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 debated whether to follow. Kris had been gone when I awoke that morning, but returned just as we sat down to eat. My decision to remove most of his Eve route weighed on my mind, but I needed to focus on whatever drama the day had in store for me. Besides, he said I was no longer fun. Was it true? Had I become so entrenched in my job—jobs!—the fun part of me had died?
Note to self: Have fun. Be fun. But after the reindeer had recovered.
I looked at Brannoc, abandoned by Candy. Now there was someone known for fun. His exotic gorgeousness lightened my mood. “Join us,” I invited. I had concerns about Candy’s marriage, but they had nothing to do with his alleged reputation.
Cookie poured Brannoc juice. Cooper offered peanut-buttered toast. Edda declared he was “Too much skin and bones. I cook you oatmeal,” and scampered to the stove.
“Your volcano lessons,” Brannoc said to Cooper, “how’d they go?”
I’d been caught in the middle since Dad recruited Coop. I wanted to support my son, but didn’t want to betray Kris. Instead of answering, Cooper said to Mom, “Are you divorcing Grands because he ignores doctor’s orders, or because he’s a show off?”
“Both!” Her eyes glittered. “Tell me, what did Monsieur Flaunt-and-Flash do yesterday?”
“He got carried away with the volume of lava flow and almost took out Oahu’s northern half.” Shrieking, I half-crawled over the table to check his wounds. He fought me off. “I’m not hurt. Grands diverted disaster. Claimed he had deliberately created too much volcanic pressure to see if I realized the consequences of his actions.”
I rubbed the souvenir on my thigh from my own lava encounter. Hawaii’s Christmas could have been ruined because of Dad’s ego.
“One of these days, Grands will go too far,” Cookie predicted.
Mom sneered. “He doesn’t know any other way.”
Cooper said, “Maybe if I hadn’t been there, Grands would have kept his eye on the ball instead of trying to impress me with how impressive he can be. But how can I learn if I’m not beside him?”
A slow boil simmered inside me. I knew what Cooper referred to. Dad’s half-hearted efforts to teach me Nature had been filled with too much pow! and little substance. He didn’t want to teach. He wanted me to ooh and ah.
After a moment of silence, Brannoc said in his thick Welsh lilt, “I dint think his intention is to harm. Rather it manifests out of his cravin’ for nonstop adulation.”
I agreed. “He’s a legend in his own mind. He upstages anyone who threatens his superiority.”
“Perhaps his actions never had personal consequence,” Brannoc suggested. “He sees the big picture, but ignores the details.”
“Exactly!” Mom thumped the table. “He’s the big picture man. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I want that carved on his tombstone. Oh.”
I patted Mom’s hand. “But how we do make him consider the consequences? The older he gets, the more dangerous he becomes.”
“Candy’s not so different than her grandfather,” Brannoc said. “She’s spoiled.” He winked at me. “But, after she asked me out, I—”
Cooper fell off his chair. “Candy asked you out?”
This surprised me also. Boys had asked Candy out since pre-school.
Brannoc shrugged. “One minute, I’m watching her behave like a queen bee surrounded by her drones. The next, I’m one of ’em. What I dint understand is, she can have anyone. Why me? I’m one hundred years older. We don’t have much in common. Her father is my boss. With my reputation, I appreciate that Kris is upset.”
It struck me that Brannoc wasn’t sure if Candy wanted to marry him for love, or his popularity. I also knew, with Brannoc on her arm, the spotlight would continue to shine on my daughter long after the Miss Joyous Noël crown passed to another.
“I gather marriage was Candy’s idea,” I said, “but why do you want to marry her?” There are particulars about his fairy nature that concerned me.
Brannoc toyed with his toast. “I love her.” His eyes, the color of morning sunlight shining through stained glass, met mine. “However, I dint condone her immature flirting for free lattes at the Café PolarCap.”
My breath caught. “She does?”
“Ohhh yahhh,” Brannoc, Cooper, Cookie, Mom; even Edda, pretending to cook oatmeal, sang in unison. I’d thought Candy had outgrown her proclivity for using her position as a Kringle child to receive special favors.
“Candy and Kingston are, in my humble opinion, addicted to adoration,” Brannoc said. “They’re not bad, just self-involved. When I see Candy misuse her position, I guide her in the opposite direction.”
“How?” Evidently I’d failed big time.
“Personal, I make it. If she wants to be part of my life, she has to understand where I come from. I take her to where her beauty and name impress no one. A place she has to earn respect based on her actions rather than her birthright.”
I laughed. “How far out of Grimm County did you go?”
He grinned. “I took her to Irmgard at the orphanage. Babies are as selfish and demanding as you can get. And Old Irm is tough, not to mention blind.”
Brannoc knew how tough Irmgard could be. As a child he had been discovered in the Reindeer Complex, unable to communicate. Irmgard recognized his gibberish as Cymraeg Canol, the Welsh language of the 12th to 14th centuries, and called Nanny Anian who determined him to be a human-fairy hybrid. Though his brain comprehended numerous languages, for reasons never understood, his tongue could not verbalize them.
Frustrated by his inability to communicate with humans, Brannoc lived in the Complex where the reindeer spoke with him telepathically. There he befriended Bemidji’s sister, Nokomis, whose aptitude for what she called ‘wild ideas, doohickey gizmos and experimental thingamabobs’ led her to create Brannoc’s Oraltranslator: a mitten-shaped Petoskey stone. When worn as a pendant, Brannoc’s speech translates into whatever language necessary for him to communicate. Brannoc went on to become Scotchie’s Assistant Production Manager, and Nokomis became Kringle Enterprises WIDGET Woman: Wild Ideas, Doohickey Gizmos and Experimental Thingamabobs.
Stunned silence for Brannoc’s ingenuity for guiding Candy toward adulthood erupted into applause, with Cookie exclaiming, “So that’s why she sometimes smells like bananas and milk.”
“She has a ways to go,” Brannoc admitted, “but this morning she bought her own latte.”
“But, how do we apply your method to Kingston?” Mom smiled blandly. “I lost my leverage with him years ago. He thinks I am addlebrained and silly.” I patted her hand. “I cannot help it. When he is around, oxygen turns to hot air and my brain cannot breathe.”
I smiled because she expected me to. Dad treated her like an indentured slave. He gave her neither respect nor criticism. He gave her little thought. I’d also noticed that, in his absence, Mom turned sharp and sassy. Despite my sadness for their divorce, perhaps being on her own would reap tremendous rewards for Mom. In jest I said to Brannoc, “Maybe you could work your behavior modification on my father.”
“Brannoc uses Candy’s desire as leverage,” Mom pointed out. “Kingston desires no one but himself. I cannot think of anyone who could bring him to heel.”
Cooper rose to his feet. “I think I know a way. Let me work out the details.”
As my son loped from the kitchen like a gangly giraffe, Brannoc pushed back his chair. “I need to run. East Wing is finishing Celebrity Dolls this morning. Thanks for breakfast.”
Edda slapped a bowl of oatmeal down in front of him. “You eet.”
Graciously he ate a spoonful. A peculiar look crossed his face. He peered into his bowl and sniffed it. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing. Well, my day’s starting without me. Edda, thanks for the porridge.”
Edda beamed as though she’d made it herself and awkwardly hugged his hand. Cookie kissed his cheek, and said after he left, “I may be fifteen, but any chance I get to touch and smell him, I’m gonna take it.” She high-fived her grandmother just as the doorbell rang.
As Edda had wandered off, Cookie welcomed Wilde Thorne into our home. I didn’t know much about him, other than he had dated Candy for five months, and played drums in Cooper’s band, No Pout. Despite his gaunt similarity to his arrogant father, Wilde was nothing like Royal Thorne.
“Morning Mrs. Cooper. Mrs. Kringle. You both look attractive this morning.” Mom and I secretly agreed Wilde reminded us of Leave it to Beaver’s Eddie Haskell. Wilde tugged Cookie’s braid. “I’d like to treat you to a latte for sticking up for me yesterday.”
“She stuck up for you?” I watched my youngest blush.
“Scotchie was mean to Wilde,” she explained.
“I’m sorry, Wilde. Would you care for oatmeal?”
“No ma’am. There’s a boycott.” He handed me the Tattle. Along with an absurd Candy Bump Watch banner, and an unflattering photo of Valda, the headlines screamed:
Reindeer Oats Poisoned. Our Breakfast Cereal is Next.
Holly Kringle Bans Sugar.
Wants Death Penalty for Violators.
“Death penalty!” I scanned the article. Townies had stormed the granary last night in protest of bad oatmeal. Overseer Havremel had gone into hiding. Erik Rayner had recruited law enforcement from nearby villages to maintain order. As I looked at the bowls of untouched oatmeal, I felt a chill skitter through me. Had someone infected the human oats, too?
I reached for Brannoc’s bowl just as Cookie said, “Here, Wilde. Taste this. I made it myself.”
She handed him a frosted glass. As he drank, I smelled a mix of dried hyacinth, honey and papaya juice.
Wilde asked her, “Did you see the remake of The Christmas Carol?”
My youngest gazed at Wilde with stars in her eyes. “No, but I’d love to.”
Uh oh. Wilde was five years too old for Cookie. Also, we’d just started to breathe again with Candy’s rejection of Wilde ensuring Royal Thorne wouldn’t become family.
Then real panic set in. Dried hyacinth, honey and papaya juice triggered a forgotten memory. I pretended to trip and knocked the glass from Wilde’s hand. It shattered on the floor.
Wilde wobbled, as though dazed. “What happened?”
“Sorry. Clumsy me.”
He looked at Cookie. “What did you say?”
She shifted her gaze from me back to Wilde. “You asked if I’d seen the remake of The Christmas Carol. I haven’t, but I’d love to.”
“Me too.” Wilde grinned. “You think Candy would go with me?”
Cookie’s smile vanished. “She’s engaged, you know.”
As Cookie left with Wilde, Mom cleared the table. “What was that all about?”
I examined the contents of Cookie’s homemade brew. “Your granddaughter just gave Wilde Thorne a Passion Potion.”
Mom dropped a dish. “Where did she get it?”
“She made it.” I mopped up the mess. “Remember when your cousin, Philomena, brewed the same potion to attract a boy? I helped her make it. Hyacinth isn’t an easily disguised fragrance.”
“Cookie and Wilde?” Mom looked as queasy as I felt.
“Not if I can help it. I broke the spell when I destroyed the glass.”
“Spell!” Mom sat down. “Cookie’s doing witchcraft?”
“No! Just fooling around, like kids will with Ouija boards and tarot cards.”
“We’re talking Cookie, not Candy.”
I channeled Kris’s dismay that our children were growing up too fast. “Mom? Am I fun?”
She dumped dishes into the sink. “When do you have time for fun?”
Not the answer I wanted. “What do you think Cooper has planned for Dad?”
“Nothing close to what I’d like to do. The King, he has been out of my bed for one night, yet I feel different this morning. Not so foggy and repressed.”
“Are you sure about divorce? Maybe if you talked to him.”
“Non. I am finished talking. We are divorcing over religious differences. He thinks he’s God. I do not.” Clearly she’d waited a long time to use that line.
“Then have Candy redesign the third floor for you. We never use it.”
Mom tossed her fiery hair. “I’m not leaving my home. Kingston is. Last night gave him time to pack his bags. He can move in with you, if you do not mind his intestinal gas.” She gazed at the murky E-Light reflecting off the snow. “I’ve decided to take up knitting again. While I’m in town, I will treat myself to a peppermint latte.” She laughed. “I understand all it takes is a little flirtation to get one for free.”
~ * ~
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