This is a fictional interview of Landon and Rachel from the Swanson Court Series. It’s hard to say goodbye to characters after you fall in love with them. This is me trying to say goodbye to these characters. Landon and Rachel have started a Christmas charity called Santa’s box, and I’m interviewing them about it. Enjoy Reading.
Note: This was posted a few days ago in my Facebook Group, Serena Grey’s Sirens. Join us over there if you’re a fan of my work.
IT’S only a few days to Christmas when I arrive at Windbreakers, the beautiful home that has been in the Court family for generations. I’m here to interview Landon Court and his wife of eight years, Rachel Foster-Court.
If you haven’t heard of this special couple. Landon Court is the owner of the Swanson Court International, which owns and runs several luxury hotels all over the world. His wife, Rachel Foster-Court is the Editor-in-Chief of the Gilt Review, one of the most widely circulated magazines from Gilt publications. They’re not just an exemplary couple because of their obvious success, their beautiful family, or their clear devotion to each other, but also because of how readily they give their time, money and hearts to many of the causes that give us hope.
Last year, Rachel Foster-Court, with her husband’s support, launched Santa’s Box, a charity that brings Christmas presents to children from under-privileged families. With growing support, it has continued to be a wild success. That’s why I’m here, to talk to this extraordinary couple about their work with Santa’s Box.
Rachel meets me at the front door. Dressed in a dark green dress, she is glowing. She’s a beautiful woman with soft red-gold hair and striking green eyes. She greets me with a quick hug. “Come on inside,” she says, her voice friendly, and her lips lifting with a ready smile. “I hope it wasn’t difficult to find the house?”
I shake my head, instantly drawn to her easy and friendly manner. “No, thank you. It wasn’t.”
She leads me through the beautiful marble hallway to a door that opens into a large library. It’s a cozy room, with a deep soft carpet and walls lined with mahogany shelves. For a moment, I gawk at all the books on the shelves, then I remember myself and force a professional expression onto my face. Rachel is smiling at me, and I suspect she knows how overawed I am by the sheer volume of books.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” she says. “They’re mostly first editions, collected by four generations of Swansons and Courts.”
“Seeing books like this,” I gesture with my hand. “It inspires some sort of devotion in me. It’s almost religious.”
She laughs. “Books are sacred, right?”
“Right.” I nod, smiling.
She gestures to the area where three high backed chairs have been arranged so that one is facing the other two, with a coffee table between them. “We’ll talk over there,” she tells me. “Landon will join us in a moment.” I notice that her eyes soften perceptibly when she says his name. “Penelope was making a fuss. He’s the best at lulling her to sleep.”
A hands-on father then. It’s so incongruous with the public image of Landon Court the businessman, that I find it hard to conjure. I know that Penelope is the baby, almost a year old. There are two others. Preston who is seven, and Damien who is three. The children were not included in the press pictures the Courts released to me to use in the article, but I’ve done my research.
“Girls and their dads,” I joke.
Rachel smiles. “You wouldn’t believe. She has him wrapped around her little finger already.
Just then, the door opens, and Landon Court walks in. He’s an immensely attractive man. The type to make any woman stop and do a double-take. He’s tall, with piercing blue eyes, a beautifully sculpted face, and wavy gold hair. At thirty-seven, he’s the driving force behind the spectacular success of the hotel brand that has been in his family for generations. Right now, He’s dressed simply in a long sleeved shirt and slacks, at ease, at home with his family.
“Hello.” He comes over and shakes my hand with an easy smile, just like his wife’s. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”
“No,” I try not to gawk at that handsome face or sigh at the deep velvety voice. “I just arrived.”
He looks at Rachel then back at me. “Shall we begin then?”
“Would you like anything before we start?” Rachel asks. “A drink, maybe.”
I shake my head, eager to begin the interview.
We all sit, and I look from husband to wife. They share a smile before facing me, and I can almost feel the closeness radiating from them. I place my recorder on the coffee table in front of me, then turn to Rachel. “So, Mrs. Court,” I start.
Her smile spreads. “Please, call me Rachel.”
“Rachel,” I pause. “Santa’s box has been widely praised in the media, and many influential people from politicians to movie stars have thrown their support behind it. How did you come up with the idea?”
She chuckles. “Well… You know, our first son, Preston. He’s seven years old. He can be very serious and…”
“Empathetic,” Landon offers. They share a glance and a smile before facing me again.
“Yes,” Rachel continues. “Preston is very empathetic and considerate. So a few years ago, he had a lot of fun at Christmas, opening his presents from everyone. We do have a sizable extended family.”
I nod. That sizable family includes Aidan Court, the multiple Tony award-winning Broadway director. Rachel’s parents are Lynne Foster, the acclaimed painter, and Trent Foster, one of the founders of the famous high-street chain Trent & Taylor.
“Towards evening,” Rachel is saying. “He was tired and about to fall asleep around his new toys and books and all the rest, and he asked us, very seriously, if every little child got so many nice things from Santa.
“It was a hard question to answer,” Landon offers. “When we tried to explain that not every child got so many presents and that some didn’t get any presents at all, he became very sad and disappointed. You could see his face fall, and he asked me why we couldn’t make sure everyone got something.”
“You know your kids think you can do anything,” Rachel smiles softly. “And it’s hard to disappoint them when they have so much faith in you as a hero, as someone who can solve every problem… especially at that age.” She laughs. “So we decided to do something, and Santa’s Box was born.”
“That is a beautiful story,” I say, impressed with the simplicity of the idea. “Preston must be very proud of you both.”
Landon laughs. “We hope he is. It’s a good thing too, because he’s made some new friends.”
“Yes, he has.” They exchange smiles again before turning to me. “Last year, he and Damien, that’s our three-year-old, accompanied us to deliver some of the boxes. They found new playmates and didn’t want to come back home.”
I find it very heartwarming that the Court children are making friends with children whose financial situation couldn’t be more different from theirs. It’s inspiring. “Speaking of delivering the boxes, there are many videos available online that show the touching reactions some of the children have when they get their Christmas gifts.”
“Yes, we have seen some of those,” Rachel nods.
I flip open the cover of my tablet, and play one of the videos I found. There is a little girl in a small apartment clutching her gift box to her chest.
‘I love it so much,” she replies with a shy smile. ‘I’m so happy Santa sent me a box. Mommy is sick, and sometimes Santa forgets to come by our ‘partment because it’s so small. So I didn’t really like Christmas before, but he found us this year and me and my baby sister got a special box each, and he left me a note that says that even when I have nothing to give I can give love. So I’m going to be kind and give love because that’s what Christmas is.’
Rachel blinks rapidly and I’m surprised to see that her eyes are glistening. Landon reaches for her hand and squeezes it gently.
“There are many children like this who have been touched by your work,” I say. “How does it make you feel?”
Rachel smiles. “Teary-eyed, obviously.” She laughs. “Teary-eyed and humble.”
I turn to Landon and he shrugs. “It makes me proud of the wonderful woman who’s my wife. She came up with the idea to do this, to touch lives and do something positive.” He looks at his wife now and a moment passes when it’s just love, shining from both their eyes.
I clear my throat. “You both have very demanding careers. How do you balance it and still have time for your growing family?”
“We made a decision early on in our marriage that family would always come first,” Landon says.
“Yes,” Rachel adds. Their hands find each other again. “We make sure we face problems together. Whenever something arises… that has to do with work, tight schedules etc., and it has the potential to interrupt the time we have for us. We come together and ask ourselves ‘how do we arrange this to ensure that at the end of the day it doesn’t affect our children or our relationship in a negative way.’”
“Does that work all the time?”
They exchange another glance and a smile. “Well… Yes,” Rachel says. “We’ve both made sacrifices, of course. But it helps that we make decisions together, so…”
“So, we’re both satisfied with the results,” Landon finishes.
I sigh, realizing that I am falling in love with them as a couple. “Where do you see Santa’s Box going in the future?”
Rachel thinks for a moment. “Right now, we’re only able to organize it in a few states, but we’re ambitious, and we have a lot of support. We hope that soon, children all over the country will have a chance to be touched by what we’re doing.”
“You do have a lot of support. One of the most vocal supporters of this charity is your brother Aidan Court.”
“Yes,” Landon says. “He’s a very important part of the theater scene and he has used his clout there to rally support for this project.”
“Does his schedule allow him to play a significant part?” I ask. “Rumor has it that he’s directing a remake of Cleopatra on Broadway and that Hollywood star Elizabeth Mckay will be starring in it.” The history between those two, the romance that began when Aidan Court directed Lizzie McKay in her first part eight years ago and ended when she left him for the bright lights of Hollywood is common knowledge. It’s also lighting up the gossip columns. Everyone, me included, wants to know how the former lovers plan to work together.
“He does what he can,” Rachel says. She doesn’t give me any hints about Aidan and Lizzie, and neither does Landon.
I ask a few more questions about Santa’s Box, and soon, one of their staff comes in with a tray. I gratefully sip hot tea and the best homemade cookies I’ve ever had, almost unwilling to end the interview.
Finally, I get up and thank them both for their time. On my way out, we run into the children, the two older ones. Preston, and Damien. They scamper out of the living room and into the hallway just as we head for the front door, announcing to their mother that the baby is awake. As Rachel goes off to attend to Penelope, Preston stops and looks at me, his blue eyes serious and measuring. He has an uncanny resemblance to his father. There’s a confidence there too, impressive in someone so young.
“Hello,” he says. “I’m Preston Court.”
I smile at him. “I’m Serena Grey. I was just interviewing your parents.”
He nods evenly. His mother said he was a serious child, and I can see that.
“Hello.’ The little one pipes up. His features are softer. There’s more of his mother’s face in him, and he’s a truly beautiful child.
“Hello, Damien,” I reply.
He smiles brightly, showing an adorable gap in his teeth.
“You two have a great day.”
Preston nods. “And you too. Have a Merry Christmas, Ms. Grey.”
Outside, it’s snowing lightly, and I hurry towards my waiting car. When I reach it, I turn back for one last look at the lovely house, and the beautiful family standing on the porch with the mistletoe over their heads. Landon Court, his wife, who’s now holding the baby, and the two little boys at their feet. I wave and get into the driver’s seat, and as I drive away, back to my own life, my own family, I have a feeling, almost like I’ve been in a truly magical place.