Posted in Christmas, Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: Christmas Story Just For You: Where There’s a Will…

Badge for TT - very small (1)As the song says, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” I love the lights that take the edge of the darkest, dreariest days of the year. I love the parties, seeing family, and most important, the faces on the children as they wait for Santa to bring them all their Christmas wishes. I’d like to deny the commercialism associated with the holiday, but that’s simply another example of social evolution. We might decry it, but the reality is we all profit from it in one way or another at this magical time of the year.

Xmas 4This week, in honor of the season, my fellow authors and I are offering you something different. As usual we used a wiord prompt–Christmas–but we chose different ways of giving you a unique holiday gift. In my case, I present, Where There’s a Will…

This Chrsitmas short story will be given in three parts, one section each day for the next three days. Please come back and read it all.

Where There’s a Will… Part One

Brandi pushed a strand of red hair back behind her ear, oblivious to the dirt she’d deposited on her cheek. Sweat trickled down her back and between her breasts, but she felt alive for the first time in months. The warm mid-December sun, so different on Vancouver Island than in Ontario, beat down on her face as she raised it skyward allowing nature to add color to her wan complexion.

reindeer_christmas_decorationsLooking around the front yard, she smiled at the evidence of three hours of hard work. Everyone in the neighborhood was decorating for Christmas, and while she couldn’t climb a ladder and string lights, thanks to a bum leg that would never fully recover, she’d added poinsettias to her iron planters and had strung lights in the pine tree and flanked it with a half-dozen lighted deer, giving the house a festive look. No dreaming of a white Christmas here in Victoria, but she wouldn’t wallow in misery. New city, new home, new life. Where there was a will, there was a way, and by God, she’d played the victim long enough. It had never been her style, and she’d be damned if it would be now. She’d fallen, picked herself up, and dusted herself off. It was time to get back to living, but she’d do it at her own speed, not anyone else’s—and that included her well-meaning sister, Jane.

christmas_angel_decorationStepping inside the house, she admired the lights strung around the living room window and the decorated, table-top tree placed where those outside would see it as they passed by. The angel tree topper had been an extravagant purchase, but she’d loved it. Someday, it would sit atop a full sized-tree, but for now, it reigned gloriously over the miniature pine she’d plant out front as soon as the holiday season was over, a reminder that miracles did happen. Her collection of nutcrackers, a bittersweet reminder of her lost hopes and dreams, stood atop the fireplace mantel, the various soldiers and their multicolored uniforms adding to the room’s festive atmosphere.

She’d just filled the kettle when the familiar strains of “The William Tell Overture” announced her sister’s call. The thought of letting it go to voice mail surfaced briefly, but that would only bring Jane racing across town expecting the worst. Reluctantly, she picked up the phone, dreading the conversation to follow. Jane meant well, but she was so insistent at times it felt more like bullying than a loving sister’s concern. She pressed the call answer button on the fifth ring.

“Hey, Jane, what’s up?”

“What took you so long?” Jane asked, her voice filled with a mixture of suspicion, annoyance, and concern, but Brandi was certain annoyance would win in the end.

“I just came inside. I was decorating outside…”

“What? Are you crazy? You know you’re not supposed to exert yourself…”

Brandi laughed. “Obviously, you’ve never seen one of Adrianne’s sessions.”

“Adrienne is a trained physiotherapist. You, on the other hand…”

“I feel fine.” The white lie slipped off her tongue effortlessly. “I suppose you called about the Christmas party tonight. I’ve thought about it, and decided I can’t make it after all.”

“You just said you were fine,” her sister challenged suspiciously. “You promised you’d come,” Jane continued, playing the hurt card that inevitably got her what she wanted.

“I know you’re trying to do what you think is best,” Brandi said contritely, hating herself for being such a wimp, “but I’m not ready to face strangers.”

“Brandi, for heaven’s sake.” Her sister’s voice was filled with frustration, the hurt momentarily forgotten. “It’s been over a year. At this rate, you’re never going to be ready. There won’t be a single person here tonight you haven’t met before. My God, you performed in front of thousands. There’s no way I’ll let you shovel any bullshit about stage fright. You didn’t die in that accident, and there’s no reason to act as if you did.”

“I’m not comfortable driving the car in the dark yet,” she prevaricated, knowing damn well she had nothing to be afraid of. There would be no freezing rain here to ruin her life.

“Not a problem. Tom’s cousin Jarett is going to pick you up. You’re on his way. You must remember him. He was one of the ushers at our wedding. I think you two actually went to school together.”

If she hadn’t wanted to go before, Brandi was definitely dead-set against it now.

She remembered Jarett all too well—him and the gorgeous blonde who’d clung to him like Velcro at the wedding and had shot invisible daggers at her from behind venom-filled eyes. She also remembered the boy in high school who’d owned her heart, but had ignored her except when he thought to tease her by calling her names—Hey, Scotch; hi, Vodka; looking good, Bourbon; did you finish that math assignment, Gin?—he’d called her by the name of every alcoholic beverage but her own, except at the wedding when they’d danced.

You’ve grown into a beautiful woman, Brandi. His words echoed in her head, but then Yuri had claimed her and the blonde bombshell had whisked him away. Now Yuri was dead as was her career as a ballerina. She could walk, but she’d never dance again. Her last performance had been as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’d never even finished the run—the freezing rain had seen to that.

the-nutcracker-toronto1Svetlana Lunkina and Artists of the Ballet in The Nutcracker. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

“I don’t know. I get nervous in any car and it’s just worse at night…”

“Brandi Alexandra Jameson, I just knew you’d pull a stunt like this, and I won’t let you ruin this party for me.”

Yeah, it’s all about you, Jane. What about what I want?

“It’s three o’clock, now,” her sister continued. “He’ll be there to pick you up at five. I suggest you get your ass in gear. He’s got orders to carry you out kicking and screaming if he has to.”

“You’re not being fair,” Brandi cried.

“Fair has nothing to do with this. It’s for your own good, and Mom and Dad agree, so unless you want to end up here in your pajamas or worse, get dressed.”

She winced as Jane ended the call with a satisfactory slam of the phone, something impossible to do with a cellphone.

Defeated, Brandi sighed. She had two choices: dig in her heels and refuse to budge, although she was certain that wouldn’t stop Jarett who had more muscles in his shoulders than Yuri, her best friend and fellow dancer, had ever had, or give in graciously, and make an appearance. Surely there would be a plant she could hide behind. She’d stay for an hour, two at most, and then get a cab back to the house. It wasn’t a huge rebellion, but it would send a message. Wearily, moving as if she were on the way to her own execution, Brandi climbed the stairs to her room to shower and get dressed.

Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales and don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for Where There’s a Will… Part Two.

 

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Time Travel Italian Style! Morgan O’Neil Do It Just Right.

 

Good morning. From the first mo0ment I read H.G.Wells’s The Time Machine, I have been fascinated by the concept of moving back and forth through time. Imagine, actually seeing a dinosaur, or watching them build the pyramids. Conversely, what about going a hundred years into the future to see whay life holds for your porgeny?

The concept of time travel has shown up in a number of different ways in the media. I recall a particualrly cheezy series called It’s About Time, but the only thing I really can zero in on is the song that went with the series. Star Trek has used the concept of time travel in several episodes. Superman saved Lois Lane in the first movie by turning back time–isn’t that a lyric to a song? Most recently, The Flash saved his city and thousands of people thanks to having travelled into the future and made the necessary correction. But none of these shows do justice to time travel the way Morgan O’Neil do. Today, Let’s focus on Book 1.

The Other Side of Heaven, Book One of the Italian Time Travel Series, published by Time’s Arrow Productions is  Historical/Time Travel Fiction. I read this book and absolutely adored it, easily getting hooked on the series.

OtherSideHeaven_CVR_LRGAbout the Book:

Californian Gwendolyn Godwyn seeks to learn her family’s history and hopes to restore the bond that once existed between her Italian forebearers and those who live in America. While visiting her ancestral Italian town, Gwen is caught in a violent earthquake and inexplicably thrust through time. At first refusing to believe what has happened, she nevertheless uses her wits to survive, donning a monk’s cowl to hide her identity as a woman. Ripped apart from all she has ever known, Gwen finds herself in the midst of brutal territorial battles in an era she once blithely called “The Dark Ages.” When the golden Italian summer of 951 emerges from the strife and gloom, Gwen joins forces with a cadre of gallant men, allies in the struggle against the evil nobles, Willa of Tuscany and Count Berengar, kidnappers of Italy’s rightful queen, Adelaide. Along with Father Warinus and Lord Alberto Uzzo, Gwen seeks to rescue Adelaide and restore her kingdom. In the midst of this great adventure, Gwen falls in love with the complex and passionate Alberto, to whom she reveals her identity as a woman. But can Alberto learn to love her strong and independent nature and help Gwen in her quest to discover her rightful place in time?

*December 16 through 22 The Other Side of Heaven will be 99 cents/pence on Amazon US and UK.

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Heaven-Italian-Travel-ebook/dp/B00NPC9YMA/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449873118&sr=1-2&keywords=the+other+side+of+heaven

 

DeborahCordes&CaryFratesAbout the Authors:

 

Long version-

A chance meeting at a writers’ conference brought Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes together, two award-winning authors who connected because of a mutual love of time travel fiction. Collaboration ensued, the search for a pen name the first step in their working relationship. Their maiden names provided the solution—and “Morgan O’Neill” was born.

Cary and Deborah’s backgrounds are uniquely suited to writing stories steeped in atmosphere and history: Deborah has a Master’s Degree in history and is a dedicated genealogist; Cary is a talented linguist in French and is currently a student of Latin. They’ve traveled to Europe’s ancient and medieval sites many times, with Cary living on the Continent for five years.

The Morgan O’Neill time travel novels have received a number of literary awards, including two finalist wins in the Booksellers’ Best Awards, two semifinalist wins in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, first, second, and third place wins for the Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Golden Rose Contest, a top ten finalist award in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference Zola Awards Literary Contest, and a top ten finalist win in the Orange Rose Contest. In 2014, the Oshawa Public Libraries of Ontario, Canada included Morgan O’Neill’s entire Roman series—Love, Eternally, After the Fall, and Return to Me—in their list for Top 100 Romance Novels of All Time.

Author Links:

Websitehttp://www.morganoneill.com/

Newsletterhttps://madmimi.com/signups/125219/join

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6423103.Morgan_O_Neill

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/morgan.oneill.books.12

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/authormoneill

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Tuesday Tales From a Word: Pretty

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning and welcome back to my portion of Tuesday Tales, a chance for you to see the step by step way I create a  story which unfolds into a novel. But this writing exercise has a twist. Each week’s entry is based on a wortd or picture prompt. This week, the word is pretty. Next week, Tuesday tales will be spread over a few days with a Christmas theme, so make sure you check back each day until Christmas Eve when the story will end.

So, without further ado, here is this week’s offering from Hello Again.

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)Opening the bathroom door, Charley took two tentative steps into the room before Bill whisked her off her feet and carried her to the table.

“I can walk now,” she protested weakly, putting her arm around his neck.

“Not according to the doctor,” he said, smiling at her, his green eyes, so much like Mike’s, lit with playful laughter.

He set her down on the chair she’d occupied the previous night. Shirley placed a steaming mug of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal in front of her. The hot drink called to her soul as it did each morning. If she replaced anything from her lost appliances, it would be her single brew coffeemaker, an extravagance, but one she was pretty sure she’d never be able to survive without.

“Thank you,” Charley said, raising the cup to her lips, and sipping the hot brew. “Delicious. You know, the one thing I’ve never been able to do with a large coffeemaker is brew a decent cup of coffee. Mike used to make ours because he claimed mine was unpalatable.”

“I don’t think you’re alone there,” Bill commented and laughed. “The coffee down at the station either tasted like motor oil or dishwater. I’m sure there are some potfuls that can he used to shellac wood.”

Shirley returned to the table with coffee and cereal for herself.

“Making a good pot of coffee is an art,” Shirley said. “I buy the best Arabica beans I can get—not the premade stuff you get in cans. I keep the beans in an airtight glass jar, and grind them fresh for each pot. I only make small pots, so the coffee doesn’t sit around for hours. It’s all about freshness.” She chuckled. “When I was first married, my husband said I made the world’s worse cup of coffee, but I’ve learned a trick or two over the years.” She turned to Bill. “There’s brown sugar and milk on the table, and another serving if you want more. I know it’s your favorite.”

“How do you know that?” he asked, his eyebrows crinkled in confusion.

“The spirits, of course. How many times will I have to explain that to you? Now, eat up. There’ll be another storm late this afternoon, and you’ll need to be back by then.”

“Another storm?” Charley asked, seriously questioning the wisdom of moving out west after all. “A twister?”

“Maybe, but not like yesterday’s,” Shirley answered matter of factly, as if predicting the weather, à la spiritual beings, was an everyday occurrence. “They won’t hit us, but we’ll get more rain.” She took a mouthful of coffee. “The horse will be here shortly.”

“What horse?” Bill asked, and Charley realized he was as confused as she was.

“The spirit horse comes when I need him.”

“Are you telling me you ride a ghost horse?” Bill asked incredulously, and Charley stifled a giggle at the vision of her short, stout hostess atop some white stallion.

Shirley laughed. “Not a ghost horse. He’s a wild pony, a pinto, the leader of a small band that roam the foothills. The spirits send him to me when I need him, but I haven’t ridden in at least ten years. I polished the tack and saddle for you last week.”

“And of course you knew I’d be coming.” Bill shook his head.

“You specifically? No, I told you that. I knew I’d be having guests for a few days. I was hoping it wouldn’t be those hooligans back again, but I sensed no danger this time.”

Bill frowned as if he wanted to say something else.

Did that mean someone else was in danger or would be, or that Shirley would be in danger another time? Before Charley could ask, Shirley spoke again.

“I’ve found the ammunition for the rifle, so we’ll be fine while you’re in Sintaluta,” she said.

“Rifle?” Charley asked. “Why do you need a rifle?”

“Shirley had some unwelcomed guests last week,” Bill began only to be cut off by the feisty old woman.

“Guests my ass,” she said forcefully. “Those motorcyclists were rude, destructive thieves. I should’ve emptied both barrels into them instead of the air.”

“Damn, Shirley,” Bill said, “if you’d killed or wounded one of them … The more I think about it, the less I understand why they even left. They had to know you were alone.”

“I’m never alone, Bill. You should realize that by now.”

“Yeah well, a bunch of ghosts won’t do much to save you from an angry gang member with a gun,” Bill said, his frustration evident in the vise-like grip he had on the spoon.

Charley observed the discussion, spooning oatmeal into her mouth, fascinated by the emotions on Bill’s face. He was exasperated by the woman, but there was more than that. He genuinely cared about her. Mike had cared about people too, but never quite this way. This was deep and personal—almost a filial love. Shaking away the thought, she smiled.

“This is the best hot cereal I’ve ever had, Shirley. It’s never been a favorite of mine, but if it always tasted like this, I’d be hooked.”

“I’ll teach you how to make it tomorrow,” the old woman answered. “Today, we’ll make dumplings for the chicken stew we’ll have for supper. It’ll pass the time while Bill’s gone.”

“Where are you going, Bill?” Charley asked.

“I was going to walk the five miles into the main village on the Reserve to see if I could find out more about yesterday’s storm. I can’t get a cell signal out here, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get one there. I’m hoping I can get through to Regina and see what I can do about getting us out of here.”

“Do you think you can get a message to the school board in Saskatoon?” Charley asked. “If I don’t report in by the sixteenth, they’ll give the job to someone else. I have the signed contract with me. I expected to be there by today…” she let her voice fade. If she lost that job after all of this, what would she do?

Don’t borrow trouble, babe, Mike’s voice echoed in her head. I’ve got this covered. Charley blinked, feeling light headed.

“In two days,” Shirley said, the confidence in her voice brooking no argument.

“In two days what, Shirley?” Bill asked as Charley fought to make sense of everything.

“In two days, we’ll all leave here. For now, if you’re finished, Charley needs to get cleaned up so I can bandage her leg. I’ll get you some of my daughter’s old clothes. The stuff in your bags is wet and musty smelling. It’ll need to be washed. We’ve got time to do that this morning.”

“Is the power back on?” Charley asked.

“No, but the generator is hooked into the propane tank and can provide all the electricity we need.”

“Okay.” She swallowed the last mouthful of coffee and rose. Before she could move any further, Bill scooped her up.

“I’m going to miss this job when it’s over,” he said and winked.

“If I ever need a quick pick-me-up,” Charley joked. “I’ll keep you in mind.”

Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales

 

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Cover Reveal! Jaded Love

JadedLove_Holford-Miller_KINDLE-NOOKDrum roll, please!

Coming soon to an etare near you.
Title: 
Jaded Love (The Mending Hearts Series, Book 2)

Author:  Jody Holford & Kara Leigh Miller

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

Publisher: Anaiah Press, LLC

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pre-Order Links: Amazon

Add to: Goodreads

The Mending Hearts Series on Facebook 

Blurb:

They can pretend they’re fine…

Moving to NYC is supposed to be the fresh start Kristy Andrews so desperately needs, but she can’t seem to shake the after-effects of having been kidnapped last year.

Detective Jackson Reed never meant to kill an innocent man, but knowing that doesn’t change the guilt he lives with every single day.

But they can’t hide forever…

When Kristy and Jackson meet, the connection is instantaneous, but neither is ready to open up about their pasts. Can love and trust conquer their demons?

In order to have a future, they’ll have to face their past…

When Kristy starts receiving threatening messages, her anxiety kicks into overdrive, but the last thing she wants is Jackson worrying about her.

Jackson may doubt his ability to return to active duty, but he has no doubts about his instincts concerning Kristy. Someone is trying to hurt her, and he refuses to let that happen, even if it means going back to work; something he wasn’t sure he’d do.

As the threats increase, Jackson shows Kristy that strength doesn’t mean facing her fears alone, and Kristy shows Jackson that forgiveness starts from within. Can they save each other before it’s too late? Or will the past come back to haunt them?

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Time for Holiday Romance!

IMG_0535Good morning. Wow! Here it is December 11th, and the temperature at eight in the morning is 10 degrees Celcius. We have no snow–lucky guess if you figured that out. I’m not really complaining, but to me, living in Eastern Ontario, it simply doesn’t feel like Christmas. For heaven’s sake, I have dandelions growing on my lawn! dandelion

As I watch the news, I realizehow truly blessed we are. We may be looking at a green Chriostmas, but the long range forecast shows the warm temperatures will persist, which will save us a bundle on heating this year. I’m sure those of you in Europe and India coping with massive flooding would prefer my weather over yours any day, and I hope that Mother Nature settles down so that you and yours can find some semblance of peace this holiday season.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the myriad of movies, old and new, all of which promise peace, love, and happiness, something our world needs desparately right now. This year, I have five holiday themes stories for your reading pleasure. Both Holiday Magic  and The Perfect Choice  are on sale from the 12th to the 19th with the best deal early in the week, when each one will be only 99 cents USD.Holiday Magic (2)       The perfect choice (2)

This year I’ve written three holiday tales, each one shorter than my usual tomes.  Come Home for Christmas is a 25K novella. My good friend and cover artist, Danielle Doolittle, created the cover for this book.SueWinterCoverSmall

This past year has been a miserable one for Krista Jacobs, and what’s going to make it even worse is having to spend Christmas at Seven Oaks, the Alberta ranch that was her home until her uncle tossed her out on her ear before her nineteenth birthday. But Uncle Charles is gone and has left her something in his will—something she can only have if she spends Christmas at the ranch with Ethan Terrance, her step-cousin, and the man she’d hoped to marry ten years ago.
When Charles Terrance died, the last thing Ethan expected to discover was that not only had his dad sabotaged his relationship with Krista, he’d cheated her out of the inheritance that should’ve been hers ten years ago. Since Ethan’s never been able to forget the woman he loved, he’ll do whatever he has to in order to make things right—including having his lawyer send her a request she can’t ignore. Krista has to come home for Christmas.

The other stories I have are short–all under 10K. The first is a feel good story. In Her Christmas Hero,  widowed mother of four Laurie Wilson gets a shock when a cHer Christmas Heroheck  that was supposed to have been destroyed is cashed, leaving her in a financial lurch just days before Christmas.

Leland Ostler packed his heart in ice years ago and goes through the Christmas season paying lip service to the holiday. When he discovers Laurie Wilson is the girl he was fascinated by in high school and discovers her plight, he determines to make sure that family has the Merry Christmas it deserves.

 

The story continues in The Best Day Ever which will be released December 15th.

For widow Laurie Michaels, the most important part of her life are her four children, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make sure this is their best ChristmaThe Best Day Evers ever. Thanks to an unknown benefactor, her short-term money problems are solved. When her boss, Leland Ostler, the object of her teenage crush, invites her to bring her children to his house for a sledding party and a visit with Santa, she assumes he wants her to babysit his nephews who’ll be there, too.

Leland Ostler hasn’t celebrated Christmas in years, but Laurie and her children call to his heart. He remembers the young girl who shyly ran away when he approached, and he’s determined not to let her escape again. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach—and Laurie’s chocolate fudge cookies have already started down that route—then the way to this young mother’s heart has to be through her children.

Can he convince her to look to the future and let him into her life?

So, if you’re looking for holiday reading, the long or the short of it, have I got a deal for you!

Comment for your chance to win an electronic copy of one of these books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tease Time: Holiday Magic

http://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Magic-Classy-Designs-ebook/dp/B00NZET216/Good Morning; I wasn’t going to tease today since my regular hostess has taken tiIMG_0565me off, but others in the group are participating so, why not? This is a picture taken last year at UpperCanada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario at Alight at Night. There won’t be any snow when we visit this year, but that’s okay. It’s warmer out too, so it’s all good.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the scents and sounds, the colors and activities. I get that warm fuzzy feeling watching the faces of children as they help decorate or bake. Tonight, my grandchildren are coming over to decorate my Christmas trees for me. Since I have two, they have lots to do.

This year, I’ve written three Christmas stories, but I’m going back to my first one for this tease. Holiday Magic and its companion story, The Perfect Choice are exclusive to Amazon.

Holiday Magic Teaser:

“Mrs. Ingram said she’d make sure there was food, but why don’t we stop and pick up a few things just in case the janitor didn’t have time to go shopping? I seem to remember the first thing you need when you get up is a cup of tea and toast with peanut butter.” The look on his face indicated he thought he’d overstepped his boundaries.

Georgia smiled at him. She wasn’t upset. In fact, she was flattered. She wouldn’t have expected him to remember such a minor detail. As far as she knew, it wasn’t something most men would do. He’d only stayed over half a dozen times. They’d opted not to live together before the wedding, wanting to make their married life special right from the start.

Now that she knew he and Lucy hadn’t been a couple, that the incident had been a one-time thing, she could embrace some of the happier memories she’d forced to the back of her mind.

“I guess it’s silly to act as if the last ten years of our lives never existed. I suppose you’re still addicted to strong black coffee and apple fritters from that bakery near your office?”

He chuckled and nodded. “Guilty as charged, but sometimes I actually have a bowl of cereal with the coffee.”

He relaxed visibly, as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and focused on the road.

Holiday Magic (2)“It’s a good thing this van has a GPS,” he commented ten minutes later. “We won’t be able to find the place just by looking for it. The visibility is getting worse by the minute. I’m glad I convinced Eleni to invest in snow tires. How are you holding up?”

“I’ve been better.”

“Mind if I turn on the radio? I know how much you hate driving in weather like this, but I’d like to hear the forecast.”

“Go ahead,” she answered hoping he couldn’t hear the anxiety she  was trying to hide. “I’d like to hear it too.”

The music and talking in the background kept the silence from getting oppressive. When the announcer spoke twenty minutes later, he shattered any hopes she had that the storm would play itself out before dark.

“This one caught us off guard, folks,” the well-modulated, disembodied voice stated. “We’d expected a few flurries, but it looks as if Mother Nature decided we needed a white Christmas this year. The weather center has issued a snowfall warning. A cold front coming down from Canada, collided with that warm Gulf air we’ve been enjoying. You can expect anywhere from six to twelve inches of the stuff, maybe even more in the mountains. Wind gusts up to fifty miles an hour will make driving hazardous. It’s a good night to curl up in front of the fire and watch movies, and since it seems appropriate…” The sound of Let It Snow filled the vehicle.

“That settles that,” she said. “I don’t know if the chalet even has a television set.”

Mark chuckled. “if it doesn’t, I packed a  deck of cards. We can play poker.”

“For points,” she added quickly, wanting to erase the image of the last time they’d played poker from her mind—the stakes had been clothes.

With the poor road conditions, the trek to Palmerton took an hour longer that it should’ve, and her nerves were at the breaking point. They pulled into the parking lot next to the grocery store, and after donning their winter coats left the car and battled the weather to the front door.

“Morning, folks,” said the cashier as the entered. “Nasty out there.”

Why was it people always felt the need to tell you what you already knew?

“We noticed,” Mark said pleasantly, “but we’ll be glad to get where we’re going.” He turned to her. “What do you want to make for supper? You’re on KP. I’m a dismal cook.”

“I know. You’re the only man who can burn boiled eggs.” She felt her cheeks redden at the memory of why the pot had boiled dry.

She moved away from the counter before he could say anything. While she picked up the makings for a spaghetti dinner tonight and the staples they’d need for an overnight stay, Mark added a couple of bottles of wine and an twelve  pack of beer—the brand she preferred.

“The Ingram’s place is about ten miles out of town,” the cashier said when Mark asked. “In this weather, it’ll take about twenty-thirty minutes to get there. That road’s treacherous. Be careful.”

Mark thanked the man, picked up the beer and wine, and left one bag of groceries for her to carry. They left their purchases in the van and crossed the street to the Christmas tree lot where they selected an eight foot balsam pine. Mrs. Ingram had mentioned the cathedral ceiling, so they could get one of the taller trees. The lot attendant helped Mark attach the tree to the roof and wished them well.

Want to read more about Georgia and Mark?

Amazon

Drop over to visit some of my friends. Some have teasers while others have awesome other posts on their blogs, but either way, you’ll fins something cool to read.

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Tuesday Tales: From a Word: Evil

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning. It’s Tuesday Tales’ time again. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend and wish you the best in the week ahead. As we count down to Christmas, I want to take the time to acknowledge the my Jewish friends celebrating Hanukhah this week. May the coming year  bring peace and prosperity to you all.

We’re back to Hello Again this week. Charley’s made it through another night of dreams and tears.

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)Charley slowly awoke to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and cinnamon, not the morning combination she remembered. Dawn bathed the room in a deep pink glow. She glanced at the alarm clock beside the bed. It was barely after five. Obviously, her hostess was an early riser, but then Charley was generally up by six, and considering the time change, she’d already slept an hour longer than usual.

Admiring the magical appearance of the room, she grimaced when reality set in. How did that adage go? “Red skies at night, sailors delight; red skies in the morning, sailors take warning.” As she recalled, yesterday’s horrific storms had moved in from the east, so as pretty as the light was, it might not be a good thing.

Why would it be? Nothing’s gone right for me in five years.

Determined not to get sucked in by depressing thoughts so early in the morning, Charley stretched and winced. While the evil minions bouncing on her brain had settled down, the bruises on her shoulders were sore, and her bladder begged for attention, and now that she’d acknowledged the need, it intensified with every breath.

Forcing herself into a sitting position, she noted the second pillow propped against the headboard. Her cheeks heated at the memory of Mike—no make that Bill—holding her in his arms during the night after that devastating dream. That vision had been so real, and she remembered it clearly. If she closed her eyes, she could smell the aftershave he wore, the herbal scent of the shampoo he’d used. Her hands remembered the smooth plane of his chest, the soft tangle of hair across his pectorals, the scar next to his heart…

Her eyes popped open.

Damn!

Mike had no scars on his chest. Married to a soldier, the one thing she was familiar with was the texture of puckered skin from a gunshot scar. Mike had been shot twice—once in the shoulder and once in the leg, but the scar imprinted on her fingers had been far worse than either of those. The body she recalled so distinctly belonged to Bill, an RCMP officer who’d been shot, too. She’d lain in his arms for what had seemed like ages, sobbing her heart out until she’d fallen asleep. If that wasn’t service above and beyond, she didn’t know what was.

The sound of someone moving around in the other room grew louder and her door opened.

“Good morning,” Shirley said stepping into the room and opening the curtains.

Her hostess wore a loose fitting dress similar to the one she’d worn yesterday, reminding Charley once more of Nana who’d always worn house dresses as she’d called them.

“How are you feeling?” Shirley asked, moving over to the window to open the curtain. The pink glow intensified. “It’s a beautiful morning. I thought we might sit outside on the veranda later.”

“You must be psychic,” Charley said and chuckled, “I need to get up and … you know. Otherwise, I feel fine.”

“I’ll get Bill.”

Before she could protest, Shirley was gone.

Pivoting, Charley managed to turn her body so that her legs hung over the side of the bed, and with considerable effort, she pulled down the nightgown that had twisted itself up around her waist during the night. By the time Shirley and Bill were back, she’d covered her “parts is parts” enough she hoped not to embarrass herself.

“Hello,” Bill said stepping into the room. “I take it Mother Nature calls?”

“Screams, actually,” she answered. “Thanks for … last night.”

This morning, he wore jeans, stretched taut across well-muscled thighs and a white t-shirt, which emphasized rather than hid highly developed biceps and washboard abs. His hair was still damp and his cheeks pink from the razor—his scent had her libido doing handsprings. She swallowed a sudden longing that left her lightheaded.

What the hell’s wrong with me?

“Don’t worry about it,” Bill answered, and for a moment she thought she’d spoken aloud. “With everything that happened yesterday, you were entitled to a meltdown.

Expecting him to help her stand and walk, she let out a surprised whoosh of air when he picked her up, the skin on her thighs burning at his touch, the nightgown barely covering her butt, and carried her to the bathroom where Shirley waited.

“Put her down, Bill, and let’s see how the leg feels.”

Bill gazed into her eyes, his brow furrowed. “Are you ready?”

She nodded, her teeth clenched, ready for the pain … that never came.

“It doesn’t hurt,” she said, unable to hide the awe in her voice. “It’s a little stiff and tight, but not anywhere near as sore as I thought it would be.”

“Good. But don’t think you’re ready to run a race. That means the salve is working, numbing the nerves,” Shirley commented, a smug smile in place. “I told you I was a good medicine woman. Now, do what you need to do, and then come and have coffee and breakfast. I’ll have you shower afterwards and then I’ll put on a clean dressing. Bill is leaving us for a few hours.”

Charley had tons of questions, but her bladder was demanding attention. She nodded, and closed the door.

A few minutes later, she stood in front of the basin washing her hands and examining the cut on her forehead. The bruising had turned an angry purple and extended into her hairline. She certainly didn’t look like any femme fatale she remembered from the myriad movies she’d watched of damsels in distress. She was a mess—plain and simple. She’d never been a great beauty—at least not in her mind although Mike had told her she was countless times. Love was blind, and he’d loved her, so that would account for it. She was as ordinary and unremarkable as they came, and today, no one who saw her would look at her twice. The lump above the temple was still tender to the touch, but the headache was gone. Dark circles under her eyes testified to her difficult night, but other than that, Charley felt good to go for the first time in years.

Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales