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It’s a Wonderful Holiday
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A charming festive novella from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin.
A workaholic finds just the right Christmas magic to remind him about the most important thing in life . . .
Gwen and Rory are in the midst of a divorce which neither of them really wants.
Will Rory and Gwen get a second chance to save their marriage and bring love back into their family?
It’s a Wonderful Holiday is a reimagining of Frank Capra’s Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life.
*Originally published in the Christmas With You anthology
Why readers love It’s A Wonderful Holiday:
‘Thank you, Heidi McLaughlin, for this beautiful story’
‘Heidi’s words sucked me in from the beginning and didn’t let go . . . I loved this book’
‘A modern twist to an old classic . . . there is absolutely nothing not to love about this’
‘I loved this version of It’s a Wonderful Life!’
‘Heidi McLaughlin writes stories like no other author. Reading her books is like coming home and It’s a Wonderful Holiday is no exception’
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The mid-afternoon holiday shoppers walk by the large picture window of my office. Some turn and look at the window display my coworkers put up, while others huddle into their thick winter coats to ward off the random gusts of wind. The blowing snow, which piles up on the window ledge like a quintessential painting from Norman Rockwell, gives the town of Friendship a classic New England feel.
Like most storefronts in town, the Bank & Trust building has large picture windows that look out onto the town square. Too often these days, I find myself spending time staring out, watching the world go by while I sit behind this desk not concentrating on my job.
My mind is on my family or lack thereof. My wife wants a divorce. She wants to end our marriage. Dissolve our partnership. Make us single parents to our daughter, Ruby. It doesn’t matter how many ways I say it, each one hurts worse than the previous one. I’m at fault. However, accepting responsibility doesn’t negate the fact that I’ve missed one too many dinners and important school events, forgetting to pick up Ruby when Gwen couldn’t, which as a parent, is the worst feeling ever. Each time I had the same excuse—work.
I should’ve known something was amiss, but stress has a funny way of masking what’s right in front of you. The cold shoulder, the clipped responses, the plans that didn’t include me, the nights where my wife didn’t wait up—were all signs I should’ve seen. Our quiet conversations turned into arguing, which resulted in each of us saying things we never meant to say. I told her maybe she could get a job and stop volunteering at school all the time; if she helped out I wouldn’t have to cover the shopping trips to Boston or every after-school activity under the sun. I asked her what she wanted me to do, how she wanted me to fix the situation—us, our family. I demanded she tell me what to do.
It’s been two months since she asked me to sleep on the couch and subsequently leave home. This was to be our forever home, the one where I poured my blood, sweat, and a few tears into remodeling it to her perfection, where we’d raise a handful of children and welcome our grandchildren as they chased each other on our wraparound porch. After my promotion at the bank, I hired contractors to finish the jobs I started. Doing so made sense. It meant I’d have more time with Gwen and Ruby on the weekends, except work consumed those days, too, and I let it.
A family needs to come first. To me, I thought that meant I work harder, longer hours to provide for my family. Sure, I would miss meeting Ruby’s parent-teacher meeting or being a part of the school’s yearly carnival, the book fair, and the end-of-year celebration, but the two most important women in my life would have the best of everything. I was wrong.
My phone rings, pulling me away from my thoughts. I glance quickly at the caller identification and groan. “Rory Sutton,” I say into the receiver while keeping my eyes focused on the world outside.
“How’s my investment?” My insides go cold as the rough voice of Jerry Gence barks into my ear, leaving me no choice but to return to work. Quickly, I tap a few keys on my keyboard to bring up his account. Jerry’s my number one client, my meal ticket so to speak, and probably the catalyst for my divorce.
“Smooth sailing, Jerry.” He calls every day with the same question and, more often than not, gets the same answer.
“Where’s my money?”
“The Alibaba Group. It’s the Asian version of Amazon. Their stock is doing very well, and I’m confident your portfolio will increase in no time. Of course, you’re still widely invested in other stocks, bonds, and annuities.” Same conversation we had yesterday and the day before, and likely the same one we’ll have on Monday.
“Perfect.” In my head, I imagine him sitting in a wing-backed red leather chair with a black silk robe on, rubbing his hands together as if he’s the mastermind behind some elaborate plot to take over the world.
“The misses wants to know if we’ll be seeing you and your wife for our annual Christmas party?”
Sighing, I turn to stare out the window, each time hoping to catch a glimpse of Gwen coming out of a store, parking her car, or even walking down the street. I haven’t seen her since I moved out. This isn’t my doing or anything I agree with, but Gwen thought it would be best that we use my mother as a go-between for Ruby. I hate it. I tried to fight it, but seeing Gwen cry isn’t something that sits well with me so I agreed.