Wednesday, 2 December 2009

New Release! Season of Love - A Romance Anthology

Mistletoe Fangs by Susan Blexrud:

Lauren parked in front. There were no other cars on the quiet street. As she approached the house, careful of the irregular sidewalk buckled from the roots of hundred-year- old trees, a shiver of foreboding ran up her spine. The house looked like a grande dame in partial ruin, clutching the remnants of her former glory. Lanterns on either side of the front door revealed peeling white paint and massive columns reminiscent of Tara after the Civil War, while an audio background of creaking planks strained under Lauren’s feet. A swing swayed eerily on the expansive front porch.

Before she reached for the gargoyle knocker, the door opened with a pop, like it had been sealed shut. She peered into the musky foyer. A deep voice issued from the darkness, “Good evening. Please come in.” Lauren inched across the threshold. She didn’t need to close the door behind her. It creaked shut on its own.

A large, looming figure stepped out of the shadows. “Light?” The figure walked to a table in the foyer, struck a match and lit three candles in a candelabra. “There. That is better.”
Lauren suppressed a gasp as the figure turned to her. There stood a reasonable facsimile of Rasputin. He flashed a dazzling smile, and the dentist in Lauren took over. She was a professional. She could handle this.

“So nice to meet you.” She held out her hand.

“And you,” he said, caressing her hand with long, cold fingers. “Would you like me to turn up the heat? It is a touch chilly this evening.”

“No, I’ve got a built-in oven here.” Lauren rubbed her pregnant belly.

“I am Erasmus Gephart,” the man said, eyeing her round tummy, “though I am sure you surmised that already.” His incisor glistened in the candlelight as he smiled.

She’d hoped he’d been the butler. Best not put too much stock in first impressions. “You come highly recommended.”

He dismissed her compliment with a wave of his hand. “My credentials are impressive, but what is more important is whether I can assist you.” For the first time, he gazed into her eyes with a penetrating stare. No doubt the same hypnotic gaze Rasputin used on Queen Alexandra.
Dr. Gephart curled his index finger in a hokey “come hither” gesture, and Lauren followed him through an arched doorway hung with mistletoe into a dimly-lit Victorian parlor.

“I see you’ve decorated for Christmas.” Lauren nodded to the mistletoe.

“That has been up for years,” Dr. Gephart said. “I have not yet put it to use.”
Lauren shivered at the thought of Dr. Gephart’s lips, which would surely be ice cold. She took in his eclectic decor, replete with red velvet upholstery on the ornately carved furniture and an assortment of Cuckoo clocks on the walls. He indicated a small loveseat for Lauren with a footstool at its base. She settled in, propping up her high-top pink sneakers.

Sitting in a throne-like chair across from her, Lauren thought that Dr. Gephart had a freakish sort of magnetism. Maybe it was his long black hair, streaked with silver, or the intensity of his dark blue eyes. She could understand how an unsuspecting human female could be seduced by him.

The Office Christmas Party by Bill Haworth:

As drunk as they were, the crowd fully comprehended their new manager’s veiled threat that an early departure from the party would be looked upon most unfavourably. So, either due to gutlessness, ambition or both, the party flowed merrily on.

The old cleaning lady tugged on Perkins’ sleeve.

“Yes, yes, we’ve already said thanks for suggesting the shops nearby.”

“Then would you say you owe me a favour?” she asked.

“I knew it. She wants a bonus!”

“No I don’t. I just want a favour.”

“Oh dear,” he groaned. “I suppose so. What is it? You want a drink?”

“No thank you.”

“Then what?” he asked impatiently.

“The music is wrong. Do you think we could have some seasonal music?”

“It’s a party, you old trout! We’re celebrating!”

“Celebrating what exactly?”

“My promotion of course!” he snapped, then to the gathering asked, “Where do we get these people?”

Calmly the old girl told him, “It’s just that it’s Christmas Eve and you ought to be celebrating that! That’s more important than any promotion!”

“Well, of all the nerve!”

“Ha - ha! She’s got you there F.P!” shouted Baxter.

Felling miffed but wishing to appear magnanimous he acceded to her request.

“Of course, granny, you’re quite right!” he said sporting a quite insincere smile for her. Calling out to an underling across the room he shouted, “Hey Sammy! The old girl wants a hymn. See what you can do, eh?”

Sammy was always ready for a laugh and so waved and shouted back, “She wants a him?” then pointing to two men said, “Well how about him and him?”

The crowd jeered at this coarse remark as Sammy dutifully twiddled the knobs of the CD/radio eventually tuning into a choir singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’

The fact that the rock music had lost out to the hymns made little difference to the party crowd, who took scant notice anyway.

The irony was not lost on Mattie. Look at them, she thought, they sure are ‘merry’ alright. Any merrier they would collapse! And ‘gentlemen’! Ha! Give me a break! There isn’t one here would wouldn’t sell his own mother if it meant getting on in the company!

The old lady was most appreciative of the hymn music and happily continued titivating around the conference room with duster and broom.

A Special Christmas Gift by Kate Hofman:

He gazed at Glenda for some time. At last he asked, “Did you really try to get in touch with me?” Glenda nodded, opening her mouth to explain.

They were interrupted. A small voice said, “Mommy?” Glenda flew up from her seat. “I must go to Jason,” she whispered, and was gone. Alexandros found it hard to sort out his feelings. There was no doubt about his love for Glenda, but she had a child. She isn’t married, the name on her mailbox said St. George. Was there a lover, who left her when he discovered she was pregnant? Deeply distressed, he decided to wait and see.

His distress ended quickly. He heard Glenda’s soft voice talking lovingly, then a child’s treble voice saying something. Glenda, holding her son by the hand, walked over to Alex, smiling. Letting go of her son’s hand, she sat down again in her corner of the sofa, and watched Alex and her little boy. In spite of his tan, Alex’s face became deathly pale. Thee mou, this is what I looked like when I was his age.

Jason gazed at Alex for a while, then he asked, “Who you?”

Profoundly moved, Alex whispered, “I think I am your Daddy.” Jason beamed. “My Daddy? You my Daddy?” He glanced at his mother, saw her nod. “Mommy, me have Daddy!” the little boy exclaimed. He stretched out a tentative hand to Alex’s face, and with a moan Alex wrapped his son in his arms, lifting him to his lap. Elated when he felt his son’s kisses on his face, he gently kissed the boy’s forehead, whispering brokenly, “Ye mou” – my son.

“How old is he, Glenda?”

She smiled. “Jason, tell Daddy your age.”

Jason held up two fingers. “Me two.”

Alex hugged his son closer. “You’re a big boy for two years old. When I was that age, I looked just like you.” This seemed to please Jason a lot, and they spent some time quietly enjoying Alex finding his son.

Peace on New Earth by Miriam Newman:

They turned to each other in the night, after lovemaking and before dawn, in the hours when neither of them could sleep.

Jadelle was first to speak. “Avron, what is it?” she questioned softly.

“My warriors will return at dawn. I must think how to greet them.”

“Well…I think Kevan planned to do that.”

“He did?” Accustomed to being the only leader, Avron was surprised and not entirely pleased by the thought.

“He has an obligation,” Jadelle pointed out gently. “We are the ones who brought sickness to your people.”

“But you are the ones who will cure them, as well. And I told them I hoped it would be so. There is obligation upon me, as well.”

“Of course. Perhaps you can do it together.”

“And you,” Avron insisted. “When they first receive the idea of this cure, it must be you they see. You will be the one to administer it to them, will you not?”

“Oh, yes,” Jadelle agreed at once. “I wouldn’t miss that chance for anything.”

She was so quiet then that finally Avron was the one to inquire what was in her mind.

Shifting slightly, she framed his face in her hands, kissing his forehead. “Would you think I was silly if I said I was seeing the future?”

“You can do that?” he asked seriously. The colonists performed so many wonders with their satellites and ‘puters, he was prepared to believe they had vision, as well.

“Not really. It is just a picture I see in my mind, that’s all. I can see fields by this oasis. Water and crops, and bigger buildings by our domes. Many of them. Homes for people. Places to gather. To trade. A school. A town where our children can be educated together, if their parents wish it. And beyond that…free land. Land enough for your people to roam and hunt as they always have, so that your ways are not lost. With med-technos from my domes to visit among them, giving knowledge and medication. Your children fat and healthy, prospering. I see those things, Avron, if I look hard enough. I really do.”

He touched her back, in the darkness, running his hands the length of her small, precious body.

“If you do,” he said, “then I believe it may be so.”

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