Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Corrina Lawson’s Captain Aloysius James and Lucy from Ghosts of Christmas Past.
As Christmas approaches in crumbling Charlton City, Detective Aloysius James and his partner, Noir, are at a crossroads. Figuring out how to reconcile their careers with their relationship is harder than catching the bad guys.
Now that Noir has learned to control her invisibility and is making a name for herself among the city’s artist collective, Al senses there’s something she’s keeping from him. And he doesn’t know how long they can remain partners. Or even lovers.
Noir isn’t sure how Al would take it if he knew how deeply he has touched her artistic soul, or how he could react if he saw the secret drawings that have helped heal the wounds of her past.
When a murder lands them on opposite sides—Al ready to arrest a suspect Noir insists in innocent—they’re going to need to unwrap all the ghosts of their pasts to make this Christmas the first of many. Or it could be their last.
A First Christmas Together
What had he been thinking to drive an hour from the city to this cacophony of humanity?
How the hell was he supposed to find just the right Christmas gift for Lucy in this…insanity?
Answer: he wouldn’t.
He turned around and walked back out the doors, stopping to hold one open for a whistling gentleman overloaded with bags. That guy belonged. Al didn’t.
Still, Al sat in his beat-up Ford instead of driving away, wracking his brain for an idea. Art supplies? No, she had all she wanted already. New clothes for her secret Noir identity? No. He wanted to prove to Lucy he accepted her for her. If he bought her something suited to Noir instead, well, “epic fail”, as she liked to say.
In desperation, he dialed his father. The Old Man always had a girlfriend or two. Surely, he knew how to treat women.
“Yeah, kid, what’s up?” asked Oliver James.
Kid. Hah. Al was closer to his fourth decade than his third.
“I need your advice.”
“That’s a first.”
Yeah, Al deserved that. They didn’t talk much. The Old Man because talking wasn’t his way and Al because, well, he’d absorbed the not-talking thing. Al outlined the Christmas present problem in a “just the facts” kind-of-way that retired FBI Special Agent James could understand.
“Hell, Al, stop overthinking this. Get her flowers, chocolate, sexy lingerie or jewelry. Any one of ‘em will do.”
“That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?”
“Kid, there’s a reason I’m divorced twice.” A pause. “You really like this white girl.”
Al thought of Lucy’s smile, her laugh, her body the way it looked naked, and the way she met life as a challenge to be conquered. Of course, his father would reduce her to the “white girl.”
“Her name’s Lucy,” Al snapped. “Don’t be fucking medieval, Dad.”
“I’m not. I’m just saying if you like her, treat her right and she’ll stick, whether you get her the right present or not. I learned that one too late.”
Oddly sentimental for the Old Man. “That might actually be good advice, Dad.”
“Yeah, it happens now and again. You have a good holiday, Al, okay?”
“You too.” Al ended the call on that positive note. Huh. That’s been the best conversation they’d had in ages. Maybe he should see if the Old Man wanted to come for a visit and meet Lucy.
Didn’t solve the current problem, though. Al slumped back in his car seat and dialed Lucy’s parents. A photo of those two might as well be filed in the dictionary under “over-protective.” He supposed they had a right to be, given Lucy had disappeared for three years without a trace after being abducted. But it didn’t make dealing with them any easier.
Lucy’s mom answered. “Oh. Captain James. How, um, nice to hear from you.”
Al rolled his eyes. Her parents didn’t know how to deal with the scary black cop living with their daughter. He outlined his question, much as he had for the Old Man.
“I thought maybe there was something you could suggest, something she’s always wanted?”
A long pause. Dammit. This call had been a mistake.
“I suppose it’s probably too late to buy her a pony,” she said.
A joke? “I don’t think a pony would fit at our place.”
“Hah. Let me see. There’s jewelry. Lucy always liked pretty things.” She proceeded to list Lucy’s clothing and shoe sizes, her favorite movies from when she was a child, her favorite books, and even her favorite action figures. Al wrote it all down. Good stuff to know, even if it didn’t give him the perfect idea he wanted.
“Thanks, ma’am, that’s appreciated.”
Another pause. “No more ‘ma’am,’ Al. I think we’re all at the point where we should be using first names, don’t you?”
Holy Hell, that was a surprise. “Then, thanks Wanda. I’m glad to have all this.”
“You’re welcome. I appreciate that you treat Lucy so well.”
“She does the same for me.”
Al ended this call on a good note too. Nice. But he still had no idea about the gift. But both the Old Man and Lucy’s mom had included jewelry in their lists. He’d start at that new jewelry store on Main Street, the one that advertised unique, handmade gifts made from recycled materials. Lucy would approve of that part, for sure.
He pulled out of the massive parking lot and headed back home. He should’ve known the answer to his dilemma was in the Double C, as residents called Charlton City.
Lucy woke up early Christmas morning, before Al, and climbed out of their bed to soak in every second. Her first Christmas since recovering from her kidnapping and memory loss.
Her first Christmas with Al.
She hugged herself tight in wonder as she watched the snow fall outside. The antique lead window refracted the light just slightly, making the storm look like a moving painting. She sniffed to take in the scent of the tree they’d put up together last week and walked over to the artist’s table set up under the window and set her hand on her pencils.
Her space in his space. Their space.
She made coffee for them and settled on the couch, happiness covering her like a soft blanket.
When Al woke up, she insisted giving him his present first. His surprise and delight at the new overcoat gave her even more warm fuzzies inside. “I thought it was time for a new one. Your old coat has bloodstains on it.”
He grinned. “That’s because it’s been to one too many crime scenes.” He slipped the coat on over his t-shirt and pajama bottoms. “Oo..soft inside.”
“Think of it as me hugging you.”
“Not as good as you actually hugging me.” He pulled her into his arms for a kiss that should have, by rights, steamed up the window.
“My turn now.” He set a small box in her hand.
“Jewelry?” she raised an eyebrow.
He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. Was he nervous? He had to know she’d love whatever he gave her. It could be the ugliest necklace in the world and she’d treasure it.
“My father and your mother seemed to think jewelry would be good and I saw this and thought of you,” he said.
She set the box down on the table. “Wait a minute. You called your father, who you never talk to, and my mother, who you seem afraid to talk to, for advice on my present?”
“Uh, was that wrong?”
“Al, that’s above and beyond. You’re amazing.”
“I just hope you like it,” he muttered.
“I will.” She tore open the paper and flipped open the box.
A ring. Holy hell, he’d given her a ring.
“Oh. My. God. How beautiful!” She pulled out the polished black band inlaid with something that gleamed white. “Is that mother of pearl?”
Al nodded. “Yeah. The ring’s made with tungsten carbide that was collected from the scraps of old armor piercing bullets confiscated by the police. The jeweler sends the scraps out to a factory that presses them into rings, and he gets the black bands back and uses a special diamond-tipped tool to personalize them, like adding the pearl.”
What a long speech for Al. He was nervous. So was she. Damn, he’d given her a ring. Rings meant commitment, diamond or not. They both knew that.
“Uh, say something,” he said.
“A ring, Al?” She raised her gaze to him in question.
He nodded. “Yeah, a ring. I wanted to give you something that I…well, something from the heart of the Double C. And from me.”
She slipped the present on and displayed her hand. “I love it.”
“I, uh, figured it represented both of you. Lucy and Noir, I mean.” He sat next to her. “The black band for Noir, the pearl for Lucy.”
She concentrated. She’d been refining her ability to produce bright bursts of light. Let’s see if the practice paid off. Her hand began to glow, highlighting the black band and making the pearl shine.
“Whoa,” Al breathed. “Beautiful, just like you. Luminous.”
She let her light slowly vanish. “The ring’s perfect. Just like you, Al.” And she drew him into her arms.
“You could take the new coat off now.”
It was their first Christmas together and she was going to take full advantage.
Meet Corrina Lawson!
Corrina is a former newspaper reporter with a degree in journalism from Boston University. A mom of four, she now works from home writing romance novels with a geeky twist and as the Content Director and co-founder of GeekMom.com. She’s also is the co-writer of GeekMom Book: Projects, Tips and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st Century Families. And, every now and then, she’s Wonder Woman.
Want to purchase Corrina’s novels?
- Phoenix Rising
- Phoenix Legacy
- Ghost Phoenix
- Ghosts of Christmas Past
- Phoenix Inheritance (Mar 3, 2015)
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Thank you Corrina for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Corrina is giving away a print copy of Phoenix Rising (US only) and an ecopy of Ghosts of Christmas Past (International) – two winners. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What would you have gotten Lucy or Al? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways. To enter the main contest, don’t forget to leave a comment below. All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st. All giveaways are subject to LE’s Giveaway Policy.
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