I’m so excited to publish Jingle Bell Justice on Oct. 18th! You can read the synopsis on the Jingle Bell Justice page of the website. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt to tide you over. Enjoy!
At lunchtime, Robin took a break from unpacking to eat and check her emails. She didn’t expect to find new leads during the holiday season when companies focus on cashing in on Christmas shopping. Companies didn’t care about the number of website visitors until sales slumped in the first quarter of the new year. She could practically hear the tumbleweeds blowing through her email inbox.
Her mom’s stuffed shells were heavenly, of course, but heating them up in the microwave proved to be problematic. Pushing the GO button not only made the microwave whir to life, but also zapped the ancient wiring in the farmhouse, causing the lights to flicker. Another item for the “to-fix” list.
The rest of the kitchen was lovely, if outdated. It had miles of countertops and a dozen spacious cupboards. The range was gas, with a powerful fan nestled inside an old-fashioned hood above it. The farmhouse sink was deep and wide, with a built-in drainage rack. Robin’s plans for the kitchen were to paint, change the hardware on the white cabinets, and install a vinyl floor that looked like hardwood. It had surprised her that the kitchen didn’t need a major overhaul.
She had just popped the top on a Diet Coke and opened a hidden object game on her phone to let her brain check out when the screen lit up with her sister’s face.
Her sister Jenn was younger by three years, and her best friend. When strangers met them, they sometimes made a crass joke about their mother and the mailman, because where Robin was average height, curvy, and dark-haired with caramel-colored eyes, Jenn was tall, athletic, and blonde with blue eyes. The photo for Jenn in Robin’s contacts showed Jenn in her cheerleading uniform that she donned for their high school’s one hundredth homecoming celebration in the fall, her blonde bob swinging over her shoulders as she jumped in the air.
Robin swiped to answer the call. “How’s party prep going?” Jenn and her new wife, Deb, had sold their house to purchase a historic home in River Sutton and turned it into a bed-and-breakfast called Cardinal Cottage, after West Virginia’s state bird. They were hosting a group of wealthy elites from Pittsburgh for their opening weekend, to be kicked off with an elegant holiday party.
“Party prep is taking a poop in my punch bowl,” Jenn growled into the phone.
Robin set down her Diet Coke. “What happened? Decorating and party planning is your jam.”
“Usually, but Mrs. Voorhees canceled and I’m trying to beef up my numbers.”
“With Mrs. Voorhees? You’re lucky she canceled. She would have bored your guests to tears with stories about she puts foil on her counters and bookshelves to keep her cats away from her many, many plants.” Robin could picture Jenn’s eye roll, but it was unlike her to panic over anything.
“That’s the only reason I invited her. She’s the only person in River Sutton with even close to the kind of money these guests have. I figured she could talk the talk.” Robin’s stomach hollowed out. She predicted Jenn’s next question. “Can you please, please come to the party and talk the talk?”
Jenn knew Robin had rubbed elbows with enough CEOs and trendsetters in Cleveland to speak intelligently about politics, finance, and culture. She could try to drum up business leads at the party, but how many of Jenn’s guests would want to talk shop?
Robin rubbed her forehead. “You know I want to help, but I’m armpit deep in boxes, trying to get this house sorted.” She bit her bottom lip. “Plus, I was kind of hoping Chris would find a way to get off work tonight. I’ve hardly seen him since I moved home.”
Jenn huffed. “Chris and those boxes aren’t going anywhere. But if this party isn’t a success, and these guests troll us on Google reviews, your sister and her wife will knock down your door because we’ll be homeless.”
Robin gave it one last ditch effort. “I don’t even own a fancy holiday dress.”
“Nice try. On the Mend is having a clearance sale because it’s so close to Christmas. I guarantee Sylvia will find something for you to wear. Now, get a move on. Cocktails are at five.”
What did you think? I hope you enjoyed it. You can pre-order the ebook of Jingle Bell Justice on Amazon.