A huge welcome to Harley Easton! Harley writes erotic and speculative fiction. You can find out more about her here > along with her books.
I am unequivocally not an outdoor person. I burn instantly in the sun, attract mosquitoes like I’m the only viable food source in 500 miles, and have always wondered why campers like to forgo indoor plumbing. Still, some of my best memories of summer involve a lakeside cabin and a quirky town in Northern Minnesota.
Summer vacations in my family usually included an extended car trip. Late in July we would begin the 10 hour trek through Wisconsin, along Lake Superior, and up to the Gunflint Trail. The car always had 60s and 70s music, air conditioning set to subarctic, and a basket of snacks wedged in the backseat. Stops were made in favorite locations—a taffy apple shop in Wisconsin Dells, the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, various waterfalls that dot MN-69 North—to keep everyone from getting grumpy. We would roll into Grand Marais, Minnesota just when we couldn’t stand the car anymore.
Intentional or not, my parents timed our travels so we arrived late in the morning. It was roughly an hour from Grand Marais to the cabin they rented on the Gunflint Trail, a narrow road between 60-foot tall near-impenetrable walls of timber. My sister and I would endure the car time quietly if we roamed the tiny spit of a town and its harbor first.
Sven and Ole's, a Norwegian named dive pizza place, was a required stop. The gooey slice was followed by a trip to the five and dime, a novelty for 90’s city kids, before we reached the Beaver House. The squat building had a gape-mouthed, milky-eyed northern pike slicing through the roof and out of the right wall. Proudly established by the Cronberg family in 1964, or so the awning says, it’s where dad always purchased the fishing licenses we’d need to float on the lake with him in a tin-can of a boat. Whoever stayed behind spent hours cooking favorite family recipes with mom.
Before we grabbed groceries for the week, we’d stop at the harbor. Artist’s Point is known as a perfect place to paint the moods of Lake Superior. My sister and I just liked running across the rocks and feeling the spray on our faces. To the right of the parking lot was a long sea wall that protected the yachts in the marina and lead to a small lighthouse that ushered them home. The base of the walkway was a pock-marked rock slab that ended in a pebbly beach. The rocks were worn smooth by Superior’s waves and we’d often find them precariously balanced in small sculptures left by earlier visitors. My sister and I preferred to skip the ones we found across the water.
To the left of the parking lot, trees anchored themselves on the rock formation. Even in July we’d wrap ourselves in jackets, leaning into the wind to feel like we were flying. On calm days we’d dip our toes in the frigid water. When the waves were rough, we’d pick our way over the rocks to a deep fissure that split Artist Point. There was a path hidden in the trees, but it was more fun to climb, giggling and exploring.
As afternoon rolled on to dusk, we’d be pulled away from the harbor and back into the car to drive toward a week of fishing, cooking, and board games. It’s the closest I ever expect to be to liking camping. Something about it being the four of us always made Grand Marais always seem like the perfect vacation spot.
See what Harley is working on at www.harleyeaston.com
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Summer Fair: An Anthology
Summer festivals bring the aroma of popcorn, the excitement of rides, and the promise of real-life enchantment. Seven authors bring you original love stories, each set at a different summer celebration. You’ll experience the thrill of the Chicago World’s fair through the eyes of a plucky girl reporter and the quiet desperation of a teen working a summer job at a traveling carnival. Get whisked away on romantic journeys around the world from a sweet Texas Dewberry Festival to a lantern-filled temple celebration to a surprisingly rowdy New England Founders Day. Whether it’s the magic of a Renaissance Fair, the excitement of a Theater Retreat, or the pulse of a Music Festival, you’re sure to get geared up for all things summer with this delightful new collection.
Excerpt of The Storyteller's Side by Harley Easton from Summer Fair
“At his core, the Glanconer is a seducer.” As he said this, the corner of the storyteller’s eyes crinkled almost imperceptibly.
Edie wondered what it was about this story he disliked and why he continued to tell it if it pained him. “He bewitches maidens with a passion that is all-consuming.”
The words whipped the audience up, causing sighs, smiles, and nervous giggles. The two goth girls looked uncharacteristically giddy. Edie rolled her eyes and grinned. Giggly, bubbly, goths. One more thing I wasn’t expecting to see today. Only at the fair, I guess.
“The depth of his affection is so fierce, it captivates.” The elf began a dance-like walk around and through his admirers. He flirted with the ladies but spun his lithe form away before touching them. Their husbands and boyfriends he clapped on the back in a conspiratorial way.
Her fingers tugging the pendant back and forth on its chain and her eyes glancing once more at her watch, Edie decided she’d better get back to work. She pushed away from her tree at the same time the storyteller broke a gap in the circle of listeners and grabbed her hand. He began walking backward, drawing her into the center of the audience, which closed the gap behind her, leaving her feeling trapped.
“Once he has drawn her in, he will woo her.”
The elf released her hands as he kneeled before her in a courtly gesture. Edie both wanted to flee and found herself reassured by his dark, sparkling eyes.
“He will love her more deeply than she has ever been loved. He will lift her to unimaginable heights, inspiring greatness in her, for she will be his goddess.” Ever so slowly, the elf rose to his feet, still gazing at Edie. “For a time. But he will leave her.”
“What if she leaves him?” Edie blurted out, eliciting a few surprised laughs from the crowd.
The storyteller eyed her with intensity. “That is how one bests a trickster,” he whispered, lifting her hand to his lips and gracing her skin with a kiss. “By not caring.”