I have an unusual treat for you today--a short excerpt from my story, Birthright, which will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in the Make Believe anthology in December. Please enjoy.
Palms rustled overhead as Mrs. Tinder shouldered open the rickety door of Christa’s new home.
“Here we are,” the landlady said. The dark space breathed Florida’s hot air. “It’s not usually so humid here in December, but never you mind about the unseasonal heat, dear. As soon as the air-conditioning kicks in she’ll be right as rain.” Mrs. Tinder toddled over to a control panel on the wall and pressed a few buttons. A hum emanated from the walls, the lights blinked on, and the air stirred.
Busying herself around the single room cabin, Mrs. Tinder spread the drapes, straightened the cushions and opened and closed the fridge. She turned her sharp gaze on Christa. “You have family in town?”
Christa gave her a tight smile. “No, I don’t.”
She shook her head.
Mrs. Tinder’s wrinkles deepened into a frown. “You’ll be alone over Christmas?” Her pinched lips broadcast her true thoughts. No one should be alone over Christmas. It’s not right. It’s not natural.
Christa’s smile wavered. “I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.” She tapped her camera case, still hanging from one shoulder.
“Ah, a photographer.” The woman’s nod turned to a slow shake.
Christa didn’t need pity, and she didn’t need more invitations to join random family gatherings, either. To prevent further discussion, she asked, “Are there any galleries in town? Or museums?”
The woman’s face didn’t brighten. “No galleries. There’s one museum. A shack run by a man named Jack.” She grunted. “But you don’t want to go there. His displays are a load of balderdash, if you don’t mind me saying.”
“Balderdash?” Christa asked in mock surprise. “A mighty strong word.”
Looking like a school principal about to pass judgment on a wayward child, Mrs. Tinder perched on a kitchen stool and leaned on the counter.
Christa regretted the tease, realizing the woman had taken it for an invitation to continue.
“Apologies for my language, dear.” Reprimand laced Mrs. Tinder’s tone. After a pause of awkward silence, she sniffed. “Mr. Jack fancies himself the town historian, but he wouldn’t know history if he fell into a dung pile of it. He snoops into family lore, delves into lost legends, and makes up stories when he can’t find nothing of no interest. Mark me, all of it’s nonsense.”
Christa nodded, though she didn’t understand at all.
“Don’t get me wrong. Jack’s a lovely boy, but he’s strayed from the path.” Mrs. Tinder peered at Christa with an appraising eye. “Perhaps a woman like you would do a young man like Jack some good.”
Christa stiffened. Matchmaking was one of the many reasons she’d left New York for the holiday season. She hadn’t expected to find it in a small town in Florida, as well.
If you haven't done so already, I'd love it if you popped on over to Goodreads and put Make Believe on your to-read list.