Title: Mountain Laurel Christmas
Author: Jan Sikes
Genre: Holiday Short Story
Country superstar, Cole Knight, has it all—fame, fortune, fast cars, and willing women. Yet, he's dying inside, drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.
It’s easier to lose himself in a whiskey bottle than face the hard truth—he hasn’t delivered on a sacred promise made to his father. And it rips out pieces of his heart and soul each time the memory surfaces.
It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of that failure drives him back to the tiny cabin in the Cumberland Mountains where he lost his entire family. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together?
The wooden stage creaks under my ostrich skin boots as I stride onto it. The revered circle where so many great artists have stood beckons to me. The applause and cheers are deafening.
The Grand Ole Opry has never felt so welcoming. Hundreds of music fans face me. Hot blinding stage lights, and the solid bass drum thumping behind me, give me an adrenaline high like nothing else. And have since 1969.
Six years. Yet, it seems like a lifetime. God, I feel old at twenty-six. But I made it to where I always dreamed of going.
Performing my music is the closest feeling of home I ever get.
I squint to see the audience beyond the lights as I step up to the mic. “I’ve been on the road solid for the past two years. I’ve traveled across the United States and Europe.” Shorty, my bass player, hands me a towel to wipe sweat from my brow. “No place feels quite as good as this beautiful auditorium and being back here in Nashville. Thank you all for buying my records and coming out to my shows. You—” I open my arms wide. “—You are my family.”
The crowd claps and cheers.
I down half a bottle of water. In truth, I long for a shot of whiskey.
Corinna South’s lilting voice echoes in my head as I hear her admonishment for the millionth time. “Never drink liquor before or while you are performing. You may think it helps your game, but believe me, it doesn’t. This is experience talking. Kid, do you hear me?”
Yes, I heard her. Still do.
An attractive young woman in the front row stands and yells, “I love you, Cole Knight!”
“I love you too, darlin’.” And in that frozen moment of time, I am sincere. Without my fans, I am nothing. I’d be back on Nashville street corners singing for nickels and dimes.
While I plug in my guitar, I yell to the band, “Let’s close out with ‘Blue Christmas.’”
I turn back toward the audience. There’s no other feeling quite like the energy exchange that takes place on the stage. It’s a high like nothing else. “Thank you all so much. You’ve been such a great crowd. Since it’s almost Christmas, how about I leave you with a song you’re sure to recognize?”
The audience claps and cheers.
“Blue Christmas” never had as much meaning for me as it does tonight. It’s not that I have anyone I’m pining for. No. It’s more about myself. At the same time, I can’t help but think about Corinna. The loss still stings.
I sing my heart out, then come back for an encore.
I close out the show, pose for the required photos, and hurry to change into comfortable jeans and a shirt, throwing on my soft leather jacket. Loneliness engulfs me.
Now I can have that drink.
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What I love most about the holiday season:
I can answer that in one word—Family. There is something about the holiday season that allows families to put aside differences and celebrate. The twinkling lights, garland strands and decorated trees seal the spirit of Christmas. Then when the you can see the wonder in the eyes of the children, you know it is truly a special time of year when adults can grab onto a bit of that magic for themselves.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
This short story is all about the loss of and reconnection with family. While Cole (aka Andy aka Norbert) has attained a high level of success in the music business, he is alone and empty inside. When he returns to the old home place on the side of the Cumberland mountains, he discovers something that sends him on a mission to regain what was lost. It’s a feel-good story from the heart.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs July 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on August 1.
Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart.
She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. The entertaining true story comes to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books.
And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories. She published her debut paranormal romance novel, Ghostly Interference, Book 1 in The White Rune Series, in 2020, which won a bronze medal award from Reader’s Favorite. Jagged Feathers released on January 31, 2022, as Book 2 of that series, and Saddled Hearts will release later in 2022.
She is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.
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