Sweet Treasures

By: Debra Ullrick

Chapter One





“Merry Christmas!” Anna Moretti handed the two young girls candy canes at the door of Sweet Treasures. “Thank you for coming in.” She smiled up at their parents.

“Merry Christmas to you, too,” the young mother said with a broad smile. Her focus flitted from her children, to her husband, and back to Anna. “We loved your cookies and hot chocolate. They’re the best we have ever had. When we get back home, we are going tell all of our friends about this place.”

“Oh, thank you. That’s so sweet of you to say.” Anna’s smile broadened right into her heart. “I’m so glad you enjoyed them.”

With a wave, the family of four left Sweet Treasures. People from all around came to her shop because of her numerous original cookie ideas and recipes and the vast assortment of flavored hot chocolates. Flavored coffees and expressos were a part of her shop as well, but the place was best known for its treats and hot chocolate drinks.

Exhausted from another long day, Anna closed the shop door and leaned back against it. Everywhere she looked were Christmas decorations. In the corner stood a huge Christmas tree covered with red bows, white garland, and ornaments from all over the globe, gifts from her customers. On the top a large red star twinkled, and the variegated lights on the tree blinked to the tune of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

Snowflake lights hung down from the ceiling throughout the large room. A strand of various lengths of round, bright red glass ornaments dangled above the long counter with all the handmade Christmas decorated candies, cookies, and cupcakes.

At each table set a red and white striped candle surrounded by fresh pine boughs with bright tiny glass ornaments and candy canes woven throughout. Snowmen, snowglobes, and decorated jars with her unique hot chocolate recipes set on the numerous display counters and shelves around the shop.

Her business was thriving and she loved every minute of it. Only one thing was missing in her life. A man to share it all with. While she loved Christmas and it was her favorite time of the year, at the same time it saddened her that she had to spend another Christmas alone. Seven years before, all of her family had moved to California. Anna chose to not move with them because her business was here in Colorado.

Her family begged her to move her business there, but she had developed a fabulous clientele and rapport with her customers and she didn’t want to give that up. But that wasn’t her main reason. Her employees, her homeless friend Donald, and others like them needed her, and she refused to let them down.

Plus, as much as she loved her family, it was hard being around them, especially during the holidays. Seeing all her nieces and nephews and her sisters happily married was difficult. Not because she didn’t love them, but because she had spent years getting her business up and running while her sisters had chosen to marry and have children. Now years later, with her business almost running itself, she wished she had a husband and children to share the holidays with. For some reason, this year was turning out to be exceptionally hard in that regard. After all, she wasn’t getting any younger. Next year, in January, she would celebrate her thirtieth birthday.

Her attention drifted to the top of the Christmas tree and the Star of Bethlehem, a representation of the one that led the wise men to baby Jesus. Almost every Christmas over the last several years Anna had prayed the same prayer. This year wasn’t any different. She closed her eyes. Lord, thank You for everything You have blessed me with. I am truly grateful for all that I have. A great family. Great friends. An amazing church. A thriving business. Excellent health. Thank You for all of it. Lord, this year, all I want for Christmas is someone to love. My soulmate, if you will. That is, if You have one for me. If not, please take the desire out of my heart. I ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.”

A tap on the door caused Anna to jump, and her eyes bolted open.

Pushing herself away from the front door, she whirled around to find a man peering between the white snowy Christmas stencils on the glass, motioning that he would like to come inside.

Anna wanted to laugh at his timing, but she knew it was just a coincidence that a handsome man wearing a long black business coat, a gray scarf, and matching leather gloves had shown up just as she had finished praying for her soulmate.

With a yank, she opened the door, ushering in the gentlemen and the bitter cold air. “Sorry about that,” she said with an embarrassed chuckle as she closed the door behind them.

“Hey, no problem. I was hoping you were still open. I heard this is the best place in town to get a great cup of hot chocolate.” He rubbed his gloved hands together and then blew into them.

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