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Authors: Lindy Dale

Tags: #humorous romance, #funny romance, #holiday short story, #christmas short story, #romantic comedy novella

Mistletoe & Bastards

BOOK: Mistletoe & Bastards
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Mistletoe
& Bastards
A Christmas
Novella

Lindy Dale

© Secret Creek
Press 2014

 

 

 

 

~1~

If there’s one
thing that drives me to drink about Christmas, it’s over the top
friends who believe the entire world should feel the way they do in
regards to the festive season. And right at that moment three of
them were sitting across the table, doing their best to make me gag
into my lunch.

“Five sleeps
till Christmas,” Kirby chirruped, her blonde waves bouncing with
enthusiasm as she addressed us. “Are we, like, getting together or
what?”

I stared at my
ditzy friend, feeling my body sag in despair at the very thought of
having to sit and play nice over a Christmas-themed tablecloth. I
was sure we’d put a veto on mentioning the C word in my presence.
Had she forgotten?

“Time’s running
out,” Kirby continued, “and I
sooo
want to do that Secret
Santa thing. Plus, I have a totally cute Christmas dress to wear.
It has jingle bells sewn around the hem. It’s, like, red— of course
— with fur trim on the collar.”

Fur? In summer?
I groaned inwardly. Honestly, when Kirby started gushing over ‘cute
this’ and ‘divine that,’ I questioned our friendship — especially
if said gushing occurred in the same sentence as ‘themed apparel’.
Sane people didn’t do Christmas wear in public unless it was hidden
away as underwear and even that was stretching the friendship. Yes,
I could cope with the odd tree shaped brooch or some ridiculous
light-up Santa-shaped earrings but a whole outfit with bells?

Give me
strength.

Kirby looked
questioningly across the table at me. “Mel?”

I took a long
slow sip of my coffee and tried to temper the words that were about
to fall from my mouth. Kirby was such a darling — despite making me
mental most of the time — I couldn’t hurt her feelings. Not about
this anyway. Her opinion on most other things was always open to
being put right. Especially when she spoke about
One
Direction
or
5 Seconds of Summer
. We weren’t exactly
teenagers.

“Do we have
to?” I asked. “I’d be just as happy with a bottle of red and some
nibbles. It’ll still be a catch-up. Secret Santa is for
children.”

Kirby put down
her double decaf frappuccino. Her eyes grew so big I thought her
eyelash extensions might pop off. Across the table, Sasha and
Millie appeared equally flabbergasted. Sasha had stopped mid-bite
of her sandwich and was looking at me like I’d declared I was going
to streak down Hay Street if the Western Force didn’t win the Super
15 next year and Millie was shaking her head and tutting. These
were my friends, and they all loved Christmas. To say one didn’t
wish to be involved in the hoo-ha was tantamount to treason.
Especially where Kirby was concerned. Next to shopping and knowing
the brand name of every piece of clothing on the planet, Christmas
was Kirby’s favourite hobby — if a holiday could be classed as a
hobby. She had an entire shelf in her linen cupboard filled with
decorations that only appeared once a year. Mine, conversely, was
filled with wine. And that got used on a daily basis, especially
when people started talking about Christmas.

“Honestly,
you’re such a Grinch, Mel. We can do drinks and nibbles any time.
We, like, do it every Friday as it is.” Kirby pouted. “Just because
you don’t like Christmas doesn’t mean we, like, have to suffer. And
Millie can’t go plonking on now she’s pregnant. We, totally, have
to make this special for her, too. It’s her last Christmas as a
childless person.”

She made it
sound like Millie was about to become homeless or something. Which
in turn made me feel like a bitch, an unusual occurrence, given I
felt little about anybody or anything.

I gave a
sidelong glance to Millie. There was no way she’d think Secret
Santa was special, would she? Out of all of us, Millie was the one
who understood me best, despite our rather rocky start at
friendship. She got that I didn’t like to have my personal space
invaded, that I couldn’t suffer fools at the best of times. Millie
was the only person able to make me see reason when I wanted to go
on a rant about the injustice of one thing or another. She’d have
to get why I didn’t go in for this Christmas carry on.

“What do you
think, Mil?” I asked.

“I think it’ll
be fun. Everyone can come to ours. I’ll cook a traditional dinner.
In my new oven. In my new house. With my gorgeous husband.” Millie
puffed out her chest proudly. It seemed the nesting bug had invaded
my one possible ally. Next she’d be suggesting we wear reindeer
jumpers in the middle of summer heat so we could co-ordinate with
Kirby’s outfit.

I should have
known better than to ask, of course. Millie had been behaving oddly
ever since she got back from her wedding in Bali. Her burbling and
cooing was most uncharacteristic, not to mention nauseating. I’d
put it down to the insane rush of hormones that must have overrun
her body now she was pregnant with twins. It couldn’t be that
Millie had joined the dark side. Hopefully, after the babies were
born in eight weeks time she’d return to her sensible, sane self.
The one I knew probably thought Secret Santa was a silly idea, too.
But for now, I guessed I’d have to suck it up.

“But it’s such
a lot of effort and the boys won’t appreciate it anyway,” I said.
Which was code for ‘your cooking sucks’. Millie had serious issues
with cooking.

“But I want to
do it. It’ll be a chance for me to try out my grandma’s pudding
recipe.”

“I bet it’s one
those ones where the fruit’s drowning in alcohol.” Sasha gave a
little sigh. “All the old time recipes are like that. You could get
pissed just eating dessert.”


Oohhh
.
I, like, totally adore Christmas pudding,” Kirby said. “Do you do
brandy custard?”

Millie
nodded.

Were they
listening to themselves? Firstly, Millie couldn’t have pudding
laced with booze, being pregnant and everything, and secondly, she
couldn’t cook to save herself. “Ah, steaming chicken and vegetables
for three children doesn’t exactly prepare you for preparation of a
full on Christmas feast, Mil. Besides, I’m positive you have to
soak the fruit for weeks beforehand. What about if I donate one of
those yummy homemade ones from Fresh Prov?”

“But I want to
do something for everyone.” Millie gave a blasé wave of her hand.
“It’ll be fine. How hard can a pudding be?”

That was like
asking how long a piece of tinsel was.

“Do it then, if
you really want to but it’s a big ask, especially when the boys eat
like a famine’s about to be announced. It means you’ll effectively
be making food for twenty, not six or eight. Have you ever even
cooked a turkey?”

Millie appeared
affronted. “I most certainly have! Well, I sort of have. I’ve
watched Mum and I know how to make stuffing. And I can do gravy
from the packet. It’s easy.”

Let’s hope we
weren’t going to have a dinner of stuffing, gravy and bread rolls.
I wondered if I should have a caterer on standby, just in case. It
wasn’t wise to leave the menfolk without food for too long. Not
when red wine was involved. And if Millie was cooking, the odds of
the feast being ready prior to New Year’s Eve were slim. Sam would
have been better off buying her a chef, not a house.

“I can go food
shopping with you,” Sasha said. “We don’t want you lifting too many
heavy things in your condition.”

“And I can do
the decorations and the table and everything,” Kirby added. “I need
the practise for the business. Who knows when wedding planning
might, like, totally morph into me being the event co-ordinator of
the year?” She expelled an excited giggle.

“Thanks Kirbs,”
Millie replied, “Just as an aside I will be paying you this time.
You did enough at the wedding without payment. If you want your
business to be a success you have to start charging.”

At least,
Millie hadn’t lost all her senses. Kirby did need the money. Her
severance package from David Jones wouldn’t last forever.

“Can I do
whatever theme I, like, want then?” Kirby asked. “‘Cause I have
this totally awesome idea that I saw on
Kirstie’s Handmade
Christmas
.”

Sasha
straightened, putting her coffee cup back in its saucer. Her eyes
began to sparkle like it already was Christmas. “Was that the
episode with the mince pies and the jewel-encrusted Christmas
crackers?”

“No, the card
episode.”

“Oh yes, yes.”
Millie gushed. “I loved those invites, not that we have time for
them or the cake, I’ll just send out a text to everyone. But the
tree…I haven’t done a tree yet. We could do that! And those cute
decorations Kirstie did.”

“It’ll be
glorious.”

“Like, totally
magical. I have the picture in my head already. Have you considered
like, fake snow? A snow machine?”

Baffled. That
was the only word to describe my feelings at what I was hearing
from my three best friends. Baffled. When had they turned into
women who watched inane TV shows about making stuff? When did they
even have time for that?

I had to put a
stop to this before we became the laughing stock of, well, the
entire world. “Stop. Stop Now.”

There was
silence.

“Listen to
yourselves. You can’t be fucking serious.”

Yes, I know I
was sounding more and more like a party pooper but, honestly, it
was bad enough they were making me do Christmas. Did I have to
suffer talk about craft as well? And snow machines?

“Have you
forgotten that there’s a perfectly good Christmas shop in David
Jones which has perfectly acceptable Christmas items? Jesus, Kirby.
It’s twenty metres from where you used to work!”

“I love the
handmade touch. And I totally have the time.” Kirby exclaimed.
“It’ll be, like, awesome fun!”

“As would
helping Millie pick out crystal snowdrops from David Jones.
Tasteful, classy snowdrops.”

Three sets of
eyes turned in my direction, their glares giving me the impression
that the only thing they’d be doing with crystal Christmas
ornaments would involve my chest and a couple of stabbing
motions.

Shit. Even I
knew when it was time to back down and being confronted by a
pregnant woman, a girl who’d almost stabbed her husband with a BBQ
fork and one who looked more innocent than Barbie but clearly
wasn’t, was definitely that time. I held up my hands in defeat.

“Okay. Okay. So
when’s this fabulous night going to be then?”

“Friday’s good
for me,” Sasha replied, her face breaking into a grin.

“Me too,” said
Millie. “That gives me a few days to get the food organised. It can
be a practise for Christmas day. We’re having the family over.”

Kirby nodded.
“I’ll, like, email everyone about who to buy their Secret Santa
gift for. I can draw them out of a hat. And I’ll get started on the
decorations, like, straight away. Is Thursday okay for the set up,
Millie? I’m free in the afternoon. Ohmigod, this is like going to
be so much fun—”

About as much
fun as having Womble trying to shag you. Though at this point,
sleeping with Womble was a more favourable option than attending a
Christmas party with homemade touches.

“—Shall we say
fifty for the gift?”

“Let’s make it
a hundred,” Millie said.

“A hundred!” I
spluttered. Now, they were being insane. “What happens if I get
Womble as my recipient? I can’t spend a hundred dollars on him.
He’s an imbecile. He’d think I was trying to get into his pants.
You know how obsessed he becomes if he gets any form of positive
attention.”

“Hmm. I could
rig it so Millie gets him, I s’pose. She’s married now. He can’t
think she’s after him now she has Sam.” Kirby whipped out her
Smartphone and made a note for herself.

“I wouldn’t put
it past him.”

“Speaking of
lowlife, we’re not inviting that slut Courtney, are we?” Sasha
asked. “Because I’m not having her ruining my Christmas.”

The entire
table groaned.

The
Sasha-slash-Courtney-slash-Simmo love triangle saga had begun to
wear thin. While I loved Sasha and absolutely supported her in the
divorce — mostly because Alan was an utter knob and Courtney
was
a slut — I was getting a little tired of having it
brought up in every conversation.

Kirby packed
her Smartphone in her handbag, turning to Sasha. “You know Courtney
will, like, totally show up whether we invite her or not.”

“And it is
Christmas,” Millie justified.

“And if we
invite her she might, like, keep Simmo away from you.”

Sasha bit the
corner of her lip. “I guess. He has been rather annoying since the
divorce papers were served. He won’t be able to beg for mercy if
she’s clinging to him like a limpet.”

BOOK: Mistletoe & Bastards
7.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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