Twelve Days

The McRaes Series -- Book 1

Sam & Rachel

Sam got upstairs first to clear his things out of the spare

bedroom, which they'd need for the three foster children who'd

arrived earlier that day.

He was still trying to decide where to put his own things

when Rachel came into the hall and caught him standing there

with a handful of clothes. Her cheeks flushed, whether with

anger or embarrassment, he couldn't tell, and the look she gave

him made him feel like a thief, like he'd stolen something from

her, something personal and very important, by walking away

without a word from the bed they'd always shared.

This after nights of making sure he was gone from the house before she

woke up in the mornings and didn't go to bed at night until she

was already asleep. So they didn't have to say anything about the

fact that he slept somewhere else.

"I'll, uhh... I can sleep on the sofa in the family room," he


She nodded, keeping her head down, not letting him see

anything else that might be in her eyes right now. He

understood. He didn't want to have to look Rachel in the eye and

talk to her about where he'd be sleeping now or maybe about

why he'd started sleeping somewhere else in the first place.

He didn't even want to think about it now. It made him

remember how alone he was, even in the same house with his

wife. Right now, he felt more alone than ever. Watching her

with the children tonight, he couldn't help but think that this was

the way things should have been, the way things would never be

for him and Rachel.

Instead, he felt like a stranger here, as if he were on the

fringes of something he wanted desperately, staring at it from

the outside looking in, knowing he'd never have it, the way he'd

felt most of his life. But never with Rachel. It was only with her

that he'd ever imagined he might belong anywhere.

But not anymore, Sam reminded himself.

He slipped downstairs and went back outside to his workshop, then made himself wait until after ten o'clock to go back inside.

There, he found Rachel sitting in the rocker, the Christmas

garland that had been around her neck now draped across the

back of the chair, the baby in her arms.

"Is the baby okay?" he asked, sitting down on the sofa

across the room from her.

"Probably just unsettled by being in a new place," Rachel

said, not looking at him, either, her attention focused fully on the

baby. "She fussed a bit after Emma put her down, so I brought

her down here and rocked her. She went right to sleep, and

then... Well, it's not exactly a hardship to hold her."

Grace had caught the tip of Rachel's finger in one tiny fist,

holding on tightly, and Rachel was running her thumb over the

baby's tiny hand, mesmerized, lost. Sam looked at the garland

Zach had given her earlier. He remembered the way she looked,

all sparkly and glittery, her hair glowing golden as well. She'd

laughed, and he'd been startled by the sound. He didn't

remember the last time he heard Rachel laugh, and he missed it.

He missed so many things about her.

Sam couldn't help but think of how perfect she looked

sitting in her great-grandmother's rocking chair with a baby in

her arms.

"I know it's silly," she said, "but today, when Miriam

came... It was just like in my dream. The baby dream. I was

sitting here all alone, and the doorbell rang, and she walked up

to me and handed me Grace. I'd given up on anything like that

ever happening."

Because of Sam. He knew it.

They couldn't have any more children. They'd tried

adoption twice, only to get their hopes dashed both times, and

then they'd gotten Will, which had also turned out bad. Now

they had more children, who weren't staying, either.

"Rachel, she's not yours to keep."

"I know." She nuzzled her face against the baby's cheek. "I

was just saying... it was so like my dream. I'd given up, totally. I

couldn't even hope anymore, because it was too hard. It hurt too

much. But I think I was wrong, Sam. How can I just stop


He wondered what his wife hoped for these days, but he

didn't ask. All he said was, "Just don't forget this baby isn't


"I won't. I promise. But I'm going to enjoy the time I have

with her. I'm going to try my best to enjoy this Christmas with

these children."

"We can do that, I guess." He didn't like it, but he'd do it for

her. Because she'd asked this of him and it was one thing within

his power to give. And then, with his throat thick and tight with

regrets stored up over the years, he said, "I never meant for it to

turn out this way, Rachel."

"Me, either," she said.

They weren't talking about kids anymore. They were

talking about their marriage, about the mess they'd made of it.

She'd given up on him, he feared, just as he'd given up on the

two of them.

Still, Sam wondered if she missed him, at nights like this

when it was just the two of them talking and in their bed. She'd

never said a word about him sleeping somewhere else, never

asked him to come back, and suddenly it seemed as if it had

been forever since he'd touched her.

He didn't want to think that he might never do that again,

might never have the right. What would she do if he turned to

her now? he wondered. If he took her in his arms and buried

himself in the familiar comfort of her warm, soft body?

Sam groaned. He still wanted her, and it had been so long.

All those nights, he thought, he could have been with her.


The Series In Order
Twelve Days  Book 1
The Edge of Heaven Book 2
Bed of Lies Book 3
Five Days Grace Book 4
Hero of my Heart Book 5

Christmas with

the McRaes

Box Set-

Books 1, 2, 3

More of the McRaes