I thought I’d include another little bit of Holly and Ivy…this bit is closer to Christmas, and shows how Holly’s luck begins to turn around (as she forgets the other part of the bargain and the price that might be paid).
Whether it was because of Ivy’s gift or the upturn in my mood, things
happened quickly after that. I found a pleasant job at a florist shop and rented a small
house closer to town so I could cut down on the commute and be less of a strain on the
folks. I visited and came to the pine trees as often as I could, but was careful to never
explain to Ivy about the new job. I was close to nature, but not in a way she would
have understood or liked.
As the weeks passed I found more excuses to stay away. My anal-retentive
capabilities were needed to revamp the inventory at work, I was trying to get moved
in and truly settled, and I was actually making an effort to get out and enjoy my life.
The running around with Ivy and the summer work on the farm had begun to slim
and streamline my body. I was still getting used to the looks my curves would get
every once in a while. That slow infusion of confidence convinced me to take a little
more pride in the rest of my appearance, which only served to make things just a little
easier. My coworkers were not taking no for an answer, so I found myself hanging out
in the evenings with people my own age instead of stopping by my folks’ place after
work. Instead of dreading those social interactions, I began to look forward to
conversation with friends who were going through the same frustrations and
heartaches I was. It was almost like we were all starting to come out on the other side.
Ivy was lovely, but the more I was subjected to adult conversation the more I realized
how much I’d missed it.
Leaves turned and the time for pumpkins came and passed into chillier
temperatures, turkey decorations on store windows, and holiday specials on
television. I was so busy with extended hours at work and trying to keep up with all
the extra chores that came with Christmas, that my parents had insisted I not even
think about trying to help them out with their own holiday ventures. As sad as I was
to not jump back into the post-Thanksgiving traditions during my first winter back
home, I was exhausted and grateful for the out.
Despite the full schedule, life was good. I knew very well who I owed that to,
but I was still uncomfortable admitting that all my good fortune was because of a
trinket and not my own efforts. I kept telling myself I had to go down to the farm and
make sure Ivy was safe for the winter, but it kept getting shoved to the bottom of my
to-do list. Besides, we’d made sure her new tree was at the very back of the lot. She
was sure to be okay if I put it off for a few days. Everything was falling into place so
easily: the house, the job, and when I literally bumped into my future husband while
rushing to my car after work one night…well, it’s easy to forget promises when your
life is full.
As much as I’d refused to believe in love at first sight, there’s no way to deny
the instant jolt I felt when I looked up into his green eyes, and I’m fairly sure that
wasn’t just because I’d plowed into him while trying to get out the door before the
next wave of orders came in. Tall and muscular, he brought to mind the old-school
romantic images of court knights, if a knight had to go questing for a Christmas
wreath in a parka and blue jeans. Vixen that I was, I reverted to my standard flirting
technique for attractive men I came across in daily life: I mumbled an apology and ran
away. For once, though, someone called my bluff.
“C’mon! The coat’s not that ugly!” His deep voice was full of humor and a hint
I turned and glanced from him to my waiting clunker. As much as I wanted to
reply with something coy and witty, the cold air had frozen my tongue to the roof of
my mouth. “I…”
“You work here, right? I’ve seen you around before.” His friendly attempt at
conversation did nothing to stop my heart from trying to slam itself out of my chest.
I’d expected the same old reaction: for him to shrug and go on about his business. For
a minute it seemed that was exactly his plan of action, and then he turned back to call
after me as I shuffled down the snow-crusted sidewalk to my car. “I bet I know what
happened. Either you’re tongue’s frozen or you bit your tongue when I accidentally
body-checked you. How ’bout I get you a cup of coffee to make up for it?” His pine
green eyes sparkled hopefully under the ragtag fringe of auburn hair that jutted out
from under his beanie.
Despite my sudden shyness, I couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t you need to get
something?” I asked and nodded toward the door I’d just exited.
The lumpy shoulders of his black coat moved up and down in a shrug.
“They’re extending their hours and you’re leaving for the day, right?” I nodded.
“Then the choice is obvious. Maybe later you can help me pick out a wreath that’ll
work for my shop’s door,” he added and pointed to the candy store across the street.
Cute, funny, and worked with chocolate…I was definitely a goner right from our first
David was stable and motivated, while remaining small-town. He got the world
I came from and what I’d been through. He weathered my mood swings like a trooper
and always seemed to know when I needed him there with me. As cautious as I was
when we first started to see each other, I soon fell for his gentle nature and firm,
capable way of handling things. There were times he seemed to know exactly what I
needed from him. Maybe I just wanted to be with someone, but David felt right in a
way that Rob hadn’t. It was like he was an exact match for me, like he was heaven-sent
or delivered by a wishing star. He wasn’t put off by my situation or by the fact that I
was from a farming family. An avid hiker, he liked the fact that I’d grown up on the
land and appreciated nature.
My parents and friends were pleased, and if I’d had time to go talk to Ivy she
would have been ecstatic, I’m sure. It was proof that her magic talisman worked just
as well in human hands as it did for the Fair Folk. I didn’t know about that, but I also
didn’t take it out of the fireproof lock-box I’d hidden it in.
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After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong oninions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keepinga promise to an old friend?
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