Iris froze with her arm midway in the sleeve of her coat. A something that resembled scraping outside her door pulled at her ear. It didn’t seem like an animal. Nor did it sound motorized, so it couldn’t have been the city plowing the street. For a good fifteen seconds, she stood in silence behind her front door, listening for clues to determine if it was friend or foe on the other side.
The sound had a rhythm of scrape-whoosh pause, and then it resumed.
Iris tiptoed to her window and peeked between the gap and the fabric. Her drapes had two layers. The one closest to the window was sheer white that allowed light in the room. The thicker curtain was navy with a boho flower pattern along the bottom that also served as a temperature barrier. With the thinner curtain veiling her presence, Iris caught a shadow of a man shoveling. Could it be Jordan? Iris opened the curtain wider. It was hard to tell, but she would have had to say the man’s silhouette against the rising sun was skinnier than Jordan. Then again, it was difficult to discern because he was bundled.
It had to be a mistake. A big one at that Iris decided. Helen and Larissa were older women who needed help shoveling their yard. A bowl of oatmeal would have restored Iris after she finished clearing her sidewalk. Iris shoved her feet into her snow boots and hurried to stop whoever it was.
She hobbled onto the front porch while getting one last shove to secure her foot in the boot. “I’m sorry, you have the wrong house.”
The man threw a shovel full of snow into the middle of the yard. He set the head on the ground in front of his feet and took a breath before saying, “I know where I am.”
“George?” Iris noticed the snow had accumulated on the edges of his mustache. “What are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“But I’m not old.”
“True, but rumor has it you have a problem with snow on your pathway.”
“Ouch!” Iris blushed. She flinched at the thought of what else people had seen.
“For the record, you deserve better,” George said.
Iris didn’t want to discuss Jordan or her disappointment that the kindness came from someone other than him. George shoveling her stoop, on a snowy Wednesday morning, proved her grandmother right.
Then Jordan’s words burned her. “You’re doing it for the attention.”
“I got what I deserved,” Iris corrected. Life had given her a big kick in the pants. She tried to keep her gift too close to her heart. Because of her selfishness, it had been snatched away from her. Even worse, she lost her best friend.
“Here now, young lady, if all of us got what we deserved, there would be a lot of people limping from sore backsides.”
“Then let me help you.” Iris pointed to the garage where she had her shovel. “I’ll be right back.”
George’s frozen eyebrows raised and dropped. “You’re not going to let me help you. Are you?” The disappointment in his voice chilled Iris faster than when she tried to get her newspaper without a coat on a subzero day.
Guilt filled her as she imagined how she would have felt if someone rejected a present from her. If she didn’t accept the kindness from George, she would have effectively tarnished it.
“How about this. If you let me make you some coffee and an egg sandwich, I’ll leave you to finish the yard.”
George scowled his suspicion.
Iris wanted more than anything to get along with someone. She pushed aside her independent nature and allowed George a rare peek into her world. “I am lonely and could use a friend.”
His face twisted, showing the crack in his veneer.
“Please.” Iris added a hopeful tone to her voice.
“When you put it that way, how am I supposed to say no?” The trace of laughter in George’s voice cleared the tension in the air.
“Thank you.” Iris bubbled and bounced to show her joy. She scuffled through the snowy section of the walk, making sure to be careful to not fall. George’s chuckle trailing after Iris soothed some of the sore spots caused by her foolish pride. Her only sadness was she hadn’t done the same with Jordan.
Iris had a bit of an extra skip in her step when she took the one block walk to the craft store. George hadn’t done much, but to her heart, it made a world of difference.
Jordan and Shannon are wrong, she decided. As a recipient of a random act of kindness, Iris understood the impact of a good deed. George made her feel like she mattered.
In the big picture, Iris knew she was valued because she had a lot to offer the community. She was at all the events to lend a helping hand. When people thanked her, she accepted the appreciation. Yet, the difference in her mood, thanks to kindness from out of the blue, was unmistakable.
As she approached the shop, she saw something that made her pause for thought. The walkway to the craft store had been shoveled as well. “Oh my, that was above and beyond.” Specks of aqua glistened on her sidewalk. In addition to shoveling, George had laid down snow treatment.
She would have to give him lunch too. Rose was on the other side of the door when Iris opened it. “You wouldn’t believe what happened.”
“George shoveled the walkway.” Iris unzipped her coat. “I’ll bring him some lunch, maybe some soup to say thank you.”
“I thought it was Joe from the coffee shop.” Rose held up a coffee tumbler that Iris was planning on buying. “He brought this for you, too.”
“Joe? Why did he? Let me guess. He heard about me falling.” Iris sighed. How many people saw her literal fall from grace the day prior?
“Err, something like that.” Rose set the cup on the coffee table and helped Iris out of her coat.
“How embarrassing.” Iris shook the coat into her grandmother’s hands and accepted it to hang on the coat rack.
“It’s about time,” Rose corrected. “Kindness has been going one way for how many years? Finally, it is coming back around.”
“People have always been kind to me,” Iris argued. She picked up the cup to take the coffee back to her desk. “Joe knows my favorite coffee. Occasionally, I get a free slice of pie at the cafe, and Randy from the store always helps me carry my groceries to the car.”
“That’s because they think you’re cute,” Rose said. “Shoveling snow takes intention. Iris, honey, I think you’re going to have to get used to the fact that now that your secret’s out people feel the freedom to repay you for years of kindness.”
“That isn’t why I did it.” Concern darkened Iris’s good mood. “I did it because I wanted people to know they were special enough to have good things happen to them.”
“Do you hear yourself?” Rose crossed her arms in front of her chest.
“Yes.” Iris set down the cup to pick up a box of supplies that needed shelving. “But now I cannot give things away because people know it’s me.”
“Or you do it and let someone else take the credit.”
“Someone like Shannon?”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” Rose held up her hand. “But maybe someone who is an older version of you could be the delivery person.”
It would be the end of Holiday Kisses. Iris grieved the end of her run on kindness.
Real holiday kisses never end. They just go by a new name…like a gift from Grandma.
Iris rolled her eyes, but secretly, she was delighted. Her day had just begun, and already three people had taken over her random acts of kindness.
🎄 🎄 🎄
Don’t want to wait for the next chapter? Holiday Kisses is 99¢ at your favorite online retailer.
Iris Sinclair looks forward to the day after Thanksgiving. It’s the day her Holiday Kisses season begins, and she leaves little presents to brighten people’s days.
The Paradise Hills promise of a magical happily ever after is tested when the best friends are forced to choose between their blossoming love or the secret.PREORDER HOLIDAY KISSES
Things change when Iris’s best friend, Jordan, notices something special behind her quirky personality. The change couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time. Iris’s nemesis has recruited him to enlist Iris in a partnership she would never agree to without his influence.