Authors: Cambria Hebert
A Hashtag Holiday Short Story
Plus five festive recipes to fill your tummy and warm your heart.
Givers Gonna Give…
Twas the night of game day,
And all through the town,
Lacey, glittering snowflakes fluttered around.
They clung to the roads, concealing everything with white.
It was a beautiful #holiday sight.
The paparazzi were out without any care,
In hopes to catch Romeo and Rimmel, rumored to be there.
When out on the road there arose such a clatter.
The Hellcat spun out, but it shouldn’t matter.
I pulled out my cell to dial in a flash.
But the battery was dead. What useless trash.
The moonlight glistening on the new fallen snow
Made us forget we needed a tow.
For the season was upon us. Our family was alight.
Our #holiday was destined to be merry and bright.
by Cambria Hebert
#HOLIDAY Copyright © 2015 CAMBRIA HEBERT
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form without written permission except for the use of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Published by: Cambria Hebert Books, LLC
Interior design and typesetting by Sharon Kay of Amber Leaf Publishing
Cover design by MAE I DESIGN
Edited by Cassie McCown of Gathering Leaves Editing
Copyright 2015 by Cambria Hebert
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
One wasn’t supposed to be annoyed on Christmas Eve, but that’s exactly what I was.
We’d just finished a brutal game, taking the win by the skin of our teeth. The winter wind had whipped around us on the field so hard there was more than one moment I gripped the ball and wondered why the fuck the game was even being played.
Some of the passes I’d thrown would have been perfect if not for that gusty, wicked wind. It damn near pulled the ball right into the other team’s hands on more than one occasion.
So I wised up. I started throwing into the wind.
Why fight against something when you could just use it to your own advantage?
It had been a ballsy move, but fuck.
I hated feeling like I had to claw my way to a win. It wasn’t that I minded the work, but it took a lot of energy, and I was tired.
Plus, it was Christmas Eve. As much as I loved football, I loved Rim more. Knowing I could be home beside a crackling fire, with white lights twinkling in the tree, the sounds of my family, and my wife in my lap…
It made the blustery weather that much more bitter.
The National Football League usually tried to stay away from holiday games. They realized it was a sort of hardship to ask us all to play when most everyone else was enjoying the season… but there was usually still a Christmas Eve game.
And the Knights just happened to be in it this year.
Our record this season was kickass. Despite the rocky nature of our team relationships when I took over the starting quarterback position, me, B, and the rest of the guys had plowed through it just like we did the end zone.
I’d always doubted the Knights would ever feel as much like home as the Wolves had, but those doubts were in the past.
If the rapport and loyalty I felt in the locker room hadn’t been proof enough, the fact that we were literally on the fast track to the Super Bowl was.
We were going to make it to the big game. We were going to win. Especially after tonight.
When we did, me and my team would be that much closer.
The snow, frigid temperatures, and the date weren’t even enough to stop us.
My body was sore, my shoulder ached, and I wanted a beer.
A blowjob might be nice, too…
But none of that was why I was so annoyed.
I was annoyed because the paparazzi was stalking us.
You’d think since they had the choice to be home with their families, that would have won out over following around some guy they didn’t even really know.
But that was the thing.
They weren’t following me.
It was Rim they wanted a piece of.
Even before we got married, the press loved her. She was photographed at games, at any event she went to with me… Hell, they even photographed us out on the street for no reason at all. Her clothes, her hair, the ring I slid on her finger… It was all fair game.
And now they were constantly looking for something else.
What all the damn magazines so “affectionately” called the baby bump.
Seemed our marriage, my winning season, and the fact we were building a house with a gate was a clear indication that soon, she would have a little football player in her belly.
While I rather liked the idea, it wasn’t exactly accurate.
The press didn’t care about accuracy, though. They only wanted to sell their rags off grocery store shelves.
Rags = gossip magazines.
Rim with my baby growing inside her was quite the hot sell. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t pregnant, that we never even said we were
to get pregnant.
The Knights quarterback baby watch was officially underway. All the hoodies and coats Rim wore were now just an excuse to hide her growing bump.
My wife being followed and stared at, constantly photographed, pissed me off.
It made her anxious. The attention wasn’t welcome, and as good as she was about dealing with it all, I knew she was growing weary and fearful.
It’s true my little niece, Nova, had been the reason we put the family compound on the fast track, but even if she hadn’t come along, I’d still be hitting the gas on the house.
Rim needed somewhere safe and away from the prying eyes of the public.
Hell, at this point, we all did.
The reporters were like vultures standing outside the box where Rim and Ivy sat for the game. It was colder than a thirty-year-old virgin’s vagina outside, so they couldn’t sit in the stands.
B and I shared a look as we shouldered our way through and slipped through the door. I could tell by the way his dark eyes gleamed and the rigid set of his jaw that he was just as pissy and tired as I was tonight.
The press had been equally aggressive about getting pictures of Nova. And that meant Braeden was basically a walking time bomb.
No one could even look at that little girl with anything other than sheer adoration or he was ready to throw down right there.
And, yes… I admit…
I might have been the same way.
What? She was freaking adorable.
My eyes sought out Rimmel the second the door closed behind us. She was close by, standing beside Ivy and a couple of the other team wives. Ron Gamble was on the other side of the room with what looked like a glass of eggnog in his hand.
Rimmel’s entire body rotated toward me before her eyes even found mine. I smiled, the familiar feel of possession licking through my body like a flame. I fucking loved the way she automatically responded to my presence, as if she were so attuned to me it was second nature.
A smile stole over her features, and some of the irritation I felt was calmed. Even though we stared at one another, our eyes holding a private conversation of their own, my feet didn’t carry me toward her.
Instead, Braeden and I made a beeline for the large gray baby seat near Ivy’s feet. The corner of a thick pink blanket trailed over the side and brushed against the floor.
We crouched at the same time. Braeden gently slid the carrier around and easily pushed up the small canopy pulled over the top. I tucked the blanket back up inside the seat, and we both stared down at the newest addition to our family.
Nova was only three months old, but she pretty much ruled our house. She was sleeping peacefully, her lids closed, hiding the beautiful blue eyes she’d inherited from her mother. There was a pink pacifier in her mouth, and it moved in a steady motion as she sucked at it even as she slept.
On her head was a purple hat with an orange bow on the front. Knight colors. The rest of her tiny body was buried under blankets.
Braeden reached out one finger and caressed her cheek.
“Don’t wake her,” Ivy said, her voice low. “I just got her to sleep.”
Satisfied my niece was all good, I stood and reached for Rim. “Hey, baby.”
“Hey,” she murmured, wrapping her arms around my midsection. “Rough game.”
I grunted. “You ready to go?”
“Definitely.” She pulled back and smiled up at me.
I couldn’t wait to be alone with her. Her hand felt small in mine when I wrapped my palm around hers. I turned, and my steps faltered.
B was standing close by with Ivy folded against his chest. I knew just by the wide stance of his legs, the way he was holding Ivy against him, and the hard look in his eyes that he wasn’t down for any kind of fight with the press.
The dark-colored beanie low on his forehead and slashing over his eyes did nothing to belay the ass-kicking attitude he projected.
“Rim and I will go out first and distract them. Take the baby and get the hell out of here fast,” I told him. The last thing I wanted to do was deal with the press—or make Rim deal—but it was better us than B.
“Thank you,” Ivy mouthed as B released her.
“Thanks, man.” His voice was gruff as he reached for the handle on the baby carrier.
“Anytime,” I said. “See you at the house.”
He straightened, and his eyes went to Rim, a look of regret passing behind his dark gaze as he frowned.
Rimmel pulled away from me to lean up and peck him on the cheek. “I’m fine. I’d rather the press take pics of me than Nova.”
“I feel like I’m throwing you to the wolves.” He turned toward her.
“I like animals.” She teased.
A small smile played on his lips. “Fine. See you at the cabin.”
Rim waved and did a damn good job of looking like she couldn’t care less about the press. I tucked my arm over her shoulders and held her tightly into my side as the four of us headed to the door.
After I nodded and waved to Gamble, we walked out the door. The second we did, flashbulbs started going off and reporters called our names.
I plastered a charming smile to my face and tugged Rim farther into my side. We moved just slightly toward the crowd and turned so the reporters would all be facing us and away from the door.
They were shouting out questions, and I smiled wider. “I hear you all are waiting for a baby announcement.” I teased. A bad taste coated my mouth. Sometimes playing up to the press was such a chore.
But it worked.
Just like I knew, everyone focused on us, giving B and Ivy the perfect opportunity to slip out the door and rush down the hall toward the elevator.
Soon as they were out of sight, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“C’mon.” I leaned down to speak into Rimmel’s ear.
I started forward, but the crowd closed in. Rimmel stumbled at my side, and without thought, I swung her up into my arms.
“What about the baby?” someone yelled.
I ignored them and hurried toward the elevator. One of the reporters tried to get into the car with us when it slid open. I gave them a subtle reminder they weren’t welcome.
Fine. I wasn’t subtle. I told them if they got into the elevator with us, I’d shove the camera up their ass and take a pic of their colon.
Did I mention I was in a pissy mood?
We’d barely made it into the parking lot when several of the reporters came rushing out of the stairwell and trailed behind us.
And so here I was.
Tearing out of the parking lot and onto the main road. Snow was piled up on either side of the white lines, and the freshly fallen flakes still coated the trees.
Some of the more persistent paparazzi got into cars and tailed us.
Didn’t these people ever give it a rest?
“You kind of implied back there we had a baby announcement,” Rimmel observed. Her slim fingers curled around the door handle as she talked.
I thought it was cute the way she braced herself for the driving I was about to do.
Sad thing was she was used to it. This wasn’t the first time we’d been followed by overzealous, nosy gossipmongers.
I cursed. “I was trying to buy B and Ivy some time, but that was clearly the wrong thing to say.”
“Might not have been the best choice,” she said weakly as I took a turn quickly.
I muttered a dark curse. “I’m sorry, baby. I wasn’t thinking straight, and now you’re going to be even more sought after.”
“You’ve had a long night. This isn’t your fault.” Her voice was sure.
The fact she let me off the hook so easily and accepted her fate made me even more disgusted. I glanced in the rearview mirror. We were still being tailed.
Hell if I was going to lead them to the cabin we were all staying at.
We rented a place sort of off the beaten path for a reason.
I made a sharp and sudden left down a side street. The sound of blaring horns made me grimace, but I kept going. I shot down the street and then steered abruptly back out onto the main road and shot through a light that had just turned red.
I glanced at Rim to make sure she was hanging in. She was. My girl was a fucking champ. And then I looked in the rearview.
One car was still trailing us.
It was a little hatchback. The Cat could outrun it for sure, but I wasn’t going to go all
Fast and Furious
out here on Christmas Eve on a main road.