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.
Today’s chapter is the final free chapter available to my readers. I’ve been posting ten chapters from my novel, KRINGLE, to ease you into the holiday spirit. I hope you’ve been enjoying the story–enough to want to know what happens!
How will Kris Kringle get Christmas to the World when his reindeer are so sick, and his wife Holly is fed up with his mysterous behavior and seriously considering divorce?
To catch up on the story I’ve added the Links to the end of this post.
Kris sat up. “Can’t imagine anyone I know capable of poisoning the reindeer, other than Jack Frost, or maybe Krampus.”
Erik slid into the booth, knocking Joost aside. “I felt that way once, but it’s my job to expose a man’s true nature. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.”
Kris steeled himself not to react. If anyone knew how not pretty a man’s nature could be…
“Krampus isn’t responsible,” Erik said. “He’s in Alpine Europe going through a devil of a divorce, pardon the pun. His wife says he’ll be burning in hell—Ha, Ha—before she’s finished.”
Kris wasn’t amused. “Did you interview Frost?” Erik nodded. “And?”
“I’m not ready to give a report. However, I’ve narrowed my focus to an insider instead of an outsider.”
Kris felt his sphincter shrink. You couldn’t get more inside than Santa Claus. “As in, one of my employees?” Erik’s expression revealed nothing. “I’m the boss.” Kris’s voice cracked. Suspicion touched the cop’s face. Erik once said the element of surprise ranked higher than ninety percent of his police training. Kris abruptly lurched forward, snarling, “I should know if it’s someone I employ.”
Erik met him nose-to-nose. “And you will. When. I’m. Ready. To. Give. My. Report.”
Joy brought Erik’s order. “Tomato soup. Pasty, hold the rutabaga.”
Kris gestured to his lunch. “Hey, Joy? Gimme a do-over, eh?” She saluted with her middle finger.
Erik bit into his meat pie dripping with onions, beef and potatoes. “Trouble in paradise?”
Kris watched Candy and Brannoc argue. “Yah well, she’s young and he’s old. It can’t survive.” He didn’t want Candy upset, but the alternative was wedding bells and babies with wings.
Erik followed his gaze. “Not them. You.”
Kris wheezed. “Why you say that?”
“You have a hang-dog expression, which means Holly has a chokehold on your leash.”
Kris exhaled. “She neutered my route down to one continent. Says she’ll leave me if I don’t do what Havelock says. Didn’t help that I shot one over her bow and told her she wasn’t fun anymore. Kinda made her mad.”
Erik grinned. “She’s gonna haul you into marriage counseling.”
Kris felt his heart lurch. “She got her idea from LaRoux who filed for divorced, though I’ll wager she goes back to the blowhard by Groundhog Day.”
“I’ll take your wager.” Erik bumped his fist, then produced a Vamp-red envelope.
“Livin’ La Vida Loca?” Kris read. “Divorce party? Naw. Give her a week of making her own decisions and she’ll capsize. She stayed with us last night. This morning she wanted Kingston to design a flower for Holly’s birthday before she remembered she’d kicked him to the curb. She ain’t gettin’ him to do nuthin’ no more.”
“Wanna bet she doesn’t sleep in your guest room tonight?” Erik’s eyes glittered.
“What do you know?”
“Open the invite.”
Kris gazed at a photo of Kingston kissing a French actress. “So this is what drove LaRoux to boot Father Nature out of her bed.”
“Rumor has it Utgaard did a full body sculpture of your mama-in-law. Nude.” Erik pushed his lunch aside, his expression grim.
“What?” Kris tensed with certainty that his cousin was about to arrest him for destroying Santa’s sleigh.
“I know the identity of J.J. Rime.”
Kris sagged with relief.
“It came to me when I made my own suspect list. I went back as far as third grade when I was made to stand in the corner for passing notes I didn’t write. You’re gonna kick yourself. He didn’t go to much effort to disguise—”
“Another word for rime. Jack’s buying Polartown real estate like he’s playing Monopoly. What’s more, Mayor Torfi knew Rime’s identity. Unfortunately, my hands are tied. Jack hasn’t broken any laws.”
Kris rubbed his eyes. “God, I want sugar.” He peered through his fingers. “Off the record, of course. Sugar Ban and all that. Ho-Ho-Ho!”
“Whole town’s gone crazy,” Erik said. “Even us guys in charge of the Ban. I’ve got two of my men in lock-up because I caught ’em sharing a box of Goobers.”
“Maybe if we’d been allowed to wean off the stuff, but…cold turkey?” Kris gestured to his lunch, to MacGuffin doing a head-stand in the Square. He eyed his cousin. “You practicing some kinda Cop-Zen to keep your cool?”
Erik glanced around then leaned forward. “Not Zen. Cubes.”
Kris met him half-way. “What’s that?”
Erik reached into his breast pocket. “The answer to our pain.” He held a blue sugar cube. Kris reached for it. Erik closed his fist. “This isn’t candy. It’s…medicine.”
“What does it do?”
“Absorbs sugar like a sponge.”
Kris eyed the Cube. Its violet-blueness accented the blueness of Erik’s broad, flat fingernails. “Is it new? Polartown is riddled with sugar addicts.”
“Cubert made them after the Famous Eight got into candy.”
“What? Who?” Kris’s shout silenced the restaurant.
“Cubert was the first reindeer physician,” Erik said when conversation resumed. “The Famous Eight got into sugar and became sick. Cubert created medication, but it made them delusional. Dangerous.”
“I never heard this. Why have I never heard this? How did he cure them?”
“Thorne claims Cubert didn’t keep detailed records.”
Kris glared across the room at Thorne’s booth. In Wilde’s place sat Dova McAleer. “Cubes made the reindeer sicker than sugar? But, you’re eating them.”
“In moderation. Cubes aren’t street legal. We use them on Offenders. In quantities they act like a truth serum. Makes you want to blab about every petty crime you’ve ever committed.”
Kris felt his brain hiss. “They can not lie?” Joost giggled.
“Not for all the Canucks north of da Soo.”
Kris watched Dova crash into Joy in her haste to leave Thorne. “So, how do you make Offenders eat them?”
“We forget to feed them. When they’re hungry enough to eat cardboard, we feed them cookies and cakes baked with the stuff.”
Kris watched Joost sniff the Cube. Delusional, dangerous. Cake baked with the stuff. “By delusional you mean…”
“Loss of reality. Paranoia. Hallucinations.” Joost waggled his fingers. “Hearing voices. Visual quirks like breathing walls. Intensified colors.”
Kris could not swallow. “And dangerous?”
Erik’s eyes darkened. “We had one Offender who thought his wife had cheated on him. He escaped and went home to choke her.”
“Holy Christmas! I didn’t hear that.”
“Official business. Confidential.”
Kris thought, Joost appeared after I ate Valda’s figgy pudding. Ceilings breathed, walls bled. I thought Holly was leaving me and destroyed Santa’s sleigh to stop her. “You’re not real,” he told Joost, happy to have proof that he was doped instead of nuts.
“I’m totally serious,” Erik assured.
“What do Cubes taste like? Smell like?” Valda’s figgy pudding tasted like penny-lemons. He’d blamed the stench of fruit on Joost’s monkey farts.
“Salty. Odorless. Mary-Jane Giften uses Cubes in her Level 5 treatments.”
“I’m meeting with Mary-Jane later on,” Kris said. “I’m Noak’s sponsor. I want to be there for my pal, ya know?”
Erik pressed the Cube into Kris’s hand. “Whatever. Enjoy your Cube, but quietly. If word got out, Havelock would cut me off, and I’d have to go back to old-fashioned interrogation.” His expression turned dangerous. “I won’t risk my reputation even for you, Cuz.”
Kris knew he would eat an aardvark before he would eat the Cube, but he couldn’t say that. Erik would ask why. And Kris knew he would tell him.
THANK YOU FOR READING AND BUYING
~ * ~
10 KRINGLE chapters have been posted free for you to enjoy. 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.
and Love to you all!
Kim, Herman, Dori
and the Wonderpurr Gang