Ann Major, Rita Rainville, Lindsay McKenna, Kathleen Creighton

Silhouette Christmas Stories

© 1990

Dear Reader,

Christmas is a special season, and at Silhouette Books, we've created a special tradition to celebrate this time of giving-Silhouette Christmas Stories. This year marks the fifth volume of our Christmas collection, and I think you'll find it a treasure from start to finish!

Ann Major has written a heartwarming story of a lost love and the miracle of wishes, Santa and Christmas in 'Santa's Special Miracle.' Rita Rainville's 'Lights Out!' holds all the wit, charm and high-voltage humor we have come to expect from this talented author. Critically acclaimed for her military romances, Lindsay McKenna has created a touching portrayal of the power of love in 'Always and Forever.' In Kathleen Creighton's 'The Mysterious Gift,' two lonely people find that the magic of Christmas is really the magic of love when a mysterious gift appears.

From beginning to end, these four gifted authors have created a special gift for you, their readers, with this collection. All of us at Silhouette Books thank you for your support, and wish you the very best this holiday season and in the coming year.

Happy Holidays!

Isabel Swift

Editorial Manager


A recipe from Ann Major:


4 whole eggs

2 lbs (8 cups) pecans (whole halves)

1 lb (1/2 cups) whole Brazil nuts

2 cups flour

2 cups candied pineapple

2 cups candied cherries, halved

2 cups dates

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup rum or 1/2 cup bourbon (I use bourbon)

2 tbsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Cream together. Add flour, baking powder, salt, nuts and fruit, mixing well with large spoon after each addition.

Line 2 bread loaf pans with wax paper, glossy side inward. Divide mixture between pans. Firmly mash into pans, making sure all air pockets are removed and mixture is compact.

Place in cold oven. Set oven at 325° F. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in center of cake comes out dry.

Remove pans from oven and pour rum or bourbon over cakes while hot.

Serve cake sliced into thin pieces as a snack or dessert, adding ice cream or whipped cream as desired. The nuts and fruit may make the cake appear like stained glass. Any way you serve it, this cake is beautiful in appearance and delicious in taste.

Chapter One

Oh, why had she let Sara and Jim and their children talk her into driving with them into San Antonio to shop?

Lights and red and gold velvet streamers sparkled from the ceiling of San Antonio's River Center Mall. A festive, last-minute mania infected the shoppers and salespeople who hustled and bustled everywhere.

But Noreen Black couldn't get into the Christmas spirit. Instead she felt a quiet desperation, an aching loneliness. Oh, sure, she'd bought half a dozen gifts. Sure, she was being jostled along in the crowd like everybody else during the holiday season. And right now she was struggling to keep a tight grip on Darius's little hand as well as manage her huge shopping sacks. But unlike everyone else who seemed in a joyful mood, Noreen felt only despair.

Suddenly through the crowd Noreen saw a tall man with broad shoulders and darkly handsome good looks threading his way toward her.

It couldn't be! No! Not Grant! Not after all these years. Not when she had Darius clinging tightly to her fingers.

She wanted to run, to cry out. Instead her panic overwhelmed her, and she did the most foolish thing of all. She simply froze.

Then, right before he headed into a luxurious lingerie shop, the man turned and saw her. She felt an instant sensation of doom. For a fleeting second he studied her with one of those quick, assessing, male glances. He saw a beautiful woman in her early thirties who was tall and delicate of feature. A woman who had enormous, dark, frightened eyes. A woman with a shocking mass of jet-black hair bound untidily in a lopsided knot. A woman who wore a bright animal-print scarf and baggy sweater and had a Bohemian air about her. But she was not someone he knew. He smiled briefly and vanished inside the shop.

He was just a stranger. A stranger with gray eyes instead of Grant's vivid, beautiful blue ones. A stranger who probably thought her too dull in her unfashionable clothes, or too skinny. He wasn't Grant. Wasn't even remotely like Grant. Still, it took a second for Noreen's shock to subside.

Just being in San Antonio was enough to make Noreen as nervous as a cat, and today, despite her cheery pretenses, had been no different. San Antonio was part of her past, part of that other life that she had deliberately walked away from five years ago, part of Grant. Even the briefest visit to the city could fill her with an intense sensation of loss and loneliness and leave her depressed for days. A part of her had died here, and she had never recovered.

Of course, living as she did only fifty miles away in a Texas town so small and so poor that it had no doctor or shopping facilities, she had to come into the city from time to time. Never once had she run into Grant or his

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