Friday, December 21, 2012

COLD COMFORT-perfect for Christmas

Mistletoe display
Cold Comfort takes place in Williamsburg, VA, during December. Here's a short excerpt from Chapter 2. This is where Riley, the reluctant investigator, first goes to Claire Spencer's Christmas shop, Mistletoe, and sees Claire. 
If she's picket fences, he's barbed wire. Opposites do attract.

Through the window, he saw hundreds of tiny white lights peeking through the greenery festooned from the ceiling. The warm glow of a village peopled with moving figures showed between the branches of a fir tree, and a little skater twirled on a glass lake. He could see why the kids were fascinated. The scene came straight from a fairy tale. Magic. Geez. Just his kind of case. He'd go in, take a quick look, and get out. For Ray, he'd check out the situation, but he wasn't committing to anything.
Sugar and spice and everything nice. The old nursery rhyme came back to him as he entered the shop and inhaled the tang of fresh evergreens mingled with...cinnamon? It could have been worseat least some of the trees were real. He sniffed again. Apple cider? Drawn by the scent, he followed his nose.
The aisles meandered through the store like paths in a forest—nothing square or aligned. He recognized Mary, a tall, elegant woman in a loose, African-patterned dress, from several years ago. She stood chatting with a young couple beside an electric train display. He stayed out of her line of sight, hiding behind a tree decorated with ribbons and dead flowers. "Dried" was probably the politically correct description he decided, stifling a sneeze.
Riley worked his way toward the rear of the shop until, over the lilting strains of "Greensleeves," he heard a woman say, "You can have a cup of cider if you sit quietly and listen to the story."
He recognized Claire's voice from the phone. Peering around a six-foot-tall gingerbread house, he saw several children, all clutching small paper cups, sitting on a rug in front of a cozy fake fireplace. When she pressed a button on an old tape player, starting "The Night before Christmas," the children sat spellbound.
Through the branches of a tree, he studied her. Wavy, nut-brown hair in a loose knot on top of her head, almost a Gibson girl style, emphasized her gentle, somewhat old-fashioned look. The knot listed to the left and a few strands hung loose. Must be a bad day—that he could understand. The woman fit the voice. If this represented Claire Spencer's life, maybe she'd magnified a common robbery into an attack by a stalker to add a little excitement. She could have done the doll too, just to jack up the stakes.
He didn't expect to like her, and he was damn sure she wouldn't like him.
Then one kid pushed another, and a shoving match began. The ladylike Miss Spencer surprised him with the no-nonsense tone of a nun. "Boys! Sit down and behave. You know the rules." She turned toward Riley and smiled. "Two strikes and you're out."
Busted. He nodded and turned away, pretending to examine the contents of a basket.
"May I help you find something?" She appeared at his elbow, wearing a solemn expression.
"Uh, yes. I'm trying to find something for my nephew." He looked down at her. Clear ivory skin with a hint of pink in her cheeks, eyes like a bright October sky. Although she wasn't classically beautiful, her coloring would have made Botticelli weep. If he were a portrait painter....
"Interesting choice," she said.
In the subdued lighting he couldn't be sure, but he thought those cerulean eyes held a twinkle. He glanced down to see his "choice," a basket of pearly pink ornaments. Super sleuth strikes again. "I'll take three of thesefor his mother. She likes pink."
After paying for the useless stuff, he made a hasty retreat. Safely outside in the cold, he checked his watch. Five twenty. Time enough for coffee after a quick tour to check the rear access to Mistletoe. Resigned, he reminded himself he owed Ray. He would do it for Ray.
Want to read more? Follow the link to Amazon.


Polly Iyer said...

This is a chance to read a good book FOR FREE. And it is a good book.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Cold Comfort for FREE? GET IT NOW.

I loved this book, in fact the location is now on my travel list, and I want to go at Christmas time! I was that hooked.

But it's much more than location, it's great characters and an intriguing plot.

Grab it as a Christmas present to yourself, then you'll be hooked and Ellis' other books will be on top of your TBR list.

Ellis Vidler said...

Thanks, Polly and Leslie.

Willamsburg is beautiful, especially if you catch it at Christmas in the snow. I want to go back.

laura thomas said...

I loved this scene. I loved the book! Now everyone has a chance to love it!

Merry Christmas Ellis:)

Ellis Vidler said...

Thank you, Laura. :-) Now I'm really smiling!

laura thomas said...

Hey Ellis. Did a quick post to promo your Amazon free download.