Every year my publisher has a Christmas Extravaganza! It’s old and new Christmas-themed novellas in every genre you’d want to read–romance; suspense; cozy mysteries; and even women’s fiction. And most, if not all the titles, are only 99 cents! I can’t give a list of all the books but if you go to Amazon and type in Christmas Extravaganza, the titles will come up for you.
I’ll be posting the pictures of my own Christmas Tree Extravaganza soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d talk about my Christmas-themed books. I’ve discovered I like writing stories with a Christmas setting but still have mystery and suspense. The Christmas Stalking was my first novella that included a Christmas theme, then came The Christmas Angel Thief and No Home for the Holidays. At the moment, I’m working on two more Christmas stories for next Christmas!
Anyway…I thought I’d share the prologue to The Christmas Stalking with everyone. My publisher cut this part out of the story because she likes the Christmas Extravaganza novellas to be on the short side of a novella.
The Christmas Stalking–Prologue
Her hand froze mid-air as she reached for the door knob. Her pulse ramped up. Destiny Martin had always considered herself brave, but she’d discovered that wasn’t quite as true as she’d always believed.
The knock came again.
“Destiny, I can’t get in. Type in the security code so you can open the door.”
Recognizing the voice, she let out a breath. She giggled at the thought of locking her manager out of his own apartment.
Careful to stay out of sight in case anyone was watching, she opened the door. Mark walked in, his hands full of mail, packages, and grocery bags. She slammed the door shut, hoping no one had seen her in that brief second.
“How’re you feeling, sweetikins?” One of the bags fell from Mark’s grasp.
Bending down, she retrieved it. “Sad and lonely. Just like my songs.”
“Why? I’m here and you’ve got tons of friends. Not to mention the millions—no billions of fans.”
She gave him a look—the same one her teachers used when she’d told them she would be a famous country music star someday. “Billions? I don’t think so, Mark. Let’s not get carried away.”
Mark shrugged. “Okay. Millions.”
“They love Destiny not me.” She sighed. “They have no idea who I am. I’m not even sure I know who I am anymore. Holly Stone doesn’t even exist as far as the world is concerned.”
Mark winked. “She does and I like her just fine. You’ve got the holiday blues.”
She plopped on his sofa. “Is it any wonder? I’m stuck here and can’t even go outside. Not that it matters, it still wouldn’t feel like Christmas.” Nashville might be all decked out in Christmas cheer but it just wasn’t cold enough. Christmas just wasn’t Christmas without some snow.
“If you don’t like it here, pick another place.” Mark’s voice was quiet.
She’d hurt his feelings. She grinned. “I didn’t mean it like that, sweetikins. Of course, I love being here with you. You’re so kind to let me stay here.” Now that her own home wasn’t so safe.
“Holidays can be tough.”
She set the bag on the coffee table. Not for him. He didn’t spend every Christmas alone, pretending to be busy. He went home to his huge family at Christmas. He’d invited her to go this year but that wasn’t happening.“How am I supposed to live my life if I’m hiding in your condo? Like I’m the one who did something wrong. Why can’t they find this guy?”
“Give them time.”
She turned toward him, hands on her hips. Her voice broke. “I’m so tired of all of this… of imposing on you… of not being in my home. But most of all, I’m tired of being afraid.”
“I know it’s scary, but you’re safe here. I can find you a nicer place if you want. I know this isn’t the luxury you’re used to.”
Mark wasn’t getting it. “Don’t be ridiculous, your condo is wonderful. More amenities and gadgets than any one person would ever need. But I’m not used to being cooped up all the time.”
“It won’t be much longer, sweetikins. I promise.”
“You’re right. I have no intention of missing the concert. I’ve never missed one in my life, and I’m not about to start. Mr. Psycho Stalker or not. Especially since this is for charity.”
She held up a hand. “It’s not open for debate. I’m doing that concert and that’s final. My life. My choice.”
“I know but—”
“I’m done with this discussion.” Turning up her southern accent, she smiled. “Whatdjabringme, sweetikins?” She grabbed at the bags in his hands.
He laughed as he handed one to her. “A few things. I stopped by your house for your mail, and then went to the store for your favorite snacks.”
“Oooh, sounds good. I hope you stopped at that deli with the great shrimp dip.”
“You know I did. You can check out the mail while I put the food away.”
“I love how you spoil me. Besides the food in your fridge is disgusting.”
“That hurts. It really does. I share my home with you. And all you do is hurt me. Not very nice.” He shook his head with feigned sadness.
“Whatever. Let me see my mail.”
He pointed at the plastic grocery bag filled with mail on the coffee table and continued to the kitchen with the grocery bags. “Oh, and that package is for you, too.”
Ignoring the mail, she picked up the box. “Probably a Christmas present from one of my billions of adoring fans.” She sat down and picked it up. “Is it safe?”
“Security said it was fine. No bomb.”
She shook her head. “Can you believe you even said those words? The guy’s an overzealous fan, he’s not going to hurt me.”
He poked his head out from the kitchen. “Tell that to John Lennon, sweetikins.”
Her stomach somersaulted. “I’m done with Mr. Psycho Stalker controlling my life. I’ve been thinking.”
Mark walked out of the kitchen. “I do not like the sound of that. Whenever you say that, it always means more work for me.”
She picked at the tape on the brown wrapped package. “Not this time.”
“What’s your idea?”
“After the concert, Destiny is going to disappear. About time I take a vacation. It’s been a long time since I had one. And you can take one, too.”
Instead of a smile, worry lines appeared on Mark’s forehead. “Where are you going?”
She shook her head. “I’m not even saying the destination out loud. That way no one can follow me.”
Mark stared at her. “That’s not a good idea. I need to know where you are.”
“Because I always know where you are. It’s my job and besides I’ll miss you.”
Uh-oh, she didn’t like the sounds of that. Mark was her manager and friend—nothing more. They’d been spending too much time together. Definitely time for a change.
She smiled. “Yeah, right. You must be so tired of me cramping your style and besides, you deserve a vacation, too. You work—”
Mark’s eyes darkened, his voice firm. “I don’t want a vacation. I want to keep you safe. And I can’t do that if I don’t know where you are.”
“It’s a great idea and you know it. You’re just grumpy you didn’t think of it first.”
Mark walked out of the kitchen. “Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I do, but I’m still not telling you.” She tore open the wrapping on the box in her lap. It revealed a gift box with boughs of dark green holly and bright red berries. “Do you think someone remembered my real name is Holly?”
She lifted up the box lid. Screaming, she jumped up.
A dead cat rolled out.
If you want to know what happens after the dead cat, you’ll have to buy the book–but it’s only 99 cents!
MERRY CHRISTMAS & GOOD READING!