The new “The Man from Rome” film trailer starring Richard Armitage is riveting! May 03, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1456)


Wow!  Riveting movie trailer! I can’t wait to see the talented British actor Richard Armitage starring as Fr. Quart in “The Man from Rome”!  My cap above.

And many thanks to TeresaA for sharing the trailer video link!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & peaceful day!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->

P.S.  Unfortunately, WordPress says that I have to upgrade my “plan” in order to show videos now.  So disappointing.

Posted in "The Man From Rome" 2021 filming aka "The Seville Communion" book, Gratiana Lovelace, Mystery, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling, Thriller, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy May Day 2022 with a Richard Armitage as Sir Guy, May 01, 2022  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1455)

Happy May Day!  When I would celebrate May Day as a child, we would pick flowers from our Dad’s garden and put them in little homemade baskets on our nearby neighbors doors.  It was a sweet little tradition.

So this year, I give you a Spring May Day 2022 with some sunflowers—with one of the talented British actor Richard Armitage’s transformative character portrayals, of Sir Guy of Gisborne.

And yes, the sunflowers (thanks to istock clip art)  are  a nod to Ukraine—with my hope and prayers for their peaceful resolution of the war soon.

Thanks also to Lauri Michaud for previously sharing the original Nightshadow (Thanks!) edit of Richard Armitage as Sir Guy–which I edited here for my May Day 2022 sidebar wallpaper.

Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy, and peaceful day!   Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->

Posted in Creativity, Global Team Armitage, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Hope, Peace, RA Artwork, Richard Armitage, Sir Guy of Gisborne | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 10 (End):  Slipping away for some privacy,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  March 27, 2022 (Post #1454)    

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; All rights reserved.];    [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left)]  

0-2022--ab-Winter-Rental-story-cover-180x283sidebar_Jan09-2022byGratianaLovelace[Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, Octavia Spencer as Octavia Porter, Perry King as Phillip Townes, and others as noted. 

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers. And I will post new story chapters weekly on both my SAL blog, as also on my Wattpad site.]


“Winter Rental”, Ch. 10 (End):  Slipping away for some privacy

With Greg and Diana declining Greg’s boss Phillip Townes kind invitation/command to join he and his family for lunch at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort Hotel restaurant this day—and then realizing that if they stay at the Ski Resort Hotel’s restaurant for lunch today they will be very likely to run into Greg’s boss Phillip Townes and his family again–they elect to lunch in the town of Galena itself at Logan’s Inn. 

Galena’s Logan’s Inn is a charmingly renovated local bed and breakfast inn on the second floor of an old brick building from the early 1900’s and with a restaurant bar on the first floor that Diana suggests to Greg for their alternative lunch venue.  However, the Logan’s Inn restaurant’s actual bar area is off to the side of the dining room and tucked away with a lattice privacy screen wall—with no big screen tvs blasting sports events.  So the restaurant’s dark wood décor, comfortable booth and chair seating, and the  window views of the bustling Galena shoppes in the pristine snow covered downtown area give the restaurant an intimate upscale hometown feel. 

As Greg and Diana peruse the food and wine menus, an attentive waiter stands discreetly nearby—to give the obviously sweetly romancing couple their privacy, their gently intertwined fingers giving them away.

Greg:  “Diana, this restaurant bar is an excellent choice—if only due to their wine list.” Greg notes as he gazes at their impressive wine list.  “Too bad, that I don’t drink alcohol before evening.”  He grins sheepishly.

Diana: “Well Greg, we’ll just have to come back again for dinner here, sometime  before you leave Galena.”  She suggests somewhat sadly.  Diana knows that Greg will be leaving soon.  It just  seems to her that they haven’t had enough time together to get to know each other better, as Diana had hoped after their lovely romantic cuddling interludes.

Greg: “Definitely!” 

Greg smiles, puts down the wine list, squeezes Diana’s hand, then picks up his food menu.  But in turning his attention to his stomach, Greg misses seeing Diana’s face fall at him confirming that he will be leaving her at some point. But she puts on a brave face.

Diana:  “Yes, their evening menu is divine.  I especially like their chicken and mushroom crepes.”  Then Diana tilts  her head ever so slightly toward their waiter, who walks over to she and Greg.  “I think I’ll have  half and half of a cup of the New England Clam Chowder soup, and a half grilled cheese sandwich—using swiss or provolone and not American cheese slices, and with a tomato—with a small order of French fries on the side please,  Nancy.” Diana smiles at the former student of hers waiter, who is also the daughter of the Logan’s Inn Restaurant owner.  Nancy is apprentice learning hospitality management after earning her business degree last year. She hopes one day to take over the business—and maybe expand its  concept to other regional cities.

Nancy waiter:  “Yes, Ms. Langley.”  She smiles cordially at her former teacher/mentor.  That is a yummy choice. “Would you like apple juice with that, and perhaps a small salad on the side?”  Diana nods at Nancy remembering her preferences.

Greg: Greg looks up at Diana.   “Oh?  Diana, I thought you said that you like their chicken crepes?  Why didn’t you order that?”

Diana: “The Chicken crepes are an evening menu option, Greg.”  She emphasizes.

Going into explainer mode to support her former teacher/mentor’s statement, for Nancy is accustomed to accommodating customers requesting non-standard menu items, up to a point—she explains.

Nancy waiter: “You see Mr. Halliday, we have different chefs, their menus, wait staff, and dress codes for daytime versus nighttime dining at Logan’s Inn Restaurant.  7am – 2pm Monday through Sunday is casual drop in family and friends dining for breakfast and lunch.  Whereas our 6pm – 11pm Monday through Saturday evening dinners are by reservation only, and with suits and ties required by the gentleman and dressy dresses or trouser suits for ladies.”

Greg:  “Hmmm.”  Greg considers that this restaurant being able to set their own dining rules for their respective hours of operation means that they must be a popular dining site. Then he proceeds to order.  “Well, for lunch today, I think that I’ll have the Galena Burger with the works on it and fries on the side, with a ginger ale to drink.”

Nancy waiter:  “Certainly, Mr. Halliday Sir.  Though I wish to apprise you that we make our own ginger ale when requested, rather than using store bought brands.”

Greg looks questioningly to Diana, about the homemade ginger ale.

Diana: “You’ll like the ginger ale here, Greg.”  She smilingly waves to him to accept this slight alteration of his order.

Greg: “That will be fine.  Thank you.” Greg smiles cordially at the waiter.  Then his forehead wrinkles quizzically.  “How did you know my name?”

Nancy waiter: Nancy smiles conspiratorially at Diana.  “Well Sir, Ms. Langley texted us 10 minutes before you arrived to make sure that we had lunch seating available—and with a view.  Since as you can see, our lunch guests quite fill up our open dining space.  And today, our banquet room is in use by a local family’s child’s birthday party. So it cannot serve as overflow lunch seating today.” 

Greg: “Ah!”  And their waiter Nancy leaves to place their lunch orders.


Greg and Diana chat amiably with much hand holding while awaiting their lunch meal orders—and even during them eating their lunches.  And Diana comically enjoys watching Greg attempt to man handle his Galena burger sandwich with the works with only one hand, with his other hand clasping Diana’s hand—and with the sandwich’s size nearly takes up the whole of his plate.  So Greg needs to use both hands on his burger.

But it is when they are later enjoying their coffees and cheesecakes after their lunch meal—and back to holding hands again—that they have a little 6 year old girl visitor.

Suzie, 6 years old: “Auntie Diana!”  The little girl waves excitedly, then tumbles into her Aunt’s waiting arms, and Diana lovingly kisses her niece’s forehead.

Diana: “Suzie, Dear! It’s so good to see you.  What brings you here?”

Suzie: “I was at my school friend’s birthday party lunch.  See my gift bag that I got.”  She proudly holds out her birthday party favors attendee gift bag for inspection. “And look!  They gave  me a purse sized box of crayons, pocket Kleenexes, playing cards, chocolate mints, and  a pen!” 

Suzie quickly pops the pen end out and in several times. Suzie’s parents have not allowed her to have a pen at home yet–owing to an incident when her older brother was her age and drew all over the bedroom hallway walls.  So Suzie’s pen contraband will end up being quickly confiscated and saved for her by her parents when she gets home.  But still, Suzie has a thrill of receiving a pen, all the same.  So she will just have to be a little patient, until such time that her parents deem her able to judiciously use her pen on paper—and not on their walls, nor the books in their small family library.

Diana: “It looks like you have a very nice gift bag, Suzie Dear.”  And Diana notices from the corner of her eye, Greg taking in her interactions with her niece with some amusement.”

Suzie: “I do!”  Then she notices the man with her Aunt Diana.  “Who is he, Aunt Diana?”  Suzie points at Greg Halliday.  Well, she is only six, afterall.

Diana: “Well, Suzie.” Diana licks her lips—to stall for time. 

Suzie: “Oh!  Is he the man you’ve been keeping company with?” Suzie intones in a childishly deeper voice, trying to emulate her Daddy’s voice.

Diana: “Ahhh!  And who told you I was keeping company with someone, Suzie.”  Diana smiles, but she hopes that not too many people know yet, since she and Greg are still developing their  relationship.

Suzie: “No one.  I just heard Daddy telling Mommy that, when they thought I had fallen asleep after they kissed me goodnight.”

Diana: “Well, Suzie, this is my new man friend, Greg Halliday.”  Unfortunately thinks Diana, the corresponding label for one’s male companion isn’t as pleasing as the phrase Lady Friend for a man’s female companion.  “And Greg, this is my brother Gary’s younger daughter Suzie.”

Greg:  Ever the charmer, Greg stands—then crouches down so as not to tower over her—and he gently shakes the little girl’s hand and greets her.  “I am delighted to meet you, Miss Langley!”  He smiles warmly at the little girl.

Suzie:  “Oooh!  You’re pretty!”  Suzie sighs in admiration of Greg Halliday’s charming smile and his overall handsomeness. Suzie knows pretty when she sees it.  And indeed all ladies—young and old—are powerless under the searingly smouldering gaze of Greg Halliday. 

Diana:  “Ha ha ha! Suzie Dear, men are referred to as being handsome.” She gently explains to her niece.

Suzie:  “Okay.”  Suzie nods to her Aunt, then she smiles at her Aunt’s man friend.   “You can be handsome, too.  Are you going to marry my Aunt Diana, then you’ll be my Uncle?  I don’t have an uncle yet.”  Kids are so straight forward.

Greg notices the bemused smile on Diana’s lips. She is letting him reply to her niece.

Greg: “Well Suzie, your Aunt Diana and I are hoping to get there in our relationship, to marriage, I mean.”

Suzie: “That will be nice.  Then you can give me cousins when you have babies.  My Aunt Diana is the best Aunt—kind, loving, and tells me good job  when I’m trying to learn skiing on the bunny hump.  She gives me kisses and hugs when I have a boo boo, and just because.”  Then Suzie snuggles  back into her Aunt Diana’s loving arms.

Greg: “Praise, indeed.”  He smiles warmly at Diana.  “But don’t you mean the bunny hill?”  Greg asks mirthfully.

Suzie: “No.  I have to work up to standing and not falling down on my skis, before Aunt Diana and Mommy and Daddy will let me try a hill.”  She pouts in that cute little girl way of puffing out her lips, drooping her shoulders and sighing dramatically.  “Hhhhh!”.

Greg: “Well that sounds most sensible.”  He smiles first at Suzie, then at Diana as he returns to sitting in their booth.

Suzie:  “Mommy is picking me up soon. Will you come home and play with me, today, Aunt Diana?”  She asks pleadingly.

Diana: “I can’t today, Suzie Dear.  Mr. Halliday and I are having our outing today.”  Diana smiles blushingly, since she also hopes they will return to Halliday House and cuddle some more. “But maybe you’ll be free later in the week for a playdate with me?”

Suzie: “Okay.  Will you help me with my skiing more then, Aunt Diana?” 

The little girl’s question hangs in the air.  Greg gazes at Diana quizzically—since she had disavowed to him earlier of any hint of skiing activity or skills on her part.

Greg: “So you do ski, Diana?”  He wonders.  And before Diana can reply, her niece Suzie replies for her.

Suzie: “No, my Aunt Diana doesn’t ski.  She has a leg ouchee from when she was a teenager.”  Suzie gives the standard reply.  “But my Daddy always talks about how good Aunt Diana skied before her ouchee.  And that she even has awards for skiing!”  Suzie states proudly.

Diana pauses while she thinks about what to say to Greg to explain it to him—since Greg loves skiing so much, but Diana can’t join him at it.  Then she is saved from replying by her sister-in-law coming to pick up Suzie.  And after introductions and Diana’s promise for a playdate with Suzie later in the week, Greg and Diana continue their spending time with each other.


After some brief window shopping after lunch in Galena—with Greg and Diana each buying something small and easily portable—they decide to head back to Greg’s Halliday House rental on the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort properties.  After they each shower and change into comfy lounging clothes, it is about 3pm in the afternoon. So they sit on the spacious and comfy couch in front of the fireplace and chat.

Diana:  “Well, we have had a busy day.” Diana’s eyes go wide in mirthful astonishment as she gazes at Greg.

Greg: “Indeed! And due to that Galena Burger that I ate at Logan’s Inn for lunch—which could feed a small family—I am nowhere near hungry, for dinnertime  food yet.” 

Greg’s vocal emphasis indicates to Diana what he is hungry for, now that they are in their private oasis of Halliday House.  And Greg gently embraces Diana as he pulls her into his arms and they lie down on the couch and cuddle.

Diana: Feeling shy, Diana blushes and nods.  “Yes, lunch was filling for me, too.”

Greg:  “But you hardly ate anything at all.”  He looks at her incredulously.  Greg, himself, is a tall broadly muscled man with hearty appetites.

Diana:  “I assure you, Greg, I ate heartily.”    Diana forces a smile upon her lips.  For with her brother Gary’s continuing being overbearing  toward her, she does not wish Greg to start commanding her either.

Greg: Sensing Diana’s unease, Greg backs off, figuratively—since they continue cuddling sweetly together.  “Of course, Diana.  Each of us knows best about what we want and need.” And he nods in acquiescing to her. But, she does not let him off the hook so easily.

Diana:  “But?”  She raises a questioning eyebrow.

Greg: “Look Diana, it is  my issue.”  Diana does not speak, her silence encouraging him to continue.  “It’s just that years ago, someone close to me had an eating disorder that quite damaged their health for a time.  And I blame myself for not seeing the signs earlier, so I could help her before she became so ill.”

Diana:  Softening her demeanor, Diana gently clasps Greg’s hand in hers. “Greg, I’m glad that you were there for Connie. And she looks quite healthy now and recovered from what I’ve observed.”

Greg: “How did you know?  And please do not tell anyone.  I would not want Connie to think that I have breached her privacy.”  He asks her in earnest.

Diana:  “Your secret is safe with me. It is just that, though Connie is a few years older than I am, we were often thought to be the same age since Connie hadn’t gotten her growth spurt yet, but I had gotten a little growth spurt.   I remember when your family visited during the Summer the year that I was 12 and she was 14, Connie and I would pal around together—playing tennis, swimming, going shopping, and in general hanging out at the kid’s activities at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel Kids Day Camp. And since we were a little older than the 5 to 10 year olds at the Kids Day Camp, Connie and I were drafted to be Kids Day Camp counselors along with Eddie Hughes—by his late Grandpa, old Mr. Hughes.”

Greg: “Yes, I remember that Summer.  I had just earned my graduate degree in business, so I didn’t turn up until July late Summer due to a post graduation internship I had to finish.  And I had been away at my undergraduate and then graduate school for so long that I had missed seeing much of Connie during her later elementary and junior high school years—when she started modeling and her eating problems started.”  He shakes his head sorrowfully, blaming himself for something that wasn’t his fault.

Diana:  “Yes, well. Initially, I thought Connie was seemingly shy the first part of the Summer—when she was always, and is now, a bubbly personality.    And though she did not confide in me about her eating issues then, in hind sight now, I surmise that her stopping modeling around then–that she mentioned last week–might have had other reasons than simply enjoying the fashion aspect more than modeling it?”

Greg: “Yes, because she didn’t like starving herself to be skinny for the photoshoots.  And she was not quite well yet, when our family came here to our vacation home Halliday House that Summer.”

Diana: “But as I recall, Connie seemed to greatly improve her health and her overall outlook on life that Summer. She could just be a kid again—with no expectations of meeting some nebulous level of perfection.  And  I think that our all eating healthy lunches and snacks together with the Day Camp kids may have also somehow helped her healthy improve—as well as her feelings about herself.  Because kids are so sweet and welcoming.  They do not judge others.  And of course, it was clear that Eddie was smitten with Connie even then.”

Greg: “And Connie being on the verge of heading to high school, was a bit unsettled about going to a new school with people that she didn’t know.  But Eddie calmed her—as she did for him.”

Diana:  “Yes.  Eddie hadn’t gotten his growth spurt yet that Summer either.  So Connie and Eddie must have bonded over feeling a bit like misfits.  Then as they grew older, they became girlfriend and boyfriend during Connie’s high school years.  And though they parted when Connie when to a different college than Eddie, they both turned out alright.  And now, they have found each other again.” Diana smiles warmly for fate seemingly bringing Connie and Eddie together again.

For the last several minutes of their deeply personal conversation, Diana and Greg have almost finished each others’ sentences—their being so in tune with each other.

Greg:  Yes, it must be fate—for  them, and for us, Diana.”

Diana: “For us?”  Diana asks hopefully.

Greg: “For us, Diana.  I feel such a connection with you Diana—heart and mind and body and soul.  You are my first thought upon waking and my last thought upon falling asleep.  And even then, you inhabit my dreams.  I love you, Diana.  I am in love with you.”

Diana: “Ohhh!”  Diana sighingly shyly smiles for Greg’s heartfelt words.

Greg lightly kisses Diana upon her lips, and she responds to him—for several lovely 
and loving moments [(2) below].  Then coming up for air, Greg impishly asks her.

Greg:  “Shall I take it that is a  good Ohhh?”  His voice deepens as he smiles smoulderingly at her, as he cups his one hand behind her silken haired head and glides his other hand down the soft skin of her back, under her soft sweater over her camisole.

Diana: “A very good ohhh!”  Diana moves to cuddle closer with Greg—if that is even possible, since not even a whisper could pass between them embracing now.  Then she surprises him. “Greg, I do not want you to hold back in loving me any longer.  I want to be with you, always.  Make love with me.”

Greg: Hallelujah, thinks Greg!   Then he remembers what Mike had said about Diana’s health.  “But are you sure, Diana? What about your infirmity, as Mike indicated?  I don’t want you to feel any pain when we make love—well, except the pain you might feel if this is your first time.” Now Greg  blushes for speaking so  forthrightly, yet his concern for Diana is true.

Diana: “Yes, I am sure, Greg.  And my infirmity is in my right lower leg–that did not heal well after it broke in two places with my fall on the slopes 12 years ago.  It took me a year to heal from the reconstruction surgery, then another year to be able walk again without crutches. But I was never able to be truly healed and back to my pre-injury abilities–which is why I had to stop skiing at all, let alone competitively.”  Greg embraces Diana in love and understanding for her necessary and brave choice to forge ahead in new directions after her tragic accident.  And Diana  hesitates, then whispers blushingly, and without regret.  “And this will be my first time making love.”

Greg: “Then we will be careful and go slowly, My Darling. You need not fear me, Diana.  I can be gentle—as I have shown you before.  But, I cannot make love with you without asking you again if you will be my wife. I want to marry you as soon as possible—of course accepting whatever timeframe you wish for planning our wedding. I love you, marry me My Darling Diana.”  He gazes at her hopefully and with all the love in his heart.

Diana: “Yes, Greg.  I love you, too.  And I will marry you”  Diana gazes back at him, with all of the love in her heart.

Then they kiss–their lips, their embracing, and their caressing being their only conversation they need as the newly engaged Diana Langley and Greg Halliday make love with each other for the first time [(3) below].
Greg's and Diana's first time lovers-feet-under-covers_Oct1012instforenergyresearchorg_May1614-crop-sized--Aug15-2021Grati-crp-szdsml

Greg’s and Diana’s being together is not a temporary love arrangement, like their Winter rental of her home Lakeside Cottage.  Theirs, is and will be a love of a lifetime—with love in abundance for themselves, their hoped for future children and grandchildren.

To be continued with Chapter 11 Epilogue

References for Ch. 10   of “Winter Rental”, by Gratiana Lovelace, (March 27, 2022  Post#1454)

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Magazine;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

2) Greg-kissing-Diana-isRichardArmitage-&DanielaDenbyAshe-inN&Spi4-340-Jan0114ranet_Grati-sized-brt-crop2-maskchin

3) New lovers-feet-under-covers representing Diana and Greg making love for the first time_Oct1012instforenergyresearchorg_ May1614-GratiEdit–Jan14-2022Grati-crp-szdsml-clr2-drk; the original image was found at

Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 10 “Winter Rental” (Post #1454):

Something About Love  blog Post #1450  link for Ch. 8  of “Winter Rental”:


Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Richard Armitage attended the WOS Awards with his White Boar Films producing partner Emily Marr, March 15, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1453)

Thanks to Young_Ox_Libra for tweeting the scoop on White Boar Films producing partners talented British actor Richard Armitage and Emily Marr raising their company’s profile in attending the What’s on Stage Awards February 22, 2022–where Mr. Armitage was a Best Performer in a Male Identifying Role in a Play nominee for his role of Dr. Astrov in the 2020 production of “Uncle Vanya”!

Though Richard Armitage didn’t win that night at the WOS Awards 2022–his performance as Dr. Astrov (below in a still from the filmed stage version of Uncle Vanya, via @paulajo83, Thanks!) in “Uncle Vanya” was riveting!


Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and peaceful day!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->

Posted in "Uncle Vanya" play in 2020, Chekhov, Environmental issues, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, play, RA as Dr. Astrov, Richard Armitage, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling, Theatre, What's On Stage Awards, White Boar Films by Richard Armitage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Esther and Daniel Farewell gif is poignantly romantic, March 07, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1452) 


Love this Esther and Daniel in Berlin Station gif (2nd one) shared by CatiaB, Thanks!  Sighhh!

My reply to Catia’s gif tweet was, with a slight edit:

“With every leave taking of their loves–clasping each other in tenderness, memorizing their faces for what could be the last time–they did not know that this time would truly be their forever farewell.”

Mina Tander as Esther Krug and Richard Armitage as Daniel Miller had such great romantic chemistry!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & peaceful day! Hugs  & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in Berlin Station mini series, Gifs, Gratiana Lovelace, intrigue, Love and Relationships, Mina Tander, poignant, Richard Armitage, Romance, smoulder, Spy thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sexy Sir Guy Day SatuRdAy: Richard Armitage smouldering as Sir Guy of Gisborne in Romana55 video, March 05, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1451)

Richard Armitage smouldering as Sexy Sir Guy of Gisborne is a real treat!

Thanks to Romana55 for sharing her video with us!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and peaceful day!  Hugs  & Cheers!  Grati ;->

P.S.  I’m not likely to have a new chapter of my currently being serialized story “Winter Rental” yet this weekend.  I still have to write it.  And with my husband being hospitalized since last Wednesday, my time and thoughts have been focused elsewhere.  I’m sure that you will understand.  It’s not COVID, but still quite serious.

Posted in Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 9:  A slight misunderstanding,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  February 27, 2022 (Post #1450)


[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; All rights reserved.];   [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left)]

[Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, Octavia Spencer as Octavia Porter, Perry King as Phillip Townes, and others as noted.

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers. And I will post new story chapters weekly on both my SAL blog, as also on my Wattpad site.]

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 9:  A slight misunderstanding

Since Greg Halliday’s boss and CEO of Ski Resorts International Phillip Townes and his family plan to arrive at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel around midday on Saturday, January, 15th, Greg surmises that they’ll need time to settle into their Ski Resort Hotel’s luxury suite.  So after greeting them and making sure that they find their accommodations comfortable and luxurious, Greg feels that he will be off the hook and back on vacation.   So he invites Diana Langley to join him up at the ski resort for lunch.  Their newly romantic relationship means that the smitten Greg wants to woo her with roses and candlelit dinners, spending time together, and such—learning everything about her.  She fascinates him.

Naturally, Greg and Diana are traveling in the same car together today, his not so mini-van rental—since they’re living at his family’s former vacation home Halliday House, that he rented from the ski resort for the next week or two.  So Diana surmises that she might have to wait 15 to 30 minutes  for Greg to finish with greeting his CEO and his family, before she and Greg may have a semi-private daytime romantic lunch together.

Greg had earlier shared with Diana a bit about his boss Phillip Townes—the 55 year old CEO of Ski Resorts International is still handsome and athletically fit [(2) right], happily married with young children–a son and a daughter.  Greg just left out telling Diana that Townes’ wife is the younger sister of one of his former college girlfriends.  Ouch!  And Mrs. Vanessa Townes is a fashionable beauty who is in her mid thirties.

And due to Greg knowing Vanessa as a much younger woman before she married Phillip Townes fourteen years ago—who seemingly had an embarrassing crush on her older sister’s college boy friend, Greg—Greg is rather reserved whenever he has to be around Mrs. Townes at company and charity functions.  So Greg is nervous about how Mrs. Townes will act toward him at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel—based on her past behavior of some teasingly cloying flirtations that make him most uncomfortable.  Phillip Townes just laughs when his wife playfully flirts with Greg or other men—because their loving marriage is rock solid, and she signed an iron clad pre-nup that gets her nothing if she fools around on him or divorces him before they reach their thirtieth  wedding anniversary.  The pre-nup also included a fidelity clause for Phillip as well.

And truth be told, Diana is also a bit nervous to be in public so soon after she and Greg reached a tacit understanding about their growing romantic relationship—after being together most lovingly just last night.  There are no longterm promises  between them yet. But Greg has quite swept Diana off her feet—as she has done for him.

So around 11:30am, Greg and Diana arrive at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort Hotel’s large open lobby to await the Townes family arrival.  Greg has already confirmed with Mike Porter that the Townes three bedroom luxury suite awaits them. Actually, it also has a kitchen, dining room, and private maid and concierge services.  So Greg and Diana sit on a comfortably cushioned love seat and chat in a quiet corner of the large lobby–that gives them an excellent view of new arrivals.  They sweetly hold hands as they chat quietly with each other.

Greg:  “Diana, you look exceptionally beautiful today.”  Greg sighs and smiles at Diana with her having applied some light makeup, with her hair softly falling in waves about her face and shoulders, and her soft corduroy shirt dress with yellow roses on a black background [(3) right].

Greg is a completely besotted  man for the sweet and lovely Diana.  For Greg, Diana is the woman of his dreams, someone to build a life with, to make a family with.  Though he might be getting ahead of himself since he has already had several girlfriends during his forty years on this earth.  Whereas Diana has never really dated before Greg. So Diana is nascently exploring being in a first romantic relationship with Greg.

Diana: “Thank you, Greg.  That’s kind of you to say. You look quite handsome, yourself.”  She smiles shyly at him in his pale silver gray soft corduroy trousers, and a creamy white sweater over his torso [(4) right].   Diana is quite enamored of her strong, handsome, kind, and tender man Greg.  She believes that she is falling in love with him.  How could she not after last night?

And Diana self-consciously wonders if anyone can tell that she and Greg are a romantic couple by the way that they interact with each other.  And she feels like she has a perpetual blushing face that she can’t control—and Diana feels warm and tingly all over with Greg’s nearness to her on the loveseat.  Of course, with Greg and Diana sitting side by side on a small love seat sofa and holding hands, those are definite clues in regard to their level of closeness.  Yet Greg respects Diana and does not want her to be subjected to gossip, so he still takes every care of showing her respect when they are in public as they are now.  So Greg does not try to kiss her—though he desperately wishes that the large pot planted Norfolk pine tree next to them had denser fir needles.

Diana smiles at Greg, then she looks over at the ski resort’s hotel check-in-desk where Resort Managing Director Mike Porter is standing by–also awaiting their VIP guests, the Philip Townes family.   Mike notices Diana sitting with Greg and smiles warmly at her–then he nods less warmly to Greg, who nods curtly back to him.  Greg and Mike are focusing on their imminent important guests arriving, and less on the pleasantries of greeting each other as respective male acquaintances.  And with Greg wanting to buy back his former vacation home Halliday House and property, that issue adds another layer of complication upon the interactions between Greg and Mike.  Though they do maintain a cordial demeanor toward each other as business professionals.

And frankly, Mike is uncertain about the nature of Diana Langley’s continuing association with Greg Halliday.  Mike doesn’t want to see Diana hurt by what he presumes to be Greg’s man of the world ways of charming and seducing women for short term gratification. Mike Porter’s perhaps harsh and jaded assessment of Greg’s motives and intentions with regard to his relationship with Diana is not wholly without foundation—based on Mike’s observations of Greg’s past flirtations and conquests when he happened to be visiting the ski resort over the years.  But Greg’s past relationship behaviors do not necessarily reflect the present, nor the future.

Diana noticing the barely civil acknowledgement between Greg and Mike, asks Greg outright.

Diana: “Greg?  Is everything alright between you and Mike?”  Diana senses that there is an underlying tension between the two men, but she cannot fathom what that might be.  She has gotten to know Mike and his family over the last few years, and counts them as friends.

Greg: “What?  Oh!  It’s nothing.  I presume he is still uncertain about my wish to reclaim our Halliday house and grounds property from the ski resort.”  And Greg also wonders if Mike suspects the true nature of the Ski Resorts International CEO Phillip Townes family visit.  Because the world of winter sports recreation resorts on the large scale of Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel is a relatively small one.

Diana:  “Hmmm.”  Diana nods, her seemingly agreeing with Greg’s statement.  Then seeing a very large not so minivan stretch limo arrive at the ski resort hotel, Diana plans to make herself scarce for Greg.  “Greg?  That must be your boss and his family.   I’ll just get seated in the hotel’s restaurant to wait for you while you’re attending them.”

Greg: “Don’t go, Diana.  I would like the Townes to meet you—and you to meet them.  Afterall, if I hope to relocate to Galena or nearby so we can be together–and  with my remaining with the company by working remotely and with some business trips–they will need to meet the person who has claimed my heart.”  He smiles tenderly at her.

Diana: “Oh!  I had not thought that we were announcing ourselves as a couple yet.”  Diana smiles in being privately thrilled that Greg is contemplating moving to Galena so that they can be together.  But she still wishes to be private and circumspect about the deepening level of their relationship.  She will not be rushed into anything.

Greg:  “Well, now is as good a time as any.”  He smiles a bit cheekily.  Greg seems to smile more now that he is with Diana.

Diana:  “But Greg, though our relationship is developing, you and I have not discussed any concrete plans. And we should have that discussion privately—especially if others will likely ask us about our plans.”

Greg: “Of course, you’re right. But may I at least introduce you?  I am hopeful that our relationship will continue to grow, eventually leading to marriage, kids, the whole package.”  Of course, Greg is not exactly couching his phrasing in romantic tones, thinks Diana.  But then, perhaps, Greg is also inexperienced in the ways of love and relationships—as she is also inexperienced.

Diana: “Well …”  Once again, Diana acquiesces to another person’s request, even though she stated a very good reason for her wishing to keep their relationship private

Greg: “Oh, and you should know that I had known Mrs. Townes when she was the younger sister of one of my college girlfriends.  So she sometimes like to bring that up—along with her embarrassingly supposed former crush on me.” Greg rolls his eyes and shakes his head.

Diana: “Oh? What does her husband say about that?”  Diana blanches at Greg’s revelation of

Greg:  “Not much, in my presence.  What goes on behind closed doors between a husband and wife is their own private concern. And Mr. Townes is a very successful billionaire CEO of a multi-national company.  So Mrs. Townes would be quite the fool to take her husband for a fool and dally with other men.”  Greg states frankly.

Diana: “I see.  Hhhh!”  Her eyes widen, as she nervously gasps.


So Greg and Diana stand up from the loveseat, then Greg keeps her small hand within his larger hand–and his other hand placed gently at the small of her back–as they walk over to the foyer and stand near but apart from Mike.  They will let the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel’s Managing Director Mike Porter greet the Townes family as their latest VIP guests.  And then Greg will greet his boss and introduce Diana to him.

The Townes family walks into the airy lobby—father, mother, and two kids wearing warm cable knit sweaters in shades of light blue for the kids, and with dark navy and black suit jackets over them for their parents–as if they were planning a color coordinated family portrait—and they see the well dressed in business suit Mike Porter walking toward them to greet them.

Mike: “Mr. and Mrs. Townes, and children.”  Mike smiles warmly welcoming at them [(5) right].  “I am the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel’s Managing Director Mike Porter.   Let me welcome you to our resort.  We hope that you enjoy your weeklong stay with us.”  He and Phillip Townes cordially shake hands.

Phillip Townes: “Ah yes!  We spoke on the phone when I arranged my family’s reservations.”  Then he turns to his wife.  “This is my lovely wife Vanessa, and our wonderful children 10 year old Brad and 6 year old Lori.  Mike, I hope that you also have some age  appropriate fun activities for our kids at the ski resort.”  He looks questioningly at Mike.

Of course, Phillip Townes has thoroughly  investigated  the resort’s amenities.  He is merely testing Mike Porter.  And Greg smiles knowing that Mike is more than able to meet that test.

Mike:  “Indeed we do!  And my own young son and daughter as well as our staff’s children help us in developing varied offerings for children’s diverse interests year round.”

Mrs. Vanessa Townes: “That sounds lovely.”  She smiles.  Then she whispers to her husband.  “Phillip, Dear, might we dispense with further pleasantries and get to our suite to freshen up and then feed the kids before they have a melt down?”

Vanessa Townes is a seasoned mother, and they are traveling without their au pair this week.  So her children’s tending and supervising will mostly fall to her.  Though Phillip Townes is also a doting father, him being older also means that he tends to include business with pleasure—as he is doing with their vacation visit coinciding with his possible interest in acquiring the property.

Phillip Townes: “Of course, My Dear.  Mike, my wife and I would like to get our children settled in our suite, then grab some lunch as a family in the Ski Resort Hotel’s restaurant before we check out fun afternoon activities with our kids.”

Mike: “Of course, I perfectly understand as a parent myself.  Let my staff and I escort you and your family to your suite.  Your luggage and belongings have already been placed in there.”

Phillip Townes: “Excellent!”  Of course, Townes is accustomed to VIP service around the world.  And as of yet, Mrs. Vanessa Townes does not immediately notice Greg Halliday and the lady with him who are standing just out of her line of sight.  But her husband takes care of that.  “Oh!  Greg!  Good to see you!”

Greg: “Mr. Townes.” Greg nods and shakes his hand.  “And this is my … Lady friend, Diana Langley.” Greg only hesitates for a mere moment, before he finds a respectful way to describe Diana’s relationship to him.  Afterall, labeling someone a girlfriend seems too teenager-ish—and he and Diana are not affianced, yet.

Phillip Townes: “Oh, I didn’t realize that you were dating again.  Good for you!”  Townes smiles mischievously. He feels that when his employees are happy, they are more productive workers.  “Ms. Langley, I’m delighted  to make your acquaintance..”  He extends his hand to Diana Langley, who politely holds out her hand to him—yet she smiles at him with a shy reserve.”

Diana: “Mr. Townes, and family.  It is my pleasure to meet you.”  She smiles warmly at them.

Phillip Townes: “Charming.”  Townes says of Diana’s shy ladylike demeanor.  “Greg, this lady is a keeper.  If I weren’t already married  to the love of my life Vanessa here, I might propose to her myself.”  His boss’ remark  noticeably startles Greg–and Diana.

Greg: “Uh, yes Sir. But Diana and my relationship is developing slowly—though we have known each other since my family’s  childhood Winters and Summers here.  Her family owns Galena’s largest Sporting Goods Store, Langley’s.  But Diana is actually a teacher in town here.  And Diana and I only just reconnected.”  For Greg, this is the bare bones explanation of how he and Diana came to be a couple.  But for Diana, even that is too much information to share with others.

Phillip Townes: “Well you had best snap her up while you can, Greg.  As I know as with my dear wife Vanessa, Ladies of quality are wonderful and rare.  Say!  Why don’t you two join my family and I for lunch, if you have no other plans?”

When Phillip  Townes requests something, it is usually agreed to.  So what Greg does next will give Diana a hint of what their married life might be like—either with Greg being beholden to his boss’s whims and wishes, and ignoring her wishes, or not.

Greg: “Well… Sir, yours is a very kind invitation.  But I hope that you will excuse us.  I have already promised Diana a quiet lunch today for just the two of us—my thinking that you and your family would also have a private lunch.”  Greg’s polite decline hangs in the air.

Phillip Townes: “Of course.” Townes smiles knowingly at the consideration that Greg is showing to his Ladyfriend.  “Perhaps we’ll see you sometime again while we’re here this coming week.”  And Townes knows that he will see Greg, because he will set up a meeting toward the end of the week to compare notes with Greg about the ski resort’s suitability for becoming a Ski Resorts International property.

Vanessa Townes: “Oh Hello Greg.  Still the handsome charmer, I see.”  The beautiful long brunette haired Vanessa smiles sultrily [(6) right]  at Greg, then she drapes herself upon her handsome billionaire husband Phillip’s shoulder.

And unconsciously, Greg steps back closer to Diana again, and puts his arm lightly around her waist—conveying to Vanessa and to her husband Phillip Townes that Greg is both in a relationship with Diana and respectful of her.  Then Greg decides to diminish and prevent Vanessa’s usual catlike taunts.

Greg: “Ah, yes Mrs. Townes.  I was just telling my Ladyfriend Diana Langley here about the coincidence of your being married to my employer when I had dated your sister when she and I were in college together 18 years ago.  How is Marianne, by the way?”

Vanessa Townes: “She and her husband just had their third child together, a son this time.  They are very pleased.”  Then she kisses her husband’s cheek.  “And if I could only convince Phillip to expand our little family, we might also be welcoming a new sibling for Brad and Lori in the coming year.”  She pouts cutely at her husband.

Phillip Townes: “Hhhh!  We’ll see.”  He smiles bemusedly at his wife. Though he mentally calculates that if another child of theirs is born in the next year, then he will roughly be 74 years old when the kid graduates high school.  And he slightly winces at possibly being mistaken for his child’s grandfather, rather than its father.

Brad and Lori Townes: And though they have been good up until now, kids can only be patient for so long.  So the Townes kids whine.  “Daaaaddy!   We’re hungry!”  The kids meltdown that Mrs. Townes had warned her husband about is very imminent if they don’t get some food into them.

Phillip Townes: “Right!  Okay kids!  Let’s get you upstairs to change into your play clothes, then we’ll have lunch at the Ski Resort Hotel’s restaurant.  See you later Greg, and nice to meet you, again, Ms. Langley.”

Greg: “Have a great time!”  Greg smiles and waves, and Diana smiles and nods to the departing Townes family.

And though Greg clearly hopes that he and Diana develop into a long lasting relationship, he also hopes that Phillip Townes assumption that their relationship has progressed to the point that Greg might propose to Diana soon, doesn’t break his stride with Diana.  Greg realizes that Diana’s feelings for him should not and cannot be rushed—by anyone.

For you see, Greg is one of the last remaining bachelor hold outs amongst the Executives at Ski Resorts International.  But until he returned to Galena and met Diana again, he was in no rush to give up his bachelor status. He hadn’t found the one lady to tempt him into love and marriage.  And yet, Greg developing a loving relationship with Diana seems so right–like fate to him.

To be continued with Chapter 10

References for Ch. 9   of “Winter Rental”, by Gratiana Lovelace, February 27, 2022 (Post#1450)  

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday—2022–is represented by Richard Armitage in a cream looking pensive, photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Magazine;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

2) Perry King portrait looking dapper and upscale successful in a blue suit represents Ski Resorts International corporate CEO Phillip Townes; the original image was found at

3) Diana Langley—2021 is represented by Anne Hathaway  in a yellow roses on  black  corduroy shirt dress_Jan09-2022viaNoCamels–Grati-crop-szd

4) Greg Halliday is represented by Richard Armitage 2022 portraits  in cream sweaters by Kaitlyn Mikayla found in the Nobleman Mag interview at

5) Mike Porter smiling in bl business suit is represented by actor Rege-Jean Page;  The original image was found at Papsugare at!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2020/12/21/940/n/1922398/4f9ccfed9e07d343_GettyImages-1068929818/i/rege-jean-page-hot-pictures.jpg

6) Vanessa Townes is represented by the actress Gal Gadot, shown in a sultry pose here;  the original image was found at IMDB,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 9 “Winter Rental” (Post #1450):

Previous Something About Love  blog Post #1448  link for Ch. 8  of “Winter Rental”:

Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Richard Armitage speaking with a credible American accent in tongue twister challenge video, February 24, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post#1449)


Listen to Richard Armitage doing a credible type of New England-ish American accent with tongue twisters in this 2020 video shared by Richard Armitage Army Mexico!  And he scored 152 points!

Here’s the Audible version on You Tube:

Thanks to RA Army Mexico for sharing this video on Facebook, where I initially saw it!  My cap below:


And I had cousins out in New York state when I was growing up.  And we would meet every so often for family weddings and such. So I recognize a good deal of Richard’s NY accent here. Ha!  But I must say that my cousins accents varied/assimilated quite a bit when they were older and moved further West or further North with their own families.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & peaceful day! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Thespian Thursday | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 8:  Snuggling, and then some,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  February 20, 2022 (Post #1448) 

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; All rights reserved.];    [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left)]

[Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, Octavia Spencer as Octavia Porter, and others as noted.

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers. And I will post new story chapters weekly on both my SAL blog, as also on my Wattpad site.]

Winter Rental”, Ch. 8:  Snuggling, and then some

Greg Halliday intuitively knowing that his sister Connie will want to stay a second week to help tend to Eddie Hughes in his recovery from his wolf claw and bite wounds, Greg rents Connie her own minivan to use around town, so that Greg can use the larger not so minivan.  Greg also drives their friends Ron and Sylvia to the airport for them to fly out to their home on the East coast one day earlier than planned–after they profusely thank Diana Langley for letting them stay in her home that the Hallidays had unknowingly rented via the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel.

And kindly of them, the Hughes family invite Connie Halliday to stay in one of their Galena Mansion estates’ nearer to the main house guest cottages with Eddie Hughes, since she is being so devoted to him and his recovery—rather than her having to find a local hotel room and commute to see and tend to Eddie.  And the cottage being on one level will be easier for their son Eddie when he starts to get out of bed and moves around the cottage.

So after several days recovering in the hospital, Eddie Hughes is moved by ambulance from the hospital to the Hughes Galena estates’ cottage.  Though Eddie’s family has also engaged a day time nurse to tend to his wounds and an additional orderly to assist Eddie with bathing and such mornings before breakfast, Connie Halliday has become Eddie’s emotional care giver—continuing her assumed role when Eddie was in the hospital.  She encourages him,  keeps him company with reading him stories or talking of shared memories and new  possibilities, and she soothes him in the overnight hours—giving him his pain meds, as well as checking his wounds overnight.

And though Connie has her own bedroom in the Hughes Mansion’s cottage—and she purposely musses the bedlinens to give the impression to the cleaning staff and others that she is using that bed—she actually sleeps in Eddie’s room to soothe him in the night and monitor his temperature and such.  Though she started out sleeping in a chaise lounge near the bed and holding Eddie’s hand their first night in the cottage—similar to her overnight stays with Eddie in the hospital–Connie could quickly see that Eddie needed her comfort in a more tangible way at the cottage.

So Connie in her purposely goofy snowman pajamas, gently slides into bed with Eddie, holding his hand, tenderly kissing him on his lips, then carefully laying her head upon his shoulder only, so as not to inadvertently lay upon any of his healing wounds.

Connie:  “Is that better, Eddie?”  She asks to make sure that her movement in Eddie’s  king sized bed, kissing him, and holding his near hand hasn’t jostled him nor caused him pain.  And she is thankful that his lips do not feel like he has a fever.

Eddie: “Yessss!”  He sighs deeply. “Thank you!”  He is already groggy from his night time pain pill meds, but Connie’s near presence to him in his bed is also a balm to his soul.

Connie: “Then let us sleep, Eddie.  And I’ll be right here, in case you need something.”  She smiles lovingly at him, that he sees with the moonlight filtering through the curtain sheers.

Eddie: “Just you, My Darling.”  He sighs once more, then he dozes off.

Connie: “Sleep well… My Love.” And she gently kisses his non-injured shoulder and carefully lays her head upon their pillow, with her cheek barely touching his shoulder again.

Eddie’s recovery will be slow and will take several weeks. So Connie has already notified her employer in NYC of the family medical emergency that requires she remain in Galena—to tend to Eddie.  Connie  giving the department store the impression that her and Eddie’s relationship is more than it currently is. But Connie hopes that she and Eddie will renew their relationship when he is well—so that they may plan their futures together.  So Connie has taken a leave of absence from her job for now—with her realizing that if she wants she and Eddie to work as a couple, she will need to relocate to Galena.  And as a business savvy woman, she has a few ideas in that regard.


Diana Langley is grateful that Greg Halliday and his party vacated her Lakeside Cottage home a day earlier than expected on Friday January 14th—due to her upcoming kitchen renovations and the need for her to relocate more of her possessions to Greg’s former vacation home of Halliday House on the Pineridge Mountain Resort and Hotel property that he is renting for at least the upcoming week, since he graciously invited her to stay with him.

And with Greg retaining the large not so mini-van, he ably helped her move more of her clothes, personal items, and teaching materials and computers and printers, too—in case the kitchen renovations extended beyond one week as the start of Diana’s winter high school session will begin at the beginning of February in two weeks, barring any more extreme weather events.

So the Friday night of January 14th, with Diana’s boxes of possessions temporarily moved into the main former Halliday House vacation home—but not unpacked—Greg and Diana are too tired to make themselves dinner after they showered and got into their jammies.  And Greg had thought of their being too tired to make elaborate meals when he had food provisioned for them in the rental of his former vacation home—including easy to bake pizzas, as well as, several sandwich fixings. Diana chose the sausage, mushroom, and cheese personal pan pizza and Greg chose the fully loaded personal pan pizza.

Greg and Diana sit companionably on the long and deep couch with its soft and plush upholstery as they chat and eat their first night living under Greg’s roof.

Diana: “I have to ask, what is that topping on your pizza?  I don’t recognize it.”  Diana grimaces, hoping that Greg won’t insist that she try it.

Greg: “That?” He looks closer at the aforementioned pizza topping.  “I think, either its an anchovy or a squid.”

Diana:  “Ewwww!” Diana doesn’t hold back on her feelings about his pizza topping with a possibly aquatic origin.

Greg: Greg pops his offending pizza topping  into his mouth, chews, swallows—then proclaims.  “Squid.”

Diana:   “Ewww, again!”

Greg: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”  Greg laughs for her cute discomfiture.  “Don’t worry, I won’t make you try it.  But don’t you like any seafood?”  He pouts cutely.

Diana: “Oh no!  I love fish–just not in combination with some other foods.”

Greg: “Duly noted.”  He smiles.  “When I take you out to eat, I’ll let you choose your own meal—rather than try to emulate the supposedly romantic notion of a man dictating what a grown woman will eat by ordering for her, that you see in some movies.”

Diana: “Good idea.” She states sarcastically, though a small smile threatens to curl up the corners of her mouth. Then she takes a bite of her sausage and mushroom pizza.  “Hmmm. This is good.”

Greg: “I’m glad that you like it. Oh!  You’ve got a dab of tomato sauce just below your lower lip.”  He points as he stares at her lips.

Diana: “Thanks.  Here?”  She dabs with her linen napkin at the wrong side of her lips.

Greg: “Uh, no.  Other side.”

Diana:  “Here?” Diana dabs at her mouth again–just missing the tomato sauce again.

Greg: “Allow me.”  Greg slowly takes her linen napkin from her hand and gently dabs at Diana’s near chin–and removes the tomato sauce drop. “There.”  Greg smiles with his face close to Diana’s.  Then he leans further in and gently kisses her lips.  “Hmmmm.  I’ve wanted to do that again all week.”  He sighs.

Diana:  Diana’s fatigue and the wine they are drinking with their pizzas, makes her reply cheekily. “Oh?  Mop up my face, or kiss me with your fish breath?”

Greg: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”  He rocks his head back in laughter.  “You are so delightful, Diana!  I will be happy to go brush my teeth now, rather than after dinner.”

Diana:  “Well, I … uh…” Diana leans in and kisses Greg again, despite his fish breath.

Taking her cue that his fish breath teeth brushing can wait, Greg removes their pizza plates from their laps and pulls Diana toward him in another kiss as he lies down on the inside of the large and deep couch.  Diana does not resist and lies down on the outside edge of the couch next to Greg lying on the inside, and she kisses him back as they continue to embrace tenderly.

Yet Greg senses that for Diana to fully enjoy their kissing tonight—and maybe more—that he must do one essential thing.  So he reaches out his arm toward the coffee table in front of the couch, finds the small bowl of dinner mints, selects one mint and pops it into his mouth between lip locks.

Greg:  “How is that?”  He asks cheekily.

Diana: “Much better.”

Then their kissing lip locks are the only language that they need—for the rest of the night.  And as they snuggle into each others’ sides as they fall asleep on the couch, Greg grabs the blanket throw over the back of the couch and covers them with it for warmth.


The following morning of Saturday, January 15th, Greg and Connie sleep quite contentedly in each others’ arms on the couch at Halliday House.  Greg is almost bare chested in an open athletic style t-shirt [(2) below].—because he always gets too hot overnight if he has a long sleeve pajama top on—but he is wearing his thin pajama bottoms. And Diana is fully clothed in her baggy sweater over her pajama top and bottoms–and fuzzy socks.  They are a picture of domestic bliss, despite them only reconnecting with each other last week.

Greg:  “Good morning, Diana.”  Greg’s voice deeply smoulders in Diana’s ear.

Diana: “Hhhhhh!”  Diana sighs in her sleepy haze and lovingly embraces Greg–her face still buried into his neck, her arms around his torso.

Greg is quite enchanted with the lovely and sweet Diana.  And though he wishes that they could lay about in a bed this morning—to continue getting to know each other better—Greg has to see to a few things to get ready to greet his boss Philip Townes and family when they arrive.  And he looks at the time on his watch on the coffee table next to the couch.

But then Greg remembers that he had already arranged for a limo to pick up Townes and his family at the airport.  And essentially, Greg is on vacation.  So he’ll plan to wait to greet the Townes family when they arrive at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel closer to midday.  So the morning belongs to Greg and Diana.

Greg: “I’ll be right back, Diana Darling.” He purrs then moves to briefly disengage himself and his limbs entangled with hers.

Diana: “Don’t go.”  Diana cleaves rather more passionately to him, and she kisses his strong muscular neck.

Greg: “Oh, I’ll be right back, but I must … truly brush my teeth now—and a few other things.”  He dissembles.

Diana: “Promise?”  Greg nods.  And Diana smiles sleepily at him, then she lies backdown on the couch [(3) below].

So Greg manages to carefully climb over Diana and head to his bedroom’s bathroom.  Then Diana wakes up enough to feel the wisdom in brushing her own teeth and such. So she dozily walks to her nearby bedroom’s bathroom where she fully freshens up herself with a soothingly warm shower.  Of course, her long hair is wet now.  So she takes the time to dry it.  And she eschews makeup for the moment.  And Greg hears her shower going, so he also takes a shower.  Then they each don comfy clothes and meet in the kitchen where Greg is already warming up the espresso machine for their morning coffees or hot cocoas.

Diana walks into the kitchen and goes instantly to Greg’s side, and he envelopes her in a loving embrace and kisses her adoringly.

Greg: “Good morning, Diana Darling.”

Diana: “Good morning, Greg Dear. Hhhhh!”  She yawns.  “Sorry.  But I’m still so sleepy, even after my shower.  Or perhaps, because of it.”

Greg: “I know what you mean. Me, too.”  He flips off the Espresso’s switch. “Shall we head back to bed for a few more hours?”  He asks hopefully—possibly to sleep, and possibly not to sleep.

Diana: Suddenly becoming shy.  “Well … um…  Greg, I had a lovely dream that we cuddled and kissed all night long last night.”  She gazes up at him wonderingly.

Greg: “It was lovely, very lovely.”  His deep voice and enlarged pupils convey his interest in returning to bed with her this morning.  “But it was no dream, Diana.”

Diana’s eyes widen in surprise.  And Greg is unsure if Diana thinks their not a dream cuddling and kissing last night is a good surprise or a bad surprise.

Diana:  “I feel embarrassed to ask—because I’m not sure—but was our kissing and cuddling …”  She cannot finish her question.

Greg: “Well …”  He smiles.  “Technically, … possibly … not.”  Greg answers Diana vaguely.

Diana:  “Hhhh!”  Diana expels a sigh, in remembering Greg’s tenderness with her last night.

Greg: “But only … just this side of …  not.”  He grins devilishly.

Diana:  “Oh!”

And Diana wonders, how her kissing and cuddling with Greg could be any lovelier than it was last night?  And then he shows her.

To be continued with Chapter 9

References for Ch. 8  of “Winter Rental”, February 20, 2022 by Gratiana Lovelace, (Post#1448)

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Mag_;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

2) Greg Halliday sleeping is Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks; image found at

3) Diana Langley—BW-image-lying-on-couch-in-big-sweater-isAnneHathaway-via_TheSundayTimesLondon_Feb10-2019–dwnldJan23-2022grati-szd-clrbl; original image was found at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 8 “Winter Rental” (Post #1448):

Previous Something About Love  blog Post #1447  link for Ch. 7  of “Winter Rental”:

Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Fun Day Sunday, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 7:  Post rescue–more couples time this week,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  February 13, 2022 (Post #1447)

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022;
All rights reserved.];
[(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left); other image credits are at the end of each chapter(s) post]

0-2022--aa-Winter-Rental-story-cover-256x402_Jan09-2022byGratianaLovelace[Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, Octavia Spencer as Octavia Porter, and others as noted.

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers. And I will post new story chapters weekly on both my SAL blog, as also on my Wattpad site.]


“Winter Rental”, Ch. 7:  Post rescue–more couples time this week

When Greg Halliday had previously booked their Galena vacation rental reservation—of what turned out to be Diana Langley’s home, the newly christened Lakeside Cottage–for himself, his sister Connie, and their friends Ron & Sylvia, what Greg had hoped would be a week full of invigorating skiing interspersed with relaxation down times doesn’t happen.

With the rescue of the endangered cross country skiing tour group that included Greg’s sister Connie—and two severely injured skiers, including their tour guide Eddie Hughes, son of the current Ski Resort owner—Connie has detached herself from their vacation group to devote herself to tending to Eddie.  Though Eddie will be hospitalized for several days and nights due to his wolf claw and bite marks needing to be monitored by the medical staff for infections, Connie plans to keep him company to keep his spirits up and tend to his simple needs of water and cold compresses to keep a fever down that he developed.  And then, she plans to continue to tend to him, when he is released from the hospital.  It seems that Connie and Eddie are reconnecting with each other after a 12 years absence as girlfriend and boyfriend.  So they are shyly getting to know one another again.

And Greg tables his discussion, for now, with the ski resort owner Mr. Brent Hughes, regarding Greg’s wish to purchase back from the ski resort his old vacation home Halliday House and property–out of respect for the Hughes family needing to concentrate on their son Eddie’s medical emergency. Though Greg still asks his dad to scan and email him a copy of the contract for deed so that he can review it from a legal standpoint.  And he also informed his Resorts International CEO boss Philip Townes who plans to visit with his family next week, that the Hughes family Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort owners will likely not be available for any merger discussions next week, due to the family health emergency.

But on the positive side, Greg Halliday and Diana Langley are getting along great!  After their nerves had settled Sunday– from the anxiety of the mountain rescue crisis on Saturday–Greg and Diana stay within the confines of her Ski Resort Hotel suite, their still avoiding being overwhelmed by other grateful guests families of the rescued skiers and the press on Sunday.  But they do long to get out of her suite and do some things around town.

So at breakfast the following Monday morning, Greg and Diana chat in her ski resort hotel suite about her plans to upgrade her home’s kitchen as a way of distracting themselves from thinking about their harrowing Saturday–by talking about everyday life.

Greg:  “So tell me about your great kitchen remodel–with new appliances and such.”  He grins and takes a sip of his morning brew, courtesy of room service. His cheer is partially because of his coffee’s deep rich flavor—no milk or sugar for Greg—as well as, the room service server’s conveying that the group of press and others interested in the rescue have died down and are not in evidence anymore.

Diana tasting a morsel of her egg, ham, & cheese omelette first does a ladylike swallow, then she replies to Greg with her straight forward design goals.

Diana: “My home’s kitchen’s lovely tan and black with silver flecks quartz countertops will stay—mostly due to quartz not needing resealing each year like marble does.  So I would like all steel appliances—including new double over under ovens in addition to a new electric stove top oven range, refrigerator, dishwasher, and sink. And I love my kitchen cabinets and the overall layout.  So only a few changes there.”  She nods her head resolutely.

Greg: “Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out. The worst bit is always if you have to change out cabinets and redo the floor plan—in having to move everything in the cabinets around to other storage areas during remodeling.  But with you’re only swapping out appliances—with a slight cabinets adjustment for the additional over under double ovens—their installation should be able to be accomplished in an afternoon, with the double ovens being installed last.”  And with Greg renting her home, he visualizes her kitchen layout in his mind, and he raises a quizzical brow. “So where are the double ovens going?”

Diana: “I guess you’re not conversant with innovative kitchen remodeling ideas, Greg.  Hmmm?”  She teases with a smile.

Greg:  “Well, you have me there, Diana.”  He smiles at her.  “But seriously, where are you putting the double ovens?”    He asks mirthfully.

Diana: “As you know, when standing at my home’s oven, there are counter tops on either side of the oven range for staging cooking ingredients, taking things out of the oven, etc.”

Greg nods, since he has lived in Diana’s  home as his winter rental for a few days now—though with half of that time spent with Diana in her Ski Resort Hotel suite, he realizes.

Greg: “Yes, most convenient.”  Greg smiles appreciatively at the lovely Diana, seemingly enlivened by relating her kitchen home remodeling ideas to him.

Diana: “So, the full length floor to ceiling pantry cupboard to the far right of the countertop is the perfect place for the double ovens—with some drawer storage below and another small shelving cabinet above.  And I’ll have the current pantry cabinet moved to the left of the refrigerator that is flush to the far end of the  left countertop side of the range oven.”

Greg: “Hmmm.  That’s sounds very convenient.  But you’re smiling, Diana.  What are you not telling me?”  He asks with a knowingly quirked eyebrow.

Diana: “Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.  I’m going to see if a smallish bay window can be added as a bump out breakfast nook–with cushioned bench seating on the window side, and chairs opposite, using my existing kitchen table and chairs. Thereby…”  But Greg excitedly interrupts her, with a dawning understanding.

Greg: “Ah! Thereby, creating more room for the repositioned pantry to the left of the refrigerator.  That will be a most efficient use of your kitchen space, Diana!”

They smile cordially at each other with their similar feelings about kitchen design and the need to balance functionality, storage, comfort, and design.

Diana: “So, shall we attempt going to the home improvement store for designs and building contractors today?”

Greg: “We?”  He asks teasingly, then gently clasps her hand in his across her ski resort hotel suite’s small breakfast table.

Diana:  “Oh!  I meant, well, since you’re renting my home this week, I thought that you might have some fresh input about my kitchen’s utility for me.  Unless, of course, you would rather go skiing by yourself.”

Diana blushes at her assumption that Greg might like to go with her.  She and Greg have spent nearly all their time together the last few days, and she likes that.  She likes him.

Greg: “Diana, skiing by myself does not hold any allure for me at the moment—though sledding later today or tomorrow with you will be fun.  And I will enjoy spending more time with you today—at the home improvement store.”  Greg gently squeezes her hand in his.  “So let’s get dressed, then head down the mountain for town.”


However, Diana and Greg’s first stop in town is at her family’s sporting goods store to see how her brother Gary is getting on—now that the mountain rescue emergency has passed.  Greg would have rather skipped this stop—with him feeling annoyed with Gary’s treatment of his own sister Diana. But he acquiesced for the quick visit for Diana’s sake.

Yet almost as soon as Greg and Diana enter the Langley’s sporting goods store and the recorded bell tinkle heralds their arrival, the customers within start clapping for them.  It seems that their Galena hometown newspaper and radio station have been singing their praises for being key to finding and rescuing the stranded and injured cross country skiing party.

And several of Diana’s hometown neighbors walk over to Diana and give her hugs, as well as them politely meeting Greg Halliday as Diana introduces each one of her hometown neighbors to Greg.  And Greg greets them cordially, shaking their hands—or in the case of the much older and petite grandmotherly types, submitting to hugs.  Diana watches Greg with amusement for him trying to remain gracious with the grandmothers.  But Diana can see how awkward it is for Greg, despite how well he is trying to mask his discomfittedness.

Then the final grandmotherly neighbor type who seems to be a young sixtyish and stylishly dressed woman waits patiently to be introduced to Greg.  But first she gives Diana a warm hug.

Diana: “Mrs. Hughes.  It’s so good to see you again!”  For Mrs. Hughes crosses paths with Diana on various civic and charity projects in their community.

Mrs. Janet Hughes: “And I you, Diana Dear!”

Diana: “Oh and this is Greg Halliday. And Greg, this is Mrs. Janet Hughes, Eddie’s Mom.” She performs the introductions with warmth and compassion.

And Greg instantly envelopes Mrs. Janet Hughes in a gentle hug.  Then he pulls back with a smile, still holding her hand and gently squeezing it.

Greg: “I’m so delighted to see you again, Mrs. Hughes.  Though the circumstances are unfortunate and I hope that Eddie is on the mend.  I count myself and my sister fortunate that Eddie was their cross country Skiing Pro Guide on Saturday, as he protected everyone from harm.”  And he hugs her again.

Mrs. Janet Hughes: “Greg.  Dear boy!”  She pats his face fondly.  “You have grown into an even more handsome and gentlemanly man than when last I saw you, at Connie’s Senior prom.  It is I who want to thank you for your help in rescuing everyone—and for your sister Connie’s selfless act in saving Eddie and Pete by attacking that wolf that was attacking them, then she administered first aid to them.  Her courage and strength saved my son from certain death.”  Her tears of gratitude and relief spill over onto her cheeks.

Greg: “Thank you.  And I’m awed at Connie’s heroics, myself.  We’re just glad that everything turned out all right for her, Eddie, and the other skiers.”  He states in relief.

Mrs. Janet Hughes: “And Connie has been a wonderful presence by Eddie’s bedside in the hospital as he recovers from his wounds.  Her love and support for him is helping him to endure the great pain and stress that he’s under.  You know, my son Eddie  has never forgotten Connie, his first love.”  Of course as a loving mother, Mrs. Hughes has to put in a good word for her son.  And she has always liked Connie Halliday.

Greg: “That’s nice.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Connie has never forgotten Eddie, her first love.  Though I wish that their reconnection with one another would have been less traumatic.”  Greg and Mrs. Janet Hughes begin to hug again in parting.

But then Diana’s brother Gary and manager of their sporting goods store walks up to the three of them.

Gary: “Diana, Greg, … and Mrs. Hughes!  Lovely to see you!”  Now that the pleasantries are over, Gary gets to the point. “Mrs. Hughes, I’m needing the return of the cross country skiers rented ski equipment for other renters.  And they said that the ski resort has them.”  He looks at her plaintively.

Mrs. Hughes: “Oh!  Of course.  But I’m not involved with running the resort, so I’m not sure whom you should call about that.”  She smiles wincingly.

Gary: “But …”

Diana:  “Gary! Please leave Mrs. Hughes alone.  She already told you that she doesn’t know whom you should call.  And she needs to focus on her son Eddie’s recovery.  You should call the resort and find out whom to contact directly.”  Diana’s voice is firm.

Greg is very proud that Diana stood up to her brother Gary just now. Then as Gary looks like he might say something again, Greg interrupts him.

Greg: “Gary, logically, you’ll want to contact the Asst. Director of Recreation at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel, about the rented ski equipment being returned to your store here.”  Greg supplies helpfully—hoping to end any and all discussions with Gary.

Mrs. Janet Hughes:” Oh!  That’s a very good idea.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”  She shakes her head and rubs her forehead.”

Diana: “That’s alright, Mrs. Hughes.  You’ve had more important issues to worry about.  Please give Eddie our love.”  Diana gives Mrs. Hughes a compassionate hug in parting, and waves goodbye to her.

Greg: “We had best go, too, Diana.” Then he turns to Gary, and shakes his hand perfunctorily.  “Good to see you again, Gary.”

Then with a wave of Diana’s and Greg’s hands, they are outta there, as they quickly leave the Langley’s Sporting Goods Store.  In Greg’s mind, Gary looks to have plenty of paid store clerks to help him at the moment.  So Gary shouldn’t impose upon Diana.  The habits of a lifetime are hard to break for Gary, and Greg will help Diana in whatever way he can to get her brother Gary to stop imposing himself on her.


Greg and Diana are back in her car– since Connie had ended up commandeering Greg’s rented van for the time being, Greg is Diana’s passenger.  After they arrive at the area’s home improvement store, they look at various bump out bay window and bench seating options, as well as contractor resumes.  They ask a few questions, then take some brochures and resumes with them.  Diana does not need to make an on the spot decision.  She will review each bay window option and contractors resumes, then invite at least two of the building contractors to submit bids on her kitchen remodeling project.

Then Greg takes Diana to lunch, his treat, at a local Bennigan’s bar and grill restaurant.  And they just relax and unwind in a quiet corner near the fireplace, enjoying their delicious meals of steak and potatoes with a vegetable stir fry and rolls—with lemonade to wash it down. And then they chat over their cheesecake desserts with their coffees.

Diana:  “Thanks for your help today, Greg.  I really appreciate it.”

Greg:  “Oh?  You’re welcome.  But I didn’t do much but listen at the home improvement store.  You have the situation well in hand.”  He praises her sincerely.

Diana: “Thanks, but I was talking about when we were at my family’s sporting goods store—with all of the grandmothers hugging you,…”  She winces cutely and  Greg smiles sheepishly.  “… and then my brother Gary …”  Her voice trails off.

Greg: “Well, Diana, I think that you took care of Gary quite neatly yourself, when you shushed him up when he started to pester Mrs. Hughes.” He smiles warmly at her and squeezes her hand.  “All I did was back you up.”

Diana:  “Well I appreciated your support, Greg.”

Greg: “That’s what friends are for.” Though Greg thinks of Diana as more than a friend, he is too shy to ask her directly about her feelings for him, with their reconnecting as adults being so new for both of them.  Though shy would not be Diana’s descriptor for the tall, dark, handsome, and confident Greg Halliday.

But then, Diana helps Greg out in that regard—in her seeking to know more about Greg’s feelings toward her.

Diana:  “Just as only a friend, Greg?”   Diana’s face blushingly pinkens, even as she bemusedly raises her left eyebrow.  Diana is very interested in Greg’s answer.

Greg: “Well …  I like you a lot, Diana.  And I will admit that I would very much like to be in a private place with you right now, where we can kiss and cuddle some more.”  Now Greg’s face flushes for him revealing his desire for Diana.  He remembers fondly waking up with her Saturday morning—with her nestled into his arms, and then their lovely kissing that felt so natural to him.

Diana: “Oh!  So no sledding today then?”  She teases him impishly—even as she blushes more for his declaration.

Greg: “Maybe tomorrow for the sledding.  Would you like to go back to, well to your home  that I’m renting after our lunch today?”  Greg’s voice and eyes are smouldering at Diana.  And she feels that she might melt on the spot.

Diana: “Oh! But with your friends Ron & Sylvia also staying there, it’s not very private.”  She winces, but indirectly indicating her consent to be with Greg in somewhat of a private way.

Greg: “Hmmm.” He smiles.  “Ron and Sylvia barely come out of their room—they’re trying for a baby.  But how about, we just stop by your home Lakeside Cottage that I’m renting, and I can pick up more clothes to take back to your suite at the Ski Resort?” And he thinks he’ll also pick up his shaving kit that contains some responsible protection items in it.  Though through lack of need, he does hope that they aren’t expired.

Diana: “Alright.” Then Diana looks a bit anxiously at Greg, like a deer caught in headlights.

Greg: Greg caressingly clasps her hand again.  “Diana, we won’t do anything that you don’t want to do.  But I want to explore our relationship together to see where it might lead us as a couple.  Wouldn’t you like that as well?”  He asks hopefully.

Diana: “But, Greg, you’re only going to be here for a few more days, until Friday.  And then you head home to … to …”  Diana realizes that she knows Connie lives in New York City, but Greg did not say where he lives.

Greg: “I live in Hartford, Connecticut—near enough to NYC for business, but the cost of living is much better.  And my visit to Galena is being extended another week with my boss and his family flying in on Saturday.  I’ve praised the Galena area and the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel so much over the years that he said that they want to experience it.”  Greg dissembles a bit, because his boss is considering buying Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel.

Diana: “Oh!  That’s nice.  And you’re acting as their tour guide?”  She asks quizzically.

Greg: “No, not at all.  But I might have some meetings with him here and there.  My initial purpose in staying longer was to see if I can buy back our former Halliday House vacation home from the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel, as you know.  But now?  Now I hope that you and I can continue getting to know each other, Diana.”

Diana:  “Well Greg, um, if I’m lining up kitchen remodeling contractors for next week, my home won’t be fit to live in.”  She winces.

Greg: “Oh I wasn’t planning to rent your home for another week, Diana.  I’m renting my family’s former vacation home, Halliday House, for next week.  So if the ski resort hotel can’t extend your hotel suite stay—and even if they can–you’re welcome to stay with me at Halliday House.  You may even pick your own bedroom.  Yet, we’ll still be all cozy together, cuddling in front of the wood burning fireplace, just ourselves, we two.  And our privacy will be guaranteed, since  we’ll be far enough away from my boss and his family in a suite at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort Hotel–and their family activities–that work won’t intrude on my time with you too much.”  He hopes.

Diana realizes how scandalous Greg’s invitation sounds—her living with Greg for a week, in his former family vacation home.  But they are just friends, at the moment.  And Greg is graciously offering Diana her own bedroom.

Diana:  “Staying with you at Halliday House next week will be nice, Greg.  Thank you.”  Diana states with a primness belying her growing loving feelings for Greg.

Diana and Greg smile tenderly at each other—each hopeful for an expanding loving relationship with each other.  And naturally, they are each understanding of the others’ feelings long term.  Theirs is not a quickie vacation romance, but rather a potentially budding love of a lifetime relationship.

To be continued with Chapter 8

References for Ch. 7  of “Winter Rental”, February 13, 2022 by Gratiana Lovelace, (Post#1447)

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Mag_;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 7 “Winter Rental” (Post #1447):

Previous Something About Love  blog Post #1445 link for Ch. 6  of “Winter Rental”:

Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Richard Armitage launches White Boar Films production company with Emily Marr, February 09, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1446)



Posted in Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling, White Boar Films by Richard Armitage | Leave a comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 6:  Emergency on Pineridge Mountain,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  February 06, 2022 (Post #1445) 


[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; All rights reserved.];
[(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left); other image credits are at the end of each chapter(s) post]

 [Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, Octavia Spencer as Octavia Porter, and others as noted.

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers. And I will post new story chapters weekly on both my SAL blog, as also on my Wattpad site.]

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 6:  Emergency on Pineridge Mountain

After Greg’s meeting with Mike Porter about Greg wanting to buy his family’s old home back from the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel, he meets some obstacles—in that the Ski Resort has created a whole compound of buildings, turning it into a business conference center both marring the beauty of the original property (in Greg’s mind), and making the house and property much more expensive to reacquire, were the Ski Resort even willing to sell it.

As Greg sits at a window side table in the Ski Resort’s restaurant–brooding over the fate of their family vacation home—he is the picture of gloom and dread as he awaits his sister Connie joining him for lunch when she returns from her cross country skiing group tour.  Then Diana returns to the Ski Resort Hotel for some lunch as well, after visiting several kitchen appliance and design stores in the area this morning, gathering information on her choices.  Diana spots Greg looking forlornly out a window of the Ski Resort’s restaurant dining room.  And she is inexplicably drawn to finding out what is the matter with him.

Diana: “Greg, are you alright?”  She asks softly so as not to startle him.

Greg: Greg slowly looks up to see Diana standing near his table and shakes his head.  “I hardly know. I’m just here waiting for Connie to get back from her cross country skiing group tour this morning.  Please sit and join us for lunch, if you don’t have other plans.”  Actually, Greg welcomes talking to Diana about the area and what it means to her, even as he tries to understand why it seems to mean so much to him.

Diana:  “Thank you. I think I will join you for lunch.” Diana smiles cordially at him, then she sits across the table from him.

And Greg notices the distance from him that Diana is keeping.  And he guesses that it is his fault. Oh, not for kissing and embracing her this morning in bed, that was quite lovely.  But for him feeling awkward about it later, and then his blasted  reserve probably made her think that he doesn’t like her. But he does like her.  Yet his first salvo, does not convey that.

Greg: “Why didn’t you tell me?”  He asks Diana in exasperation.

Diana: Noting his anger, she wonders where it’s coming from. “Is this about my house?”  She huffs at his ire.

Greg: “No!  This is about my house.  The ski resort turned our family’s former vacation home and property into a business center retreat with extra cabins around it—as if it were a campground recreation area.” He sputters in disgust.

Greg and his family had spent decades returning to their vacation home for Winters and Summers.  And it was home for Greg, since he was nine years old when his family built their vacation home in Galena on the lower elevation of Pineridge Mountain–and he had a say in decorating his bedroom with a skiing theme, he also insisted that their family room needed a ping pong table, he reveled in lying in the hammock on lazy Summer afternoons while reading books  under the big tree in front, and so much more.

And Greg has always suspected that his ten years younger sister Connie was conceived by his parents there at their vacation home at the end of their family’s first  long fun Summer there when he was nine years old—considering Connie was born in the following Spring and she made poopy diapers that stunk up the place.  So his Mama made sure that Connie was potty trained—at least day time potty trained–by the time they traveled there again the following Summer, when Connie was a one year old and Greg was eleven.

Diana: “Oh! I thought you knew, Greg. There have been a lot of changes since old Mr. Hughes died four years ago and his son took over.  Their business philosophies were and are completely different.”

Greg: “It would seem so.  When my parents sold our vacation home to the Ski Resort four years ago, it was with the promise that they would maintain its family home charm.  In fact, I know that my Dad put a stipulation in the contract for deed that said they had to keep it as a family home and property,  pristine for my and Connie’s life time—so we could rent it out when we came back to visit.”

Diana: “He did, did he?  That was very forward thinking of your Dad.  So in essence the Ski Resort has, let’s say a 50 year lease, before they can actually assume full ownership of the property?”  Greg nods.  “Well you’re a lawyer, Greg.  I’d suggest that you review that contract for deed and see what your options are.”

Greg: “That’s an excellent idea.  I was just so bummed at the almost theme park approach  that the Ski Resort has done to our family’s lovely property, that I haven’t been thinking straight—not thinking as a lawyer.”  Of course, the upset Greg is exaggerating a bit about the theme park look of the property—but his former vacation home does look like a campground.

Diana:  “Greg, I understand what you’re feeling.  Our homes have precious memories for us.  They embody the touchstones of our lives in the mementos kept there–of kites flown, fishing or skiing competitions won, the kid height markers on the door frames for each child as they grew up, wonderful Summer barbecues with family and friends, and especially memories of those we’ve lost.”  Diana now looks sad and teary eyed.

Greg: “That was beautifully said, Diana.”  Greg reaches across the table and lightly touches her hand.  “I’m sorry about your parents. You must miss them a great deal.”

Diana: “I do. Mom died ten years ago, and then Dad died just last Fall.  Yet the pain of losing them never goes away.”  Diana pauses to try to compose herself.  But she finds that she can’t be stoic any longer.  “And I don’t know what I’m doing any more, where I’m going with my life.  I feel like I’m not moving forward anymore.”  Diana covers her crying eyes as she buries her face in her hands.  Her grief has been even more difficult because she has no one to share it with.  Her brother Gary didn’t involve himself when her parents became ill—not even to help her out, since Diana was her parents’ main caretaker, both times.  And Diana feels adrift and alone in the world.

Greg silently moves to a chair adjacent to Diana’s chair and leans over and embraces her shoulders.  Then Diana leans into Greg as he comforts her.  It is, perhaps, a blessing that Diana is facing the window—so she is not on display to the other restaurant patrons as she cries, and her privacy is somewhat maintained.  And their restaurant server is patiently giving them their space and time, by not approaching them for their lunch orders yet.

Unfortunately, life is rarely uncomplicated.  And this moment is one of them, as Diana’s cell phone rings and she answers it–even as Greg sees the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort manager Mike Porter approaching them, with a serious look on his face.

Gary on phone: “Diana, thank God I reached you!  The cross country skiing group tour has not checked in yet, and they were due at the Ski Resort for lunch 30 minutes ago.  I have all kinds of frantic relatives trying to find out what’s going on. Can you come into the store to help me field questions here?”

It is so typical of Gary, him needing his sister’s help, but rarely giving his help to her.  And with them sitting so closely together, Greg hears every word of Gary’s call. And knowing that Diana is in no state to do what Gary asks—even as he worries about the fate of his own sister Connie—Greg gently takes the cell phone from Diana’s  trembling hands.

Greg on phone:  “Gary, this is Greg.  I’m with Diana at the Ski Resort’s restaurant. And she is unable to assist you at this time.  The Resort Manager Mike Porter is walking toward us and we’ll see what he says.  I’ll call you back later when we know more.”  And Greg cuts the call, not giving Gary any time to make any more demands of Diana.

Mike:  Mike heads straight to Greg and Diana’s table and sits down.  “I see you’ve heard about the missing cross country skiing group tour from Gary.” He states in a serious tone.

Greg: Greg nods.  “Yes, and my sister Connie is with that group.  Is there a search and rescue effort begun?”

Mike: “Yes, we have designated and trained mountain search and rescue staff.  And myself and several of the other more athletic ski resort staff are going to supplement our usual search and rescue teams via deploying the resort’s snow mobiles.”

Greg: “I’m coming, too. I’ll just need to borrow a warmer overcoat, since mine is back at Diana’s house and we don’t want to lose time going for it.”

Mike: “Sure, we’ll raid the pro shop.  Diana, will you be alright by yourself?”  He asks in concern, noticing that she has been crying.

Greg: Not wanting to breech her personal grief, Greg suggests.  “Diana?  Maybe you should rest up in your suite.  I’ll call you on my cell phone when we know something.

Diana: “No! I’m coming with you.”

Mike: “But your infirmity?”  Mike  reminds her.  And surprise is evident on Greg’s face—him not knowing that Diana has a physical ailment.  .

Diana: “I’m fine.  We’ll be on snow mobiles.  I have driven them all my life.  And we’ll need all the snow mobiles out there so we can bring back the tired and cold cross country skiers with us–if they’re off the main roads that are inaccessible by vans.”  And what she thinks but does not say, is that if they find anyone injured, they will likely need to call for an air lift out via the nearest open clearing.  And it turns out that her Ski Resort Manager friend Mike Porter has already called in the local hospital’s helicopter on standby.

Greg: “Are you sure, Diana?  You must think of yourself.”  Because Greg is now also worried about Diana, him not knowing the scope of her physical challenges.  And Greg worries if Diana’s condition is merely an injury that is life challenging, or worse,  possibly a heart condition which could be life threatening

Diana:  “I would rather be doing something, helping, rather than sitting alone in my suite.”

Mike: “Alright,.”  He agrees reluctantly. “But at the first sign of you not feeling well, I’ll bring you back to the resort, myself.”

Diana: “Fair enough.”  She states resolutely.  She will not be a burden.  But Diana will also not sit idly by if she can help. And helping others is what she does.

Greg:  “Mike, You’re needed to coordinate the search efforts out there.  So put Diana and I together in one of the groups, and I can bring her back to the ski resort if she needs it.” Greg hugs Diana’s shoulders while smiling down at her as she looks up at him.  Despite Greg’s worries about his sister Connie’s safety in the missing cross country skiing group, Diana also has meaning for him.

Mike looks to Diana for her agreement to be put in the same rescue team as Greg, and she nods.


So everyone helping as extras in the search and rescue mission are outfitted with the proper winter weather gear if they didn’t have it with them–with the Resort’s Pro Shop merchandise looking quite decimated.  And there are a few helpers who have never driven a snowmobile before, so they will ride behind an experienced driver.  They are also leaving two snow mobiles at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort–in case they get a call from the missing cross country skiing group themselves—the search and rescue teams head out to search in groups of three snow mobiles with helpers attached  to an emergency responder on a snow mobile.

Time is of the essence, since it doesn’t take long for frostbite to settle in from the exposure to the freezing weather—30 minutes, and the initial calls for the search and rescue effort came nearly forty five minutes ago.  Blessedly, the group tours are required to give a map of their route before each tour.  So the rescue teams have that to help guide them.  But the tour is a five mile circular route.  So the groups are dispatched to different points of the route and then will continue on it in a clockwise manner.  It is their emergency plan.

The snow is light and fluffy, making their snowmobile paths more difficult—since they’re not working with solid snowpack.  Greg and Diana are on the same search and rescue team of four snow mobiles—by design, because Greg wants to insure that Diana is safe, even as he worries about his sister Connie.

And another reason why the resort and its employees are going all out for this rescue, is that the leader of the cross country ski group tour, the ski pro, is thirty year old Eddie Hughes—grandson of the ski resort’s late founder, and the son of the current owner. The sixty year old ski resort owner and Eddie’s father, Brent Hughes, is at the ski resort coordinating the rescue efforts and maintaining contact via walkie talkies with the search teams.

And knowing that her husband Mike Porter is uncharacteristically out with the search and rescue efforts—due to his longstanding friendship with Eddie Hughes—Mike’s wife Octavia anxiously sits in Mike’s Ski Resort office with their two elementary school kids Krystal and Devon who are using their crayons to color pictures for their Daddy when he gets back. And Eddie’s Mom sits with them, finding calm with Octavia and her kids.  Since the children are unaware that their father helping with the rescue is not without its own dangers.


After an hour of searching and not finding anyone, the situation is dire—because the missing cross country skiers were due back nearly two hours ago. And they will not be able to survive out in this weather much longer.  The search teams themselves will also have to turn back so no other lives are lost.  It is a heartbreaking decision for those like Greg, with missing loved ones.

After the search and rescue teams receive the call on their satellite walkie talkies to return to the ski resort base to get warm and regroup, Greg and Diana’s rescue team discuss their options.

Team leader Tom:  “I think it’s prudent for you three to go back to the ski resort. I’m used to this weather, so I’m going to stick it out a bit longer.”

Greg: Then Greg notices where they are.  “Look at the tour route map, Tom.  We’re maybe only 200 yards from my old vacation home property—now the ski resort’s Halliday House Business Center.  We should check to see if they went there to seek shelter.  Connie would have been able to direct them there.  We spent out childhoods playing within these woods—as well as hiking and cross country skiing through them as adults.  And we could find our way through them blindfolded.”  Diana nods in agreement about Greg’s plan. As does Eric, their fourth rescue team member.

Team Leader Tom: “Then why didn’t they call in to tell people they were safe?”

Diana: “Maybe their walkie talkies or cell phones aren’t working.:

Greg:  “And Mike said that the main house and cabins are under routine maintenance.  So they might not be able to contact anyone to let them know they’re alright—or if anyone is injured.”

Team Leader Tom: “Okay, we’ll head to the Halliday House compound—and at least we’ll have shelter, even if they’re not there.  I’ll notify base and the other teams what we’re doing—and that we’ll contact them again whether or not we find anything.”

So, Greg helps guide their rescue team’s four snow mobiles to his former vacation home through the woodsy area that he knows so well from growing up there. When they reach a small clearing that is used for Summer outdoor team building games, their prayers are answered as they see smoke billowing from the main house and several close cabins’ wood burning fireplaces—as well as what looks to be flickering candle lights in the main house and cabins—since the electricity is still out.  They head straight for the main house and park their snow mobiles.

Then their relief turns to dread as they notice blood trails on the front porch stair steps to Halliday House.  And hearing the snow mobiles loudly whirring hum approaching the house, Connie Halliday rushes outside to urge the rescuers  inside.  And she and her brother Greg hug each other tightly once they’re inside.  Greg is so grateful that his sister doesn’t look harmed.

Looking at the first responder Search Team Leader Tom in orange, a calm and focused Connie Halliday tells him who is injured as she walks them inside the house.

Connie: “Please come back to the main floor master bedroom.  We had two injuries in our group—one person has a broken leg, and our Ski Pro tour guide Eddie fought off a medium sized wolf as Eddie was trying to help the person with the broken leg, Pete Teller. Eddie defended Pete by warding off the wolf as best he could with his legs and hands.  So Eddie has several claw and bite marks on his arms, legs, and hands. I’ve cleaned and bandaged his wounds the best that I could.  But he’s lost a lot of blood.  And he needs to go to the hospital.  Now!”  And now that the need for Connie to be strong in the crisis has past, her bravado diminishes and her face begins to pale with her thinking of the enormity of their emergency.

As Connie walks into the master bedroom again—that had belonged to her parents, though the furniture and decorations have been redone by the ski resort—with the original Halliday furniture, decorative objects, and linens, etc., in storage—the first responder Search team leader immediately assesses both injured individuals, who are in a lot of pain.  But he is most concerned with the loss of blood that the ski pro tour guide Eddie Hughes has suffered.  So he calls for backup and a helicopter airlift on his satellite phone—similar to the type that the cross country skiing group Tour Guide Eddie Hughes had, and lost in his battle with the wolf.

Search Team Leader Tom:  “He’s just lucky that he didn’t encounter a cougar, or especially a young bear—with its mama bear nearby–or he would have been a goner.” Gently touching Eddie Hughes face, he commands.  “Eddie, look at me, focus.  How did you get the wolf to stop attacking you?”  He asks both to assess Eddie’s level of consciousness, and to find out what happened. Eddie is too overcome with pain to speak, but he points to Connie Halliday.  They all turn to look at her in surprise.

Connie:  She blushes.  “Uhh.  Well, you see, the wolf was relentlessly attacking Eddie who was defending Pete who has the broken arm.  And I had to do something.  So I just beat the wolf relentlessly with a tree branch that I found lying on the ground nearby, until the wolf decided not to mess around with us anymore. Then several of the bigger guys in our tour group helped with carrying our injured group members here.”  Connie’s brother  Greg looks at her in awe and wonder, giving her another big hug.  And Connie is now shaking from their ordeal, but she brushes it off with her characteristic aplomb saying.  “If you think that wolf was vicious, you should see Bloomingdale’s on 50 percent off day—brutal.”

The rescue team laughs at that, which breaks the tension of the moment.  Everyone hugs each other—especially Greg and Connie again, then Diana and Connie, and finally Diana and Greg.

Then not ten minutes later, they hear the helicopter landing in the clearing in front of  Halliday House.  So they bring its emergency responders in to Halliday House to also assess, stabilize, and then load the two injured group tour members onto the copter to head to the hospital.  Greg and Diana’s first responder Search Team Leader Tom also goes with them—since he knows that he and Eddie are the same blood type, in case he needs it.

Connie had wanted to go in the helicopter, too, since she has been the one tending to Eddie and Pete with the broken arm.  But there isn’t enough room.  So the rest of them decide to wait for the ski resort bus and a large flatbed truck to come pick up them and the snow mobiles, respectively,  at the Halliday House compound—everyone being sure to douse their fireplace fires and candles in each unit before they leave.  And their trip down the mountain is a relatively uneventful 15 minutes by van.

And after Connie takes a quick shower at their rented home Lakeside Cottage, she dashes over to the local hospital to see how Eddie the tour guide is doing. She remembers that she had forgotten to tell the first responders the wolf’s ear tag number, in case they need to locate it—for them to check for rabies and such.  Connie looks at tags all day in the fashion merchandise business—and she has a nearly photographic memory.  Then a bit later, she calls her brother Greg to relay the update that it looks like both of the injured members of their tour will pull through and eventually recover from their injuries, while she remains by Eddie’s side—as Eddie awaits to hear if the wolf who attacked him has been tracked and brought into the state’s Natural Resources Animal lab for rabies and other testing, and temperament assessment regarding its possible reintroduction to nature, but elsewhere.

However, Greg elects to stay at the ski resort hotel for the rest of the afternoon with Diana—since her earlier bravado in helping with the rescue efforts has left her subdued and very quiet, with him buying a change of clothes at the ski resort gift shop on his way up to her small suite with her.  He lets Diana shower first, then he showers.  Then as their clothes wash in her suite’s small over under washer and dryer combo unit, they eat a much delayed lunch in their comfy sweat suits in her suite, via room service.  Neither of them wants to face the grateful crowds of other families of rescued loved ones at the ski resort just now. They have already given their statements about the rescue to the authorities, and they also don’t want to relive it for any well meaning (or not) thrill seekers.   They want to be quiet and comfortable, just sitting together on her suite’s love seat couch.

And then the inevitable happens after a crisis that thankfully turns out as positively as it could–despite having two individuals severely injured, but who are now in stable condition at the hospital.   Diana and Greg fall asleep leaning into each other on her small suite’s loveseat couch in exhaustion.

To be continued with Chapter 7

References for Ch. 6 of “Winter Rental” February 06, 2022 by Gratiana Lovelace, (Post#1445) 

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Mag_;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 6 “Winter Rental” (Post #1445):

Previous Something About Love blog Post #1443 link for Ch. 5  of “Winter Rental”:

Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Drama, Gratiana Lovelace, Home, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, snow, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

February weather blowing in Winter snow and sleet—with Richard Armitage cozy by the fire, by Gratiana Lovelace  February 01, 2022 (Post #1444)

We’re deep into the bitterly cold Winter season where I live.  And we’re due for some heavy snow and sleet the next three days.  8 to 12 inches might not seem like much, but the blustery 40 mph winds whip that snow around to twice that high in snow drifts on the roads.

And traveling by car might not be feasible until the snow plows come through—which is rarely for our neighborhood on the edge of town, surrounded by corn and soybean fields.  Several days of power outages are also predicted. Yikes!  But we’re prepared and we’ll be fine.

So the best thing we can do when snow days are likely, is to hunker down–keeping our house as warm as we can, til we can’t. Then flip the switch on our gas fireplace—yes it will still work, we found out the last power outage—and layer on our warm clothes and think warm thoughts as we huddle next to it. Ha!

We’re lucky in that regard, unlike others at home and around the world.  So we will not whine about the cold and such.  Instead, we’ll make additional donations to local warming/feeding shelters organizations at home and to UNHCR again, to help others in need abroad.  My heart goes out to them.


And another warm and warming thought is a cozy cabin with a roaring wood burning fireplace, and the multi-talented British actor Richard Armitage with a good book and hot mulled cider in a mug (below):

But of course, my usual monthly blog sidebar wallpaper is in a vertical mode.  So I have to adjust my image above a bit—with different image layering placement and cropping, etc., to make that sidebar image.  So you’ll find my February 2022 Richard Armitage wallpaper below and at the top right of my SAL blog’s right sidebar.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and peaceful day!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati;->

Nota Bene:  Thanks to Calmed by Nature for the original background image.  And thanks to Nobleman Magazine for the original Richard Armitage portrait.

Posted in Creativity, Fangurling, Graphic, Gratiana Lovelace, Hope, Human Rights, Portraits, Richard Armitage, Smiles, snow, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 5:  More than cross country skiing for Connie & Eddie,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  January 30, 2022 (Post #1443)

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; all rights reserved];  [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left); other image credits are at the end of each chapter(s) post]

0-2022--aa-Winter-Rental-story-cover-256x402_Jan09-2022byGratianaLovelace[Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, and others as noted.

I will post new story chapters on both my SAL blog, as well as, on my Wattpad site.

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers.]

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 5:  More than Cross Country Skiing for Connie and Eddie

As their Cross Country tour guide, the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort’s Recreation Director and Ski Pro Eddie Hughes gives his skiing safety guidelines to the tour group, Connie Halliday is mesmerized  by him, her teenaged sweetheart—and her first love.  And she wonders how fate worked its magic to bring them together again, after all these years?  Twelve years, in fact.  Connie doesn’t plan to question their meeting again—just to accept it, and whatever destiny they might make for themselves together.

Then Eddie strides over to Connie just before his cross country skiing tour group gets underway.  Eddie is thrilled to see Connie again—and delighted with her equally  positive reaction to seeing him.  Eddie has secretly borne his continuing love for Connie all these years.  Despite him having another girlfriend, or two over the years, neither of these ladies  progressed to the level of the soul searing connection that Eddie and Connie had once shared.  And Eddie wonders deep in his heart, if maybe the flame of his and Connie’s past love can be rekindled for their future together?

Eddie: “All set Connie?”  He raises his eyebrows with a cordial smile.  He does not wish to reveal his tender feelings about Connie in front of his tour group, lest they might feel slighted in his attention.

Connie: “I’m ready to go!”  Connie smiles radiantly at Eddie, her thinking that he has truly matured into an amazingly handsome man.  And that he is still so kind and gentlemanly—and not stodgy, like her older brother Greg.

Eddie: Leaning close, he whispers in Connie’s ear.  “Though we’re having lunch as a group after the tour, I would love to have some private time for you and I to reconnect and catch up with each other.  Will you have dinner tonight with me at the resort?  My treat?”  He smiles hopefully.

Connie: “Love to!”  Connie adoringly smiles gazing up at Eddie, she can’t help it.  She hopes that she and Eddie might see if they want to begin dating again.  She has never forgotten him over the years—measuring every man she met by Eddie’s high bar.

Eddie and Connie are both smiling as their cross country skiing tour group gets under way.  And Connie had noticed from the tour map that Eddie provided to everyone, that their route goes very near to her family’s former vacation home that her parents sold to the resort a few years ago.  So she wonders if Eddie might allow a slight detour today for her to see it.  Or perhaps, they can visit it together on another day.


Connie is not only wearing her new hot pink ski jumpsuit outfit today—though she prefers pastels and earth tone colors, it is better for safety out in the snow to wear bright vivid colors—but she is on new cross country skis and boots that her brother Greg bought her, also at the Langley’s sporting goods store in Galena.  So she is a little shaky at first on her new skis—her getting accustomed to their weight and balance, with her also trying not to run over her slightly slower new cross country skiing novices tour group companions.

And to avoid any unintentional collisions, Eddie has the other cross country skiers in their tour group slightly spread apart to their sides, as well as, ahead and behind them.  Eddie is taking the lead in order to make sure that he points out any difficult passages to his tour group.  Though the cross country skiing tour route was planned for easy and level travel, the snow can hide many ground anomalies like felled tree limbs, holes, and such.  Even a pine cone can throw off a skier’s gait and balance.  So skiers have to be ever vigilant.  A fall at these relatively slow speeds on level ground is not likely to badly injure someone.  But the last thing Eddie wants is for anyone to have a bad experience—and an injury, however slight, would surely do that.

Along their cross country ski tour, Eddie also points out various natural features in the woods at these lower level elevations of the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort—including animals, with many rabbits and foxes flitting about them at a distance, while gratefully the bears are in full hibernation mode, so no danger there.  Eddie also embellishes some resort history regarding its development, as well as famous guests over the years, in order to enliven his tour group’s experience. If only a certain celebrity had skied, the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel might have gotten him to visit with his celebrity friends in the late 1950’s—well before the 30 year old Eddie was born.  If only.

For Connie’s part, she enjoys the invigorating feeling of being out in nature as she cross country skis—despite the freezing cold.  And she is enraptured by listening to Eddie’s deep and soft as velvet voice as he weaves stories about the resort for their tour group.  And Connie absentmindedly wonders if she’ll have enough time after their tour group lunch at the Ski Resort to visit the resort’s clothing store to find a nice dress for tonight’s dinner with Eddie.  Connie smiles, just thinking of having dinner with Eddie—holding hands across a privately spaced candlelit table, gazing into one another’s eyes, sharing their inner most thoughts with each other, and perhaps a sweetly tender kiss on each others’ cheeks at the end of their evening, nothing more, yet.

They will take their time getting to know each other again slowly—in the hope of building a more permanent relationship between them this time.  Connie might talk a good game of self empowered flirtation, but with Eddie she has an ease and friendliness with him borne of their long ago teenage sweethearts relationship.  And perhaps she and Eddie can be much much more.

However, Connie’s musings are cut short as she hears one of the tour group’s guy members in front of her fall with a hard thud and then he emits painful groans.  Everyone stops to see what happened and who is hurt.  It turns out that a forty something guy named Pete Teller’s ski tripped over a really big pine cone, him losing his balance and falling upon his  arm, breaking it in two places.  Eddie instantly goes to Pete’s side to assess the injury.  It looks bad from the angle of Pete’s arm.   Eddie pulls out his tour map to see where they are.  And Connie helps in that regard.

Connie: “Oh Eddie!  We’re just about 100 yards away from our family’s former home that the resort bought from us a few years ago.  We can at least take shelter there to wait while the Ski Resort sends a van to pick us up, once we contact them.”  Since Pete isn’t cross country skiing another inch with his broken arm causing him searing pain, and him not able to use the stabilizing ski poles.


So Eddie hauls out his satellite phone to call the Pineridge Mountain 2022--wild_gray-timber-wolf_600x300_Jan29-2022viaNatlWildlifeFederation_Grati-szd-crop-smlrSki Resort  Pro Shop—to tell them about their injured skier and their need to find shelter until they can be picked up.    But just then an even bigger danger than the tour group’s  mere survival in the freezing weather with one of them injured with a broken arm—when  a large, snarling, teeth baring, sharp claws looking  gray timber wolf [(2) right] menacingly makes a run for the group standing in a slightly scattered and distanced formation.  This is the wolf’s territory.  And he has had enough of the humans invading it.

Eddie:  In the heat of this worsening crisis, Eddie accidently drops his satellite phone in 2 feet of snow while he frantically barks commands. “Everyone!  Stay together!  Don’t run or the wolf will go after you!  Get into a tight circle around Pete and I and face your ski poles out and down at a 45 degree angle!”

They do that, but the wolf is not deterred—it snapping,  snarling, and howling to unnerve the skiers.  And the wolf has that effect—them not knowing if there is a wolf pack nearby that will join this lone wolf.   Then when one skier’s ski poles drop slightly due to their weight, the wolf lunges forward trying to get to the injured skier still sitting on the ground.  Then the ski tour group scatters–but for Eddie and Connie.

Eddie: Eddie maintains eye contact with the gray timber wolf, hoping to deflect its attention from the injured Pete lying on the ground with a broken arm and the willowy Connie.  “Connie go with the others to your old home and call for help!”

Eddie promised Greg that he would protect Connie.  And the best way he can quickly think to do that is to remove her from danger.  But though the other skiers run, Connie stands firm.

Connie:  “No, Eddie!  I’m not leaving you and Pete!”

With Eddie standing in front of Pete, protecting Pete, the wolf decides to take out the tall Eddie first, then have a nice slow meal of the human  lying on the ground.  But Eddie is defenseless.  He had also dropped his ski poles in the snow when he went to aid Pete with his broken arm, and the snow is so deep that he can’t find them.

So Eddie has little better than his legs and booted feet to kick at the wolf as it lunges at him and at Pete—the wolf obviously tries  to injure Eddie’s legs so he can’t get away or defend himself.  And Eddie also uses his gloved hands and arms to defend his face with from the wolf’s attacks.  For if the wolf jumps and bites Eddie in his neck and punctures his jugular vein, he will bleed out and die before any help can rescue them.

Then out of shock and anger, Connie Halliday finds the inner courage and never before sheer strength to keep Eddie and Pete safe.  She quickly finds  a three foot long and sturdy looking tree limb on the snow covered ground and starts beating at the wolf with it to protect Eddie and Pete.  Connie is like a crazed Valkyrie Warrior for the next five minutes that she relentlessly attacks the wolf—her adding  I am woman hear me roar growls for good measure.

Connie:  “GRRR!  I have had enough of you, Wolf!  We just wanted to enjoy our day in nature!  GRRR!  But would you share it with us?  No!  So you can go and chase after a rabbit or fox!  GRRR!  But you’re not besting us today!  HHHHH!”  Connie hits the wolf with one last almighty whack on the side of its head, which finally stuns the gray timber wolf, as it stumbles backwards, away from them.  And miraculously, the now tired and wounded gray timber wolf thinks better of his attacking the humans this day and trots  away.  The gray timber wolf prefers prey that are not so difficult to attack.

At this point, the few other skiers who had not run fully away from the wolf attack, come back to help their now two injured members—Pete with his arm painfully broken in two places; and the clawed and bitten Eddie who now slumps to the ground, bleeding profusely.  So Connie organizes their cross country skiing tour groups’ rescue efforts.

Connie: “Everyone!  We need to get both Pete and Eddie to my family’s former vacation home that is straight through the trees there!  Then give them first aid while we wait for help to arrive.”  And Connie is grateful that her Girl Scout first aid training badge she earned as a young teen will help her aid their two injured skiers.  That is her hope, anyway.

It is a rag tag bunch of novice skiers and seasoned skier Connie Halliday that make it to the Halliday Business Center compound with Connie leading the injured and those carrying or supporting them into the main Halliday House—with the dozen or so other skiers spreading out to three nearby cabins  on the compound to get fires started in their wood burning fireplaces  to warm up.  Connie also hopes that the smoke coming from the chimneys will alert the ski resort as to where they are.

And though everyone tries their cell phones to call out for help, they’re not getting signals and can’t reach anyone.  And Eddie’s satellite phone was lost in the snow during his scuffle with the gray timber wolf.  So their only hope is to tend to their injured and pray that when they turn up missing for planned 12noon lunch at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort, that the ski resort will send out a search team for them.  The ski resort has the tour route, so they should be able to guess where they are—or at least, Connie hopes that her brother Greg might guess where they are—at their former Halliday Family vacation home.

But after helping their two injured men out of their outer snow gear—cutting their ski clothes off them as needed.  Pete with his broken arm is in a lot of pain, but it is not life threatening since it doesn’t look like his arms double break has punctured his skin or any arteries.    So Connie has another skier who knows Pete to sit with and to watch over him.

However, Eddie is very much worse—as Connie now sees the dozens of claw and bite marks on Eddie’s legs and arms when she and another skier gently cut away Eddie’s nearly shredded ski jumpsuit to assess how badly he was attacked by the gray timber wolf—and it is bad.  And though she tries to gently clean his wounds with clean melted snow water from a bucket they hung over the fireplace–since the house’s water and electricity isn’t working due to the routine house maintenance not being finished–Connie can’t get Eddie’s bleeding completely stopped in his legs—despite the compression bandages she makes with some clean bed linens she finds and rips up. And she is really worried for him.

Eddie is going in and out of consciousness from the pain and his blood loss.  So Connie tries to keep him awake if she can, as she kneels down beside the bed Eddie is in and caresses his shoulder—the only area that doesn’t hurt, because Eddie was thankfully too tall for the gray timber wolf to get chance at going for Eddie’s neck.  And she speaks in a soft soothing voice to keep Eddie calm—and to keep herself calm.

Connie:  “Eddie, you’re doing great.  I know that you’re in a lot of pain, and I wish I had something to give you for it.  But hopefully, the ski resort will come looking for us soon.  Then we can have you and Pete both seen by doctors.”

Eddie: Struggling to speak despite the great pain he is in, Eddie only manages to say two words to Connie.  “I’m sorry.”  He grimaces in pain as he gazes upon his only true love.

Connie: “Oh Eddie.  This is not your fault.  Who knew that there were wolves in the area that would approach, let alone, attack a large group of people—and with us brandishing long and sharp ski poles, no less.”  Connie has spent many a Winter and Summer on Pineridge Mountain over the years and she has never seen a wolf at all, let alone one attacking people.  “You must rest.  And though our lovely candlelit dinner will likely be postponed tonight, don’t think you’re getting out of taking me out to dinner at some future date, Mister.”  Connie smiles impishly at Eddie, in that sweetly endearing way of hers. Connie tenderly kisses his cheek—which she notices seems to comfort him.

Eddie: “Hhhh!”  He sighs.

Then Connie does that one better, and she briefly and gently kisses Eddie upon his lips.  There are tears in both of their eyes, wondering if they will have any future together.  Life would be too cruel to bring them together again, only to part them forever.  But life’s outcomes cannot always be planned.

It has been 30 minutes since the wolf attack, and they  must get Eddie to a doctor as soon as possible to get his bleeding stopped and for him to receive a blood transfusion.  And if the gray timber wolf that attacked them can’t be found–via an implanted microchip tracking device for all tagged Pineridge Mountain animals, if indeed the gray timber wolf is tagged–and tested for rabies, then Eddie will also likely have to go through the long and painful treatment to prevent a rabies infection from taking hold in him.  And Connie resolves that whatever she has to do to help Eddie with his hoped for recovery, she will do it.  Connie  prays fervently that Eddie will get the chance to recover—and that the two of them will get the chance to fall in love with each other again.


And back at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel, the Asst. Recreation Manager calls the Ski Resort Manager Mike Porter again, to confirm that Eddie Hughes’ cross country skiing tour group is now 30 minutes late for their return and scheduled 12noon luncheon.  So Mike Porter alerts their emergency ski rescue team, their emergency air rescue helicopter team, and the local Galena Hospital that there might be an emergency on Pineridge Mountain.

Then Mike has to make the most painful call that a parent ever has to receive—to learn that their child is missing and possibly in danger—when he calls the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel owner Brent Hughes, who is the father of Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel Recreation Manager and Ski Pro Eddie Hughes, to let him know that Eddie and his tour group may be in danger on the mountain. And in the middle of a Galena Town Council Meeting, Brent Hughes rushes back to his Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel complex to aid in the rescue efforts—him praying that all of the missing skiers will be found safe, especially for his son Eddie.

To be continued with Chapter 6

References for Ch. 5 of “Winter Rental”, January 30, 2022 by Gratiana Lovelace, (Post#1443)  

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Mag_;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

2) 2022–wild_gray-timber-wolf_600x300_Jan29-2022viaNatlWildlifeFederation; original image was found at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 5 “Winter Rental”:

SAL blog Post#1441 link for Ch. 4  of “Winter Rental”:

Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Drama, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, snow, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Richard Armitage hugging Andi Osho in “Stay Close” gif and “A Castle for Christmas” sequel storyline  suggestions by Gratiana Lovelace, January 27, 2022 (Post #1442) 

Oh, to be British actress Andi Osho and hugging British actor Richard Armitage in this “Stay Close” gif shared by M Eloisa Ruiz via Andi Osho!

Now if my internet and Netflix will comply, I’ll get to watch “Stay Close” one of these weekends!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and peaceful day! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->

P.S.  Andi Osho also co-starred as Maisie in 2021’s wonderful  “A Castle for Christmas” on Netflix starring Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes.  Love that film!   I hope they make a sequel to it!

I even teased Andi Osho on Twitter that I had a sequel story plot ideas in that regard.  So below are my ideas:

“A Castle for Christmas 2” finds our happily castle cohabiting  lovebirds Sophie McGinty and her Scottish Duke Myles going through some relationship growing pains two years later—one year after her new book “Heart of a Warrior” was  published and becomes a smash hit.

Sophie loves Miles deeply as her forever love.  And Myles loves her—more than he could have ever hoped for.  It is just that each of them has a secret that could thwart their fondest wishes of lovingly growing old together.  Sophie wants to marry her Duke, but she fears that he will need an heir to inherit his dukedom—and she knows that her health prevents her from risking another pregnancy and childbirth, since her daughter Lexi’s birth 20 years ago was very problematic and Sophie and her baby almost died.   And though Duke Myles  hints broadly to her for his wish to marry her and to make her his Duchess, he does not understand her demurring to discuss marriage with him. And that hurts his feelings, him wondering if they will ever get married, as he wishes they will.

Whereas Myles’ secret is related to who actually is the current heir to his Dukedom and the surrounding farm and parkland—a young man whom the Duke has been estranged from for nearly fifteen years.  And though Sophie bought Dun Dunbar Castle two years ago when she and the Duke first met and fell in love–to save the castle from becoming a hotel, or demolished to make way for pricey condominiums—the land is still entailed to the Dukedom which will go to Myles’ closest blood relative heir.

Sophie is also concerned that her daughter Lexi—who is taking a year abroad from the U.S. at a Scottish University to be near her Mom Sophie who now lives full time in Scotland—is too serious all the time, and wary of men because of her philandering father whom her Mom Sophie divorced, and who is also now divorced from his 2nd wife, and searching for his 3rd wife.  However, Lexi Brown finds herself drawn to a tall and brash Graduate Student Teaching Assistant for a general education class in entrepreneurship that her Scottish roommate Rhona is taking. Yes, that Rhona, who is pursuing a double major in the culinary arts and small business management—since she wants to open her own bakery someday, and one day have her name Rhona be synonymous with sweet desserts and pastries throughout Scotland and the British Isles.

The broodingly tall Graduate Student Teaching Assistant James  Bothwell also has a blond angelic look about him, when he isn’t frowning—despite his fractured family and upbringing that has caused him much pain over his thirty years.  (Think actor Ben Lamb for casting.)  But he will not discuss his family history as he and Lexi get to know each other over some pints at their Scottish University’s local pub when they happened to bump into each other, literally.  Lexi was walking into the pub with her arms full of yarn from her car,  so that Rhona’s new student knitting group could have some starter lessons from Rhona. And she spilled them all when he bumped into her.  Then he promptly helped her pick everything up.  And Lexi being a bubbly, friendly, and pretty American twenty year old views James as an interesting challenge to get to know better—as a friend, if nothing else.

And over the next few weeks, Lexi and James find that they do get along well together, yet they have not technically become boyfriend and girlfriend—which Feminist Lexi views as outdated social constructs of male and female relationships.  And though they have not shared their family histories in detail, they share the broad strokes of her Mother being so in love that she wants her daughter Lexi to fall in love, too—whether or not Lexi wants to fall in love with anyone currently.  And for James, he only briefly met his father a few times during his later childhood years. And then they had a falling out when James wanted to choose a different career path and major at university than his father wanted for him nearly 15 years ago.  So although his father paid for his undergraduate education, James has won scholarships that fund his graduate education and supports himself.

Everything rather comes to a head as Lexi agrees to visit her Mom and Duke Myles with her male friend James for an American Thanksgiving feast at Dun Dunbar Castle that Sophie is hosting for her Scottish Friends.  Of course, amusement ensues because Turkeys are not plentiful nor desired as food in Scotland, and Sophie will have major headaches with the meal—only to have Hamish the dog make off with several slices of duck (substituting for turkey) before the dinner guests can have their holiday meal.

And since Lexi was driving James and her roommate Rhona to Dun Dunbar Castle, it is not until they get into the vicinity of the village of Dun Dunbar—and Rhona starts waxing poetic about the romance of Lexi’s Mother Sophie McGinty and Duke Myles, that James now understands where they are going.  Realizing that he has unknowingly put himself into an extremely awkward and likely explosive situation, James does not explain why, but insists that he takes a hotel room in the pub—rather than stay with Lexi’s Mother at Dun Dunbar Castle.  And Maisie cordially puts James in a guest bedroom  at the pub, despite feeling that she has seen him somewhere before, and she wonders if he will cause trouble or if he will become a welcome addition to the community.

However, eager to see her daughter Lexi—and encouraged by the guest chefs she brought in to make the Thanksgiving feast to leave their Dun Dunbar castle kitchen—Sophie and Duke Myles decide to surprise Lexi and her male friend and meet them at the Dun Dunbar town pub.  With Duke Myles assuring her that the young man can’t be that bad if Lexi likes him.  Though Lexi has consistently refuted any romance rumors.  She had James are just friends.    So when Lexi goes to James’ pub guest bedroom to bring him downstairs to meet her Mother and the Duke, he nearly hyperventilates from the stress of it all—and Lexi can’t understand what the big deal is, but she helps him calm down.

So a compromise is reached with Lexi’s mother Sophie, she alone may come up to James’ guest bedroom to meet him with Lexi, but not Duke Myles.  Lexi’s excuse is that James is shy about meeting a Duke, since she had not given him the full details of their visit.  So James will work up to it.  And Sophie meets her daughter Lexi’s male friend James and finds him charming, but at 30 years old is about ten years older than her daughter Lexi—which she is not sure that she likes. Never mind, that Duke Myles is Sophie’s senior by almost 10 years—with her being 44 years old and Myles being about 54 years old.

And since Duke Myles waits around the Pub to drive his love Sophie back to Castle Dun Dunbar, it is perhaps inevitable that he catches a glimpse of Lexi’s male friend James looking down at them getting into their car from his 3rd floor pub guest bedroom window.  James couldn’t resist taking a peek at the man he hasn’t seen in almost 15 years—Duke Myles, his father.   And Myles almost thinks that he is seeing a ghost when briefly seeing Lexi’s  male friend James standing above them in that 3rd floor guest bedroom window at the pub—it is a ghost of himself as a young man, in the face of this young man that he intuitively knows must be his estranged son and heir.

And a chill runs through Duke Myles as he now feels that his love Sophie’s Thanksgiving homecoming feast will be frought with old disagreements and tensions.  Because both Duke Myles Dunbar and his son Ewan James Bothwell Dunbar are stubborn and prideful creatures as Scotsmen.  Neither will concede nor acquiesce their position. Yet, in their private thoughts, they are glad to see the other looking well, albeit older than the last time they spoke face to face nearly fifteen years ago.

Then later back at Castle Dun Dunbar this same night—with Lexi situated in her own guest suite down the hall from her Mother Sophie and Duke’ Myles bedroom suite—Myles explains the full story behind the final breakdown of his relationship with his son Jaimie, Lexi’s male friend, due to a falling out they had nearly fifteen years ago about Jaime’s future career and education, then ultimately his being his father Duke Myles’ heir.

You see, young Jaimie had staunch republican leanings as an impressionable teenager who had not grown up on the Castle Dun Dunbar estate since his parents divorced twenty five years ago when he was just 5 years old—his Mother had custody of him.  And though Myles had tried to see his son many times during Jaimie’s younger years, his ex-wife usually rebuffed him—and young Jaimie was left to wonder if his father did not love him since he rarely saw him.  And by the time that Duke Myles finally retained an attorney to take his ex-wife to court to get her to exercise his fatherly rights to see his son, the damage had been done as the then 10 year old Jaimie rebelled at having to visit his absent father because a court told him he had to. So Myles found ways to see the important public moments of his son, but going incognito to his graduations, school plays and concerts, etc., even if he couldn’t interact with his beloved son.

And yet now, two years after his Mother died, Jaime feels his orphaned state most keenly—even though his has long been an adult.  And with time, Jaimie’s rancor has diminished toward his father.  So he joins his friend Lexi—Sophie’s daughter –and several of the local friends of Sophie and Myles up at Dun Dunbar Castle for a real American Thanksgiving feast the fourth Thursday in November.  Lexi is reassuring and calm with James, encouraging him to just take things as they come as they walk into the majestic 2story entrance hall of Castle Dun Dunbar.  Because although her Mother did not breach Duke Myles privacy by not sharing his pain with her daughter Lexi, Lexi’s male friend James did reveal to Lexi some of the pain  caused by the constraint of the father and son’s fractured relationship.

There is a short receiving line as guests file in to Castle Dun Dunbar, consisting of Duke Myles and his love Sophie.  Then guests are guided to a large dining room where a buffet is set up along one wall.  Lexi and James are the last to arrive at Castle Dun Dunbar, and there is only Sophie and Duke Myles there to greet them.  Their other guests have gone into the dining room.  Sophie warmly greets, hugs, and kisses her daughter Lexi, then Duke Myles also gives her a peck on her cheek, him giving her a wan smile.  Then all eyes turn to James, Jaimie.  Sophie graciously and warmly greets James as Lexi’s friend—then she hugs him too, since she knows that James, Jaimie is Duke Myles long estranged son.

Then it is Duke Myles turn to greet James, Jaimie, his son. The thirty year old James holds his head high, but still has a look of uncertainty about him—for the many years he had wished as a young boy to have his father come see him, but he didn’t—him not knowing that his Mother had kept his father away from their son.  Hesitating in how to greet his father, James settles on bowing his head as he addresses Duke Myles as Father, rather than more formally as Your Grace.  Sophie and her daughter Lexi hold their breaths. For what Duke Myles reaction will be, they do not know.

Duke Myles hesitates as well, but only for a fraction of an instant, before he embraces his son Jaimie and hugs him tightly, saying one word in almost a whispered prayer, Jaimie. Jaimie returns his father’s hug and they hold each other for several minutes.  Sophie and Lexi are both tearing up at this heartfelt father and son moment. Then as they release their embrace of each other, Duke Myles breaks the emotional tension of the moment with his usual dry wit and a wry smile by observing, I see that ye have cut your hair since the last time I saw you at your college  graduation.  I almost did na recognize ye, Jaimie.

Then Jaimie also proves that the apple does not fall far from the tree in his reply to his father Duke Myles.  Well Father, and I could say the same for you, with regard to your … smile, like I remember from my early childhood years.  It’s a good look for you. For the last time James remembers talking to his father face to face, they were both angry and had hurt feelings.

Then Duke Myles bursts out laughing, with James/Jaimie joining in, before the Ladies start giggling, too.  There will be much to discuss between these two, Father and son, in the coming days for this American Thanksgiving feast visit—with more chats over the phone leading up to the Christmas season that Jaimie also agrees to join them at Dun Dunbar Castle.

And now with Sophie feeling relieved that her love Duke Myles has his hoped for heir afterall, she accepts Myles next proposal of marriage—with the wedding  taking place over the Christmas Holidays this year, with much love in abundance.  And as Duke Myles and his son Jaimie make efforts to know and to understand each other better in order to repair their Father and son relationship, they find that their goals for the Castle Dun Dunbar estate, farms, and parkland are not so very different.

You see, James’ former teen aged radical idealism has been tempered over the years with the realities of practical logistics and his experiences with several land management internships that he participated in.  And Duke Myles has also learned to give and take more.  It is just that James wants to introduce some new thoughts, processes, and projects to complement his father Duke Myles environmental sustainability initiatives—including thoughts about wind farming, etc.  And Duke Myles listens constructively to his son’s suggestions—without his previous knee jerk defensive reactions to them.

And somewhere in the future for this expanded family of now four with Duchess Sophie and Duke Myles and their grown children Lexi and Jaimie, respectively, a deepening friendship might lead to romance in the coming year.

Posted in "Stay Close" new RA Coben mystery on Netflix 2021, Creativity, Gifs, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Netflix, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 4: After breakfast negotiations,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  January 21, 2022 (Post #1441)

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; all rights reserved];   [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left) image credits are at the end of each chapter(s) post]

[Author’s note:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, and others as noted.

I will post new story chapters on both my SAL blog, as well as, on my Wattpad site.  And initially, I posted Ch. 0 through Ch. 2 to get this story started, then after that I will post new chapters weekly.

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers.]

                     “Winter Rental”, Ch. 4:  After breakfast negotiations

As their Saturday morning free breakfast at the [Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort & Hotel] restaurant concludes, Diana wonders if she will see Greg and Connie again during the week of their stay—in her home, Lakeside Cottage, as Winter weeklong renters.  And Diana still can’t believe that her friend and the Pineridge Ski Resort and Hotel Manager came up with that lilting name for her home on the spot.  Or, if the Hallidays will spend time on their skiing pursuits—not something that Diana would be able to join in on with them.  Then her unspoken question is answered, sort of, as she over hears Greg and Connie’s discussion.  Diana can’t help it, she is standing right next to them, but they do not involve her in their conversation.

Greg: “Connie,  I’m going to check with the [ski] resort about whether downhill skiing is allowed on the new snowpack today, then visit the Langley’s sporting goods store when it opens—to purchase some cross country skis.  Did you want to come along?”  Though the Langley’s sporting goods store also rents skis, Greg has the corporate lawyer income and savings cushion to just purchase whatever he wants.  And since his own skiing equipment is more than 10 years old, he will opt to purchase new skis for himself—and for his sister Connie, if she wants it.

Connie: “Thanks Greg, but I need to go back to our cottage—or, to Diana’s cottage—to change first.  My short cocktail dress that I’m wearing from last night when we got snowed in, isn’t exactly weather appropriate.  I’ll freeze to death.  And I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I was doing a walk of shame this morning.” She pokes fun at herself—even though she was flirting like [mad] with every man in trousers last night, Connie is actually more circumspect in her dating behaviors.  She just likes to shock her staid brother.

Greg: “I can take you back to the cottage first so you can change clothes, if you like.”  He offers considerately.  And he plans to do a quick change as well.  “Then we can go to the Langley’s store together.”  Since Greg rented a not so mini minivan for their trip this week, he is also everyone’s chauffer.

Connie:  “Thanks, that will be great!”

Having not been a part of this brother and sister exchange, Diana senses that it is time for her to ease herself away from the Hallidays.

Diana: “Well, have fun, you two.  It’s been nice seeing you again. Enjoy your vacation.”  Diana smiles cordially, waves, then turns around to head out to her car for her errands today of shopping for newer kitchen appliances in town.

Greg: “Diana, wait!”  Greg calls out to Diana.  She flinches and stops walking.  Then Diana puts on a polite smile and turns around to face Greg.

Diana: “Yes, Greg?  Is there something I can do for you?”

Her solicitude of others is an ingrained habit in Diana—which sometimes allows others to take advantage of her.  But her New Year’s resolution this year was to start fresh and to put herself first.  Of course, her being cajoled by her friend Mike–who manages the ski resort– into renting out her home to the Hallidays, is not a good start in that regard.

Greg: “Oh, no. No!  Actually, I was wondering if there was something that we can do for you.  Afterall, you took us in last night due to the raging snow storm—after we had also unknowingly booted you out of your home. We’re really sorry about that again.”

Connie:  “Yes, we are.”  The siblings concur contritely.

Diana:  “Don’t worry about it.  It’s just one of life’s unexpected twists and turns.  And like I said, the cottage rental money will help me buy new kitchen appliances.  So I’m good.” Diana smiles, waves, and starts to turn away again.

Greg:  Touching Diana’s arm to stop her from going again, Greg smiles wincingly apologetically as she turns to look at him again.  “Well you know, Diana, one of the companies that I’ve done business with recently has a large appliance manufacturing division in the U.S.”  Actually, that a sports equipment manufacturing company also had a home appliance division quite surprised Greg.  But both companies use a lot of the same types of metal for their products—so that merger was probably inevitable.  “And I might be able to get you some really nice kitchen appliances—at cost.”  He offers.

Diana wonders why Greg is being so solicitous of her, when he has been rather distant this morning—after he got out of bed, that is.  But she demures again.

Diana: “That is very kind of you to offer, Greg.  But it is not necessary.  Thank you anyway.”  She smiles politely and turns to go once more.  Then Greg touches her arm once more and she turns back to him.  “Yes?” Diana is getting a bit perturbed now.  She wants to leave and have a clean and graceful exit—but Greg won’t let her do that.

Greg: “Well, uh, I really wish we had a way to truly thank you for taking us in last night, and for letting us stay at your home for the coming week.”

Diana senses that Greg feels indebted to her.  And as a business oriented lawyer, balance sheets must mean everything to him.  So Diana decides to slightly jest about  their situation, in order to hopefully lessen the tension that Greg Halliday seems to be feeling.  Again, Diana is being most considerate of others, without thought of any benefit to herself.

Diana: “Well Greg, if our situation was a fairy tale—think Rapunzel—you would have to give me your first born child since I granted you the boon of your renting my home for the week.  And if you think about it, fairytale deals do seem rather extortionate.”  Then she smiles broadly, to let him know that she is kidding him, literally.

Greg: “Ha ha ha! Well you’ve got me there, Diana.”  He shakes his head amusingly.  But Greg still wants to try to make amends to Diana, if he can. He dislikes being on the down side of a negotiation—which he realizes that Diana has astutely perceived about him.   Hmmm.

So Connie hugs Diana again, this time in farewell. And Greg remains reserved and merely nods smilingly at her.  In truth, he’s not sure if he could just shake her hand in goodbye and not be reminded of their lovely cuddling and kissing this morning.  And he flushes thinking of it—happily after Diana had turned to head back up to her Ski Resort hotel suite to fetch her winter coat and winter boots before heading out to run her errands.  So Diana does not see Greg’s longing gaze at her, and Greg does not see the disappointment upon Diana’s face at Greg’s seeming coldness toward her.


After changing clothes at Lakeside Cottage—Diana’s home that they are renting– Greg waits for his sister Connie to change her clothes[.  He] checks his work email and finds several messages left for him by the CEO of their company, Philip Townes.  The upshot of the emails to Greg [is] that Townes plans to bring his family to Galena’s Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel in one week—with reservations for a deluxe suite in the Ski Resort’s hotel for their family of four–to enjoy the area firsthand that Greg has always talked about so favorably.  But Greg’s CEO never does anything merely for leisure or recreation, there is always a business deal to be made.

So the underlying message that Greg receives is that Townes is interested in buying the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel as part of their company’s quest to acquire the premiere winter sports recreation sites for future expansion.  And Greg can see the value in doing that—but with him not knowing if the Pineridge Ski Resort and Hotel owners would be willing to sell, nor even if they want to sell it.  Let alone how that sale would impact the town of Galena that so depends upon winter tourism for much of its economic stability.  Let alone how a change in ownership of the ski resort would impact Galena business owners like the Langley’s.

Greg has worked on dozens of acquisition deals like this one over the six years that he has been with Resorts International.   It’s just that, if this acquisition is pursued, he would feel that his career is on the line, since he had always spoken so well of Galena—the town and the area having lovely family memories associated with it for him.

But Greg’s very fond family vacation memories are intangibles that might not necessarily translate into a solid business deal—and he knows it.  And Greg wonders if he would be too personally involved to handle the acquisition of Pineridge Mountain [Ski] Resort and Hotel with the dispassionate business professionalism that will be required of him—because he has friends and acquaintances in the area from his family’s years of returning to the resort. And maybe, Greg has the potential for a more than friends relationship developing is in his future.

So after the Halliday’s visit the Langley’s sporting goods store in Galena next, Greg plans to beg off cross country skiing with his sister Connie this morning. Greg needs to make sure that he can secure lodgings for himself after this week. And he knows exactly where he wants to stay.


Connie doesn’t take long to change into warmer clothing for the Wintery cold weather.  So she and her brother Greg drive from the Galena countryside and into the city of Galena to visit the Langley’s sporting goods store. And it seems that Diana had alerted her brother Gary that the Halliday’s might be stopping by their sporting goods store this morning.  Because walking through the door—with the quaint recording of a tinkle bell sounding as the automatic doors whoosh open–they are greeted warmly by Gary Langley.

Gary:  “Welcome back, Greg & Connie!  Long time, no see.  How have you been?”  Gary always adopts a hale fellow well met attitude with his long time customers like the Hallidays—giving them extra special attention.

Greg: “Ah!  Gary, It’s good to see you, too!” He nods and both men shake hands.

Connie: “Hi Gary.” Connie is also circumspect in her greeting, since she knows that Gary is married.  “Diana must have let you know that we were coming.”

Gary: “Yes, she did. She stopped by.  In fact, you just missed her.”  Gary smiles broadly, not noticing the more than interested look on Connie’s and especially on Greg’s faces.  “What can I do for you today?  We have some news skis and winter weather gear you might be interested in.”

Greg: “We’d like to look at your cross country skis, and then we’ll just look around in case anything else catches our eyes.”

Greg smiles cordially back at Gary. Greg will wait and observe how Gary and the store are doing as he and his sister Connie make their selections.  The store seems prosperous—since it is well maintained and full of sports equipment at varying price points.  But Greg as well as anyone knows the vagaries of business—especially for an area that depends so heavily on recreation tourism.  So though Greg is technically on vacation, he is back into his corporate lawyer of mergers and acquisitions mode.

In the end, Greg is impressed with the variety, depth, and quality of the merchandise at the Langley’s sporting goods store—and their constant flow of customers and purchases in the hour that he and his sister Connie are there.  Greg had also let Connie know on their drive over that he has to attend to a few business matters, so he can’t go cross country skiing with her this morning.  But he doesn’t want her to go cross country skiing alone, for safety reasons.

So Greg is happy to see that the Langley’s Sporting Goods Store has  skiing buddies and cross country skiing groups sign ups, which Connie avails herself of.  And Connie especially likes  the tall and muscular looking late twenty something ski pro from the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort [(2) right], who is also a liaison with the sporting goods store—and who indicates that he is leading a cross country skiing group at 11am that will end up at the resort for lunch at 12noon.  Connie does remember the Ski Pro.  But Greg doesn’t recognize the ski pro—men mature so much over time.


And little does Greg know that his sister Connie’s decision to join the Pineridge Mountain Resort & Hotel’s Ski Pro leading a cross country skiing tour group today will be fateful in more ways than one. For you see, Connie is familiar with the Ski Pro, Eddie Hughes—yes one of those Hughes, the son of the current ski resort owner and grandson of the founder.

Connie and Eddie are about the same age of thirty years old now—and they had met in their much younger teen years when Connie’s family stayed at their vacation home Winters and Summers.  So Connie and Eddie had struck up a sweet young and uncomplicated teen crush friendship with each other when they were fourteen years old—that culminated four  years later before college into a serious and responsible romantic relationship, their first for each of them. There were many letters back and forth between them and weekly long distance phone calls—as well as a few trips to see each other during their high school years.  Eddie had even traveled to Connie’s home town to be her senior year prom date.

And though Connie and Eddie  had amicably parted ways when they each went to college—them knowing intuitively that they were too young and not ready for the lifelong commitment and responsibilities of marriage—they remained friends.  But their number of contacts eventually dwindled down to maybe a passing wave on the ski slopes if they happened to be at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel at the same time.  But they did not reconnect as adults, them each feeling privately that their youthful relationship had run its course, and their time together as boyfriend and girlfriend remained a lovely memory for both of them.

But here with Eddie standing so close to her that she could touch him, she does—by impulsively giving him a hello hug.

Connie: “Oh Eddie, hello! It’s so great to see you again after all these years!”  She gushes effusively.  “It’s me, Connie!”

Eddie: “Connie?  Connie Halliday?”  He asks incredulously of the blond beauty before him.  And Connie nods. “You look wonderful!”  Then Eddie hugs her back and kisses her cheek.  Eddie thought that Connie had looked sweet and pretty when they were young teens.  And now?  Now, Eddie thinks that Connie is  dazzlingly beautiful.  Then he sees the man standing near her and smiling, and Eddie’s demeanor sobers.  “So, you and your husband are visiting the area?”  He asks a tad disappointedly.

Connie: “Him?  No, silly.”  Connie rolls her eyes and leans into Eddie’s shoulder, with Eddie’s arm around her.  “That’s my older brother, Greg,”  Then she turns to Greg, who is warily scowling at the ski pro—still not recognizing him.  “Greg?  You remember Eddie Hughes?  And Eddie, this is my brother, Greg.”  The two men shake hands.  It seems that Eddie didn’t recognize the now grownup Greg either.

Greg: “Oh right.”  Greg softens his tone and his demeanor into his polite face—which is bland and does not give away his thoughts.  “You and Connie were playmates when you were young.”  He states a tad dismissively.  If Greg was worried about Eddie as being a Ski Pro on the romantic prowl of his sister Connie, then Greg is doubly cautious about Eddie being a playboy heir to a several hundred million dollar fortune that is the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel—and him being on the romantic prowl.

Eddie:  “It’s good to see you both back on the Mountain.”  Eddie nods graciously to them both, with Connie still nestled into his shoulder and arm.

Greg: “Thank you, it’s good to see you as well.  My sister and I are interested in some cross country skiing until the downhill runs are open during the week that we are here.  But I have to attend to a business matter just now.  So Connie will join your cross country skiing tour without me.”

Eddie: “Not to worry, Greg.  I’ll take good care of Connie.”  Then Eddie caringly looks down into Connie’s eyes. “I won’t let anything bad happen to her.  I swear on my life.”

Connie:  “Mine, too.”  Connie says in a hushed whisper as she smiles up at Eddie.


So with Greg’s sister Connie all set with her cross country skiing group tour outing—on her shiny new  skis and poles that Greg bought her, along with a new fetching full body hot pink ski [jumpsuit], hat, gloves, and boots—Greg heads back to the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel to talk to Mike Porter about his hoped for accommodations in week 2 of his extended stay in the area.

Greg had called ahead to insure that Mike was available and made an appointment with him directly—rather than going  through a desk clerk to arrange his accommodations.  Because Greg’s request will be very special.  The two men shake hands in greeting as Greg is shown into Mike’s spacious office with a great mountain view window behind Mike’s desk [(3) right].

Though Mike Porter only knows Greg Halliday as a resort guest acquaintance, Mike is very conversant with the Hughes family.  In fact, he and Eddie Hughes had gone to the same university’s recreation and resort management program together.  And it was upon Eddie’s recommendation and reference after earning their degrees that Mike applied for and then was awarded the job of Pineridge Mountain Recreation Manager  and Assistant Resort Manager eight years ago—when old man Hughes was still CEO and his son was the resort manager.  Then when old man Hughes passed away four years ago, Mr. Hughes—the founder’s son—became CEO and Mike was promoted  to the Pineridge Mountain Resort and Hotel Manager—with Mike’s  best friend Eddie Hughes taking over as the resort’s Recreation Manager—as well as, Eddie maintaining a foothold in being one of the Ski Pros, for Eddie to be able to continue his direct guest interaction experiences  that inform how he manages the recreation needs of their guests.

Mike: “Ah, Mr. Halliday, you wanted to make additional reservations for an extended stay?”  He asks curiously.  “I’m not sure Diana Langley is able to extend your renting Lakeside Cottage another week—though I can ask her for you.”

Greg: “Just call me Greg, Mike. We’ve known each other for many years now.  And Mr. Halliday is my Dad.  Ha ha ha!” Greg jests, uncharacteristically for him.

Mike: “Ha ha ha!  So it is. What can I do for you, Greg?” Mike smiles cordially, him not thinking that Greg Halliday is going to ask the near impossible of him.

Greg: “I want to know if my family’s old home is available?”  Ever since Greg’s parents sold their home to the Ski Resort five years ago—without telling Greg or Connie before hand—Greg has wanted to get their old home and property back.

Mike: “Let me check.”  Mike turns to his computer as Greg sits patiently in front of his desk. “Yes, it looks like your former  home is available for the week starting next Saturday.  We’ve been doing some basic maintenance on the main house and cabins last week and this week—which is why your old vacation home wasn’t available for you to rent this week.” Because Greg had requested his old family home for this week’s visit.

Greg: “Great!  I’ll take it for the week after this one.  But I also have a more permanent idea in mind.”

Mike: “Oh?”  Mike looks at Greg questioningly.

Greg: “Yes. I want to buy back our vacation home and its surrounding property from the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel.”  Greg states plainly what his intentions are—no obfuscating his goal.

Mike: “Well!  That’s a surprise!  Um.  And even entertaining discussing it would be quite above my pay grade.  You would need to speak to the owner Mr. Hughes.”  And Mike’s surprise is very evident on his face—with his wide eyes and blanching facial expression that Greg can’t interpret at the moment.

Greg: “Is there something that you’re not telling me?”  Greg had hoped that this could be a straightforward transaction—whereupon Greg would buy back his home, but perhaps also let the Resort coordinate some people renting it for a pro-rated fee.  Then Greg’s eyes widen,  Mike mentioned cabins near his family’s old home?

Mike: “Ah!”  Mike nods, seeing Greg’s widening eyes.  “Let me just call up the property on our website—where the information is in the public domain.”  He does that and turns his computer display screen around to face Greg—showing him both aerial views of the current state of the improved Halliday property, as well as, some interior views of the mostly intact architecturally, but completely refurbished main Halliday home, the new surrounding cabins, and such.

Greg: “My God!  It looks like the property has been turned into a camp site with the several small cabins built up around it.”  And Greg is not happy.  What his old home looks like now with the cabins around it, is what he hoped to prevent happening were his corporation to take over the resort—were his old home still a part of the resort.  But Greg is too late.

Mike:  “Well, you see, Greg, your old home has been developed over the last few years into a business meeting center of sorts—almost like our very own Camp David—with the main house centrally located to a web of smaller cabins for guests and smaller meetings.  It is a very popular venue for corporations.”

And Greg knows that his hope to reacquire his family’s vacation home just became that much harder. But yet, Greg soldiers on with his quest.

Greg: “So what are you telling me, Mike?”  A stunned Greg Halliday sits stiffly   [(4) right], though still leaning forward onto Mike’s desk—with Greg staring at the computer screen showing the image of what had been his family vacation home.

Mike: “That the old Halliday home and property is worth much more today as a business center, than as a private home.  But you can certainly request a meeting with our CEO Mr. Hughes.  And it’s the younger Mr. Brent Hughes–his father, the old man who founded the resort, died a few years back.”

Mike: “Thank you for your candor, Mike.  I will seek a meeting with Mr. Hughes.”

Both men stand and shake hands again in farewell.  And as Greg leaves Mike’s office, he realizes that it’s almost time to meet up with his sister Connie for lunch after her group cross country skiing tour ends up at the ski resort.  But even in that, Greg will be thwarted this day.

To be continued with Chapter 5

References for Ch. 4 of “Winter Rental”, January 21, 2022 by Gratiana Lovelace, (Post#1441) 

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Mag_;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at

2) Eddie Hughes in wool coat (masked) is represented by Liam Hemsworth, found on tumblr at; composited with Snow skis hanging on wall rack was found at

3) Mike Porter in gray sweater is Regé-Jean Page, Apr07-2021TheWrap_Jan20-2022Grati; original image found at; composited with Utah-ski-resort-breathtaking-view-of-lower-ski-runs-representing-PineridgeSkiResort-in-story_Jan14-2022viaSLTrib; original image found at

4) Greg Halliday is represented by Richard Armitage 2022 portraits  in cream sweaters by Kaitlyn Mikayla found in the Nobleman Mag interview at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 4 “Winter Rental”:

SAL blog Post#1439 link for Ch. 3  of “Winter Rental”:

Posted in "Winter Rental" by Gratiana Lovelace, Creative Writing, Gratiana Lovelace, Liam Hemsworth, Love and Relationships, Rege-Jean Page, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and his Nobel Peace Prize of 1964, January 17, 2022 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1440)

As we collectively held our breaths this past weekend when parishioners were held hostage in a Texas synagogue, it reminds us once again that justice and peace are societal goals that we are still hoping for.  Miraculously  for the Jewish victims involved in this latest incident of racial/ethnic/religious etc. hate, the hostages all survived their ordeal.

And today we remember and honor one for whom his mission of peace and social justice for all earned him the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964—the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (right).   Pasted below are two excerpts of an article (see hyperlink above) on the Nobel organization’s website about Dr. King and his Nobel Peace Prize:

“Martin Luther King dreamt that all inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin. In April 1968 he was murdered by a white racist. Four years earlier, he had received the Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against racism. …”

“…At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. …”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s. long history of striving for peace and social justice in his short life are enduring legacies of his life and labors—that culminated with him being honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his non-violent forms of protest in support of racial equality and social justice.

Yet as events of this past weekend and these past recent years show—with violence against non-white, non-Christian citizens and others of this nation—such as George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin,  and too many others–there is still much work yet to be done, here and around the world.

And I have often heard the phrase think globally and act locally.  So we look to our neighbors and our local communities for ways that we can help and do good for others—even as we, ourselves, strive to be good neighbors, good friends, and good citizens.  We donate our time, our talents, and our treasure to help those in need, and to help those for whom social justice is still an elusive goal.

Wishing you all peace and love, Grati  ;->

Posted in Equality, Equity, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 3: Dream lovers lead to morning cuddles,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  January 15, 2022 (Post #1439)

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; all rights reserved];  [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left) image credits are at the end of each chapter post]

 [Author’s note:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, and others as noted.

I will post new story chapters weekly–on both my SAL blog, as well as, on my Wattpad site.  This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers.]

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 3:  Dream lovers leads to morning cuddles

After a few more hours of sleep, Saturday morning comes and everyone begins to wake up–to amusing circumstances.  Diana Langley is still mostly asleep, having her lovely dream again of being loved and cared for by her unspecified future husband as she lays in his caring arms in their bed.  She feels his arms around her as if he were really there in bed with her—their arms and legs entangled [(2) below].  Diana thinks that she’ll have to stay at the resort hotel more often if it gives her such lovely lifelike dreams like these.

Elsewhere, Connie Halliday is just beginning to stir awake—her having slept out in the sitting room on the loveseat couch after switching sleeping locations with her brother Greg who was too tall for the loveseat couch.  But she’s fighting waking up, since she usually likes to sleep in on vacation.  And she brings the blanket up to her chin to keep warm.

Sleeping in is diametrically opposite of Greg’s habitué.  Greg likes to be up early and ready to ski on his vacation days–packing the most fun that he can into his limited  time off.  And as he slowly wakes up this morning, he has more than he bargained for–but in a good way, in a very good way.

Dozing sleepily [(3) above], Greg also thinks that he is still having a lovely dream.  And he tenderly tightens his embrace around the lady lying in his arms in their bed–his hands rest lightly on the lady’s soft fabric covered stomach.  And under his chin is a soft skinned, almost bare shoulder as he spoons with her.  He kisses her bare shoulder and the lady sighs in her sleep and clasps her hands on his hands embracing her.

Then as Greg starts to open his eyes, he forgets where he is at first.  It doesn’t look like the bedroom that he had claimed for himself at their Winter rental, Lakeside Cottage —he had taken what looked like a guest bedroom with one king size bed, but no ensuite bathroom, such as the master bedroom has that he let their friends Ron & Sylvia claim. Which means, that his sister Connie gamely has the bedroom at Lakeside Cottage with the twin beds—which is Diana’s girlhood bedroom, but redecorated for her adult self.

Ah, Greg muses, as his memory comes back to him as he awakens more.  They’re at the Pineridge Ski Resort Hotel because of the raging snowstorm last night—and sleeping in Diana Langley’s hotel suite bedroom, his two for two in him displacing her from her beds.  But technically,  Diana is not displaced from her ski resort hotel suite bed.

Greg now looks more closely at the lovely lady spooning with him and nestled into his arms.  She has long silky brunette hair that falls in soft waves over her shoulders.  Her face is sweet and uncomplicated in her sleep–almost angelic.  And even without her makeup on, she looks like an angel to him.  Greg Halliday smiles when he realizes that it is Diana Langley sleeping in his arms.  He does not question how their cuddling in bed together in the same bed came to be, but he likes  it.

But then in the next moment, Greg worries that she might be startled or upset to be lying in his arms—perhaps her thinking that he put the moves on her—not that he would do that, as a gentleman to a lady–even though she was the one to join him in his bed.  So, he tries to gently extricate himself from Diana as he leans back from her.

But it is too late, Diana begins to stir awake.  Not yet, she thinks—and let my romantic dream of love continue.  Then she turns from lying on her right side and lies down upon her back.  Greg notices Diana’s slightly open and enticingly plump pink lips, and he can’t help himself as he leans in and kisses her ever so softly upon her mouth.  Diana’s sleepy eyes flutter open to see who her dream lover is.  Her eyes don’t focus at first.  But she sees kind eyes, a noble nose, and a strong jaw with a commanding  mouth whose lips have just kissed hers.

Diana:  Caressing the side of his morning stubbled  face with her hand, she asks him softly.  “Are you real, or am I still dreaming?”

Greg:  Greg smiles at her charmingly innocent question—about their state of being in bed with each other. “I’m real.  I was too tall to sleep in the loveseat comfortably—well, at all really.”  He admits sheepishly.  For Diana had tried to warn him last night that he was too tall to sleep on the loveseat.  “So Connie switched sleeping locations with me in the night.”

Diana:  “Uh huh.”  She sighs sleepily, but with her having the growing realization of the unexpected sight of Greg Halliday lying on his side facing her–cuddling with her–she also feels his body next to the length of her body.  He feels warm and muscular and protecting to her.

Neither of them makes a move to separate from their cuddling.  And for Diana, she has never lain with a man– romantically or otherwise, ever–let alone slept with a man, even if she and Greg did just sleep.  They smile at each other, enjoying the tender closeness they’re sharing with one another–each tantalizingly wondering what will happen next.

Greg leans down and he kisses Diana again–softly, no open mouths or tongues–and she kisses him back, now tentatively running her fingers through his hair.  Their kisses begin to deepen as Greg pulls Diana closer to his body again.  Of course, Greg’s body’s sensual reaction to their making out is becoming quite evident to Diana–and that is also a new experience for her.  Diana startles, trembling with the understanding of what she thinks she is feeling.

Greg:  “Hmmm.  Sorry, Diana.”  Greg flushes in being a little embarrassed by his  body’s response to her–but also realizing that he is stirred by her because he genuinely likes her, maybe more.  And this is a new feeling for him—being attracted to and very much liking the same person.   “You feel so good next to me.”

Diana:  “I … I do?”  She asks incredulously.  She’s been so busy tending to everyone else’s needs for so long that she hasn’t tended to her own needs, her own hopes, or her own aspirations.

Greg:  “You do.”  He leans down and kisses her again–their lips seeking solace and warmth and tenderness with each other.  They kiss sweetly for several minutes, embracing and caressing each other’s faces, shoulders, and backs–with none of their hands straying into intimate realms.  It is too soon for such intimacies—for Diana, that Greg senses intuitively, but also for himself with Diana.

And then a dose of reality intrudes upon Greg and Diana’s lovely Saturday morning cuddling, as  the now wide awake Connie pads into the bedroom with the intent to visit the bathroom.  But she stops dead in her tracks at the sight of her brother Greg and their friend Diana kissing in bed.

Connie:  “Ooh.  Sorry.  I just have to pee.”  She says apologetically while closing her eyes and her gesturing with her arm flapping nervously toward the bathroom.

Greg and Diana look a little nonplussed in Connie’s direction as she retreats into the bathroom.  Then they look at each other–and they both burst out laughing at the slightly awkward situation they find themselves in.

Greg & Diana:  “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”  Then they playfully embrace each other again as they blush crimson–for their private moment of sweet awakening to each other as more than mere acquaintances  being on public display.


And since it’s the morning, Greg and Diana also each need to visit the bathroom– after Connie is done in there.  So, they wait patiently, still lying in each other’s arms, with Greg gently caressing Diana’s waist and her womanly curvy hip.  They don’t speak, but Greg leans in and kisses Diana sweetly again and she responds to him.  She likes Greg’s kisses, but she wonders if it is just because she hasn’t had any dates and Greg is handy?  Or, does she like Greg?  For his part, Greg likes the sensation of newness in finding a lovely lady–who was right under his nose practically all his life—being the lady whom he desires.  They smile at each other warmly.

Then Connie exits the bathroom and looks in the direction of her brother and Diana and stares curiously.  But Greg and Diana do not respond to her implied question—of what the heck are they doing making out? Connie is not a prude—by anyone’s standards.  She just feels protective of Diana, since her brother Greg clearly stated last night that he was taking a break from being in a relationship.  She wryly guesses that that ship has sailed.

Diana:  “Uh, if you’ll excuse me Greg—and Connie.  I’ll just …”  She points to the bathroom.

Greg:  “Of course.”  He loosens his embrace of her.  But as Diana rises from their bed, Greg’s hand slowly, seductively, slides off of her baby [dolls] pjs barely covered hip, that he now admires quite visually as she walks away from him in her baby dolls pjs.

Diana:  Passing Connie and her open mouthed expression, Diana cheerfully greets her—as if she wasn’t just discovered kissing Connie’s brother in her bed—by Connie.  “Good morning, Connie.  You know, you could catch flies with that.”  She gestures amusingly at Connie’s open mouth, and then Diana heads into the bathroom.


Connie immediately goes and sits on her brother’s bed, and whispers urgently to him.

Connie:  “What are you up to, Greg?   Diana is a nice girl.”  She asks with concern.

Greg:  “Hey!   She joined me in my bed.  Though neither of us realized the other was there until we woke up this morning and still cuddling from our dreams.”  He smiles mischievously–for him, anyway.

Connie:  “Greg, You know that Diana isn’t the kind of girl to sleep with a guy she barely knows.  I mean she practically told us she’s a virgin.”

Greg:  “Connie, we were just kissing.  It’s harmless.” Greg casually dismisses his sister’s concerns.  He and Diana are both adults and can decide for themselves what is and is not appropriate.

Connie:  “Maybe to you, Greg.”

Greg:  Then as Greg usually does in awkward situations, he goes for misdirection. Though he misses the mark on this one.   “Well, however, lovely it felt kissing Diana, the roads should be cleared by now and we can be on our way and have our nice week of skiing and other fun in the snow.”  And Greg truly doesn’t realize how callous and arrogant he sounds just now—by him dismissing his tender kissing with Diana as merely a casual act.

Connie:  “By displacing Diana from her home.”  Connie replies pointedly.  “Greg, this is why your previous relationship didn’t last.   You took her for granted.”

Greg:  “No I didn’t.  She took me for granted.”  He pouts.   Sparring siblings, the two of them.

Just then, Diana walks out of the bathroom wearing a hotel terry cloth robe covering up over her baby dolls pjs.  Apart from her not wanting to [seem] forward to Greg in her baby dolls, she doesn’t actually want to [be] forward–especially given their lovely kisses just now.

Connie:  “Hi Diana!”  Connie waves cheerfully.   Why don’t you and I get some coffee started, while my brother ponders how to apologize to you for kissing and groping you.” Connie rolls her eyes.

Greg:  “I didn’t grope Diana.”  He pouts defensively.   “And she joined me in my bed.”

Diana:  “Sorry about that.  Force of habit.   I sleep on the twin bed on the right at home.”  Diana admits sheepishly and blushes.

Greg: “See Connie?  Diana just admitted  her joining me in bed.”  He whines, as if he were Connie’s younger brother.

Connie:  “Whatever.”  Connie rolls her eyes dismissively at her brother Greg.

Diana:  “Uh.  I need coffee.”  And Diana nearly sprints out of the bedroom to get away from the discussion of Diana being found in the same bed with Greg—and kissing him, etc.

Greg:  “Now you’ve done it, Connie.  Diana is all embarrassed by her unintentionally joining me in my bed.”

Connie:  “Well technically, it was her bed—again.”  Connie gives her brother Greg a steely gaze.

Greg: “Hhhh! I’ve got to pee.”  Now Greg bolts, for the bathroom–leaving Connie to pull on one of the other hotel robes over her barely there complimentary hotel t-shirt and join Diana in her suite’s sitting room for coffee.


Out in Diana’s hotel suite’s sitting room, Connie finds Diana with her back to her. And Connie wonders if Diana is upset and crying.  But as she  walks closer to Diana,  Connie  realizes that Diana is staring at the suite’s rather modern and complicated looking coffee maker.  With Diana benignly  wondering  how the coffeemaker works as a much needed distraction.

Connie:  “Are you alright, Diana?”  Connie asks considerately as she gently touches Diana’s shoulder.

Diana:  “Oh suuure. I always slumber with and kiss men I barely know–and in someone else’s bedroom. Hhhhh!”  There is no way to sugar coat it.

Connie:   “If it makes you feel any better—so you aren’t too uncomfortable about it—that happened to me once, too.”

Somehow, the worldly Connie’s revelation does not soothe Diana.  Then blessedly the phone rings, interrupting their conversation.

Diana:  “Ill get it.”  Then she picks up her suite’s cordless phone.  “Yes?”

Hotel Room Service:  “This is room service.  Miss Langley?”  They ask politely.

Diana: “That’s me.”  She replies sanguinely.

Hotel Room Service:  “The Hotel is offering a free breakfast for the guests inconvenienced by last night’s blizzard and having  to stay at the hotel—and/or  having to invite guests to join you in your suite, in your case.  Would you like breakfast sent up for three?  Or do you prefer joining us in the dining room for the breakfast buffet?”

Diana:  “Just a minute, I’ll ask my guests.”  Then she puts the phone against her chest.  “Connie, the hotel is giving [a freebreakfast to] all the guests inconvenienced by the storm last night. So shall we go downstairs after we get dressed?”

Greg walks out of the bedroom all dressed, and he responds to Diana before his sister Connie can.

Greg: “Oh please thank them for us, Diana.  But I think we have trespassed on your time and your space long enough.  And I’ve already showered and just need to visit, uh… Lakeside Cottage for a change in clothes.”

Greg is trying to be considerate.  But his less than warm reserved demeanor—despite his earlier tender kisses with Diana—lead her to think that he can’t wait to be out of her sight and the awkward but lovely situation that they found themselves in this morning. Though her kissing with Greg didn’t seem awkward to Diana at the time.  Kissing him felt natural to her.

Connie:  “Well, Greg, Diana and I have to get ready yet.  So you figure out how to run this coffee maker whilst Diana and I get dressed. Then we can all go down to breakfast.  Diana?  I had already showered last night and can change into my clothes in the bedroom.  So the bathroom’s all yours.”

Diana:  “Thanks, Connie.”  Then she remembers that the Ski Resort Hotel’s Room Service  is waiting patiently on the phone, and Diana returns to talking on the cordless phone.  “Gosh!  Sorry, we’ll be down to the dining room for breakfast, thank you.  No need to make the catering staff have extra work by bringing the food up here.”

Hotel Room Service: “Alright, Miss Langley.  We’ll see you and your friends in the dining room for breakfast.”  Then he hangs up the phone.

And, Diana also doesn’t want anyone to make assumptions about her sharing her suite with Greg and Connie Halliday—since it’s mostly townies like Diana who work at the ski resort hotel, and it’s a small town—with a penchant for hearing about tourists comings and goings and such. Then Diana turns and look at Greg with a cordially polite smile on her face—two can play the nonchalant kissing game, she thinks.

Diana: “So we’ll just have breakfast downstairs.  You have to eat [something], Greg.” Diana tries to smile blandly, disinterestedly—when she is anything but.  She will not give Greg Halliday the satisfaction of dumping her before they barely get started as couple.  The nerve of the man, she thinks.  Hmm!

Greg: “Well, thank you, Diana.” Greg replies haltingly.  “You’re being very gracious.”  He nods for emphasis.

For some unknown reason, Greg feels unexpectedly nervous around Diana—now that he has kissed her—let alone embraced and caressed her, and he technically slept with her—but not in the biblical sense.  Though Diana perceives Greg’s nervousness as his reserved disinterest in her—though their kisses earlier seemed to her anything but his  disinterest.

And as Diana heads into her hotel suite bedroom’s bathroom, she thinks that theirs will be an awkward breakfast.


After going through the breakfast buffet line in the ski resort hotel’s dining room, Diana, Connie, and Greg return to their table with a great window view of the ski mountain.  For a few minutes, they just focus on their food and eat, without conversing.  But then as Greg savors the warm rich flavor of his morning espresso, he really studies the fresh snow on the mountain and ponders his options.

Greg: “I wonder if the snow pack is sturdy enough to allow for downhill skiing today?”  Greg pensively thinks out loud, then he looks at Diana because she is a resident of the area—and her family runs a sporting goods store mostly catering to skiers.  Therefore, he thinks that she might be an expert about it.  And snow is an innocuous topic to talk about, he thinks.  Except, it seems, with Diana as he looks at her pointedly.

Diana:  “Hmmm?”  She finishes chewing, then notices his shrug and then his head tilting  toward the ski runs showing through the window behind her.  “What?”  She asks him tersely. If she weren’t so polite, she would tell him to use your words, Greg.  But she does think it.

Greg:  “The snow?  Do you think it will be safe to downhill ski today?”  He asks hopefully.

Diana:  “I don’t know, Greg.  I’m not a skier.”  And Diana sadly thinks, that she is not a skier anymore.  “You’ll have better luck asking the ski resort about skiing possibilities for today.”  Then she pops a morsel of icing slathered cinnamon roll into her mouth.” Greg scowls at Diana disbelievingly dismissing his question, because he is accustomed to people answering his questions directly—not avoiding nor deferring them to someone else.

Connie: “Oh Greg. Crack a smile.”  His sister looks at him in bemused annoyance [(4) below]. Her beautiful open face with sparing makeup—coupled with her naturally outgoing personality– are a dynamite combination.

Greg:  “But  Connie, her family owns the local sporting goods store.  We’ve bought skiing stuff from her for years.”  He counters.  Greg senses that Diana does know about skiing, but he cannot reference any particular knowledge on his part about that.  Greg just has a gut instinct about Diana—despite his uncharacteristically bumbling his trying to distance himself from her after their lovely morning kisses, when that is the last thing in the world that he wants to do.

Diana:  “Greg?  That was just on Summer and Winter vacations—with my helping out at the cash register [only].  My brother Gary manages the store and has a great and knowledgeable staff about the sports our customers are interested it.  And I don’t work there anymore, unless he gets truly busy and needs me to help out ringing up customer purchases.”

Connie:  “See, Greg?”  Then Connie looks over toward Diana and she is transfixed.  “Gosh, Diana, your cinnamon roll looks so good.”  Then Connie bleakly looks down at her own plate of one boiled egg and a selection of fruits.  Unfortunately for her, a cinnamon roll—with its many carbohydrates–is not on Connie’s diet plan.

Diana: “I’m sure they have more cinnamon rolls, Connie.” At first, Diana misunderstands Connie’s food concern, then she guesses rightly the truth of it.  “Oh!  Connie, you’re on vacation, live a little—and have a cinnamon roll.”  She encourages.

Connie: “Maybe, I will!”  And Connie jumps up and dashes over to the buffet to select the smallest cinnamon roll that she can find, and returns to their table, noshing happily—washing it down with some hot chocolate.

Greg:  Changing the subject again, Greg asks rather officiously–as if he were a human resources interviewer and Diana were a job applicant.   “So, Diana, what is it that you do for a living, then, if you don’t work at the store?”

Hmmm, thinks Connie.  Her brother Greg inquiring about Diana’s life is the first step in dating.  And Connie smiles cordially at her brother Greg, her enjoying watching his exchange with Diana.

Diana: “Uh. I’m a teacher, of English literature—at Galena High School.”  Diana states a bit defensively.  She is not sure why, but she feels that she—or anyone—is more than their credentials or what their job is.  “And you, Greg and Connie?  What are your jobs?”  Turnabout is fair play in Diana’s mind.  And despite the warm and cozy tingles she felt lying in Greg’s arms this morning, now she finds him rather off putting.

Connie:  “I’m a buyer at a women’s clothing store in New York City.  So I’m always on the lookout for new and unique outfits to offer to our customers.”

Diana: “Uh huh.”  Of course, Connie is tall and almost model thin.  So Diana thinks that Connie would look good in anything—unlike her own slightly shorter and womanly curvy self.  “That sounds fun.  And how did you get into that line of work?”  She asks interestedly.

Connie:  “Well, I modeled a bit in high school.”  Connie shares sheepishly—her remembering her feeling awkward and on display.  “But I was more into the clothing fashions, than modeling them.  So I earned my degree in fashion merchandising.  Then after college, I joined my present employer in an entry level position—think advertising campaign photoshoot gofer–and I eventually worked my way up to cosmetics and jewelry, then to being the store’s personal fashion stylist for special customers, head of the women’s department,  and eventually now to being a buyer.”  Connie blithely relates her rise in the fashion merchandising business.  But Connie has worked hard for her current position, and she does it very well—with her customer/client  focused approach and friendly professional demeanor.

Diana: “Good for you, Connie!”  Diana smiles in praise of her.   “I hope you brought all your trendy clothing needs with you.  We’re not exactly high fashion around here, but I like a comfy style for the every day.”  Diana winces.  Her velvety soft and warm light tan corduroy skirt and soft ivory sweater that Diana wears [(5) right] are nice, she thinks to herself–but they are, perhaps, more on the dressy sporty casual LL Bean style range, rather than being trendy.

Connie: “Oh, but I love your fashion style, Diana.”  Connie states sincerely.  Connie has noticed how focused her brother Greg seems,  in him paying attention to what Diana says and looks like.  And the other guests and ski resort hotel staff also seem to be very cordial with Diana.  So Connie thinks that she must be well liked in town.

Diana:   “Thanks, Connie.  I shop a lot online.”  She demures with a bemused grin–her belying the serious need for a family department store in town with the full range of recreational, leisure, casual dressy, business professional, and dressy clothes for women–unlike the limited variety of the high priced clothing at the ski resort’s in hotel clothing store.  Then she turns to Greg to bring him into the conversation.  “And you, Greg?  What do you do for a living?”  Diana pleasantly asks Greg.  She is merely making conversation—now that Diana believes that she is no longer the center of attention.  The shoe is on the other foot.

Greg is rather startled to become the focus of Diana’s attention again.

Greg: “Oh!  Why, I’m a …”  He hesitates—since people usually seem to have decided feelings about his line of work, pro and con.

However, Diana patiently waits for Greg to respond to her.  She is also patient with her students who seem shy.

Connie:  “Greg, now don’t be modest.”  Connie smiles widely at her very successful brother.  “He’s a …”

Greg: “I can tell Diana what I do for a living, Connie.”  He whiningly bites out.  He is not so much annoyed with his younger sister Connie for talking about his work, as he is irritated with himself for his long standing reserve.  Diana still waits patiently for his response.

Connie: “Well then?” She looks at him pointedly.  In turn, Greg scowls at his sister Connie.

Diana:  Trying to lighten the moment, Diana jests.  “Now Greg, if you’re a spy and you’re on a secret mission, don’t worry.”  “I won’t tell a soul.”  Then Diana smiles very cheekily at him—as she pretends to zip her lips shut.

Greg: “Ha ha ha ha ha!  No!  Nothing so important, nor as glamorous.”  Greg laughs modestly [(6) below].  “I’m a corporate lawyer, that’s all—mergers and acquisitions, mostly.”
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“Winter Rental”, Ch. 0 Prologue, Ch. 1 Snow Falls and the ski tourists return, Ch. 2 Dinner ends unexpectedly  by Gratiana Lovelace, January 10, 2022 (Post #1438) 

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance  story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; All rights reserved.];
[(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (below left) image credits are at the end of each chapter(s) post]

 [Author’s note:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, and others as noted.

I will post new story chapters on both my SAL blog, as well as, on my Wattpad site.  And initially, I posted Ch. 0 through Ch. 2 to get this story started, then after that I will post new chapters weekly.

“Winter Rental” is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to  humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers.]

“Winter Rental”, Prologue

Diana Langley has spent the last few months of the previous year tying up the loose ends from her father’s death last year—and she grieves mournfully for his loss.  He had been sick for several years and she had cared for him in the home she grew up in for as long as she could–until he needed intensive  nursing care that they could only receive financial assistance with if he was in a nursing home.  So that is where he went for several months toward the end of his life- and where she held him in her arms when he passed away in early fall, four months ago.

An only child for all intents and purposes–since her brother Gary was of no help with their father during his illness, not even to provide a respite for her–Diana has been adrift a bit now that she has free time that she has to fill.  Her work as a teacher is professionally fulfilling, but she does not have any caring personal relationships–romantic or otherwise–to help nurture her soul.  You see, when you have a chronically and severely ill family member, your friends eventually fall away because you don’t have as much free time to spend with them as you used to—and they don’t know what to say or how to help, and it is very isolating.

Though Diana did decorate her home festively this Christmas, but she didn’t have anyone to share it with.  And after the Christmas Holidays, there is always a let down.  But the new year brings promise and hope for Diana—with old acquaintances being renewed–in a most unexpected and loving way. That is, if Diana can get past the arrogant man’s  unreasonable  proposition.

“Winter Rental”, Chapter 1:  Snow Falls and the Ski Tourists Return

For as long as Diana Langley can remember, she has worked weekends at her family’s sporting goods store that her brother Gary now runs as part owner with her.  Her brother Gary and she each received a half interest in the family’s Langley Sporting Goods Store in the lovely Galena, Illinois—with Diana being mostly a silent partner. But she helps out at the store at the registers, now and then on busy tourist weekends.

Diana Langley had spent the last few months of the previous year tying up the loose ends from her father’s death last year—and she grieves mournfully for his loss.  He had been sick for several years and she had cared for him in the home she grew up in for as long as she could–until he needed intensive  nursing care that they could only receive financial assistance with if he was in a nursing home.  So that is where he went for several months toward the end of his life- and where she held him in her arms when he passed away in early fall, four months ago.

An only child for all intents and purposes–since her brother Gary was of no help with caring for their father during his illness, not even to provide a respite for her–Diana has been adrift a bit now that she has free time that she has to fill.  Her work as a teacher is professionally fulfilling, but she does not have any caring personal relationships–romantic or otherwise–to help nurture her soul.  You see, when you have a chronically and severely ill family member, your friends eventually fall away because you don’t have as much free time to spend with them as you used to—and they don’t know what to say or how to help, and it is very isolating.

And though Diana did decorate her home festively this Christmas, she didn’t have anyone to share it with.  And after the Christmas Holidays, there is always a let down.  But Diana hopes that the new year brings with it new possibilities for friendship, and perhaps more.  At twenty eight years old, Diana is young and youthfully beautiful—with lovely auburn hair falling in curling waves over her shoulders, a clear complexion, expressive kind eyes, and full lips that beg to be kissed.  She just needs to find the right man whom she wants to kiss, she thinks bemusedly.  Were this another era, she would be labeled a spinster.  However, in our modern era, women are not defined by their marital status.  But for many people, they hope to find that one special someone to share life and love with as they grow old together.  And for Diana, she hopes to find a love of a lifetime.

And though the Northern Illinois ski resort town of Galena that Diana and her family live in is mostly filled with tourists during the Winter ski season, there are also a few people who trickle in for short stays at other times of the year as well. The city of Galena, Illinois and its surrounding area is truly a lovely place to visit and to live.  You approach from the south via a somewhat winding hill/mountain highway  road from which you see a breathtaking vista of the valley below of homes and the city of Galena itself.

The river running through the city of Galena had once been a major thoroughfare of commerce and transportation over 150 years ago in the mid 1800’s. But through over use and the town and the State failing to remove the silt that had sedimented on the bottom of the river over time, the river has become a shadow of its former self—narrower and shallow.  So no ships or boats of any large commercial size can traverse it anymore. But the river and its bridges are still picturesque.

And downtown Galena boasts thriving businesses with old world charm as the city has preserved its older buildings that now house antique stores, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, etc.  And one particularly famous former resident was President Grant–the General Grant of the Civil War—with a lovely home that the town had granted him, and which now has a charming restaurant in it.  The whole area of Galena is charming and lovely.  And when you include the ski mountain and resort area, it has been a magnet for nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts for the last seventy five years.

Brother and sister Greg and Connie Halliday are two regulars who have visited  the Galena area both Winter and Summer since their childhood thirty years ago.  And their family used to have a vacation home here.  But when Greg and Connie were in college and then after–while establishing their careers they were not able to visit that often.  So their aging parents sold their vacation home to the ski resort about five years ago.  So, now when Greg and Connie  return to Galena, they tend to rent out homes in the resort area for their stays.

Galena’s local Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel also manages several homes and ski chalets  in varying sizes on its large Galena valley resort property.  And sometimes the locals also rent out their homes to part time vacationers—that the resort coordinates for a hefty chunk of the rental fee.  Diana has never rented out her family’s home–now her home deeded to her by her father’s will last year. To Diana the idea of having strangers in her home, among her possessions and her memories seems off putting to her.

But yet this early in January Friday, Diana receives a call from her friend Mike Porter who manages the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel pleading for some help in that regard—renting out her personal home–and he invites her to lunch at the resort to discuss it, though she does not know it yet.  Walking into the resort’s airy upscale dining room–with floor to ceiling windows displaying nature’s snow covered beauty, Diana spies her friend and he waves her over to his table.

Mike:  Standing up politely and giving her a peck on her cheek as an old school chum of Diana’s and longtime family friend, Mike  asks her.  “So, how is everything?  Now that the holidays are over?”

Mike knows well from his own father passing two years ago, how hard it is to work through the grief of losing a parent, as well as, the adjustment of having to reorder your life without them.  And since Mike was originally from Canada–where most of his family still lives–he was sadly not able to reach home in time, when his father took a turn for the worse and died unexpectedly.  But Mike’s wife Michelle and their two kids–their 5 year old son Griffin (from his wife’s maiden name) and their 3 year old princess in the making Stefani–are the joys of his life.  And they, like he, are his father’s—and their grandfather’s–legacy in the world.

Diana:  “Anticlimactic.”  She responds honestly to his question, while she maintains her serene countenance.  Because being alone during the holidays is tough, but she doesn’t like to broadcast that to others.  “School doesn’t open for another three weeks—until February. And my lesson plans are all ready to go.  So I’m still enjoying my vacation downtime—and contemplating some home improvements.  And you, Mike?”

Mike:  “Same old, same old.  There’s a new crop of resort guests every weekend now that the holidays are over–with a few staying a full week now that the snow has finally come.”

Diana:  “But surely they can’t ski yet.  We’ve only had about 6 inches of snow in the last few days.”

Mike:  “Downhill is out for now, but several guests are taking advantage of the cross country skiing trails.”

Diana:  She nods politely. “Thanks for the heads up about that.  I’ll let Gary know to order some more cross country equipment for the store.”

Mike:  “Actually, that’s not why I asked you here.  We’ve got a weeklong rental coming in.  You remember the Hallidays, don’t you?” He looks at her a bit nervously, since he has yet to reveal his request.

Diana:  “Sure. They must be coming here for going on more than thirty years now.”  And she smiles unconsciously at her memories of the Hallidays.

Of course, Diana remembers the older brother Greg Halliday very well—he was tall, dark, handsome, athletic, and charming, from what she could tell at a distance mostly.  And Greg used to tease Diana about her being a townie when he would visit as a teen and she was in grade school–he’s about 12 years or so older than she is.  Then in Diana’s high school years, she had a little crush on Greg back then because he always seemed to have fun doing outdoor sports, when she was stuck inside her family’s sporting goods store merely selling people the equipment to do their outdoor sports.

You see, Diana has some residual mobility issues related to a bad ski fall she took as a young teen when she broke her lower right leg in several places. After her physical therapy got her as close to her pre-injury abilities that it could, Diana regrouped and decided that her slight infirmity when walking made her unique among the tall Viking like tourists and townies sports enthusiasts.  And Diana developed a slightly jaunty walk to smooth over her mobility issues.  But she still has endurance limitations for standing long and walking long distances.

So skiing, skating, and even hiking are out for Diana. Though she does like to sled down small hills, now and then.  And as long as she takes her time walking–and not try to hurry, let alone run–Diana  has a nearly fluid walking movement now, such that most people don’t notice that she has a slight limp, unless she is tired and her walking becomes painful and labored.  And Diana could do a credible slow dance—were she to have any partners to dance with her.  So the irony of Diana being part owner of her family’s sporting goods store—and her not being able to participate in their area’s main outdoor recreation activities of skiing, skating, hiking, etc.—is not lost on her.

Mike:  “Yes, well they decided to come up this week at the last minute with friends–or dates, I don’t know which.  And I don’t have a ski chalet available to accommodate their group of four–the brother and sister and their two friends.”  Mike lets his need hang in the air a bit.

Diana:  “That’s too bad, Mike.”  She says commiserating with him—her not getting what he’s driving at.

Mike:  “Here’s the thing, Diana.  They’re willing to pay top dollar–nearly $5,000 for the week, seven days and nights.  I would split the rental fee with you.  And you won’t even have to clean the place yourself to get ready.  And we’ll provide the sheets, towels, the works!”

Diana:  Suddenly, it dawns on Diana what Mike is intimating.  “Oh!  You want to rent them my cottage?”

Mike:  “Diana, you’ve got three good sized bedrooms and your cottage is off the main roads.  So it’s secluded and private.”

Diana:  She laughs. “Ha ha ha!  I know, that’s why I like it.  Mike, I’ve never rented my home out before.  I know other people do it.  But with dad being sick and all …., and then dying last year …”  Her voice trails off in sadness for her loss.

Mike:  “I’m sorry.  I know it’s a lot to ask.  But I’m desperate.”  He reveals pleadingly.

Diana:  “But what would I do while they’re in my home?  I have nowhere else to stay.”

Mike:  “I thought of that, Diana.  I’m sweetening the pot by giving you free room and board at the Ski Resort Hotel for the week.”  He sits back pleased with himself for his gracious offer.

Diana:  “I don’t know.”  She purses her lips—not sure if she should capitulate to her friend’s offer/request, or to just say no, which is her right.  Yet, she hates for Mike to be in a bind—and it would a family she knows renting it, the Hallidays.  So, that might not be so bad.

Mike:  “Diana, you’re my only hope.”  He begs.

Diana:  “Do I look like Obi Wan Kenobe from Star Wars, Leia?”  They both laugh.  Then Mike pouts cutely at her. So she gives in.  “Hhhhh!  Alright.”  Diana is trying to be open to new experiences—and  renting out her home is definitely a new experience for her.

Mike:  “That’s great, Diana!  You’re a life saver!”

Diana:  “At least I’ll get a free house cleaning out of it.  When do they arrive?”

Mike:  “In six hours.”  He looks at her sheepishly.

Diana:  “Six hours?!?  You’ve got to be kidding me!  I know you’re sending cleaners over, but I would still want to pack away some personal items for safe keeping.  I haven’t even taken down the Christmas decorations yet.””  She looks at him askance.

Mike:  “I’ve thought of that, too.”  He says brightly.  “I’m going to send my assistant Melanie home with you this afternoon to help you do whatever organizing you want while the housekeepers do their thing.  And just leave the decorations up.  The Hallidays want it festive–kind of a friends late Christmas gathering.  Please?”  Mike pouts, again—and he literally puts his hands together beggingly.

Diana:  “Alright.”  She winces at the upheaval to her life for the week—but she can use the $2,500 injection of cash that this winter rental will bring her for her home improvements, especially in upgrading her kitchen appliances.

Mike:  “Great!  Now let’s eat quickly and then get your cottage ready for the Halliday’s.”

Diana and Mike go on to have a scrumptious but quick soup and half sandwich lunch before Diana is bundled up and sent home with Melanie and two cleaners for the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and the great room.


It has definitely been a six hour whirlwind Friday January 7th afternoon for Diana getting some of her valuable personal belongings stashed with her grumbling older brother, Gary.  True to form, Gary even hinted that he wouldn’t mind having some of the $2,500 Diana will earn from the rental, but she feigned ignorance.  Good for her!  And Diana packed up her clothes and laptop to move to the hotel for the week so the Hallidays can rent her home.  Even with resort’s personal assistant Melanie helping her out, it was a struggle getting it all done in the short six hour timeframe.  One last prep step was getting two extra sets of house keys cut–one for the guests and one for the hotel’s housekeeping department.

And as it happens, Diana checks into the hotel at the same time that the Hallidays and their friends who are checking in to rent her cottage  as well.  So, Diana stands off to the side of the Ski resort’s main hotel lobby with her cart of suitcases and laptop, observing the group of four 30 to 40 something urban professionals.  Both of the Hallidays—the tall, dark, and handsomely beard stubbled older 40 year old brother Greg and his ten years younger willowy tall blond bobbed sister Connie–seem taller than Diana remembers them.  But it has been about five years since she last saw them she thinks.  And the other couple with them, seem to be a couple.  So, Greg and Connie don’t have partners or spouses with them.  A pleasant tingle goes through Diana as she thinks about Greg not vacationing here in Galena with anyone.  But of course, he might have a girlfriend back home.

Melanie:  Breaking Diana’s reverie, Melanie observes appreciatively. “That Greg Halliday is very handsome.”

Diana:  “Yes, he is.”  Diana sighs, and lets her lips curl up a bit in a small smile.

Diana thinks that Greg must be almost 40 years old  by now—to Diana’s soon to be 29 year old self.  And he looks even more muscular and handsome to her now as a mature man.  Well, he does ski—which is a great workout for keeping him incredibly fit and athletic looking.

Melanie:  “I’m just going to drop your house keys at the front desk and then pick up your suite key.”

Diana:  “A suite?  I thought you guys had a space problem?” She asks incredulously—and a little suspiciously, regarding her having to turn her life upside down for the next week.  But she will get $2,500 for her trouble, she guesses.  But Diana has never been about the money or living large as some do.

Melanie:  “We do.”  She back peddles.  “But since you are being inconvenienced, Mike wanted to make sure you were comfortable.  And it’s a small suite.  So don’t get your hopes up.”  She shrugs her shoulders.

Melanie walks over to the resort manager Mike talking to the Hallidays and guests foursome at the front desk and hands him one set of Diana’s house keys for their week’s stay.

Mike:  “Ah, here we are.  Thank you, Melanie.”  He also smiles and nods his thanks in Diana’s direction.  Diana gives a slight nod back to him.

Greg:  “Oh?  Was someone else renting the cottage before us?”  He looks over at Diana, not recognizing her adult self–even though he’s been to her family’s sporting goods store dozens of times over the years when she waited on him during school breaks.

Mike:  Trying to avert an awkward moment, he says “No, it’s a private home that hasn’t been rented before.”  He notices Greg and Connie looking over at Diana and tries to misdirect them.  “Uh. That’s Diana Langley.  You remember her family’s sporting goods store?”  Greg and Connie nod.  “Well, she’s staying with us while she’s … having work done at her place.”  He states cryptically.

Connie:  “Oh right.”  She snaps her fingers.  “She’s just a few years behind me in school.  I used to get tennis balls at their store when we were here Summers.   Greg, let’s go over and say hi to Diana.  Sylvia and Ron, you’ll excuse us, won’t you?” Connie asks considerately.

Sylvia and Ron:  “Of course.”  The two lovebirds stand arm in arm with each other.  They don’t ski and look forward to a quiet vacation week with lots of couples time–while their friends Greg and Connie go skiing.

Mike thinks, so much for averting awkwardness—because if the Hallidays realize that they’re displacing Diana from her home, albeit for a nice rental fee, that might make them feel a bit weird about it.  So, Mike walks over to Diana with the Hallidays,  to try to get her in on his ruse.

Diana sees the Hallidays  wave and walk over to her and she is a little uncertain what to say to them since they haven’t seen each other in years.  Happily, the cheerful and friendly Connie takes care of that as she gives Diana a warm hug.  The hug surprises Diana a bit, but she goes with the flow.

Connie:  “Hi Diana!  We haven’t seen you for years!  You look great!  You remember, us don’t you?  We’re the  Hallidays.  I’m Connie and this is my older brother, Greg.”  Connie is about 30 years old to her brother’s 40 years old.

Greg:  “My sister always stresses the older part.”  He rolls his eyes and smiles–like the bemused elder brother that he is.  “It’s good to see you again, Ms. Langley.”  He smiles courteously, nods his head a bit, and then gently but firmly shakes Diana’s hand.

Greg is very polite–but distant compared to the friendly hug his sister gave her, thinks Diana.

Diana:  “Just call me Diana.  Connie and Greg, it’s good to see you again.  What brings you to Galena?”

Mike:  Interjecting, he says  “They’ve come for the snow, Diana.  They’re renting Lakeside Cottage, you know the one.”  He raises his eyebrows, hoping that Diana will catch on.

Of course to Diana, this is the first time her family home has been given a name–Lakeside Cottage.  Diana thinks that she might have to keep that moniker for the place after the Hallidays leave.

Diana:  “Yes, of course I do.”  Diana looks perturbed at Mike, then smiles at Connie and Greg.

Connie:  “Yes, Mike was saying that you’re having some work done on your house, so you’re stuck in the hotel for a while.”

Diana:  Now catching on that Mike doesn’t want to reveal to the Hallidays that they are staying in Diana’s home, she says “Yes, something like that.”

Greg:  “We’re here with a couple of old college friends to enjoy the scenery and do a little cross country skiing.  Does your store have some cross country skiing equipment we can rent, Diana?”

Diana:  “Certainly, Greg.  I’m sure my brother Gary can get you set up.  But it’s too late today, the store closed at 5:30pm.  So you can visit the store tomorrow—after it opens at 8am Saturday.”

Mike:  “Yes, we need to get you situated in Lakeside Cottage for the night.”

Connie:  “Say, I have a brilliant idea!  I’m too tired to cook my requested famous spaghetti tonight, Greg.  So why don’t we eat at the hotel instead?”  Greg nods.  “And Diana you can be our guest since you’re homeless for the moment.”  Connie smiles triumphantly about her suggestion.

Greg:  “Yes Diana, we would love to have you join us.” Again, he says his invitation to her politely, but not overly warmly, thinks Diana.

Diana:  “Oh?  Now with your two friends there, won’t that make me the fifth wheel?”  She asks impishly.

Connie:  “Oh nobody cares about that anymore.  Besides, maybe you can give us your opinion on the dating scene here.   Greg and I are both coming off of break ups last Fall …”  Connie smiles impishly.

Greg:  “Connie, please!”  He looks at her wide eyed.  His studied taciturn demeanor shatters, by his annoyed response to his sister’s  revelation about his love life—which he wants to keep private and personal.

Connie:  “What?  Well, we are.  No use denying it, Greg.  And we have to get back into circulation.”  She looks at her brother pointedly.  “So, Diana, shall we meet up in about an hour back here in the lobby, around 7:00pm?

Diana:  “Alright.  I’ll see you later.” Diana smiles and nods at the Hallidays.

Mike:  “That’s great everyone.  We’ll get you settled in the cottage and then see you back here for dinner.”

Mike goes off to tend to finishing the Hallidays check-in and Diana also checks into her resort suite.

To be continued with Chapter 2

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 2:  Dinner at the Resort ends unexpectedly

After Diana settles  into her hotel suite—that has its own kitchen and dining area opposite an upscale cozy seating area around a stone fireplace with a large screen tv above it, and her bedroom and bathroom in a separate room– Diana avails herself of the spa bathroom.  Its whirlpool tub jets are particularly nice for her sore back and other muscles after frantically packing and moving her stuff out of her home.  But she feels that she could almost swim laps in the tub it’s so big.

Then Diana dresses in a new butterscotch  colored slightly off the shoulder sweater dress with her shoulder length brunette hair flowing about her shoulders in soft curls, and she lightly applies her makeup—despite it being nighttime that might call for a bit of jazzing up her look.

Diana doesn’t try to be something she isn’t, and she is just herself.  Then she adds a single strand of pearls and pearl post earrings.  As a school teacher, she always dresses in an understated way–just part of her preference for modesty.  But, she does accentuate her dress a bit with a wide brown leather belt cinching her waist in at Melanie’s suggestion when they passed the ski resort hotel’s dress shop this afternoon. Diana feels that she looks appropriately dressy casual and heads down to meet the Hallidays and their friends for dinner.  And as it turns out, it is just Greg and Connie waiting for Diana in the lobby.

Diana:  Waving at Connie as she walks up to her in the lobby, Diana asks.  “So, where are your friends?

Greg:  “They were tired from the long drive and decided to stay in this evening.  You look lovely.” He smiles cordially as he  compliments  her.

Diana:  “Thanks.  You both do, too.”  They are dressed nicely, with Greg wearing a large creamy sweater that showcases his broad shoulders and arm muscles, yet in an understated way.  But Connie is wearing a low cut skin tight black cocktail dress  that leaves nothing to the imagination.

Connie:  Looking at her brother askance for his version of the story, she says “Ron and Sylvia?  Oh, they’re back at the cottage having  couples alone time.  If you know what I mean, Diana. Ha!”  She laughs.

Diana:  “Ah!”  Diana nods her head knowingly.  It hadn’t occurred to her that people renting out her home might be having sex in it.  Mostly, because she doesn’t have sex in her home.  And she wonders which bedroom Ron and Sylvia are in. Then she wryly shakes her head to try to dislodge the potential images that thought creates.

Greg:  Rolling his eyes, he says curtly at his sister’s antics.  “Connie!  Ladies, shall we head to the restaurant?”

Diana:  “Lets!”

They all walk toward the ski resort’s large upscale restaurant’s interior  entrance.

Connie:  “I’m starved!  And I don’t just mean for food.  Diana, are there any sexy prospects in the room?”  She says scoping out the men.

Greg:  “Connie, if Mom or Dad were here, they would tell you to tone it down a notch.”  He chides her like the big brother he is.

Connie:  “Well they’re not here and I’m in the mood for some male companionship tonight.”  Then she winks, for good measure.

Diana:  “Hhh!”  Diana gasps at Connie’s forthrightness about her wish for a romantic evening.

Greg:  “Don’t mind her, Diana.  She’s just kidding around with her sex kitten on the prowl routine.”  He frowns at his sister.

Connie:  “Meow!”  Then all three of them laugh at Connie puncturing her brother’s tenseness.

Diana:  “Don’t worry about it, Connie—and Greg.  Brothers and sisters are a volatile combination sometimes.”

Connie:  “Oh?  Is your brother Gary frisky?”  More eye rolling by Greg.

Diana:  “Ha ha ha!  I don’t think his wife Maureen would say that.”

Connie:  “Oh.  Taken.  Darn it.  Gary wasn’t half bad looking as I recall.  And maybe I could have gotten a free rental out of him.”

Greg:  “Connie!  I am so sorry Diana.  Connie’s not usually like this.  And she hasn’t even had her wine yet tonight.” Greg shoots daggers at his sister.

The Maitre D seats them at their table.  And they chat some more after placing their orders–admiring the view of the snow covered and still snowing mountain side.  And Connie will not be deterred by her brother Greg’s admonitions to her.

Connie:  “So Diana, are there any cute townies here tonight whom you would recommend as a good date?”  She says looking around the room.

Diana:  “I wouldn’t know.”  She shakes her head ruefully.  “But let me know if you like the look of someone and I’ll let you know who they are and if they’re taken.  What about you, Greg?  Are you on the prowl, too?”  She asks a bit petulantly since she isn’t a dating service.

Greg:  “Uh.  No.  I’m taking a break from relationships for a while.”

Diana: “Oh?”

Connie:  “Yes, he got burned by his ex.”

Greg:  “Now Connie, some things are private.”

Connie:  “Not with friends.  We’ve known Diana since we were kids.  You don’t mind, do you Diana?”

Diana:  “No, of course not.”  Diana’s eye brows rise and her eyes widen as she tries to smile politely.  She did not expect–nor does she wish–to have the private love lives of the Halliday siblings revealed to her.  “But whether each of you—or only one of you—discloses personal matters, you can be assured of my discretion.”  Diana states primly.

Connie:  “Well, my guy wouldn’t commit, and in the end I’m grateful.  We had been going out three years, but not progressing as a couple.”

Diana:  “That’s a long time to be dating someone.  No regrets?”

Connie:  “Nope.  He’s a nice guy and we’re still friends, we’re just not lovers anymore.”  She smiles impishly.

Diana:  “Uh huh.”  What else can Diana say.  It always strikes Diana as odd when people discuss their sex lives so blithely.  Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t have–and hasn’t had–a sex life.  So Diana is a little more private about such personal  matters.

Connie:  “Well, what about you, Diana?  Any boyfriends?”  She asks interestedly for her brother’s sake.
Greg:  “Connie, that’s a rather personal question to ask of Diana.”  He rolls his eyes at his sister, again.

Diana:  “I don’t mind, Greg.  Truthfully, Connie, with my late father’s illness for several years and then him passing last year, and my teaching schedule, and the store, I haven’t had time to date anyone.”

Greg: “Our condolences on your loss, Diana.  That must have been rough.”  He says sincerely and she nods her thanks to him for his compassion.

Connie:  “You haven’t ever had a boyfriend?  Not even in college?”  Connie incredulously asks the around twenty seven year old Diana.  Actually, Diana is twenty eight years old.

Greg:  “Now that’s enough Connie!  Let Diana enjoy her dinner without feeling interrogated by you.”

Connie:  Pouting, Connie defends herself from her sometimes overbearing brother..  “I’m just making conversation, Greg.”  Then she turns to him and childishly sticks out her tongue at him.

But Connie finally  takes the hint and does tone down her sexy siren persona for the remainder of dinner.  Diana is appreciative.  And Greg seems?  Well, Greg is hard to read from Diana’s point of view.  And Diana thinks that Greg’s even more reserved than she is.


Then while Diana, Greg and Connie are having their cheesecake desserts and sipping their coffees–with no one having noticed that the weather outside was getting more Wintery–their server gives them some disturbing news.

Server:  “Folks, may I top off your coffee for you?”  He asks politely.  It’s always best to lead with giving people something before you take something else away from them.  Diana and Greg and Connie nod and then add more sugar to their warmed up coffees.  The server stands there for a second–similar to what the other six servers in the room are doing.

Greg:  Sensing the Server’s unease, Greg asks with a raised eyebrow as he now glances out the window again.  “Is something wrong?”

Server:  “I’m afraid so, folks.  The snow has been falling quite heavily and has closed down some roads.”

Connie:  “Oh no!”

Diana:   “That’s too, bad.”  Of course, Diana doesn’t have to go anywhere since she is staying at the hotel for the week while the Hallidays are at her place.

Greg:  Greg can tell that he is going to have to pry the bad news out of the server.  “Just tell us.  Are we stuck at the hotel for the night?”

Server:  “Yes!”  The server sighs in relief.  “The hotel hopes that guests with friends staying in the hotel can double up tonight since we don’t have any spare rooms.  Though we do have extra blankets if people have to sleep in the lobby and lounge areas.”  He says brightly, as if the prospect of sitting up in a club chair to sleep was at all appealing.  The server  nods and leaves.

Connie: “Oh Greg, Ron and Sylvia will be so worried.  We have to call them.”

Greg:  “You do that, Connie, and I’ll talk to Mike about a room.”

Diana:  “Greg, Connie.  You can stay with me.  I have two queen sized  beds in my suite bedroom and the sitting area has a couch.”  She offers helpfully.  Hey, they’re already staying at her house.  Why not have them stay in her hotel room, too?

Connie:  “Oh Diana, are you sure?  That would be great.”  Greg says nothing.   “Won’t it Greg?”  She nudges him with her elbow.

Greg:  “Connie, I don’t think we want to inconvenience Diana.  Let me see if they have something.”

Diana:  “Greg, the Server just told us that they didn’t have anything.  People need to double up.  So, just resign yourself to being part of Connie and my girls’ slumber party in my suite tonight.”  Diana smiles minxishly at him as he blanches.  Then feeling a little emboldened by her own wine consumption, Connie’s warmth, and Greg’s discomfiture, Diana asks.  “Connie, is Greg always so hard to budge?  Ha ha ha!”

Connie:  “It’s the big brother in him.  He’s older.  So he always got his way. It’s why he broke up with his girlfriend.”

Greg:  “Connie!  That wasn’t it.  And you’re the youngest and totally spoiled.” Greg adds petulantly—also due to his alcohol consumption at dinner.

Diana:  Fearing that she’ll have to referee the sparring Halliday siblings all night long, she says “Connie and Greg, why don’t you metaphorically go to neutral corners.   It’s been a long day for me and I’m tired.”  She says looking at her watch seeing that it’s 10:00pm.  Because, of course, she had to rush around getting herself moved out of her house for them to occupy it.  And now they’re going to be occupying her hotel room.  “Can we just go to sleep?”  She pleads.

Greg:  “Of course, Diana.  We appreciate your gracious offer.  Let’s finish our desserts and coffees then head to your suite to sleep for the night.”


After Mike gives all the guests doubling up with their friends, complimentary Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and  Hotel t-shirts from the gift shop to sleep in, Greg and Connie join Diana and take the elevator up to her fourth floor suite.  Her suite isn’t large, but it has a spacious sitting room with a loveseat couch and a large man sized wing chair, a kitchenette and dining area, and a separate  bedroom with double queen sized beds, and a spa bathroom.  Now they just have to figure out who is sleeping where.  But to Diana, it is obvious as she looks at the oversized, but still short love seat.  Diana feels that she is metaphorically drawing the short straw since she isn’t really tall, like both Greg and Connie are.

Diana:  “Okay, you two.  I’m the only one who is going to fit on this loveseat.  So you two can have the beds in the bedroom.  Just let me get changed and ready for bed first.”  She says wearily.

Greg:  “Diana, we can’t displace you from your own bed.”

Diana:  “Well Greg, you’re two for two in that regard today.”  The words fly out of Diana’s mouth before she can stop herself–due to her fatigue and the wine.  And she winces.

Connie:  “Huh?”  She asks obtusely.

Greg:  “What do you mean?”  His eyes narrow.

Diana:  “It’s nothing, Greg.  I’m just tired.”  She shakes her head, trying to shake him off the trail of the truth.  She starts to walk back to the bedroom.  Too late.

Greg:  “Diana, if we’re two for to , what other bed have  we displaced you out of?”  Then it dawns on him.  “Oh crap!”

Diana:  Diana winces with her back to them.  Then she turns around and looks at Greg and Connie with a sanguine smile. “Don’t worry about it.  I can use the extra money.”

Connie:  Still not clued in to what Diana and her brother Greg seem to know about, Connie asks.  “What extra money?”

Greg:  Greg rolls his eyes at his sister.  “Connie, Lakeside Cottage is Diana’s home.”  Diana tilts her head in acknowledgement.

Connie:  “But I thought you said you were having work done on your place?”  Greg rolls his eyes at his sister.

Diana:  “Sorry you, two.  Mike thought that you might feel awkward if you knew that I had moved out of my home so you could rent it.” And she won’t let on that she only had a 6 hour window to vacate her home, or they would really feel bad about that.

Greg:  “Well, of course we feel awkward.”  He looks at her wincingly.  “We’re very sorry, Diana.”

Diana:  “Don’t be.  Mike is splitting the rental cost with me.  It will buy me some new kitchen appliances.”  She smiles gamely.

Greg:  “So you’re only getting half?”  He asks incredulously.

Diana:  “Yes.”  She says somewhat embarrassed to now be talking about money around them.

Greg:  “Well, you have a lovely home–and you should be getting at least 75 percent.  I’ll speak to Mike in the morning.”

Diana:  “Greg, please don’t do that.  Mike gave me this nice suite here and free meals for the week.  So it’s like a spa week for me, too.”

Connie:  “That’s nice of you to think of it that way, Diana.  Thank you.” She says contritely.

Greg:  “And you’re at least going to get to sleep in a bed tonight.  Diana, you and Connie take the two beds in the bedroom, and I’ll sleep out here.”

Diana:  “But …”  Diana stammers,  gesturing to his tall height and the small loveseat couch.

Greg:  “I’ll be fine.”  He says emphatically nodding his head, gesturing to her as he interrupts her implication.  End of discussion in his mind.


With Greg being the one to sleep in the couch tonight, he gets ready for bed first in the bathroom–putting on the hotel t-shirt to sleep in and wrapping a blanket around his briefs covered abdomen as he walks back out to the sitting room where the girls are.  Toga party anyone?  But they are all too sleepy to worry about it–or even to find it amusing.

Then Connie and Diana get ready for bed and chat a bit in their bedroom as they lie in bed before drifting off to sleep.  Though in Diana’s bedroom at home, she sleeps in the twin bed on the right, Connie snagged the queen sized bed on the right tonight in Diana’s hotel suite.  So Diana lays down on the bed on the left.

Connie:  “Diana, we’re really sorry about bumping you out of your home this week.”  Now she winces.

Diana:  “Don’t be Connie.  Say will Greg be alright sleeping with the chair pulled up to the couch?  His legs are so long.”  She worries considerately.

Connie:  “Greg’s an outdoorsy camper guy from way back to his boy scout days.  So he can always sleep on the floor if he has to.”  She says blithely.

Diana:  “Hmm.”  Diana sighs sleepily with her eyes half closed. The ski resort hotel’s 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets are so soft, they are lulling her to sleep.

Connie:  “So Diana, what do you think about Greg–for a guy, I mean?”

Diana:  “He’s nice.  You both are. Hhhhh!”   She yawns tiredly.  Diana is almost asleep.

Connie:  “Would you date him?”  She asks interestedly, because when her brother is in a relationship, he doesn’t feel the need to pick on her dating behavior.

Diana:  “Hhhhhh.”  Diana yawns.  “Sure. Why not.  He’s really handsome and gentlemanly.”  And with that little admission born of no resistance due to fatigue and wine, Diana drifts off to sleep.

Connie:  “Hmmm.”  Connie sighs raising her eyebrows before falling asleep herself.


After two hours of a concerted effort on his part trying to sleep, the very tall–6 ft 2inchs tall–Greg has found it not so comfortable to try to fit his tall frame into the small space of the loveseat with his legs spreading over onto the club chair pulled up to the love seat.  Try as he might, he just can’t make it work.  And he has to pee again–all that coffee they drank at dinner with their desserts.  So, he quietly goes into the bedroom–sans his blanket toga for his lower half wearing briefs–and he does his business in the bathroom.  On his way out, he notices Connie has woken up.

Greg:  Whispering.  “Sorry Connie, I had to pee.”  He whispers shrugging his shoulders.

Connie:  “That’s okay.  Have you been able to sleep at all?”  She asks considerately of her brother.

Greg:  “No.”  He sighs.  “I’m too tall for the couch and chair.

Connie gets out of bed.

Connie: “Greg, I’ve got to pee, too.  Why don’t you sleep in my bed here.  I’m shorter than you are and the loveseat and chair will fit me nicely.

Greg:  “But…”

Connie:  “Oh go on.”  She motions to the bed and then she does her business in the bathroom–while Greg gratefully lays down in her queen sized bed and he promptly falls asleep.  Then Connie goes to sleep in the sitting area’s loveseat and club chair combo quite nicely.


About an hour later, Diana wakes up–also from coffee ingestion–and she pads into the bathroom in her babydolls pjs.  She does this without putting on a robe because she thinks it’s only Connie sleeping in the far bed.  Diana is wearing baby doll pajamas–with an empire waist bodice supporting her full bosoms and matching shorts like panties.

Then Diana sleepily returns to the bedroom and lies back down in her bed.  But this time she lies down on the bed on the right, like she sleeps in at home.  Then she promptly drifts off to sleep, lying down on her right side–facing out from the bed.  And since this is a queen sized   bed and Diana is so sleepy, she doesn’t realize that someone else is in the bed already–Greg.  And Greg doesn’t stir since he is out like a light.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring.  But it is sure to be interesting.

To be continued with Chapter 3


Nota Bene:  The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” (Copyrighted by Gratiana  Lovelace, 2022;all rights reserved) is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Mag;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021–butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at ;

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 0 Prologue through Ch. 2 of “Winter Rental” (Post#1438):

Posted in contemporary romance, Creative Writing, Gratiana Lovelace, Humor, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Richard Armitage Nobleman Magazine interview portraits; and Grati’s January 2022 wallpaper, January 05, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1437) 


In Nobleman Magazine’s new interview promoting Harlan Coben’s latest Netflix mystery series “Stay Close”,  we also find a wonderful bounty of new portraits of the multi-talented British actor Richard Armitage:


Each of these three new portrait images of Richard Armitage (by Kaitlyn Mikayla) have their appeal—whether he is mirthful, contemplative, or being intentional, as in  the third portrait with him holding a video camera, given that he has mentioned several times in recent interviews of his desire to produce new projects and him forming his own production company.  And, in the third portrait (above) he is directly looking at the camera, in his own special way—drawing us in.  Sighhh!

Thanks to RABulgaria and TeresaA for pointing me to the interview article and these images!


But the verticality requirements of the sidebar sizing—and the month’s theme–won out for my January 2022  wallpaper.  So here it is below and at my upper right sidebar:

Happy New Year 2022, with warm wishes from Richard Armitage in his Holiday Message to his fans:

Wallpaper images thanks:  RA Selfie via his RCA tweet; and the snowy border background was courtesy of teahub.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and peaceful New Year!  Hugs & New Year Cheers!  Grati  ;->

Posted in "Stay Close" new RA Coben mystery on Netflix 2021, Gratiana Lovelace, Interview, Mystery, Netflix, Portraits, Richard Armitage, wallpaper, Wonderful Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Richard Armitage’s new  “Stay Close” mystery series premieres at Midnight tonight  on Netflix; and RA’s 2022 New Year wishes, December 31, 2021  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1436)


Are you looking for a way to usher in the new year of 2022 with a bang?  But comfortably in your jammies at home?

Then tune into Netflix at midnight tonight for the premiere of  the talented British Actor Richard Armitage (right via WSJ, via RCA tweet; Thanks!) and colleagues in Harlan Coben’s  new “Stay Close” mystery series!

And here are links for two recent article interviews  with Richard Armitage about “Stay Close”, his acting process, and how he came to be an actor:

“At the Royal Film Performance of “The Hobbit” in London in 2012, my family attended. Before the screening, I was allowed to take one family member to meet Prince William. I took my mother. 

After the screening, as the royals left first, Prince William passed my seat, touched me on the shoulder and said, “Brilliant performance.” My mother was visibly shaking. She saw me do what I’d said I was going to do. “

2) And then Richard Armitage tweeted today’s RadioTimes published interview article “Richard Armitage talks ‘Stay Close’, Netflix, and his untapped fantasy”.  Richard Armitage pix (right) courtesy of Rado Times (Thanks!). Uh, the article title’s use of “fantasy” is a play on words.  But hey, we can dream.  Ha!

And here is the Radio Times article link,in case you’re not on Twitter:

I’m looking forward to watching “Stay Close”—not the least of which is because of its lead actors Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Cush Jumbo, etc.  And in addition to James Nesbitt being a former acting Colleague of Richard Armitage’s (in The Hobbit trilogy of films), but British actress Jo Joyner is also in a supporting role in “Stay Close”–she had portrayed Richard Armitage’s John Thornton character’s younger sister Fanny in the BBC’s North & South, 2004 miniseries.   So it’s really fun to see these actors (Armitage, Nesbit, & Joyner) interacting in different roles on this new project “Stay Close”

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & peaceful weekend, and a very Happy New Year 2022!!! Hugs  & Happy New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->

P.S.  And as an added bonus, here are Richard Armitage’s New Year 2022 wishes tweets:

Posted in "Stay Close" new RA Coben mystery on Netflix 2021, Drama, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Netflix, Psychological Thriller, Richard Armitage, Richard Armitage Message to his Fans, snow, Social Justice, social media, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Ch. 25 End & Epilogue:  Babies, etc.,  by Gratiana Lovelace, December 30, 2021 (Post #1435)  

(An original Regency Romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2021; All rights reserved);
[(1) story cover below left]

[Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them.  So from time to time, I will illustrate my story with actors and such, including:  Richard Armitage as Lord Edward Carlisle, Daniela Denby-Ashe as Lady Emily Creighton Carlisle, Blake Ritson as Lord Kittredge Wells, Polly Walker as Lady Patience Creighton the Countess of Stoke, Bill Nighy as Lord Nigel Creighton the Earl of Stoke, Christina Cole as Lady Cecily Englewood Wells, Harry Hadden-Paton  as Lord Martin Carlisle the Marquess of Leeds, Laura Carmichael as Lady Ophelia Winwood Carlisle, and others as noted.]

[Author’s Note:  This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes or other descriptions were written at the creative discretion of this author.  And this is a gentle and tender romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love and marriage put to humorous effect.  This is my disclaimer.]

Ch. 25 End: Babies, etc.

Happiness abounds in the London home of Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle with the birth of their twins on Christmas Day.  And though the proud Grandpapa Lord Creighton had been banished from the bedchamber as soon as the birthing was imminent—to his great relief—he managed to sneak back in an hour later to gaze upon his sleeping grandson and granddaughter, as well as their sleeping parents, waking none of them.

Lord Kittredge Wells as cousin to the parents, gratefully maintained his exile to the drawing room and sent his well wishes upon the birth of the twins via his uncle and the twins Grandpapa Lord Creighton.  And Lord Kitt ponders that he will have to be in the room when his own child is born in four weeks time.  He just hopes that they will have one baby born, so that his Dear Lady Cecily is not in as much pain as his cousin Lady Emily was.

And having witnessed Lady Emily giving birth, Lady Cecily feels quite more settled about her own upcoming birth in late January.  Though Lady Emily’s pains were great and took about three hours, she had twins.  And Lady Cecily is assured by her midwife and doctor that she is carrying only one baby.  So Lady Cecily hopes that she will have half of the pain and half of the time to birth her child.  Then finally that evening, Lady Cecily related the whole of her experience of being in the bedchamber during the birth—and her loving and attentive husband Lord Kittredge faints dead away as he plops back onto his bed pillow.  And typically for the loving Lady Cecily, she revives her husband Lord Kitt with a sweet kiss.


But there is still a very important matter to attend to with regard to the new babies.  Lady Emily and Lord Edward must decide upon their names before they then send out birth announcements.

So this fine December 26th morning after Christmas—with they and the babies fed their breakfasts in their bed chamber–and Lady Emily beatifically holding both babies in her arms [(2) right]–she and her husband Lord Edward discuss the matter.

Lord Edward:  “Emily Darling, do you feel up to discussing the selection of our new babies names so that we may tell our family and send out our announcements?”  He asks smiling in earnest, for he wants everyone far and wide to know of their joy and happiness about the birth of their twins–a daughter and a son.

Lady Emily: “I do.  And I still like Anne Agnes Carlisle for our daughter, with her names honoring my Mama’s and your late Mama’s middle names, respectively.”

Lord Edward: “That is a lovely choice.”  He hedges with a telling squint in his left eye.  “But do you not think that Anne is rather a plain first name for a Viscount’s daughter?  Would not Andromeda or Athena be more in the mode?”  He asks hopefully.

Lady Emily: Now scrunching up her nose, she ponders her husband’s suggestions.  “Andromeda is such a long name for a little baby and young child to have, and has no pleasing nicknames.  I do not favor Andy as a nickname, but would likely be as far as she could pronounce.  Consider how as a little girl ended up shortening my cousin Lord Kittredge’s name to Kitt.”

Lord Edward: “But that appellation fits him, and he likes it.”

Lady Emily:  “Yes, but that was pure luck.”

Lord Edward:  “We could abandon our notion of honoring our mothers or fathers in our babies names and, instead, give them their own names and identities.”

Of course, this breech of naming conventions that Lord Edward is proposing is sacrilege in Lady Emily’s eyes!

Lady Emily: “Oh but Edward Dear, we must choose family names.”  She pouts.  Then she brightens.  “Perhaps we could choose our maternal grandmothers names for our daughter and our paternal grandfathers names for our son, thus honoring each family’s traditions and history.”

Lord Edward:  “Possibly.”  He thinks a moment. “What are the girl naming options for your maternal grandmama?”

Lady Emily:  “Alice Caroline.”  She smiles.  “And your maternal grandmother’s names are Amelia Louisa.  So if we went with Amelia Alice, she would have a pleasing ACA monogram.””  She states triumphantly.

Lord Edward: Not wanting to disappoint his wife, but indicating his preferences for form’s sake.  “Actually, I prefer Caroline as a first name, with a lovely nickname of Carrie.  Though Amelia would have the lovely nickname of Amy.”  He smiles hopefully at his wife.

Lady Emily: “Hmmm.” She ponders her husband’s choices.  “I like Amelia and its nickname of Amy—as a small child, she should be able to say her nickname of Amy.” She relents.

Lord Edward:  “And might Caroline work as her second name?  The Honorable Miss Amelia Caroline Carlisle.” He nods liking the compromise.   “Well?”

Lady Emily: “Well, I suppose when she marries and takes her husband’s name, then the double C names will no longer be pertinent.  Hhhh!”  She sighs.

Lord Edward: “Excellent!  Now on to our son’s name, I like Alexander, Robert, John, or even Creighton—your maiden name for our son’s first name—rather than one of my paternal grandfather’s names of Algernon Matthew.”

Lady Emily:  “Hmm!”  She replies non-committally.  “My paternal grandfather was named Rupert Nigel, hence where my father received his first name.”  Lord Edward wrinkles up his nose in distaste at either name.  “I do not like either of my grandfather’s names either.”

Lord Edward: “Well then, shall it be the Honorable Mr. John Alexander Carlisle, or the Honorable Mr. Alexander John Carlisle?”

Lady Emily:  “I rather like Alexander for his first name—it is strong and commanding.  But then, of course, we will be giving our babies first names unusually with the same letter of the alphabet.”  She frets.

Lord Edward: “Then let us change our daughter’s name to Caroline Amelia Carlisle—which sounds lovely, too.”

Lady Emily: “Alright.”  She acquiesces.

So Lord and Lady Carlisle’s private announcement of their babies names—the Honorable Miss Caroline Amelia Carlisle and the Honorable Mr. Alexander John Carlisle—are shared with their close families first this day, who have waited to leave the Carlisle’s due to their waiting on finding out the babies names.  Then a public birth announcement is made in the London newspaper upon the following day.

Their joy is complete with the birth of their babies—such happiness that Lord Edward could not have expected would ever be his, even just one year ago.  And Lady Emily is blissful at being Lord Edward’s wife and now mother to his children.  And though she had firmly told her husband just before their daughter was born that she did not want to have him get her with child again—due to the pain she was in at the time—she will revisit that vow in a year or two, after these babies are no longer soiling their wrappers.

To be continued with the Epilogue

Epilogue:  The Wells baby is born, etc.

Though the petite Lady Cecily Englewood Wells, Countess of Fielding was hopeful to birth a daughter, she birthed a son, to her chagrin in late January of the new year—whom they named Lord Cecil Englewood Wells, the Baron Lakeland—the baronial title gifted to him by his father Lord Kitt.  Though she and her husband Lord Kittredge Wells, the Countess and Earl of Fielding, are still very happy indeed with their baby son.  Lady Cecily’s birthing pains were great, and her husband Lord Kitt was most apologetic to her about them.  But with her good friend Lady Emily Carlisle at her side cheering her on, Lady Cecily managed to get through her birthing pains.

And Lord Kitt only almost faints once during his Dear Lady Cecily’s birthing trials–after he was shown their baby’s male parts, which confirms that he has sired a son and heir to his earldom.  And, of course, Lord Kittredge having a son and heir to his titles and lands both astounds him and pleases him greatly—that is, once he is revived via smelling salts.  And though Lady Cecily had dearly wanted a baby girl, she soon becomes quite enamored of her baby son Cecil—with his brown eyes and hair so like his Papa’s.

And Lord Kittredge is good to his word about also helping his dear wife Lady Cecily co-parent a daughter with him, when not two weeks later he tells his wife about a foundling baby girl with light blond curly hair left upon the door step of the parsonage at their Wells Castle home in the country.  And he has the baby brought to London with its wet nurse and her baby boy.

So one month after the birth of their son Cecil Wells Baron of Lakeland, Lord Kittredge  and Lady Cecily receive the visit of their hoped for adopted baby daughter. And so eager to see her is Lady Cecily that despite her being in the middle of finishing nursing their baby son Cecil, she urges her husband Lord Kitt to bring her the baby girl to meet.

And being an experienced Papa of nearly four weeks, Lord Kitt gamely brings the little baby girl into his bedchamber where  his wife Lady Cecily finishes nursing their baby son Cecil.

Lord Kittredge: “Here she is, My Love!”  He announces breezily, but in a soothing voice so as not to startle the baby girl in his arms.  The baby girl seems fixated upon Lord Kitt’s soft bright blue velvet Winter weight waistcoat as she snuggles into it with her little hand rubbing upon it—and she coos happily and musically.

Baby Girl: “Aaaaa  mmmmm.”

And of course, the baby girl’s wet nurse having just fed her and made her feel fresh with a new wrapper changing also makes the baby girl feel content, for now.

Lady Cecily: “Please bring her to me, Kitt.”  Then Lady Cecily leans down and speaks softly in a playfully sing songy voice to her beloved baby son Cecil.  “Cecil?  Would you like to have a baby sister and playmate?  I think you willll!”

Baby Cecil:  “mmmmm.”  He emits in an agreeable sounding tone. Or, that is what his parents interpret as agreeable.

Lady Cecily: “Kitt?  I just finished feeding Baby Cecil.  So if you will take and burp him, I will take the baby girl and meet her.”

Lord Kitt nods and gently lays the baby girl in his wife Lady Cecily’s other arm.  Then he gently picks up their baby son Cecil and grabs the burping cloth and throws it over his shoulder, then gently places his son upon the same shoulder and softly rubs his back.  This is Lord Kitt’s role at feeding time—burping his baby son.

Then the inevitable happens as their baby son Cecil satisfyingly–to his tummy–burps quite loudly.

Baby Cecil: “ERRRP!”  Followed by Baby Cecil then eliminating into his double layer baby wrapper covering.  They have learned that baby Cecil’s feedings are almost always followed by the need for one of their baby nurse helpers to take baby Cecil away to make him fresh again.  And Lord Kitt bemusedly and gratefully hands his son to his baby nurse to be cleaned up—and he also gladly discovers that nothing had leaked upon his own person.

Lady Cecily: “Ha ha ha ha ha!  I am so sorry Kitt!  Baby Cecil does not mean to be so loud and  … and …”  She blushes and smiles prettily, her being loathe to mention baby Cecil’s unmentionable digestive habits.

Lord Kitt: “Indeed.”  He smiles wryly at his dear wife and then adjusts his jacket and cravat, before leaning forward and kissing Lady Cecily’s forehead. “So, what do you think about the baby girl, My Love?  Isn’t she sweet?”  He asks hopefully.

Moving to get out of bed, Lady Cecily smiles prettily at her husband and walks with the baby girl in her arms to sit in the family rocking chair replica that Lord and Lady Creighton had gifted them at Christmas time.

Lady Cecily:  “Oh my yes!  She is sweetness itself.  And her light blond curly hair is so similar to mine own.”  She carefully caresses the baby’s head of curls in wonder.  “She looks so similar to me and my girl cousin’s as babies  in my Dear Mama Duchess’ family, that no one will guess that she is adopted.”  She smiles.

Lord Kitt:  “So shall we adopt her to have as our own baby daughter, then?”  He waits with bated breath for his wife’s answer.  For though Lady Cecily’s general demeanor has softened during their not quite a year of marriage, she still wants everything just so.

Lady Cecily: “Yes, lets!”  And then revealing more about this baby girl foundling than she had previously let on to her husband, he is surprised, but not offended. “Besides, my dear unmarried maternal cousin Lady Ophelia Winwood—who has been ill and confined to the country for six months–will like knowing that her child will grow up in the bosom of her loving family.”

Lord Kitt: “What?”  He asks with incredulity.

Lady Cecily:   “Lady Ophelia and I were great friends growing up.  And the last time I visited her about 6 months ago—before she left for the country—she revealed to me her plight of carrying her late fiance’s child.  So I mentioned that we were hoping for a baby daughter.  And I told her that regardless if her baby was a boy or girl, that we will help her find a loving home for her baby, with us.”  She waits hopefully for her husband’s response.

And Lord Kitt, rather than chastising his dear wife Lady Cecily for excluding him from this momentous family decision, he tenderly kisses her upon her lips and sighs.

Lord Kitt: “My Dear Dear Love, you are the soul of kindness.  Of course we will adopt Lady Ophelia’s baby girl as our own.  And I concur with your wish to have Lady Ophelia be one of her godmothers.  I am glad that it has all worked out.”  Lady Cecily looks at her husband with a puzzled expression.  “You see, My Love, your Mama took me aside when she visited after our baby son Cecil was born, apprising me of a family relation who needed to place her baby girl with a good and loving home—though, of course, she left out the particulars.  So it was then we hatched the plan of having the baby girl left as a foundling at Wells Castle to remove suspicion of her origins from your side of the family.”

Lady Cecily:  Tearing up with happiness, she shares her gratitude.  “Oh thank you, Kitt! Thank you for understanding!”

Placing his arm about his dear wife Lady Cecily’s shoulders, gazing at the baby girl in her arms, and then into Lady Cecily’s eyes, Lord Kitt replies.

Lord Kitt; “Always, My Love.”

Then they lovingly kiss again.  And over the next several minutes discuss baby names and settle upon the name of Lady Katherine Mary Wells—with Lady Kitty as her family nickname.


After a lovely joint baptism two weeks later at Wells Castle’s Chapel in mid February—of the Carlisle’s and Wells families’ four new babies—Caroline and Alexander Carlisle, and Baron Cecil and Lady Kitty Wells—each set of new parents serve as god parents for their cousins new babies.  Each family also chooses another unmarried family member as an additional god parent for each set of children—the unmarried Lady Ophelia Winwood for the Wells’ babies, and Lord Martin Carlisle who is a slightly older and distant unmarried cousin of Lord Edward’s for the Carlisle’s babies.

Having Lady Ophelia and Lord Martin also be god parents was partially not to draw attention to Lady Ophelia as the only unmarried god parent—not wanting anyone to draw comparisons in looks between herself and her new god daughter Lady Kitty.

And after previously having Lady Ophelia to stay at their Wells Castle home for the two weeks leading up to the baptism, Lady Cecily and Lord Kitt took her under their wing and guided her in coming out of her shyness shell after her sadness of her fiance’s death and then of birthing their out of wedlock child—by dressing Lady Ophelia more becomingly, as well as some hair and facial styling as well—to deaccentuate her prominent nose.  Lord Kitt cannot resist a challenge—whether it was his dear cousin Lady Emily’s single eyebrow and outmoded sense of fashion, or his new cousin by marriage Lady Ophelia Winwood’s nose.

And, as it happens when good souls help one another, good things result. And Lord Martin Carlisle decides to stop his world wide wandering and settle down at home in England—him finding Lady Ophelia quite charming at the Carlisle-Wells babies baptism.  She, in turn, finds Lord Martin witty, kind, intelligent, and charismatic.  So after a short month long courtship later in the Spring when the weather turned nice–of tea at their respective cousins and then their parents’ homes, carriage rides in The Park, watching over their respective god children a time or two together, and trips to the opera and to the ballet with Lady Ophelia’s cousins Lord and Lady Wells  and Lord Martin’s cousins’ Lord and Lady Carlisle—Lord Martin gets down on one knee and proposes marriage to Lady Ophelia in her family’s London Townhouse garden.

However, that good lady feels that she can not enter into marriage with Lord Martin—and become his Marchioness—without telling him of her sad past.

Lady Ophelia:  “Thank you for your kind offer of marriage, Lord Martin.  I am honored by your proposal.”

Lord Martin: “But?”  He asks with a whimsical note in his voice.

Lady Ophelia: “I feel that there are certain matters that I need to apprise you of, before you formally ask me to marry you.”

Lord Martin: “Oh trust me, Dear Ophelia, my offer of marriage to you is formal and irrevocable.”  He smiles jauntily.  As a jovial man of the world, nothing could or would shock him.  “But go ahead and tell me what you will, if it will ease your mind.”

Lady Ophelia: “Thank you, it will.”  She hesitates, gathering her courage. Then she speaks from her heart.  “I am very fond of you Martin—most fond—and I regard you most highly.  But, … you should know that I was engaged once before—it was a love match, and he and I would have married.  But he was a soldier and he was killed on his last mission, two weeks before we were to be married.”

Lord Martin: “I am so very sorry for your loss, My Darling.”  He returns to the settee—easier on his knees that way—and gently clasps her hands in his, urging her on.

Lady Ophelia:  “Our last parting was bittersweet. And I wonder now if he sensed that he would not return from his mission.  But we were together for one night of love, that begat our child.”

Lord Martin: “Children are the living proof of love.” He responds tenderly.  “And where is your child now?”

Lady Ophelia:  “I know you will keep this secret—not for my sake, but for the child’s sake.”  He nods his head.  “She is my god daughter, Lady Kitty Wells.”  She looks up into his eyes, hoping that he will accept this news of her past—that is also her future as a godmother–but her being realistic, that noblemen want a noble and a virtuous wife.  And she lowers her eyes after several minutes, when he does not say anything—her hopes dashed. Then she feels him standing up from the settee.  In looking up, she astonishedly finds him returning to his knees.

Lord Martin: “Oh my Dear one, how you have suffered with your lost love and the uncertainty of bearing his child, your child, while also hoping to secure your baby’s future.  This knowledge only makes me love you more—for your courage, for your selflessness, and for your great love for your child.  Please marry me, My Darling Ophelia. And marry me soon.  For I cannot wait for us to have children of our own—whom will no doubt love playing often with their cousins, the Wells’ and the Carlisle’s children as they grow up.”

Lady Ophelia: “Oh Martin, do you mean it?”  She asks in wonder.

Lord Martin: “I do.  And I will say I do again in two weeks time, formally, before a vicar, our family, and our friends.  Please say yes, My Love.”  He kisses her hands, then gently enfolds her in his embrace for a few precious moments.  “Just one thing.” She looks up expectantly at him.  “My knees are killing me! Ha ha ha ha ha!”  So he stands up, then sits beside her again on the settee.  “Say yes to a lifetime of love that we two shall have together as husband and wife, parents, and god willing, grandparents.”

Lady Ophelia: Her taking a leap of faith, Her hand caresses his face and she smiles.  “Yes, I will marry you, Martin, My Love.”  Then they share their first brief but tender kiss as a future husband and wife.

And so two weeks later, in mid May—Lord Martin Carlisle Marquess of Leeds marries the Lady Ophelia Winwood, her becoming his new Marchioness of Leeds [(3) right].  The lovely couple are radiant in their happiness.

Amongst the many family and friends guests, the now four month old baby girls Miss Caroline Carlisle and Lady Katharine Wells serve as flower babies; and their brothers Mr. Alexander Carlisle and Baron Cecil of Wells serve as baby ring bearers—each baby being held and walked up the aisle by one of their parents, who also served as wedding attendants for Lord Martin and Lady Ophelia.  It was a most heartfelt wedding ceremony and celebration.

And as the weary newish parents of Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle and Lord Edward and Lady Cecily Wells survey their finally sleeping babies at the wedding breakfast, Lady Emily remarks.

Lady Emily: “Well Edward Dear—and Kitt and Cecily—we may have just seen the youngest set of flower girls and ring bearers in wedding history.  Ha ha ha!”

Lord Edward: “Indeed!  My Princess Emily.”  He responds to her with the childhood endearment that he created for her and lifts her hand to his lips for a tender kiss.

Not to be outdone, Lord Kitt weighs in.

Lord Kitt: “What say you my Darling Cecily?  Shall we take that wager?”  He then kisses her hand most tenderly and smiles.

Lady Cecily:  Smiling with a pinkening blush, she places her free hand not holding her baby daughter Lady Kitty, on her stomach.  “We shall see.”

As Lord Kitt’s eyes widen for his dear wife Lady Cecily’s implication of an impending future child to be born to them, Lord Edward jovially slaps his longtime friend’s back.

Lord Edward: “I will also take that wager, Kitt!” Then, in turn, now Lord Edward becomes astonished by his wife’s reply.

Lady Emily: “You will, indeed.”  And Lady Emily also delicately places her free hand upon her stomach.

So as love and harmony abounds in the Carlisle, Wells, and the newly married Carlisle-Winwood homes, the niceties of marriage are multiplied—and then some.

The End.

Dear Readers and Friends,

Thank you for taking this journey with me as we followed the lives and loves of Edward, Emily, Cecily and their families in my original Regency romance “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”. I hope that you enjoyed it and thank you for the many votes, comments, and adding my story to your reading lists.

And I am also ending this story on a personal high note for me, as it is my and my husband’s anniversary.  So I wish you all good fortunes in love with friends, family, and your romantic partners in life—and the niceties inherent within those relationships.

Hugs & Holiday Cheers!  Gratiana Lovelace

References for Ch. 25 End & Epilogue  of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”,
by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1435)   December 30, 2021

  1. My “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage” story cover illustration is comprised of:  a) an  ivory lace background  with Grati edit, found at;   b)  a Victorian roses bouquet painting by the Boston Public Library, via Atlas Obscura (with some Grati edits ), found at; and with c) the text in deep pinkish coral in a Vivaldi font.
  2. LadyEmilyCarlisle-holding-their-twins-is-myGrati-manip-of-DanielaDenby-Ashe’s face as-MargaretHale—onto a stock photo of a mother with twins_May2112gratiRev; the original babies image was found at
  3. Laura Carmichael as Lady Ophelia Winwood Carlisle and Harry Hadden-Paton as Lord Martin Carlisle on their wedding day was found at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 25   of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:

Previous SAL blog Post #1434  link for Ch. 24  “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:

“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Ch. 24:  Christmas Blessings, Part 3,  by Gratiana Lovelace, December 24, 2021 (Post #1434) 

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“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Ch. 24:  Christmas Blessings, Part 3,  by Gratiana Lovelace, December 24, 2021 (Post #1434) 

(An original Regency Romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2021; All rights reserved);
[(1) story cover below left]

[Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them.  So from time to time, I will illustrate my story with actors and such, including:  Richard Armitage as Lord Edward Carlisle, Daniela Denby-Ashe as Lady Emily Creighton Carlisle, Blake Ritson as Lord Kittredge Wells, Polly Walker as Lady Patience Creighton the Countess of Stoke, Bill Nighy as Lord Nigel Creighton the Earl of Stoke, Christina Cole as Lady Cecily Englewood Wells, and others as noted.]

[Author’s Note:  This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes or other descriptions were written at the creative discretion of this author.  And this is a gentle and tender romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love and marriage put to humorous effect.  This is my disclaimer.]

Ch. 24:  Christmas Blessings, Part 3

As Lord Edward whisks his very pregnant and soon to birth their first child wife Lady Emily up the stairs to their bed chamber around 4:30pm on Christmas Day,  her parents Lord and Lady Creighton and  her cousins Lord and Lady Wells follow them.

Lady Emily:  “I’m so sorry about the mess I made, when my….” There she stops, too embarrassed to continue.

Lord Edward: “When your water broke?”  She nods sheepishly.  “Not to worry My Darling.  You are having our baby!  That is more important that worrying about any mess.”  He replies excitedly.

And Lord Edward thinks that at least, his wife leaked before she had time to sit on his lap for him to rock in her rocking chair gift [from] her parents.

Lady Creighton: “Oh my yes, Dearest Emily!  How exciting! You will gift us with our third grandchild!”  She smiles wistfully.

When the family cavalcade reaches Lord Edward’s and Lady Emily’s bedchamber, Mrs. Minton and her Nurse Assistants staff are waiting for them.  And she takes charge.

Mrs. Minton:  “Lord Carlisle, please set Lady Carlisle upon her feet next to the  bed.  Thank you.  Now everyone please remove yourselves so [that] we may make her ladyship comfortable.”

The family look like they might revolt at the notion of leaving Lady Emily into Mrs. Minton’s charge.

Lady Emily: “Mrs. Minton, May my Mama Lady Creighton and [my cousin] Lady Cecily stay?”

Mrs. Minton: “As you wish, Madam.”  She nods her head deferentially.  You see, Mrs. Minton’s way is to ask for more than she wants, then her relenting to what she will allow anyway.  She finds noble persons are so much easier to manage if they think they are getting their way.

The Nursing Assistants Greta and Daisy swiftly help Lady Emily disrobe down to her camisole and soaked drawers and petticoats behind a changing screen.

Lady Emily: “My poor petticoats are ruined!”  She wails. Though she is grateful that her satin gown was not similarly doused with the birthing fluids.

Mrs. Minton: “Nay, MiLady.  Your petticoats will wash out.  Now, be sure to leave off your drawers from down below.

Lady Emily: “Oh, but might I not have a fresh pair of drawers, until it is absolutely necessary that I not?”  She asks hopefully.  Though Lady Emily has become accustomed to sleeping unclothed with her husband, she will feel too embarrassed to do so with her family—even if they are her Mama and her cousin Lady Cecily.

Lady Creighton: “Emily Dearest, I believe that you will find yourself much more comfortable without your drawers on.  And you will be covered by the sheets and blankets.  So no one will be the wiser. And one does not know how quickly your baby might come.  You were my third baby and you came within one hour of my waters breaking.”

Lady Emily:   “But what about …”

Mrs. Minton: “Your Lady Mama is correct, Milady.”

So Lady Emily blushingly comes out from behind the changing screen in her knee length camisole and naught else. And Lady Cecily standing off to the side out of the way makes a mental note to have a similar knee length camisole made for her own upcoming birthing in January.

After Lady Emily is situated in her bed—with no birthing pains starting yet, Mrs. Minton relents and allows Lord Edward to return to his wife’s side.

Lord Edward: “Oh, Emily Darling, how are you feeling?”

Lady Emily: “I am a bit fearful but also excited to [think] that our baby will be born today.”  She smiles beatifically.

Of course, Mrs. Minton had not previously shared with Lady Emily that some births can take up to 10 hours—because she did not want to frighten Lady Emily.  Though as she now examines Lady Emily’s round abdomen and feels the baby’s kicks, she has a sense that Lady Emily might have a shorter rather than longer birthing process.


Two hours later, Lady Emily is in the throes of a large contraction pain that nearly causes her to faint.

Lady Emily: “Owwwww!”  She screams as tears flow down her cheeks.

Lord Edward: “Oh Emmy, I am so sorry you are in such pain.  I had no idea!”  And he feels great guilt for giving her a baby that is causing her such pain and suffering.

Lady Emily: “Help me, Mrs. Minton.  The pain is unbearable!”  She whimpers.

Mrs. Minton: “I cannot give you laudanum, Madam.  It could harm the babe.”  For the medicinal uses of the drug Laudanum [(2)] were yet to be fully understood until much later.

Lord Edward: “But there must be something you can do.  Help my wife!”  Now he plaintively wails.

Lady Creighton:  “If I had only thought to bring my birthing chair, that might have helped.”

Mrs. Minton: “Indeed.  But let us stand up Lady Carlisle from her lying down position.  That might help.  So Lady Carlisle’s husband may stay, but the other two gentleman must leave the room.”

Mrs. Minton looks pointedly at Lord Creighton and Lord Wells standing off to the side looking quite discomfitted to be in the birthing room.  And they bolt from the bedchamber with alacrity when the midwife gives them their reprieve.

So Lady Emily wearing a robe over her longish camisole that only goes to her knees, slowly walks around her bed with her husband Lord Edward helping her.  Lord Edward is a frightfully disheveled sight at this point himself—without shoes, jacket, waistcoat, or cravat—and his hair is quite wild looking from him rifling through it with his hands.

Lord Edward: “Emmy, please let me know if there is anything I may do for you.”  He whispers in her ear pleadingly, adoringly.

Lady Emily: “Do not get me pregnant again.  Whatever child we have—be it a boy or a girl—that is it!” She states resolutely.

Lord Edward is speechless, as his own culpability in getting his wife pregnant—thus causing her this unbearable pain—is clearly the culprit.

Then suddenly, Lady Emily squeezes her husband Lord Edward’s hand.

Lady Emily: “Something is happening!”  Lady Emily looks astonishedly at her husband and her midwife.

Mrs. Minton: “Quickly!  Bring Lady Emily to the side of the bed to sit on.”  That happens, then Nurse Greta sits on the floor at Lady Emily’s feet with a towel over her lap—ready to catch the baby.  “Now Lady Carlisle, I want you to push with all your might!”

Lady Emily: “Aaaaaaaaaaa!”  She screams as her baby daughter slides out of her body.

Baby girl: “Waaa  waa Wa!  Errrrp!”  The little baby girl  cries then burps as she spits up some goo onto the nurse.  Then the baby girl opens her eyes [(3) right], sighs cutely, and moves her little hands around, then she opens and closes her mouth hungrily, and finally she naps for a bit.

Mrs. Minton: “My felicitations!  You have a beautiful baby daughter!”

Lady Emily: “Oooh!  May I hold her?”  Lady Emily’s baby daughter is placed within her arms.  “She is so tiny, and perfect!  Welcome home my little sweetheart.”  She coos.

Mrs. Minton: “Now let your daughter’s Papa hold her while we … finish up with you, MiLady.” The midwife intones cryptically.

So a smiling Lord Edward holds his delicate newborn daughter as he walks over to where his mother-in-law Lady Creighton is beaming, and Lady Cecily looks relieved.

Lady Emily: “Owww!  There is another pain. What is happening?”  Lady Emily looks completely surprised.

Mrs. Minton:  “I thought so, MiLady.”  Then she barks orders to her staff.  “Daisy, come here and support Lady Carlisle’s back as we move her to the side of the bed again.”

Not to be left out, Lord Edward deposits his baby daughter into Lady Creighton’s arms and bolts for the bed.

Lord Edward: “I’m coming!”  He insists and hops up onto their bed with glee and moves behind his wife to support her back again.

Lady Emily: “Must you shake the bed so, Edward Dear?”  And then her next thought is stolen from her as another pain hits her.  “Aaaaaa!”

Mrs. Minton: “Push, Lady Carlisle!  You have another baby in there.”

And within moments of Nurse Daisy plopping down on the floor at Lady Emily’s feet, her other baby is born as Nurse Daisy catches him in a fresh towel and tucks it around him—and then the baby pees all over the towel tucked around him.

Baby Boy: “Waaaaaa!”  He cries out with very strong lungs.

Lord Edward: “What is it?”  He tries to look over his wife’s shoulder, but he can’t see with Mrs. Minton hovering over the birthing area.

Nurse Daisy: “MiLord, Let me get him cleaned up for you.  He’s a right mess.”  She smiles cheerfully.

Lord Edward: “We have a daughter… and a son?”  Lord Edward almost whispers in incredulity.  “Emmy!  We have a daughter and a son, My Darling!  Twins!”  He crows loudly with masculine pride and love.

But Lady Emily is exhausted and completely spent as she leans back dozing into her husband’s loving arms.

And after the babies are cleaned up, Lord Edward sits with them—one in each arm—in an overstuffed chair as Mrs. Minton helps Lady Emily truly finish the birthing process and then get cleaned up, even as the bed linens are also changed.

Then as Lord Edward hands their babies to their exultant Mama Lady Emily to nurse them one at a time, he leans in and kisses his wife most tenderly upon her lips.

Lord Edward: “Thank you for giving us our baby daughter and baby son, My Love.  I am a father, and you are a mother.”  He states in wonder and awe.

Lady Emily: “We are.”  She smiles cheerfully.  Though she is still rather sore, now that she holds her babies in her arms and nurses them, Lady Emily is joyously happy.  “They are so perfect!  10 fingers and 10 toes!  Precious little mouths and noses, and …”

Lord Edward: “… nearly … [bald].  Ha ha ha ha ha!  Do not fear, their hair will grow.”

Lord Edward switches babies with Lady Emily and she now nurses her son—whilst Lord Edward gently holds his baby daughter while she sleeps contentedly.

Lady Cecily:  “Emily, Edward? Congratulations!  The babies are beautiful!  Now I will leave you to rest and see you in the morning.  And remember to give the babies names—before anyone else does.”  She states sotto voce and rolls her eyes at a delightedly besotted Grandma of four, Lady Creighton.

Lady Emily and Lord Edward smile and nod their thanks as Lady Cecily and Lady Creighton leave their bed chamber this night.

So on this Christmas Day, Lord [Edward] and Lady [Emily] Carlisle’s children are born—a daughter and a son, wonderful blessings of marriage, indeed.

To be continued with Chapter 25

References for Ch. 24  of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1434)   December 24, 2021

  1. My “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage” story cover illustration is comprised of:  a) an  ivory lace background  with Grati edit, found at;   b)  a Victorian roses bouquet painting by the Boston Public Library, via Atlas Obscura (with some Grati edits ), found at; and with c) the text in deep pinkish coral in a Vivaldi font.
  2. The history and uses of laudanum were found at
  3. BabyGirlCarlisleSwaddledinTowelJun1214MSOfcClipArt-Grati-sized-crop

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch.24   of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:

Previous SAL blog Post #1433  link for Ch. 23  “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:

“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Ch. 23:  Christmas Blessings, Part 2,  by Gratiana Lovelace, December 19, 2021 (Post #1433)

Posted in "Seeking the Niceties of Marriage", by Gratiana Lovelace, Christmas, Creative Writing, Family, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, parents, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Ch. 23:  Christmas Blessings, Part 2,  by Gratiana Lovelace, December 19, 2021 (Post #1433)

(An original Regency Romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2021; All rights reserved);
[(1) story cover below left]

[Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them.  So from time to time, I will illustrate my story with actors and such, including:  Richard Armitage as Lord Edward Carlisle, Daniela Denby-Ashe as Lady Emily Creighton Carlisle, Blake Ritson as Lord Kittredge Wells, Polly Walker as Lady Patience Creighton the Countess of Stoke, Bill Nighy as Lord Nigel Creighton the Earl of Stoke, Christina Cole as Lady Cecily Englewood Wells, and others as noted.]

[Author’s Note:  This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes or other descriptions were written at the creative discretion of this author.  And this is a gentle and tender romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love and marriage put to humorous effect.  This is my disclaimer.]

Ch. 23:  Christmas Blessings, Part 2

After their respective three hours long and quite refreshing late morning to early mid-day naps, the host couple of Lord and Lady Carlisle and their cousin guests Lord and Lady Fielding awaken at 1:30pm and dress for their formal Christmas Day later afternoon supper in the Carlisle House Music Room.  The only thing missing at the moment are Lady Emily’s parents Lord and Lady Creighton.  But Lord Edward surmises that the snow laden streets are hampering travel in town at the moment.  So Lady Emily decides to push back their Christmas meal by a half hour to 2:30pm.

In the end, setting their Christmas supper back to 2:30pm is a wise choice. This is not solely because it allows the Creightons ample time to arrive and divest themselves of their snow covered winter coats and hats—since even the short walk from their carriage and up the front steps of Carlisle House caused them to be completely dusted with snow.  But rather, the Carlisle’s and guests delayed start to the Christmas Day Supper gives Lady Emily’s Carlisle House cook Mrs. Lamb time to finish her flourishing touches to their Christmas Supper  meal.  And as the amended motto goes, Happy Cook, Happy Christmas.

The Carlisle House ‘s Music Room is a particularly lovely room for them to hold their festive
family Christmas gathering and Christmas Supper meal—with its elegant gold tones in satin
and matte striped wallpaper enhancing the festive Christmas decorations—with Lord Edward and Lady Emily, her parents Lord Nigel and Lady Creighton, and their also married cousins Lord  Kittredge and  Lady Cecily sitting at a round table near a roaring fireplace for warmth, yet with this room’s festively decorated Christmas tree [(2) right] set against the wallpaper and flanked on each side by the front of the house’s [tall] arched windows and in full view of the company.

And to afford the family greater privacy in conversing, their repast is also arranged buffet style—as breakfast usually is—with their servants discreetly leaving the Music Room once all is arranged.  And buffet style works well, in order to allow everyone to have just what they want to eat, and in the quantities that they want. No wasted foods left on plates—nor diners pining for seconds.

The Christmas Supper buffet is Lady Emily’s innovation that briefly raises her Mama Lady Creighton’s perfectly arched eyebrows, before everyone relents and adopts the Christmas spirit.  Naturally the very pregnant ladies’ husbands carry their wives’ plates and assist in ladling their wives’ favorite foods onto their plates for them, then escort them back to their dining table.  Then the men heartily fill up their own plates with the zeal of small boys pouncing on the Christmas culinary delights–like a hoard of locusts.

Their Carlisle’s Family Christmas Supper meal of roasted goose, scalloped potatoes, creamed soups, various vegetables and breads—along with a flaming plum pudding cake as the dessert—is pronounced to be a wonderful feast. And Lady Emily shines with everyone’s praise for her hostessing accomplishment.


Then they remove themselves from the dining table to the comfortable chairs and three settees placed in a large semi-circle around the Music Room’s Christmas tree to sip their tea and open presents—each married couple sitting together on one of the settees of Lord Nigel and Lady Patience Creighton on the left settee, Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle on the middle settee, and Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily Wells on the right settee.

Of course with the pregnant ladies of Lady Emily and Lady Cecily not being let out of their husband’s site during the last months of their delicate with child conditions, the two ladies have had to be stealthy with regard to buying presents for their husbands—their using their ladies maids to collect the items that they wives had long months ago commissioned for their husbands.

Lady Emily and Lady Cecily smile conspiratorially at each other as their husbands open their gifts from them.  And from smallish but substantive wrapped gift boxes, Lord Edward and Lord Kittredge unwrap their gifts, then open the boxes to find navy or burgundy velvet covered jeweler’s hinged boxes.  Then while sitting on a settee with their pregnant wives, each husband simultaneously opens their wives’ gifts.

Lord Edward receives a gold pocket watch and fob with a detailed Greek key design around the edges of the circular rim.

Lady Emily:  “Well?  Edward Dear?  Do you like it?”  She asks with girlish glee.

Lord Edward: “I do!  This is a wonderful gift, Emily Dear. Thank you.”  Then he gives her a gentle and  tender kiss upon her lips.  And when he opens up the casing again, he looks more closely at the inside cover facing that reveals a most heartfelt inscription, hearkening back to his and Lady Emily’s childhood years early acquaintanceship.  “To my Prince, Edward.  With much love from his Princess, Emily.”

Lord Edward had never received a family pocket watch, so this gift has great meaning for him—and he will one day pass his watch down to their son.  And Lady Emily wears Lord Edward’s gift to her of a dainty diamond drop necklace with matching earrings that he gave her yesterday.

Whereas Lord Kittredge receives from his wife a silver pocket watch and fob with an etched design of Wells Castle upon the outside face cover.

Lord Kittredge: “Oh My Darling Cecily!  This is exquisite!  Thank you!”  They kiss sweetly.  As a second son, Lord Kittredge did not expect to receive a family watch—it will go to his older brother.  But this pocket watch will be his to grant to their son—if they are so blessed—or perhaps, to their son-in-law if they birth a daughter.

Lady Cecily: “I am so pleased that you like it, My Dear.”  She smiles tenderly at her husband, recalling—as he does—their first few magical weeks of their marriage spent at Wells Castle.  She lightly touches the small [and lovely] graduated pearl necklace around her neck that her husband had given her yesterday, along with its matching earrings.

Then the young and older couples exchange gifts with each other of fine wine for the gentlemen and the new warm and soft cashmere shawls [(3)] for the ladies.

And Lady Patience and Lord Nigel Creighton have one more special gift for their beloved youngest daughter Lady Emily and their son-in-law Lord Edward.

Lady Patience:  “My Dears, when each of our daughters were born, Nigel and I cherished every moment we held them in our arms—especially rocking them in the carved wooden rocking chair that came from my family.”

Lady Emily:  “I know, Mama. It was a lovely rocking chair.”  She says stoically.  For she knows that her two older sisters received the rocking chair and a replica of it, respectively,  when they each welcomed their first children years ago.

Then Lady Patience shakes a small bell on a nearby table to signal a footman to bring in Lady Emily’s and Lord Edward’s special gift of a burnished walnut rocking chair.

Lady Emily:  “Oh Mama!  This is such a beautiful replica of our family rocking chair.”  She marvels.  And with her husband Lord Edward’s help, Lady Emily goes to sit upon her rocking chair and commences rocking.  “It feels perfect!”  She beams a sincere smile at her Mama and Papa.

Lord Nigel: “I’m so glad that you like this rocking chair, My Dear.  For you see, you may not realize it, but your two older sisters have replicas of this original rocking chair.  So we give you our original rocking chair that has been lovingly restored for you.  May  your children–our grandchildren–find peace and contentment with being rocked in it as you did so many years ago as a baby and young child.”

Lord Creighton smiles down at his youngest daughter, then he leans down and gives her cheek a kiss.  Her Mama also hugs, then kisses her.  There are tears in everyone’s eyes for this heartfelt gift of old family memories, and for the prospect of new family memories yet to be made.

Naturally, Lord Kittredge feels a bit left out—though they had exchanged very nice gifts with each set of Wells and Englewood families earlier in the week.  He pouts a bit for not receiving any gifts that were as heartfelt as Emmy receiving her restored rocking chair.  But he tries to show a calm and contented demeanor to all.  But his dear wife Lady Cecily notices her husband’s changed mood and caringly clasps his hand in hers.

And since Lord Kitt, as Lady Emily’s family has always addressed him from [her childhood since she could not pronounce his full name of Kittredge]—as his Aunt Lady Patience’s favorite nephew—she smiles warmly at him.  Then Lady Patience rings the bell again.  And a second footman [carries] in a burnished maple wooden rocker replica for Lord Kitt and Lady Cecily.

Lady Patience:  “Dear Kitt, though we did not have a son of our own, as our beloved nephew you filled that place in our hearts.  So we also wanted you to have a replica of our family rocking chair for you to create new memories with your children.”  She caresses his cheek, then gives him a gentle hug.

Lord Kittredge: “Oh! Thankyou Aunt Lady Patience and Uncle Lord Nigel!  This is a wonderful gift for our soon to be expanded family.”  Then Lord Kitt happily plops into the rocking chair and gently guides his also  with child wife Lady Cecily to join him by sitting on his lap as he rocks.

Then just as Lord Edward helps Lady Emily to stand so that he may sit in their rocker—with Lady Emily soon to be sitting upon his lap as he rocks—the unexpected happens, as Lady Emily’s water breaks before she sits upon her husband’s lap, on Christmas Day.

Lady Emily is too stunned and embarrassed by the mess on the rug to speak. Lord Edward’s eyes widen in shock.  Lady Emily’s parents are astonished and delighted.  Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily are delighted, and curious—with neither of them previously being privy to the details of an actual birth of a baby.

And it is from the one person in the room who keeps her wits about her, that they are all gently admonished to take action.

Lady Patience: “Well!  Emily Dear, You might have a Christmas baby afterall!”  Lady Patience smiles beatifically at her darling daughter Lady Emily.  Then she walks over to the wall and pulls the bell cord to call for a servant.  Then when the footman arrives, she dispatches her orders.  “Please notify Mrs. Minton that her Mistress Lady Emily is soon to have her baby.”  The footman nods and goes to attend to that commission.  Then seeing her daughter and son-in-law still standing speechless in the Music Room, she makes a pertinent suggestion to them.  “Dear Edward, please carry Lady Emily upstairs to your bedchamber so that she may be made comfortable as she awaits the birth of your first child.”  She states without subterfuge—for her somewhat boldly proclaiming to everyone in the room that she knows that her daughter and her son-in-law sleep in the same room

Lord Edward looks up and stares worriedly at his mother-in-law Lady Patience—for him thinking that it is too soon for their baby to be born. Lady Patience smiles encouragingly at her son-in-law Lord Edward.   Then Lady Emily tugs upon her husband’s hand.

Lady Emily: “Edward [Dear], I do believe that we need follow my Mama’s sound advice.”

So now, the delicate but delighted scramble to await the birth of Lord and Lady Carlisle’s first child begins this Christmas Day!

To be continued with Chapter 24

References for Ch. 23  of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1433) December 19, 2021

  1. My “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage” story cover  illustration is comprised of:  a) an  ivory lace background  with Grati edit, found at;   b)  a Victorian roses bouquet painting by the Boston Public Library, via Atlas Obscura (with some Grati edits ), found at; and with c) the text in deep pinkish coral in a Vivaldi font.
  1. The Carlisle House’s Music Room Christmas Tree is a manip by Grati; the original image of a Victorian Christmas Tree was initially found and first edited Dec2513EastlakeVictorianBlogspot-crop-sized-mask2GratianaLovelace; with the elegant gold striped wallpaper background found at
  2. Information about the history of cashmere shawls was found at

Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch.23   of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:

Previous SAL blog Post #1424  link for Ch. 22  “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:

“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Ch. 22:  Christmas Blessings, Part 1,  by Gratiana Lovelace, November 13, 2021 (Post #1424)

Posted in "Seeking the Niceties of Marriage", by Gratiana Lovelace, Christmas, Creative Writing, Gratiana Lovelace, Historical Fiction, Humor, Husbands, Love and Relationships, Regency, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Richard Armitage teases aspects of his Stay Close role in Hello Magazine Video Interview, December 14, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1432) 


Love the talented British actor Richard Armitage‘s take on his role of Ray Levine the photographer in “Stay Close” with his new video interview (with transcript) from Hello Magazine

And I can’t wait to see more of the character’s hand and arm tattoos as a revealing part of Ray’s backstory when Harlan Coben’s “Stay Close” is released on Netflix December 31, 2021!


Thanks to TeresaA for sharing the video interview link and the “Stay Close” poster close up above! 

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & peaceful day!  Hugs  & Holiday Cheers! Grati ;->


Posted in "Stay Close" new RA Coben mystery on Netflix 2021, Drama, Gratiana Lovelace, Mystery, Netflix, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments