Starlight and Tinsel

A Fortune Bay Christmas novella.

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One year ago, Star’s van, her childhood home and only inheritance from her mother, broke down in Fortune Bay. In case her mother’s hand had guided her there, she decided to stay for a while. She’d gotten a job in the café but that certainly wasn’t any reason to stay. And although everyone was very nice, there was no one really—special.

But now she was excited to be moving into the Murphy’s cabin. Everyone who lived there seemed to find their happily-ever-after, even if it wasn’t always exactly what they’d thought it would be.

Harry Brewster had kept his old buddy Marshall’s band on the road for 20 years. The life was getting old, and he was happy to settle down, but did it have to be in the middle of nowhere? Did it have to be in Fortune Bay?

He’d never been the one in the band to get the girls, and although there had been a few women in his life over the years, there had never been anyone like Star. She was the yin to his yang and just might be the one to help this bottled-up business man slow down and smell the incense.

Read the first scene from Starlight and Tinsel now:

Chapter 1

Star packed the last heavy box into her old VW van and slid the side door shut. She and her mom had named it Eden because of the painting of Adam and Eve, in all their naked glory, on the side. Her mother had left Eden to her when she died, and in a strange way Star felt that through the beat-up old van, they were still connected. Like her mother was watching out for her from the other side, guiding her journey.

So, when Eden conked out a year ago to the day, right here in this workshop parking lot where there just happened to be a tiny apartment waiting for her, well, she felt it was meant to be.

A snowflake tingled on her nose. It had been snowing the night Eden had brought her to Fortune Bay, too. That dark blowy night, she’d thought Blue’s workshop was still a gas station, as indeed it had been years ago when the mill was running and Fortune Bay was a thriving sawmill town.  It was cold that night too, when her van had puffed its final breath.

Star knew serendipity when she saw it and had thought, for a while at least, that Blue might be the one. The reason she’d been led to Fortune Bay. But then Louise came back to town and in a flash, Star saw that he wasn’t the one. Not her one, anyway. She still wasn’t sure just why she’d landed here, but there must be a reason. She’d stay until she figured it out, then she and Eden would hit the road again.

She waited by the van, tugging her rainbow leg warmers up over her knees and pulling the fingers of her convertible mittens over her finger tips. Such a great idea, these knit mittens with the finger tip pouch that you could pull off, but that stayed attached to the gloves until you needed them. More trouble to knit, but definitely worth the effort. She was sure they’d be a hit at the Fortune Bay Christmas craft show later this month.

Stamping her feet to keep the blood circulating, she tucked her hands under her arms to hold in the warmth. She was kind of sorry to be leaving the old Station. Her friend and landlord Blue still worked in the attached garage bays that he’d converted into a woodworking shop and, although quiet, Blue was a nice guy and they had a relaxed relationship. He’d turned the old office and convenience store into a small—very small—apartment years ago, but the cabin she was moving to today was bigger and hopefully warmer. She was surprised by the excitement she felt to be moving there. She usually only felt this kind of rush when she was moving on to another town. Obviously, she wasn’t finished with Fortune Bay yet.

A tow truck pulled into the lot. Star waved to the driver and Lorne lifted a hand in reply. He backed the truck up to the van, climbed out of the cab and loosened the big hook.

“I could fix this, you know. You could pay me a bit at a time.” He cast a glance in her direction. “We could work something out.”

Lorne was nice, but he was still a guy, and she had an idea what the terms of that deal might be. A regular at the café where she worked, she knew he was divorced and lonely. “Thanks, Lorne, but I think I’ll wait. I’ll have the money together soon.”

“Okay then. Put ‘er in neutral.”

Star climbed into Eden, shifted into neutral, eased off the brake and hopped out of the van. The winch on the tow truck groaned and creaked as the Eden’s front end lifted off the ground.

“Hop in,” Lorne said as he climbed back into the cab of the truck.

Sure, hop in, she thought as sheclambered up—way up—into the cab. These things weren’t built for someone like her, someone who was five foot two. Okay, five foot one, but claiming that extra inch did wonders for her self-esteem.

The tow truck rumbled to life and started the slow drive through Fortune Bay: past the four streets of little crayon-colored houses that had been built by the mill long ago for its workers, past the park and the Hall, past the general store and the café where she worked, across the bridge and out of town. Her town. She’d been here for a year and it was beginning to feel like her town. Weird.

“How you going to get to work?” Lorne asked, eyes on the road.

“It’s not that far. I’ll figure out something.”

He was right, though. The cabin was farther from the store and café than Blue’s workshop had been, and the weather was getting steadily worse. But still, it was only about a mile. Except in the worst weather, she could probably hike it. The walk would do her good. Or hitch. In a town like Fortune Bay, odds were she’d know everyone who’d drive by. That was the upside of working at the café—even though she’d only lived here for a year, she knew everyone in town.

The downside was, well, working at the café. It was the longest she’d ever stuck to one job, and slinging breakfasts and burgers was not on her top ten list of dream jobs. But there wasn’t a lot of choice in a town of less than a thousand souls—and even that was up from nine hundred since the resort opened last spring. New people were flooding into town, and that was kind of exciting to watch happen. Almost made her feel like a local.  

The road followed the shore of Majestic Lake, and here and there she caught glimpses of the dark stormy water through the trees. The snow started coming down more insistently, wet flakes splatting against the windshield as they passed the old log farmhouse set back from the road. Then they turned down the dark, tree-shrouded lane to the cabin, Lorne easing the van carefully over the pot holes in the dirt road. Big flakes the size of nickels hit the windscreen and created a lacy coating of snow on the fir branches that met overhead.

At the sight of the building, she felt excitement stir in the air. Star had always felt the cabin was a special place, had felt it when she’d visited her friend Lily there and, before that, Louise.  She couldn’t help noticing that, as if enchanted, everyone who lived in the cabin seemed to find their happily-ever-after. Not always exactly what they were expecting, but, in the end, just what they wanted.

The thought that it might be her turn both scared and excited her. She just hoped she didn’t do something stupid to break the spell now that she was living here. And she could—she knew she could—without even trying. Her life never seemed to be entirely under her control, but she’d learned long ago to put a smile on her face and make the best of it. She was alive, healthy, and still young. Anything could happen.

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Merry Christmas!