Home for Christmas (Willow Park #5)

Home for Christmas (Willow Park #5) by Noelle Adams

Book: Home for Christmas (Willow Park #5) by Noelle Adams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Noelle Adams
realization earlier. “I…I don’t know.” She tightened her
face and turned away so Jessica couldn’t see how close she was to tears.
    “I guess it’s got to be a lot of ups and downs.”
    Sophie sniffed and turned back. “Yes. Yes, it is. But I’m
sure, overall, he’s doing really well.”
    “Did anyone suggest that you all might still need some
more…some more extra help? I can’t imagine how rough a transition it is for
both of you.”
    “They did suggest that. They gave us a long list of
referrals to counselors and support groups and such. But Mark doesn’t want to
do any of that. He says it makes him feel like an invalid, when he’s not.”
    Jessica sighed, her expression sympathetic. “Yeah. I can see
how it would feel like that. It’s just a situation that most people don’t go
through. It’s got to be hard, trying to muddle through alone.”
    Sophie stiffened. “He’s not alone.”
    “Oh, I didn’t mean he was alone! Of course, he’s not. I
meant you two, as a couple, were trying to do it alone. It’s got to be hard. I
mean, how do you know what to think about all the different ways that you’re
    Sophie slumped back, suddenly as depressed as she’d been
optimistic as they were heading for Bible study. “I don’t know. I don’t know
how to do any of it.”
    “I wouldn’t either.”
    In a strange way, Jessica’s last words made her feel a lot
better—like she wasn’t completely clueless, bumbling around, always saying the
wrong thing, making Mark withdraw from her.
    Both women were sitting quietly, Nathan having gone back to
sleep, when the men reentered the room, both of them slightly windblown from
being outdoors in the cold.
    “Did you show off your workshop to Mark adequately?” Jessica
asked lightly.
    “Unlike some people I might mention, he was duly
appreciative of my power tools.” Daniel was smiling as he went to sit down next
to his wife on the sofa, his eyes resting on his sleeping son.
    Sophie wondered if Mark was ready to go, but he sat down
beside her on the loveseat, so she didn’t start making moves to leave.
    “So is it strange and hard for you two,” Daniel asked,
without segue, “being back together again?”
    Sophie felt Mark stiffen slightly beside her. “We’re doing
okay,” he said softly.
    “You think so too?” Daniel asked, his eyes focused now on
    “Of course,” Sophie said quickly, before Mark got defensive.
She wished Daniel hadn’t been so direct, but he was always kind of like that.
His job was the spiritual wellbeing of his congregation, and he took it
seriously—even if he ended up sometimes stepping on toes. “I think we’re doing
great, considering.”
    Daniel pulled his eyebrows together as his gaze moved from
one to the other of them. After a minute, he asked softly, “Do you put up the
happy front with each other too?”
    Mark was very tense now. Sophie reached over to rub his arm.
He’d never had a hot temper, but he’d been prickly since he’d returned—as
anyone would have been. “What do you mean?” she asked.
    “I get it, that you want to make sure everyone knows you’re
doing fine, that you’re happy to be together, that any problems are easily
dealt with.” Daniel always had a good sense of humor, but he was dead serious
now. “But that’s not what the church is about. That’s not what marriage is
about. If you’re not real with each other—if we as the church aren’t real with
each other—than we’ll never be able to help one another.”
    “What makes you think we’re not real with each other?” Mark
asked, his voice low and slightly rough.
    “I don’t think that. I don’t think it at all. I was just
asking the question.” He sighed. “I see all the time people saying they’re
fine, they’re okay, they’re perfectly good, when inside they’re falling apart.”
He turned his head to smile faintly at Jessica. “When we first got married, I
was falling apart, trying to deal

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