Kringle – Gift to Readers

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Kringle Chapter 4 Part 2
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Kringle Chapter 4 Part 1
3
Kringle Chapter 3 Part 4
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Kringle Chapter 3 Part 3
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Kringle Chapter 3 Part 2
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Kringle Chapter 3 Part 1
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Kringle Chapter 2 Part 4
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Kringle Chapter 2 Part 3
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Kringle Chapter 2 Part 2
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Kringle Chapter 2 Part 1

Kringle Chapter 4 Part 2

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.

~*~

Scotchie slid into him. “Where’s your missus, Cap’n? I ken what made the reindeer all peelie-wallie, but that åsna torka threw me out o’ the Complex.”

Wilde bristled. “Don’t you call Doctor Thorne names, you old man.”

“Weal, if it’s no’ the son of the ass wipe.”

Cookie stepped between them. “You’re being rude, Scotchie.”

Kris added, “If you act like a pest, you’ll delay the cure.”

Scotchie wrapped his cane around his boss’s neck and pulled him down to his level. “I’m not being a pest, you sugar-brained divit. Thorne is daft. He’ll destroy the reindeer as sure as a lady lifts her petticoat ta piss.”

Cookie frowned. “Nice language.”

“Your war with Thorne has to stop,” Kris scolded. “You’re retiring. It’s time you think about life after Polartown.”

Scotchie shoved his boss back a step. “Where’s your maw?” he asked Cookie. When she pointed across the Square, he waved a rude finger at Wilde then hobbled toward Holly, his shrunken leg surprisingly agile.

Kris watched as Scotchie ranted with wild gestures to Holly. From her concerned expression one would think it was the first time she had heard his theory on why Thorne should be fired.

“I’m sorry,” Cookie told Wilde. “He’s jealous of your dad.”

“Scotchie needs to leave Doctor Thorne alone. It makes him mad. He smacks me around when he’s mad.”

“Oh, Wilde.” Cookie touched his sleeve. “Dad. Talk to Dr. Thorne.”

Wilde’s face contorted. “No! Don’t. If Doctor Thorne knew I talked about our private life, he’d destroy my drums—then me.” He watched Candy posing for photographers. “She still likes pink roses, eh?”

Cookie scowled. “She’s engaged, you know.” As Wilde returned to work, she said to her father, “He needs to get over her. He needs someone who appreciates him. I had no idea he has such a horrid relationship with his father.”

Neither did Kris, but he wasn’t surprised. Thorne’s status as physician to the Famous Eight underscored his mordant insensitivity. He humiliated others to showcase his own greatness, and lacked tolerance for those he considered beneath him. Would his home life be any different? Read More

Kringle Chapter 4 Part 1

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.

~*~

Toasty in a red down parka, Flurry Michaels said to WGRM’s camera audience, “Towering an unprecedented twenty feet tall, Candy Kringle looms statuesque over St. Nicholas Square, her perfect features frozen with acceptance of the admiring crowd. Though citizens have turned out to see this season’s Miss Joyous Noël ice sculpture, understandably they would have preferred to tuck themselves into somber contemplation over what might happen if the Famous Eight die. Still, this is Candy’s special moment. Polartown will not let her down.”

Flurry smoothed back her hood. “A labor-intensive process, Polartown is lucky to have an ice artist who excels in the 3D variety. You may recall Lars Utgaard is the genius behind Soren Solheim’s ten foot phallic lawn ornament gift to Ludvik Ibsen for coming out of the closet.” She unzipped her parka. “Cripes, it’s warm tonight.”

Chain-chewing peppermints, Kris wandered the crowd fringe to take advantage of their attention focused on Candy. As terrible news spread, Townies sought him to hypothesize on what the toxin might be. Some spouted home remedies while others, primed for the worst, made suggestions for a memorial service. He scanned the faces of people he had known all his life. Did one of them have a terrible secret? Read More

Kringle Chapter 3 Part 4

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.

~*~

“Sorry to bother you,” said Erik Rayner, “but I need your oh-kay to bring in a toxicologist.”

“You don’t need my permission.”

“Actually, I need you to run interference. Thorne doesn’t want anyone touching his reindeer. He threatened to ban me from the Complex.”

Heat underscored my already-in-progress hot flash. “I’ll deal with him.”

I stripped off my cardigan. Why are hot flashes called flashes, as in flicker? Mine had strong perseverance. I phoned Thorne, going to voice mail twice. He knew I was calling. Scotchie is right. Royal Thorne is an åsna torka. Actually, calling him an ass wipe is being kind.

I phoned Bemidji who revealed Thorne was on another coffee break. I punched up the Complex kitchen webcam on my computer and saw him: feet up, coffee in hand, Tattle open in his lap. As he deliberated over a pastry box, my hot flash erupted with a volcanic explosion.

I activated the kitchen intercom. “This is your boss, the stupid cow. Answer your phone, Dr. Thorne. You don’t want me to come down there.”

He spilled coffee into his lap. Watching his chair toppled backward was icing on my cupcake. I disconnected when he claimed I’d misunderstood his words, and that his head cold prevented him from hearing out of his phone ear. I scowled at the flower arrangement on my desk. Their cheeriness ticked me off. I saw Candy’s face among the carnations.

“College interferes with my responsibilities. I’m dropping out.”

I saw Kris’s face in the chrysanthemums.

“You knew.

My hormonal passion surfing a tidal wave of fury, I shattered the flowers with frost. Their destruction intensified rather than relieved my anger. Applause jerked my attention to Mom, standing at the door swathed in la Parisienne couture.

“Your father will be proud you’ve acquired his flair for destruction. Your Nanny, however, would have been horrified.” My resolve to stay strong crumbled. Mom gathered me close. She smelled of Shalimar and solace. “Are you certain it is the oats?”

“No. Erik’s bringing in a toxicologist.”

“Is it just the Famous Eight, or are the Six-In-Training sick too?”

“SIT’s, too. Complex restrictions should have been enough protection. Not that I ever imagined they could be in danger.”

“The truth will come out. You’re doing your best.”

“My best isn’t enough. People expect more from me, but I gotta tell ya, Mom. I don’t have much more in me.” I wiped my tears. “You heard about Kris’s reaction to Candy’s engagement?”

Mom produced the latest Tattle with headlines screaming, Kringle Marriage Threat: Holly Furious over Candy’s Engagement to Brannoc. There was also a supposed quote from me: “I wanted him for myself.”

A photo showed me pulling Kris off Brannoc. The photographer could have been any one of my employees. “Wonderful. Nattie’s got a spy on the inside.”

Candy frowned at her father. Kris glared at me. I looked at Brannoc with a syrupy expression that could be mistaken for besotted. My gaze drifted to a photo in the side column of my pal Val with her cheeks peeking from a too short skirt. I loved her dearly, but…geez, woman.

Mom said, “This fascination for Brannoc, I do not understand.”

“He sells copies.” I scanned my messages. “People are attracted to the fragrance of his fairy blood. He’s aromatically irresistible.”

“Does anyone believe those stories about him?”

“You mean other than Kris, who is pathetically gullible?”

Gullible enough to believe Sandee’s sob story and approve her return to Polartown.

“If the stories about him are untrue,” Mom said, “surely he realizes so are ones about Brannoc.”

“Are we talking about the same Kris?” My messages concerned the reindeer. I tossed them. We would all know their fate soon enough. “He’s ballistic. It didn’t help for Candy to announce she’s dropped out of college.”

Mom moved to the fireplace to warm. “Not everyone is collège matériel.” The frost in her tone warned me to tread carefully. In recent months I’d noticed regret for a life that could have been now peppered her thoughts in her mid-sixties.

“Yah, but we hope Candy will do more with her life, aside from being a beauty queen.”

“I was a beauty queen.” Frost thickened to ice. LaRoux Sommet had been Ever Autumn’s first Miss Autumn Blaze. Then Kingston Cooper road into town on his arrogant horse and made her a child bride. I debuted nine months later. Nothing prevented Mom from getting a degree at her age, but I’d given that speech countless times. To repeat it would be superfluous.

“Could I trouble you for water? I am parched.” She sat beside the hearth.

As I handed her a bottle of Snowflake I noticed dark circles under her eyes. “Are you not sleeping well?”

“Not really, but tomorrow I will feel better.” She filched a Pitter Pat from the candy dish. My undigested irritation at breakfast must have shown on my face. “I didn’t eat breakfast, Holly. I’m hungry.”

“Sorry, I skipped too, so I’ll join you.” As I bit into the confection, the raspberry buttercream exploded on my tongue. “Geezopete, this is good. If I weren’t so insane over Kris’s sugar-madness, I could understand why Kringle candies are impossible for him to resist.” I sipped my water. “What a day. Kris is powdered before breakfast. Noak, too. Candy wants to quit college. Get married! Our reindeer are—” I ate another chocolate, disrespecting it with two chews before swallowing. “Once Kris sees the Tattle, my upset over his sugar addiction will take a backseat to me stealing Brannoc from Candy. I hate being caught in the middle.”

“I’ve been in that position throughout my marriage.” Mom referred to the tension between Dad and me over his refusal to train me for Nature.

“Nanny said Nature was my birthright.”

“You were seventeen.”

“A mature seventeen.” I talked by age two, read the newspaper by four. At fifteen I entered college. Then Nanny Anian died, and Dad took possession of her ring, the Förvandling. “He said he would orchestrate Nature until I was ready. When I argued that I was ready, he told me scary stories of the perils he had faced when he’d assisted Nanny. He made himself sound like James Bond.”

Mom nodded. “And I supported him. He frightened me with images of you dying a horrible death. Unfortunately, he was almost right.”

I’d badgered Dad to let me help build a volcano and ended up in the hospital. “He said Nature talent skips a generation. I asked him, if that were true, then why did the talent go to him and not me? His answer? ‘Because I’m a man.’”

Mom shrugged. “His answer for everything.”

“I pestered him until he screamed, ‘My mother gave me the Förvandling. Not you. She didn’t think you were competent to be Mother Nature.’ God, it hurt to know Nanny thought I was incompetent.” When Mom didn’t respond, I said, “I still feel sick that she thought I couldn’t cut it. I asked Dad if I could read Nanny’s journals to understand where I’d failed, but he said she didn’t keep any. Thirty-two years later, Dad has a heart attack and says it’s time for me to train. What? Age is immaterial. Either I have it or I don’t. You know what he said?” I mimicked Dad’s arrogant timbre. ‘You’ll never be as great as I am, but you can be trained.’ He made it sound like he could train Dova’s monkey to do the job.”

“You are like me. You trust to a fault.” Mom stoked the fire. Since I was flashing again, I made a mental note to call Hearth-Master Inglenook to shut it down. “We want to believe people are honorable, but what you have to wonder is, what do they want you to do? Why do they want you to do it? And, what do they get if you do it?”

“This is Polartown, Mom. Good people live here.”

“So does Nattie Blather, Pecan Sandee, and whoever poisoned the reindeer.”

I slumped with defeat. “People want me to tell them the reindeer will be fine. I know I’m the go-to person, but I’m sick of people dumping their problems on me. I don’t dump on people. Do I dump on you?”

“Not anymore, though I miss being needed.”

A simple statement, yet I heard volumes of pain. “Mom. I need you. The kids need you. Dad needs you.”

“The King! He needs me as much as he needs confidence. He needs me to nag him to obey doctor’s orders so he can call me silly. He needs me to correct my opinion because it doesn’t match his. He needs me to impress when no one else is around to watch him show off. We need to talk. I’ve seen the expression you wear in my own mirror. I know what you’re going through. I went through it myself at fifty.”

“Menopause?”

“See Dr. Havelock for details. He’ll give you a list of symptoms that will curl your toes and at the same time make you glad you don’t have them all. He can also recommend a women’s therapy group so you won’t feel alone. They’ll give you permission to rant when you want to, cry when you need to, and consume all the chocolate you care to because chére, no matter how much you diet, everything you eat will still end up on your ass.”

I gasped. Mom laughed. “Let’s schedule a day at Winter Wonderland Spa. I recommend the Hot Flash Hottie package which includes an aromatherapy facial, a mani-and-pedi-combo, a sea mud bath, brow, lip and bikini waxing, and a superb lemongrass and ginger friction massage to remove body toxins. And, you may keep your spa robe.”

“I don’t need another robe, Mother. I need…” What did I need? A new life? A life where people didn’t line up to suck the spirit out of me? A life where my children’s behavior reflected I had done a good job raising them? A life where my husband appreciated me. Respected me. Behaved like a mature partner and not like my out-of-control first born.

“I have a full life,” I said. “Too full. I’m needed by too many who expect me to do too much. It didn’t used to be so overwhelming, but lately, issues I once shrugged off now get to me. And more often than not, Kris is at the heart of my irritation.”

Mom toyed with her candy wrapper. The soft crinkle reminded me of Kris unwrapping peppermint after peppermint while I melted down over his decision to let Sandee return.

“J.J. Rime saved Polartown,” he had explained to me. “Your investigation into their business dealings makes it seem like we aren’t grateful. Sandee appealed to them for a job. She’s completed her therapy. She’s been gone twenty years. We should support J.J. Rime.”

Sandee had been back two months. As she had not (yet) shown cause for continuance of my initial straining order, Kris suggested I rise above my previous grievances.

Huh? She tried to kill me. How do you rise above that?

Mom interpreted my dark mood. Or maybe she’d noticed the stranglehold I had on my water bottle. “You love him for the very reason he allowed Sandee to return. He believes people are good at heart. He believes she’s changed.”

“I don’t. Twenty years is a flake in a snowstorm. He betrayed me.”

“Oh, honey.”

“I don’t understand him anymore. His cavalier attitude about his health is the tip of the iceberg. He acts as though Father Time will let him return to his twenties where he binged without consequence. I don’t like being short with him. I love him. But lately, I don’t like him, ya know? I don’t like how he makes me feel.”

Mom grasped my hand. “He makes you feel, how?”

“Aside from betrayed? Like I’m his parent and he’s my rebellious teen. I shouldn’t have to nag him to take care of himself. He should want to because he loves me. Loves our children. Loves the world’s children. He should want to do whatever it takes to be alive and well for us. Instead, his insane need for sugar has come between us.”

“Have you told him this?”

A third Pitter Pat found its way into my hands. “Yah, but it’s like he has sugar cubes stuck in his ears. I remember you and Dad had problems. He slept in the guest room. You visited Grandmère Sommet for a while.” I shoved the whole chocolate into my mouth and spoke while I chewed, as only a daughter can with her mom. “Did physical distance between you help?”

“Well.” She took a genteel sip of water. “I survived my problems with an affair.”

Shock caught the chocolate midway down my throat. I coughed and wheezed.

“Cyber-affair, you know?” I didn’t. She explained. “I met him in a chat room named Love on the Rocks. He called himself Silver Fox. I was Diable Rouge.” She fluffed her hair. “I never met Foxy, he lived in New Zealand, but he helped me through dark times. Not that I suggest you slink into a chat room with a sassy name.” She shrugged. “If I possessed half your confidence, I would have taken control of my life without seeking outside comfort.”

I saw pain behind her smile. Marriage to Kingston Cooper had to be difficult when he was also Father Nature. Dad turned one hundred and five his last birthday. Physically, he looked to be in his mid-sixties. The wearer of the Förvandling ages one year to every ten human years. Dad married Mom when she was sixteen. After fifty-one years of marriage, Mom looked older than Dad. I hugged her. She felt fragile.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, back in your Diable Rouge days.” I pulled back. “They’re over, right?”

“The past is dead. I now live in the present, which is why I am here. Are you free for lunch?”

“Not really. I’m behind in my work. Candy’s sculpture is unveiled at five. I want to call Dr. Havelock. I need relief from these hot flashes.” Mom wore a peculiar expression. “What?”

“I’ve made a decision and wanted to tell you before it became Tattle fodder. Not that I need your advice. I’ve made up my mind.”

“Does it have to do with your insomnia?” I asked.

“Perhaps. I’ve decided to divorce your father.”

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2.  Chapter 1-Part 3.  Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1.  Chapter 2-Part 2   Chapter 2-Part 3   Chapter 2-Part 4

Chapter 3-Part 1   Chapter 3-Part 2  Chapter 3-Part 3

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 3 Part 3

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.

~*~

My amplified senses had me experience the reindeer’s emotional and physical distress. Comet imagined he had lost his bones. He worried he would lose his home. I gave in to a brief cry. Too brief. I had to be strong. Polartown would be watching Kris and me to gage their responses accordingly. In other words, we needed to keep a lid on it or risk mass hysteria. Unfortunately, we were already close to hysteria before the reindeer became sick.

Like the rest of the world, Polartown has suffered with economic peril. Kringle Enterprises requires capital, not magick, to make toys. If spending is down, we adjust our bottom line like any business. The Woodworks department became our first recession casualty. Together with village council members, Kris and I had brainstormed ways to boost our economy, but by May, seven businesses were for sale. Three more by July. Two more by September.

The Daily Hark Herald reduced to bi-weekly. Noche Buena Cantina closed for dinner. Beth’s Bed-Warming Service, SuperDave’s Fruitcake Factory and Myrtle’s Girdles all posted ‘Closed’ signs. Then, three months ago, an anonymous investor paid cash for ten of the twelve businesses. The writing must have been on the wall for fruitcake and girdles. The Hark Herald again published daily. Noche Buena reopened at night. And though I rejoiced for those able to revive or sell their businesses, I had issues with the investor’s anonymity.

The ‘Santa Clause’ is a cast-iron law which mandates Santa’s hometown be kept secret. Not just anyone can relocate here. Only those born in Grimm County can leave through the portals betwixt our world and the outside without applying for citizenship reinstatement. Noncitizens can enter, but first the S.C. Commission investigates them back to earliest childhood. The Naughty or Nice list and Letters to Santa are reviewed for applicant integrity.

Investigation into the J.J. Rime Corporation revealed a tangled matrix of business dealings, but not one verifiable name. Our council argued we should be grateful for the revenue, and I was. However, I still wanted to pry open that gift horse’s mouth and inspect its tonsils.

From my terrace I saw Flurry Michaels, reporter for WGRM, bundled in dramatic red for the benefit of TV cameras. Unlike Nattie Blather’s deliberate emphasis on ugly and lurid for the Tittle-Tattle, Flurry emphasized hope, though I couldn’t imagine how she would spin it in light of the reindeer poisoning. My attention drifted to a figure crossing the Square. She wore an ornate hat with an old-fashioned veil. My issues with J.J. Rime had solidified when the Mad Hatter Millinery opened in early November with Sandee Hallvaard as proprietor.

Sandee Hallvaard.

Kris’s ex-girlfriend.

Mother Kringle’s first choice to marry her son.

I refer to her as ‘Pecan Sandee’ because she is certifiably nuts. Dr. Havelock labeled her Borderline Personality with a fixation on my husband, and a need to be in his life at any cost. I should have read the fine print on at any cost. Twenty years ago her obsession turned from trying to win Kris back, to trying to kill me. As we left on our honeymoon, Sandee had checked into Coldcare Hospital’s cuckoo’s nest. Upon her release, she was escorted from town.

Two months ago Sandee, a Noncitizen, applied to the S.C. Commission for reinstatement. She had never married, and had devoted her life to couture hats and handbags. With tears in her Betty Boop-a-Doop voice, she had apologized for forcing my snowmobile down the ravine the night before my wedding. Sincerity, in my opinion, never touched her eyes.

Overwhelmed by a sudden hot flash, I shoved my hands into the snow padding my balcony, and then pressed my palms to my neck. I stood for a time, staring at the pink tarp covering my daughter’s twenty-foot ice sculpture. Fear for the reindeer would dampen the ceremony, but Candy would understand. In the Square, a newsboy hawked the latest Tattle. I suspected Candy and Brannoc’s engagement vied with the reindeer’s poisoning for front page titillation. Awhile back Kris tagged Brannoc to replace Scotchie as Production Manager when he retired. Now Kris was out for blood, and woe to anyone who stood in his way. Including me.

“You knew.”

Yes. I knew, though scant before he did. Knowing things comes with my role as mother, employer, and Highest Mayor of Polartown. And, to further defend myself, I know things Kris doesn’t because he prefers to play and have fun, rather than deal with the dark side of life.

I knew Naipes in Cards had plagiarized Hallmark when he succumbed to a creative dry spell last month. I knew Fleur in Pomanders feared losing her job because she had no sense of smell. I knew Dunder had a crush on a Six-In-Training reindeer named Nutmeg who pined for Dasher, even though he will forever love Dancer. I also knew Cookie strived for educational excellence because she didn’t consider herself pretty. Some of my knowledge fell in with motherhood, while others came to me because they needed advice or someone to confide in. Me. Not Kris.

Every Santa in history has headed the Santa Claus Commission, and acted as Polartown’s Højeste Borgmester—Highest Mayor—to work with our village council comprised of our town mayor, business leaders, teachers and housewives. The Højeste Borgmester can make Law without sanction from the council, although I never had. ‘Supreme power,’ Kris had spat. Well, that was his fault. The ink not yet dry on our marriage certificate, he’d made me Highest Mayor, claiming the responsibility conflicted with his Santa persona. With Kris nurturing a happy-go-lucky image, who would tell him their problems and expect adult advice? No one! So how dare he snarl because Candy confided in her mom and not her dad? The unfairness of his anger was akin to me being resentful when children wrote letters to Santa Claus, not Mrs. Claus. It was the way things were.

“So grow up, Toy Boy.”

The phone rang. I prayed it was good news.

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2.  Chapter 1-Part 3.  Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1.  Chapter 2-Part 2   Chapter 2-Part 3   Chapter 2-Part 4

Chapter 3-Part 1   Chapter 3-Part 2

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 3 Part 2

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.

~*~

I took the sleigh back to my office. Kris’s distress had to be ten times mine. Santa’s reindeer could die on his watch. My every step delayed by citizens begging for news, I was thankful to find no one in my office. As my pants were destroyed by Valda’s mousse, I changed into spare jeans kept for such emergencies.

On my desk I found six chocolate Madeleine’s on a white plate with OTT scripted on the rim. With my waistband a wee bit snug, I wished for a nanosecond I’d not fired Kris as Val’s Official Taste Tester. I nibbled one cookie, checked ‘Excellent’ on the form, and gave the rest to my secretary, Nerissa.

With the reindeer under Thorne’s arrogant but expert care, I forced my attention to Noak Lundegaard’s latest fall off the sugar-wagon. His return to rehab would require a substitute in Topiaries. Whoever I moved to Topiaries would need a sub in their job, and so on. Also, the vacant chairs at this morning’s meeting indicated supervisors were fed up. I had to address Bruna’s tinsel rants.

My job isn’t 9 to 5. It’s 24/7. Aware my workday would not end until Christmas Day, I ignored a four-inch stack of phone messages to step onto my terrace, hoping the chill would clear my mind.

Winter is the darkest time of year within our Sphere. You’re familiar with the glass terrarium biome, Biosphere 2? That’s similar to our snow globe-like atmosphere, except ours is living and breathing. Transparent on the inside, invisible from the outside. Above me wispy, noctilucent clouds hovered a little more than five miles above Earth. The night-shining clouds are a by-product of the Sphere, created to shield Santa, the reindeer, elves and workshops from discovery. Kids we would welcome, parents not so much. I’ve seen what Kris goes through when he makes personal appearances and think the Santa myth, invented by his great-great grandfather, is a stroke of genius.

I have watched parents who Believe! shove children aside to be near Santa.

With no natural sunlight or twilight since late October, darkness would last until March if not for artificial elfin light—E-Light—created by the Elfin Light Committee to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. E-Light is crucial to keep spirits high and business running at a premium. Imagine Santa Claus with such a severe case of the blues, he cannot give more than one ‘Ho!’

I forced my attention to the spectacular view. Nestled at the bottom of the Sulka Sika Mountains, Grimm County is located on a ‘mitten-esque’ peninsula concealed within sixty thousand acres of majestic, magickal, woodland. Pristine beaches and crystal cold waters sculpt the western shore where Sinterklaas Harbor separates Polartown from Ever Autumn, my home town, to the south. Fullmåne and Feverden lay northeast and southeast respectively, their borders defined not only by our Sphere, but also by Grimm Forest, where fairy tales and fantasy shun the 21st Century.

I guess by now you’re thinking, Santa doesn’t live at the North Pole? Surprise! The idea behind the North Pole was a publicity rumor started over two hundred years ago by an ambitious but sleazy real estate developer, anxious to dump worthless property when his plan for an arctic snow domed-style master-planned community called Latitude 90 didn’t pan out. He was way ahead of his time.

Polartown is laid out in the six-arm stellar dendrite, or “tree-like” symmetry of a snowflake. Each dendritic branch has smaller sidebranches. Kringle Enterprises dominates Vier, or branch four. The Kringle home overlooks the harbor off Zes, branch six. The residential streets off the sidebranches are narrow and crooked, which makes me wonder how much nog the cartographers had drunk as we’re habitually covered with snow and ice. From the ground it has a chaotic tangle feel, but I’m told it’s pretty from the air. Not that I’d know. Kris has never taken me up to see it.

Yep, I’ve never ridden in the sleigh. I’m Mrs. Santa-freakin-Claus and I’ve never gone joyriding. Kris says tradition dictates only Santa drives the sleigh, and Kris is traditional to the core. It also goes without saying our town prohibits transportation other than the four-legged kind since auto exhaust would cloud our Sphere, not to mention asphyxiate us.

Our architecture is a mix of Cotswold cottages with thatched roofs, the cylindrical corners of Old World Dutch and Danish half-timbered with colorful wood-shingles and cross-beamed bindingsvaerk. We have two lighthouses and a two hundred year-old windmill. Kerstmis Hall is our town hall, located between Een and Twee branches on St. Nicholas Square. In addition to serving as the seat for our town government, Kerstmis Hall contains the Klokkentoren, a clock tower that counts down to Eve Launch. With a heavy heart I noted we had approximately seventy-eight hours left.

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2.  Chapter 1-Part 3.  Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1.  Chapter 2-Part 2   Chapter 2-Part 3   Chapter 2-Part 4

Chapter 3-Part 1

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 3 Part 1

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?”

“That’s unfair.”

“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.

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2.  Chapter 1-Part 3.  Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1.  Chapter 2-Part 2   Chapter 2-Part 3   Chapter 2-Part 4

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 2 Part 4

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.

~*~

I covered the minute walk to the boardroom in seconds flat. There I cut through the crowd to pull Kris off Brannoc with a strength common among women with hormonal imbalance.

Brannoc leaped to his feet. “Sorry, Kris. This is my fault.”

“Damned straight.” My husband’s face contorted dark and scary.

“Mo-ommm.” Candy’s wail hurt my eardrums. “You promised to keep Daddy busy.”

Kris whirled on me. “You knew she was involved with this…this…”

“Watch it.” Innocent of deliberate misconduct, Brannoc did not deserve to be maligned by his beloved boss.

Someone whispered, “Is that pudding on her butt?”

Candy wound herself around Brannoc. “I love him, Daddy. Love him. We’re getting married.” Shock ruptured the crowd.

Brannoc caressed Candy’s cheek, which didn’t endear him to her father. He wasn’t being cheeky. Fairies are touchy-feely. He said, “We agreed to be engaged-to-be-engaged until your family got accustomed to seeing us together.”

She used on Brannoc the same doe-eyed expression she used on her father. “Why keep it secret?”

“Because I asked you to.” Brannoc turned to Kris. “I’m sorry you found out this way, sir.”

The fury in Kris’s eyes should have torched Brannoc’s wings. “Doesn’t matter how I found out. I don’t approve.”

Truthfully, I didn’t either. Candy had just started college and, well…we doubted her ability to merge into the fast lane of adulthood without careening off more than a few road bumps. I touched Kris’s arm. My empathic Naturesenses felt the strength of his rage. I’d hoped we could discuss her engagement reasonably. He jerked away. So much for reasonableness.

Aware of the crowd, I whispered, “Can we do this in private?”

“You knew.” His gaze turned cold with betrayal. “You knew.”

“I swore Mom to secrecy,” Candy said. “I knew you’d be all loud and disapprovey cuz you still think I’m a little girl. I’m not. I’m a woman.”

Physical body does not a woman make. Yesterday Candy had wept over a scuff on new, expensive! Skandia boots. The week before she’d sent three hundred dollars-worth of text messages to announce her purchase of the boots. The month before, a year-old charge for six hundred dollars arrived in her name demanding payment with interest for an item she couldn’t remember buying, though she recalled she’d had a year to pay. Her reaction: “It’s been a year already?”

“You don’t have time to be engaged,” Kris said. “You’re at Northern.”

“My role as Miss Joyous Noël is not all crowns and gowns. College interferes with my responsibilities. I’m dropping. Besides, I’ve got a wedding to plan.”

Kris grabbed her chin. “How will you pay for it if I don’t?”

Her eyes widened. “Well. My fiancé will pay for it.”

He gazed at said fiancé. “Not if he’s selling skunk beer at the IGA.” Kris turned and slammed into our Reindeer Complex Curator.

“Horrors, sir! The reindeer are going berserk.”

“What?”

Bemidji’s Native features had paled near white. “Dunder and Blixem are fighting like they’re possessed of the devil. Dancer thinks Dasher tried to kill her. She flew into the roof to escape him.”

“Dancer’s hurt?” Scotchie thrashed through the crowd with his cane. “Where’s Thorne?”

“I called him, but he didn’t answer. They got sick right after breakfast. It has to be the oats. Someone poisoned the oats!”

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2. Chapter 1-Part 3. Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1Chapter 2-Part 2 Chapter 2-Part 3

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 2 Part 3

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.

~*~

I entered the Kringle Presidential Oval Office and shut my door against the dozen employees that had chased me from the boardroom. I know, not very Presidential of me. Final Week Rush—FWR—demands decisions. Countless tasks cannot be completed without my approval. But I needed a moment.

I replayed my humiliation as I passed a sixteen-foot Christmas tree and red couches braced on either side of the white granite fireplace burning fragrant applewood. Behind the English Oak desk used by prior presidents, red velvet-draped windows provided a 180° view of Polartown and the Sulka Sika Mountains. I flung down my elfPad and watched it slide slow-mo into my mug to spew cold coffee over schematics for a new reindeer harness, employee merit reports and a complicated recipe for croquembouche. I lurched to stop further devastation. Too late!

“Bad meeting?” Valda Gulltopp appeared from my private powder room. Statuesque with hair like spun sugar, she once wore the Miss Joyous Noël crown, but was dethroned after she’d popped out of a fraternity cake attired in her tiara, chocolate frosting and little else. In school, Val was a Naughty Girl. She had made that side of Santa’s list every year.

“You don’t know the half of it.” I mopped the mess with nose tissue. “Oh no. Scotchie’s report is ruined.” I held up dripping papers. The ink had smeared to resemble a Rorschach test. I wondered what seeing a reindeer skull with guns for crossbones meant.

Valda took the report. “He uses a quill pen and parchment paper? Who does he think he is? William freakin’ Shakespeare?”

“He’s eccentric.”

“He’s a tottering-pignut. Thinks HD-TV is a communicable disease caught off the remote, and an X-Box refers to porn actresses’ girlie goodies.” Valda and Scotchie love to verbally dismember each other. I ignore rather than defend. She gazed at me with shrewd eyes. “What’s wrong? You’re wearing your ‘suffering-in-silence’ expression.”

“Noak is back on powder. Bruna is on another tinsel rant. I just lusted for Candy’s boyfriend, and Kris ate a week’s worth of sugar before breakfast.”

“I heard about Noak. Bruna’s rant is old news.” Val sat on my desk and crossed her long legs, showcased by a magenta mini sweater-dress. “But your lust for Wilde is new news. Tell me. Tell Aunt Val every indecent, depraved detail.”

“Not Wilde. Brannoc.”

I caught her before she fell. “Brannoc? Brannoc Twrgadarn?”

“There’s only one.”

“I never heard this. I’m a charter member of the Grimm County rumor mill. What happened to Wilde?”

“He’s so history, he’s prehistoric.”

She digested that. “So. You lusted for Brannoc, eh?”

“I saw them kiss under the mistletoe and…”

“And?” She leaned toward me, her abundant cleavage on display from a low neckline.

“I envisioned myself in Candy’s place.”

“Was it a French kiss?”

I knew she’d say that. “Don’t tease.”

“Oh, come on. It’s not like you grabbed him out of her arms and seduced him, Mrs. Robinson. It’s a harmless fantasy. We all have them about Brannoc.”

“He’s Candy’s—”

“Boyfriend, I hear you. So, for your indecent thoughts, can we look forward to you roasting on a sacrificial pyre?” She consulted her elfPad. “Three o’clock works for me.”

“I shouldn’t fantasize. I’m fifty. I’m married. Lust is behind me.”

This time I let her fall off my desk. “Holly, your age means zippo when the guy in question is sixty-nine years older than you. And just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have to join the Old Prune and Prude Club. Aside from Bruna, and that witch who pretends to clean house for you, there isn’t a female in Polartown who doesn’t lust for Brannoc. Yesterday he wore a skin-tight black leather jumpsuit, and every woman who saw him wet herself.”

I’ve been immune to Valda’s outrageousness since college when she wore a see-through dress to our sorority ball, sans underwear.

“Sexual fantasizing, eh?” She shook her chest. “You’re frustrated. When did you guys last do the marital mambo?”

Eight weeks, eleven days, but I wouldn’t tell Val. The Tattle already published way too much personal information about my family. I swallowed aspirins with the dregs from my coffee. I wondered if I had time to make a fresh pot. It would be my tenth cup of the day, but so what?

“Your Brannoc fantasy means you’re sexually frustrated. Let’s talk about it.”

“Let’s not. And it wasn’t a fantasy. Rather, a thought blip.” I rolled my shoulders to ease the tension in my neck. “I’m falling apart.”

“What’s wrong, honey? Still up peeing half the night?”

“What do you do, take notes? Yah, I’ve worn a path from the bed to the bathroom. Plus, I’m cold one minute, hot the next. I prop my legs on Kris for relief. He claims his feet were licked by the Finnish snow god, Heikki Lunta. And then this morning I wanted to wear my Ann Taylor, but couldn’t zip it. I’m seven pounds heavier than last year.”

For nineteen years I’ve kept record of my December weight. Kris isn’t the only one who transforms on Christmas Eve. As Mrs. Claus, my hair whitens and my figure balloons with an additional thirty pounds. As Mom Kringle explained, “It comes with the job. You can’t marry Santa Claus and expect to look like Sharon Stone.” Ginnie Kringle had just watched “Basic Instinct” where Sharon had opened her legs. I looked nothing like the actress, but Mom K wanted to drive home her point by comparison.

My first transformation opened a floodgate of horror, especially when I learned I would not revert to my pre-transformation body on December 26th. Kris’s Santa genetics allow him to bounce back, mine do not. Plus I’d already felt like a snow cow having given birth to Candy three months prior. In later years I handled my transformation with better dignity. Still, every December 26th I spend my birthday dying my hair and counting calories.

“I’m fat,” I whined to Val, cuz best friends can whine without censure, “and I’ve had a headache for five days.”

“You’re not fat, Holly. C’mon, I’ll give you a neck massage.”

I surveyed the mess on my desk. “I can’t sleep. I’m crabby. I’m short with Kris. I hate my body. It’s as though food goes straight to my hips. I don’t even have to eat it.” I sat. Cold wetness spooged out from under me.

“Oops.” My Director of Baked Goods grinned sheepishly. “With you on the warpath over Kris’s sugar madness, I didn’t want him to see my triple-chocolate mousse cake, so I put it on your chair. I need your oh-kay.”

There are some days better spent curled in a fetal position. I ran my finger through the mousse to taste an exquisite blend of European chocolates. “Excellent, as usual.” I blinked back tears. “I hate the woman I’ve become. I cry. I nag. I make big deals over stupid stuff.”

Val massaged my shoulders. “Headaches. Hot flashes. Bloating. Mood swings. Insomnia.”

I regarded her with horror. God, I was a mess.

“Incontinence. Memory loss. Depression.” She threw her arms wide. “You’re in menopause!”

My secretary interrupted my scream. “Kris has Brannoc in a headlock.”

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2. Chapter 1-Part 3. Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1. Chapter 2-Part 2

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 2 Part 2

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.

~*~

Watching Holly flee the boardroom, Kris wondered what had upset her, aside from the Bruna/Noak mêlée. And why had his pal unraveled over tinsel? He’d seemed fine during their pre-dawn sugar feast.

Under the cover of board members scattering to spread gossip, Kris ate the Pfeffernüsse that had taunted him throughout the meeting. As his tongue savored the bite of black pepper blended with cinnamon and cloves, he added ‘Pfeffernüsse’ to his list of favorite cookies.

“Got a minute, Cap’n?”

Startled, Kris inhaled the cookie’s powdered coating. “Hey, Scotchie,” he wheezed. “How’s the day treating ya?”

Gnarled with three hundred and sixty-eight years of age, Scotchie Elphinstone leaned on his cane. “Like a bairn treats a diaper.”

“Aw, c’mon.” Kris slurped his coffee. “You’re retiring in January. Bet you can’t wait.” He licked powder from his fingers and double-checked his clothes for residue. “Have you decided on Florida or Arizona? You have beaches in Florida, of course, but you can’t beat Arizona’s dry heat.”

“Can we talk? In private?”

Kris gestured to the empty room. “Here’s good. Just don’t ask for investment advice on your retirement funds. I took a bath on the Martha Stewart dolls, and they even had that nifty jail cell carrying case.”

Scotchie eased into a chair. “I have a problem, see. I—”

“This time of year, when don’t we have problems? Remember when the Scandinavians overwhelmed us with requests for porridge? Production twiddled their thumbs while Kitchen screamed for help.” Kris ate another Pfeffernüsse. “The Nisser-pixies are supposed to ensure the farmers luck and good harvests if fed and treated kindly. Right?”

Scotchie picked at bits of breakfast in his gray beard. “Aye.”

“The farmers figured they’d offended the Nissers because their crops were puny, despite the porridge left for them. By Christmas the farmers were out of oats and desperate.”

“Big messunderstanding.”

“Big misunderstanding. Turns out the head Nisse got married and the whole Nisser Nation left to celebrate. Forgot all about bringing luck to the crops. We called it Nissergate. Remember?”

Scotchie rubbed his withered leg. “Aye. However, my problem is dire.”

“Dire?” Kris reached for a third Pfeffernüsse. “Did Bollywood remake It’s a Wonderful Life? Did Austria’s carp industry bottom out and they can’t make gebackener karpfen? Did a child request a toy we haven’t heard of? Now that’s dire.”

Fuzzy-bunny pink caught Kris’s eye. Candy stood with Brannoc under the mistletoe. Scotchie grabbed his arm. Words came out of his mouth, but Kris didn’t hear him.

Why was his baby girl kissing Polartown’s notorious lady-killer?

Chapter 1-Part 1.  Chapter 1-Part 2. Chapter 1-Part 3. Chapter 1-Part 4

Chapter 2-Part 1.

~ * ~

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

Kringle Chapter 2 Part 1

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.

~*~

High atop Kringle Enterprises—the company that puts the ‘Merry’ in Christmas, the ‘Happy’ in Holidays—Bruna Tannenbaum stood in the presidential tower boardroom before the Ornamentation committee, defiant to their disinterest. “Tradition is der backbone of our industry, but too many of our traditions haff been cast aside in der name of progress.”

This morning she had tortured her lavender hair into a pompadour. Her green jacket had leg-of-mutton sleeves with padded shoulders, and her purple skirt accommodated a bustle. I think of Bruna’s fashion-sense as Late Victorian Power Dressing.

“First vee allow electric fairy lights to replace tree candles. Next, fake trees replace live.” Her bird-like eyes peered down her hawkish nose. “But vot I cannot accept is plastic to replace silver in der tinsel.”

I glanced at my watch. Bruna had clocked twenty-one minutes on the tinsel topic and showed no sign of stopping. I sympathized with her desire to use real, wafer-thin silver, but the tarnish factor is too high, plus the lead is lethal to children and pets. Regardless, she brings up the issue every year. Bruna lives in the past where toxins had yet to become a big deal. My supervisor’s anesthetized expressions urged me to interrupt her. Around the table, amid cookies and cocoa mugs, I’d spotted Bruna Bingo cards. As often as she’d used tinsel, tradition, plastic and progress, someone would cry ‘Brunie Bingo’ at any moment.

Fleur held a potpourri basket filled with such intense aromas, I wanted to throw up. Berries from Martee-Kay’s pepperberry wreath had loosened with her hummingbird-like impatience and rolled across the table to Iluminada, whose broad, Chippewa features had frozen over her candles spelling J-O-Y in six languages. Poised to discuss stockings, Sukka crocheted her flaxen hair in with the yarn.

Noak Lundegaard stood beside a life-sized topiary of Dancer, arms crossed, expression crosser. Noak could pass for Kris’s brother instead of his best friend. As he had just completed his third stint in rehab, Noak stood to avoid the temptation of baked goods strewn across the table.

Bruna droned on. “Real tinsel is magnificent with der silver and pewter, its drape perfect across each branch. At one time every home used tinsel, but no longer. Vhy? Vhy? Can you tell me vhy?”

“I’ll tell you vhy.” Noak crisscrossed his arms. “Pets eat the stuff. It’s pretty spendy to unwind it from a cat’s tonsils, you know?” Read More

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