Dear readers, it is a time for gifts and giving. Elizabeth Barone has assembled a questionable posse of gift-giving authors, including myself. Take a look at what they have to offer. I received something unexpected, this Christmas season, and if you’ll read all the way to the end, I have something for you, too!
On the twelfth day of Christmas, early in the morning, a knock came at the door. Thinking it might be the UPS man bearing some last-minute holiday cheer, I belted on a bath robe, stuffed my feet into my fluffy owl slippers, and shuffled to crack open the door and let in the grey pre-dawn.
It was not the UPS man.
He stood there smoking, six and a half feet of tweed and cigarettes, glaring down at me through his spectacles as though I had done him a personal wrong. Come to think of it, I’ve done him a number of personal wrongs, but I can hardly be held accountable – that’s what authors do.
I glared right back at him. “Daniel Leland! Do you have any idea what time it is?”
“A time when all respectable people are up and out making their way in this world.”
There wasn’t much I could really say to that. “I’m sorry, did you want something?”
He shifted uncomfortably, expression turning mildly apologetic, and attached his cigarette to his lip so he could sort through his jacket pockets. “Actually, I, ah…”
“Oh, hell, there’s not someone after you, is there?”
“No, no, I, ah… I have something for you.”
He pulled out a small, thin book in a clear plastic sleeve. The cover showed a man in red rising from a chair to light a lamp amid the words A Study in Scarlet. Beeton’s Christmas Annual, 1887. I knew better than to suppose it was a reproduction.
“Daniel? You got me a Christmas present?”
He blinked, momentarily confused, then nodded a bit too hurriedly. “Well, naturally, Miss Graham. I do owe you quite a lot, don’t I?”
“It’s actually a bribe, isn’t it?”
“Possibly. But your suggestion gets me more points, doesn’t it? Happy Christmas. Do try not to torment me quite as much this next year, would you?”
I snorted into my sleeve and stood aside. “Come on in. I’ll make tea.”
He treated me to one of his rare smiles and ducked inside.
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