Thursday, January 28, 2016

Miss Beadle (Charlotte Stewart) Wrote A Book!



Actress Charlotte Stewart, who played Miss Beadle on Little House on the Prairie, shared the cover of her upcoming book on her Facebook page. We'll post more news as we have it.

Now, if I could just get Dean Butler to write a memoir all would be right with my world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Paramount Set to Make Little House on the Prairie Movie



Though Sony was originally set to produce the Little House on the Prairie movie, The Hollywood Reporter announced yesterday that the project landed at Paramount. You can read all the details at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/little-house-prairie-movie-lands-859422

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review: Michael Landon's Legacy by Cheryl Landon


Michael Landon's oldest daughter, Cheryl, shares what she feels is her father's legacy alongside seven key principles she believes can change your life and the world in Michael Landon's Legacy: 7 Keys to Supercharging Your Life.

The book opens dramatically with an account of the car accident that almost killed her. Cheryl talks about her addiction to pain killers and a suicide attempt, crediting Michael Landon's unwavering love as crucial to her survival.

This is a book I borrowed from the library on a whim because I saw Michael Landon's picture on the front. I had heard some of Cheryl's story in discussing plots for Little House on the Prairie episodes with other fans of the show, but I knew very little about the author before reading Michael Landon's Legacy. 

In many ways, her story is amazing. A life of hardship until her mother married Landon, she suddenly knew the grass to be greener. That didn't mean, however, she was promised a happily ever after. Problems plagued her after that near-fatal car wreck. His sudden illness and death, along with last-minute will changes that tore the Landon family apart, could have left Cheryl bitter; but the seven keys found within the book's pages changed her life and she shares them now with millions as a motivational speaker.

Since it is titled Michael Landon's Legacy, I thought it would be more about his contributions to the world. While the author talks about Landon and how she feels what she is doing honors his legacy, this book mostly focuses on these seven keys:
  • Trust in God
  • Choose love over fear
  • Believe in daily miracles
  • Take action now
  • Believe in truth between people
  • Build bridges
  • Don't judge each other

The tone of the book is New Age and Cheryl admits she follows the Church of Religious Science; though she also says she is a born-again Christian. No matter what faith she identifies with, these keys are good principles to live by.

Not my favorite book by any means, but I'm glad I read it to see how a family member viewed the iconic Michael Landon and to know that the author has dedicated her life to making a difference in the world.


Hardcover: 172 pages
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company (February 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1571742859
ISBN-13: 978-1571742858


I borrowed this book from my local library. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos



Happy New Year!

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.


Laura rocked in her chair next to the fireplace. A quilt wrapped around her, she gazed into the yellow and orange flames of the roaring fire. How much longer?

The mantle clock chimed five times and anxiety bubbled inside her. She had no reason to be nervous. Manly made this trip in worse weather at least half a dozen times. But this was different. That was before they were married…before she moved into the tidy white house Almanzo used to share with his sister.

Through the glass she saw the darkening sky and heard the steady slap of wind blowing sleet against the window panes. He hadn’t told her when he would be home, but Manly never liked to be late for supper. A thick, hearty stew simmered on the stove. The freshly baked loaf of bread he enjoyed dipping into the gravy so he could scoop up every last drop had cooled by now. The smell of percolating coffee wafted from the kitchen.

She stood and pulled the quilt tight around her shoulders before trudging to the front window. The snow that had fallen yesterday hugged the sides of the barn and chicken coop where they met the ground. Today’s icy storm would make the roads slippery. Could Almanzo’s cutter have slid off the road? Laura couldn’t keep her mind from conjuring up an image of Manly trapped underneath his tipped over cutter in a ditch slowly freezing to death. She shuddered. No. It will do no good to think like that. He’ll be home any minute.

But he wasn’t home any minute.

She ate supper and he didn’t come.

She washed the dirty dishes and wrapped up the bread and he didn’t come.

She stoked the dying fire three times and still there was no sound of sleigh bells in the front yard. Oh, Manly, she thought as she looked out the window for what seemed like the thousandth time. Where are you?

By ten o’clock it was all Laura could do to keep herself from saddling up one of the horses to go out in search of her husband. She knew it made no sense. She could only assume he took the usual route home from Sleepy Eye. If the road were blocked or he had to seek shelter from the storm, she would have no idea where to find him. Frantic, she dashed upstairs to her bedroom and grabbed her Bible. Then going back to the chair in front of the fireplace, she turned up the kerosene lamp, snuggled into the quilt, and searched for the peace and comfort only the Bible’s pages could provide.

Laura found the passage right away. When she was still a child, Ma would recite this portion of Scripture before Pa left on any journey and every night until his safe return. It was a tradition she continued in her own home now that she was married. This was only the third time Almanzo had been away since their August wedding, but she found it especially lonely without him around the place. She took a deep breath and then recited slowly:

Psalm 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Her gazed lingered on the last line of the Psalm. She closed the Bible, leaving her right thumb in between the pages to hold her place. She breathed slow and steady, her eyelids suddenly heavy from lack of sleep.

A cold rush of air startled Laura awake.

“Were ya sleepin’? a snow covered Almanzo asked from the front door.

She sprung up from the chair and ran over to embrace him. “Oh, Manly, I am so glad you’re home!” He chuckled as she pecked his cheek with kisses.

He tried to pull her arms away from his neck. “You’re going to be all wet.”

“I don’t care.”

“Well, at least let me take my coat and hat off.”

She stepped back. “Oh, I’m sorry.”

“I woulda come in through the back door to avoid this mess on the carpet, but it was iced shut.”

Laura fluttered her hands. “It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad you’re home safely.” She took his hat into the kitchen and shook the melting ice off in the sink. His dripping boots squished and thudded on the floor behind her as he walked into the room.

Pulling off his coat and the muffler that hung around his neck, he put the wet clothes on hooks by the back door so they could dry. Once Laura had placed his hat on another hook, he scooped her up in his arms.

“I’m sorry I was so late.” He planted a soft kiss on her forehead. “Had to wait for a shipment to arrive. I promised Mr. Crowley I would help him unload before I left.”

Leaning her head against his broad chest, she heard the thump, thump of his heart. “That’s okay. Are you hungry?” she asked, though she was sure she knew the answer.

“I’m starved.”

Laura pulled away. “I made beef stew—”

Before she knew what was happening, he had drawn her back to him and engulfed her with a deep kiss. Moments passed, and when they finally parted, Laura’s heart raced in her chest. “What was that for?”

“Listen,” he said. The clock chimed once, twice, and then ten more times, signaling the beginning of the new year. “Happy new year, Beth.”

“Happy new year, Manly.”

They kissed once more, whispering I love you to each other. The moment they parted a crooked smile turned the corner of his lips. “Can I have that stew now?”

“Oh, Manly!” She playfully slapped him before grabbing a bowl and spoon from the table. Everything had worked out fine, just as the Scripture had said. I pray this is a sign of a wonderful new year.

The End.




Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Rose Wilder Lane



Rose Wilder was born in De Smet, South Dakota (when it was still Dakota Territory) on December 5, 1886 to Almanzo and Laura Wilder. Difficulties and tragedy led the Wilders to leave De Smet and spend some time in Spring Valley, Minnesota and Westville, Florida before they returned for a time to De Smet.

In 1894, the Wilders journeyed with friends to Mansfield, Missouri, where they finally settled. Rose attended school in Mansfield, but finished high school in Crowley, Louisiana where her aunt, Eliza Jane Thayer lived.

After graduation, Rose learned telegraphy and worked to support herself. While living in San Francisco, she met Claire Gillette Lane, whom she married in 1909. Having moved to Kansas City, Rose wrote for the Kansas City Post before she and her husband began selling real estate. As the years went by, Rose and Gillette drifted apart, and eventually divorced.

Rose returned to her writing and for decades wrote for major magazine, in addition to ghostwriting and authoring books. It was Rose who encouraged her mother to earn extra money by writing.

Rose Wilder Lane died on October 30, 1968, right before she was due to take a trip to Europe. She is buried in Mansfield, Missouri.

Happy 129th birthday to our favorite bachelor girl.

*

Rose Wilder Lane's home in Danbury, Connecticut was recently up for sale. It sold last month for $400,000. You can see pictures here.

Sleigh Bells Ring: LHOP Inspired Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos




Sleigh Bells Ring

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.


"Bye Ma! Bye Pa!" Laura turned around in her place next to Almanzo, a large smile curling the corners of her lips. She waved at her parents who were still standing next to Reverend Alden on the church steps.

Almanzo prompted his Morgan's into a slow trot.

"Make sure you're home by supper," Charles called after them.

"Yes, Sir." Almanzo's voice sounded over the tinkling of bells. He waved without looking back as his horses pulled the cutter out of town behind the others.

Laura and Almanzo, Nellie and Percival Dalton, and Willie Oleson glided over the snow covered road toward the blind school. With Mary and Adam's help they had planned a little surprise sleigh ride party for the children before their parents came tomorrow to pick them up for the long holiday vacation.

The crisp air stung Laura's cheeks as she snuggled underneath the bear skins. Almanzo had tucked her in tightly, but the cold still seemed to seep through any gap and chilled her legs. Luckily the sun shone brightly and the wind had calmed down since they made their way into town for Sunday services.

Within seconds of Almanzo's horses stopping in front of the blind school, Hester Sue came out to greet them. Dressed in a heavy shawl with a wrap wounded tightly around her head, the corner of her eyes crinkled as she squinted from the sun reflecting off the snow.

"Halleluiah!" I don't think I coulda kept this secret another minute."

Almanzo's and Percival hearty laughs filled the air. They each held up a hand to help their ladies out of the sleighs. Willie jumped out of his father's sleigh and dug underneath the bear skins to find a basket of goodies he and his father had baked yesterday.

"You look more excited than Laura," Almanzo teased. He glanced over at Laura whose raised eyebrows feigned displeasure. He bent down and placed a quick kiss on her check. "Aw Beth, ya know I'm just jokin'."

"Oh, those young'uns. You can't pass nothin' by them. They could smell Mary fryin' up those donuts and they was sure she was up to some kind of mischief."

Hester Sue shook her head as she laughed. Some of the children saw more with their other senses then many sighted people saw with their eyes. "And Almanzo, after we finished pressin' the apple cider, Mary had enough to make ya a good helpin' of fried onions 'n apples. It's waitin' for you on the stove."

Almanzo took the steps two at a time. "Well then, let's get in there. I'm starvin'."

"You're always starving." Laura said with a smirk.

The group laughed as they filed into the hallway. Hester Sue took Laura's and Nellie's coats and hats. Laura spied Adam with the children in the classroom off to the left.

"See, I told you something was going on." The melodic voice of Susan Goodspeed tickled their ears.

Adam stood in front of the classroom. Dressed in the brown suit Laura had seen him wear so often while teaching, Adam commanded attention in any room he occupied. I wonder what he would have been if he hadn't lost his sight.

One hand on his hip, Adam smiled at the children. "We're going to end classes early today."

The room erupted with shouts and cheers.

Adam put his hand out to silence them, a motion Laura found curious since none of the children, nor Adam could see. "Settle down now. Some of your good friends from town have offered to take you on rides in their cutters this afternoon."

Again the room erupted with cheers and shouts. Adam immediately refocused their attention. "But we still have chores to do."

"Awwww." The children sighed.

Adam walked to the doorway leading out to the hallway where Laura and the rest of the group stood. "Susan, Christy, and Melissa, you're going to the kitchen to help Mrs. Kendall."

"Yes, Sir," they sang out, excusing themselves as they passed by the people in the hallway.

"Matthew, Robert, and Timothy," I need you to bring in some more firewood. Bundle up, the temperature is dropping."

"Yes, Sir," said Matthew.

The other two boys followed him out of the room. Looks like Matthew will be a leader when he gets older, thought Laura.

Chairs scrapped along the wooden floor as the rest of the children stood up. Adam smiled as the small group of children waiting anxiously to find out what they got to do. "The rest of you can get ready for a sleigh ride."

"Yeah!" they hollered as they raced toward the coat room to get dressed.

Adam turned toward the adults standing in the hallway. Percival lifted his head to look up at him. "Good to see you again, Adam."

The men shook hands. "It's good to see you too, Percival. I'm so glad you came up with this idea."

Percival shook his head. "I can't take the credit." Percival touched Willie's shoulder. "It was Willie's idea."

Adam extended his hand. "Well then, thank you, Willie. I know the children will have a wonderful time."

"It weren't nothin'." He shrugged.

Nellie nudged her little brother with her elbow. "Now, don't be modest. It's wonderful that you thought of doing this."

Everyone expressed their agreement. Laura noticed how much Willie had changed recently. His boyish features and mannerisms were quickly fading. It amazed her that a child who had been such a brat could grow up into a caring young man worthy of her admiration. It wouldn't be long before Willie began courting. When did he grow up?

Laura grabbed Nellie's arm. "C'mon, Nellie. Let's go help Mary in the kitchen."

The two women strolled arm in arm, chatting about food and how to plan out the day.

Willie slapped Almanzo's arm. "Bet ya never thought you would see that."

Almanzo chuckled. "Nope."

"See what?" Percival squinted at the two women as they turned the corner into the kitchen.

"Oh nothin'," said Willie as the group turned around and headed toward the door.

Mary stood at the stove frying donuts while Laura, Nellie, and Hester Sue piled plates high with chicken, slices of ham, and corn bread. A pot of beans simmered on the cook stove. Having sent the girls into the dining room to set the tables, the women settled into conversations of Christmases past.

Hester Sue told them of her first Christmas after the Civil War ended. Her Papa and Mama sitting around the fireplace of the first home they had ever owned. It was a tough Christmas, she said, as they had little money to put food on the table, but their freedom and the many dreams they held for the future were presents enough.

Nellie spoke of her first Christmas as Percival's wife and how they celebrated Hanukah together and Christmas with her family. Nellie had begun to learn the Jewish prayers and spoke of how fascinating it was to learn about a faith so different from her own.

As she spoke, Laura noticed the change that had come over her face ever since she had gotten married. As a child, Nellie wore a scowl or evil grin most of the time. How can this be the same person?

A chuckle unconsciously escaped Laura's lips and Nellie looked up from her work.

"What's so funny?"

Laura looked upon her former archenemy. Her eyes widened. "This. Us!" Laura's hands traveled to her hips. "Did you ever imagine that one day we could be in the same room without fighting?"

Nellie shrugged. "Well, I didn't think we would fight forever, but I didn't expect to like you as much as I do."

Sudden discomfort forced Nellie to lower her eyes, but Laura loved her candor. At least that part of Nellie hadn't changed. The strangeness of the situation left Laura a bit nervous, as if she expected immediate darkness to come and the old Nellie to slither out of it. But it also felt good to be together, forging a new relationship where a friendship once seemed impossible.

Hester Sue glanced from Laura to Nellie. Even Mary stopped her work to listen to the unfolding conversation.

A genuine smile parted Laura's lips. "I'm glad we decided to spend the day together."

"Me too." Nellie focused on putting the last few slices of ham on the plate. "Laura, whatever happened to your pony?"

Laura stopped rolling out the dough for the pie crust she was making. The lump that formed in her throat seemed impossible to swallow. She hadn't thought of Bunny in years.

Mary placed a plate of warm donuts down on the table and squeezed Laura's arm. Appreciative of the support, Laura squeezed back with her free hand. Clearing her throat, she looked at Nellie with moist eyes.

"Grandpa Ingalls and I were racing Bunny in the field. She got tangled in a barbed wire fence. Pa couldn't save her."

Nellie's face dropped into a sympathetic frown. "I'm sorry. She was a beautiful animal. Not that I ever appreciated her when I had her."

Hester Sue wagged a finger at Nellie. "Wait a second. I thought Bunny was Laura's horse."

"She was." Laura sprinkled the rolling pin with more flour. "I traded her to Mr. Oleson so that I could buy a cook stove for Ma for Christmas."

Nellie shook her head. "Father knew how much I wanted that horse. Laura really had him over a barrel."

Mary sat down at the table. "It sure messed up Pa's Christmas plans though."

"You're right," said Laura. "Pa was repairing and painting a set of wheels for Mr. Oleson so that he could buy Ma the cook stove." Laura placed the rolled out dough inside the greased pan and spooned in the apple filling. "Pa couldn't believe it when Mr. Oleson wouldn't sell him the stove...but he never told our secret."

"That was the year Pa made you a saddle for Bunny." Laura could tell by Mary's intense expression that she was remebering back to that Christmas on Plum Creek. "I will never forget the look on your face when Nellie and Mr. Oleson showed up at the door to take Bunny."

Nellie dabbed at the tears forming at the corners of her eyes. "Stop. You're making me feel even more guilty for what I did."

"Whatdya do?" Hester Sue's fists were planted firmly on her hips.

"I…uh..." Nellie slammed a spoon down on the table. "Well, if you really must know, I fell off Bunny and I pretended to be paralyzed."

"Good Lord, child. Why would you do such a thing?"

"To make Laura feel bad." Nellie's blond ringlets bounced as she shook her head. "And she did too. I made her wait on me hand and foot."

Laura's eyebrows lifted. "Yeah, until I figured out she wasn't paralyzed."

Nellie's eyes flew open. "Well, you got your revenge when you tossed me down the hill into the mill pond."

Hester Sue roared with laughter. "Now, that's somethin' I woulda loved to have seen."

Nellie plopped down into a chair and wiped her hands on a towel. "I guess I was rotten back then, wasn't I?"

"Yes, you were." Laura flung a pinch of flour across the table.

The flour landed on the bridge of Nellie's nose. Coughing and gasping for breath, Nellie threw the towel she had wiped her hands on and hit Laura in the face. Staring at each other with stunned faces, the kitchen grew deadly silent. But Laura couldn't hide the smile creeping across her face as she and Nellie burst into girlish giggles.

The sound of feet stamping into the hallway meant playtime was over.

"We best get this food out to the table," said Hester Sue. "We sure wouldn't want those young'uns starvin' to death."

Laura picked up the plate closest to her and followed behind Hester Sue. "Are you kidding? Almanzo will put away more food than all the children combined."

The women laughed as they marched down the hallway to the dining room to join the men and children.

The excited chatter in the dining room echoed through the first floor of the blind school. After filling their bellies with an abundance of good food, the men and children huddled together on blankets in front of the fireplace, snacking on donuts and sipping coffee or milk.

The women had left to wash the dishes and put away the food, but now rejoined the group.

"We can hear that ruckus all the way in the kitchen." Hester Sue pulled out a chair and sat down.

Adam stood up and brushed off his pants. "All done putting everything away?"

Hester Sue nodded. "Ya never woulda known we just had a big party by the looks of that kitchen."

"Good," he said, leaning on the table. "Get your coat on."

"What on earth for?"

A sly smile curled the corner of Adam's lips. "You are going on a sleigh ride."

"Oh, no, no, no." Hester Sue waved her hands in front of her chest. "Sleigh rides are for young folk."

"You've worked hard for days. It's time for some fun."

"I agree," said Laura. She stood in the doorway with Mary and Nellie by her side. "Why should the men have all the fun?" Laura clasped Mary's hand. "C'mon, let's go get dressed." They headed toward the coat room where they could hear the men chuckling over their behavior.

Hester Sue shook her head. "Well, there ain't no talkin' sense into you folks, so I best go along to make sure no one gets hurt."

"That's awful kind of you, Hester Sue," teased Willie.

From the hallway Laura saw Hester Sue shoot Willie a look that could kill. When Hester Sue turned around, Laura shoved a shawl and wrap in her direction.

"Hurry up, Hester Sue. I don't want to take a dangerous sleigh ride without you." Laura's devilish grin got her the same look that Hester Sue had given Willie.

Hester Sue turned back toward the children who were beside themselves with laughter. "You hush now or I won't be savin' you any cookies for snack time tonight. I'll just eat 'em myself, that's what I'll do."

They all laughed. Everyone knew that Hester Sue loved spoiling the children around Christmas.

Nestled into Mr. Oleson's sleigh, Mary and Adam smiled and chatted while the children sat on the front porch cheering the riders on. Hester Sue had hopped in alongside Nellie and Percival, leaving Almanzo and Laura to enjoy this sleigh ride by themselves.

"Thank you so much for doing this." Laura's face beamed with love for the man she had often dreamed about. "You made the children very happy."

Almanzo leaned in close enough that Laura could have felt his warm breath on her face if it had not been covered by his muffler. "Ya know I would do anythin' for you." Red heat simmered on Laura's cold cheeks. "It's been fun. The kids are wonderful. Besides, it's nice to have my favorite girl by my side."

Even though Laura often cringed when Almanzo had called her a girl in the past, their ever growing love for each other allowed her to accept his words as the compliment they were meant to be. No longer did Almanzo tug her pigtails before running off to lunch with a beautiful young lady dangling on his arm. His "favorite girl" was the one who he willingly kept close to his side at socials, church picnics, and other town events.

Again Laura's cheeks felt warm. Almanzo pulled back his muffler and placed a quick kiss on her cheek before turning his Morgans around to take another ride by the front of the school. Like the others, they bounced up and down the snow covered hills, laughing all the way.

After a few more passes, Willie and Percival pulled up on opposite sides of Almanzo's cutter. Almanzo looked up at the sky that had just begun to darken.

"Guess we better head home. We gotta get back by suppertime."

Willie let the reins fall over the front of the sleigh. "Yeah, you're right."

Adam helped Mary step out onto the frozen ground. "Why don't you come in for a cup of coffee before you travel all the way home."

After finishing the rest of the donuts and filling up on hot coffee, Laura and Almanzo, Percival and Nellie and Willie headed out in their sleighs toward home. At the break in the road, Willie, Percival and Nellie waved goodbye to Laura and Almanzo, who turned down the road that would go by the Ingalls farm. The young couple traveled in silence, each captured by their own thoughts.

"Whoa." Almanzo tugged the reins and his team halted in front of Laura's house.

Darkness had fallen along the ride home and soft yellow light colored the snow outside the front room window. The door creaked open, startling Laura and Almanzo. They had hoped to spend a few moments alone.

"Hello, Almanzo." Charles stood in the doorway.

"Evenin', Mr. Ingalls." Almanzo tipped his hat. "I hope we're not late."

"No, no. Caroline is just about ready to put food on the table." Charles shivered as he walked outside a few steps. "You're welcome to join us if you like."

"Thank ya, Sir, but Eliza Jane is waitin' on me. She wants to put up the Christmas tree tonight."

Charles nodded, but he did not move. Laura knew he was waiting for her and she resigned herself to going inside. She began to pull the bear skins up when Caroline appeared in the doorway.

"Charles, can you come help me with something?"

He turned around. "Sure darling. What do you need?"

Caroline looked over Charles's head at her daughter. "Come inside and I'll show you."

Charles shrugged. "Give my regards to your sister, Almanzo."

"I will, Sir."

Caroline stepped out of the doorway so that Charles could pass. She looked up at Laura and smiled before shutting the door.

Laura and Almanzo laughed. "Thank goodness for Ma," she said. "I'm not sure Pa will ever be ready for me to grow up."

"My father was the same way with my sisters." Almanzo's shoulders moved up and down. "I'll probably be the same way with my daughters too."

Laura shifted under the bear skins. They had spoken of the future before, but more about getting married and building a home. Children seemed too intimate of a topic to enter into their conversations.

Almanzo clasped her hand. "You better go inside before your pa starts peekin' outta the window."

A nervous giggle escaped her lips. "Will I see you tomorrow?"

Almanzo's free hand slid out of the bear skins and caressed her cheek. "Probably not until everyone gets together at church. Eliza Jane has a special dinner planned and Hester Sue is comin' over."

He glanced up at the sky filled with puffy, gray clouds and breathed deeply. "Smells like snow." He pointed up. "From the look of those clouds we'll have about a foot of snow by mornin'."

Laura shivered. Almanzo brought his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. A crooked smile slid across his face as Laura's chocolate brown eyes gazed upon him. Feeling the warmth of his body so close and his breath upon her face, her heart raced inside her chest. She was certain his heart pounded in the same rhythm.

His lips parted and he leaned in closer, stopping just before their lips touched. "Merry Christmas, Beth."

She swallowed away the lump in her throat. "Merry Christmas, Manly."

Their lips touched and the distance between them diminished. Her insides performed somersaults as sparks of excitement tingled through her. Reluctantly, they pulled back and it was several moments before his raspy voice broke through the silence.

"I'll wait 'til you're inside."

Laura nodded and adjusted her hat. Pulling her coat closer to her chin, Almanzo helped her pull the bear skins back so she could step out. She tucked them around Almanzo's body to keep him warm on the ride home.

She walked to the doorway and turned around. A gloved hand waved at her. His face now almost totally covered by his muffler and the flaps of his hat, she could just make out the sparkle of his eyes. Something cold and wet tickled her nose. Looking up, light, tiny snowflakes fell onto her face. Laura raised a gloved hand and watched the white flakes as delicate and unique as tatted lace drop onto her glove and then disappear. She smiled at Almanzo, waved, and walked inside.

Leaning against the door, Laura never heard her mother ask how the day went. She was too busy thinking of sleigh rides, Almanzo, and the magic of Christmas snow.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.