Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Marina Myles’s Karina Petri from Christmas At Thorncliff Towers.
The Werewolf’s Servant
Thorncliff Towers is done up for Christmas, secure against wind and wolves. But Karina Petri is shut out, too, and the gypsy witch wants what’s inside. She envies the gifts, the feast, the pretty clothes, of course. But her true desire is for the love of Constantin Stoica. Her smolderingly handsome childhood friend agreed to serve Lord Draven after his brother was caught stealing last year. He suspects Karina was involved—and it would take more magic than she possesses to make him forgive…
Constantin has always been drawn to Karina’s dark curls, flashing eyes, and reckless ways. But trusting her has proven dangerous before, and this night holds more to fear than most. The wrong decisions could cost him his job, his safety—even his life. But letting Karina go could cost him his heart…
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card.
When I sat down to write an installment for this fun event, I asked myself: how can I intermix characters from my novella, Christmas At Thorncliff Towers and the theme of Black Friday? My story takes place in 1811. Back then, there were no shopping malls or crazy “Walmart” bargains people camped out for or overly-advertised department stores. Thank goodness, right?!
Then the question of where our civility goes on Black Friday gave me an idea. Maybe it would be fun to have my heroine visit a village marketplace near her Gypsy camp. There, Karina Petri gets caught up in the spirit of giving instead of the stellar sales. Thanks to the holiday sights, sounds, and smells she is duly dazzled—until she remembers the terrible mistake she made last Christmas.
Dashing Through the Snow
I am very bold today. Amid freshly-fallen November snowflakes, I hurry to the marketplace. I never shop…we Gypsies are too poor. That’s precisely why the citizens of Dunwich study me with disdain as I move along Main Street. What do they see? A dirty woman with matted black hair and a rebellious personality? Of course.
But little do they know: I’m a Gypsy witch who can turn all of them into fat hop toads.
It’s fun keeping this powerful secret to myself. Although I’m relatively new at casting spells (some, admittedly, have gone awry) most of my incantations are spot-on. That capability gives me a spine-tingling sense of empowerment. While I cannot make material items appear out of thin air, I can alter a person’s physical appearance. I can even modify their emotions to some degree.
However, the one thing I’ve been too afraid to dabble in is making people fall in love. Still, I’ve often considered: who I would command to fall in love with me if I could? The answer? Constantin Stoica, my handsome childhood friend. With his forest-green eyes, soft mustache, and disarming smile, he’s always charmed me. Any time I was obstinate and defiant, he was kindly and good. While I tend to defy authority, he always rises to a challenge by showing respect.
I’ve been secretly in love with Constantin for years. In fact, he is the reason I’ve traveled to the market today. I yearn to catch a glimpse of him there.
As the air grows frostier, I’m in luck. He’s riding into town on horseback. From behind a copse of trees, I watch his straight, brown hair blow in the wind and observe how attractively his corded thighs move under his trousers. Lost in the way his broad shoulders tense as he grips the reins, my feet start to numb in my worn boots. Regardless, I continue to stare at him unnoticed— and a bit star struck.
Much to my disappointment, Constantin doesn’t think of me as a desirable woman. We grew up together. And the scheme I involved his brother in last Christmas Eve doesn’t help, either.
The good news is a fresh Christmas lies ahead of us. Like the English, I view Christmas as a season of forgiveness and redemption. A time of giving not getting…an opportunity for people to extend goodwill toward their fellow man.
Is there hope for me?
Gulping, I catch sight of ominous Thorncliff Towers. The manor teeters precariously on the side of a cliff above the village of Dunwich. It’s the scene of my crime—where I broke in last Christmas. Starving, I stole food for our people from the house’s kitchen. Constantin’s brother, Viktor, accompanied me. When we were spotted, I ran. I urged Viktor to run, too, but being a pillar of strength like Constantin, Viktor stood his ground.
As a result, he was forced to serve as a stable boy at Thorncliff Towers. That is, until Constantin convinced Lord Winthrop he should take his brother’s place.
With cruel Lord Draven Winthrop as his master, Constantin no doubt misses the security of our Gypsy camp.
I shiver because it’s rumored that Lord Draven Winthrop, Earl of Dunwich, is a werewolf. The possibility makes me fear for Constantin’s life.
With patches of snow on his coat, he leaps to the ground and ties up his horse. I stroll slowly along Main Street behind him. The aura of Christmas sparkles in the air. Wafts of caramel apples, baked sausage, sweet mulberry, and scrumptious peppermint tantalize me. Gleefully, I notice that the place is decorated to perfection. Paper snowflakes adorn the businesses’ façades, twinkling tinsel wraps the streetlamps, and an enormous pine tree draped with colorful ornaments anchors the town square.
I meander through row upon row of displays. Shoppers are at their most eager. Smiling, they pull out fistfuls of shillings and tussle with heaps of purchased goods. Wishing I had money to shop with, too, I try to focus on the bright ribbons hanging from the various stalls. Apparently, it’s an important day in Dunwich—the biggest shopping day of the year. All of the village’s vendors line the streets for an opportunity to boast their finest Christmas wares. Stacks of china, piles of pretty dresses, and a slew of leather goods astonish me. Just then, Constantin turns around. As we lock eyes, my knees buckle. He walks toward me—and the sight of his face steals my breath. He still moves with a limp—and the fact that he’ll always require a cane tugs at my heart. I am responsible for his injury. When we were adolescents, I climbed a towering tree. When I became too scared to climb down, I jumped into Constantin’s arms after he urged me to. Unfortunately, I landed like one of the cows I see being pulled through town. The impact shattered his leg.
Lips set in a thin line, I remind myself that I can repair his bones. But Constantin tends to shy away from magic. The Dark Arts scare him—as does my power to enact them.
“Karina,” he says sternly. “Are you following me?”
“Don’t be silly.”
“I shouldn’t be talking to you.” He pauses. “But I want to know why you’re here.”
“I came here to buy something.”
“That’s not fair.”
He looks away for a moment. “I doubt you have money to shop with.”
“I have a trade.” I withdraw my mother’s jewelry box from the folds of my cloak. With its pewter finish and single ruby adornment, it should fetch a good price.
“Don’t give that away,” Constantin says, wide-eyed. “I know how much it means to you.”
You mean more. I look down at my scuffed boots and murmur, “I want to get a special gift for somebody I know.”
“Who is that?”
“You.” I hesitate to tell him that I’ve made plans to leave something marked with his name on the front stoop of Thorncliff Towers.
His expression softens. “I’m the last person you should be thinking about.” He takes my hand and rubs it. “You’re freezing!”
“I’m not cold anymore.” I square my shoulders. “How about you? Are you well?”
“Except for Lord Winthrop’s eccentric personality and excessive demands, I’m fine.”
“Have you seen evidence that he’s a werewolf?”
Constantin wrinkles his forehead. “I’ve heard many strange howls in the night. But, no. I haven’t seen the earl transform into a bloodthirsty canine.”
“What are you doing in town?” I ask.
“I’m here to pick up grain for the horses.” He glances around. “Seems there really is something to this holiday spirit. Everyone is in a jovial mood.”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you still mad at me for allowing Viktor to be caught?” As I wait for an answer, I study his handsome face.
He frowns. “I’m furious.”
I swallow hard. I thought as much.
“Still—” he slips off his coat and wraps it around me “—I’ve missed you, Karina.” Unexpectedly, he enfolds me in a hot kiss. My heart drums as I melt against him. I feel as if I have no bones…as if I’m floating off the ground. And when he cups my face with his strong hand, he has my head whirling like a frantic snow storm.
He releases me and takes my hand affectionately. “Come. I’ll buy you some hot cider.”
Just then, I bolt up in bed. It’s all been a dream! Disappointment roars through me as I lie in bed inside my frigid caravan. Hands shaking, I draw back the window curtain. The truth is I haven’t seen Constantin in a year. The only thing that counteracts my cold and lonely nights is knowing that a new Christmas hovers weeks away.
Relying on the kind of holiday magic that sparkles in eager children’s eyes, I glance at the North Star and murmur: “please let me see the man who singlehandedly embodies everything Christmas stands for very soon”.
Meet Marina Myles!
Although Marina Myles lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she would reside in a historic manor house in foggy England if she had her way. Her love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale and eventually led to a degree in English Literature. Now, with her loyal Maltese close by, she relishes the hours she gets to escape into worlds filled with fiery – but not easily attained – love affairs. She’s busy being a wife and a mother, but she is never too busy to hear from her amazing readers.
Want to purchase Marina’s novels?
- Beauty and the Wolf
- Snow White and the Vampire
- A Warlock’s Dance
- Sleeping Beauty and the Demon
- Cinderella and the Ghost
- Christmas At Thorncliff Towers
Please help spread the word: Tweet: Celebrate the chaos of #BlackFriday with #holiday #stories & #contests by 26+ authors @LiteraryEscapis (Nov28-Dec24) http://wp.me/p3SIUp-bGF
Thank you Marina for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Marina is giving away a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: How do you think Karina will see Constantin? Will it be accidental or on purpose? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways. To enter the main contest, don’t forget to leave a comment below. Here’s the Rafflecopter widget for the $50 giftcard giveaway. All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st. All giveaways are subject to LE’s Giveaway Policy.