Good morning. Happy October. As a Canadian, the holiday season it almost upon us. We celebrate Thanksgiving on October 13th. Then comes Halloween, and finally Christmas. Thank you Sandra Bunino for providing this platform for us to share our work.
My indie published Christmas book, Holiday Magic, is available now from all Amazon venues. Here’s another taste of my holiday effort. Enjoy.
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.
Three years later
Georgia entered the brownstone and cursed. Who the hell is calling at this hour? They’d probably tried to call her cell number, first, but she’d dropped the damn thing and it hadn’t worked properly since. Hurrying as fast as she could in her four inch heels, she raced up the stairs, and quickly unlocked the door.
“I’m coming, damn it, I’m coming,” she yelled at the phone, fully aware of the fact whoever was on the end of the line wouldn’t hear her. She tossed her beret and purse on the table in the foyer and hurried into the living room and over to the end table where the phone sat. She checked the call display and picked up the receiver.
“Hello, Eleni, what’s wrong?” Her twin never called on Monday nights. She usually knew when something was wrong, so this was probably one of Eleni’s other emergencies.
“Finally!” Georgia heard the relief and excitement in her voice. “Your cell phone kept going to message, and then wouldn’t let me leave one. I must have called a dozen times. Why are you out of breath?”
Georgia shook her head before plopping down on the leather sofa and kicking off her Christian Louboutin shoes.
“Because I heard the phone ringing and ran up the stairs to answer it,” she said reigning in her impatience. “I dropped my damn cell phone Saturday, and I haven’t had time to get another one. I’ll do it in the morning. So, what’s the emergency?” As much as she loved her sister, Eleni was impulsive and had a habit of exaggerating. She could turn a molehill into a mountain in no time.
Eleni harrumphed loudly. “Yes, you’d better, and get with the times. You need a Smartphone. I can’t imagine how you manage without one. Texting is the way to go.”
While Georgia used Facebook and her Internet website to conduct business, she rarely did so with her personal life—not that she had much of one.
“Yes, boss,” she answered and laughed. Eleni had embraced recent technology with a vengeance. She was constantly texting both friends and suppliers. It was amazing she got any work done. “I’ll consider it, but even if I get one, I doubt I’ll be as comfortable with it as you are.”
“I was worried when I couldn’t reach you,” Eleni accused, and Georgia felt a twinge of guilt.
“I’m sorry. I know you’re concerned about me, Len, just as I worry about you, but I’m fine, really I am.”
“So you say, but if you were fine, you’d come home. You’d come back where you belong.” She stopped talking and Georgia sighed heavily.
Until three years ago, she and Eleni had been inseparable, but after Mark’s betrayal, Georgia had left everyone and everything behind to try and pick up the pieces of her life. Eleni hadn’t understood her need to be alone, but it’d been the right decision. Now, while she was still heart sore, she’d managed to find herself and get on with life.
“It’s late,” Eleni continued “You weren’t out walking the streets of New York alone at night again, were you?”
Georgia giggled at the image. “You make me sound like a hooker out looking for a john. Manhattan is a fairly safe area, but for your information, I was out having dinner with Gwen. We went to Ramon’s. I took a cab back. Now, what’s the problem?”
“There isn’t any problem. Can’t I call just to hear your voice?”
“Right, and I hear the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale again. We talked for two hours on Friday. You heard plenty of my voice then, but something’s going on. I can feel it. So, what’s up?”
“One of these days, I’ll learn how to surprise you, but you’re right.” The excitement she’d heard earlier was back in her sister’s voice. “Georgia, my design was chosen to be the theme for the Ocean Front Casino Resort’s Halloween extravaganza.”
“Eleni, slow down,” Georgia said, holding the phone away from her ear as her twin shrieked excitedly. “Do you mean your Druids’ Vale idea, the one you submitted to Dean Ashcroft at Moore College?”
“Yes. They loved it.”
“I told you it was an incredible concept. I’ve even designed a couple of Halloween jewelry pieces around it. I’m glad they chose to go with something fresh and different, but I didn’t think casinos decorated much, preferring to keep their clients glued to the tables and the one-armed bandits.”
“They don’t really decorate the gambling areas much. My designs will be implemented in the foyer, reception, restaurants, and the ball room.”
“I’m really proud of you, little sister.” Georgia smiled.
“Simmons is sending me a nice, healthy check and arranging for a complimentary room for the Halloween weekend.”
“That’s wonderful,” she exclaimed. “Let me finish the Druid jewelry I’m working on, and I’ll send it to you to wear that night. Who knows, I may sell a few pieces and make a nice chunk of change there, too. It could be a win-win situation.”
“Don’t send it, bring it. I get to take a plus one, and I want that plus one to be you,” Eleni said, the begging tone in her voice unmistakable. “We haven’t done anything together in ages. In fact, the last holiday we had was when we went to Cape Cod four years ago for Eloise Logan’s wedding.”
“You’re exaggerating again. You were here in August, remember? How else would I have seen those designs?” Georgia asked.
“You know what I mean. Besides, you worked almost the entire time I was there.”
“As did you, but you’re right. We haven’t had fun together in ages. When would you want to go?”
“Halloween’s a Friday night, and the fundraiser’s Saturday night. Thursday until Sunday? You could take the Atlantic City Express, and I can meet you at the station there. I’ll take the train, too. Please say you’ll come.”
“Of course I will. I wouldn’t miss seeing your design implemented, you know that,” Georgia pulled the phone away from her ear as Eleni whooped for joy. “You’re right. We haven’t had fun in ages. Okay, we’re talking a month from now, so that’ll give me lots of time to get my designs finished and make sure Mary Ellen can handle the shop for a few days. I’ll make the reservation first thing in the morning and send you the details. Let’s take a couple of extra days and go down on the 29th and come home on the 3rd.”
“The resort seems to be a perfect place for a getaway. I looked it up on line. There’s a spa and a pool. You don’t have to gamble if you don’t want to. I’ll call you with the details in the morning. Dean Ashcroft said if Mr. Simmons really liked my work, I could be looking at a permanent gig.”
“Wouldn’t that be something, but could you handle that and the rest of Holiday Magic?”
“I’d sure as hell give it a try. You manage to make both sides of Delicate Designs work.”
Georgia laughed and shook her head. It was so like her sister to dream the impossible dream. She had a habit of looking at the end and not thinking of the steps it would take to get there, oblivious to the man hours involved.
“Yeah, but what I sell on the Internet is the same as what I have in the shop or in your showroom. You’d be dealing with something entirely different.”
“Not if I just sell the concepts and don’t have to implement them like this time. It could work.”
“Well, let’s not go putting the cart before the horse again. Let’s see how the big boss likes Druids’ Vale and go from there. Goodnight, Len, and congratulations. You deserve it. I love you. ”
“I love you, too, little sister. G’night. I’m so excited, I doubt I’ll sleep a wink. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Georgia hung up the phone, and stood. Walking back to the hallway, she removed her coat and hung it in the closet, putting her beret on the shelf above it. She locked the apartment door and retraced her steps into the living room and picked up her shoes. They’d been an extravagant purchase, but she’d loved the black snakeskin pumps from the moment she saw them. Turning off the lamp, she flipped the hall switch and the kitchen was bathed in a soft white glow. After preparing the coffee maker for morning, she went into her bedroom. A quick glance at the clock showed it was after eleven.
No wonder Eleni had been worried, but they’d gone to late supper since Gwen had a cattle call and didn’t get out until after half-past seven. She wasn’t hopeful, and Georgia had done her best to raise her friend’s spirits. Why was life always full of disappointments? Her friend was incredibly talented, but…
One of the apartment’s biggest draw had been the oversized bedroom with its corner fireplace and window looking out on the park. Central Park had become both her refuge and her inspiration. No matter the season, there was a beauty about it she couldn’t deny. Many of the jewelry pieces she’d created had been based on the things she saw there, and since her shop, Delicate Designs II, was located so close to the park, she got lots of tourist walk-in customers who recognized the various landmarks in the coat pins she designed.
Georgia closed the drapes and went over to her work table in the corner and turned on the light above the workspace. The mock-up of the pewter pendant of Stonehenge in a circle of holly was almost finished. She’d work on the smaller holly earrings tomorrow, and then make a coat pin to go with the set. Once it was done, she’d send it to the factory that turned her designs into affordable pieces.
She flipped through her drawing pad and stopped at the swan design she’d been working on earlier. She could get that piece finished tomorrow as well. She wanted to incorporate a Christmas aspect to the graceful bird. Maybe a cloisonné bow in red, green, and gold around its neck would do the trick.
Georgia tossed the sketch pad back on the table and noticed the folded paper on the floor. She’d forgotten that sketch was there, and while the last thing she wanted was to look at it, she was drawn to do just that.
The thick gold band was simple in design and embossed with tiny roses. It was the matching ring that caught the eye. That band was the stem of a thornless rose. The ruby chips were laid out around the central stone in such a way as to form petals—a red rose, like the one in Beauty and the Beast—the rose that held the beat’s only hope for salvation if he could find love. She’d designed the rings for herself. They would have been her wedding rings. Tears slid down her cheek. She should toss this away, but couldn’t. Refolding the sheet of paper, she carried it to the dresser drawer and dropped it inside on top of the face down picture frame. She wouldn’t go there tonight.
Minutes later, she crawled into bed. She hated the nights, the one time when her hard-won independence and backbone deserted her. At first, each night had been an encore performance of the reason she’d fled Philadelphia in the first place. She’d wake up sobbing and lie there unable to sleep again for fear of seeing that image again. Gradually, the nightmares had stopped, but they’d been replaced by erotic dreams and fantasies of what she’d expected her life to be like.
Lately, the nights had been dream-free which was why she thought she might be ready to go home. She yawned. Eleni might not sleep tonight, but she hoped she would.
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