Our alter ego, Meadow Taylor, a few years ago published the very popular short e-story called Christmas in Venice (which is a modified first chapter of her new romantic suspense novel Midnight in Venice). This year she has published a satisfying short story available on all ebook platforms called Christmas in Bruges. Here's the beginning:
“It’s a fairyland,” Paula whispered.
It was two days before Christmas. She was sitting in Café Terrastje, a cozy bistro lit entirely by candlelight, eating the best lasagna she’d ever tasted, a glass of excellent red wine next to her plate. Her table was beside the window, and she had the perfect view of what had to be the most perfect part of Bruges. Great flakes of snow drifted down to the cobblestone street while, gracing the branches of every tree, a million white fairy lights sparkled, their reflections dancing on the canal.
“Excuse me. I don’t mean to interrupt, but isn’t the line really, ‘It’s an effing fairyland’? Pardon my language.”
Deep and rich with a playful edge, his voice was familiar. Familiar in a good way, reminding her of someone she’d always dreamed of seeing again but had lost all hope of re-encountering long ago.
But it couldn’t be. Not here in Bruges.
She looked up, feeling a rush of excitement, a shiver that had nothing to do with the blast of cold air as he closed the door behind him. Brushing the snow out of his dark hair, he smiled down at her. That was familiar too.
Then his eyes caught the candlelight, and she knew it had to be him. There couldn’t be two men on this planet with eyes quite that shade of green. A sunlit forest, she’d told him, looking into them for the first time. That’s what they remind me of . . . He’d laughed. I think you’re in love . . .
“James?” His name came readily—it was never far away, as much as she’d tried to forget it. Still, she’d forgotten how absolutely sexy he was. Or had the years made him sexier?
He smiled even wider. “I saw you through the window watching the snow fall. I recognized you instantly, though I swear you’re even more beautiful than I’d remembered. I had to come in. I hope that’s okay.”
“Of course! I can’t believe we’re in Bruges at the same time. What are the chances? It’s been, what, eight years since . . .?”
“Nine, but who’s counting? It’s so wonderful to see you, Paula. And you really do look amazing.”
“You look pretty terrific yourself. What brings you to Belgium?”
“That line you said, about Bruges being a fairyland. That’s from In Bruges, right? That’s why I’m here. I saw the movie and decided I had to come for Christmas.”
“It’s why I’m here too. I could hardly pay attention to the story, I was so distracted by the scenery: the medieval buildings, the canals, the lights. I like how Bruges acts as one of the characters, a serene and peaceful contrast to the violence . . .” She trailed off, thinking she was sounding like a freshman arts student. But that’s what Paula had been when they first met. She, from Toronto, was studying drama at New York University, while he, from New Jersey and four years older, was in his first year of medical school there. Her very first boyfriend. They spent Friday nights making love and watching movies together, entwined on her couch drinking cheap red wine.
She wondered if she should remind him of this. Instead, she looked out the window at the snow dusting the stone gargoyles on the building opposite. “Remember all the movies we watched together?” he asked. “We tried hard to be intellectual in our tastes, but it really was the action films we enjoyed best. I never dreamed you’d get the same idea. A Christmas miracle, I think.”
The story continues as they walk through the snowy streets, laughing at their younger selves and pondering the unexpected course their lives have taken over the past nine years. Paula, a promising actress, became a teacher, while James abandoned medical school to serve as a medic in Afghanistan. But as Christmas Day approaches, James's painful war memories threaten their rekindled love. Read the rest of the story.
Wishing you and yours the very best in 2015!
Warmly - Gina & Janice