I'm delighted to have Natalie-Nicole here today. She has a wonderful new novel and is offering a sneak peek. She's also hosting a contest! Woot!
More on that later, for now, here's Natalie-Nicole...
It’s Christmas time, and Eriah Jameson has returned home to restart his family’s business. Due to his wild child past, no one is friendly or welcoming to Barrow Haven’s black sheep.
Aylin Myers lost her job when Eriah’s father took ill. She knows Eriah needs her help getting his business up and running again, but she doesn’t trust him. If he fails, she knows it will dishonor his father’s memory. And Aylin knows that at Christmas, it’s the right thing to help your fellow man—no matter how wretched he might be.
As Aylin gets to know Eriah, she sees a side of him Barrow Haven never saw. That perhaps the black sheep has changed for the better. Still, can she be sure this side of Eriah is real, and not just a facade he’s perfected over time to get his own way?
It wasn’t as though she had any place better to be during the Christmas holidays.
Aylin Myers enjoyed her quiet existence in her own little world, pouring candles and crafting perfumed oils from the privacy of her own home. But the need for an automobile forced her out into the cold.
Her little business exploded overnight, and she desperately needed a car to make deliveries to bespoke little shops all around, and outside of the city.
The yearly Barrow Haven Christmas Market attracted thousands of eager, last-minute holiday shoppers over one day. It was the perfect way to make a few quick dollars. Combined with the money she’d saved, buying a used car that would get her from place to place, was now within reach—If her handcrafted candles and perfume were a hit with the shoppers.
With perfume titles like ‘Funeral Flowers’ and ‘Garden of Graves,’ her dark wares might scare off the happy holiday crowds looking for cheap, handmade, feel-good gifts for their friends, work acquaintances, and of course, their loved ones.
The December weather was extremely wicked this year. Standing with only the shelter of an open market stall, on an early Saturday morning, caused Aylin to once again in her mind justify being outside in below freezing temperatures.
She’d arrived early, and made the stall as festive as possible, to attract potential buyers. She wound strings of brightly-colored fairy lights around the support poles of the shelter, and hung a pine wreath decorated with antique glass baubles. She bought bunches of fresh mistletoe and holly berries from a vendor, and hung it from the support beams.
Carefully, she laid out her assortment of candles. Some from Victorian era molds, she procured by scavenging antique stores, flea markets, and garage sales. She took the inspiration for the names for her gothic scented perfumed oils from her experiences working as a cleaner at a local funeral home, for several years after her sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately, the funeral home went out of business when the owner took ill, and subsequently passed away. It was then she created Aylin’s Dark Desires.
Behind her, she displayed her treasured antique photograph collection of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and cabinet cards. The collection encompassed the time from the Civil War era until early twentieth century. Several of the photos depicted homes and businesses in Barrow Haven. Maybe the Christmas shoppers might appreciate a little hometown nostalgia.
By ten that morning, the market was alive with holiday shoppers. Christmas carols blared over a loudspeaker, and snowflakes filled the air. To her delight, business was brisk, and by lunchtime, she’d sold half her stock. By two, she was nearly depleted, and ready to call it a day. She began to pack up two broken candles she could melt down to make new ones at a later date.
“Don’t I know you?”
Aylin looked up at the sound of the unfamiliar masculine voice.
The black sheep of Barrow Haven was back in town.
*** CONTEST ALERT *** CONTEST ALERT *** CONTEST ALERT ***
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.
Visit Natalie-Nicole Bates Online!