Excerpt from Christmas Stitches
                                                                       PIN'S PROMISE                                                                 

                                                                 Summerfield, England
                                                                 New Years’ Eve 1899


Penelope Billings yanked the love of her life away from the crowd in the village square.

Jonathan resisted. “I want to stay and see the fireworks.”

“We’ll be back in time. I promise.” She squeezed his hand harder and ran through the crowd, dragging him
with her.

Her mother saw them. “Pin? Where are you going? The fireworks…”

Yes, yes, the fireworks. “We’ll be back. I promise.”

Mama gave her a familiar look that said she didn’t necessarily doubt what Pin said, but did not agree with it.

Another sort of mother would have insisted fifteen-year-old Pin remain in the square with the rest of
Summerfield. After all, it was the eve of a new century. Pin recognized the immensity of the moment. To
breathe a breath in and have it be 1899 and let the breath out and have it be the Twentieth Century? She was
certain everyone in the square would remember this evening, this celebration.

So would Pin. But not for the same reasons—which would not occur if she didn’t get Jonathan away, and to
herself.

She felt him reluctantly give way to her will and hurry alongside. If Jonathan had his way, he would remain in
the place which he had determined would give them the best view of the fireworks and be content to remain
there throughout the festivities. Sometimes she gave into his need for order and planning. But tonight she
needed to insist on her way. At least for a short time.

Pin drew him into her father’s carpentry shop, the familiar aroma of sawn wood eliciting a sense of safety and
encouragement.

Just what she needed.

She closed the door against the winter air.

“We need light. I’ll light a lamp,” Jonathan said.

She put a hand on his. “Don’t.” The moonlight was enough.

He grinned and began to put his hands around her waist.

She took them captive and stepped back. “I have a present for you.”

“We’ve already had Christmas.”

She wasn’t surprised he didn’t understand. “It’s a promise present, perfect for the new century.”

“Meaning?”

She drew him toward the window and the moonlight it provided. Then she took the present out of her skirt
pocket. “Here.”

Jonathan studied it, as though he had never seen a handkerchief.

“Unfold it. It’s special.” At least I hope you think it’s special.

He held it toward the light and read the words Pin had embroidered. “’Penelope and Jonathan Forever.
1900.’” He looked at her. “Who’s Penelope?”

“That’s me, silly.”

“You’re Pin.”

She was stunned. “You thought Pin was my real name?”

He shrugged. “I had no reason to think otherwise. Even your parents call you that.”

“They were the ones who gave me the name. I was rambunctious and kept them on ‘pins and needles’. Plus,
the only thing that would make me sit still and focus was pinning fabric together at the sewing workshop.”

“So it follows you’re good at sewing.”

It was her turn to shrug.

He pinched her chin. “And you’re still rambunctious.”

“It’s not a bad thing.”

“It’s not, for you offset my serious nature.”

Fight against it, most of the time. She pointed at the stitches in green and blue. “Do you like it?”

He kissed her cheek. “Of course I do. Though it is much too pretty to use.”

The thought of him actually using it had never entered her mind. “It’s a keepsake.” Did boys understand
“keepsake”?

“Speaking of… I have a gift for you, too.”

She grinned at him. “We’ve already had Christmas.”

He took up her part. “It’s a promise present, perfect for the new century. Hold out your hand.”

He took something out of his pocket and placed it on her palm.

It was a carved female figure about three-inches tall. Pin held it to the light and saw that it had long hair and a
pensive smile. “Is this me?”

“It is.” He took the carving and upended it. The year 1900 was carved in the bottom.

“This is beautiful,” Pin said.

“As are you.”

She kissed his cheek. “You have a real talent.”

“Father taught me. He says it helps to have something to do at the bedside of his patients. He’s warned me
that doctoring involves a lot of waiting.”

The mention of Jonathan’s chosen profession made Pin step close and lower her head beneath his chin. “I’m
going to miss you horribly when you’re off at school.”

“I can’t learn to be a proper doctor here. My parents want me to take over one day.”

She leaned back to see him. “What do you want?”

He hesitated, then smiled down at her. “You.”

His words could not have been more perfect if she had told him what to say. “Which leads me to the promise
part of the present.”

“I can guess.”

“Then say it so I don’t have to. It’s not like we haven’t talked about it.”

He led her to a bench and sat down at an angle so their knees touched. “Will you promise to say yes when I ask
you to marry me someday, Penelope Billings?”

She smiled. “A promise of a promise?”

“Our parents would be gobsmacked if we told them we were betrothed now. Even though we’re both fifteen
they still think of us as children.”

He was right. Although both families knew she and Jonathan were good friends, they didn’t know love had
blossomed. They would never approve of any promise, especially with Jonathan on the verge of a long college
education away from Summerfield. Pin could imagine her parents saying they were too young to know what
true love entailed, and that a lot could happen in the six years Jonathan would be away at university, then
getting his medical training.

Nonsense. Pin knew she loved Jonathan more than the stars and the moon, and would still love him in six years.
In sixty.

“I accept your promise of a promise, Jonathan Evers. And I will hold you to it.”

They sealed the moment with a kiss just as they  heard the boom of fireworks.


                                                     @ Nancy Moser Barbour Publishing 2018