Claustrophobic Christmas by Jody Wallace writing as Ellie Marvel
Grab a blanket and snuggle with this new novella coming from Samhain Publishing November 29. But be warned! You'll warm up soon enough. While the story starts off with a snowstorm and a great sense of the cold--and I know cold!--it quickly heats up when travel writer Darcy Burkell gets stuck in a snowy traffic jam with photographer James Jones.
When Jody was writing Claustrophobic Christmas, she asked me, her official snow consultant, if I'd ever experienced a snowy traffic jam. In a town that has only two main streets, it isn't snow that gums up traffic, it's two cars meeting and stopping in the middle of the road to chat. That's a traffic jam in my corner of Alaska.
Here's a little taste of Jody's latest:
The bleak, grey sunset was swallowed by the ticking clock, and the snow grew heavier. Thirty minutes. She could no longer see asphalt. She twitched through the stations on the AM band again and again, hoping for better news. The more the snow coated her vehicle, the more it felt like a suffocating, metal coffin. An inch of white mounded on the car’s hood, but she kept those wipers going, those windows clear.
The cabin shrank smaller the longer she sat. Was it safe to get out? Where was her jacket? In back. She’d need it. The sweat suit was cozy but no protection against a…blizzard. Wind gusted the snow half down, half sideways.
Oh dear. She’d read about wilderness survival in her books, but that wasn’t the same as interstate survival. It wasn’t the same as being stuck in her car for hours.
No, she couldn’t think about hours, only minutes. In five minutes, if she was still here, which she wouldn’t be, she’d open the door and put her feet on the ground. Her butt grew numb as Novocain, and her nerves started twanging like bowstrings.
God, she hated small spaces. Cars, mostly. Other small spaces were easier to avoid. The AM station fuzzed on and off.
Darcy switched to holiday music, hoping the cheery bells would gird her loins to warn her family about her delay. She could hardly admit to herself she might be stuck here, in this itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow, candy-smelling car, because she’d ignored the Weather Channel, so how could she admit it to Pop?
The truck in front of her groaned and cranked. Its taillights and brakes flickered off with a long, exhausted hiss. All around her, vehicles followed his example, headlights disappearing from her rearview mirrors.
They were giving up? But they’d only been here a few minutes! They could break free any second. Darcy tap-tap-tapped the steering wheel, faster and faster, until she caved to peer pressure and flicked off her headlamps. It was probably a mistake. She needed to be ready. If they idled much longer, it could get nasty. It was cold out there, and getting colder. Snow covered the cars, the road, the fields. Was James stuck? She reached for her phone, charging in the console, to text him, but he might not welcome any personal back and forth.
When she heard a door slam, just as he’d predicted, she twisted around to see what was going on.
There were still enough headlights for her to make out the man from the SUV tugging a large, shaggy dog on a leash. They cut in front of her to the roadside. The human hunched miserably against the wind as the dog cavorted in the possibly record snowfall.
So many tires to pee on, so little time.
How fun is that? As always, Jody delivers a great story with charming characters, and she never fails to make me laugh.
So off you go! Preorder Claustrophobic Christmas or put it on your wishlist.
(Note: Photo by Colin Broug, Dec.9, 2010)