Once upon a time, in a life he’d rather forget, Terry Ambrose tracked down deadbeats for a living. He also hired big guys with tow trucks to steal cars—but only when negotiations failed. Those years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons such as—always keep your car in the garage. He now spends his time writing mysteries, including the Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries, and the License to Lie thriller series. Learn more about Terry and his books at his website.
A Christmas Tradition
When I was a child, we had a family tradition of putting out a nativity set each year at Christmas. The set had been in our family for as long as I can remember. I have no idea where my parents bought it, but each year we diligently unpacked each piece, arranged the figurines, then repacked everything after the holidays.
My mother and father moved to Santa Barbara in the 70s. They lived in the same two-bedroom apartment for more than thirty years. But when my father passed away in 2006, my mother knew the strokes she had suffered would make in impossible for her to live alone. And that meant we needed to move her. During the move we discovered how much stuff two people could accumulate over the course of thirty years.
With the move approaching, we tackled the job of packing each item my mother intended to keep. It was a daunting job. Every item in the apartment, from clothing to art supplies to kitchen appliances had to be reviewed and categorized. We created multiple piles for donations, which I loaded into my car and took to a charity. There was another pile for throwaways—and believe me, there were plenty. And finally, the smallest pile of all included the items to be moved.
The move from a two-bedroom apartment with about 1,200 square feet to a 400-square-foot studio was quite a shock for my mom, but she was an independent woman. She needed no assistance for walking, so walk she did, all over the streets of Santa Barbara. Although she had a great deal of space outside, she felt cramped in her little studio. But she had her possessions, including some of the family Christmas decorations, stored in boxes in her closet.
It wasn’t until she passed in 2011, that we discovered the manger was still there. The figurines that went with the set, however, had apparently been lost during the move-in. After storing the manger in our garage for a couple of years, my wife and I decided we should find figurines to go with it. That turned out to be much harder than we’d expected!
We searched for appropriately sized figurines and eventually found some that were only slightly larger than the originals. This Christmas, we’ll continue the tradition of setting up the manger and figurines just as we did when I was young. I wish we hadn’t lost the original figurines, but we still have the manger, and can still relish the joy of a family tradition.
The Killer Christmas Sweater Club
All ten-year-old Alexandra Atwood wants for Christmas is to get her dad and the B&B’s cook Marquetta under the mistletoe. After all, how can they get married if they don’t kiss first?
When murder strikes in Seaside Cove, bed-and-breakfast owner Rick Atwood is asked to help find the killer. But this will not be an easy case to crack. Not only did the killer contaminate the crime scene, but there are suspects all over town. And they all received the same Christmas sweater from the victim.
Alex hears rumors about the murder and decides that since she’s on Christmas break, she has time for a little multitasking. She launches her own investigation even as she continues her efforts to get her dad and Marquetta together.
Just when Rick thinks he’s identified all the suspects, he discovers a new one—his estranged wife. With the days until Christmas ticking down, Rick feels pressured from all sides. He needs to solve the case. He needs to send his wife back to New York. But the one thing he doesn’t need is for his daughter to be one step ahead of him and the cops.