A Christmas Novella titled Christmas in Whistler by Kim Hornsby
Beach Girl: Kim, what made you want to write about a Canadian ski resort?
Kim: Well, I'm Canadian and lived in Whistler for five years about sixteen years ago and I know it to be absolutely magical around the Christmas holidays. When you think Christmas, you often think snow, so I set this tale where there'd be snow, pretty decorations, and where the Christmas spirit would be in full force.
Beach Girl: The protagonist in this novella is a divorced mother and the hero is a ski instructor?
Kim: You are right on the first one. Daria is newly divorced and wishing she hadn't handed over her 5 and 7 year old daughters to her ex-husband for Christmas. Pierre is a vintner (wine maker) from San Francisco, in Whistler on vacation, but he happens to be a former ski instructor and is able to help Daria learn to ski, among other things.
Beach Girl: What is the hotness rating because I know your full-length novels are rated sensual.
Kim: I'd say somewhere between closed door and sensual. When things heat up, the camera fades to black. :) I'd let my eighteen year old read this.
Beach Girl: You often have a light element of the paranormal in your stories. Does this have paranormal?
Kim: It does. Very light. Daria sees auras around people and is able to judge moods and emotions by the seven layers involved in an aura. No vampires or dream jumpers but a touch of magic.
Beach Girl: If you could tell us one thing to make us want to read your novella, what would it be?
Kim: I'd say that at this time of year, women get very busy orchestrating the perfect holiday for their families and it's a very busy time. Make sure to take time out for yourself, pace yourself, and recharge every so often. This cute HEA romance, is a perfect curl up in front of the fireplace, 2 hour read to put a smile on your face.
Beach Girl: At the end of this novella Kim has added a roundup of favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes! An added bonus to those who are thinking about baking this season. Enjoy...
Here's an excerpt:
Christmas in Whistler
By Kim Hornsby
Christmas in Whistler always meant snow. That’s what Daria’s friend Joanne said on the phone that morning. “Whether it’s man-made by those big machines, or coming from the clouds, there will be snow for Christmas.”
That was good enough for Daria. This year, she’d need a winter wonderland to distract her. All things considered, Canada’s big ski resort sounded pretty close to perfect. “Okay, you sold me. I’m coming for the holidays.”
The need to get out of town didn’t completely present itself until the reality of Christmas without her children hit Daria smack in the heart on the twenty-third. Her precious little girls. Rosey and Sunny were spending Christmas with their father and his girlfriend, Suzanne, who also happened to be the reason the family imploded in the first place. Daria would be alone, four miles down the road from her daughters. Not allowed to see them.
On the not-fair meter, she figured the needle would spike near the finish line. However, in the spirit of good mothering, Daria had handed over her cherished little girls at nine that morning to a man who’d cheated on her, and the woman he’d done it with. It wasn’t easy to smile and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas but Daria believed in discretion. If she had anything to do with it, her innocent children would never know how their mother felt about Daddy and his girlfriend. And they’d never hear how Suzanne had taunted Daria in the final stages of the divorce, texting about her new family and how she looked forward to being an “instant mommy.”
After throwing a few things in to a suitcase, Daria made a quick stop at REI in Seattle for snow gear and then took off to catch the next flight from Seattle to Vancouver. Armed with a new polar jacket, snow pants and polar boots, she guessed she could endure a snowstorm in Antarctica quite comfortably in her new getup. Jo had said to bring warm clothes.
Seeing her best friend Jo would be golden. Jo’s job as a structural engineer with a company in the Great White North had resulted in a temporary move to Whistler and Daria was missing her fiercely after only six months. From recent reports, Jo loved the small town life in the Canadian mountains. That morning, when Jo confessed she’d split up with her latest love, Daria half-joked that they’d be each other’s shoulders to cry on during Christmas. Jo was lesbian and hadn’t had much luck in finding just the right woman to settle down with so far. Finding another woman who wanted to be a parent as much as her, had been difficult at her age. Jo really wanted to get married and have children someday soon.
Long ago, when a teenage Jo had told her that she was gay, Daria was surprised, but it didn’t change their friendship. Not one bit. After all, Jo had accepted Daria’s secret without batting an eye. And seeing auras of energy around people’s bodies was a strange claim. Daria had never let the claim slip out to anyone else, except an aunt who’d guessed the secret because she saw auras too. Just Jo and Aunt Beatrice knew about her unusual ability.
The plane touched down on Canadian soil and taxied to a stop. Daria had been fighting motion sickness for an hour and was still a little green around the gills as she cleared customs. Wheeling her single suitcase from baggage claim, she saw Jo’s smiling face behind the glass partition and immediately felt better. Emotionally, anyhow. Daria returned the smile.
“Hey Girlfriend!” Jo hugged her like they hadn’t seen each other in years, and pulled back to check for tear tracks on her cheeks. “No crying on the plane? That’s good.”
The two friends had been through high school and college love affairs together at the University of Washington and knew each other’s telltale signs. Jo got puffy eyes, and Daria often had tear tracks long after the tears had dried.
Talking their way through the traffic of Vancouver, the two friends drove over Lion’s Gate Bridge to the upper level highway. Conversation came whooshing out with topics ranging from Daria’s daughters to Jo’s work, to Seattle friends, and then fashion. Although the two women had so much in common, they had totally different styles. Daria was a petite blonde with a homecoming queen look, while Jo had a motorcycle mama look with dark hair and a Mediterranean olive complexion. Daria’s ex-husband, Robert, used to say they looked like All American girl meets Rock Star. But when it came to their personalities, they were linked. In more ways than Robert knew.
The day they’d met in Redmond High School’s cafeteria, Daria knew immediately she was destined to be a part of Jo’s life. The aura around Jo was shining as brightly as if a spotlight shone on her back. According to Aunt Beatrice, that only meant one thing—a strong link. The only other person who’d had an aura like that was her aunt. Before she’d died her favorite relative taught Daria everything she knew about auras. The rest Daria had learned through books and eventually online. Reading auras was an unusual ability and Daria had kept the secret all her life, with a degree of guilt like she was an axe murderer. Robert didn’t know, and for good reason―five of his aura’s seven layers spelled bad news. Always had. Daria had chosen to ignore that fact when they fell in love.
As they turned at Horseshoe Bay to head north, Jo’s aura was still spotlight white and pulsing with layers of blue and shades of yellow, signifying happiness and opportunity. Lucky thing Daria could easily ignore a person’s aura after years of this.
The winter sun pierced the inside of Jo’s SUV as the car sped along the road. Six days stretched out before the friends like a prospective trip inside a time machine. There would be days ahead when she didn’t have children to tend to, when she and Jo were young and carefree. It felt unusual but maybe good. She hadn’t decided yet. Telling herself she was in a different country with no responsibilities for a week, beyond being a good friend, Daria’s heart felt light for the first time in a long while. “I feel like my old self,” she exclaimed to Jo, who responded with “Atta Girl!”
The drive was stunningly beautiful, like a movie scene where a train winds through the snow-capped Rockies on a sunny day. Only Jo told her, it was coastal mountains not Rockies. On the left, an ocean’s sound loomed far below, and on the right, the sheer wall of rock, probably blasted out decades ago formed the road. At a town called Squamish, Daria confessed she’d have to call it Squeamish due to the twisting road and her returned motion sickness. Jo laughed at her with fondness. “Not long now,” she said. Then the road opened up and straightened.
“There’s the white stuff!” Jo said, pointing to closer mountains with fluffy clouds circling their peaks.
“It’s so beautiful. I think I’m going to cry.” Daria’s excitement about being in a snowy ski village for Christmas increased with every mile.
When they pulled into the Whistler city limits at 4 p.m., the sun was just dropping behind the mountains casting a dark shadow on everything inside the basin. Six-foot snow banks bordered the sides of the road. Once past the Function Junction Industrial Area, Jo slowed the car and they wound their way past signs for neighborhood turnoffs. Traffic was thick on the other side of the road.
“These cars are day-skiers driving back to Vancouver,” Jo said motioning towards the snaky line of cars.
With log homes, snow banks, cars loaded with skies, hotels, and restaurants, the initial view of the Whistler area, called Creekside, was everything Daria expected in a ski resort, and so much more.
“It’s storybook beautiful,” she exclaimed, looking out the window.
“Wait until you see the town. This is just a tease,” Jo said.
So far, Whistler was unlike any other place she’d ever seen. Not that she’d ever been in a world-renowned ski resort before. Over the last five years, Daria had successfully avoided skiing with Robert, saying she got too cold and didn’t like to make her toes suffer. He’d been the parent to start the girls on skis and she’d been the parent who did everything else with their daughters. Aside from eight Sundays with his girls in ski season, Robert avoided fatherhood if he possibly could. Instead, he pursued his career at a software company like his life depended on it. The upside to Robert never being home was being able to afford skiing, and the lavish lifestyle he provided with his paycheck. Not that any of that mattered to Daria, or the girls. They’d have preferred his time. Their house was too big to clean and she now depended on a weekly cleaning lady to help out. Daria planned to move eventually, create some distance between herself and Robert and find a smaller place for the three of them.
“I have a confession to make,” Jo said. “It’s a little negative and a big positive.” She looked over at Daria who braced herself for terrible news. “I told a little white lie to get you to come to Whistler for Christmas.”
“What?” Daria’s heart jumped and she stared at Jo reproachfully, hoping it had nothing to do with Robert.
“Sheila and I didn’t break up. We just had a fight. Everything is okay now.” Jo looked so apologetic that Daria had to laugh.
“I didn’t know if you’d still come if you thought you were going to be hanging around with a couple, but Sheila is so busy this week that I’ll hardly see her.”
Daria reached over to touch Jo’s shoulder. “I’m glad things are still good with Sheila.” She was. “Don’t worry, I’m here now. It just feels good to get out of town.” She fidgeted with a tissue in her coat pocket. “You’re saving me from driving over to spy on the girls as they go in and out of Robert’s place.” This dynamics of the week in Whistler might be different with Jo still part of a couple, but that could be a good thing.
“And we’re staying at Sheila’s house, not my condo.” Jo grinned at Daria. “That’s the good part. Her house is amazing! Wait until you see. Sheila’s the owner and chef at Whistler’s best sushi restaurant, Sushi Yo.”
Jo steered the SUV into a housing development called Blueberry Hill and two turns later parked in the short driveway of a mountain chalet. Daria whistled. The house must’ve cost a lot of Canadian bucks. “This is Sheila’s house?”
Daria left the car and stood, taking in the sight. The neighborhood resembled a group of small lodges, all unique in design, but well-suited to the mountain theme. Sheila’s home was constructed with huge wooden beams and a granite rock front. It had to be five thousand square feet, from what she could see.
“Nice digs, eh?” Jo joked. “Come on, hoser.” They’d watched Bob and Doug McKenzie’s Strange Brew movie years ago and knew how to speak Canadian.
“Sure, eh?” Daria followed Jo up the snowy driveway, silently praising her boots’ heavy treads. Catching a peek between houses, Daria saw nothing but the massive monstrosity of Whistler Mountain in the distance and assumed from their drive up the last hill that the house was built on the edge of a cliff.
“Sheila’s at the restaurant. She won’t be home until late tonight.” Jo said with an infectious smile.
After stepping out of her boots, Daria followed Jo into the main room and gazed at the view through twenty foot windows. The mountain loomed in front of them, almost too close to get a good view. The peak wasn’t visible. Below the cliff lay a snowy field.
”Mountain ahead, golf course below. The town to the left.” Jo pointed to where twinkling lights punctured the dusky light. “We’ll go to Whistler Village for dinner tonight, but not Sheila’s restaurant. We can’t get in there for weeks, unless we want to sit at the bar.” She motioned for Daria to follow her.
Thinking how much Robert would love this place, Daria pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and followed her suitcase down the hall.
“You’ll sleep in here this week.” Jo motioned to the doorway ahead of them. “Sheila’s son, Javier, is at the end of the hall and we’re on the other side of the living room in the master bedroom. I’ve pretty much moved in, and not because of the house.” She grinned. “Wait until you meet Sheila.”
Darla took in the cozy snugness of the guest room. It was just large enough to accommodate a twin bed covered with a bear-themed comforter, a terracotta-colored chair by the window and a dresser with a deer antler lamp. “This is perfect. Oh Jo, it’s so cozy and lovely.” She pulled Jo into a hug and felt the warmth of her aura. “This is absolutely perfect. You’re sure Sheila is okay with me being here. After the fight and all?”
Jo pulled back, her face tinged with disbelief. “Are you kidding me? Of course she’s okay. I wouldn’t be with anyone who didn’t like my friends. Besides, she has a friend coming to visit tomorrow. And, if you’re worried about us fighting it was only that she worries I’ll be gone in a few months when this contract ends.” Joanne’s eyes sparkled. “I’m so in love with this woman, Dar, I may end up living in Whistler.”
“Oh, my Gosh!” Daria was happy, but she’d reserve her excitement until she actually met the chef and saw her aura.
Jo knew what she was thinking. “Don’t tell me if the aura is bad, okay?”
“I may not see anything right away, you know that. Or, it may only have to do with me and my relationship to her.”
Jo knew from years of Daria talking about these readings that part of reading an aura had to do with interpretation.
“Where’s the boy?”
“With his Dad or on an overnight, or something He’ll be here for Christmas though.”
Daria loved Christmas, loved presents, Christmas food, loved to decorate trees, and everything that came with the holiday. ““I’ll need to Christmas shop a little before the 25th. I want to get a few things.” Just because her kids were with Robert, didn’t mean she couldn’t get into the spirit of the holiday. Walking back into the family room, Daria looked around. “Where’s the Christmas tree?”
“Sheila and I have a fake one in the bedroom, but haven’t had time to do a real one.”
Daria’s eyes widened. “Let’s get one now!”
To Be Continued...
Happy Holidays Everyone!