A Gift of Trust

Free A Gift of Trust by Emily Mims

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Authors: Emily Mims
    Chapter One
    Christmas was definitely in the air in Verde, Texas.
Christmas lights adorned the windows of the shops and offices
facing the old stone courthouse and winked on and off upon a
towering old pine tree that guarded the front door of the stately
red brick courthouse. Christmas trees could be spotted in the
windows of most of the shops and offices facing the town square,
and everything from stuffed Santas to small manger scenes
accompanied the trees. On a makeshift stage in the courthouse
parking lot, the various community churches took turns providing
choirs, carolers, and manger scenes, and out in front of the
hardware store, Santa, sounding suspiciously like Betty Cleburne’s
husband Joe-Bob held court for the little ones. Later in the
evening, as soon as the sun went down, the high school band would
lead a Christmas parade through the streets of the cheerful little
town. All in all, Verde was geared up and decked out to deliver the
Hill Country Christmas that dreams were made of.
    Lisa Simmons wished it would all just go
    Lisa whisked to the pass-through window
joining the kitchen and the dining room of Gus’s Hill Country Café
and peered at the plates waiting on the ledge. “Gus, this is only
half of the Briscoes’ order. Where’s Ryan’s burger?”
    “I’m plating it now,” Gus said as he quickly
assembled a child-sized burger and added it to the chicken-fried
steak plates on the ledge. “Tell the newlyweds ‘hi’ for me,
    “Sure thing,” Lisa said as she deftly loaded
a tray and maneuvered through the crowded café to where Jack,
Caroline, and Ryan Briscoe were seated. She smiled at the
happy-looking couple and their precious little boy as she served
them their meals. “So, Ryan, what is Santa bringing you this
    “A bull and a puppy,” Ryan said happily.
“Daddy said a puppy and mommy said bull.”
    Jack Briscoe snickered and Caroline turned a
little red. “Said more than that, didn’t you, Caroline?” he teased
as Lisa laughed out loud.
    “Never mind,” Caroline said as she too
started to laugh. “Santa will be taking good care of Ryan. Say, I
heard Santa took good care of you, too, Lisa.” She glanced around
the room and at the We aim to please button Lisa sported on her
sweater. “Congratulations.”
    “Thanks,” Lisa said. “We signed the papers
last week. I’ve always wanted to own a small restaurant, and a
chance to go part-owner here was just too good to pass up. And I
think my grandfather would approve my use of the nest egg he left
    “I’m sure he would,” Jack said warmly. “He
would be so happy for you.”
    So, why wasn’t she happier for herself? Lisa
wondered as she wished the Briscoes a good day and went to take the
next order. Thanks to her beloved grandfather’s generosity, she had
already achieved one of her major goals in life; Gus’s Hill Country
Café was half hers, and when Gus retired in five years she would
own it outright. She lived in a terrific little town and had the
muscle car of her dreams and all kinds of good friends and a sister
in Austin who loved her to pieces. So, instead of being thrilled
with what life had sent her way, why was she envying a couple who’d
had to fight their way back from hell? That made her ashamed of
herself. Caroline and Jack deserved every little bit of happiness
that came their way, and she needed to get her attitude adjusted.
It was Christmas, and Christmas was the season to be merry.
    On the other hand, maybe she would just wait
a half an hour or so for that season of good cheer, she thought
sourly as Deputy Sheriff Rory Keller pushed open the café door and
stepped through. Clad in his tan winter uniform, with his Sam
Browne strapped around his waist, his Glock in his holster, and his
uniform Stetson riding low on his forehead and covering his thick
dark hair, he looked around the café for an empty table. The
impassive expression in his dark brown eyes cooled even further

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