Christmas is coming and it’s time for Christmas Reads! I love Christmas, Christmas books, and Christmas movies. So For the next few Thursdays I’ll be sharing Christmas Reads, and some Christmas book excerpts, courtesy of the book authors, with you. First up on the holiday blog is Christina Sinisi with her sweet, inspirational Christmas novella
Christmas on Ocracoke.
Welcome, Christina! Please tell the readers the origin of your Christmas book.
I’d be happy to share that story, Catherine.
Christmas on Ocracoke happened because of a series of lovely coincidences. First, my sister and her husband purchased a vacation home on Hatteras Island large enough for the whole family to spend holidays together without having to split time between hotels. The purchase actually happened last fall, but I was too swamped with grading to come over Thanksgiving. So, my first visit was for the week between Christmas and New Year of 2019. While there, I drove my mother and myself on to the ferry and we visited Ocracoke Island.
Ocracoke Island, for those of you don’t know much about the Outer Banks—and I was one of you, is the most southern inhabited island of the long, thin streak of islands that make up the Outer Banks. It’s only reached by boat and it was hit hard by Hurricane Dorian last September. Even though the hurricane had also come through the Charleston area, I’d put it out of my mind. Driving down that two lane strip of road on the island, the effects of unbridled nature were all too obvious. There were mountains of debris in several stacks, nestled between trees standing tall as if they’d shaken off the damage where silly humans couldn’t. My mother and I (and my sister, her husband, and daughter in a separate truck) drove to a restaurant I’d found in the little newspaper that advertised to be opened but wasn’t. It was boarded up and may never reopen. The beauty of the island and the harsh circumstances–I fell in love.
The story came about because the drive from Charleston to this little island that looks to be just above South Carolina’s border the way a pelican flies takes eight hours! I was stunned. The miles of bridges and the strips of land between the ocean and the sound–it truly feels like you’re going to another planet. It felt like anyone moving there would be starting a whole new life. Then, why would someone start all over like that? Why would someone move to what feels like the edge of civilization?
She would have to be running from something, or someone. Thus, Annie Hanahan was born. She has a son because there needs to be a really important motive and there is no stronger motive than protecting one’s child (writes a mother). Plus, I love having a child steal the show.
The hero is the man needed for the job in such a circumstance as a devastating hurricane. A man who can fix things and is willing to step up in an emergency. Trey lives there (in a house that strangely resembles my sister’s rental if you’d like to reserve a week) part time, and he is a man of faith who serves others. I don’t know about you, but I fell for him fast!
Christmas on Ocracoke
By Christina Sinisi
Reeling from the upheaval of a failed marriage, Annie Hanahan is desperate for a new start—and when she inherits a cottage on Ocracoke Island, she may finally get it. Without a second thought, she packs up and leaves everything behind: her first name, her job, and her ex-husband, because more than anything, she wants to get her son away. Maybe now she can get her son away from his father’s partying and neglectful ways. But when she arrives in the Outer Banks, she finds the island—and her promised refuge—ravaged by Hurricane Dorian.
When their parents died in a tragic car accident, Trey Kingsley dropped out of college to raise his sister. Now that she’s grown and moved away, it’s his turn to find a life of his own. As a contractor who has given so much of his time to helping Ocracoke recover from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, it surprises no one when he offers to help the beautiful newcomer, but something is holding her back. Life keeps throwing them together, though, or perhaps God’s hand is giving them a nudge. Will a little bit of divine intervention be enough for a Merry Christmas on Ocracoke?
Annie scanned what seemed like a deserted island at this time of night. Charleston was on the coast, but Hatteras was a different world. There was a stoplight a few blocks away, and a few shops had interior lights glowing, but overall, there was a sense of being at the end of the world.
And Ocracoke was south, farther away from everything.
She breathed in air pregnant with salt and moisture and let it go. James would be safe in the SUV while she dragged their suitcases upstairs. He slept with his neck at a jagged angle, his forehead heavy against the side of the car seat. Tenderness stopped her in her tracks for a minute, or maybe it was sheer exhaustion.
The sound of tires bouncing over the speed bump at the entrance to the motel broke her out of her reverie. The man driving the extended cab monstrosity lifted his chin in greeting and parked a couple of spots down the line.
Annie ducked her head and gathered James’s things. She lingered for a few seconds until she heard the truck door slam shut, waiting for the man to go inside and disappear. Hoisting the heavy diaper bag on one shoulder, she juggled her purse and overnight bag on the other.
“Hey, let me help you with that.”
The deep baritone caught her off guard, and she did a little dance, startled.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. I just wondered if you could use some help carrying stuff. Promise I’m not a creep. I could just carry your bags to the top of the stairs, drop them off.”
Annie narrowed her eyes. “How would you know my room is at the top of the stairs?”
The man leaned against the cab of his truck, jean-clad legs outlined by the waving street lamps. He held out two hands, palms up in surrender. “Nothing diabolical. When I checked in earlier, the girl said the only room left after that was next to mine. Yeah, I know, she should never have said that, but she did, and she’s young.”
Annie’s whole head dropped in shock. “She did what? I can’t believe.”
The diaper bag slipped off her shoulder, and she almost lost the bag. The man crossed the gap between them with a few fast steps and caught the bag before it hit the ground. “Here, let me get that. I saw the car seat earlier, so I’m betting you want to get that little one to bed.”
“Yeah, has your foot dried yet?”
“I’m sorry?” Annie knew she was tired, but this man couldn’t be the one who’d come to her rescue earlier. “That was you, back in Florence?”
“Yeah, thought I’d get it out there. The coincidence is crazy. And I promise you that I didn’t follow you all the way here. I have a construction company, do work out here. Plus, I got here before you did.”
Annie swayed where she stood. “Okay. This is weird. What’s your name? Did you say?”
“Trey, Trey Kingsley,” he said and shifted bags to stick out a hand. “I’m working on a rental house, checked into the motel long term while I’m working. Jenny’s just got comfortable with me since I’m almost a local now.”
“Nice to meet you, Trey.” She shook his hand, barely making physical contact. She’d play nice, get her stuff to her door, and then triple lock it with a chair propped against the handle. “Um, thank you for the help.”
“You’re welcome.” He shifted the bags and stepped out of the way, waiting for her to retrieve James. “Normally, when one person gives their name, the other returns the favor.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I must be more tired than I thought. That last part of the drive was a killer.” She blinked at her horrible choice of words. She babbled to cover up her nervousness, which never worked. “I’ve never been here before, so it was actually a little bit terrifying, no streetlights, and the ocean right on the other side of the dunes like that.”
Trey chuckled. “So, I don’t get your name? That’s okay, I get it. You don’t know me, midnight, cheap motel.”
Annie’s mind blanked, and she stared at the hollows in his cheeks, shadowed in the dim street lights, and beyond all reason, she trusted him. “Sorry. Yes, all those things, but no. My name’s Annie.”
“Good to meet you, Annie.” Trey gave a nod as if to emphasize the point and led the way up the metal steps, his work boots thudding with each riser. “I’m staying here because any remodeling work needs to be done in the off season. The rental houses are pretty booked up here in the summer.”
Annie hesitated, not taking the leap to tell him why she was here on this chilly November night. “Well, this is my room. You can just drop the stuff there.”
Trey grinned, and now in the brighter light, she got the full impact of his dark red hair and bright blue eyes. “Well, it was nice to meet you, Annie. If you need anything, I’m right next door in 202. Otherwise, I’ll see you at breakfast?”
Annie fought to keep her eyelids from closing on her as she stood in place, hand clutching the doorknob. “I don’t know if I’ll make it. I may be sleeping in for a change.”
Trey nodded, exuding charm and maybe mischief. “Well, on that note, I’ll be heading away from your door. Good night, Annie.”
Annie found herself alternating between staring at James’s diaper bag and watching Trey walk away. She’d had enough southern charm to last her a lifetime, but it didn’t stop her from enjoying the view.
In the meantime check out Christina’s other Christmas book on her
About the Author:
A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Christina Sinisi writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. Her works include a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and the American Title IV Contest in which she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine. Her published books include The Christmas Confusion and the upcoming Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series, as well as Christmas On Ocracoke. By day, she is a psychology professor and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband and two children and cat Chessie.