Melody has lost her song. When her father dies suddenly on Christmas Eve, Melody loses all interest in music. Now, two years later, she’s just trying to get through the holidays. When a chance encounter leads to a friendship with a single dad, Melody begins to hear the music again. Will a touch of Christmas magic also lead to love?
Targeted Age Group:: all audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My father was a musician, and even though it's been five years since he unexpectedly passed away, I wanted to write something to express how I still feel whenever I hear a song we used to sing together. Christmas is by far my favorite time of year, so incorporating these two themes together just made sense. I think people will really enjoy reading Melody's heartwarming story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Melody came to me after glimpsing the cover art. How would you feel if your name was Melody but you no longer had any interest in music because of the loss of a loved one? Reid is a great guy looking for a second chance at love, someone who will appreciate him. And Michael, his son, was inspired by a former kindergarten student of mine.
Melody Murphy slid her way between boxes and antique furniture, careful not to bump or jostle anything as she made her way down the hallway to the attic door. The mess in the hallway was substantial, and even though she’d made it through about half of the collectibles and other treasures her father had stored in the extra bedrooms on the second floor of her parent’s Queen Anne Revival home, if she didn’t actually start moving them out of the hall, down the stairs, and to the antique shop, none of her hard work would be of any use.
“Not today,” she said with a small smile as she finally reached the thick door at the end of the hallway. She nudged a nineteenth century school desk back with the toe of her slipper as she pulled the door open with a creak and waited for the waft of must and mildew to pass her by before she flipped the light switch at the bottom of the stairs. “Ah, the smell of memories,” she whispered, a phrase she’d heard her father say dozens of times, and pulling the door closed behind her, she made her way up the steep staircase.
Sunlight filtered through the small window on the other side of the large room, though with so many boxes and stacks of decorations and other holiday themed collectibles, it would still have been difficult to see without the two single light bulbs that hung unadorned from the roof support beams that ran above her head. This antique space sat above the parlor and living area downstairs, so in theory, it should have been plenty big enough to store even more of her father’s treasures, but he insisted that only Christmas decorations and related items be stored here. This was his sacred collection, not to be interspersed among the pieces that would eventually find themselves in the antique store he owned in downtown Charles Town.
“Had owned,” Melody mumbled, stopping to wipe a thin layer of dust from a box marked, “Lights.” Even though it had been nearly two years since her father had passed away, there wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t miss him. The holidays were especially difficult, but there was one thing he had insisted she promise him, years ago, when she was still a little girl small enough to cuddle up on his lap. “Never forget the magic of Christmas,” she repeated, and even though the anniversary of his death had stolen a bit of the splendor, she intended to focus on the happy times when it came to celebrating her father’s favorite time of the year. She’d leave the regret and disassociation to other areas of her life.
Melody carefully looked over the stacks of cardboard boxes, attempting to narrow down exactly what she would pull from the attic today and what might wait until closer to Christmas. One thing her father always insisted on was beginning to decorate on December 1. He said, “That’s when the magic happens,” and even though others might put up their tree the day after Thanksgiving, and some might wait until Christmas Eve, in the Murphy household, decorations began to appear on the mantels and sideboards precisely on the first day of December. That had been the case for the first twenty-four years of Melody’s life, and this year wouldn’t be any different.
She decided to start with her father’s Santa collection—part of it anyway—and finding the box that had his favorites in it, she unwedged it from between a box of snowmen and an oversized foam candy cane he’d liked to prop by the main fireplace downstairs. She tested the box to make sure it wasn’t too heavy and then carefully made her way down the stairs. The weight was manageable; it was the bulky size that made it awkward, but with all of her recent antique hauling, shifting, moving, and redistributing, she’d managed to find some tricks to keeping herself balanced while carrying hard-to-manage loads.
Fumbling for the door knob, she finally got it to open and turned the box so that it was out in the hallway. She stepped out and looked around for a place to set it down so she could secure the door and finally ended up using the school desk to prop it up on as she held it in place with her hip, afraid the slanted surface might result in a spill of Santas. She flipped the light switch off and pushed the door closed, but the latch didn’t click. “Old house. Old door. Why does nothing work?” she muttered to herself, giving it another try. Still, the door refused to close, and as Melody jiggled the handle, there was a popping sound, and before she knew it, she was holding the knob in her hand. A loud clank on the other side of the door let her know the other half was now resting at the foot of the stairs.
“Seriously?” she asked to no one in particular, looking through the hole where the knob should be at the staircase she’d just descended. “At least the door is closed now,” she continued, trying to get it open. It wouldn’t budge. “Great,” she looked at the knob in her hand. If she was going to get any more decorating done, she’d have to go to the hardware store and find someone who could explain to her how to replace a door knob. Hiring a handyman at this point was absolutely out of the question.
“At least I have the Santas,” she shrugged, and setting the door knob down on top of a box of carnival glass plates where she hoped she could find it again later, she collected the box of Santas and made her way through the maze back toward the stairs that led to the front of the house.
Her parents, Sarah and Tim, had bought this house right before Melody was born. They’d grown up in Charles Town, and even though her father was a musician at heart, he also loved antiques, and since he’d never explored the possibility of supporting his family with his music, he carved out a living by selling his wares at his parent’s shop on the square, which eventually became his. Her mother had been an elementary school teacher in nearby Shepherdstown until she became pregnant with Melody and decided it would be better if she started an at-home daycare so that she could care for their daughter. The house had been in a bit of disrepair when they’d first purchased it, which was the only way they could have afforded it at the time, but her father lovingly restored it and filled it with hand-selected pieces he’d found on his many trips collecting pieces for the shop.
“Filled it and overfilled it,” Melody reminded herself as she sat the box of Santas down near the front fireplace. There were six bedrooms, four of which had their own working fireplaces, as well as the fireplace in the parlor and one in the library. It was no wonder her father amassed such a collection of holiday décor. And even if she did nothing else for the next twenty-four days, she still wouldn’t have it decorated nearly as well as he would have. But it was the sentiment that meant the most to her, and as she began to clear her mother’s every day antiques away into a nearby cabinet, she thought of all the work that stood ahead of her, trying not to worry too much about how she could help her mother turn the store around.
After her father was killed in a car accident returning from an estate sale on Christmas Eve two years ago, Melody had insisted on moving back in to take care of her mother. Sarah Murphy was nothing if she wasn’t hardheaded, and she refused, saying Melody needed to stay in Chicago at the ad agency. She would be fine. However, a phone call two months ago from a debt collector had let Melody in on the truth. While the house was paid off, thanks to her father’s life insurance policy, her mother hadn’t been able to keep up with the second mortgage they’d taken out on the shop, and if she didn’t come up with ten thousand dollars soon, the bank would be claiming the antique store Melody’s grandparents had started over fifty years ago.
Melody wasn’t going to let that happen, so she’d left her job in corporate marketing and moved in with her mother to go through the antiques her father had been storing in the house, working to get them into the store where they could be purchased. She’d had enough in her savings account to put the bank off for a bit, but it wasn’t enough, so she needed to get more merchandise into the shop while working to spread the word that Murphy’s Antiques and Collectibles was a great little secret in the heart of quaint Charles Town, West Virginia, and the perfect place to find the Christmas gift your loved one will cherish for a lifetime—or something like that. While her efforts had increased sales and kept her mother busy at the store, it wasn’t enough, and she was struggling to balance inventory with marketing.
And now she was elbow deep in Santas.
Brushing her long brown hair over her shoulder, Melody surveyed the dozen jolly faces staring up at her. Her father had such a knack for this, but she wasn’t sure where to put any of the plump elves. “Guess I’ll just do my best, and maybe Mom can fix it when she gets home,” she said with a shrug and chose the largest Santa to start with. At the very least, she was doing what her father had asked, decorating for Christmas on the first of December, and even if it wasn’t exactly perfect, it was a start.
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