Thursday, December 9, 2021

Read an Excerpt from Mistletoe Magic by Linda Wisdom

$3.99

Amazon

For lovers of Brigadoon here's a Christmas version. Warm-hearted and wonderful.

Quinn was more than ready for a getaway. To avoid her family, friends
and would-be fiancé she sought refuge in the Vermont mountains.

Then the blizzard hit like a freight train.

Santee wasn’t sure what drew him to the snowy east at Christmastime.
And he sure didn’t expect to find the lovely Quinn or a room at the
picturesque Mistletoe Inn.

The charming town of Mistletoe keeps the holiday cheer all year round.
And a glow that envelopes Quinn and Santee gives them something
magical neither expected to find.

The question is, is this merely a wish for the holiday season only or
something that will last forever?

Excerpt:

December 9 Boston

"Quinn, I don't understand why you have all this hostility toward your mother. I think the real reason you're upset with her is because she and Nick want to spend the holidays in Barbados rather than here in town."

Quinn O’Hara gripped the receiver in one hand and crumpled the lacy bra in the other, wishing it was her mother's lovely swanlike neck instead.

"Alan, I really don't care to discuss my mother's holiday plans. I'm glad she and Nick decided not to go to Jamaica this year. Especially with Dad and Mindy spending the holidays there. It wasn't a pretty sight the last time Mother ran into Dad with his wife of the moment." She rolled her eyes at the mental picture of her father's latest wife. She had to be a good ten years younger than Quinn and boasted a former career as a well-known stripper.  Correction, exotic dancer. "The two couples staying on the same island is just as dangerous as their staying at the same hotel. They never understood the meaning of amicable divorce."

"You need to fully express your inner most feelings, Quinn. I know you'd feel better if you did."

It was times like this she hated dating a clinical psychologist specializing in family matters. He always insisted on analyzing everything to death and there were days when she just wanted to leave it alone. Especially when it came to her dysfunctional family.

"Alan, I'll feel much better once I reach the Crystal Falls Lodge. I can work off my excess energy on the slopes." She carefully smoothed out her bra and folded it before tucking it into a corner of her suitcase.

"I wish you'd stay here for the holidays." He sounded forlorn.

"I know that, Alan, but I need to get away." She purposely lowered her voice in hopes she would sound surer of herself since, right now, she wasn't sure of anything. Unless you counted her strong need to drive up north and hole up there until the holidays were over. She wasn't sure why, but her compulsion to go up to Crystal Falls seemed to grow stronger each day.

"If you need to be somewhere for the holidays, come home with me," he urged. "You know how much my parents would love to have you for a visit. And with my traveling to all those seminars these past few months, we haven't had very much time together lately."

Not an unreasonable request considering Alan had been trying to persuade Quinn to marry him for the past seven months, fourteen days, fifteen hours and so on.  And, for the past seven months, fourteen days, fifteen hours and so on, Quinn had been politely putting him off, even though she continued dating him. She told herself it wasn't fair to keep leading him on. She had to make a decision soon. For a woman who could make split-second decisions in business, she was hopeless when dealing with her own personal problems.

She didn't know why she was feeling so indecisive.

She did enjoy his company and they had known each other since childhood. In their social circle, Alan was considered a wonderful catch. She reminded herself of his up-and-coming career -- there's always someone who needs a psychologist who has a thriving practice. Then there’s his excellent family background -- his ancestors settled in Boston a hundred and fifty years ago and quickly was well known in the medical field. Alan had no bad habits and was so faithful he sometimes reminded her of a loyal beagle. She was really more a cat person. He was the perfect catch. Especially for a woman whose own ancestors arrived on a boat, happy to get work as domestic help, he was manna from heaven. There was only one problem. Every time Alan proposed to Quinn, she promptly headed for a bottle of antacids. If she hadn't insisted he stop proposing every time he saw her, she would have been tip to a bottle and a half of tablets a day. For now, she was managing with just half a bottle.

Quinn thought of Alan's mother whose life revolved around the Thursday afternoon garden club, the opera, the symphony and her chairing various charity committees. Even with Quinn’s less than stellar family background Vivian’s latest aim in life was to see her son married to here so she could sponsor Quinn to her many clubs and polish her to a high gloss. She shuddered in horror at the thought and immediately reached for the tablets on her dresser.

"Alan, reservations at the Crystal Falls Lodge for this time of year are more valuable than platinum or diamonds," she reminded him, her teeth crunching down on the tablets as quietly as possible. "You know how hectic work has been for me lately. I really need to get away. So I plan to do a lot of skiing, and squeeze in some relaxation."

"And will you be thinking about us?" He lowered his voice to an intimate rumble. She hoped she wouldn't have to break open a new bottle. She only had a few tablets left in this one. "Darling, you know how much I love you and want to marry you. Please, Quinn, put me out of my misery and say yes." He went on to tease, "I won't even flinch when you leave your clothes scattered all over the house or don't balance your checkbook for six months."

She looked heavenward for advice. It was easier than marrying every man she met the way her mother did, So far Fate has been pretty darn quiet.

"All right, Alan," she said finally, now desperate for a cigarette since the tablets didn't seem to be working. And here she’d quit smoking two years ago. It seemed all her bad habits were starting to rise up. If she wasn’t careful she’d be biting her nails down to the quick. "I promise you I will think very hard about us and I'll give you my answer when I get back."

"Then I'll hope it's the right one," he said, convinced she would have the good sense to say yes. "We're perfect together, Quinn, and everyone knows it. And we both want children."

Yes, she wanted to marry. Yes, she wanted children. But even though Alan was a wonderful man, was he the man she wanted as the father of those children? Everyone thought they were perfect together, but was that reason enough to get married?

"Yes, Alan, you're right."

His voice displayed the proper amount of soothing caress. "Don't worry, darling. I know you'll make the right decision. Call me when you reach the lodge, so I know you've arrived safely. You know I'll worry about you on the road. I wish you'd told me about your plans earlier, so that I could have arranged to go with you."

That was exactly why Quinn hadn't said anything until a couple days ago. She quickly terminated the call and resumed her packing.

She chewed the last of the antacid tablets as the burning in her stomach intensified.

"I have to decide to either marry Alan or put us both out of our misery and just break it off," she said. With a sigh, she dropped down onto the bed next to her suitcase and flopped backward against the pillows.

Quinn closed her eyes and visualized the freedom of racing down the slopes with the wind burning into her face. That compulsion to leave her apartment and drive up to Crystal Falls was growing strong again. She jumped up and collected her luggage.

"I need this. I need to know I won't be making a mistake no matter how I decide."

 

December 9 Ontario Airport, Ontario, California

"I NEED THIS, Dean."

"Bull! You don’t need to go anywhere. What you need is to be with your friends, people who understand you."

Santee looked at Dean Cornell and inwardly laughed at the picture before him. The scruffy ex-L.A. cop wasted no time in changing from a hotshot detective to a married man. Two years ago, Dean had left LA for Murrieta to protect Elise Carpenter from her husband's killer, and in the process fell in love with the lady veterinarian and stayed to join in raising her three daughters and their new baby son. How the mighty had fallen.

"You really change your kid's diapers?"

Dean looked affronted at the question. "Of course I change his diapers. I'm damn good at it, too."

"Elise told me the last time you diapered Chad, you used duct tape because the adhesive tabs had you confused."

"It did the job. There was no way that diaper was going to fall off," Dean argued.

"No kidding. She said she had to cut if off him."

Santee thought of the man he called a good friend. And the woman who had also become a friend. He envied their happiness.

When he and Elise married, Dean left the Los Angeles police force and now worked with Santee at the Riverside County sheriff's station. Because of his more than relaxed manner of dress and abundance of charm, he easily gained the confidence of the lower elements. Marriage may have tamed a part of the cocky cop, but he still insisted on keeping his hair shaggy, his clothing disreputable, and doing everything possible to disconcert the normally unflappable Elise. But she couldn't stop loving him any more than she could stop breathing. Furthermore, she gave him the grounding he needed.

"I'm burned-out, Dean," Santee said bluntly. "I'm tired, and there are mornings when I wonder if I should bother even getting up." He recognized the message written-on Dean's tense features. "No, I don't have any desire to eat my gun, but I do want to get away for a while. Just rethink my life a bit."

"Fine, rethink it around your friends," Dean argued with concern, "You're not going to find your answers in the backwoods of Vermont. Why there?"

He shook his head. "I wish I had an answer for you, but I'm not even sure why. Maybe I just needed someplace new to brush up on my rusty skiing skills. There's nothing earth-shattering going on around here, so I figured it was a good time to use up some of my vacation,” he explained.

"What about Debbie?"

Santee looked uncomfortable. "Since I was leaving, I gave her her Christmas gift early. Unfortunately, she wasn't expecting a necklace."

Dean winced. “She was hoping for a ring?”

He nodded. "I'm not ready and she is. So we're not seeing each other anymore."

"I'm sorry, man," Dean commiserated.

 "I'm just sorry I hurt her."

Santee turned his head as he heard his flight announced. "Take it easy." He held out his hand.

Dean took it, then stepped forward and gave him a one-armed hug. "You take care. There are not many men who're willing to put up with me."

A smile curved Santee's lips. "I'll send you a postcard from Vermont." He picked up his bag and headed for the gate.

"Hey, Santee!" Dean called after him. "What name did you book your flight under?"

He waved his arm over his head. "Detective Santee, what else?"

"Son of a gun!" Dean smiled, watching his friend walk away. "I thought I’d finally learn what his first name is."

Santee boarded the jet and took the window seat assigned to him. As he looked over to the gate, he could see Dean standing there, his hands jammed into the pockets of his beat-up leather jacket. He had a feeling he wouldn't be the same person the next time he saw his friend.

 

December I0, Midnight Vermont

THE SILENCE IN the remote valley was comforting as snow fell to earth to form peaceful drifts untouched by man or beast. Silvery moonlight created shadows across the field. With an abrupt shift in the air, the climate changed to humming expectancy.

The air soon shimmered in the moonlight with a life of its own. Ethereal shapes twisted and turned in the silvery light until they took on solid form with paved roads snaking through the snow drifts. It wasn't long before the forms looked as if they had always been a part of the countryside.

By morning, the formerly empty valley was covered with small buildings, old-fashioned lampposts dotted the paved roads and the musical ring of voices echoed in the valley. It looked as it had each Christmas for the past few hundred years:


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