The holidays are such a strange and sometimes wonderful time. I have had a range of fabulous and horrible Christmases as I’m sure you, readers, have as well. It’s an emotional time. The time we love to hate. We love being with loved ones, partying, and gift giving, but the crowds, the traffic, the expense, and the drama—NO THANK YOU! Heaven forbid you experience some tragedy during the holidays, it amps up all the stress 1,000 percent!
So where do you escape? Holiday Romance of course!
Although my recent holidays have been mostly good experiences, around this time I always think of my most memorable but traumatic Christmas when I was seventeen. I was going to high school in California at the time, but for Winter Break, we visited my grandparents in Colorado.
It was magical, stepping out of the airport to a snowy winter wonderland, especially when we had flown in from San Francisco torrential rains. Snowbanks, real snowmen, snowball fights, these were all memories from my childhood that came flooding back as we drove to my grandparents’ house.
My grandparent’s house was always a warm and inviting place around the holidays, with smiles all around and the smell of baking pie. A real Christmas tree, filling the house with that fresh pine smell, was decorated with a smattering of antique ornaments that were either hand-made or bought before anyone knew what Black Friday was. Their front room curtain was weighed down with dozens of pinned Christmas cards sent from around the country to express love to good old Gram and Grandpa.
And this house wasn’t like yours or mine. It was an ancient place, just like its residents. Still on a dirt road, bordered by giant Cottonwood trees, the house used to be a general store. My grandparents bought it around 1957 and converted the forgotten haunt into a happy home for my mother and her four siblings to grow up in. In turn, their grandkids (and incidentally a large portion of kids from the neighborhood) spent many happy times there. I remember selling crafts on the porch in the summer for ten cents, which were inevitably bought by Grandpa after a morning of no customers coming down the little-known street. I remember building airplanes out of scrap wood in my grandpa’s detachable garage, making mud pies with “cherries” which were really rounded pebbles of red-orange sandstone, and family picnics in the yard by Gram’s dozen rose bushes.
But that year, no one was smiling. There wasn’t a pie baking and no one felt like celebrating. Why? Grandpa was sick. He was 89, suffering from emphysema, and had heart issues that weren’t going to get better. He was the smaller twin who wasn’t supposed to live a week out of the hospital, the runt who’d been sent home in a shoe box with the comment, “Well, if he doesn’t survive, you can bury him in it.” He’d survived and gone on to have five children, dozens of grandchildren, and be the most beloved man in the eyes of so many, the counting would rival Santa’s list.
We spent the holidays in the ICU, fighting with doctors, crying on each other’s shoulders, and wondering what we’d do without such an awesome man in our lives. As a seventeen-year-old never having dealt with death before, but trying to stay strong for my family, I had no idea how to deal with my grief. I started writing. Not about how I felt, or the loss of grandpa, which I couldn’t face and could hardly speak about with bursting into tears, but just a story. A story that would let me escape without leaving the ICU.
It was a love story that became my first real novel, Sweet Dreams. Even though I didn’t even know I would be a writer back then, the story of Victoria and Rob pulled me out of a dark time in my life and turned those feelings of loss into hope.
Victoria Knox is a poor student who dreams of nothing but becoming a singer. Dating is the last thing on her mind when she accidentally bumps into Rob in an airport gift shop on Christmas day. Instant attraction draws them to one another, despite their different lifestyles. Looking as if he stepped out of a GQ ad, Rob exudes high class and money. Victoria is convinced he is too good for her, but Rob is immediately attracted to how she freely shares her innocently opinionated views. He likes her down to earth personality—such a breath of fresh air compared to the gold digging socialites he is normally plagued with.
I hope this excerpt will brighten your Christmas season and if you are going through something traumatic, know that you are not alone. This is the best time to let your mind escape into a world where live can be full of romance. If your life isn’t going quite as planned, or you are just overwhelmed by the holiday stress, I think a nice warm cuddle and a holiday romance is in order! You deserve it.
“Oh my god! I’m sorry!” she exclaimed, bending down to pick up her magazine.
“It was my fault entirely,” said a voice from above her.
Victoria looked up and saw the most gorgeous man with beautiful blue eyes. His blonde hair rested on his shoulders and his smile made her melt. Victoria’s breath left her body as she gazed at him, her heart beating fast. Never had she seen anyone in real life so handsome. A few seconds later, she realized she should reply.
“No. I should’ve been watching. I… I got this magazine and wasn’t paying attention.” She couldn’t help but stare.
“I don’t blame you. I couldn’t put it down myself. It has an excellent article on Louis Armstrong.”
“Really? I love Louis!” she said, excited that they had something in common. A period of silence ensued, only broken by another loud speaker announcement that woke her from staring.
Once again ladies and gentlemen, United Airlines, flight 816 to Los Angeles and Chicago is now boarding at gate seventy-one.
“Oh, I guess I better go. I’ve been gone for a while and my mom is probably worried.” Victoria cursed herself for mentioning her mother. The attractive gentleman standing before her was obviously older than her and the last thing she wanted to do was look like a child.
“Yeah, I have to go too. My flight leaves soon. If it’s on time.” He laughed.
Victoria giggled, feeling her cheeks turn hot. She wanted to ask his name, phone number, address, social security number, and next of kin. In the end, she chickened out.
“Nice meeting you,” she said. Pulling her gaze from him, she turned to go. Her heart raced and she wanted to turn back, but she knew that would be foolish. Definitely a businessman, he would never be interested in her.
Follow the story of Rob, Victoria, and their friends at sweetdreamsnovel.com where you can read excerpts, listen to free chapters, and visit the EXTRAS area with sketches, maps, and games.
Emmy Z. Madrigal is the author of the Regency novella, Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe. Her previous works include the Sweet Dreams Musical Romance Series and the novelettes Anime Girl and Anime Girl 2. Emmy has been praised for her realistic portrayal of modern female characters and their will to survive in a world of adversity, prejudice, and economic hardship.