The Winter Story, Featured In A Tale For All Seasons
Note To Readers:
In the excerpt you’re about to read, Holly, the main character, has just completed a piece of commissioned art for a best-selling author.
The artwork? A portrait of a handsome, middle-aged man with soul-searing eyes. To Holly’s complete shock, just days later at an art gallery opening… THERE HE IS.
She meets the man she painted – IN THE FLESH!
Holly has never seen him before in real life, so she suspects something supernatural is going on.
Enjoy the read. ~ Jo Lynne
From Chapter 7…
“It’s something, Meghan. I know it. So get yourself home and I’m going inside to try and figure this out. When I do, you’ll be the first to know.”
To Holly’s great relief, Meghan had acquiesced. Merely nodded profusely like a bobble head, then turned to plod through the snow to her car.
In her apartment, Holly had unwrapped herself and left coat and boots on the floor where they fell. In the living room, barely lit because Holly did not like to waste one moment turning on the lights, she squinted to make out a Portland telephone number that had been scribbled into her address book in purple ink.
Barbara had written it there herself, the week before she’d moved, telling Holly that only one person was more eccentric than herself, and that was Holly. That if she didn’t write her new contact information into the address book, Barbara had said, it would surely never get written down.
The numbers were barely visible in the darkened room, but Holly could see well enough to know what buttons to push on the telephone. It was a week-day evening, but not late. Surely, Holly thought, Barbara would be home.
But it was an answering machine that received Holly’s call. Not very long afterward, however, Barbara phoned Holly back. Perhaps it was the urgency in her friend’s voice that prompted Barbara to call right away. Though when she did, the hour had grown late, almost to the point of slipping into morning.
No matter; Holly was barely asleep. Her state of consciousness hovered in the lightest realms of slumber. When the telephone beside her began to ring, she roused easily to answer it.
“Holly.” a voice said on the other end. “It’s late there. Are you awake?”
“Absolutely,” said Holly, and sat up without hesitation to begin telling, in run-on sentences, her tale.
Barbara listened intently, stopping Holly just once or twice to ask a question here, make an inquiry there. Finally, when Holly had no more words, Barbara took a deep breath and then said,
“Alright, Holly. You’re going to have to proceed carefully here. There is something pretty significant going on.”
What had dumbfounded Holly and Meghan, was like candy for Barbara. What may have left any other woman stupefied, jazzed Barbara beyond belief.
“This is big,” Barbara continued to Holly.
And then Barbara proceeded to attempt to explain all sorts of Divine influencing factors, using terms like soul group and higher self, before finally inquiring as to whether or not Holly knew David’s birthday.
When Holly asked, “Why?”
Barbara responded, “Man, I would kill to compare his Numerology with yours!”
But Holly did not know David’s birthday. She didn’t even know his favorite color or where he lived for that matter. What she did know however, remained the sole stand-out thought for her.
And that was, though many a man had attempted to reach her over the years, regardless of where she was – on the treadmill at her fitness club or in line for a latte at the coffee house – Holly had remained firmly shut down and uninterested.
But David… He had materialized first in her subconscious, then on her canvas. Of course meeting him by chance was not “chance” by any means; Holly knew that. Now, she had to find out what might come next. There was no other choice.
Barbara, on the other end of the phone, more than ten hours away in Portland, Oregon, knew it too.
“When the stars and spirits are in your favor, there is little one can do,” she told Holly.
“And clearly, that is the case here. What will come next, we wait to see. But there is incredible flow,” she said. “Clearly the man has been magnetized into your world.”
Her last words to Holly, “What are you going to wear?”
And then (On the way to Chapter 10)
Holly and David experience an incredible first date.
Holly reveals her darkest, most painful secret to him, and bares all from her past.
David in turn does the same, opening his heart to Holly for the first time in a long time.
Many things occur which neither of them could have imagined or expected. There is passion, there are tears, there is electric connection, there is…
SPOILER ALERT! Enough said.
Let’s fast forward to CHAPTER 10. Here’s PART of what happens the next morning. Just a little tid-bit. This story is not even half-way finished at this point.
And features an ending readers won’t see coming…
– From Phoenix Rising, Featured in A Tale For All Seasons, by Jo Lynne Valerie
There was no telling how much time had passed. There was light, but it was sparse. Holly had the feeling that she had lost time.
The sound of snow plows was close, maybe one street over. And from the kitchen came sounds of movement. Savory aromas wafted on the air. Holly sat up, swung her feet around. Rubbed her eyes and willed herself awake.
David, she thought. He’s still here.
She ventured out of her bedroom, slipped unseen into the bathroom. She forced herself to face her own appearance in the mirror. Not too bad, she thought. Still, she brushed her hair, twisted it up into a clip. Long bangs fell across her forehead, and she dotted moisturizer over her face, sheer lip-gloss onto her mouth.
She still wore no clothes beneath her dressing gown, but this she was able to remedy that by pulling a long emerald green night-gown of silk and velvet trim, over her head. The color, she knew, was striking with her deep auburn hair. As she walked up out of the bathroom and turned into the kitchen, she hoped her somewhat pulled-together appearance, was some kind of balm for the events of the night before.
David turned, and when he saw her, his face registered no surprise. He held a spatula in his hand. Something fragrant sizzled in a pan on the stove.
“Good morning, sleeping beauty,” he said, and crossed the floor to kiss her lightly.
There was a brief awkwardness between them, which David aptly broke by saying,
“Tough night.” His eyebrows were raised and he wore a small, wry smile.
“Yes, it was.” Holly agreed.
“But we’ve had tougher, right?” David smiled.
And then, “Do you like potato pancakes? Because it’s one of the few things I actually make well. I thought you might be hungry when you woke up, so I whipped up a batch just in case.”
Now it Holly’s turn to raise her eyebrows.
“Really.” she said. “Because I don’t think I have – er, had any potatoes.”
“Actually, you didn’t.” David smiled. “I went to the market.”
As though he were reading every question that immediately passed through Holly’s mind,
“Your keys were on the hall table, I hope you don’t mind.” he said. You were out like a light and… well, I thought you’d be hungry when you woke up…” David paused and laughed a bit, as though he’d grown suddenly nervous.
As if he was unsure of what her response would be.
“I really wanted to uh…”
David inhaled deeply and in that moment Holly knew that the ordeal had been just as hard on him as it had been on her, and that he was nothing but sincere.
“I really wanted to be here when you woke up.” David finished.
If Holly had been nervous herself, if she had harbored any doubts as to how David would view her after the ravaged night they shared, those doubts vanished completely.
“I love potato pancakes,” she said.
As though it was his own kitchen, David took a glass down from a cupboard, poured Holly some orange juice. He handed it to her and as she took a sip, he said,
“You know Holly… there was something I wanted to talk to you about,” he said. “Something I’ve been thinking of all day…” and then he glanced her way and amusement flickered in his eyes. Together, they could not help but break into a shared smile. All day… yes, she’d been sleeping all day! But before he could continue, Holly had to know something.
“Is this going to be one of those make-you-uncomfortable kind of things, this thing you’ve been thinking about all day?” Holly asked.
“Well, I don’t know… I hope not.” David began.
But a loud pop! from the living room interrupted them.
“Did you make a fire?” Holly asked.
“Uh, yeah.” David grinned. “I’ve sort of kept it going all day. I didn’t know when you were going to wake up, and I wanted…”
“…there to be a fire when I woke up?” Holly couldn’t help but tease.
“Alright, alright, so sue me for being romantic!” David teased back. “Come on, potato pancakes and a real wood fire is a great romantic combination!”
And in the span of a few moments the heaviness from just hours before all but evaporated. Their attraction felt real, electric. Alive. What David did not realize, however, was that Holly was particular about her fires.
“May I ask what wood you used?” Holly teased.
“The wood from the back porch, exactly the wood you mentioned!” David innocently replied.
“Ah, but surely you realize there are four separate kinds of wood out there.” Holly shot back.
“Four!” David exclaimed. “How would anyone know that? How different can they be from each other?” he asked.
“Well, how different can an Arctic wolf be from say… a grey wolf?” Holly retorted.
Then, so as not to lose any of the moment’s energy, “Let’s just go see that fire for ourselves, shall we?”
And with a quick turn, Holly stepped from the kitchen into the little hall that led across to the living room. There in her comfortable living room, a beautiful fire blazed on the hearth. Thick snow was falling outside, and all that seemed missing from the picture was a decorated pine tree, aglow with lights. And perhaps some garland for the mantle.
Holly stepped nearer the fire, bent and inhaled deeply.
“Ah…” she said. “Oak, mountain ash, to be sure…” Then she turned to peer at David from beneath raised brows. “Did you take wood from different piles?”
“Different piles?” David questioned. “I think I did, actually. Is that bad?” he asked.
But there was no tension in his voice, merely amusement and a sense of feeling very comfortable, as though he belonged.
“No, that’s actually pretty fabulous.” Holly replied. “It’s nice to mix woods. Each type of wood lends a very distinct aroma, which makes for a cozy room. And then there’s the little detail about what the mystics believed.”
Now David smiled with interested amusement. “And what would that be?”
Deciding to play the game a bit, and feeling as comfortable as David seemed to, Holly replied,
“Well, mystics, both past and present, actually believe that each variety of wood contains a different kind of energy.”
“I see.” said David, crossing to where Holly stood. He placed a hand on her bare shoulder, which was growing warm in the heat from the fire. “And so now we get to the heart of the matter…” he leaned in and slid his hand to her waist, drawing her a bit closer. “So tell me… what energy do we have today, with our oak and… what other kind of wood did you… smell?”
It was a playful moment. They both giggled a little. And it was good. Good to laugh, good to feel light again. The weight of the night with all its tears and pain had lifted at last, and Holly and David felt light and happy again.
“Well, I smelled – because yes, you can tell what kind of wood is burning by the aroma – oak and mountain ash.”
“I see.” said David. “And what can you tell me about the energy of those woods?”
“Are you teasing me?” Holly asked playfully. “Because if you’re teasing me, you can forget it, mister! I’m not going to tell you anything!”
And then suddenly, they were laughing again and the room felt wonderful and warm. He kissed her, and when it ended,
“Strength, prosperity… Protection and healing…” Holly whispered.
David’s arms wove about her as though they belonged there, one hand reaching up to loosen her hair. And then suddenly, as in a scene from a hokey romance movie, he swept her up and off her feet. Holly’s slight frame was easy to lift, and as David crossed the hall toward the French doors that led to her bedroom, Holly murmured into his neck,
“Did you turn off the gas on the potato pancakes?”
EXCERPTS: Chapters 7 and 10 from Phoenix Rising, featured in A Tale For All Seasons, by Award-Winning Author Jo Lynne Valerie
This material copyright 2009 by Nature’s Wisdom Media Corporation and XLibris Publishing House, registered with the Library of Congress and not available for reprint or use without the express permission of the author.
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