient’s initials embroidered across one corner.
The Johnsons came next. Jo could hear the smithy’s booming laugh even before he entered the room. “Merry Christmas, everyone.”
“How are you, Mr. Johnson, Jacques, Henri,” Jo greeted them all enthusiastically. “Did you receive some nice presents, boys?”
“Yes, we both got a gun.”
“You’re too young, well, I mean…”
“Never too young to protect yourself, I’ll be teaching my boys how to use them properly. Guns can be a good friend to a man, but unfortunately lethal in some hands,” the smithy said.
The doctor arrived, his thin ascetic face set in its usual anxious lines, but a slight smile tugged at his lips. He was a short, slimly built man who walked with a stoop and he had worry lines crisscrossing his face. His voice sounded cultured, and though he had frequent drinking binges, never allowed himself to become disheveled or untidy. This man had obviously come down in the world.
“Merry Christmas, everyone. How are you feeling, Miss Saunders?”
“Fine, thank you.”
He bore no gifts, except a bottle of good wine that he gave to Glory. Considering the strange mixture of people, they all got on well. The doctor, who had spent several years in
Rome, conversed with Rosa
in her native tongue, much to her delight. As far as Jo knew, neither the
doctor nor smithy ever visited Glory’s bordello except in the line of duty.
Benny gave her a slobbering smile every now and again, his blue eyes wide with happiness. It didn’t take much to make the tiny, dwarf like man happy.
Pumpkin soup was followed by roast turkey and chicken, accompanied by various baked vegetables, and lastly hot, rich plum pudding in brandy sauce. They all gorged themselves until finally Jo couldn’t swallow another morsel.
Katie, for someone so slim, had an enormous appetite. After several glasses of wine, the lilting accent became even more pronounced than usual. The smithy laughed loudly all the time. He slapped the doctor’s back so hard the man almost ended up with his face in the dessert bowl.
“Gawd, I’m enjoying this. Best bloody Christmas in years,” Glory said every now and again. She too had partaken liberally of the wine.
Later in the afternoon, they ate fruit pies with their tea. Benny seemed fascinated with Mark and kept picking up his hands to stare at them, as if he could not quite believe they were so small. Of course, the baby loved all the extra attention thrust upon him.
The doctor even chucked him under the chin several times while Jacques and Henri took turns carting him around. Glory was his favorite, though, not six months old, he gurgled and dribbled happily every time she came near him.
Jo couldn’t believe that Christmas in a bordello would turn out to be one of the happiest she had ever spent.
Fiery PossessionIn colonial
American wild west versus Australian frontier.
Explosive results and tragedy follow Jo Saunders and Luke Campton when they cross the fine line dividing love and hate.