Title: Christmas Reads: A Canadian Christmas
Author: Darcy Carson
Genre: Contemporary Romance with a ghost
Amy Phillips went for a Christmas vacation nestled in the Canadian Rockies and found the man of her dreams. Only one problem…he’s already engaged to her college nemesis.
When she reached the pool, humid air smacked her face. After the wintery blast in town it came as a surprise. Stripping her robe, she folded and set it on one of the chaise lounges circling an Olympic-size indoor pool. The hot springs were outside. Plastic strips kept the worst of the chilly air from invading the room. She ducked between the strips and gasped.
Several young men—college students on Christmas break—stood in the pool near the entrance and chuckled at her reaction. One had an armful of tattoos. She remembered her father telling her brother when he joined the Navy, not to come home if he got a tattoo. He didn’t.
Did Gage? She shook her head. She had to stop thinking about him.
“I wasn’t expecting the temperature extremes,” she replied in way of explanation to the young men.
Steam billowed from the water like flimsy streamers as the college students’ shifted positions in the pool. The squeals of two adolescent girls, children really, filled the star-studded night. They floated and splashed on foam noodles. A man and woman clung to the side, engrossed with each other. Three men with their backs to the entrance were in an animated discussion at a far corner.
Amy laughed and slipped into the water. “I didn’t expect the air to be so cold.”
The closest college student nodded. “The pool heats you real fast.”
He wasn’t kidding. Almost instantly, steamy water chased away the night’s freezing temperature. She floated toward the deep end, letting the hot springs relax muscles. When she reached her destination, a young girl clung to the side as if afraid to move.
“Where’s your parents?” Amy hoped the child wasn’t left alone with a group of strangers. That would be bad parenting in her book.
The girl nodded toward the three men. “Daddy’s over there.”
As if his name had been uttered, a man with a dad-belly turned, parent radar on alert hearing his daughter speak with a stranger.
Relief bloomed in Amy. She turned her attention back to the girl. “Can you swim?”
“I haven’t passed my swimming test yet.”
She nodded. “I’m not a very good swimmer myself. I don’t like putting my face in the water, so I learned to swim like a frog.”
“It’s a form of swimming called the breaststroke. You swim on your chest and most of the time your head is out of the water. Your arms pulls you through the water and your legs perform a frog kick. Want me to show you?” At the girl’s nod, Amy kicked off from the wall.
She stopped swimming next to the man and woman, found the bottom, and turned around to face the little girl. “Your turn. Be a frog.”
“No, no. I can’t.”
“Sure you can. Just pretend you’re a frog.”
The man muttered under his breath. While Amy didn’t catch his exact words, she was positive he cussed in a foreign language. Obscenities never needed translation. Something upset him. Glaring at her, after a moment, the couple sloshed out of the pool.
Frowning at their behavior, Amy shrugged and turned her attention back to the girl. “Come on, sweetie. You can do it. Swim like a frog.”
All it took was encouragement. The young girl inhaled a deep breath and pushed off the wall. She thrashed her arms, holding her head out of the water, and kicked with all her might. When she came abreast of Amy, a huge grin lit her face. “I did it. I’m a frog, too. Daddy…daddy, did you see? I can swim.”
Dad-belly waved. “You’re doing great, Kandi.”
Amy smiled, glad to have made the girl happy. “Now, let’s see if we can find you a swim noodle.”
“Take mine,” said one of the college students who first spoke to her. “I’m done.”
One of the teenage girls swam up to them, pushing a noddle. “We’re leaving, too. You can have mine.”
“You sure? Thanks.”
Abandoned swimming noodles bobbed in the pool.
Amy and Kandi floated in the warm water. With each kick, steam rose into the night air. Amy remembered Lottie Townsend saying everyone’s hair turned white and she was right. There wasn’t a single person in the pool with normal-colored hair.
“You know you insulted that couple,” said a familiar voice that sent ripples down Amy’s spine.
She sputtered, thrashing in the water to find her footing. “What? What do you mean?”
Dad-belly accompanied Gage Townsend. “Afraid he’s correct, Miss. That couple who left in a huff were French Canadian. The reason they stomped out was because they didn’t appreciate being called frogs. It’s a holdout from the past. There are three popular theories that I know of. The first one is because they enjoy cuisses de grenouilles—frog legs. That came from long ago when British soldiers poked fun at them and called them frog-eaters, which was shortened to frogs.
“The second one comes from World War II when French soldiers were so adept at camouflage that they were difficult to find when under cover. That’s a compliment, but they didn’t like the reference to frogs.” The man shifted in the pool, freeing steam into the air. “The last theory came from Clovis I, the first king of the Franks. His banner had three toads on it, but they replaced with the Fleur-de-lis.”
“Oh, I feel awful.”
“You don’t have to worry about it. I’m a minister and Canadian, too. My countrymen on the east coast are overly sensitive. Besides, I thought it was hilarious, and God has already forgiven you.”
Amy listened to the condescending explanation. He probably came from British stock, like most Canadians. Still, embarrassment scorched her cheeks. “Nonetheless, I might have hurt their feelings. That wasn’t my intent.”
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The chance of snow---so pretty when a winter wonderland.
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Award-winning author Darcy Carson grew up reading everything her mother brought home from the library. Reading romances became her favorite genre. Eventually her love of those novels led her to start writing them. She resides in a Seattle suburb with her husband and a prince of a toy poodle.
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