[“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 https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/anne-hathaway-jared-leto-wework-series-apple-1234895727
2) Eddie Hughes in wool coat (masked) is represented by Liam Hemsworth, found on tumblr at https://liamhsource.tumblr.com/post/614639945091579904/hq-photos-of-liam-for-mens-health-Australia; composited with Snow skis hanging on wall rack was found at https://www.tealtriangle.com/g-system/kits/g-ski?sku=K-102-1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkqjmhYvC9QIVAYbICh1O6QcREAQYASABEgLnbvD_BwE
3) Mike Porter in gray sweater is Regé-Jean Page, Apr07-2021TheWrap_Jan20-2022Grati; original image found at https://www.thewrap.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Rege%CC%81-Jean-Page-Bridgerton-1.jpg; composited with Utah-ski-resort-breathtaking-view-of-lower-ski-runs-representing-PineridgeSkiResort-in-story_Jan14-2022viaSLTrib; original image found at https://www.sltrib.com/sports/2020/03/20/part-time-utah-ski-resort
4) Greg Halliday is represented by Richard Armitage 2022 portraits in cream sweaters by Kaitlyn Mikayla found in the Nobleman Mag interview at https://noblemanmagazine.com/richard-armitage-a-nobleman-to-watch/?fbclid=IwAR1kYnjjbbab03_pgQ2aDdLK02xTUarLq9DS4S8JDyvH0IHhvTqd78jua1Q&doing_wp_cron=1642221318.9211430549621582031250
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 4 “Winter Rental”:
SAL blog Post#1439 link for Ch. 3 of “Winter Rental”: