Think Scrooge had it bad? Simon Castle has to be in Las Vegas by Christmas morning or he'll miss the chance of a lifetime...or will he?
Heat level: mild.
Note from Melinda: When Brenda, Anna & I first started talking about writing a collection of holiday stories, we decided the lessons learned from Dickens "A Christmas Carol" would provide interesting themes for this project. My hero, Simon Castle, is a modern day Scrooge who just needs someone to show him the true meaning of Christmas present...
"Did I hear you say, bah, humbug?" his driver countered, but she was grinning.
Hell, she was probably ecstatic that she was about to strand Simon at the airport when he needed to get to Las Vegas on Christmas. The satisfaction he'd experienced when he'd been invited to the exclusive Las Vegas meeting spun into a tight knot of frustration between his shoulder blades. He'd do anything to get to Vegas in time. Think. Think. Everybody had a price. He'd risk everything for this. He'd wager... "Five thousand dollars!"
"Excuse me." She spared him a surprised glance in the rearview mirror. "That must be some meeting."
"It is. I'll give you five thousand dollars," Simon repeated at a more civilized volume. "Cash."
"Oh, boy." She shook her head and gave a little laugh as if she couldn't believe she was going to make five thousand dollars in less than twenty-four hours. "Okay. I'll drive you to Las Vegas for Christmas, but you'll have to put up with my holiday cheer."
Simon's lip twitched, as if he wanted to smile. He clamped down the reaction. He didn't have time for the holiday or to smile, not when there was money to be made.
The Story Behind the Story
Anna Adams, Brenda Novak and I have been friends a long time. We decided to pitch a Christmas novella idea to Superromance. Our theme was Scrooge: the lessons to be learned from the past, present and future.
Brenda had the idea to set each story in Virginia City, Nevada. Before this, my only association with Virginia City was my husband's fascination with the old Western series - Bonanza. In fact, there used to be a Bonanza Ranch at Lake Tahoe, which had some of the old sets, shoot outs and pony rides. (Yep, my dh took me there.)
My story (ghost of the present) started in Reno. My hero was Scrooge (Simon) - intent on making a meeting in Las Vegas on Christmas morning. His limo driver was my heroine, who had promised her family she'd help deliver gifts around Virginia City on Christmas Eve - the timing of which would make it very hard to arrive in Vegas on Christmas morning.
The story was only about 100 pages long and I remember being flumoxed at the end of it. Why? I was so used to writing a happy ending/marriage proposal and yet it didn't feel as if someone could get married after just half a day together. Luckily, my editor came up with a solution.
Cover buzz: When asked to submit ideas for this cover, I sent in a .jpg of Christmas is...Percy Faith. That album cover represented to me visually what the holiday is all about. I like to think the Christmas tree behind the baby has some of those elements.