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A Halloween Scene from Rivalry

Fall is in the air, and Halloween will soon be coming. Thank goodness. I am so ready for fall. In the meantime, I’ve been busy working on my latest contemporary romance novel, Rivalry. It’s a love story about a young woman and a middle aged man. Like my earlier romance novel, The Reunion, I’ve included a Halloween scene in Rivalry, so I’m giving you a sneak peek. Please keep in mind this is a work in progress. What you are seeing in this post is an unedited draft. The final version will revised. Editors simply have to change things, but they always do it for the better.

In this sample read, Jenna’s mother has offered to take her to out to dinner on Halloween night, but it’s a bittersweet evening. Jenna is an interior designer who’s been recently furloughed. The restaurant is inside a hotel she helped design, and she’s now experiencing some lean times. So far, there’s been no sign indicating things will improve soon.  

Marina Martindale


Jenna met with other interior design firm the following week. She called her mother when she returned home. During the conversation she found out her father had switched places with another pilot who wanted to stay home and take his children trick-or-treating.

“I have an idea,” said Claire. “Since we’re both home alone, why don’t we go have dinner somewhere? It’s been a long time since we’ve had a mother and daughter night out.”

“I don’t know, Mom. Lately, I’m having to watch my spending.”

“I’m your mother, so it’s my treat. I really enjoyed our lunch at Sam’s Place, and I can’t think of a better excuse than Halloween to go back there. I’ll pick you up in thirty minutes.”

It was Jenna’s first time being back at the hotel since the grand opening. Halloween decorations had been placed at the front desk, along with a Happy Halloween banner. Sam’s Place was festive as well with fall centerpieces on each table and lighted Halloween decorations around the bar. The restaurant was busy when they arrived. Claire introduced herself to the hostess, saying she had reserved at table for two.

“Right this way, Mrs. Winters,” she said as she led them to a table near the bar. Claire gazed at the decorations once they were seated.

“I’ll always remember the way my grandmother talked about Halloween,” she said. “They don’t celebrate it in England, so she never understood the significance. She thought the whole thing was, in her words, ‘rather silly.’”

“So she was never fully Americanized,” said Jenna.

“Not entirely, and she never lost her English accent either, but she did love Colorado. She said it reminded her of the mountains in Scotland and Wales. I was fifteen when we took our famous family trip to England to meet our uncles, aunts, and cousins.”

“I know. You used to talk about it when I was a kid.”

“It was a life-changing experience. After we got home, I decided I was going to be a flight attendant so I could go back and visit, which I often did. It’s also how I met your father.”

“And I’m sure you remember how I used to talk about becoming a flight attendant when I was a kid.”

“You did,” said Claire, “but later on you found the right career for you. So how did the interview go?”

“I’m not sure. It turns out they’re interior decorators who mostly work with people who are either buying new homes or remodeling.”

“Which you do as well.”

“I do, and I’ll be helping Bill with the house he’s buying. However, they were completely overwhelmed when I showed them my work. Apparently, I was more than they were bargaining for, so I may be overqualified.”

“I know, but it’s only a temporary job.”

“We’ll have to wait and see.”

“And speaking of Bill,” said Claire, “I will be forever in his debt for rescuing you from the river. It still makes me shudder when I think about it.”

“Mom, I’m okay. I wasn’t hurt.”

“But you still could have drowned.”

“I was having trouble getting out because of the big boulders they’d placed along the shoreline, but I’m fine. Had Bill not been there I would have found another way to get out.”

“Mothers always worry about their children,” Claire said, firmly, “even when they’re adults. Someday, when you’re a mother, you’ll understand.”

“I suppose, but right now my prospects aren’t looking so good. Stacy sent me a text the other day saying she’s met someone new, and if that wasn’t enough, Ken’s trying to worm his way back in.”

Claire looked concerned. “Really? So what’s he doing now?”

“He kept sending me emails and text messages, saying he wanted us to be friends and suggesting we meet for lunch somewhere.”

“So what did you tell him?” asked Claire.

“I said no. I kept reminding him he has another girlfriend, but he says they haven’t made any kind of commitment, and they’re still free to date other people.”

“Which may be well and good, but you’ve already told him no. He needs to respect your boundaries.”

“I know. He also claims he’s having second thoughts about me.”

“Which is a load of bunk and you know it,”  said Claire. “I’m more inclined to believe your mutual friend CeCe has told him about your friendship with Bill, so now he’s trying to make trouble. There are men out there who do that sort of thing.”


Rivalry will be available in 2024. For more information on my other contemporary romance novels please visit my website


Posted in Excerpts, Marina's Novels