Look!

Our cover artist and sometimes editor, B.G., (the other half of Lost River Lit, BTW) has pubbed an awesome novella just in time for the holidays!

The publisher is Astraea Press. AP specializes in reads that are clean–meaning no graphic violence, open door sex, or cursing.

B.G. and I both work as editors for A.P. and I have seen some wonderful books come out of this house!

I beta’d this story and can promise you it’s really cute. Check it out, and I have heard rumors that there are more stories from Jubilee coming next year. B.G.’s book should go live at Amazon soon, as well. And Barnes & Noble!

Congrats, B.G.! Now, get busy and make the cover for Rand’s novel!

No Room at the Inn

No Room At the Inn by B.G. Lashbrooks

Chapter One

Why hadn’t she stayed at the hotel? Why had she been so stupid?

Snow crunched beneath her feet, sinking into the sides of her shoes. Dress heels weren’t exactly designed for a mile-long hike through the southern Indiana hills during one of the worst snow and ice storms in the last decade. She’d never be able to wear them again. If she lived. And wasn’t that the question?
She should have stayed at the hotel. It wasn’t like she’d ended up anywhere else, anyway.

She’d made it a third of a mile down the road from the hotel before the car had decided it, at least, was too smart to get out in the storm. The car had died mid-road and no matter how she cajoled it, it wouldn’t start up again. Dead in the water.

Or snow, rather. And ice. And a little bit of rain. General all around southern Indiana December nastiness.

Staying in the car hadn’t been an option. Walking the remaining two miles to her house hadn’t been so hot of an idea, either. Not with the windows and doors icing over so quickly she’d barely been able to get the driver’s side open in time to get out.

Greta wasn’t completely stupid — she’d carried emergency supplies, but nothing like she needed to survive what was being called Stormzilla on the radio. The hotel staff had spoken of nothing but the approaching storm and trouble it would cause. Still, the mile between her car’s final resting place and the hotel seemed longer, darker, and colder than she could ever have imagined.

She should have just stayed. It was standard policy at the hotel that in the case of inclement weather, employees on the clock could be comped a room. This served a double purpose — it kept the employees safe, and it ensured that there was staff present to run the hotel for any current guests who were marooned at the hotel. What kind of example had she set for the rest of the staff — the staff that were now looking to her for direction?

There weren’t many guests booked and she gave thanks for that now. Horrible weather and an even more horrible economy had hit the tiny hotel hard where it counted. Unless the conventions department could bring in more company retreats and seminars, it looked even grimmer for the hotel’s next year.

Maybe the new owners could do something, but Greta wasn’t holding out much hope.

Kind of like how she felt at that moment. Hopeless.

The sky had darkened and the ice had turned even sharper. The nasty storm made it seem so much later. She could just see the top floor of the hotel in the distance. The best suite in the place — the one they reserved for the most wealthy of patrons — shone like a beacon. It both pulled her closer and taunted her for the distance still between them. And reminded her that the maids in the housekeeping department had forgotten to turn the lights off up there.

Greta knew that no one had reserved the suite for Christmas. Or New Years. Or for any time in the foreseeable future.

Much like the rest of the nearly two hundred fifty hotel rooms in the building. They’d sit empty for the holidays — once their biggest time of the year. A miserable end for the year that came just in time to greet the miserable beginning of the next. Greta’s heart hurt for the hotel. It hadn’t deserved to be forgotten.

The hotel had been built in the late 1910s and had pulled families for the holidays from as far as Chicago and St. Louis and even Philadelphia. Then in the late 1940s, everything just stopped. People just didn’t want to come to southern Indiana anymore.

That was something Greta — a native to the area — had never understood. She loved it, despite the poverty that many counties faced. She loved being able to walk to every place she needed to go — except work — and loved being able to call the people she saw by their first names. This area meant home, and she would never leave.

She’d done that once. And only once. And had it not been for her to get her degree, she wouldn’t have done it then. She’d been planning since the age of sixteen to one day take over the running of the hotel where all of her grandparents had worked, where her parents had met and worked, where she had worked her first job, where her brother still worked to this day as Director of Food and Beverage after his first job waiting tables since the age of fifteen. Now, Jubilee Resort Hotel was as much a part of her family as anything or anyone.

And as acting head of the hotel now she could only hope she was the first choice for the permanent position, once the new owners arrived and implemented whatever changes they wanted. Otherwise she was terrified the hotel would be lost.

She’d do the job, and gladly. But she had to survive Stormzilla, first.

A quarter mile separated her and the hotel, yet the light that guided her seemed so much farther away.

Why hadn’t she just stayed at the hotel to begin with?

It would have made her life a whole lot less complicated.

Chapter Two

The hotel would need more renovation than he’d originally thought. Owen Levi, III ran his fingers over the scarred headboard of his bed and shook his head, bemused. His bed in the best suite of the hotel his family’s corporation now owned. The scars did not bode well for the rest of the rooms. Or the hotel in general.

What had his father been thinking when he’d purchased this place and foisted it on Owen?

A run-down place like this wasn’t far up the list of Owen Industries’ best places to visit. At all. If the state of the best suite reflected the rest of the rooms as accurately as he feared it did, it was going to take a pretty large share of cash just to make it even basically habitable, let alone luxurious.

Levi Industries had a major reputation to uphold. An image of luxury, and grandeur, and upscale. This place was far from that.

He just hoped he didn’t get bedbugs from staying here. The maid who’d brought him a stack of towels hadn’t reassured him as to the cleanliness of the suite, either. She’d been friendly, and good at her job, but her personal standard of cleanliness worried him.

He’d be speaking with the Director of Operations, Tom Eller, first thing in the morning. That was… if the man made it in. Owen hadn’t counted on the storm.

He hadn’t counted on being stuck there for Christmas, either.

He’d rented a car in Louisville after his plane had landed that afternoon, and spent the next three hours driving through the mini-mountains and twisting narrow country roads that characterized southern Indiana — don’t ever trust MapAround for driving directions, he’d learned that the hard way — until he’d made it to the tiny town of Jubilee. The hotel dominated, located just past the town’s one stoplight, and was surrounded by bungalows and single family homes that were almost terraced in the hills behind, in front, and all around the hotel.

Single family homes that weren’t in the best of shape, to his experienced eye, though most were kept neat — at least on the outside. What kind of impression would that make on potential guests? Probably not a good one. He’d have to see what he could do about convincing his dad to sell the hotel as soon as possible.

Or convince him to demolish it and build something else in its place. Storage units; storage units would be perfect out here. The area was centrally located to the Midwest. Levi Industries did control a portion of the market for green industrial storage. It was something to consider. He’d run the numbers and prepare a presentation of all of his findings, regardless of what his recommendations ended up being.

He’d check out the hotel tomorrow, speak with the D.o.O. and some of the department managers, then he’d decide what to do next. And try to find a way out of this town before Christmas.

He had two days to manage it. And he’d do it, somehow. He’d never spent Christmas with anyone other than those he loved. And at the age of thirty-five, he wasn’t about to start.

He pulled the blanket up around his shoulders and noted its neutral and somewhat unattractive generic appearance. It would have to be replaced with something a little more upscale. The matching curtains, too. The carpet, while older, was in decent repair. That, at least, could wait a month or two.
He closed his eyes just as the room went dark — without him flipping the switch.

Buy at Astraea Press now!

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