Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday’s snippet is quite appropriately about winter. I think I’ll go with Claustrophobic Christmas. Incidentally, in Claustrophobic Christmas, the characters reference a snowstorm that happened in the 90s during the holidays, and a YA short story I have that’s currently FREE, The Worst Christmas, tells that tale, albeit with different characters.
So anyway. Claustrophobic Christmas features a traffic jam that happens due to some very unfriendly winter weather. Not that readers won’t realize that’s what the story’s about, but here’s the first time we get into the hero’s POV and he realizes it’s going to be a white Christmas.
James shook himself and headed for the parking lot. While he’d been inside pretending the rest area was a meet-cute, snow had speckled his truck. Icy flakes wet his neck and face, interspersed with the drizzle that had dogged him since Texas. The light was grey, barely filtering through the clouds.
It really was going to snow. Hell. He couldn’t put off calling home any longer. His nosy sisters had left eighty thousand messages at his mother’s behest. Everyone was expecting him—and Darcy—and he needed to break the news. No, Mother, I won’t be getting involved with a Tallwood girl, moving home, and popping out twenty babies. What’s worse, I suspect I’ll be late for dinner.
His older sister Juanita answered. Thank God it wasn’t Sally. Sal was Mother’s clone, but Nita might give him a break.
“Hey, loverboy,” she said. “How’s it going?”
“She said no, so it’s going shitty.” James swiped the driver’s side window with his sleeve while he talked, not bothering to get his gloves.
“I’m sorry, Jamie. I thought Darcy liked you.” James could hear a billion females gabbing in the background. He was the only boy, the middle child of five, and according to his sisters, his mother’s favorite. Not including the grandkids, of course.
“I thought she did too.” Instead, his big romantic gesture had been a big waste of time.
“Is she gay?” Nita’s voice echoed, and the hubbub dimmed. She must have closed herself in the half-bath.
“Nah.” There was no reason for Darcy to have lied about being gay. “I don’t think so.”
“I heard she almost married some Hispanic man a couple years ago. She wasn’t gay then.”
“That would be Luis.” During their many exchanges, she’d mentioned men from her past but never a Heath, one of the reasons James figured Heath was imaginary.
“Her brothers thought Luis was a great guy. They were disappointed it didn’t work out.”
“Well, Mother’s going to have to be disappointed it didn’t work out with me, either. Isn’t Sal pregnant again? She can get obsessed with that instead. Another Jones grandchild.”
Nita snorted. “Mother can be obsessed with all sorts of things simultaneously.”
“True.” James studied the snow sticking to the cars, and the interstate with its heavy holiday traffic. The pace had definitely slowed.
Fan-damn-tastic. The futility of this journey jabbed his gut in a way it had been doing more and more lately. If he’d had his way, Darcy would have been with him and they’d have entertained each other. Warmed each other.
All his idle hours in cars or planes, commuting to jobs when he could be… He didn’t know what else he could be doing. Whatever it was, he’d thought it might involve Darcy.
“Is that Jamie on the phone?” his mother yelled.
“Crud,” Nita said. “She found me.”
Unlike Darcy, speaking of his mother was like conjuring the devil. Her voice grew sharper and louder. She must have opened the bathroom door. “Ask Jamie if Darcy likes light meat or dark meat because we can save her some thigh, maybe, but the kids always want the turkey legs and I don’t know what they’ll do if they don’t get a turkey leg.”
“You should have locked the door, Nita. It’s the only way you can be safe.” James rubbed a patch of stubborn ice on the windshield, gave up, and located his scraper in the glove box. He wondered if Darcy had packed her winter gear. It was rarely needed in Texas, but the woman had sense. You only had to read her travel tips and stories in that funny little newsletter to get that.
“Lock’s broken,” Nita told him. Then to their mother, “Give me a minute, will ya? I’m in the bathroom.”
“In the bathroom on the phone,” Mother snapped. James heard the bathroom door slam. Nita would pay for that later.
“Do me a favor. Tell Mother I struck out.” He wiped the scraper on his jeans to knock the ice off. “Better yet, tell her I ran off with a cute flight attendant. To Hong Kong.”
“Not a chance. She’s already planning the wedding.” Nita snorted out a laugh when he groaned. “It’s a June wedding, by the way. At First United.”
He ran cold fingers over his face, squeezing his forehead. “Come on. I’ll give you three hundred dollars to tell her.”
“I’ll give you five hundred if I can be there when you tell her,” she countered.
“Tell her I’m going to be late for dinner too. I’m still in Arkansas, and it’s snowing.”
“You not watching the weather?”
“Rudolph and Frosty are on constant rotation.”
“It’s supposed to get bad.” If snow and ice clogged the interstate, it would be a right bitch, and boring as hell. Traffic jams were an even bigger waste of time than the standard cross-country trip.
You’re so right, James.
Places to buy all of James’ winter adventure:
More winter excerpts here! Go visit —