Family Blessings Bonus Scene For Christmas Light
“Family Blessings” is one of my favorite bonus scenes for Christmas Light, my holiday novella that debuted in November 2014. In this scene, Ben demonstrates his commitment to a future with Jade, while showing his deep respect for her parents by seeking their blessings first.
Many readers don’t take too kindly to Jade’s mother, and I totally get that, because not only is Mrs. Engel an obstacle to Jade and Ben’s potential romance, but the woman’s negativity and controlling behavior has contributed greatly to her daughter’s self-esteem issues. In turn, Jade’s insecurities led to her greatest regrets—including the loss of her friendship with Ben and her career missteps.
Buoyed by the holiday spirit, Jade’s return to Starling is her opportunity to make amends, and her evolving relationship with Gigi echoes this internal transformation throughout the story. By the end of her journey, she becomes a woman who is ready and deserving of a mature, lasting love.
Ben possesses that wonderful blend of integrity and compassion I love to see in a holiday romance hero. In spite of Mrs. Engel’s skewed judgement of him when it comes to her son’s alcoholism, and her initial refusal to accept him back into her daughter’s life, he is always kind and respectful. Whether Mrs. Engel truly changes for the better remains to be seen, I suppose. Keep an eye out for her in future books, like in Jeremy and Elizabeth’s romance, The Rebel’s Redemption. (Click on the title to read the blurb and a sample.)
But first, here’s your bonus scene as promised!
Ben knocked on the brick-red door, the one he’d stood in front of countless times as a child. Only now he wasn’t waiting for his pony-tailed friend to come out and play. With sweaty palms and a tight chest, he prayed that the family of the woman he loved would find it in their hearts to believe in him the way he believed in a future with their only daughter.
Gigi appeared in the doorway and stuck out her head. “Oh, Ben. Merry Christmas,” she stated, her voice flat.
He pushed thoughts of their last conversation to the back of his mind, determined to make a fresh start. It was Christmas, after all. He swallowed and pulled on a smile. “They’re fine, thanks. May I come in?”
A shadow crossed her face. “She’s not here.”
“I know. I’d like to talk with your husband a moment, if that’s okay?”
“Who’s there?” Grandma Bertie asked, pushing next to her daughter-in-law to peek out the door.
He smiled at the frail but spirited old woman. “Hi Bertie, nice to—”
“Don’t you try to smooth talk me, Ben Stephens.” The old lady wagged an arthritic finger at him. “You broke my grandbaby’s heart.” She lifted her cane, swung it up, and poked him in the chest with the foot of it.
He took an involuntarily step back and lifted his palms in surrender. This was going to be harder than he’d anticipated. Sweat trickled down his back beneath his sweater. He’d pitched and sold his documentaries to panels of businessmen. How hard could it be to sell these two ladies on the idea of allowing him inside the house?
Gigi patted the older woman’s shoulder. “I know you’re upset. I am, too. But it’s the Christmas season.” She nudged Bertie’s cane down until its foot once again rested on the floor where it belonged, then crossed her arms, her solemn eyes piercing him. After a long moment, she sighed and opened the door wide. “Ah, c’mon in. I suppose you deserve a chance.”
“Thank you.” Ben stepped into the foyer.
“I hope I don’t live to regret this,” she muttered. “Dennis is holed up in the den. Watching war movies from the sound of it.”
She didn’t wish him luck, but he swore a whisper of encouragement buoyed him forward into the room whose walls trembled with explosions and battle cries.
“Afternoon,” he shouted above the blaring TV.
Mr. Engel threw him a sideways glance and shook his head. “I had a feeling you’d be showing up here sooner or later.” He tapped his remote and the room fell silent. “Sit.”
Ben did as requested, perching on the sofa opposite the man’s lounger, his throat tight. “I apologize for interrupting, but I need to talk with you about Jade.” He leaned forward, hands on his knees. Might as well get right to it. “Sir, I’m in love with your daughter.”
Eyebrows rose. “Are you, now?”
“I realize it might appear sudden, considering Jade and I hadn’t seen each other in years. But I know how I feel.”
“You were shacked up with that other girl for quite a while. What happened there? What’s to say you won’t dump my daughter for the next pretty thing that catches your eye?”
He’d known on the drive over there’d likely be some hard questions, and he respected Dennis all the more for asking them. “Sofia and I didn’t have the connection I share with your daughter, not by a long shot. This is different. Lasting.” He wiped a hand across his brow, and cleared his throat. “I intend to tell her exactly how I feel, and show her I’m committed to us. If I’m lucky, she’ll be wearing my engagement ring by this time tomorrow. If I’m not, well, then I’ll have to accept that. I only want what’s best for her.”
The older man stood and stroked his chin with a beefy hand. “Appears to me you’ve got it all figured out. Why aren’t you going after her, then?”
Ben fought a smile, remembering Jeremy’s similar question, and rose to his feet. “I was hoping to get your blessing first.”
His admission seemed to take a little wind out of the man’s sails. “Maddie and Donovan are good people. Can’t imagine they’d raise a fool. As for Jade, it’s her life. I trust her to know what’s best. If that turns out to be you, then you have my blessing.”
“I appreciate that, sir.”
Dennis tilted his head. “I imagine you’ll want to know where she went, too, but I’m afraid I can’t help you out with that. Keeping track of our three kids and the two little ones is The Wife’s department.”
The wood floor creaked near the doorway.
“What am I in charge of?” Gigi asked.
“Everything, dear, everything.” He gave Ben a hearty slap on the shoulder.
“Enjoy the rest of your holiday, sir, and thanks for listening.” He extended his hand and Dennis returned the favor before plopping back into his lounger.
Gigi watched as he approached, her expression pensive, then she turned to join him on the short walk to the foyer. At the front door, she pulled a slip of paper out of her pants pocket. “Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thanks.” He hesitated, wondering how to convince a woman who only wanted to believe the worst of him that he could be trusted. “I know this might be asking too much, but would you tell me where she is?” He waited, watching the expressions flit across her face, while he prayed harder than he’d ever prayed in his life…for himself, for Jade, for their future together.
“She was really hurting when she left,” Gigi mused, gazing at that paper she clutched her hands. “I’ve never seen her so down.” She stopped. “Well, not since she broke off her friendship with you all those years ago…” Her voice trailed off, a frown creasing her pale forehead. “Maybe it would be good for the two of you to sort out whatever is going on between you, once and for all.” She lifted her eyes and stared at a point somewhere past his left shoulder. “Before you go, there’s something I want to get off my chest. I’m supposed to be a good Christian, and let God do the judging, but when it came to you I took matters into my own hands and that was wrong. I’m sorry for any trouble I caused you or Jade because of it.” Her gaze met his, her eyes so much like her daughter’s, and filled with so much sorrow his throat ached.
Ben accepted the paper from her. He read it, and his heart soared. He couldn’t help but hug her. Hard. After a quick peck on her cheek for good measure, he finally found his voice to thank her. Then, eager to be on his way, he opened the door.
Flustered, she patted his shoulder. “I don’t know which of her girlfriends’ homes she’ll be at by the time you arrive, but my hunch would be that one.” She gestured to the address listed at the top of the paper. “Now don’t drive crazy, and when you get there, be sure to give her our love.”
“Will do,” he nodded. With hope in his heart and a grin splitting his face, Ben raced down the driveway and jumped into his waiting SUV. It was all packed and fueled up, ready to for the most important trip of his life.
I hope you enjoyed this bonus scene for Christmas Light. I love connecting with my readers, and welcome your questions and comments. Feel free to contact me. If you want to receive news of future releases and receive exclusive Jolyse Barnett Loyal Reader Perks, subscribe here for my newsletter.