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 was in the throes of a classic migraine with arcs of light shimmering in my right eye. I bit the head off a gingerbread man. “Then what did he say?”
Petra took my decapitated cookie. “Kris came to me as a worried father, not an employer bent on destroying a valued employee.” She chose her own cookie from the Official Taste Tester plate, white rimmed with black script.
Valda knocked it from her hand. “They’re drek. You’ll barf and ruin my reputation.” Today she wore red cashmere with the requisite plunging neckline. I wondered if her dates ever looked her direct in the eye.
“They’re fine,” Petra assured.
“Fine is mediocre. You think I’m a mediocre baker?”
“No. You’re an incredible baker.”
Petra’s reassurance didn’t appease the Queen of Baked Goods. Valda turned her hostility on me. “How long do you plan to do this to me? It’s impossible to find a decent sugar sub.”
The reindeer had been poisoned. I had been assaulted by sugar-crazed elves. I wanted it gone for good. “What problems are you having, besides taste?”
She consulted her notes. “Saccharin and cyclamate cause bladder cancer in lab rats, but… What if rats are genetically prone to cancer, and it isn’t the subs at all?”
I mentally rolled my eyes. “What else?”
“The sweetness in Aspartame decreases with heat. Plus, high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine may cause brain damage in people born with phenylketonuria.” She shrugged. “So we tell the phenylketonuria people to avoid the pumpkin muffies. There can’t be many of them.”
I inspected my cookie. It looked a little charred around the edges, close to how I felt physically. “What substitute is heat tolerant for baking?”
“And the problem is?”
“It’s not sugar. What’s the point of baking if I can’t use sugar?”
Petra sotto-whispered, “Kris said her figgy pudding made him nauseous.”
“Valda Gulltopp. I told you not to give him anymore OTTs.”
She stiffened. “I didn’t. You’re lying, Petra.”
“Why would I lie?”
“Don’t give him another,” I warned Valda. “Kris is permanently off Official Taste Testing.”
“I didn’t give him anything.” She produced a few tears. “I didn’t.”
Professionally diplomatic, Petra said, “Perhaps I misunderstood.”
“You did misunderstand.” Val sobbed until I almost believed her.
“I know what I heard,” Petra said after Val finished milking the drama cow and left to fix her face in my private powder room. “Kris said the pudding had too much lemon. It made him queasy.”
“I saw him in Celebrity Dolls. He looked feverish.”
“You think Val drugged his OTT?”
My heart somersaulted. “The elves ate her cookies. They attacked me.”
“She’s a slave to her reputation.” Petra took my hand. “Are you okay?”
“I had my cry.”
“You described Paavo’s blue candy. Those are Cubes. PolaRehab once prescribed them for sugar addicts. I refused them when I was a patient there. They made me mean. Elves have complex magickal systems, like the reindeer. Cubes may have a steroid-like side effect. You know? ’Roid rage.”
I reached for my elFone. “I’m calling Dr. Havelock.”
“They’re not from PolaRehab, Holly. They’re black market. Havelock banned them from being used on patients. He thinks they’re too risky.”
I wanted to laugh, except it wasn’t funny. “And I thought all I had to worry about was sugar in the oats.” I rubbed my throbbing temples.
“For years I’ve preached about how sugar destroys our minds and bodies.” Petra squeezed my hand, a little harder than I thought necessary. Her Delft-blue eyes turned icy. “Your refusal to heed my warning may cost the reindeer their lives.”
Valda’s return interrupted my response. Scary Petra morphed back into Chatty Petra. “Up until Candy’s engagement, Kris acted as if Brannoc hung the moon. Could there be another reason he’s now out to get him?”
It took me a moment to shift conversation gears. Petra had been on an anti-sugar crusade since her teens. Had Noak’s return to rehab provoked her into taking drastic action? “I don’t think Kris is angry at Brannoc,” I said with forced calm, “as much as he’s mad that Candy has grown up.”
Petra smiled. If I hadn’t witnessed her madness with my own eyes… “Men love control,” she said, “but we’re guilty for letting them have it in the first place. It starts with ‘I do’, then steamrolls downhill from there.”
Valda sat beside the hearth. “That’s why women have Pissy Mood Syndrome. To take back control, at least once a month.”
Petra laughed. “For me it’s People Make me Sick. Get it? I’m Elfin Resources.”
I said, “For me, it’s Provide Me with Sugar. I crave sugar, too. Perhaps I should eat some Cubes.” I said it with sarcasm, but Petra’s expression made me feel like I had suggested we eat mice for lunch.
“Even with the reindeer dying, you still crave sugar? What is wrong with you?”
My patience snapped. “Petra Lundegaard. I resent you making me feel worse than I already do. I’m not responsible for sugaring the oats. And while I understand your feelings about sugar, I do not appreciate you twisting the knife already in my heart because you feel the need to drive home your point.”
She grabbed my hand, this time without breaking my fingers. “I’m sorry.” Authentic tears filled her eyes. “I feel helpless. Noak’s addiction… Lundegaard’s can’t handle sugar. Noak’s been in and out of rehab for months. If Kris would leave him alone, he could stay clean.”
~ * ~
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