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Authors: Thomas Kinkade

A Christmas to Remember

BOOK: A Christmas to Remember
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A Christmas to Remember
The Cape Light Titles

CAPE LIGHT

HOME SONG

A GATHERING PLACE

A NEW LEAF A CHRISTMAS PROMISE

THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL

A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER

A CHRISTMAS VISITOR

A Christmas to Remember

A Cape Light Novel

T
HOMAS
K
INKADE
& K
ATHERINE
S
PENCER

BERKLEY BOOKS, NEW YORK

A Parachute Press Book

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0745, Auckland, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2006 by The Thomas Kinkade Company and Parachute Publishing L.L.C.
Jacket image:
Skater’s Pond
copyright © 1993 Thomas Kinkade

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The Library of Congress has catalogued the Berkley hardcover edition as follows:

Kinkade, Thomas, 1958–
    A Christmas to remember / Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer.—1st ed.
        p. cm.
     ISBN: 978-1-1012-1531-9
    1. Cape Light (Imaginary place)—Fiction. 2. New England—Fiction. 3. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 4. Christmas stories. 5. Domestic fiction. I. Spencer, Katherine. II. Title.

PS3561.I534C48 2006
813'.54—dc22

2006023930

A
LETTER FROM
T
HOMAS
K
INKADE

Dear Friends,

Every year as we get ready for Christmas, I find myself reminiscing about Christmases past, each one so special in its own way. When I was a child, I would reflect back, trying to recall the presents I was given from year to year. Only now, as an adult, I realize that the most important gifts are the memories that are made—a gift you can truly keep forever.

My family and I like to look back fondly on past Christmas celebrations to trace the path that has brought us here today as we think ahead to the future and all the wonderful things that are yet to happen.

So, come with me now to Cape Light, a town filled with people just like you and me who have learned much from the past and know that there are always many new memories waiting to be created.

Let’s visit with Lucy Bates, who is finally making her dream of becoming a nurse come true, though not without many challenges along the way.

Let us look in on Luke McAllister and Sara Franklin, who are both ready to make this Christmas their most special one ever.

And finally, let’s spend some time with Lillian Warwick who will have her own Christmas memories come to life in ways she never imagined possible.

Here the families of Cape Light are gathering to create beautiful, new Christmas memories as you and your family create your own special memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Merry Christmas!

Thomas Kinkade

C
HAPTER
O
NE

Newburyport Yacht Club, August 1955

“J
UST THIS ONE DANCE
, L
ILY
. I’
LL BE RIGHT BACK
.” C
HARLOTTE
hesitated.

Feeling guilty
, Lillian suspected.

“You don’t mind, do you?” Charlotte whispered.

“Don’t be silly. Go ahead. He’s waiting for you.” Lillian Merchant wrapped the silk shawl around her bare shoulders then watched as her cousin practically skipped across the room.

For goodness sake, you don’t have to run him down like a bird dog, Charlotte. Have some dignity.

Charlotte couldn’t help herself, Lillian knew. Her cousin couldn’t feign disinterest if her life depended on it. She wasn’t very discriminating either. She seemed to think any man who donned a dinner jacket was magically transformed into Cary Grant.

Charlotte had promised that if Lillian came to the party, they would stick together. She wouldn’t run off to visit with friends, or disappear with some man.

So much for promises. Here I am, high and dry, just as I expected.

Lillian had been to the Newburyport Yacht Club many times during summer trips with her family, but she didn’t know a soul here. And even though she enjoyed dancing—under the right circumstances—she hated to stand around without an escort while complete strangers looked her over like a choice cut of beef in the butcher’s case.

She sipped her drink and glanced at the dance floor. Charlotte’s expression was animated, her blue eyes bright. Her blond wavy hair bounced around her face and bare shoulders as she talked and laughed with her partner. Who was passably good-looking but undistinguished, Lillian decided.

Charlotte missed a step but her partner caught her, his arm hooking tight around her waist. Charlotte didn’t seem the least bit embarrassed while Lillian cringed.

Well, it wasn’t her fault. The band was dreadful, though no one else seemed to notice. About fifteen pieces all together; all the musicians in tuxedos, as if quantity and fancy dress could make up for quality. They were playing an old song, popular during the war, slow and syrupy. The band leader crooned into the microphone from time to time in a vague imitation of Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra, neither of whom Lillian had ever cared for.

At least the music was fairly dignified and none of that “rock ’n’ roll” people were so excited about lately. Undoubtedly, they would get to that later as the evening progressed. With any luck she would be gone by then.

Lillian’s gaze sought her cousin again. Her companion was do
ing all the talking now. Lillian had no idea what the man was going on about but Charlotte looked positively starry-eyed.

Lillian envied Charlotte sometimes. She was bubbly and buxom and easily impressed. She never seemed to see the flaws in people, especially in men. Only the good points, real or imagined.

That’s what men liked, Lillian knew. They rarely appreciated someone like herself, a serious girl who asked questions, who had her own ideas and opinions. Who had a brain in her head, for goodness sake. Who rarely fell into a starry-eyed stupor. Lillian was not easily impressed and men seemed to sense this, as if she gave out some sort of low-pitched hum warning them to keep their distance.

Another song began and Charlotte and her beau glided away in a fox trot. Lillian knew her cousin had forgotten all about her. It was hopeless now to even try to catch Charlotte’s eye.

Lillian felt conspicuous, sticking out like a sore thumb in her solitude. She tried to blend in, edging closer to a cluster of women who stood nearby. One of them turned. Her eyes swept over Lillian from head to toe, then the woman turned back to her friends, and Lillian heard them whispering about her.

Probably about her dress, a simple off-the-shoulder sheath, icy blue silk with a stole of matching fabric, lined with cream-colored satin. Lillian had found the dress in New York at a boutique that sold only haute couture. She had the figure for Paris fashion. That’s what the seamstress who had pinned the alterations said. Lillian knew what that really meant was that she was tall and bean-pole thin, with long legs, long arms and no curves to speak of.

Her ensemble was the latest style but, of course, this Newburyport crowd didn’t realize that. The other women were dressed in puffy-skirted chiffon concoctions. They wouldn’t see anything close to this dress around here until next fall.

Meanwhile, their stares made her feel horribly self-conscious. The doors to the deck stood open, inviting her to escape. White paper lanterns were strung across the dark sky, and lights twinkled in the dark harbor.

Lillian held back, waiting. If Charlotte didn’t return after this song, she would call a cab and go.

A group of men at the end of the bar burst out laughing, and Lillian looked over at them. The man who stood in the center was telling a story. The others sat on bar stools while he stood, imitating various voices, gesturing with his hands. He was tall, with thick dark hair parted on the side and combed back smoothly from his forehead. His dinner jacket draped over his broad shoulders and trim build with a hand-tailored fit.

She had noticed him earlier on the dance floor. Never the same partner twice. He was a good dancer, excellent form and graceful, unlike most of the others.

She didn’t realize she had been staring until one of his buddies nudged him. He turned and stared back at her. Then he winked and flashed a brilliant smile.

Lillian felt her expression freeze as blood rushed to her cheeks. She turned her head sharply and stared straight ahead, pretending not to have seen him.

Another wave of male laughter made her cringe. They were all laughing at her now. The evening had progressed from discomfort to utter mortification. Thanks to that preening oaf who had winked at her.

Drawing on every ounce of self-control she possessed, she lifted her chin and swept through the open glass doors to the outside. She crossed the deck and stood at the rough wooden rail, looking at the harbor and star-studded sky. The air was fresh and
felt cool against her skin. She could hardly hear the music or the party guests. It was suddenly so quiet; she heard only the water below the deck, lapping at the pilings.

I should have come out here sooner
, she realized.
What was I doing standing around in that smoke and noise?

The dark harbor was filled with boats, mostly sailboats tethered to moorings, bobbing in the waves. Lights shone within a few of the sleek vessels where she saw people moving about in the cabins or sitting on the decks.

Lillian felt a sharp longing to join them, to be out on one of those boats, sitting in the quiet night with a few close friends who knew and understood her.

She would wait out here for a few minutes—until those ill-mannered clods had moved on—then she would slip inside and call a taxi from the lobby.

Charlotte won’t even notice I’m gone.

Coming to this party had been a mistake. Maybe this entire vacation was going to be one, Lillian worried. She and Charlotte adored each other, always had. They were as close as sisters. But they weren’t little girls anymore. They had grown up very differently and had different interests, different priorities.

Lillian had been engaged. She knew what that was all about. Her fiancé, George Tilles, had broken it off a month before their wedding. Her parents had tried in their way, but they really hadn’t been very sympathetic. They never said it outright, but the way they looked at her sometimes made Lillian feel they understood George’s reservations. As if the broken engagement had all been her fault.

Her father had been annoyed about losing his money on the wedding preparations. If she ever got engaged again, she and her betrothed would have to foot the bill, he told her. As if he would
actually miss the money. Her family was quite wealthy, though Albert Merchant, a dyed-in-the-wool banker, fretted over every penny that passed through his fingers.

Romance. You could have it. It never measured up to the storm-swept passion in the movies. While Lillian no longer felt hurt by George’s rejection, she did feel disillusioned. And that might be a good thing, she decided. The last thing she needed was more illusions.

That’s why an event like this dance seemed so silly and pointless, a thinly veiled pretext for girls like Charlotte to continue their desperate hunt.

“Excuse me, miss.” A soft deep voice broke into Lillian’s thoughts.

She turned to find the dark-haired man who had winked at her. She took a small step back and stared at him.

He looked amused. His smile was polite but wide enough to show off deep dimples and straight white teeth.

“You dropped this.” He held out her shawl, folded in a neat, silky blue bundle. It looked out of place and awfully feminine in his large hand.

Lillian took the shawl, barely meeting his eyes. “Thank you. I didn’t realize.”

“You wouldn’t want to lose it and ruin that beautiful outfit.”

Lillian wondered for a moment if he was being sarcastic, subtly making fun of her dress. She decided not. He watched as she arranged the shawl around her shoulders, his look of admiration seeming perfectly sincere.

He was even better-looking close up, she decided.

“Do you know much about fashion, Mr….?”

“Warwick. Oliver Warwick.” He said his name quickly, as if everyone knew him. Or should know him. “And though I know
little about it, I would guess that gown came from New York, or maybe Paris.”

Lillian was surprised. Even a bit impressed. “New York,” she answered. “I was there in the spring. On business.”

His dark brows jumped a notch. “You have a job, do you?” He nodded, considering the idea. “I think that’s fine. I think women should be out in the world making their way, if they want to be.”

She struggled to keep from laughing out loud. “Thanks so much for your approval, Mr. Warwick. I can carry on now without concern.”

He smiled and tilted his head. “I’m sorry. That did sound rather stupid, didn’t it? You caught me by surprise. I mean, you don’t look the type…. Unless you’re going to tell me now that you’re a fashion model?”

She shook her head. His frank reply—and not so subtle compliment—made her smile. “I work in the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston.”

“Really? What do you do there?”

“I’m an assistant curator.” She tried not to sound defensive, but she was almost positive he assumed she had some fluffy job, a fund-raiser or tour guide.

“I should have guessed something like that.” He pulled a silver cigarette case from his breast pocket and offered her one. Lillian shook her head. “So what do you curate?”

He was only asking to be polite. She didn’t think her answer would matter one way or the other to him. She had a feeling he knew little about art or museums.

“I’m a specialist in the Egyptian period. Egyptian pottery mainly.”

He lit his cigarette with a silver lighter then exhaled a long plume of smoke that floated in the air between them.

“Brains and beauty, too. What a package.” His low tone and the way he was suddenly looking at her alarmed Lillian. She hugged the shawl around her slim body and turned away from him to look out at the harbor again.

“You didn’t think I was a model. You only said that to flatter me.”

There, she would be as blunt as she liked. Her mother said it was rude to be so straightforward, especially to men. But Lillian knew it was the fastest way to cool them down.

Oliver Warwick didn’t seem the least put off. “Why would I want to flatter you? I don’t even know your name.”

Lillian didn’t answer.

He waited a moment, watching her. “All right, let me guess.”

“I doubt you will. It’s very uncommon.”

“I expected that. I can already see you’re an uncommon girl.”

Somehow the way he said it made the words sound like the highest kind of compliment. She watched as he took one more puff on the cigarette then stubbed it out on the railing.

“How about Diana? Goddess of the hunt. Career girl. Brains and beauty.”

Lillian had to smile again, surprised to find Oliver Warwick up on his mythology. “Yes, I know the story.”

Diana didn’t have a very high opinion of men, either, Lillian recalled. “But no, it’s not Diana.”

He smiled, showing off those disconcerting dimples again.

“All right, let’s see…What about…Chastity? There’s an uncommon name for you.”

Lillian felt herself blush and was thankful for the darkness. “Wrong again. Give up?”

Before she could protest, he had closed his eyes and touched his forehead, like a magician in a dinner show.

“One more try…Silence, please. I need a moment to focus.”

Lillian sighed, smiling in spite of herself. Oliver Warwick was really too much. At least he was some distraction in an otherwise dull evening.

He opened his eyes and beamed down at her.

BOOK: A Christmas to Remember
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