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 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.”
“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.”
~ * ~
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