Newly Fallen

Newly Fallen

Faced with spending her first Hanukkah alone, Lilly Gold wishes for a miracle that would change her life just a little bit. Then her prayers are answered–in a big way–when the most perfect naked man appears in her yard during a blizzard.

Zachariah tells Lilly he’s been sent to be–and do¬–anything she wants. And for eight passionate days, trapped together by the snow, he does just that, giving Lilly all the pleasure she could have hoped for. But when their holiday is over, only another miracle can keep their affair from ending, too…

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Excerpt:

First night, two candles.

Hanukkah was Lilly Gold’s favorite holiday, not for the exchange of gifts or excuse to indulge in fried foods, but because of the concept behind it. Not necessarily the religious reason – commemorating a war had never seemed festive to her. But bringing light into the world, celebrating by creating sparks in the darkness, that had always appealed to her.

So did the idea of a miracle.

It didn’t have to be something as incredible as a lamp burning for eight nights on oil meant only to last a few, or some grand victory over much-stronger enemies. Nope, Lilly would be happy to settle for discovering a ten-spot in her coat pocket she’d forgotten from last year, fitting into her skinny jeans, maybe nabbing a sexy, out-of-season Louis Vuitton for twenty bucks at a yard sale in the rich part of town. Miracles like that might not change the whole world, but they’d change hers. And she was pretty due for some change, she thought as she struck the match to light the first candle.

Thunder in the snow.

The noise came first, followed a bare second later by the bright white flash of lightning, fierce enough to outline the entire back yard. Blinking, Lilly paused, match in hand, to stare through the glass.

Weird.

With the lights on in the kitchen all she could see was her reflection, two dark eyes in a pale-ish face surrounded by a mass of dark curls, and beyond that, the cascading sheet of snow coming down as fast and thick as rain. The blizzard had been going on since that morning.

The match burned her fingers and hissing, she blew it out and dropped it in the sink. Lilly stuck her fingertip in her mouth, sucking gently at the sting, as another boom rattled the window. A second later, another flash of light, so bright this time it seared her eyes and left her blinking away spots.

Wasn’t the lightning supposed to come first?

She gripped the sink’s metal edge, leaning forward to look out the kitchen window but couldn’t get close enough to press her face to the glass. She could hear the shush-shush of the snow against the house. Could feel the chill seeping through the glass. No more thunder, no more lightning. Lilly pushed back from the counter and lit another match, this time managing to get the shamash, the helper candle, lit before the match burned too low.

She said the blessings and used the shamash to light the other one for the first night of Hanukkah. Then she stepped back to admire the menorah of silver and brass. Her grandmother Lillian had given it to her. It was the most beautiful thing Lilly owned.

She set it in the kitchen window because it had no curtains and was close to the sink, so therefore meant it would be unlikely to catch anything on fire. Lilly had learned that lesson already, in her old apartment. Sure, by the time the super hot fireman had arrived she’d managed to put out the flames and clear out most of the smoke, and yes, she’d gained a date out of it, but she didn’t want anything like that happening here in her new house.

Her house, hers alone. The one she’d bought and paid for all on her own, and in which she was spending her very first holiday.

Alone.

Hugging herself, Lilly stepped back to admire the tiny kitchen. Her appliances weren’t old enough to be retro-chic, they were just old, and the cabinets and linoleum would definitely need to be replaced, but all that would have to wait. For now, she was just happy to be making the mortgage payments by herself.

She’d lit that menorah every year since her grandma had given it to her just before dying. Five years. It looked different in Lilly’s kitchen window than it had looked in any other place, and Lilly couldn’t stop the grin from teasing her mouth as she watched the flames flicker.

She turned out the lights to get the full effect. The candle flames reflected in the kitchen window looked twice as beautiful, but she wanted to see them from outside. That was the whole point of putting the menorah in the window, to share the light with the world. Grandma Lillian had always said it was a mitzvah, a good deed, to share the beauty of Hanukkah candles with people outside who might not have menorahs of their own to light. According to Grandma Lilly, when the world was new everything had been light until the vessels of God’s love had been broken, scattering all the sparks across the Earth. Every mitzvah helped gather up a scattered spark and return it. Good deeds were lights in the darkness, each one helping to make the world brighter.

Lilly put her menorah in the window to share her light with the world outside, but she liked to look at it, too, in memory of Grandma Lillian. So, even though at least half a foot of snow had already fallen and it looked like they were going to get another six inches, Lilly opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto her tiny deck.

Right into half a foot of newly fallen snow, all the way up to her shins. Shoot, she ought to have taken the time to slide into a pair of boots, throw on a sweater, at least. Preparation was never her strong point – impulsiveness was Lilly’s forte. With a yelp, dancing in the snow, Lilly pulled the glass door closed behind her and braced herself against the wind.

Uh oh, what if that weird lightning struck again while she was out here? Danny, her most recent ex, would’ve said it was just like her to get struck by lightning in her back yard in the middle of the blizzard. Well, screw Danny, Lilly thought, eyes squinted against the snow whipping at her face.

She hopped off the deck, meaning to cross the miniscule patch of grass she called a yard to stand in front of the kitchen window. Her ankles were already frozen, her feet numb, so when she suddenly slid she was already bracing herself to end up in a pile of snow.

Heat.

“Huh?” Lilly looked down at the bare circle of earth into which she’d stepped. The snow had…melted? The earth was squishy under her toes and in the faint light from the neighbor’s yard she could see small wisps of steam rising from the bare earth. Even the grass looked…burned?

“What the –?” Lilly stepped back, heart thudding, eyes blinking.

The circle, if she stood in the center, looked to be as wide as her arms stretched out fingertip to fingertip in all directions. Though the snow was still falling heavily from the sky, it melted as soon as it landed on the ground. But she wasn’t in the center, she was still on the edge, because in the center of the strange circle was a man.

A naked man.