Christmas Ever After by Elyse Douglas
Can 26-year-old JENNIFER TAYLOR overcome her past—the death of her fiancé that has left her bitter
and angry? Will she accept the gift of an adventure from a mysterious woman before it’s too late: a trip
to New York City on Christmas Eve, where she’ll meet three men who will change her life forever?
Suddenly, everything seemed to happen at once, and in slow motion. Mrs. Stanton stepped in front of
the shop, stabbing away at the snow with her cane.
Jennifer’s back tires slid away into chaos. It was as if the world was spinning away from her. She
frantically fought for control of the car, but the steering wheel became useless. She was slipping away
toward the east wall of Cards N’ Stuff. Jennifer held her breath.
Just then, Mrs. Stanton’s left foot found an unfortunate old patch of ice beneath the newly fallen snow.
She felt it give way, and her cane, which should have been a support, slipped from her hand and sailed
away into a snowdrift. Jennifer watched in horror as Mrs. Stanton’s body lifted from the earth and
rose like a great bird above the spread of undulating snow. She seemed suspended in time. For a brief
hopeful moment, Jennifer had the irrational belief that she could somehow scramble from her car and
rescue Mrs. Stanton, as one would rescue a priceless fragile vase falling from a great height.
But there was no rescue. There was no one to catch Mrs. Stanton and there was no one to stop
Jennifer’s car from its collision course with the garbage cans in the alleyway, and the inevitable impact
into the side of the building.
Mrs. Stanton’s body finally hit the snow, like a massive meteorite striking the earth. The impact threw
up a plume of whiteness. The crater was deep and impressive. Mrs. Stanton let out an almighty howl
that scattered chirping sparrows into the trees. Her yell was eclipsed by Jennifer’s car slamming into the
garbage cans, and colliding into the side wall of Cards N’ Stuff.
Then there was silence. But only a brief one.
From somewhere, close by, came a low rumble. It was a foreboding sound, like the low moan of fate in
the apprehension of an imminent catastrophe.
Cards N’ Stuff began to shimmy and quake. Icicles snapped and fell. Fractures formed on the roof.
Sliding snow whooshed down in avalanches, crashing to the ground.
Mrs. Stanton was frozen in fear, looking bug-eyed, hearing a roar, like the sea.
Jennifer managed to shove open the jammed car door and roll out, falling into a mound of snow. She
heard the frightening sound, struggled to her feet and staggered away from the building, running,
stumbling and gasping.
There was a terrible, miserable groan as the roof buckled and plunged down into the shop in a storm of
wood, roof-tiles, dirt and snow. In violent hammer-like blows, it shattered snow globes, jewelry boxes
and porcelain figurines. It smashed glass displays and chopped through shelves, burying Christmas
angels, Santa Clauses, Christmas cards and delicate earrings. The window Christmas displays were blown
into oblivion; the Victorian town demolished; the electric train flicked away and buried by a powerful
cascading shaft of dirt and ice. The family around the piano was pummeled and destroyed.
In a final act of destruction, sprinkler pipes ruptured, shooting streams of water into the air like geysers,
flooding the place. Books, CDs and DVDs floated by, little boats navigating a chaotic space.
When it was finally over, an uneasy silence settled in, like a warning.
About the Authors
Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas
Pennington. Elyse’s mother was a painter and her father a textile consultant. Elyse began writing
poems and short stories at an early age, and graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s
Degree in English Literature. Douglas grew up in a family of musicians, astrologers and avid readers. His
grandfather was a gifted humorist and storyteller from Kentucky.
Elyse Douglas’ four novels include: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Wanting Rita, The Christmas Diary and
Christmas Ever After. They live in New York City.
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