Four special holiday offerings from today’s favorite authors remind us that when love is on your list, you never have to stop believing…
“A Winter Wonderland” by Fern Michaels
Angelica Shepard left New York for Christmas in Colorado to relax and unwind—but an out-of-control snowboarder almost had her laid to rest. When she wakes up in the hospital, all she remembers is the handsome angel who saved her…
“The Joy of Christmas” by Holly Chamberlin
Not all happiness is good for you—or that’s what Iris Karr thinks when she decides to move away instead of marrying her sweetheart Ben. Even years later, living with that decision isn’t easy—until a familiar face comes to call her home for the holidays…
“The Christmas Thief” by Leslie Meier
Elizabeth Stone is ready for a white Christmas in Tinker’s Cove, Maine—until a fancy Yule ball at the Florida hotel where she works dumps snow on her plans. The sponsor’s jewels have gone missing and the police are asking about her ties to a cute mystery guest. Good thing Elizabeth’s mother, Lucy Stone, flew down to surprise her. ‘Tis the season for a little investigating…
“The Christmas Collector” by Kristina McMorris
Estate liquidator Jenna Matthews isn’t one for Christmas nostalgia. But when one grandmother’s keepsakes suggest a secret life, unwrapping the mystery leads Jenna—and her client's handsome grandson—to the true heart of the holiday spirit…
Angelica Shepard tossed aside the script she’d been reading.
It was beyond her skills as an actress even to begin to
get into character for a part in yet another off-off-Broadway
play under financial duress, and most likely—and this is
only if she was lucky—it would have a short run, and the reviews
would be atrocious.
When she began to study acting right out of high school,
she’d given herself ten years to “make it” to the top. Meaning,
she would be able to support herself and, if the gods
smiled on her, she’d be able to quit her second job. At eighteen,
ten years had seemed like a lifetime. Now at thirty-two,
four years past her self-imposed deadline, she was still
searching for the role that would catapult her to stardom.
She glanced at the script, then told herself to forget it.
Something better was sure to come along.
A cup of tea would be nice right now, she decided as she
walked three feet from her living room/bedroom to the small
kitchen—if you could even call it a kitchen. It consisted of
one small counter, four cabinets that hung above the counter
top, a mini-stove, and a refrigerator. She’d made the best of
the limited space, calling it home for more than ten years. It
was a small studio, even by New York standards, but Angelica
couldn’t help feeling a wee bit of pride. Purchasing the
place on her own, and in the city, was quite an accomplishment.
Yes, she had to supplement her acting career with a
part-time job bartending at one of New York’s hottest night spots,
but without that job, she would never have been able
to pay the mortgage, much less continue to pursue an acting
career. Many times, Angelica had wanted to throw in the
towel and just work at the club full-time, but she was determined
to pursue an acting career a while longer. Maybe after
six months, she would once again reevaluate her career
She filled the white ceramic teakettle from the tap and
placed it on top of the burner. Walking the few feet back into
the living room/bedroom, she caught a glimpse of herself in
the mirror above the small chest of drawers that held her entire
wardrobe. She had medium-length coffee-colored hair
and hazel eyes, which were just beginning to reveal the first
signs of crow’s-feet. Her skin was still smooth, her lips full,
her teeth perfectly aligned, but she could see the beginning
signs of aging. Maybe she should consider having Botox injections.
Her friends swore by the stuff. But the thought of
injecting botulism in her system was a bit too much.
She’d had high hopes for a part she’d auditioned for just
last week. The role had called for an actress in her mid to
late twenties who could sing reasonably well, dance, and, of
course, act. Her agent, Al Greenberg, a kindly old guy who’d
been in the business forever, had promised her he would call
and tell her if she’d gotten the part. No sooner had the
thought crossed her mind than her cell phone’s musical
ring filled the small studio apartment at the same time the
tea kettle began its low whistle. She grabbed her cell phone,
leapt to the stove, and removed the kettle.
“Hello,” she said anxiously.
“Angelica, my dear, how is my favorite client?”
She took a deep breath. “It depends on why you’re calling,”
she said, hoping to sound light and silly rather than
dark and desperate.
Al laughed before responding. “Now, now, don’t hold me
responsible for your moods, kiddo.” He paused.
Angelica heard his intake of breath and knew then that
his reason for calling was not to impart the news she’d hoped
for. A heavy sigh escaped her before she spoke. “Go ahead,
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard it myself. Ross called.”
Ross was the director and producer of the play Angelica had
auditioned for. “He wants Waverly Costas for the part.”
Al did not need to explain to her what that meant. Waverly
Costas was twenty-three, with beautiful ash brown hair
and a body to match. The sad thing was, and Angelica couldn’t
help but acknowledge the fact, the younger woman was actually
a gifted actress. Her stomach instantly knotted, and her
Darn, dang, and double darn! She’d really wanted the
part! Inhaling, then slowly exhaling as she’d been taught in
her yoga class, Angelica chewed her bottom lip, then plunked
down on the cream-colored sofa. “It’s okay, Al. As you always
say, it must not be the right part for me.”
She heard Al’s heavy sigh. “That’s true. It takes time.
Everyone wants to star on Broadway. You know the competition
is tough, but your time will come, Angie.” He used the
pet name that he’d given her years ago.
“Sure, Al. You’ve been telling me that for how long
now?” Of course, she knew exactly how long. He’d been her
agent for twelve years. Yes, she’d had a number of good
roles, all supporting, but never a lead.
“Ahh, come on, Angie, don’t be discouraged. I hear that
Johnny Jones has something in the works. It’ll be the perfect
role for you. Rumor is that Morgan Freeman has accepted
the leading male role.”
How many times had she missed out on “the perfect
role”? And this one was with Morgan Freeman? Her favorite
male actor in the world. Al knew it, too. She could just see it
now. Her name beneath his on the playbill. Blotting her eyes
with a corner of the dark green throw tossed on the back of
the sofa, Angelica took another deep breath. “Listen, Al. We
both know I’m not getting any younger. Maybe it’s time to
call it quits. We know youth rules the business these days.
The younger, the better. I really appreciate everything
you’ve done for me, truly I do. Maybe I’ll take some time off
during the holidays, rethink my career choice.”
Al’s robust laughter filled her ears. “I think that’s an excellent
idea, Angie, best I’ve heard all day. Why don’t you
head out West? I know how much you enjoy skiing. Hell,
who knows, you might even meet some lucky ski bum.”
Her spirits sank even further. Al sure had a way of making
her feel good about herself today. “Yeah, that’s what I’ll
do. As a matter of fact, I’ll call the travel agency now. I’ll get
in touch when I return.”
“See? That’s the attitude! You have a Merry Christmas,
kid, and I’ll see you when you come home. Who knows
what’ll be waiting for you?”
“Yeah, who knows? Merry Christmas, Al.” Angelica disconnected.
She suddenly felt as though she were about to say
a final good-bye to her dreams.
Fourteen years of hard work.
Down the drain.