Sing We Now of Christmas

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Available from Amazon

She tried Johnny's cell again, four or five times, but it rang then went straight to voice mail. Frustrated and more than a little anxious, Jessica fumed but she refused to believe anything could have happened to her husband. Some deep faith from within supported her belief that God wouldn't lead her to the love of her life and then take him away, especially not so early in their marriage. That was impossible. Besides, if she could get a sense of him which she did Jessica would hang ng onto that anchor. Afraid that her car might overheat during the lengthy wait, she rolled down the window and shut off the engine. The air was sticky and hot, a result of the passing storm. That heat made Jessica almost sleepy and to stay awake, she reminisced about the night last December that she first met Johnny at Rusty's Nail in Joplin. Jessica got up to leave, unhappy because her friend, Susan, spent all her time with the lead singer of the band, and backed into someone. In her haste, she almost lost her balance. Strong arms caught her and held her upright as a voice said, audible above the music but not loud,

"Whoa there, honey, take it easy."

She whirled, embarrassed, to mumble an apology. All her words faded away when she gazed into his eyes, dark brown and richer than sweet chocolate. He looked back with interest and strong attraction flickered between them like smoldering flame. He wasn't the kind of guy she would give a second glance under any other circumstance, but tonight she couldn't look anywhere else. Everything about him was the complete opposite of what she liked in a man. She liked tailored, Brooks Brothers business charm and he radiated country cowboy.

He fit into his faded Wranglers as if they'd been made just for his long legs and his pearl snap button, blue patterned Western shirt suited him. He towered above her, taller by several inches even without the worn cowboy boots he wore. Jessica inhaled his scent, a potent mixture of musky cologne, tobacco smoke and beneath it all, Irish Spring soap. His hands, still holding her arms, were warm against her bare skin and she was glad now that she'd worn the black silk halter top despite the cold instead of the red sweater she'd worn to school.

Jessica made her voice work with effort. "Thank you."

"No problem," he said and she drank in his voice, strong and comforting with just enough of an Oklahoma twang to make it interesting. "Would you like to dance?"

"I'd love it," Jessica said as he released his grip to grab her hand. "My name's Jessica Martin."

"I'm Johnny," he said and she committed the name to memory. "Johnny Devereaux."

Johnny led her onto the tiny dance floor just as the lead singer began the softer, sweeter vintage country song, Lookin' For Love. The old Johnny Lee song she remembered from that movie Urban Cowboy now seemed like a theme song. She recalled watching it one late night in college, hating the boot scooting dance moves and the mechanical bull riding but loving the scene where Debra Winger danced to this same music with John Travolta. Such a coincidence she mused, Johnny Lee, John Travolta, and Johnny Devereaux.

Johnny put his arms around Jessica and she cuddled close against him for the slow dance. They swayed together, their easy motions in time with the music, and she felt safe. Jessica's head fell short of his shoulder and as they danced she could hear the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. Above them, the stationary silver ball that must have once spun reflected the colorful Christmas lights strung above the bar and she felt the strangest sense of coming home in his arms. She wanted to stay there forever, wrapped in that magic cocoon of his embrace and hold the moment close to her heart.

Jessica savored that memory, just as sweet now as it had been on that incredible night. Seven months ago, she'd never dreamed she'd know this deep love and wondered how she survived without Johnny in her life. Until then she never believed in love at first sight, but after that dance the concept certainly made a lot more sense. They never doubted the reality of it and by the time they married, down at the lake over Memorial Day weekend, neither did any of their family or friends. They were meant to be together, Jessica and Johnny. Like Lucy and Ricky.

Comparing her marriage to those of other true love stories made Jessica smile and some of her tension drained away. Everything would be fine as soon as she got down to the lake.

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