Cherie Gardner had a wonderful life. She had a sister and niece she loved and a good job. That is, until a drunk driver ruined her life. The accident that changed her life, took her sister and niece from her in the blink of an eye, and left her all alone.
When she breaks the small, encased ornament her niece had insisted was magical, Cherie’s life changes yet again—only this time for the better—or is it? In a strange, alternate world with supernatural beings and magic, can Cherie make a life with the vampire who claims to love her, or will she deny them both their only shot at happiness?
Cherie stood in her living room staring at the glowing Christmas tree. It should have been cheerful with its multi-colored lights blinking at her, but it was depressing. Sniffling, she wiped her nose on her sleeve, not caring that her mother would have been appalled. Like everyone else in her family, her mother was gone.
Her nose was stuffed and she knew that her eyes were most likely still swollen. She had finally stopped crying only a few minutes before and headed out of her bedroom to try and get something done. It had been nearly two weeks since the last of her family died on Christmas. She should have been able to function at some level near normal by now.
Though she felt exhausted, she knew she couldn’t spend the rest of her life in bed. No matter how much she might want to do just that. Sooner or later her employer would fire her for taking too long on personal leave. She couldn’t afford that, either financially or emotionally. She needed something to do outside her home or her self-imposed confinement would drive her mad.
Staring at the Christmas tree only made her feel bad all over again. It sat there in the middle of her home, looking so cheerful when Cherie’s world had come crashing down around her shoulders.
She hated the damned thing sitting there, mocking her with its gaily-wrapped presents sitting beneath it as though her sister and niece would come over, tear the paper off them and make a mess, the way they had every Christmas for the last seven years.
Simply looking at the tree hurt her more than she could have imagined. She couldn’t help but stare at the strange ornament her niece, Nikki, insisted she buy. “It’s magical, Aunt Cherie.” She said as she pleaded with Cherie to buy it. “Can’t you see the little soldier dancing? He twirls around inside it like those men at the ballet.”
Cherie smiled sadly at the memory. She could see where her niece had gotten that idea. For the last four years, she and her sister, Kaylee, had taken the little girl to see the community theater’s rendition of the Nutcracker. The tiny soldier inside looked just like one of the costumed dancers if she overlooked the fact that he was a little too short and squatty to be a well-toned male, ballet dancer.
Who knew what the impressionable seven-year-old Nikki saw when she peered into the glass protecting the little figure?