I wrote a humorous romance story that has Christmas in it. The story is also a bit far fetched because one of the main characters is a very expensive man robot that is a house boy. He cooks and cleans which is programed into him but he came with an attitude which makes him hard to like by his owner. The book cover is a Cinderella Coach I found at a horse and carriage sale in Kalona Iowa. I took pictures and added the bows for Elizabeth's country winter Christmas ride. The idea for this book came from watching a piece in one of the morning shows several years ago. Robots were being programed to do housework, but the robots the show had on display were very robot looking. I decided to make my robot Hover Hill look like a handsome man. So I've shared the first chapter of the book. Enjoy reading a sample of Christmas With Hover Hill. If you want a light read that will make you laugh out loud this book is going to do it. You can find the book or ebook at smashwords, Amazon, kindle, barnes & noble and nook. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/421696 http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Christmas+With+HOver+Hill http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Christmas+With+HOver+Hill&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3AChristmas+With+HOver+Hill http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-with-hover-hill-fay-risner/1118907524?ean=9781497308404 Synopsis for book Elizabeth Winston grew up not caring about Christmas. This Christmas is going to be much worse than the holidays she and her brother, Scott, spent with her divorced parents. Her former boyfriend, Steven Mitchell, showed up to pester her about renewing their relationship now that his marriage has ended. Elizabeth always looks forward to sharing Christmas with her brother, Scott, but he says he has a business trip during Christmas. His present for her is an expensive and obnoxious robot man by the name of Hover Hill. Just her luck to be stuck with a mechanical man to share the holidays with. Elizabeth was fit to be tied when she figure out the robot was planted by Steven Mitchell to brainwash her into taking him back. Scott betrayed her when he helped Steven by saying the robot was his gift. She slipped out of town with the robot, leaving her old life behind and walked into a new set of problems. She wanted to hide out for six months, but that isn't easy in a small southern Iowa town. Gossip about her flew faster than the rumors that came out of the Silver Dollar Tavern. Susie, at the Maidrite Diner, bragged she got a look at the handsome man that Elizabeth is shacking up with. The minster's wife complained a local farmer, Bud Carter, hadn't been to church for a month of Sundays. Holly, from the Antique Store, said the reason why is that Bud's spending more time at the newcomer's house than he is at his place. The grocery store checker said Elizabeth acts like she's hiding out from someone. If Steven comes looking, with all the attention Elizabeth is getting, all he has to do is ask and get directions from anyone in town to the old Carter house in the country. Chapter One Elizabeth Winston drummed her perfectly manicured fingernails on the varnished walnut strip that ran along the top of the couch arm. Why was she so keyed up? Right after dinner, she'd curled up with a book and a glass of wine with the intention to relax. This wasn't working. She didn’t seem to be able to concentrate. She dropped the book in her lap after she reread page forty over and over and still didn't comprehend what she read. That left her nothing to do but finish her glass of wine and think. Surely her job wasn't bothering her. She was always eager to start her day as a literary professor at the university. Although, she should be thankful for her fulfilling profession since her personal life was in a deep rut. That was the extent of her life right now, good job and rotten personal life. She'd faced the blunt facts about that a long time ago. The simple truth was she wanted to spend her evenings alone. Didn't she? Absolutely, she did. A safe and dull life was better than getting hurt by another man again. In what seemed like eons ago, she'd led a much different lifestyle from the sedentary, predictable, daily routine she had now. Her quiet, nonexistent social life formed after Steven Mitchell, a college law professor and computer whiz, left town and her. About then Elizabeth decided if she didn’t want to worry about getting close to another man, she’d be better off not dating. Repeatedly, she turned down offers of a night out until the offers quit coming. On weekdays, she conducted her classes, trying to indoctrinate into the youth of the Midwest the need to appreciate the written word. Evenings, after a quick simple dinner if she could call it that, she planned the next day’s lessons and went over assignment papers. Soon after that, it was her bedtime. Most Saturdays, Elizabeth shopped for necessities and the groceries for the next week in the morning. After lunch, she did the housework. Walking to church on Sunday morning year around was her only exercise. She dined out after services so she’d consume one decent meal a week. She knew her diet of snacks weren’t good for her health, but she didn’t like to waste her time cooking for one. Weekend evenings, Elizabeth usually indulged herself if she didn't have papers to grade. She spent the time curled up on the couch with a book and a glass of wine. That's when she tried to keep abreast of new novels as well as reading the classics. Once in a while when she shopped at Target, she couldn’t resist the temptation to smuggle home a Danielle Steele or a Nora Roberts romance. She excused her choice of reading material with the idea she needed to be versatile with her reading. Not that this tiny transgression made up for the lack of companionship in her life. It would be nice to have a man around once in a while. Actually, she repeatedly argued with herself that she enjoyed the change of pace reading. Besides, with Christmas closing in on her, she excused, she just didn’t want to concentrate on heavy material. At holiday time, Elizabeth felt depressed by the crowds in the stores. She deemed it a good thing she didn’t have to get out to do any last minute shopping. Early on when she did her shopping, people shoving and cutting other shoppers off with their shopping carts to get to the bargains was the norm. Aggressive behavior like that made her wish for Christmas to be over and done with. That's how much she hated confrontations of any kind. Christmas! Christmas was coming. That thought kept scrolling through her mind. Maybe that’s what had her so antsy. The eager anticipation of spending time with her brother, Scott. He always showed up like Santa Claus reincarnated right down to the ho, ho, ho. She couldn't fathom how he managed all that cheerfulness and good will during the holidays. It wasn't inherited from their parents, but his holiday enthusiasm did rub off on her when he was around. There certainly hadn't been any such holiday cheer when Scott and her were children. All she remembered was the Christmas swaps done by her divorced parents. Not of gifts. Just their children. One year, Elizabeth spent the holiday with her father while Scott stayed with their mother. The next year, the two of them swapped parents. They were always stuck with grownups during the Christmas break and back in their mother's house in time for school. For Scott and her it was a lonely experience. Their overachieving parents were more interested in entertaining friends and business associates than spending time with their children. When they were teenagers, Scott and she vowed when they grew up they would always spend Christmas together without their parents. The door bell buzzed at the same time the grandfather clock chimed eight times, interrupting her concentration. Elizabeth called, “Who’s there?” “UPS delivery man,” came the muffled male voice. Elizabeth peeked out the window. The street light bathed an UPS truck. Didn't those delivery men ever get to go home? She looked through the peek hole. Sure enough a man in a brown suit was staring at the door. Beside him was a six feet by four feet cardboard box. Elizabeth opened the door and pointed at the box. “I didn't order anything that large. What is it?” “No idea, lady. I just deliver. Your address is on the box so it's yours. Sign here,” he said briskly, shoving a clipboard at her. “It looks heavy.” Elizabeth sized up the box. “Could you carry it in for me?” “Sure thing.” The man tipped the carrier up and tugged the box inside. He stopped and slid the box off just far enough in the room that the door would close. “There you go, lady. Have a good night and Merry Christmas.” “Thank you. Merry Christmas to you, too.” Elizabeth shut the door and turned back to the box that stood a foot taller than she was. An envelope was taped next to her address. She ripped it out of the clear packing tape and tore it open. Dear Beth, It would seem my protests for you not to work so hard and have more fun have fallen on your very deaf ears so I have a Christmas present for you that you can’t possibly resist. Please open the box for further instructions. I’ll be seeing you soon. Merry Christmas, Love, Scott Elizabeth brought a sharp knife from the kitchen and sliced down one corner on the front of the box. She finished cutting the other corner and across the top, stuck a finger in the slit and pulled out. The cardboard slab fell to the floor. Her mouth gaped open. She stood transfixed for a moment, staring in the box cavity. Once her initial surprise was over, she backed up. “Who ---who are you?” Her gift, from her brother, was a blond haired man in black slacks and a long sleeve, blue dress shirt. His eyes were closed as if he was asleep. He didn't move. In fact, he didn't appear to be breathing. Elizabeth stepped back in front of him. “Hey, wake up,” she snapped, shaking his right shoulder. His shoulder was very cold and hard to the touch. She jerked her shaky hand away and patted her thumping chest. Her gaze fixated on the man as she took a deep breath. How awful is this? Why would Scott think it was a good idea to send me a dead man in a cardboard coffin? He felt as if he was in full rigor mortis already. This wasn't a Christmas gift. It was an awful hoax. “My brother has a very sick, weird sense of humor,” she mumbled in a trembling voice. “Wait until I get my hands on him.” Taped to the chest of the inanimate stranger was another envelope. Elizabeth reached out and snatched it. She backed across the room and leaned against her bedroom door facing. That was as far as she could get from the box and still keep an eye on the body. Scott better have an explanation in this letter that makes sense, she thought as she ripped open the letter. Merry Christmas Beth, By now you have met Hover Hill, the robot. I promise once you liven him up he's great company. He’s the perfect Christmas gift from me to help you take care of yourself while you work. No end to his house boy talents; cooking, laundry and housekeeping. Perhaps, you might find more time to socialize with friends while Hover Hill holds down the fort at your apartment. I found Hover Hill at an experimental electronic show in Las Vegas last week. By the way, HILL stands for helper on lower levels. That's because he doesn't climb stairs without help. I don’t want to hear about the expensive price tag on Hover Hill. If he works out for you, it will be worth every penny he cost me to know that I don’t have to worry about you. Now just find the switch in the middle of his back and turn the robot on. No more explanation needed from me. He will take care of that. Enjoy my Christmas gift. Love ya, Scott Elizabeth eased behind the couch to study the robot from a safe distance. He looked so real and so lifeless. Scott’s letter slipped from her fingers to the carpet as she edged around the couch toward the box. She probably should feel foolish for thinking her brother would send her a dead man for a gift. Wait a minute! Jumping to that conclusion wasn't all her fault. She had a right to be angry. Scott should have given her a heads up that the body was a robot. It would have saved her from being scared out of her wits. Of course, he knew if he explained ahead of time she wouldn't accept his gift. The idea raced through her mind, What am I going to do with this robot? This apartment is barely large enough for me. I really don't need him. I don't even want him in my way. Elizabeth poked his cold arm, hanging limply by his side. Quickly, she drew her hand back. He still seemed all too real and too much like a dead man. Finally, Elizabeth raised the right arm toward her and gently tugged on it. Hover Hill leaned slightly forward. That wasn't a good idea. He'd fall out of the box if she pulled on him again. She reasoned, he stood a head taller than her. He probably weighed too much for her to stand back on his feet by herself. No way did she want to put in a call to the apartment manager for help. She'd have to try to explain what she was doing with this handsome, lifelike man in her apartment. Anything she said would probably sound like fabricated excuses to that perverted man. He reminded her of the dirty old man on Laugh In. She didn't have any more to do with him than she could help. She glanced behind the robot's shoulder. Taped to the back of the box was a garment bag. She eased down the zipper and noted the hanger held three shirts in various colors and slacks to match. Great! Scott had given her a man size Ken doll complete with wardrobe. She didn't have any intention of undressing and redressing this all too real looking robot. She'd add that to the growing list of news flashes for Scott when she demanded he take back his Christmas gift. Making a quick search for the switch, Elizabeth edged her hand along the back of the robot's shirt. She discovered the small lump protruding in the middle of his flat back. She flicked the switch. The whine of the robot's motor revved up instantly. His eyelids fluttered then opened wide. Elizabeth was struck by the fact he had very pretty blue eyes. As the robot took a step out of the box, Elizabeth gasped and staggered backward. With a slight drone to his voice, the robot said, “Thank you for turning me on. I am at your service, Beth.” Elizabeth jumped back. Her legs connected with the couch. She felt herself going down as she flopped backward. She squeaked, “You talk!” Hover folded his hands together in front of him. “I do, Beth. That is just one of my many talents. You are going to find I can be very useful. How may I help you?” “For starters, don’t call me Beth. My name is Elizabeth,” she corrected tersely. Instantly, she felt foolish. She had just admonished a mechanical object. Hover took another step toward her as he explained in stilted words, “To call you Beth was programmed into me. Until I have been reprogrammed differently, Beth is all I can call you. Anything else?” “Yes, you can stay right where you are. Until I figure out what you are, I want you to stay away from me,” she commanded, jumping up. Elizabeth scrambled to put the couch between herself and him. He sounded so lifelike. It made her feel creepy to be alone with this handsome manlike thing. She clarified, “At least until I get used to you.” He stopped and repeated, “I am here to obey you. I will not move until you tell me what to do. How may I help you at the moment?” Elizabeth gave him a good once over. The robot looked strong, but he must be harmless. Scott would never do anything to get her hurt. “What do you want to do?” “Anything you tell me. According to my internal clock it is eight o'clock. That is past your dinner time.” “I've had my dinner already. How do you know what time I eat?” “It has been programmed into me. Are you hungry now? I can fix you a snack.” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, I don't want to eat anything.” “Perhaps just a sandwich so you can see how I work. You need to head me in the direction of the kitchen,” Hover suggested. “All right. Yes, you do that. Go through that door and fix me a sandwich.” She pointed behind him. Hover Hill turned and walked out of sight. He didn't exactly have a zombie gait, but he didn't walk as smoothly as a human being. More like someone who had knee replacement surgery. A good reason why he wouldn't be able to climb stairs. Quickly, she grabbed the telephone and dialed her brother’s home phone number. He had to come get this creature out of her house right away. This too real looking robot was freaking her out. Scott’s phone rang and rang. Quietly, Hover appeared in the doorway, carrying a tray. “No answer at your brother’s house?” That thing has good hearing! Elizabeth slammed the receiver down on the base. “How – how did you know I was calling my brother?” “I am made of transmitters and a memory computer. The telephone transmits the numbers to me that you just dialed.” “Oh,” Elizabeth uttered. “Perhaps your brother will be home later. You can thank him then.” She gave him a puzzled frown. “Thank him?” “That's right. For giving me to you as a Christmas gift, of course. Now sit down, Beth, and eat this sandwich. It is just peanut butter and jelly I’m sorry to say. You really need to shop for more nutritious food if you expect me to cook better meals and snacks. I can tell by looking in your cupboards that you have not been fixing healthy dinners. That's a good sign you really need my help.” He looked down his nose at her as he set the plate on the coffee table. “What gives you the idea I expect you to cook?” Elizabeth snapped at him, suddenly disliking his condescending attitude. Matter of factly, Hover said, “I’ve been programmed to do healthy cooking for you.” She stared at the ceiling as she gritted out softly, “I’ll wring Scott’s neck for this.” Hover Hill looked at her intently. “That is interesting. Has he a place on his neck to dial phone numbers?” “Ooh, never mind! I’m going to bed now.” Elizabeth hissed in momentary defeat. She edged closer to the robot and started to circle around him. The robot turned slowly to stay facing her. “It is much too early for you to go to bed. Your bedtime is hours away.” He kept turning as she moved. “What are you trying to do?” “Shut you off.” “No need for that. I will power down in the corner of the room until you wake up in the morning. That way if you need help in the night I will be ready.” “I won't need anything from you in the middle of the night,” Elizabeth snipped softly as she reached out toward his back. Gently, Hover pushed her hand away. “I said that I don’t need to be turned off.” He walked over to the corner of the room and turned around with his back tight against the wall. “See. I power down just like this.” He made a soft, whining noise that dimmed to silence as he closed his eyes and bowed his head. Elizabeth kept her eyes on him as she grabbed her sandwich. She whirled around and hurried toward her bedroom.
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