Have you ever read a contemporary Christmas fairy tale before? There's always a first time.
At Christmas, Laura Fleming lived her fantasy adventure. Paid to house-sit for the fabulously wealthy financier, C.W. Banley, while he traveled, she eagerly headed for New York City. As mistress of his elegant townhouse, she baked cookies and dressed the old gent’s richly-furnished residence for the holidays.
As December rolled around, the lonely, lovely writer eagerly anticipated soaking up the Christmas atmosphere in the grand city. With only the cat for company, she’d turn Banley’s elegant home into a wonderland of sparkling lights, fragrant garland, and shiny tinsel.
Every year, she wished, in vain, for a happy ending. Will this be the year that Miss Fleming discovers her dreams can come true, even in a big city, like New York?
A sweet, New York City Christmas Fairy Tale.
Here's an excerpt:
Laura Fleming’s pulse kicked up as the bus approached the Lincoln Tunnel. Something magical happened whenever she crossed over from upstate onto Manhattan Island. And, it being a week before Christmas only made it more fantastic.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal was as bloated with people as usual. Mr. C. W. Banley had arranged for a car to pick her up. She was the hired help—the house-sitter, paid to keep his majestic townhouse occupied and to care for his cat while he traveled on business over the holidays.
This was Laura’s third year house-sitting for C.W., as she affectionately referred to him—but never to his face. In fact, she’d never met him. What mattered was her chance to step into the ultimate Christmas fantasy, occupying a grand townhouse on West 81st Street for three delicious weeks.
A man in a livery outfit stood on the crowded sidewalk, holding a sign that read Laura Fleming. She approached him, vouched for her identity, and slid into the comfortable vehicle. He closed the door, and they were off, wending their way through the dense, holiday traffic.
“First time in the City?” he asked, while they waited at a stop light.
“Oh, no. I’ve been coming during the holidays for several years.”
“It’s a beautiful, if crowded, time to be here.”
“I love it. I live in the country. During the winter, I get cabin fever with all the snow and ice.”
“You own a place here too?”
She laughed, her light brown hair swinging with the motion. “Oh, no. I could never afford that. I’m the house-sitter.”
“Now that’s a great gig!”
“You bet it is,” she agreed.
Laura looked out the window as the chauffeur maneuvered his way through congested Amsterdam Avenue. All the restaurants, and even the delis, had strings of Christmas lights. She raised her gaze to the apartment buildings and spied many with holiday decorations or elaborately decorated trees in the windows.
He pulled up to the gorgeous, Neo-Renaissance townhouse. The driver set her small suitcase on the sidewalk. He refused a tip, saying he’d already been paid, then handed her a sealed envelope. Laura gazed at the beautiful, cream-colored building with windows lined in black. A large, circular, black, wrought iron staircase beckoned her.
The winter sky turned teal blue as the sun set. She climbed the steps to the carved, wooden door. A wreath of evergreens, red berries, and pine cones hung there, welcoming her. The sharp wind penetrated her coat, making her shiver. She ripped open the envelope and retrieved the front door key. She smiled. Mr. Banley was a bear about security and would never leave a key under a mat. Eager to get to the antique pot of hot chocolate
Maeve, the housekeeper, always left for her on the little wooden table by the fireplace in the study, Laura wondered if there would be a chocolate croissant, or a cookie, waiting too. She licked her lips as she crossed the threshold into luxury she could only dream about.
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