Music of Souls~~Eternity's Opus (A Sample) (Chapter Four, page 1 of 3)

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Beautifully wrapped boxes surrounded the ten foot Christmas tree adorned with antique ornaments and crystal beads. The leg of lamb dinner had been enjoyed by the foursome and Sarah was wringing her hands, anxious to get at the presents.

Jackson stood admiring the tree and all the artistically wrapped gifts surrounding it. "That's a lot of shoe boxes."

Sarah knelt, ready to play Santa. "Well, maybe if you weren't such a Scrooge there would be more shapes and sizes here."

They sat in the drawing room, and everyone except Jackson dug into their treasures. As expected, and to their delight, the women received mostly shoes. Connor opened two designer suits and a pair of cuff links.

When all the presents were unwrapped and hugs of thank-you delivered, Elisabeth stood. "Jackson has one gift whether he likes it or not."

He squinted and grinned sardonically. "Are you going to give me a lap dance in front of the kids?"

Her blush was immediate, but she attempted nonchalance. "No. That's only for birthdays. Don't want you getting tired of them."

"Oh, darling, you could give me one every day. That is a gift that will never get old… and it keeps on giving."

She shook her head, unable to hide her embarrassment. "I'll be right back."

While Elisabeth climbed the stairs, Sarah guessed at what she would bring back. "I think it's a safe bet it's artwork. Hmm, but of what?"

Connor piped in, "I put my money on a self-portrait."

"Maybe… or a fall landscape."

Jackson stood to make a drink. "What is it with you people and surprises? Grow up." Although he would never admit it, he was more excited than they to see the front of the large canvas Elisabeth carried down the stairs. "Want help with that?"

"No, sit down and close your eyes."

He obeyed until he heard both Connor and Sarah gasp. He squinted his eyes open only to see the back of the canvas again, along with two excited faces gaping at the front.

Elisabeth smiled at Jackson who grew more impatient by the second. She turned the painting to reveal an oil of him sitting in the wing-chair from her gallery. Elisabeth stood behind the chair resting her hand on his shoulder, wearing the nightgown from their first night together, and her wolf form sat at his feet.

"Oh, my God." He had to drag air into his lungs.

"Do you like it?"

He could not produce an answer, which elicited a laugh from Sarah. "I think 'like it' is an understatement. Jackson Parrish at a loss for words. Stop the presses."

Elisabeth swallowed around the lump in her throat brought about by Jackson's reaction. Each time she painted him, she felt unable to fully capture his beauty. Some elusive quality escaped her brushes. It both frustrated and captivated her. She leaned the canvas against the coffee table and sat next to him as he tore his gaze from the painting and threw his arms around her. "Thank you. I love it."

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