There are less than 90 days until Christmas. It’s hard to believe another year has gone by so quickly, but it has. Time seems to move much faster now, and more than ever, I realize life is too short for regrets.While we’ve been blessed with three days of incredible summer weather, the leaves on the trees, and the faded glory of my flowers tell me quite clearly that summer is over, and this is a make-up gift from Mother Nature for not giving us a real summer this year. But, it’ll be Christmas in no time, the season of the year I like best. I love the music and the decorating, the lights at Upper Canada Village, but I especially love the look on the faces of the children watching the parades or waiting to see Santa.
Last year, I released Holiday Magic with Front Porch Romance. The publisher pulled the plug on the publishing house in April and left all its writers high and dry with books that could no longer be sold. Thanks to my good friend Melinda De Ross at Classy Designs, Holiday Magic is jumping out of my computer again with a brand new look. I chose to revise, essentially, rewrite the novel, and changed some scenes while adding others. If you read the first version and enjoyed it, this one I hope will have you saying, “Okay, now I understand what happened.” In this edition, Georgia gains a new perspective on life, including her understanding of the last leaf.
About Holiday Magic:
Seeing is believing, or is it?
Georgia Baxter loved everything about Christmas until she walked in on her fiancé in bed with another woman. Wounded and heart sore, she canceled her Christmas Eve fantasy wedding and fled to New York City, leaving everything and everyone, including her twin sister, Eleni, behind.
Three years later, still hurting but knowing it’s time to move on, she agrees to come home to help her sister, despite the fact she’ll be doing so at a time of year she now associates only with pain and betrayal. Discovering she’ll have to work closely with the man who shattered her dreams only makes things harder, especially when her body craves his touch.
Mark Anderson has no memory of his bachelor party other than waking up naked in the wrong woman’s bed. He clings to the hope someday he can convince Georgia to give him a second chance, but until she’s ready to listen, it won’t happen. Discovering she’s coming home to manage Holiday Magic for three months may be his lucky break.
Is there enough magic left in Christmas to help them overcome the past?
Holiday Magic is available in e-book format from Amazon.com
Excerpt from Holiday Magic:
“Well, you’re certainly eager to get going tonight,” Georgia Baxter said and smiled at her fiancé putting on his down jacket. “Slam, bam, thank you, ma’am, and by the way, dinner was good, too.”
Mark pulled her into his arms, and kissed her. Yielding to his gentle pressure, Georgia opened to him and felt heat pool in her stomach as it always did. Slowly pulling away, the evidence of his arousal obvious, he smiled down at her.
“You know damn well what I’d like to spend the evening doing, but Eleni’s home and Tony and the guys would be disappointed if I didn’t show up. Apparently, a bachelor party is a rite of passage not to be missed.”
“Sure it is,” Eleni said coming into the room from the kitchen and setting a platter of hors d’oeuvres on the table. “More like a reason to get wasted and go see the peelers.”
“Strippers? Moi?” Mark replied with an ‘I’d-never-do-that’ look on his face.
“Yes, toi,” Eleni answered. “You may be my future brother-in-law and my partner at Holiday Magic, but you are a man, and if you mix a group of Neanderthals, alcohol and naked women together, you get trouble waiting to happen.”
“I’m wounded by your lack of faith, Ms. Baxter.”
“Enough, you two,” Georgia said chuckling and stepped back into Mark’s arms. “If you do go see the ladies, and with Tony in charge you probably will, remember, look don’t touch. It doesn’t matter where you get your appetite, just remember, you’ve got dinner waiting at home.”
Mark pulled her closer and whispered in her ear. “I most certainly do. If I could, I’d sneak in later tonight for dessert.”
Georgia laughed. “And ruin my stellar reputation? Besides, you’ll smell like the bottom of a taxi cab. Eleni has all the girls coming over to make sachets for the tables. Having the fantasy wedding planner for a sister does make things complicated. She can be a slave driver at times.”
“Don’t I know it,’ Mark said. He pushed away and put on his boots.
Georgia sobered. “Be careful tonight. You aren’t driving, right?”
“No, ma’am. Cabbing it.” As if on cue a horn blared. “That’ll be my ride. Love you, babe. I’ll call you in the morning, and we can go down to the German market. We can pick out a tree for the loft. It’s so bare over there compared to this place. I hope you kept a few decorations to fix it up.”
“I have five boxes full of brand new things as well as the ones we bought last month. After we get the tree, we can decorate and have a nice quiet evening—maybe even a sleepover.”
“He’ll need it,” Eleni added before walking back toward the kitchen. “Have fun.”
Georgia closed the door quietly and stepped into the hallway, greeted by the scent of fresh pine from the small balsam tree in Eleni’s living room and the pine oil they’d used on the sachets last night. She took a deep breath. Christmas! She loved everything about the season from the mad rush for gifts to the beauty and serenity of a Christmas Eve church service. The lights and decorations turned ordinary places into magical ones, dispelling the gloom of winter’s darkest days. Smiling, excited children, anxious for a visit from Santa, reminded her of her own youth when everything had been carefree and wonderful. If she could wear pine-scented perfume, she would.
This year, Christmas was even better because all of her dreams would come true. In less than two weeks, on Christmas Eve, she’d marry the man she loved. Love wasn’t a strong enough word for the way she felt about Mark. She adored him. He was her hero, her soul mate, her best friend, and together they were going to have the best happily ever after.
Of all the fairy tales, the one she loved the best was Beauty and the Beast, possibly because it was the one with a brown-haired heroine. As a child she’d watched the video over and over again, had read the book so often the pages were dog-eared. She’d met Mark in Glee Club in high school, and the musical they’d performed that year was Beauty and The Beast—she’d been Belle, and he’d been the prince. It only seemed right to choose that theme for their fantasy wedding.
“Wow,” Georgia said entering the kitchen. “I didn’t expect to see you up before noon. I think you polished off more than your share of those concoctions you made—what did you call them?”
“Christmas cosmos, and try not to scream,” Eleni answered pouring coffee into a mug. “I have a bit of a headache.”
“I’ll bet you do.”
“Well, you know me, I don’t like to see anything go to waste. How come you’re dressed so early?”
“Early? Look at the clock, little sister, it’s almost noon.”
At five ten, Eleni stood a good six inches taller than Georgia, but she’d been born ten minutes later and that made her the younger twin, hence the little sister.
“Noon, schmoon. Have you looked outside? It’s still snowing. It’s been coming down all night. Today’s Saturday, and I have nowhere to go but back to bed. Where are you off to in this miserable weather?”
“Over to Lucy’s to bring her some of that chicken soup I made yesterday. The poor thing sounded awful on the phone when she called to cancel last night.”
Eleni shook her head and sighed. “You’re such a shmuck. Knowing that bitch, she probably just wanted to beg off doing any work. I don’t think you should go over there now. The snow’s really coming down. Why don’t you just call her?”
“Eleni Jean Baxter, you can be so mean when you want to be. If Lucy’s sleeping, I don’t want to wake her up. I’ve still got the key she gave me when she went on holidays last month. Maybe she didn’t want to be around us last night because she’s so depressed about Anton walking out on her like that and calling off their wedding. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if something happened between me and Mark.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to you two. Everything’s arranged, and then you’re off to Hawaii for three wonderful weeks. Sun, sand, and sex! I envy you big time.”
“Well, if you want to be a bride you have to quit playing the field and settle down. I thought you and Jeremy had a shot at it, but I see Larry’s your plus one. What happened?”
“Nothing, really, and that’s the problem. No sparks, and don’t tell me you and Mark don’t have sparks. “
“Oh, there’s lots of energy between us,” Georgia said and laughed. “I’m surprised we don’t combust spontaneously at times. He has an outrageous, insatiable appetite. I’m surprised he hasn’t called yet. I’ll bet he feels worse than you do.”
“He probably does. Larry called this morning.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Mark really tied one on—didn’t even stay until the end. Some guy poured him into a cab before eleven.”
“I’ll go over to the loft and take care of the poor baby after I see Lucy. Offer him something to take his mind off his pain. I might give him an analgesic, too.”
Eleni shook her head. “You’re bad. I’m sure hot sex is just what he needs. If you two keep at it like bunnies, I’ll be an aunty by this time next year.”
“I’d like that,” Georgia said. The thought of being a mother pleased her. “Who knows, maybe we’ll have twins.”
“Heaven help me—two rug rats.” Eleni rolled her eyes in mock horror. “How will I manage to spoil them equally?”
“You’ll find a way, but let’s not rush it. I just stopped the pills last month.”
“If you insist on going to Lucy’s first, fine, but personally, I’d skip the bitch and get right to the groom and work on my niece or nephew.”
“I don’t know why you don’t like her. You haven’t given her a chance which really isn’t like you.”
“It’s not that I don’t like her,” Eleni clarified, “it’s that I don’t trust her. She’s as phony as those 42Ds she brought home from Switzerland last year. You’re just too nice to see it. Lucy’s a user—she always has been, and that’ll never change. She wants something from you, but I haven’t the faintest idea what it is. Just watch your back, okay?”
“I don’t have anything to give, and you know it. The trust fund is all but empty since we used it to pay for school and start up Holiday Magic. De Boers pays me well, but not enough to keep me in the style she likes. Did you see those shoes she had on the other night? They must have cost five hundred dollars. I’m glad she agreed to be my bridesmaid because I’d never have gotten my flowers free”.
“I’d have paid for the flowers if I’d known that was why you asked her,” Eleni said. “Her family may own the flower shop, but I bet I could have gotten a discount. I still think she wants something. People like you. They don’t like her.
“If it’s the connections I have she wants, she’s welcome to them. Hobnobbing with Philadelphia’s rich and famous doesn’t mean a lot to me. But I think you’re wrong. She doesn’t have a lot of friends…”
“I wonder why.”
“Stop being so catty. I’ve got to go before the weather gets worse.” Georgia moved into the hall and put on her winter coat. Elemi followed her to the door, carrying the container of soup.
“You’re right, I’m being bitchy. Give her my best and take it easy on poor Mark. He’s suffering.”
Georgia laughed and left the apartment.
Twenty minutes later, she regretted her decision to go outside. The snow was deep and heavy, coming down the way it had the night her parents were killed. She shivered at the memory and wondered if it was an omen. She wasn’t really that superstitious, but she did read her horoscope. Maybe she should just go over to the loft instead of going to see Lucy. It was on the other side of the city, and the trek back would be twice as long.
The light turned red. Pumping the brakes, she managed to decelerate and stop before the corner. Snow piled up on the windshield, the wipers barely able to keep a large enough space clear for her to be able to see. When the light turned green, she stepped on the accelerator, but instead of moving forward, the tires spun.
Great. I’m stuck. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.
She jumped at the sound of a thump on her trunk and looked in the rear view mirror. Two teenaged boys motioned for her to try and move again while they pushed her. With their help, the car’s winter tires bit into the snow and gripped, and she moved through the intersection. She honked her horn in thanks and continued toward Lucy’s, seeing her rescuers as a sign she was doing the right thing.
Ten minutes later, she pulled to the curb in front of the apartment building and parked. The plows had been by earlier, so she should be good for an hour or so before they made a second pass. She wouldn’t stay long, anxious to see Mark again. Her calls to his cell had gone straight to voice mail. He must have turned it off last night, or he’d forgotten to charge it, and the battery was dead. They hadn’t installed a land line yet.
Georgia stepped off the elevator on the twelfth floor and let herself into the apartment
“Hello? Anybody home?” she called. Mr. Whiskers, Lucy’s Siamese cat, ran into the foyer, meowing loudly.
“Hey, buddy,” she said softly. “Hasn’t Mommy fed you breakfast yet?”
She looked down the hall. Lucy’s bedroom door was closed, a fact which no doubt contributed to the cat’s irritation. Entering the kitchen, Georgia placed the container of soup in the fridge.
“I suppose you want something to eat?” she asked the cat wrapping himself around her ankles. Reaching into the cupboard, she removed the can of gourmet cat food and fed the animal whose purrs echoed in the silent kitchen.
Looking around the room, she spied the dry erase marker and left Lucy a note about the soup in the fridge. She was about to leave when a hacking cough erupted from the bedroom.
Poor thing. She’s sicker than I thought.
Georgia opened the fridge, took out the carafe of orange juice and filled a glass. She went down the hallway, knocked on the bedroom door, and hearing a muffled groan, she opened it.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. Lucy wasn’t alone in the bed. While Georgia knew she should look away, she couldn’t. The man lying on his stomach, his arm wrapped around her friend was naked. He had a beautiful body, one vaguely familiar, and she was embarrassed by the way her libido reacted to it. The man was too fair skinned to be Anton, and his hair was a mass of curls. Surprise turned to shock as the man rolled over, away from Lucy, and Georgia recognized him.
He was still asleep. In her distress, she gasped and dropped the glass of juice, which shattered on the hardwood floor. The sound woke Mark, and he gave her a drunken lopsided grin.
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