PG Forte: I'm working on a new Christmas story (as part of an anthology that will release on December 7--so I need to finish it quick!) that I'm super excited about, even though calling it a romance is kind of a stretch. It's an idea I've had for a really long time, a play on the "It's a Wonderful Life" trope. Here's the (unedited--obviously) opening scene:
It’s your typical late December day in the City of Angels where, despite the music blasting from the car’s speakers, it is not beginning to look a lot like Christmas. As the musical marathon continues, one classic carol segueing seamlessly into the next, I feel a holiday headache coming on. “Isn’t there any other music we could listen to?”
Larry Mitchell, my agent and friend, shifts his attention away from the traffic clogging the 405 long enough to grin at me from beneath the brim of his seizure-inducing, red and green sequined ball cap, the one with the blinking LED lights that spell out HO-HO-HO! across the front. “C’mon, Scout. Where’s your holiday spirit?”
“What holiday spirit,” I’d like to know. “When have you ever known me to get all holly-jolly just because the calendar’s down to a single page?”
Larry sighs in reluctant agreement. “Never.”
“Exactly.” It’s not that I’m anti-Christmas, but…well, no, actually. I guess I am. And, unlike the grinch, I do know the reason. Everyone’s expectations are too high. I was just a kid when I realized that “merry” was not a guarantee. It’s a wish, a prayer and, far too often, a forlorn hope. The last few years have been wonderful, but I know how fast that can change. Christmas is the time I feel that most intensely.
“I guess I hoped things would be different now,” Larry says. “I thought moving to Oberon and finding your happily ever after would’ve made you…happy?”
“I’m happy!” Of course, I am. I’m living the dream. But there’s a reason Christmas Future was the spirit Scrooge feared most. Happy ever after is a long shot at the best of times. “Just because I don’t dress up in silly outfits or…” Shit. Too late I notice the self-conscious look on Larry’s face. Does he think I’m talking about him?
“Is that the time?” I ask, in a desperate bid to change the subject. “Your clock didn’t stop, did it?”
“I don’t think so.” Larry casts a worried glance at the display screen, then his face clears, and he grins at me. “That would be funny, wouldn’t it?”
“No.” I glance uneasily at the traffic crawling far too slowly toward the airport. It’s two days before Christmas. If I don’t make my flight, there’s no guarantee I can get another. I promised my son that I’d be home in time to trim the tree. I can’t let him down. “Unless you think missing my flight is fun?” It’s a pretty popular trope in those holiday romcoms he’s so addicted to, so maybe he does?
But Larry is shaking his head. “No, Scout. It’s funny because it would be like George’s watch, you know?”
“No. Who’s George?”
“Ah, right.” Larry’s obsession with It’s a Wonderful Life is the stuff of legends. The movie forms the centerpiece of his annual Christmas party—like the one he hosted just last night, and insisted I attend. “You do realize that the most likely reason his watch stopped was because it got wet when he jumped into the river to save Clarence, right?”
“Oh, pffft. That’s just what George wanted to think. It started working just fine once Clarence returned him to his own life.”
“Because it had dried out by then.”
“What about Zuzu’s petals?”
“What about ’em? It’s a movie, Larry. The petals were a plot device—that’s all.
“It’s a film,” he insists. “A great film. And film is one of the lenses through which we view reality. Every detail is fraught with meaning.”
I’ve heard this before and I’m not convinced. “The story is ludicrous.” Now, there’s a movie quote, if you like, from a really great film. “Every person in the alternate Bedford Falls was living a sad, miserable existence just because George wasn’t there to prop them up? Who has that kind of power?”
“No man is an island, Scout. Every choice we make affects those around us.”
“Uh-huh. And you don’t find it strange that no one in the entire town could’ve chosen to be happy?”
“Old Man Potter was happy.”
“Yeah, and that’s another thing. That ending is seriously fucked up. Potter steals the deposit and gets away with it because everyone else sacrifices their life savings to make up the difference. They’re covering up a crime!”
“You’re totally missing the point of the story.”
“What’s the point; crime pays? I know what my husband—the cop—would have to say about that.”
“And what do you say about it, Princess?”
“The only thing any sensible person can say at this time of year: Bah humbug.”
Experience the magic of romance this Christmas.
Holiday Kisses is a festive collection of ten exclusive Christmas stories that will make you fall head over heels in love. Are you ready to take a journey with us? Get into the Christmas spirit with these swoon-worthy romances this holiday season.
Stories by: Adina D. Grey, Ann Grech, Maci Dillon, Rosie East, Samantha Baca , CJ McKnight, PG Forte, Andrea Marie, ️Holly J. Gill, and ️Lynn Stevens
Pre-order now: https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Kisses-Sweet-Christmassy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B09BD4V8V7