A Drakenfall Christmas

By: Geralyn Corcillo

It's Mark & Maisy's first Drakenfall Christmas together …

The magic of Drakenfall is in the air as Lord and Lady Mark and Maisy, along with their madcap staff, welcome guests to the country estate-turned-resort for the season of nutmeg and mistletoe.

In an uncharacteristic turn, unflappable house manager Glynis Ferry seems to be getting her duster ruffled every time she catches sight of Shaun Fletcher, the new head groom. And Pippa Taylor, a whirling dervish of a domestic, works below stairs to make the magic happen for everyone else. But will there ever be enough dazzle left over for her? There will if most worthy valet Kafi Diop has anything to say about it, as he tries to spin holiday enchantment every which way. But his best laid plans always seem to go awry, even with Maisy helping out as his faithful sidekick.

But what about his grandest of schemes, set to take flight at the Drakenfall Christmas Ball? He's depending on guest Jamie Tovell, who's depending on his long-time crush Lea Sinclair. And even if everything goes off without a hitch, will the secret Maisy's been hiding from Mark all season pop up at the most inopportune moment to wreck everything?

It's a Drakenfall Christmas … topsy-turvy, but generously sprinkled with laughter and lavishly frosted with romance!





For Ron

and

Morse and Jamie





Chapter 1: Ms. Glynis Ferry Wakes Up



I flicked my thick braid over my shoulder, clawing wayward strands out from in front of my face. As I sped through the icy wind toward the harbour town, I pressed my knees into the stallion's sides as tightly as I could. I urged the horse on, my skirts and petticoats flying about my waist. But I had to hurry. I HAD to.

The Baron was depending on me.

Faster, faster, faster.

His letter was wedged across my chest, secured by the tightest of straps, which caused no small amount of discomfort. But no matter. I had to get there in time!

I was the fastest, surest rider in all of Drakenfall, though I was not meant to be. Few knew of my talent or speed. And why would they? I was but a housemaid.

But The Baron knew. And he needed me to do this.

Faster, faster, faster.

If the ice had broken, all was lost, and the swiftest mount in the world would scarce signify.

Faster, faster, faster.



Glynis awoke in her tangled sheets in the stillness of the snowy morning. The sky was yet dark outside her frosted windows, but she could see the falling flakes plainly in the dooryard lights.

Another postcard winter's day in the heart of the Cotswolds. Yet her heart was racing, and it had little to do with all the activity that wanted choreographing or the work that needed doing in the week before Christmas at Drakenfall.

No, her blood pounded and had her feeling skittish because she'd had the dream again.

Glynis hadn't dreamt of the legend of the first baron since she'd been a little girl, over forty years ago, when her mother had been a housemaid at Drakenfall. So, not only had Glynis lived her whole life in the small village of Tippingstock, but she'd run rampant across Drakenfall since she'd been knee-high to a grasshopper. She'd spent hours, days, weeks in the library, and she knew the history of the place. And the legends. The dark romance of it all had styled her dreams when she'd been young and … silly.

So why were the dreams back now? The dreams about Drakenfall in the days before the joy?

When Mark had become the Twelfth Baron Shiley six years ago, he'd turned the crumbling Drakenfall into a thriving resort where guests could come to live out their fantasies of relaxing at an English country estate. Drakenfall prospered as a boon to the community like never before. And when Maisy joined the family last spring when Mark had married the madcap American, Drakenfall's sparkle, efficiency, and bonhomie had increased tenfold, at the very least.

So why the return of the dark, Gothic dreams of Drakenfall's bleak history?

Could the deepest recesses of Glynis's mind, of her very heart and soul, be putting forth a mighty endeavour to tell her something, in no uncertain terms, in a language she could understand? A language she'd always understood?

No.

There was nothing she needed to know. To face. To realize. To feel.

Nothing at all.

Glynis threw back the covers and launched herself out of her most comfortable bed. She was not usually up so early, but if her night's repose was determined to disconcert her, then up Glynis would get. And why not? Every extra minute would be precious as Christmas came upon them with its delights and demands. Yes, her shift as house manager had always been seven to seven. And she had never been late. But there was certainly nothing amiss about starting early.

Thirty minutes later, Glynis shut the door to her suite of rooms off the kitchen and clicked her way along the tiles in her slim black boots that set off her fawn-coloured pencil skirt with an acceptable degree of elegance. The aroma of Cook's rich coffee perking had Glynis all but dancing into the deserted pre-dawn kitchen. She straightened her shoulders and patted her chignon as she stepped past the giant hearth.

She halted in her ladylike tracks.

Mud and snow blazed a trail from the outside door across the kitchen. It looked as though an icy sea serpent had slithered in and devoured whoever must have been standing in the pair of boots that stood, empty, at the end of the slushy trail.