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Please welcome M. S. Spencer. Her Christmas story, CHE GELIDA MANINA, is part of the EXQUISITE CHRISTMAS anthology and was released November, 2015. This story is about a second chance at love.


Che Gelida Manina is a sweet, romantic story of how love can come a second time around—if you let it.

Grace is devastated by the loss of her husband—the most romantic person she has ever known—and is determined to avoid any contact with the things they had loved. She refuses to walk her beloved beach, or light candles under the stars, or listen to his favorite opera, La Bohème.

When she meets Edward, she insists that he abide by her wishes. He does without argument, but as the weeks go by, she begins to wonder if she’s made a mistake. Will she let the chance of an unexpected happiness slip through her fingers? Will Edward?


“I don’t want to stay here, Amelia.”

“But Mother, you love Sarasota! You love the sun, the people, the beach. Why this sudden desire to move to Morocco?”

“It’s always been a dream of mine.” Grace knew her daughter wouldn’t buy it, but didn’t want to tell her how desperately she needed to get away from Florida. Since Jack died nine months before on Christmas Eve, she couldn’t bear to go to the Gulf…or listen to his favorite opera, La Bohème…or even light candles at dinner. Jack had been the most romantic man in the world and the love of her life. Now that he was gone, all desire for romance had gone with him. It was only because of her promise to him to stay through one last Christmas that she had remained.  I’ll keep my promise, but I’ll be out of here by Boxing Day.

“Well, it makes no sense.” Amelia switched gears. “Just yesterday Brad was saying you should come up here to Portland—”

“Not on your life. I may be a doting grandmother but I don’t think I could handle twin toddlers twenty-four-seven.”

The woman at the other end of the phone sniffed. “Hmmph. Well, we don’t want you alone on Christmas Eve, Mother. Brad would be happy to book a flight for you.”

“You know I can’t, dear.”

“Oh, bother the promise. Dad would understand.”

Grace thought of Jack’s last whispered request. “No, he wouldn’t.”

“Okay, okay.” Amelia paused. “Did you sign up for Friends.com yet?”

“No, and stop badgering me.”

“All I ask is that you think about it. It’s about time you got out of the house. The site’s supposed to have a ninety-percent success rate in matching people.”

“I doubt that. Gotta go, dear.” Grace hung up and stared at the website on her computer screen. She hesitated, then clicked “Your Friends.com Profile.” She wrote quickly and furiously, tossing her thoughts out before she lost her nerve.

Recently widowed woman, 60, seeking companion for excursions—bird watching and sightseeing. Not interested in romance or personal confidences. No moonlit beach walkers please. No candlelight dinners. Love of opera a deal-breaker.

She typed in her credit card number and clicked ‘Submit,’ then returned to her profile and reread it. “Oh dear, that sounds awfully negative…”

Her finger hovered over the ‘Delete Post’ button when a message popped up. “Edward Harper has emailed you.” She opened it.

Widower, 62, happy to oblige. Coffee today?

Next to the message was a man’s photograph. She studied it, trying to plumb its secrets—a broad face, the planes of the cheeks flat and tanned. Little crinkles of skin at each temple hinted at a quiet sense of humor. His bright hazel eyes under a thatch of brown hair smiled at her, as if willing her to say hello. She pressed ‘Reply’ and typed in, “Yes.”


m-s-spencer-author-2Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children, a perfect granddaughter, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine. She has published ten romantic suspense novels.

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7 thoughts on “CHE GELIDA MANINA

  1. Thanks so much for letting me give a bit of Grace’s story. The anthology is still available with lots of wonderful stories and recipes! M.S.

    • Melissa–it does have a happy ending! Thank God we’re capable of loving many people. Linda, when you read the whole story please tell me. ::) Merry Christmas all.

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