Regina, thank you so much for having me back on Every Woman Dreams with my new book, A Holiday to Remember. This time last year I was giving voice lessons over at Merrillville High School in Indiana when I heard the advanced choir rehearsing for their December concert. What could be better than these inspiring words set to a catching tune and sung by energetic young people?
It’s a holiday to remember, feel the joy that’s in the air.
Once a year each December comes a magical time
When your spirits will climb,
A time to share, A time to give and a time to care
It’s a holiday to remember
A season filled with love!
A Holiday to Remember – by Mac Huff
Here is a YouTube link if you would like to hear the Merrillville Choirs singing some Christmas Concert Highlights. https://youtu.be/KRwxcp3TqGY
Merrillville HS is a multi-racial lower income community where many of the students are living in homes with single parents or in several cases, grandparents and other relatives. For those students who participate in the arts, music is such an important part of their lives. It not only gives them a chance to excel at something they love, but it gives them a chance to reach out to the surrounding community when they perform.
For many, their participation continues past the academic school year. The
Director, Melinda Reinhart and her husband, Mike run a summer theater for young people who live in Merrillville and the surrounding communities. For over fifty years the Reinhart family has been involved in this type of community service.
Last summer’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame was exceptional. If you have a chance, please to listen to this short link which features two of my students who are brothers. Lucas – Quasimodo (17) and his older brother, Jacob – Frollo (21), are doing the solo parts. The outstanding vocal ensemble is comprised of primarily high school students.
In short, Melinda Reinhart and her choirs were the inspiration for my story. In this modern P&P variation, Elizabeth Bennet is a dedicated choral director and teacher at Meryton Academy for the Performing Arts and William Darcy is the aloof CEO of Darcy Enterprises. The two of them met when unfortunate circumstances brought them together during a summer music festival in Chicago where tempers flared and unpleasant words were exchanged. Find out what happens when their paths cross again in December. Will their animosity continue, or will their reunion turn out to be A Holiday to Remember?
From Chapter One
Meryton Academy for the Performing Arts
Monday, 4 December
“Liz Bennet! Please tell me I didn’t hear what I just thought I heard!” Charlotte Lucas burst through the doors of the choir room and marched straight to the keyboard where Elizabeth was working out the final arrangements for A Holiday to Remember—part of the music academy’s final showcase before the winter break.
“Char, I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I’m kind of on a deadline here. Uh … you do remember I have a major rehearsal at six o’clock tonight?” She arched a questioning eyebrow in her friend’s direction before entering the final chords on the master lead sheet in her computer.
“Right, but for your information, Mr. Billy Collins just told everyone in the teacher’s lounge he has a big date with you on New Year’s Eve. He says he’s escorting you to the Pemberley Foundation’s charity gala at Forest Ridge. What gives? Don’t those tickets start at five hundred a pop? Not to mention any woman who would dare to go out with that nutter would have to be a marble short.”
Elizabeth stopped what she was doing and burst into laughter. “Char, do you honestly think BC would actually shell out that kind of money just to have a date with me? The man is so tight he probably wouldn’t spend five dollars on his own mother. Don’t worry. The Vocalteens were asked to perform at the gala and will be doing the opening act right after dessert. Since Reeves will be out of town, I’m making do with Billy-boy to run sound. You’re welcome to join us if you don’t have a date. I can always use an extra chaperone. Plus, after the kids leave, the adults are invited to stay and enjoy the rest of the party. There’s going to be a live band, dancing, loads of food and some kind of a silent auction. It could be fun, even without dates.”
“Sorry, Liz. As a matter of fact, I do have a date.” Charlotte straightened up and fluttered her eyelashes in jest. “And … as much as I’d like to hobnob with the rich and famous, Brexton Denny is taking me to the Signature Room to celebrate the New Year. Who knows, this might turn out to be my Holiday to Remember, if you don’t mind me borrowing the title from your medley.”
“Go right ahead. The Signature Room is pretty impressive. Is there any chance your Mr. Denny might finally be getting serious?”
“Not to my knowledge. Still, there’s no way I’m going to pass up a date with a buff trainer from the fitness club, fireworks over Lake Michigan, and a kiss at midnight.”
“A kiss at midnight,” Elizabeth sighed, kind of dreamy-eyed. “Aunt Maddy says being kissed at midnight by someone special is magical, and although I’ve yet to meet that perfect someone, I believe her.”
“Girl, you’ve been watching way too many holiday romance movies on your favorite channel, if you ask me. I could never be like you. At any rate, if you need an escort, you can always ask my brother. I know Johnny isn’t ideal, but he’s okay in a pinch. On second thought, what about that cute drummer from the music store? Didn’t you go out with him a couple of times? Maybe you can take him.”
“George Wickham?! I think not! And no, we never dated. Char, your memory fails you. I only agreed to sing backups for that smooth talker’s band at the Lollapalooza Music Festival last summer because he was desperate. Believe me; dating was not part of the chord chart. Besides, I’m hardly interested in a fly-by-night drummer or any freelance musician for that matter. And I’m definitely considering adding your brother to my no-go list of men. If Johnny stands me up for one more transmission or any other mechanical failure, the man is toast. As it turns out, I’ll probably hand him his marching orders once he escorts me to Charles Bingley’s holiday party on Friday. Who knows, I may end up following Jane’s lead and using her professional dating service after all. I mean, who could complain about Mr. Bingley?”
“Are you serious?”
“Absolutely! Charles is exceptional. He’s considerate and has a great sense of humor. Plus, he brings Jane flowers, sends her cards, and takes her out to dinner, concerts, company functions, yada, yada…. And to top it all off, it was Charles Bingley who recommended the Vocalteens for the Pemberley gig. As one of the corporate lawyers who work for the foundation, he was happy to submit my PR materials to the marketing director. Mr. Reynolds thinks our Holiday to Remember medley will be perfect for the charity gala.”
“I agree; it’s bound to be a hit. The kids are already looking pretty good, and you still have until next Thursday to pull it all together for the showcase. Speaking of the gala, I hear the CEO of Darcy Enterprises is pretty hot.” Charlotte wiggled her eyebrows as if in the know. “William Darcy has been in all of the tabloids lately. They say he’s some kind of aloof, mystery man—tall, dark, and handsome. I wonder if he’ll be there.”
“William Darcy?” Elizabeth frowned. “His sister, Georgiana, was studying piano with Aunt Maddy at the music store until….” Her voice trailed off. “Are you sure he’s connected to the foundation? Mr. Reynolds never mentioned him.”
“Small world! According to Google, the foundation is run by Darcy Enterprises.” Glancing at the wall clock, Charlotte changed the subject. “It looks like the bell is about to ring, so I’d better head over to my advanced ballet class. Do you still need help tonight with choreography for the opening number?”
“I’d really appreciate it, since I’m going to have my hands full with the pit orchestra. If you can take over while we run through my new arrangements, it would mean one less thing for me to juggle at practice.”
“No problem. I’ll be there. Catch you later.”
After Charlotte left, Elizabeth minimized her music program and quickly googled William Darcy, CEO of Darcy Enterprises. “I can’t believe it. It is him! So, Mr. Darcy,” she continued to babble while glaring at the computer screen. “Your Mr. Reynolds booked us for the gala. How was he to know you never wanted to see me again?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to make the most of it, won’t we?”
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and once again, thank you, Regina, for having me today. Please feel free to leave your comments below as I will be giving away two eBooks (International). And if you have a musical experience that you would like to share, that would be great! THE GIVEAWAY WILL END AT MIDNIGHT EST ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20.
Jennifer Redlarczyk (Jen Red) ♫
My Pinterest page for A Holiday to Remember https://www.pinterest.com/jenred88/a-holiday-to-remember-a-pride-and-prejudice-novell/
A Holiday to Remember on Amazon