Wendy captured the imaginations of readers with Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach. Join them at Bella Flora as they celebrate the holidays in Wendy’s first e-novella.
When Madeline Singer, Avery Lawford and Nicole Grant were deeded ownership of a crumbling historic home on Pass-a-Grille Beach, all they dared hope was that renovating and selling it would let them rebuild their lives and the bank accounts drained by a Ponzi scheme. Together, they returned the house, Bella Flora, to its earlier glory. Along the way, they forged friendships, discovered unexpected truths about themselves and each other, and gave birth to a DIY reality television show, Do Over.
It’s been five years since Emma has seen her friends, an absence designed to keep them from discovering a long-ago betrayal. Now she’s in desperate need of their support. The time has come to reveal her secrets—and hopefully rekindle their connection.
But when a terrible accident keeps Emma from saying her piece, Serena and Mackenzie begin to learn about the past on their own. Now, to heal their friendship and their broken lives, the three women will have to return to the lake that once united them, and discover which relationships are worth holding on to.
Christmas at the Beach Excerpt
Having your own personal pack of paparazzi gives you sympathy for hunted animals and is nowhere near as exciting as people think. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if they kept regular business hours–you know, showed up around nine and clocked out at five. But celebrity stalking is a twenty-four seven occupation with no time off for good–or bad–behavior. Because if they don’t get pictures that make you look nasty, stupid, or even less attractive without makeup than the average tabloid reader, they don’t eat.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to become a celebrity today than it used to be. You can be famous now for the size of your boobs and butt, a five-minute cameo on a reality TV show, doing a below-average tango on Dancing with the Stars, or dating and/or marrying someone who’s done any of the above. The celebrity bar has dropped so low that if it were being set for a game of Limbo, that bar would be ankle-height.
You can even become a celebrity by accident. I happen to know this because that’s what happened to me.
My name is Kyra Singer, and I became famous for falling in love with a movie star named Daniel Deranian while I was working as a production assistant on my first feature film, believing him when he said he loved me, and then getting pregnant with his child. I might regret this more if Dustin, who just turned one last month, weren’t so incredible. And if Daniel’s movie-star wife, Tonja Kay, were a normal human being whose head doesn’t do a 360 when she gets pissed.
If Dustin is the best thing in all of this, and he is, the worst is the extra burden it put on my mother, who was handling a lot already when I got booted off the set by the head-spinning Tonja Kay and then sliced and diced in the tabloids. Unlike a lot of other ankle-height celebrities, I’d way rather be behind the camera than in front of it. But today, which is Christmas Eve day, when I get out to the curb at the Tampa International Airport with my son, his car seat, our suitcase, and my film gear, a bunch of paparazzi are waiting at the curb. My mother and her minivan are not. I’m careful not to make eye contact with any of them while I try to figure out what to do. I’m considering turning around and going back inside to regroup, when a text dings in. It’s from my missing mother. It reads Sri. My fats in fyre.
I read it twice, but it doesn’t get any clearer. My mother, Madeline, is fifty-one, and she’s impressive as hell in a lot of respects, but I think she communicated way better before her phone got so smart. Her next text reads Sree. Mint tries flit. IMHO, most people over forty don’t have control of their thumbs and shouldn’t be allowed to text.
“Kyra, over here!” The accent is British and I recognize the voice. Every once in a while you’re forced to realize that there are real people behind the cameras. People who barge into your life uninvited and then become strangely familiar.
I look up and see Nigel Bracken at the front of the pack. As always I try to shield Dustin as best I can, but he’s one now and not a baby that I can hold in any position I want. Plus he’s a veritable clone of his movie-star father, with the same golden-skinned face, dark brown eyes, and curly hair. The paparazzi can’t get enough of him. A couple of weeks ago a crazed Daniel Deranian fan stole one of Dustin’s dirty diapers out of the trash and tried to sell it on eBay. That’s how weird it gets sometimes.
“Over here, Kyra!” another one of the paps shouts. His name’s Bill and he has bad teeth and a potato shaped nose. They are their own League of Nations– American, British, French, and lots of Heinz 57s. They’re tall and skinny, short and round, and everything in between. Some of them are good-looking enough to walk the red carpet. Others, like Bill, have faces only a mother could love. You rarely see women doing this. I like to think it’s because women are too smart and sympathetic to view stalking celebrities as gainful employment, but it could just be that, like the movie business, it’s a good old boys’ club that women have to work twice as hard and be twice as talented to break into.
“Just give us a couple shots and we’re out of here!” Nigel shouts.
This is a lie. One clean shot will madden them like bees whose hive has been swatted. When I don’t respond, they surge closer.
An airport security guard passes by and warns them to keep out of the traffic lanes. The transportation line is downstairs and so are the car rental desks. What I really need to do is call my mother and find out why she’s not here, but I don’t want to do this on-camera. Most of these guys can read lips better than an NFL coach with a pair of binoculars trying to decipher the other team’s plays.
“Come on, Kyra, luv! It’s practically Christmas! Give us a smile!” I’m not sure who died and elected Nigel spokesman, but at least they’re not all yelling at once.
Dustin’s arm loops up around my neck, and he lifts his head from my shoulder. “Krimas!” he says. The camera drives whir and the digital flashes explode.
I feel the pack moving in, and I fall back a step, not wanting to be surrounded. I turn and move quickly–I prefer not to think of it as running–into the terminal. I head for the only place I might be safe: the ladies’ room.
In a locked stall I check the floor on either side to make sure there are no size-twelve shoes. I drop our suitcase and my camera bag on the floor, stand the folded stroller in a corner, and perch gingerly on the edge of the toilet seat with Dustin in my lap. I could text my mother–she reads texts better than she sends them–but then she might text me back and if I can’t read it will be another big waste of time. I hit speed dial for her number.
“Mom?” I keep my voice down when the phone is answered just in case. And because it’s always kind of gross when you hear someone making a phone call from the toilet regardless of what they are or aren’t doing there.
“Oh, Kyra, thank goodness.” My mother sounds agitated and out of breath. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I had a flat tire on the Bayway and I’m still waiting for AAA.” I can picture the beige-gold minivan on the side of the causeway that leads from Pass-a-Grille Beach, through Tierra Verde, to the interstate, while Cadillacs and old Chryslers putter past. The population of St. Petersburg and its environs is largely elderly. The joke goes if you leave a glass of water sitting out someone will put his or her teeth in it. My mom hasn’t even made it off the beach. Even if she got the tire fixed in the next five minutes, which is unlikely, she wouldn’t be here for another thirty-five minutes after that.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll rent a car and meet you at Bella Flora.”
“Are you sure?” My mother has witnessed the paparazzi up close and personal from the day they first found me while we were desperately trying to restore Bella Flora, which is a really cool Mediterranean Revival–style home that was built in the 1920s and was all my mother and the equally unfortunate Avery Lawford and Nicole Grant had left after they lost everything to Malcolm Dyer’s Ponzi scheme. That’s where I’m headed right now.
“Absolutely. Who’s at the house?”
“Avery, Deirdre, and Nicole are there. Chase and his sons are joining us tomorrow morning to open presents. Your dad and Andrew are driving down from Atlanta today.”
“Okay. I’m going to pick up a car. I’ll take the Bayway from 275 so I can stop and help if you’re still there.”
“Be careful. I don’t want them chasing after you and Dustin.”
I know from the way she says this that she’s thinking about what happened to Princess Diana. But I’m not a princess, and the Howard Frankland Bridge to St. Pete is not a Paris tunnel. Still, it will be better if I can just disappear. I don’t want to lead the paparazzi to Bella Flora, even though I’m sure they all already know that Dustin and I are headed to Ten Beach Road.
“We’ll be fine,” I say because we’ve had this conversation before. Or at least we will be, once I put on my disguise.
Christmas at the Beach Reviews
“Wax’s Florida titles . . . are terrific for lovers of women’s fiction and family drama, especially if you enjoy a touch of suspense and romance. Christmas at the Beach is a perfect way to jump into the series.”
–Library Journal Express
“Family drama . . . a ‘touch of suspense’ . . . you will be left wanting more . . .
I definitely recommend this.”
–Night Owl Reviews
“Wax has created a cast of lovable characters with their own flaws . . . Christmas at the Beach by Wendy Wax is a great novella to catch up with these women and a great set up for the next novel in the series, The House on Mermaid Point . . . Wax has set up readers for an eventful new novel.”
–Savvy Verse & Wit
“I have been hooked on this series from the beginning . . . I have become hopelessly entwined in the lives of all the women and it was fun to spend a little Christmas time with them! . . .interesting developments . . . I really enjoyed my Christmas visit with my favorite ladies.”
–Peeking Between the Pages
“Christmas at the Beach is a lovely story about a typical yet unique family gathering together to share, bicker, love and heal – like most families wind up doing at holiday time! Great Read!!!”
–Crystal Book Reviews
“Fans of Wendy Wax’s Ten Beach Road series . . . have a while to wait before the next book, The House on Mermaid Point, is in their hot little hands . . . fortunately Christmas at the Beach . . . will satisfy the craving for the girls of “Do Over” and their renovations and love lives.”
–5 Minutes for Books
“Christmas at the Beach sets up the next novel in Wendy Wax’s entertaining series . . . There are changes coming! . . . Wendy Wax packed a lot into her novella . . . I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Madeline, Avery, Nicole, Deirdre and Kyra.”
“The women of Bella Flora are back! I thoroughly enjoyed Wendy Wax’s previous novels about Madeline Singer, Avery Lawford and Nicole Grant and it was great to be able to check back in with them in this original e-novella! . . . revelations are made and secrets revealed . . . a quick, festive, fun read and I enjoyed finding out what everyone had been up to since we met up with them last!”
–The Book Chick
“I really enjoy this series and loved this short novella. It was the perfect snack to hold me over until the next full-length novel comes out.”
–Always With a Book
“Treat yourself to an early Christmas present with a new release from Midtown Review favorite author, Wendy Wax! . . . for all the addicts who couldn’t wait for the next full length book to hit the shelves… here you go!”