Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tinsel Time - Ericka Scott

Tinsel Time
A Writers Vineyard Holiday Treat

The rocking of the sleigh stopped, and Noel looked up with surprise. They were outside his apartment building. It had been warm snuggled against Tinsel’s body among the satin and fur. He pulled on his clothes and watched Tinsel struggle with the zipper on her coverall. He reached over and pulled it up for her. Just for a second, he regretted his choice not to go all the way with this beautiful woman. She’d been warm and responsive in his arms. But, until he figured out what was going on inside his head, he couldn’t get seriously involved with anyone.

That was the one thing his mother had taught him well. She’d been like an alley cat in heat, bringing home anyone who expressed the least interest in her. And she’d paid the price. A four-year battle she’d fought with AIDS. After watching what she went through, there was no question of him even thinking about casual sex.

He glanced over at Tinsel as she looked up at the building. Who was she really? Tina Christmas or an imposter? What had really happened to her that long ago Christmas Eve?

People didn’t just disappear. Someone had to have taken her. The Santa Slayer? Perhaps she had been his captive all this time and had recently escaped? Nah. This was not a woman who had been raised under the influence of a serial killer. Looking at her, it would be easier to believe she’d been raised by Santa Claus!

Tinsel was standing on the sidewalk in front of the building with an odd look on her face.

“Are you okay?” Noel asked.

“I just have the feeling I’ve been here before. Déjà vu, I guess.” She shrugged and smiled. He noticed she hung back, almost afraid to follow him into the building.

The elevator seemed to be on the fritz again. A large ”Out of Service” sign hung across the battered steel doors. Noel shivered as he led the way up the stairs, but he knew he’d be warm and toasty by the time they’d navigated their way to the third floor.

He opened the fire door and looked back at Tinsel. She was staring at him, a little bit of fear in her eyes.

“I lived here,” her voice was breathy, but he didn’t think it was the result of climbing three flights of stairs. No, she was scared.

Noel hung his head. He’d both wanted her to remember and dreaded she might. “Yeah, in fact, you lived in my apartment.”

“What?” Tinsel took a step backward and half turned as though she were going to flee back down the stairs.

“Listen. It’s not what you think. Well, I mean, it kind of is. I was ten years old in 1989. The Santa Slayer, well, he captured my attention and scared me to death. I kept wondering what if.”

If what?”

“My mom was a single mother, too, and her name was Holly Holiday. And I’m an only child. I often wondered if we would have been the next family but, for some reason, we got lucky.” Or did we? Noel thought back to the ugly scenes with his mother when she was drunk or on drugs. She’d even spent the entire day Christmas Eve at the hospital trying to convince someone, anyone, to give her a prescription for the narcotics she craved. There had been no gifts under the tree. Noel remembered wishing his mother were dead and that he had been the one to escape instead of Tina. Of course, as he grew older, he realized the little girl had probably had a hellish existence, if she had even survived. At ten years old, he had been innocent of the horrors perpetrated on children. He had only wanted to escape the nightmare of his own family.

“That doesn’t explain why you’re now living in our old apartment.”

“A coincidence, really. I didn’t realize this was one of the apartments until…” Noel trailed off. It had been Halloween night, right before the fateful call. He’d been going through old precinct files and noticed the address.

“Until when?”

“Halloween, right before I was put out of commission, in fact.” Noel tapped his forehead. “There’s nothing of yours left here. Dozens of people lived in the apartment between then and now. Really.”

“Oh, I believe you. It’s just a really odd coincidence.” Tinsel’s voice sounded reassuring, but he wasn’t sure she really believed him.

The apartment looked the way it always did. Dark, dreary, and a bit messy. “Welcome to my humble abode.” Noel ushered Tinsel in. He really wished he’d strung up a few Christmas lights or put up a tree.

She stood looking around, her hands hugging her stomach and her face pale. “It looks different, but the same.” When her gaze met his concerned expression, she gave him a brave smile. “So, do you still think my mother might be alive?”

This has been an excerpt from Tinsel Time
Ericka Scott is a multi-published author of seductive suspense. She's written for many years and reads anything under the sun. When she’s not chauffeuring children around, she’s penning tales of seduction and suspense. She lives in California with her husband and three children. .

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