The holiday season has arrived. Indeed, Thanksgiving is already behind us. At this time of year, I’m always acutely aware of how fortunate I am. It’s been a tough year for everyone, but I still have everything I need: a loving partner, a challenging but rewarding job, a comfortable home, decent health, two naughty but adorable cats, and much more. And my mind turns, of course, to those people who aren’t so blessed – especially people who find themselves without a home during the holiday season. I spent many years in New England, so for me November and December will always mean bitter cold, maybe even snow, the worst possible time to be trying to survive out of doors.
Hence, for this month’s Charity Sunday, I’m supporting Rosie’s Place, a Boston-based sanctuary for homeless women and their children. I’ve done Charity Sundays for Rosie’s before. They’re one of my favorite charities – tough, practical, realistic, compassionate, respectful of their visitors, generous with their love. Rosie’s doesn’t just provide emergency food, medical care and shelter. They also offer legal assistance, education, job training, legal advocacy, and much more. Founded by a woman, run mostly by women, the organization recognizes that homelessness is just one symptom of a larger and more complex problem.
Anyway, this month I will donate two dollars to Rosie’s for every comment I get on this post. Furthermore, if I reach fifty comments (which, admittedly, has never happened), I will commit to donating $25 per month for the next year. (So tell your friends...!)
Meanwhile, I have a relevant snippet from my new holiday boxed set, Comfort & Joy: Red-hot Holiday Romance. The book comes out on Tuesday, and collects all my favorite seasonal romance tales. This bit is from “Slush”.
An odd sense of well-being stole over him as he propped himself against the wall, watching Daisy move around her rudimentary shelter. Her every gesture had an economical grace. With her back to him, she busied herself at a makeshift counter of planks and cinder blocks along the opposite wall. He caught the snap of a match, the chemical odor of Sterno. Her blond tresses were a shower of gold, illuminated by the single dusty bulb in the ceiling. When she stood on tiptoe to grab something off a shelf near the ceiling, her pert buttocks flexed under the red long johns. Ian mentally scolded himself as his cock twitched and filled. But what could he do? She was, quite simply, enchanting.
A heavenly aroma filled the space. Ian’s stomach rumbled. “Oh my God, that smells delicious! What is it?”
Daisy smiled over her shoulder. “Just Campbell’s tomato soup. About all I can afford these days. You want some?”
“Is there enough?” He felt so guilty, craving her meager supplies.
“Sure. I’ve got some crackers, too.”
She brought him a steaming bowl and a bent, stamped metal spoon. “Careful, it’s hot.” She scattered cellophane-wrapped two-packs of saltines over the blanket. “Help yourself. It’s easy to filch more from work.”
“You have a job?” He dipped his spoon into the soup then blew on the hot surface. The smell reminded him of his childhood. His mom used to make tomato soup when he came in from playing in the snow.
“Sure. What’d you think, I was some kind of bum? At Donut Heaven, down on Huntington Ave. Only part time, and not even minimum wage, but I get a free uniform, lunch if I don’t have a split shift, and all the day-old doughnuts I can eat. Unfortunately, they make awful doughnuts.” She gave a rueful chuckle. “But it’s a lot better than nothing!”
Seating herself cross-legged on the mattress beside him, she tucked into her soup with the single-minded intensity of someone who was famished. “I was off today, though,” she added, as if in explanation.
For a while, they savored their soup in silence. What a mystery she was – beautiful, kind, self-sufficient, living on the streets, or nearly. What was her story?
“Been homeless for nearly six months now.” She spoke matter-of-factly, as if he’d asked the question aloud. “Came here last spring from West Virginia with my boyfriend Hank. Hank had folks here, an uncle who swore he’d get us good paying jobs in the hospitality industry. Turns out the uncle ran a so-called strip club up on Route 1. He’d paid Hank to bring me up here. Once I saw how things were, I ditched Hank and set out on my own.”
“That was brave. Why didn’t you go back to West Virginia?”
She set down her empty bowl. “Honestly? Weren’t much down there for me either, unless I wanted to marry some jerk and pop out kids. No, I figured I’d have a better chance here in the city. I didn’t realize how hard it would be, not knowing anyone. I was willing to do pretty much any kind of legal work, but with economy in the toilet and the cost of living...”
Her head bowed, her hair falling over her face. For the first time Ian heard weariness in her voice. How could he begin to understand what this girl had been through? He’d never lacked for anything – at least not anything material.
Since the components of this boxed set are available at other publishers, I decided to put this book into Kindle Select. That means you can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. I do hope you’ll give it a try.
Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56030561-comfort-joy
Meanwhile, please do leave a comment. Then go visit the other authors participating in today’s Charity Sunday!