Last Christmas, a group of contemporary Christian authors got together to form a “boxed set” of novellas that would include dessert recipes of some sort. That set was called Frosting and Flurries, and it’s still going strong. My book in that set is called Moostletoe, the first book in the Moose Creek series.
We had so much fun doing the set, we did it again this summer, another “boxed set” that came out in July called Picnics and Promises. Moosed Opportunities is the second book in the Moose Creek series. And guess what? Book three (Almoosed Heaven) releases in November.
Working with these lovely ladies has been so much fun, and creating the little town of Moose Creek, Maine, has been a joy. Rev. Samantha Evans and her boyfriend, moose wrangler Eric Palmer, continue to thrive despite many obstacles and adventures. Oh, and did I mention the town moose, Matilda? She causes a ruckus in more ways than one.
Rev. Samantha Evans loves living in Moose Creek, Maine, the land of moose and men … or namely one man, her fiancé, Eric Palmer. The problem? Trouble looms large; Eric’s meddling ex-wife lives right around the corner.
Forest ranger, Eric Palmer, just wants to plan his wedding and marry the woman he loves. Not that life makes it easy. Samantha’s busy schedule, an interfering ex-wife, missing college students, and a misplaced pregnant moose, all conspire against him.
Will they find the time to clear the air and concentrate on their relationship? Or will their lives be a series of Moosed Opportunities?
Eric hurried down the path toward the woods, shouting for his dog. “Apollo. Stop!”
The bounding deer rapidly disappeared in the distance, and the gleefully barking miniature dachshund followed in hot pursuit. Eric didn’t have time for these shenanigans. He was due at Samantha’s house for dinner, and he was already running late.
The merry deer headed for the trees, traipsing through the wet spring snow as if prancing on a sandy beach in the Bahamas. Before Bambi’s mom disappeared completely, the female deer flipped her white tail at the excited dog, making a game of the chase. The two sped down the path Eric had created with his snowshoes, taking advantage of his man-made corridor in the trees.
“Apollo! Get back here.”
His disobedient dog paid no attention whatsoever as he scrambled, hopped, and skated across the freshly fallen snow lying atop frosty ground.
Eric quickened his pace. Tonight, he’d planned to bring the boys over to Sammie’s to introduce them to Jezebel. Before stowing the wiener dogs in the car, he’d let them out for a quick pee break. His attention had wandered as he’d allowed himself a moment of reverie … Sammie had such soft, silky hair … That was when Apollo had spotted the deer.
Eric glanced over his shoulder. His more obedient dog, Zeus, waited on the front porch. Hopefully, the little guy would still be there when this ill-timed adventure was over.
Excited yips echoed through the crisp air. Dang it! His dog was headed for the frozen creek. Eric’s best boots broke through the crusty top of the snow, the resulting crunch ringing in his ears as he tramped down the trail. Apollo had to be tiring by now, and that blasted deer had to be long gone. But then again, his pup was the stubborn type.
When he’d trudged through here yesterday morning, the sun was perched on the horizon, rays of soft light peeking through the treetops. So peaceful, so serene, so awe inspiring. A good way to start his day. Now, through the trees up ahead, pink wooly clouds puffed across a spectacular sunset and glimpses of waning light glinted off the snow-covered creek. Surely his foolish dog would stop when he reached the debris-strewn banks of the solidified water.
Eric rounded the corner in time to see the deer hurtling up the bank on the opposite side of the creek. The waters of Moose Creek were normally deep and fast, the wide expanse river-sized at this point in its journey south. The creek had been frozen over for a couple months, though the big deep freeze in northern Maine had been late this year. On his daily walks, he’d thought he’d heard water running near the beaver dam upstream. Was the ice safe? The deer had made it across handily, and if she could do it, so could a ten-pound canine. Right?
A moot point, since his dog was not going to get the chance if he had anything to say about it.
A short distance away, Apollo picked his way between the rocks on the shore, each step taking him closer to danger, his gaze on the prize fifty feet away, across the frozen expanse. Mrs. Deer stopped at the top of the hill, seemingly just as fascinated with the sight of the yappy dachshund.
The scrappy dog was shaking, whether from excitement or cold, Eric couldn’t tell. He headed down the slope toward his miniature canine. “Come here, boy.”
Apollo tossed him a cursory glance and then ogled the deer, the joy of the chase shining in his doggie eyes.
Eric sidled a few steps forward and to the side, moving slowly and carefully so as not to send the dog running in the wrong direction. He was so close he could almost reach out and grab the dog’s collar.
Whew. Apollo yipped one last time and back-peddled toward Eric’s waiting fingers. At last.
And then the deer at the crest of the hill pawed at the crunchy snow. The canine couldn’t help himself. He launched onto the frozen expanse, tiny legs propelling him like a windmill in a gale. A few feet out, the dog lost his footing on the slippery snow-covered ice. Landing on his stomach, legs all akimbo, the brownish-red missile rocketed straight for a thin spot in the ice on the other side of the stream.
With only a split second of indecision, Eric flung himself off the bank, half-skating on the ice, the breeze stinging his ears as he zipped forward. If he had any hope of catching that bundle of fur, he was going to have to slide. If a full-grown deer could make it across…
The ice creaked, but it held fast. Thankfully, he was gaining on the dog. Halfway across the river, he caught up to Apollo and grabbed his collar with his right hand. They kept sliding. They were going to make it.
Crack! The ice on the other side of the stream gave way and he plunged into the frigid water, his breath whooshing from his lungs. The animal slithered from his grasp as Eric fought to keep his head above water.
Apollo’s soft brown eyes grew impossibly large as he bobbed to the surface a few feet away. Before Eric’s frightened dog could be carried away by the loosed current, he managed to grab onto the leather collar, hauling the animal to his upper body.
Water swirled around them. He kicked his legs to bring them to shore, his sodden cold-weather clothes weighed him down. He stumbled through the cripplingly cold water, laboring each step of the way, his boots as heavy as if he had a brick strapped to each foot.
The poor dog whimpered and Eric clutched him closer as he stumbled onto land. “It’s okay, boy. We’re safe now.”
He crashed down on a log and surveyed his soaking body, chest heaving. No doubt about it, he was in a pickle.
JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. She lives in Maryland with her beloved husband and two pampered cats.
I’d be happy to give away two ebooks of Picnics and Promises from among those who leave comments. Moosed Opportunites is the first book in the set.