Tuesday Sampler: A Love & Murder Christmas by Edie Ramer


In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Tuesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from A Love & Murder Christmas, a chilling holiday thriller from Edie Ramer.

As one reviewer said: Author Edie Ramer is amazing at writing stories that from the beginning have you feeling so many profound emotions that give us as a reader the feeling the we are riding on one heck of an epic emotional rollercoaster! But no matter what at the end of the story you feel as if you had also been given a gift, something profoundly beautiful and genuine.

The Story

Good will to all, and peace on Earth. Even to those trying to kill you.

Adam Donahue lives in the perfect vacation place – Door County, Wisconsin. But his life isn’t perfect. His wife was killed by a drunk driver three years ago, and his twelve-year-old daughter has type one diabetes. Now his daughter claims a mythical pooka, in the shape of a giant cat only she can see, is living in her bedroom. It scares him enough to do something he hates – ask for help from his late wife’s best friend.

Lauren Finney’s insurance agent husband disappeared four and a half years ago. Good riddance. Her Irish wolfhound is better company than he ever was. And she misses her best friend more than the missing husband, though Adam – her best friend ‘s widower – makes her heart beat faster. Now it’s time to initiate divorce proceedings against her husband, before the prenup restrictions expire and he comes back to claim half her considerable assets.

As soon as she starts the proceedings, bad things happen. Very bad things.

Then Adam asks her help with his daughter, and good things happen. Very good things.

It might be their very best Christmas … or it might be their very last.

The Sampler

Edie Ramer
Edie Ramer

Lauren rang the bell of the two-story house in the smallish subdivision of medium-sized homes about a mile from the bay. Stepping back, she dropped her hand onto the neck of the tall and dignified Irish wolfhound at her side. The love of her life, she’d often thought.

Falco grounded her. And she needed grounding today. This wasn’t how she had planned to spend her Saturday morning, but when Adam Donahue had called her last night, she hadn’t been able to turn down his plea for help.

The door opened, and she stared into Adam’s blue eyes. Her heart twitched. Her breath sucked in. Her body heated.

The same chemical reactions she’d felt when she was seventeen and her best friend had introduced Lauren to her new boyfriend. A good-looking boy with an unexpectedly low voice—a country-singing man’s voice—had smiled at her, not even glancing down her stick-like figure, then dismissing her, the way most guys did.

Though her heart had beat faster, she had narrowed her eyes and told him she’d hoped he was good enough for Noelle. He’d laughed and slung his arm around her shoulders and said he would do his best.

She’d wanted to melt into a hormonal puddle.

She hadn’t, of course. Skin and bones didn’t melt because of an unwanted sexual attraction. Even at seventeen, she was practical enough to know that. Instead, she’d clung to her common sense and willpower.

And here it was, eighteen years later, and she still looked at him and wanted to melt.

Once again, she overcame it, annoyed by her body’s reaction. No wonder she hadn’t insisted on stopping by after he’d told her that he and Tori needed to learn how to function without her help. Except for feeling bad about Tori, she’d been glad he’d said that. Pretending to be unaffected by him was exhausting.

“So what’s this thing about my beautiful, perfect goddaughter?” she asked, making her tone brisk.

He laughed but there was no humor in it. His blue gaze lowered to Falco. “Come in. Both of you. Tori’s at a friend’s house now and probably won’t be back until dinner.”

Lauren made a face. “Tori’s that age already?”

“She reached that age two years ago. Almost a teenager and she knows everything.” He backed up and she and Falco stepped in.

Once in, she looked behind him. As if still expecting Noelle to dance in and hug her, then say in her laughing voice, It’s about time you came. What took you?

In her mind, she replied, My giant crush on your husband.

Stupid. And she tried to avoid stupid things, though doing stupid things was part of the human condition, like tail wags were part of the canine condition and hair balls were part of being feline. Putting her hand on Falco’s neck again, she looked down on him, and he looked up at her. She immediately relaxed.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Falco in their life.

“Falco’s a great dog,” he said, as if reading her thoughts.

“The best.” She looked up slightly. At five nine, she was about four inches shorter than Adam. Close enough to see clearly the jawline stubble of his golden-brown hair.

He was a man’s man. The kind she’d never dated. She’d always attracted the business type. Men like Paul, who’d wanted a brainy woman with strong opinions at his side.

At least, that’s what he’d told her when he’d proposed, and she’d believed him.

Which proved that even smart woman could do stupid things. Especially when the smart woman was harboring a burning desire to have children, and, on paper, this man had seemed the right choice.

Never trust paper. Trust your heart.

She glanced around, her mouth dropping open. Noelle. No, it couldn’t be.

Oddly, the sentence had ended with a purr.

“Something wrong?” Adam asked.

“My imagination is going crazy.”

“Crazy happens sometimes.” He held out his hand. “I’ll take your coat.”

She peeled off her charcoal-gray, insulated trench coat that she deemed practical, stylish, and, most important for Door County residents, warm. As he hung it in the large coat closet off to the side, she stepped into the open floor plan that swept from the kitchen to the dining room and the living area. The walls were a creamy yellow, the couch a rich coral, and the two recliners the color of a milk chocolate bar.

It was all Noelle. Nothing had been changed. No wonder she had imagined hearing Noelle’s voice.

Lauren swallowed a lump in her throat, but that didn’t soothe the ache in her heart. She missed her laughing friend.

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