Just A Little Coffee Thing – Fiction Part 2

Photo by Eric BARBEAU on Unsplash

She did notice him, though, when she came out of the door, yelping in surprise as he leaned next to the opening. She didn’t have any more time to get out more than the shriek before Gerrit grabbed her clipboard and pen and tossed it to the counter. She watched the pen roll off just as Gerrit’s palm enclosed around hers and he swung her around in a spin. He pulled her close and slow danced with her to a Crystal Gayle song.

“Gerrit,” Hela protested, pushing on hand against his chest and tugging against the hand he gripped. Her heart was pounding and to say butterflies were taking flight in her stomach was an understatement. She shivered as she felt his other palm, quite warm, settle against her waist.

“What?” was his innocent reply.

Hela did not believe a minute of his wide blue eyes.

“Oh stop struggling. You love this song. You sing it whenever it comes on, you always spin around and glide through like you’re on stage.”

“Twirl.”

“What?”

“I don’t spin, I twirl,” she corrected.

“I beg pardon. You twirl,” he teased, then released her waist to twirl her around again, before catching her and dipping her back. She was laughing but when his face was inches from hers she thought in an instate he might kiss her. His eyes flashed to her open mouth then back to her eyes, but he quickly righted her and they went back to dancing, the song now a one.

“You are stressing too much, Helena, he said, using the name no one ever called her, except for close friends or family. She looked up at him ready to argue and deny it.

“Oh, no, you are not going to get out of this one. I’ve been here three weeks, and you are like a time bomb waiting to go off. Or on pins and needles. I’m not sure which, but you know you are doing amazing, don’t you?”

She stared at him. “Um.” She bit her lip. She always felt like she was falling apart. Snapping at line chefs, getting impatient with the pantry girl, ready to throw her hands up at servers who asked bizarre questions. Constantly thinking about the new menu and the changes in flow. She was mentally exhausted and she felt like she was cracking at the seams.

“You are. You’re keeping things running smooth. You’re good, Hel. You’re a whiz at plating, you can take over the line when one of the guys is in the weeds or goes down. Organized, on your toes, you leave me amazed at how you keep things flowing in this madhouse. You’re already better than you think.”

Hela couldn’t respond. She had hoped someone had noticed. Micah had been her person to work with, but even he had sometimes left her wondering if she was as good as she hoped. She and Gerrit worked well together, like she and Micha could. Quiet, handing each other things as they needed it without even a word. Notes on boards were underlined from agreements; they could bounce ideas off each other like two kids playing catch.

“Obviously you doubt yourself too much.” He gave her a chastising look, as he spun them around. “Stop.”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Obviously you don’t know how my brain works,” was her caustic reply.

“I do. More than you know.” He grinned, his eyes twinkling. “Now, what was that thing about something sweet?”

 

So part two, mostly because it was a 1200 word document. Thought it might overwhelm you all.  Like I said, I’d like someone I could relate to at night when I close. Currently I can’t relate to anyone. At least on the level I’m at. But one can dream of a dream chef and dream team and someone I might have as a close colleague. One day.

Kate

2 AM Is For – Poem

This is something from puttering around with all kinds of thoughts in the last week and a half. From meeting this guy that I just now can’t get to know for a bit…. Thank you Covid-19, I hate you right now.  To big 1980s hair and makeup and smelling my grandparents cabin in an instant déjà vu moment. The lava soap on the counter, Irish Spring soap in a metal shower. And well, wishing for a little more than I have right now. Ah, spring is in the air. Here I go again.

2AM Is For

Smell Lava soap , a linger of a déjà vu of a memory
Stepping into the side door of the cabin’s
washroom
mudroom
bathroom
laundryroom
to the upstairs and all else room
Concrete sinks, and propane and the old wood and canned food pantry
Lingering odors
When 2 AM rolls around and the Irish Spring bubbles spiral
down the metal shower drain
spreadsheets have been left behind, sitting open on a screen
Orderly columns and rows, lists for this, itemized for that—
For standing naked in a mirror, curls bouncing on your shoulders
a nineteen eighties fashion girl, big makeup, big hair
Maybe he’s watching a film
Maybe you’re hoping for more than might be there
But you wear your hair down a little more, a little longer
Maybe he’s drinking that drink you wish you were sharing
And you dress a little more carefully
2 AM isn’t for the mundane, it’s for the magic
Past the witching hour,
When all the poets are awake
When night air slips in through screens
Taste the ice on the tongue, mountain’s metal coldness a cold cloak
To your Gypsy’s hide, it’s been tanned smoothed down soft and skin fresh
Aquamarine earrings swing back and forth
Put on a little Pharrell and dance around naked
Your unbridled you, that part of yourself you hide all day
Moonlight could be your sunlight
You are the alive in these waking hours
a longing for something to happen
when colors and magic spells flow
out of your fingers and the air shakes and shimmers around you
Spin out, spin around, dress in silks and feathers,
2 AM is the time to roost and let the whispers in
let the shimmering bubbles slide down the drain
2 AM is for…

We Are Not Friends, But He Is Home – Prose

Photo by PHUOC LE on Unsplash

We are not friends. We are not lovers. We are something unknown. Standing side by side as confidants, secure in our random trust for each other. He is the strength and knowledge. The quiet before the storm. I am the storm. The whirlwind force. I am the fighting words, he is the calming down. He is the soft and waiting, I am the ready and diving in. Opposites attract, they say. We couldn’t be more different. Or more alike. He’s the future, I’m the past, or the present, or maybe I am the future. He’s tall, I am short. Side by side we stand arms intertwined. He leads, I follow. I direct, he bows down. It’s more than two people. It’s one entity standing against what? Who is to know. We aren’t friends just yet. Barely do I know more than his name, or the way he takes his coffee. But I know he has the world at his fingertips. He’s the answers. I’m the questions. We aren’t lovers. Though we could be. He’s the flowing winds. I’m the earth beneath your feet. Standing on a pedestal, he is king. Seated on a throne, I am a queen. Give and take, push and pull, I’d trust him with my life. We are not friends, but we will be one. We are not the lovers, yet we shall love. He bows to me, and I to him. He is home, and safety and rest. I am sleep, and strength and beginnings. We’ll step forth into the storm, a rock, marble, nothing tumbling us. We are the beginning.

 

I had this super vivid dream yesterday morning that left me kind of reeling. Where I met this man who was like this gentle giant. Tall, like really tall, like my head came only to the middle of his chest. And we barely knew each other, but we were going to work with each other and I was going to help him become this classically handsome guy, classy, and wearing button downs and sweaters and ties and looking all nerdy cute because he wrote for a newspaper. And we just had this connection and it was lovely, and I woke up wishing I could meet him because he was perfect, and it was the two of us against the world. So, I wrote something tonight. Whatever it is. Prose, poetry, fiction. Take it as you will. It was all lovely.

Sigh.

Kate

Don’t Make Me Come Up There – Flash Fiction

Photo by Ryan Hutton on Unsplash

“Don’t make me come up there,” he bellows at the sky. His face is murderous, the scowl etching deep lines into his forehead. The frown isn’t visible on his mouth as his thick beard covers from nose down.

“Darling, who in the world are you yelling at?” comes the soft, and slightly worried question from the woman leaning out of the sliding glass door. The light behind her casts her in an elegant silhouette and the burly man glances back at her, his scowl softening slightly.

“The damn twins are arguing again,” he mutters, jerking a thumb upwards towards the scintillating star-studded black sky framed by tall conifers.

The dainty woman arches a fine brow and glances upward. She doesn’t hear a thing; the forest is so dense and thick she can’t even hear the lake that is just a couple minute’s walk from the glamorous mountain home.

“I don’t hear anything,” she finally says, holding out her palm for him to take. He reaches out and his hand engulfs her, but he allows her to tug him back to the warmly lit interior. He gives one more ferocious glare back at the “silent” sky, then follows her back inside, sliding shut the door and pulling the blinds closed.

“Now where were we before you decided you needed to go out and yell at the sky?” she teases as she hands him back his half-drunk glass of wine and picking hers up as well.  She sinks into the sofa and tugs him towards her.

“When Cass and Pol start arguing, no one can hear a thing,” he mutters, settling down next to her.

She just shakes her head, not having a clue who he is talking about.

But how is she to know she is sitting next to a god?

Someone New – Fiction

Another foray into my fictional kitchen. I had a break in an idea for my fiction, with ‘Her’ meeting  someone new after Micha’s off on sabbatical. I watched this new Alaska PD show and one of the police officers was like the perfect model. Good name too. So boom! Fiction! I always get excited when something new comes to my head and I can actually write. I have missed fiction. Oh, and I finally settled on a name for said “Her”. I’m going with Hela, like short for Helene, but she goes by ‘H’…. Just like I go by ‘K’ in the kitchen.  Hope you all enjoy. It’s a lot of dialogue, so forgive me.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

“H, there’s someone out at the bar asking for you,” Carlo opened one of the swinging doors to where Hela stood at the pass checking over the day’s menu choice.

“Hmm? Who is it, Carlo?” She asked distracted as she frowned at the mushroom selection. They were decidedly low on matsutakes.

“He didn’t say. You want me to tell him you’re busy?

Hela looked up. “What? Oh, no. Hang on a sec.” She crossed off the mushrooms and added shiitakes. “Bobby, we’re switching to shiitakes tonight. Could you make sure they are prepped? I’ll have Justine change the menu.”

“Sure thing, H,” her lead line chef called.

She was texting Justin about the menu switch as she stepped out the doors towards the bar and it wasn’t till she was near the shadow she’d seen in her peripheral that she looked up as a throat cleared. Blue eyes, filled with an incredible amount of amusement, had her catching her breath. The sharp intake of air and the breathy sigh she barely let out, had the corners of his eyes crinkling just a tad more.

“I’m Hela,” she murmured, extending her hand while she slipped her phone into the front pocket of her jacket.

“Gerrit,” the man replied, his voice tinged with just enough masculine gravel. His warm palm engulfed hers and she felt an electrical tingle all the way to her shoulder.

“How may I help you?” She was tempted to tug her hand from his grasp when he didn’t release her hand, but the electricity was humming across her back and up into her hairline. The feeling was delicious and made her want to stretch and arch like a cat in the sun.

“I was told I needed to meet the famous sous chef from Tableside,” his enigmatic response had her cocking her head to the side. She arched a brow.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say famous,” she argued and nearly groaned in disappointment when he released her hand.

“I suppose that is opinion based.”

She hummed a non-committal answer. “Are you from the area?” she asked.

“No, just relocated here for a job. A colleague suggested I stop in and see some of the amazing selections on the menu.”

“Oh, well thank you. Most of the menu is from my chef, but I have a few of my own.”

“And is your chef here as well?”

Hela stared at him, Something he’d said tickled the corners of her mind at the question’s strangeness, but she couldn’t form it into anything concrete. 

“No, he isn’t. I’m actually interim chef as he is on sabbatical and I’m waiting to meet my new chef for the next year.”

“Ah. When does that person arrive?”

“Any day now. No specifics have hit my ears yet. Chef, Micha Grant, said he’d let me know when the new chef was set to come in.” Hela said this as if it was just an everyday occurrence, but inwardly she cringed at the thought. Micha had told her she’d like his replacement, yet he’d been so vague about it all, Hela was apt to be rather apprehensive. She remembered too vividly Lucas and all the hell he’d put her through before Micha had fixed everything.

“Well, I’ll have to come in when the change happens,” Gerrit mused. “Though I would love to try one of your dishes if possible.” 

“Quite,” Hela said warmly. She grabbed on of the menus by Carlo’s computer and handed it to Gerrit. “The coconut curry is a specialty of mine,” she said pointing to one of the items, “but then there is breakfast salad with oven roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, or the zucchini involtini,  or a simple pasta aglio e olio.” She rattled off the three other items Micha had let her put on the menu. She was secretly hoping Gerrit would order the pasta aglio as it was her signature dish. Simple in it’s execution, it had been one of the first dishes Micha had taught her to saute properly. It was still her favorite dish to make.

“Oh, you had me at curry,” Gerrit interrupted her thought. 

“Very good. Carlo, send it through. Gerrit, it was a pleasure to meet you. Any special requests on the curry?”

“No. Surprise me.” He held out his hand for her to shak and the grip was just as warm and inviting as before. “And Hela?”

“Hmm?”

“It’s been a pleasure as well. I look forward to bumping into you again.” His eyes twinkled like he knew a secret.

“Mm. Yes.”

Hela couldn’t resist looking back at Gerrit as she headed back to cook the dish. He was watching her, a slight smile on his lips as he rested a palm over his neatly trimmed short box beard. A finger rested on his mouth and her breath hitched again  as he caught her  gaze with his and grinned again. She nearly burst into giggles as she fled to the kitchen flustered all to heck.

 

Hope you all enjoyed.

Kate

A Hallmark Christmas Story Beginning – Part 2

Photo by John Christian Fjellestad on Unsplash

Yes, she had put her heart and soul into this Christmas. The only thing marring the season was that the Carson’s eldest grandson was scheduled to arrive on the 15th. Nicolas McKenzie Carson the third, was a lawyer from the city and ever since she had come to Westbriar, he had been a thorn in her side. Always questioning everything she did for the Carson’s. he was more critical than his parents or any of his aunts and uncles. Every action, how much they paid her, that she had her own room in the mansion, why did she encourage his grandmother to try a new hairstyle, how dare she get the judge to lose some weight, she wasn’t his doctor. Oh and on it went. She’d never met Nicolas in person. Oh no! His highness didn’t deem to come down from the city to find out how things were. No, he called. All the time. He would talk to his grandfather, or grandmother, then after finding out the happenings, he would demand to talk to Miss Oliver. And the Carson’s thought it was so sweet he cared about them so, and oh wasn’t he a nice boy. Noelle would would just nod her head and take the call, all while attempting a smile while she gritted her teeth till she felt like she had a toothache in her entire jaw.
Noelle sighted as she checked the time on her phone for the umpteenth time. He was due in a few hours. Only three more hours of freedom before the executioner arrived. She sighed again and fiddled with her phone setting a new ringtone.
“Dear, if you sigh one more time, I’m going to have Estelle poke you with her scissors,” Phoebe Carson said as her hairdresser fluffed the new bobbed style with the pale pink streak running through it.
“Oh, Estelle, do you think it’s too much?” the eighty year old woman asked, her voice filled with apprehension.
“Mrs. Carson, you look quite hip,” Noelle interjected, finally looking up from her phone.
“Are you sure?” Phoebe reached up and touched her snow white bob, then ran a finger down the pink streak.
Mrs. C, you look stunning and if that grandson gives you any grief, well I’ll just marche myself down and have a talk with that boy,” Estelle patted her hand over Mrs. Carson’s and beamed a glowing bright-white smile at her in the mirror. Not only were Estelles pristine teeth always glowingly bright in general, but her chocolate skin set them off to spotlight proportions.
“Estelle, you’re gonna blind me, “Noelle joked.
“Now you just knock it off, Miss Oliver,” Estelle admonished. “You wanna try something festive this year?
“Oh, Noelle, you should,” Phoebe urged. “This pink is so pretty, but with your eyes, I would think teal or green.
“Wow, Mrs. Carson. Green?” Noelle was current on the new styles, but even green was a bit edgier than she would have gone for.
“How about a nice dark pink along the base?” Estelle suggested.
“Oooh,” both Phoebe and Noelle gushed together.
And hours later, Phoebe and Noelle exited Estelle’s Hair & Nails, their en vogue hair catching the interest of several of the town’s people. Dainty Phoebe in her ivory sweater set and pearls, pink streak swinging, and elegant and svelte Noelle with her 1940’s inspired mid cut, the sleek brown curls bouncing with a cheery magenta red around the entire base.

And so there it ends, for now, until I can come up with something else for Nicolas, Noelle (whose real name is Sarah Noelle Oliver…. SNO….) and the rest of Westbriar’s Christmas Memories, or, Coming Home to Christmas, or, Make Mine Mistletoe…. Oh heck, I’m sure there are a ton of great holiday romance titles for Hallmark. Check out my blog post A Little Christmas Bling where I mock and joke about the perfect Hallmark Plot Generator.

Kate

Poem – I Like Her Best – 9/6/2018

Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash

I like her best as she sits in the sunny window
hair disheveled and one knee up on her chair
absently eating toast, sipping coffee, oblivious
to me and everything else around her as she
writes with  her pen, while I mix up some
baked item, maybe using the peaches ripening on the counter
the music low, crackling out from the speakers,
one of my old records, the sound rich in the bright room
her glow heats up the mountain ridge…

This never went anywhere, but it was a start, and kind of sexy and romantic, and well, so me.

Kate

The Romance of Writing Love Poems

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
…wishing I could fly. Excerpt from the poetry collection “This Is For The Women Who Don’t Give A F*ck” by Janne Robinson. Published by Thought Catalog Books | ShopCatalog.com

I wrote the other day about how I was delving back into Foolsgold and I might find myself writing love poems.  I can’t say as I am a very good writer of those types of poems. I have to actually be in a state to write them. I did write a form of a love poem, and  I am prone to sharing those poems with the person they are for. Actually, if I write something for someone, I give it to them. What I mean by writing for someone, is that I will give the person a poem they inspired.   Lil, my coworker, got a poem that was about this brave wildflower pirate girl. Lucifer was given a poem that was to him. Mrs. Austen was given a poem years ago about tiny letters. (I think that is somewhere on this blog).

I guess you could look at poems to friends as a form of a love poem. One of the ladies in my writing group has two poems in my rejected manuscript. Actually, they aren’t so much as love poems, but inspired poems. That lady can inspire poems that are super incredible. At least to me.

Going back to reading Foolsgold, the heading for a chapter had a part of a Hafiz poem that just hit me hard.  The line was:

Tired of Speaking Sweetly
 
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
Isn’t that so incredible?  I love the manhandle part. I’ll post the rest of the poem at the bottom, but the thought of how love grabs a hold of us and rattles us to the core… Oooh, wait, I needed that line right there for the poem it inspired. Hold on. I’ll be back………..
Okay, I’m back.
So we’ve been wrecked and grabbed, rattled, thrust away, pulled back. Sometimes love has that ability to turn us black and blue and breaking things. I love finding poetry that hits me so hard that I have to start writing myself. The feelings contained inside are too much and I just wish I could hug the poet and say ‘thank you’ for saying what I’m feeling. Or what I needed to feel.

Galway Kinnell

Last week…. no wait almost two weeks ago, I was at a used book store and found a Galway Kinnell poetry book. I believe, though I can’t remember, I first heard his poetry on an episode of Poetry Off the Shelf podcast, but either way, oh does his poetry hit hard. It hits you right in the gut; right in the heart and mind. While I can only read small doses of his poems, I am in love. It’s beautiful.

 I don’t often find poems that are really good love poems in my readings. I’m very selective, as I don’t want just a lovey-dovey type poem. I want something that destroys you inside. Leaves you raw and trembling because you totally understand it. That is how I feel about this Hafiz poem.

Tired of Speaking Sweetly

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Currently I have the complete works of e.e. cummings headed my direction via the library. He had the ability to write some of the most provocative, erotic love poems. They have the ability to make you want to grab someone and kiss them desperately, they are that raw. I actually want to print them off, type them up, and hand them to people to make their heart race. To feel.

Even Shakespeare had that ability to thrust you into love wow. Oberon’s love of Titania is in my opinion, epic. Though currently I can’t find what I’m looking for in the darn play to post it here.

Love poems come in many forms. Sometimes, we even need to write love poems to ourselves. One I wrote this last Saturday, titled “You Can Be A Good Girl and Wear A Black Lace Bra” is a love poem to myself about how sometimes what you see isn’t what’s hiding beneath the surface, but it’s all intermingling with the outside to make you (or in this case, me) who I am. Thanks again goes to Mel for the title, though I added the ‘lace’ part because I want to emphasize the fact that there is total girly girl lace going on here.

So, how about anyone else. Do you write and share love poems? Have you read any good ones lately? I’d love to know about both, yours and other poet’s love poems.

Kate

Drowning in Poetry

I think the title of this post is overly dramatic, and while it might sound negative, drowning in writing poetry has actually been really good for me. I have stuck strictly to writing poetry for the past several weeks due to my ambitious plans to submit in the fall, though I have to admit, meeting someone who has made my life a whole lot brighter, has helped continue on with the poetry theme. It doesn’t take much to write at least one line of poetry, but a whole one that is decent is another matter. I have this personal opinion that you need to be in a relationship, coming out of one, just starting one, or directly relating to one to write good poetry. This is just my own personal opinion and what works for me. Some of my best poetry came from my angst with Boris.

Lord that man made me crazy. Still does sometimes.

I think the emotional aspect of another person, be it lover, mother, father, sibling, uncle, friend, etc. relationships mold one’s writing. And the connection with another person makes poems powerful. Sure,  you can write about inanimate objects, Mary Oliver comes to mind with her nature poetry, but it’s still a personal connection to the world. Reading Ada Limon lately, there are so many personal connections with people in her work, that you see the emotional aspect.

So for me, some of my best work has come out of angst, be it in a relationship or out of one.  I was never in a personal relationship with Boris, though I love the man dearly. He just caused a lot of turmoil in my life. Not being in a relationship with Boris caused a lot of turmoil in my life. Ha ha. Ha ha. I’m conflicted, I know.

Currently, while it hasn’t cropped up much, a new relationship, or the promise of one, has boosted my poetry. In the fall it was a hope that I might be with someone that now I could just murder. Those poems from the fall, while good, and I like them, annoy the heck out of me because I can’t stand the person from the fall. I mean, if I could legally hit him over the head…. I should probably be careful, the government is watching…

Well new possibilities, whom we will name Danny Boy at this point, are improving upon my writing. So while drowning in poems might be a weird good thing to say, I am writing as much as I can, when I can.

I should also add that music plays a huge role in writing poetry for me. Maybe because it is all poems as well, set to music, that I gravitate towards it. I listen to music as much as I can, and a lot of it can bring up feelings and thoughts that keep me writing away. Currently, Drake’s ‘One Dance’ and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” are churning out a lot of thoughts.

What about you other poets? Do you find relationships or music improve upon your poetry writing?

And just because I’m in a good mood, here are some poetry prompts I’ve found on Pinterest, where you can follow my board at daydreamwriting. Okay, these aren’t specifically ‘prompts’, but they do conjure up poem ideas.

Kate

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A Snowed In Christmas Present – Short Story

Back in March my local libraries hosted their annual story contest. It’s a chance for the people in the valley to get their creative hats going, especially the schools, to write a three-page story.  Or if you are the 1st and 2nd graders, well, whatever you can write.

Over the years I have entered at various points. This year I won first place and it was kind of nice, having one 2nd and 3rd as well over the years. Below is my entry. My Hallmark of a three page story. I entered this year to challenge myself to writing  a story in three pages. I guess I made it work. Enjoy. Oh and it was inspired by this picture from Bing from a few years ago.

A Snowed In Christmas Present

Christmas Eve

Jess tramped through the deep snow, her snowshoes keeping her above the deep whiteness. Her shepherd, Max, bounded along at her side. The destination was a cabin tucked into a copse of pines near the old ski trails at the back of the new ski resort. In dry weather it was a half hour hike, but with all the snow, it took Jess over an hour to reach the primitive cabin. Built in the 40s by her grandfather, when he had owned all the surrounding land, the cabin was a sturdy log structure with a small lean-to built out back where the dry wood was stored. There was a small loft with a bed over the main room of the cabin, and that was where Jess slept most of the time, though sometimes she’d crash on the ancient sofa some relative had somehow carted to the cabin. It had always been a mystery as to how it had gotten to the cabin from so far.

It was late afternoon when Jess and Max arrived. It took Jess another twenty minutes shoveling the snow away from the front door with the snow shovel tucked under the eaves before she could get into the cabin. She quickly started a fire in the pot belly stove then started another one in the small wood cook stove. She got pans of snow on the stove to melt while Max checked out all of the corners of that cabin for mice that might have set up house in the early part of the winter. Satisfied there had been no intruders, he flopped in front of the stove with a groan. Jess laughed at him as she lit kerosene lanterns. She brought in more snow and added it to the pans on the stove before she started dinner. She had brought fresh supplies to add to the many stored items in the pantry. A stew was in order for a cold, snowy night like tonight.

She cut up carrots and potatoes to add to the tinned beef. As the stew bubbled and simmered on the stove, she mixed up biscuits from the flour and dry ingredients in the mouse-proof canisters. Soon, she and Max were eating a hot meal on this last Christmas Eve Jess would be spending in this cabin.

It was while Jess was buttering a second biscuit that she was startled by a loud knock on the front door. Max growled low and deep as she went to the window and peeked out. There stood a man with skies and poles. She quickly opened the door and saw that the man had a gash on his cheek and one of the skies was broken.

“Oh come in,” she urged and shushed Max who barked.

“Thank you,” the man said, nearly stumbling into the room. “I didn’t think I would make it; then I saw your light.”

Jess grabbed the skies and poles from him and helped him to the weary couch and noticed he was limping on his left foot. He collapsed with a groan and Jess quickly leaned the skies against the wall and grabbed the small box of medical supplies off a shelf.

“What happened?” she asked as she dampened a rag and cleaned the bloody wound on the man’s cheek.

“I was cross-country skiing up one of the old trails and ended up too close to a tree. Sank deep into the snow, hit some branches, broke a ski, and sprained my ankle.

“Oh dear. Sorry,” she muttered as she dabbed at the gash with iodine and the man winced.

“S’okay. What is someone doing out in this cabin on Christmas Eve?” he asked as if to distract himself.

“Says the man out skiing on a night when it’s supposed to snow the same night.” Jess smiled as the man gave a rueful laugh. “Max and I are spending our last Christmas here. My grandparents have owned this cabin for years, but due to some bad business deals by my uncles, they finally had to sell it to some developer. I guess he wants to make a resort here to back up the ski resort on the other side of the mountain. My grandfather used to own that land as well, but sold it years ago. So, since the developer wants to get started as soon as the spring thaw, and it’s tradition, here I am.” Jess tacked steri-strips across the gash.  “I don’t think this is going to need stitches.”

“Thank you. I’m Tom, by the way.” The man reached up and touched his cheek gingerly.

“I’m Jess Simmons. Now let’s get your ankle looked at. I don’t think you are going to be able to get out tonight on that ankle. You are at least an hour from the highway in this snow.

“I can’t impose on you,” Tom protested half-heartedly. Jess made a face at his protest as she brought a pan of snow that was mounded and set it on the ottoman.

“Right. You can barely walk and the snow is already coming down. I don’t think you are going to be able to leave. Face it, mister, you are my captive. Now take off your sock and rest your foot on this snow. It should take down some of the swelling.”

Tom did as she bade, winced at the cold, but then relaxed into the couch as Jess brought him a bowl of stew and a biscuit. He ate quietly while Jess made coffee and pulled some canned peaches from the pantry. They feasted on peaches and cream for dessert.

Then they talked after that, Jess telling Tom of the history of the land around the cabin and the cabin itself.  Outside the snow came down faster and faster.  Tom talked about his love of skiing and the mountains and getting away from his life in the city. Jess ranted about the investor who probably planned to tear up the land and make a gaudy resort. Tom told her he was an investor as well, but hated gaudy. He preferred classic mountain lodges. They talked late into the night sharing their life in the unusual circumstances of their meeting.  

In the morning, it was clear that they weren’t going to be able to get out of the cabin except to reach the outhouse behind the lean-to and the lean-to itself. They were snowed in. Which was what Jess had planned on, but Tom had not. He was worried his assistant would be going crazy since he’d never made it back to his hotel room at the ski resort, but there wasn’t much that could be done about it. So Jess and Tom spent an unusual Christmas together, playing cards, eating the simple but tasty meal Jess fixed and talking more and more.  Max claimed Tom as his own, using him as a pillow and not wanting to leave his side. Jess had never seen Max be so taken with someone other than her.

They spent two days together in the cabin before the snow blew away enough from the door that they could make their escape. Not that Jess was complaining. She liked Tom and was sad that their interlude was at an end, as strange as the situation was. It hadn’t hurt that he was a rather charming companion and quite good looking as well.

The hike to the highway was slow going, as Tom still had a limp and the one ski was broken, but they made it after a few hours. From there, Jess was able to drive Tom to the ski resort. In the whirlwind shuffle of getting him into the hotel and the staff making a fuss, she and Tom got separated. Jess thought of staying and calling his room after he got settled, but decided that she would come back tomorrow. She and Max went home, which was only an hour down the road in the small mountain community. Much to her dismay though, when she called resort, the staff told her that Tom had checked out and not left any forwarding address. Nor was the hotel going to give out his phone number.

Jess spent the rest of her holiday in a slump of disappointment, wishing she could speak with Tom and knowing the sale of the land was at the first of the year.

“Well, Max,” she said on New Year’s Eve, “it was fun while it lasted.”  Max sighed against her. He’d been moping since she’d let Tom off at the hotel. It was a very unsatisfactory way to end the year……..

Christmas Eve one year later.

Jess hiked through the few inches of snow towards the cabin. Max, as usual, bounded along beside her. There was a lot less snow than last year and the sky was clear and crisp. It was going to be a gorgeous Christmas Eve, made even more perfect by the fact that Jess now held the deed to the land around her cabin. The sale had gone through for the cabin back in January, but not long after the papers had transferred to the new owner, a thick packet had arrived in the mail. Much to Jess’s surprise, the new owner had learned of her love of the land and had gifted it to her with the deed to the land and cabin. Her grandparent’s bills were paid and she had the cabin now in her name. 

Jess had sent a thank you note through the brokerage firm that handled the sale, but she hadn’t heard anything else. Even now, months later, she was still semi stunned that she owned the cabin and could come here whenever she wanted.

The cabin was waiting there in the trees, cheery as when she had closed it up a few months ago for winter. She was looking forward to being able to celebrate again.

The lanterns were lit and a thick steak was sizzling on the stove when a knock came at the door. It was with a sense of déjà vu that Jess looked out the window to see a man standing at the door with skies in hand.  She opened the door.

“Tom!” she gasped. “What are you doing here?” She stepped aside to let the tall man in. “How did you know I was going to be here? Were you out skiing again? You aren’t hurt are you?”

Tom laughed. “You ask a lot of questions.” He leaned his skies against the wall and scratched Max who had come up to lean against the man.  “I’m here to see you. I was only skiing in from the road; no I’m not hurt. And as to why I’m here….” He paused.  “I wanted to see if my investment was getting good use. Since you are here, then I would say it is.”

“What do you mean your investment?”  Jess flipped the steak and peeled a couple extra carrots since she knew Tom was going to stay.

“Well, you did receive the deed to this cabin, yes?” Tom leaned against the counter near where she worked.

“Yes. How did you know about that?”

“Because, I’m Tom Winterthorne. I was the person that had been investing in the land around here.”

“What?! You’re Winterthorne Investments?” Jess stopped peeling.

“Yes. It was your stories of this cabin and spending time here charmed me so much I couldn’t let it leave your hands. So, I bought the land and had it righted back to you. There will always be land to invest in, but well, it’s not too often you find a woman you like who has such passion for the history of land.”

“I can’t believe you did this. I can’t believe you are the investor. I wasn’t very nice in describing you last year.” Jess ducked her head, embarrassed.

“You were unhappy. I couldn’t take it personally since I have done a few things that are like what you said.”

“I called the hotel after I let you off last year. You had checked out.  I thought I wouldn’t see you again.”  Jess dumped the cut up carrots into a pan with butter.

“Did you want to?”  Tom tipped his head to the side in question.

“I did. Very much so. I liked you. I liked our time we spent together, as strange as it was.” She ran her fingers through her hair.

“So did I. That’s partly why I came here tonight. I was hoping you would honor your traditions and come back. I was hoping to find you here.” He reached out and grabbed her hand and tugged her close. “I was hoping you wouldn’t hate me too much for me being me. I was hoping I could spend this Christmas with you as a friend again.” He leaned down and kissed her gently. “And maybe as the promise of something more.”

“I don’t think we are going to get snowed in this year,” Jess replied, “but I can’t think of a nicer present then to spend it with you.”

And if you had been standing outside of the cabin at that moment, you would have seen Jess lean up and kiss Tom as high in the sky the stars twinkled on this clear Christmas Eve.

 

Copywrite 2017 by Katie Lyn Branson