A sneak peek at Will You Be Mine?, the first volume in my new Holiday Magic Series.
Valentine exchanged her fuzzy pink slippers for the boots lying haphazardly on the floor. She opened the front door and peeked out, saw no neighbors outside of their homes and no cars coming either way, and made a dash down the short, slippery sidewalk to her mailbox.
She loved that the mail was delivered early, because she didn’t have to wait all day for contracts and packages. She hated it because she wasn’t ready to be out of her night clothes.
Narrowly avoiding wiping out on an especially slick patch of ice, she cursed herself for not picking up rock salt, complimented herself for being environmentally friendly by not using it. She pulled on the mailbox’s hatch. It came off in her chilled hand, and the mail, no longer confined, slid out of the chute that was the precarious postal receptacle, and landed with a splash in a slushy gray puddle.
“Great.” Valentine bent over to retrieve the freezing wet envelopes and flyers, and nearly joined it when the honk of a car scared the crap out of her. She straightened up to see who was responsible for her minor heart attack, holding the dripping mail in one hand and the mailbox’s hatch in the other.
“Hey, Valentine.” Trista Tuttle smirked her shiny red lips from the relative safety of her car, shielded by all but a six-inch gap in her driver’s side window, through which she spoke. “I’m on my way to Yoga. You should come sometime. Cute pajamas. Happy New Year.”
Valentine bared her teeth in the semblance of a smile, crinkled sleep-puffed eyes to complete the effect, and wondered if her questionable aim would allow her to wing the hatch through the opening. “Oh, thanks. Happy New Year to you, too.”
Ta-ta, Trista Tuttle. Who the Hell goes to Yoga at 8:30 on a Saturday with their makeup and hair done, anyway? She waggled her bunch of mail politely in return when her perfectly coiffed and colored next-door neighbor waved her perfectly manicured hand, and pulled out of her perfectly cleared driveway in her perfectly clean car. The spray from the drenched dead-tree communications sent a sprinkle of filthy water across her face. She dragged her pajama sleeve over her skin to dry it. “Nice.”
She picked her way back up the treacherous length of cement, stepped over the threshold and slammed the oak door behind her with a swift thrust of her right foot. The movement sent her toppling face first to the floor, where she lay motionless for several seconds before she heaved a deep sigh. “Karma. I know that was Karma. I can’t even think about doing something bad or it bites me in the ass,” she complained to the vintage wool runner.
Valentine released her grip on the hatch and the mail, and pushed herself to a sitting position. She pulled the boots off her feet, tossed them onto the mat beside the front door, and replaced them with her warm slippers.
Sitting cross-legged, she sorted the mail into two piles: throw away now and throw away later. ”Waste of paper,” she muttered as she hoisted herself up with the help of the narrow table that served as a catch-all.
She bent over to retrieve the piles she’d made and paused for a pit stop at her toes, enjoyed a sense of accomplishment that she could still touch them in spite of the ten pounds of sugar weight she’d gained since Thanksgiving. Now that the new year had arrived, she would get back to eating better. Well, after the last of the dark chocolate M&Ms and the Ferrero Rocher were gone. She couldn’t waste them, could she?
She grabbed the mail and unfurled her spine with what she imagined was feline grace until she was, once again, fully erect. She caught a glimpse of herself in the ornately-framed thrift-store mirror that hung over the table, formed her hands into paws, then claws, and gave herself a soundless “meow” before running her paws-claws through her woefully bedraggled hair. “Meow nothing. More like, ‘look what the cat dragged in.’”
She straightened the photograph of her parents taken on their 40th wedding anniversary, smiled fondly at their lovesick expressions, gave a wry shake of her head. Love like yours doesn’t exist nowadays. She nudged the mailbox hatch under the table so she would a) remember to get a new mailbox and b) not trip over it, acknowledged that item a was unlikely to be tended to anytime soon, made peace with it, and crossed the room to drop the throw-away-now pile into the overflowing recycling bin.
The French press, long since ready to be plunged, beckoned to her from the nearby kitchen counter. She did the deed while crooning “You’re So Vain,” danced to the refrigerator to snag the half-and-half. The leftover half-gallon of eggnog caught her eyes, and, after checking the pull date, she snagged it instead.
By the time she had coffee in her favorite Disney princess mug and was ready to add the eggnog, she was singing the “clouds in my coffee” line and gearing up to belt the song’s chorus. With the mug cradled in both hands, and the open eggnog carton conveniently forgotten on the counter, she executed a half-turn in time with the beat and let out a scream.
It’s copyrighted, of course. Feel free to share, with attribution.