tyrone-mill_compI have the perfect story for this topic — life in the Haliburton Hills in central Ontario, in the fictional town of Porter’s Mills. This story will always have a special place in my heart because It’s got lots of elements from my own life — like how the mill is based on one just a few miles from where I live. (though it’s not nearly as fancy as Ryan’s refurbished his family’s mill.) And I finally got to write the way I talk — using my Canadianisms. (A loonie, for those who don’t know Canadian currency, is our one dollar coin — we don’t have dollar bills anymore.  We also have twonies (or toonies) which are our two dollar coins.)  As many small towns do, they have an annual Christmas party with Santa arriving, and the whole town turns out–Porter Mills’ party is of course held in the mill…

I Need You for Christmas
Copyright © 2012 by Leah Braemel

Megan woke to a strange grating and thumping outside. It took her a few minutes to recognize it as a snowplow’s blade against the parking lot concrete. An annoying beep beep beep as the truck reversed confirmed her conclusion. A check of the clock had her gasping and fumbling for her robe.

I Need You For Christmas120x189“Arrgh, that has to be the worst sound to wake up to.” Ryan shoved his head under the pillow.

“That and the screeching of someone scraping the ice off their windshield.” Meg snagged Ryan’s shirt from the floor. Once she felt her important bits were covered, she twitched the curtain aside to peer out the window. “At least it didn’t snow too much last night. There’s only about a foot on the deck. The pond is like this big white frosted cake—it’s so pretty.” She pulled the curtain farther aside. “Wow, there’s a huge buck at the far side. Must be at least a twelve pointer.”

“Hey, Nanook of the North, around these parts a foot is a lot of snow, especially the past couple of winters. And yeah, that buck’s been hanging around for a few years now. He’s almost tame because of the tourists.”

Ryan pounded the pillow on either side, trapping his head between it and the mattress. It only slightly muffled another groan. “Couldn’t they have at least waited until later? Who the hell needs to be out at this hour? I need more sleeeep.”

“Uh, Ryan? It’s almost noon. The Christmas party starts in an hour.”

“Aw crap, the kids’ party. I forgot that was today. All right, all right, I’m up,” he grumbled, though he rolled to sit up.

By the time Meg and Ryan made it to the mill, the floor vibrated with the bass from the local band Amy had hired, and every spot in the parking lot had been taken, the cars spilling onto the side of the road. “At least we’re not too late to watch Santa arrive.”

An unholy glimmer appeared in Ryan’s eyes, despite the dark circles beneath them. “I am so going to rib Derek about this.”

“…beautifully written…Truth be told, I cannot wait to read this book again.” ~ Alyson, SnifferWalk Books

“Leave him alone. If you don’t, I’ll volunteer you to be Santa next year.”

“Then I’ll buy us two tickets to the Virgin Islands. And Santa’s gonna wear board shorts and shave his beard.” He grinned until he pulled the door open and the noise of not only the music but of several dozen children’s shrieks shot to where-the-hell-are-my-ear-plugs level. “Holy crap, there have to be three dozen screaming rug rats in there.”

Amused at the look of horror on his face, Meg caught his arm before he could slam the door shut. “Uh-uh, you promised Amy you were going to help out today.”

She steered him past the coat rack, past the facepainting table and the He-shoots-He-scores loonie toss game. “I thought you liked kids.”

“I do. When they don’t need their diapers changed.” He cringed at one particularly ear-splitting shriek of joy from a little girl at the fishbowl game. “Why couldn’t they come with a volume control?”

“Tell me about it.” Ryan’s student Don faced them, Kevin beside him. “That’s my sister Katie. I swear I never want to have kids when I’m grown up. Not girls anyway. And Kev’s not too happy with Katie at the moment either—she dressed up our dog in my mother’s bra and freaked him out.”

Kevin promptly hid behind his brother, who rolled his eyes. “Hey twit, you know Mr. Porter. You don’t need to hide from him.”

“And you met Meg the other day, remember, Kevin?” Ryan hunkered down on his heels. So much for his claims not to like kids. “Did you know that Ms. Sullivan here is a Mountie?”

A pair of inquisitive blue eyes peered around Don’s leg. “What’s a Mountie?”

“You know what Mounties are, little dude,” his brother said. “We saw them when we visited Auntie Gloria and Uncle John in Ottawa, remember? The policemen who wore those bright red uniforms and rode their horses to music.”

Kevin peeked out again, still suspicious. “She’s not wearing a uniform. And she doesn’t have a horse.”

“I only wear my uniform when I’m on duty—and the red serge is only for special occasions.” And she’d never get on a horse, not even if someone pulled a gun on her.

“Are you going to arrest someone?”

“Nope.” Ryan held a finger to his lips. “Sssh, it’s a secret but she’s here as a special bodyguard to Santa. You see, Meg lives up by the North Pole and Santa’s her special friend.”

Kevin’s eyes goggled and his jaw dropped. “Have you ever been to Santa’s house? Does he really have elves? Are they little short people like in the cartoon or are they big like in that movie that Mommy loves watching where they shoot arrows at monsters and stuff?”

“My mom’s a big Lord of the Rings fan.” Don rolled his eyes.

Meg knelt beside Ryan. “I’ve never been to Santa’s house so I’ve never met his elves. For security reasons, the location is kept very secret. Even from me.”

That seemed to placate him, but it didn’t stop his curiosity. “Do you have polar bears up there? Is there snow and ice all the time? Even in July? Because it’s my birthday in July and we usually go swimming on my birthday. I wouldn’t like it if it snowed on my birthday. It snows on Mommy’s birthday—her birthday was last week. It didn’t snow on her birthday this year but we still couldn’t go swimming. Would your gun stop a polar bear if it attacked you? Have you ever been attacked by a polar bear?”

Meg’s head reeled trying to keep up with his switch of subjects. Thankfully his brother led the chatterbox off by the hand in search of their mother.

Laughter twinkled in Ryan’s eyes. “You’d tell me if Legolas lived up there, right?”

“You’ll never let me live down that comment about Orlando Bloom being cute, will you?”

*HARLEQUIN COVER ART: Cover Art Copyright© 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. © and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

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Don’t forget to visit the other Snippet Saturday participants:

Lauren Dane
Shelli Stevens
Jody Wallace
Caris Roane
Eliza Gayle
Lissa Matthews
Mandy M. Roth
McKenna Jeffries
Shiloh Walker
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
TJ Michaels
Myla Jackson

Snippet Saturday: Life in a Northern Town