The Far Side of Heaven
by D.L. Gardner Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance
Charlene survived a deadly fire that swept through the hills of a quiet mountain town. With her ranch home destroyed she lives above her gift shop struggling to make ends meet and still recovering from a vile divorce. Three days before Christmas, a blizzard pounds the already despondent community, blowing in snow and with it a stranger.
With roads closed to the ski lodge, Dallas, a successful entrepreneur who is on a mission to promote his ingenious line of ski jackets, is stranded in the township of Meritville. Lured by the charm of the community, he soon learns that all is not well. When he meets the owner of a failing gift shop, he loses his heart and is thrust into the turmoil.
With all the forces against them, is it possible to spread the Light and Love of Christmas?
“I wish I knew you,” she started. “I wish I had already spent more time with you so that we had established a friendship. You’re a gentleman and a joy to be around but…” Oh, good heavens, was she really going to say this? She choked on her words. “…but I know you will be gone tomorrow.”
When he frowned, she corrected herself. “Maybe not tomorrow, but the next day, or whenever it is that you and Lew are leaving. And then you’ll be just another memory. Like the ranch. Like my horses, or my old dog, or all the other lovely things that had come into my life and are gone now.”
Why was she telling him these things? She had no control over these words. They were pouring out of her mouth like a fountain, and there were more.
“And I’ll be left alone to struggle through each day, a penny at a time.”
Charlene shook her head, knowing she should stop but she had no self-control. She had to talk to someone. There was too much bottled up inside.
“My savings will dwindle. Meritville will no longer be on the map if we continue to have fires every year. People will leave. More shops will close. I’ll never be able to rebuild my ranch. I don’t think the pieces will ever be picked up again. How can they be? I have this shop now, but for how long? I can’t live upstairs, I’ll be evicted come spring and the shop isn’t providing enough profit for me to rent a place. Then what? Then I’ll have to sell the ranch.”
Here come the tears.
“I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I’m just saying it like it is. All that was beautiful is now gone. Everything. Even my self-respect. Oh, I know that there’s hope for me in the afterlife! The thing is, I’ll be on the far side of heaven from everyone else. The lower forty. Maybe where the old cows are put out to pasture! Excuse me.”
She rushed to the counter where her till was, where she kept her tissues. She blew her nose and turned her back to him. Dallas stood when she got up.
The poor man, she thought. What did he do to deserve this?
“I’m sorry,” she said and shook her head.
Don’t!” he replied so sharply that she spun around.
“Don’t apologize,” he said. “You’ve lost so much.” His voice quieted, his words almost inaudible if the room hadn’t been so still, she might not have heard him. “Such a compilation of tragedy for one person to bear. I have not had half the misfortune in my entire lifetime that you have borne in a matter of months. I think if it were me, I would be wallowing in my bed refusing to open my eyes to daylight. And yet look at you. You’ve done all of this and helped others along the way. Please. Don’t apologize for anything.”
D.L.Gardner is an award winning author and screenwriter, taking home the Book Excellence Award for her Amazon's best selling Ian's Realm Saga as well as various other prestigious awards for her audio books and screenplays. Her young adult adventure fantasy and historical fantasy novels are loved by youth and adults all over the world.
"Dianne's wonderfully descriptive writing style will have you so involved in the story that in a sense you will have forgotten that it was just a story."
Dianne is a columnist for Amazing Stories Magazine, one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy magazines of all time. She's taught workshops and participated on panels at conferences and film festivals. Her concept film for Ian's Realm has won numerous fantasy short awards in L.A., New York and New Zealand.
Dianne was born in Ohio and raised in southern CA. She attended Northern AZ University and later continued her education in the Pacific Northwest. She's an oil painter, book illustrator, screenwriter and filmmaker.