My first guest is Brenda Whiteside with WARM CHRISTMAS WISHES.
Brenda has 2 stories in this wonderful anthology and you can WIN an e-copy by leaving a comment!
Check out Brenda's website for more info on all her work http://www.brendawhiteside.com/ but come on back - Brenda brought some great excerpts :)
WARM CHRISTMAS WISHES Anthology
AN ELFIN SECRET
When five-year-old Candace Cane questions why her father, Henry is an absent parent, her mother is speechless. But when Candace learns Daddy is an Elf named Santa Clause, life becomes magical…until Mommy dies and Henry and Santa cease to exist.
In this Christmas fantasy, Candace discovers magic lies within her heart and she’s never far from her mother or her father.
“You never tire of your picture book, do you? That’s probably the best present your father, Henry, ever gave you.” She stood over me gazing at the book.
Her warm hand glided down my cheek, and I looked at her. “Do you miss him, Mommy?”
“Miss him?” She sat at the foot of my bed.
There must have been a time when Henry did more in this house than drop off presents. Somehow they must have spent a lot of time together, I thought, or I wouldn’t be there. “Like when you were together?”
“Were? Candace you talk as if in the past. Your father is always with us.”
She looked confused. “Yes, always. He’s always here, in a way, and at other times in another way. Not in the sense Sarah’s father is or…or… Oh! Candace, I seem to be short on words.”
“Why do you call him Henry?”
She tilted her head, her blue eyes grew gray. “Candace you ask the most unusual questions.” She stood. The stone expression I remembered from a few years back flickered across her face. My heart thumped and I rose to my knees, but before I could apologize, tell her never mind, her blue eyes twinkled and the color came back to her face. “Your father is a very special father. Which makes you a very special person. Oh, if only I were so special. But he loves me. What we share is…” She waved a hand in the air.
“You don’t know you’re special, Mommy?”
She sat closer to me this time. “I’m different. You’re still a little too young to understand. Although I have to say, you’ve always been wiser than you should be. You’ve always been wise, and I’ve always been different. I crossed a bridge one night on Christmas nearly eleven years ago.” She sighed and smiled. “My life is like a fairy tale.”
“Happily ever after.”
“See how wise you are?” She patted my leg and stood. “Now get dressed and come down to breakfast.”
I looked at my book, now on the Santa Claus page. The wink. The secret.
ON THE WAY TO THE SNOW BALL
Lovely, rich Marie Louise Le Mare apparently has everything in life. So what can the handsome man in the red suit possibly give her? When they’re trapped in an elevator with only each other for company, a surprise gift exchange makes this Christmas special.
“They must be trying to fix it.” She sounded hopeful.
He stood perfectly still, listening for noise beyond their breathing.
“But could they kill the elevator music?” Her voice came out of the darkness and with each word rose until by the time she said music she was screeching. Barry Manilow crooned softly overhead. “Why should the music play if the stupid thing isn’t moving?” He could understand her irritation. Jingle Bells should not be crooned.
Again, the lights blinked and this time stayed on, dimmer than before. His eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness. She now stood far enough from him to get an overall picture. Her orange dress was form fitting and for someone so young, she was quite curvy.
“Does the music upset you?”
“Yes! It makes me manic!” She threw her hands in the air and took a step toward him.
“What is your name, young lady? Tell me about why you’re here.”
She smiled. “Good maneuver. Change the subject. Distract the crazy person.”
Crossing his arms over his chest, he leaned against the railing. “Are you claustro…?” Her scent tickled his nose again. He laid a finger on one side of his nose then the other. “Are you claustrophobic?”
“Are you allergic to elevators?”
“Maybe I’m allergic to you.” He concentrated on her smiling eyes but his peripheral vision took in the seductive curve of her hips. Attraction and reaction. Allergic reactions are caused by the body trying to defend itself against a suspected harmful entity. The mind and the body are not always in agreement on this. The lovely flower. Sniff and the body will convulse. Take a delicious bite and your throat constricts, suffocating you. “What have you got on? The scent?”
“Special holiday blend. Cinnamon and pine needles.
No wonder. Who had decided these things equated to the smell of Christmas? They might have asked him what his allergies were before deciding.
“That’s quite a suit.”
She snickered. “I’ll give it to you – takes confidence to wear something like that. Even this time of year.”
“You don’t like it?”
She ran a quick glance over him, hat to shoes. When she came back for a second look, she paused on his face, then his legs. “Actually, I do. I mean the cut is good. You’re well built so that helps to carry it off. Not sure about the Santa hat. But I guess it’s the season.”
“So if I wore this some other time of year, you might reconsider your opinion?” He didn’t need her opinion, but something about her giving him the once over, the approval, the lingering of her gaze, effected him like sweet caramel apples on his tongue.
“Do you dress like this all the time?”