With Christmas fast approaching, I thought why not ease you all into the spirit of the holiday with ten chapters from my novel, KRINGLE. Yes! Ten free chapters for you to enjoy running Monday through Thursday until November 16th. Hope you enjoy!
To catch up on the story I’ve added the Links to the end of this post.
A horrific storm engulfed the 12,000-square-foot Reindeer Complex. The smell of smoldering wood and reindeer screams reached me even before I hit the stable’s courtyard at a dead run. Thunder-booms collided with lightning, stabbing walls, torching Christmas trees.
I chased Kris and Brannoc down the red brick corridor toward the reindeer suites. When my snow-soaked shoes skidded, Scotchie practically ran me over. Still, I beat him to Dancer’s suite just as Dasher reared with crazed eyes and hooves flailing eight feet in the air. Horrified, I watched Kris dodge a fatal blow. Twice.
Scotchie knocked me aside to reach Dancer, unconscious on her canopied bed. His jerky movements alarmed Dasher, provoking him to attack. I screamed as Scotchie fell. Brannoc snatched me mid-leap. “You can’t help him if you’re dead yourself.”
“Dasher.” Kris spoke in Dutch to calm them. “We zullen je geen pijn doen, of Dancer.” We will not hurt you, or Dancer. “Wees niet bang.” Do not be afraid.
Dasher shook his rack, the point’s now lethal weapons. With his attention on Kris, I broke free to rescue Scotchie. I smelled the sweet marigold odor of his elfin blood before I saw it staining his shirt gingery-red. Brannoc cried “Don’t move!” a split second before I felt Dasher’s breath on my neck. I froze down to my soul. I wouldn’t survive should he attack.
Minutes dragged before they could urge Dasher away. He bellowed and thrashed with uncharacteristic aggression, giving neither man preference nor prejudice. Inexplicably, he didn’t recognize Santa Claus or Brannoc, his dearest friend.
“Get a rope.” Bemidji’s shout drew my gaze upward, past the suite’s open-roof, beyond the second story bridge that ran the length of the Complex. There Prancer spun crazily in the air.
Scotchie poked my ribs. “Still think Thorne’s competent? Where is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“Get the tranquilizer.” Bemidji had lassoed Prancer’s antler.
I heard Vixen in her suite at the end of the corridor. My nose is melty. I wo’ be pretty no more.
No bones, Comet sobbed two suites down. No stand wi’ no bones. Santa no need me. No mo’ home.
Our reindeer are broadcast telepaths. They transmit their thoughts to communicate. As each has a distinctive voice with unique tone and articulation, you can follow their conversations with your mind as easily as following with your ears. Hearing them fight whatever toxin they’d ingested are sights and sounds I’ll never forget. Thanks to my empathic Naturesenses I felt their panic, literally. My heart raced. My nose ran—melted. I felt dizzy and my legs wobbled—no bones.
I tried to pull Scotchie to safety. Instead he lurched for Dancer. Dasher saw him and charged. I donated four bills to the cuss can hauling Scotchie from the room with Kris bellowing, “Close the door.”
As terror resounded around us, we collapsed side-by-side in the corridor. I reached to check Scotchie’s wound. He pulled away. “I’m alright.”
“Fine. Bleed to death. Leave Dancer to Thorne’s care.”
Scotchie’s eyes hardened. “Ye play grottie, missus.”
He had lacerations and four deep puncture wounds. I called for paramedics. “I can sign your retirement papers today, buster, so think about that when you give them trouble.”
His response evaporated with the explosion of Dunder fighting Blixem across the hall. With each blow their four-hundred-pound bodies created enough friction to generate a very real, very destructive storm. Above us, Bemidji tethered Prancer to the bridge. It took six men to reel him in. I watched, terrified his rack would snap. He wouldn’t survive the fall.
Someone screamed inside Cupid’s suite. “She bit me!”
The alarm in Scotchie’s eyes matched mine. Behind us, Kris and Brannoc wrestled Dasher to the ground with Kris assuring him Dancer would be cared for after he’d calmed down.
Stop room spinning. Dasher’s panic made me weep. Who are you? You scare me.
Clatter at the end of the corridor drew my attention to a gaunt, vinegary man in a long black coat marching toward us. “This better be important,” Dr. Royal Thorne snarled. “I have a life outside these stinking animals, you know.”
Scotchie’s profanity peppered the air. I pushed him to sit before he added a broken leg to his injuries. “They’ve had a reaction to their oats,” I told Thorne. “Their symptoms—”
He swept past me. “Amateurs waste my time. I need coffee you vacca foeda.” He veered into the kitchen without checking the reindeer.
I couldn’t close my mouth. “Did he just call me a stupid cow…in Latin?”
Scotchie glowered. “If you’re ready to take yer head out o’ yer crease and fire that åsna torka, I’m willing to replace him. I don’t need to retire.”
I didn’t take offense. I understood. Just thinking poison wrenched my soul. With Thorne on the scene and Dasher sedated, I jumped into a sleigh with Kris to meet with the granary overseer across town.
“We keep the reindeer oats separate from human oats,” Havremel told us, “by vats and by days in the week.”
We knew that. Field trips to the granary are as common as trips to the zoo for Polartown schoolchildren. Our granary stores thresh grain and feed, and also process raw grains into finished food products for human and reindeer consumption.
Kris drew an impatient breath. “What about unauthorized personnel?”
“Impossible. No stranger gets past us.”
“I’ll get to the bottom of this.” Chief Deputy Erik Rayner strode toward us, a giant among men, literally at six-foot-ten. Crisp and official in his cobalt uniform, polished badge and size-twenty Gore-Tex boots, his eyes scorched Havremel with suspicion.
“I’m in on the investigation,” Kris said.
“No. You’re not.” Erik stared down my husband, who is also his cousin. “I don’t want amateur detectives sending my investigation down the wrong path. I’ll keep you posted.”
Kris started to argue. I squeezed his arm. “Thanks, Erik. We’ll wait for your report.”
After Erik escorted Havremel behind closed doors, Kris snarled, “I should be in there. He could sit on vital information and call it confidential or hearsay.”
“Erik wouldn’t do that.”
“Sure he would.”
“What? He would never—”
“Keep secrets from me? Like, Candy is engaged?”
The knot in my stomach doubled. Heated arguments had become the norm for us. I fought the urge to blame him for all that as wrong in my life, which at the moment was considerable. “Look, honey. I didn’t—”
“Didn’t what? Know Candy was engaged?”
“No. I knew, but just this morn—”
“My point. You knew. And we’re family. And Erik’s family. So why should I trust family will tell me what I need to know instead of what they want me to know?”
“You may have supreme power over Polartown, Holly Cooper Kringle, but you don’t over me. Nobody puts Santa in the corner.”
Looking like a throwback to his Northman ancestors, Kris pulled on snowshoes and stalked back to the Complex. It would take him fifteen minutes to maneuver black ice and hard-packed snow, but he would have control over his temper before he neared his sentient reindeer who were attuned to Santa’s emotions.
~ * ~
Holly Kringle has a very full plate. She is Highest Mayor of Polartown and President of Kringle Enterprises–the company that puts the ‘Merry’ in Christmas and the ‘Happy’ in Holidays. She is also the mother of teenagers and wife to Kris Kringle–the World’s Biggest Kid. When the reindeer are poisoned three days before Eve Launch, Holly adds amateur detective to her resume. With just about everyone in Polartown under suspicion, she doesn’t have time to dwell on employee problems, personal family issues, her 50th birthday, or investigate her husband’s highly suspicious behavior. If Dancer dies, her soulmate Dasher won’t want to live without her. And like a pod of whales beaching on the shore, the remaining Famous Eight will surely follow.
10 KRINGLE chapters will post Monday through Thursday until November 16th. Naturally there is my hope that you will be caught up in the story to want to buy the book, either paperback or ebook, and to make it so much more enticing to you, I’ve dropped the prices. Plus every penny of profit will benefit cats from a local colony. All of my fur babies, except for Herman, came from that colony. While I cannot afford to adopt another cat — when I took in Candy, Elly and Chevy over the past 12 months with Els and Chev being FIV+, that brought the Wonderpurr Gang up to 13 — I would never turn away a hungry animal who wanders into my yard, especially in winter.
Hope that sounds enticing to you Christmas novel readers. And if it does, I have created three ways for you to purchase KRINGLE, if you so desire.
KINDLE eBooks – If you enjoy ebooks, KRINGLE is available on Kindle for $3.99 with a generous royalty profit of $2.73 for the kitties.
Amazon.com – You can purchase the paperback for $7.95 where the royalty is .54 (grrr) and shipping is about $4.59.
CREATESPACE – I’ve set up a Createspace store specifically for KRINGLE readers. There the book is priced at $7.95 with a royalty of $2.13 and standard shipping is about $3.59.
I hope you enjoy the ten free chapters. And if you do, please tell your friends. Better yet…buy a book, either as a gift for yourself, or for someone on your gift list who enjoys campy, funny, holiday mysteries.
Love to you all!
Kim, Herman, Dori
and the Wonderpurr Gang