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 wasn’t hungry, and from the full crock clearly no one else had been either. There was a quarter pot of coffee left and boy was I tempted, but if I drank it, I knew today would turn into tomorrow without sleep to separate the days. I set the pebbles on the counter, then divided the chili into freezer bags.
I hadn’t seen Kris since the meeting called after Candy’s sculpture unveiling. Though test results were not expected until tomorrow, Scotchie had badgered the toxicologist, Howard Robinson, until he produced a conclusion in record time. The reindeer oats were positive for sugar, said to devastate a magickal creature’s nervous system. As Thorne had ordered Robinson to test for insect larva, I expected Scotchie to memo me tomorrow about Thorne’s incompetence. I received such memos three or four times a week, every week.
Robinson promised to work through the night to determine antidotes. He speculated they should return to full health once the toxins were purged. Thorne argued that he, being the one with the Doctorate in SuperNatural Beings, would have final say on the Famous Eight’s future health. A verbal meltdown ensued with much finger-pointing. I let them vent. Once they let off steam they could get to work. All male swagger and hypothesizing aside, there is no data on how long it would take for the reindeer to purge sugar. It could take days, weeks, months… Years.
Before we adjourned, there was one point we did agree on. Dancer had suffered a concussion. If the others could fly on Christmas Eve, a SIT reindeer would take her place. Though Kris said nothing, his expression revealed his anxiety. Tradition is the backbone of what makes Kris Kringle ‘Santa Claus.’
From habit I reached for the roly-poly Santa cookie jar. Then I recalled I’d moved its contents to an empty oatmeal box. Kris would never think to look there. The bell-shaped cookies, decorated with white sugar crystals and silver dragées, reminded me of the ones Valda had baked for my wedding. Twenty years seemed like a long time when I thought of Candy, born nine months later, now on the cusp of marriage herself. Yet not so long when I still visualized the way my gorgeous bridegroom looked at me when we exchanged vows. I’d despaired of ever meeting the man of my dreams. The guys I’d grown up with in Ever Autumn had seemed like brothers. My decision to work for Kringle Enterprises had changed my life’s course.
I bit into a cookie, its sweetness giving my headache instant relief. On the day he made me President, my father-in-law warned, while I would have countless good days, there would also be days when I could not give in to my natural tendency to make everyone happy. Sometimes I had to be the bad guy. Today had been one of those days.
I shut my eyes against the memory of Noak’s expression when I told him, if he couldn’t get his sugar addiction under control, he would be demoted to a custodial position. Faced with the loss of his beloved topiaries, Noak returned to PolaRehab for Level 5 therapy where he was assigned a personal counselor. Level 5 counselors are borderline addicts themselves, chosen with the idea that, by seeing a full-fledged addict suffer withdrawal, they would address their own addiction. I’d chosen Noak’s counselor myself.
Then I told Bruna, though loved by all, she couldn’t continue to dominate meetings to sermonize her disenchantment over the evolution of Christmas. She would be allowed fifteen minutes to give her report. After that, she would be interrupted and, if necessary, reminded of our discussion. I didn’t want to embarrass her publicly, but I would carry out my threat if she pushed the issue. Unfortunately, Bruna is famous for pushing issues.
Those two meetings had been the “fun” side of my afternoon. The darker side came when I told my best friend and Baked Goods Supervisor she could no longer use real sugar in her recipes. While Valda reeled with horror, I explained sugar substitutes were permitted, but until further notice, real sugar was banned from Polartown.
In mid-chew I realized I’d violated my own law and spit it out. I dragged the oatmeal box across the counter to dump the cookies into the sink, scattering the pebbles helter-skelter. With the denial of sugar, my headache resumed with a vengeance. Menopause aside, I was an addict too. I flipped on the overhead light to find the pebbles that had fallen to the floor. They were not stones, I discovered, but black, wrinkled legumes infused with vanilla and clove scents. I also smelled coumarin. Coumarin identified them as tonka beans.
How did tonka beans get into my garden? My first thought was, they had come from Edda’s hot house, but Edda knew herbs and bitter coumarin causes liver damage. Instinct said to hang onto them, so I dropped them inside a tinderbox on the mantle.
I’d banned sugar at eight o’clock. As I sent my cookies down the disposal, contraband was being confiscated and destroyed by police. The gripes and growls from the sugarholics would be small compared to the volcanic eruption I expected when Kris learned of another decision I’d made tonight, one that went against all he stood for in life and career.
As clocks throughout Frosne Tæer chimed eleven, I walked toward our bedroom with slow steps. My other decision would rock Kris’s world far more than my Sugar Ban or Candy’s nuptial announcement. As I reached for the knob, I braced for the possibility that tonight, unlike any other night in our twenty years of marriage, I might sleep alone.
~ * ~
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