Liquid Silver Books presents Spotlight on The Holiday Surprise
We asked six LSB authors to write an original, 5 part story about a holiday surprise. Authors Anneka Ever, Olivia Night, Kristine Bria, Vicky Burkholder, Allison B. Hanson, and Errin Stevens are pleased to bring you 6 holiday short stories to warm you heart and get you in the holiday spirit.
Enjoy Part 1 of each story is below and come back during the day for parts 2 through 5 in the comments.
DRUMMER BOY – Part 1
Lea Eisig peered at the cookies through the oven window. Well, they sort of look like the ones in the book. Her experience in baking cookies was limited. Usually she grabbed a roll of slice-and-bake dough at the grocery store and threw a few hunks on a non-stick pan. Truth be told, sometimes she just grabbed a spoon and ate the raw dough straight from the end of the plastic sleeve, warnings be darned.
Baking cookies from scratch was a whole new experience. The last hour had been a hair-raising adventure in measuring, sifting, and mixing. She was covered in flour and somehow had gotten orange marmalade in her hair. On the plus side, I smell good. She looked at the brand new bottles of spices with regret: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. What a waste of money, she thought, knowing she would never use them again.
Her phone buzzed in the living room. As she ran to grab it, she knocked a plastic measuring cup of molasses from the counter. Gooey syrup splattered on the floor.
“Shoot!” She flapped her hand at it and hurried out of the kitchen.
The caller was her boss, Tracy Day, Queen of Home Living. That was literally her title; she had it printed on her business cards. She was founder and CEO of a lifestyle media empire that catered to the handmade is superior crowd. Her legions of fans spent hours – and millions of dollars – trying to emulate Tracy’s projects in cooking, crafting, decorating, and gardening.
Lea was part of the senior-level marketing team, on call twenty-four hours a day. Tracy did call at all hours and expected her employees to drop everything to attend to her. Lea was no exception.
“Good evening, Ms. Day. How can I help you?”
She spent the next ten minutes trying to soothe Tracy’s jitters. They had a huge presentation with some overseas investors. Tracy Day, Queen of Home Living, was going global. At the moment, however, Tracy Day, Queen of Home Living, was going ballistic.
“I mean, can you imagine? Charlotte was actually going to make dessert with that jiggly boxed junk! Well, I fired her on the spot.”
Lea cringed. Poor Charlotte. “I’m sorry to hear that, Ms. Day.”
“I hope I can count on you to bring something that’s worthy of the Tracy Day name.”
“Yes, ma’am. The holiday spice cookies from your second book. Completely from scratch. Organic eggs. Vanilla beans. Locally sourced molasses.” The whole snotty nine yards.
“Excellent. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She hung up without waiting for a response.
Lea tossed the phone on the couch, rubbed her forehead, and took a deep breath. She smelled the bitter scent of burning cookies.
“Oh no! No, no, no!”
Black smoke drifted through the kitchen door. Now she remembered the package of batteries – intended for the smoke alarm – she had shoved in a kitchen drawer. After opening the front door, she hurried into the kitchen and threw open the windows. She ran around the counter and slipped in the molasses. She hit the floor hard, landing on her hands and knees.
Coughing, she crawled toward the oven. Suddenly she felt herself being picked up by a pair of strong hands and tossed across a broad shoulder like a sack of cement. Jolted up and down, all she could say was “Umph!”
A moment later she was dumped on the cold ground outside her house. Before she could get a look at her rescuer, he disappeared back inside. When he returned, he kneeled next to her and said, “Good thing I was home.”
Drummer Boy by Anneka Ever
Part 2 - 7:00 a.m. | Part 3 - 8:30 a.m. | Part 4 - 10:00 a.m. | Part 5 - 11:30 a.m.
Wish Granted – Part 1
Amelia hustled quickly between her car and the entrance to her apartment. She had a love/hate relationship with this time of year. She loved celebrating with her family. The house would be all toasty and warm and would smell like whatever everyone had pitched in to cook for Christmas dinner. She loved the fireplace crackling with tree limbs (and probably some newspaper). And she loved spending time with her family and the people she considered her family. Amelia was lucky. Her best friend Kelly and Kelly’s family always spent Christmas with Amelia’s family.
Kelly and Amelia’s dad’s Jack and Jerry had been best friends growing up and had remained friends. Her dad and Jerry owned a construction company together. They had started from the ground up right after high school graduates, just the two of them. Slowly, over the years their company grew as did their success.
It had practically been preordained that she and Kelly would be best friends. They were born two months apart and grew up three houses from each other. Their mothers had started them on play dates before they could hold their heads up, let alone hold a conversation.
But Amelia also hated this time of year. The freezing temperatures mostly. For some reason if she got cold (which was as easy as going in between her car and her apartment), she could never get warm again. Never. She would come in and bundle up, but hours later her nose was still cold, her toes were still cold and most annoyingly her butt was still cold. Yes, her butt.
However, if Amelia was really being honest with herself, the actual reason she both loved and hated this time of year was mainly Grant Lane. Grant was Kelly’s brother.
As pathetic as it was, Amelia had been in love with him since kindergarten. Even more pathetic she remembered exactly when she fell in love.
22 years ago
She had been out front of their house, riding bikes with Kelly and had totally kicked it. Totally and completely wrecked. Amelia almost went up and over the handlebars, but because she wasn't going all that fast she kind of awkwardly flew forward and then down the right side of the bike. Thankfully, she hadn't had the forethought to be embarrassed at her lack of ability to crash a bike, she was only focused on her scrapes and, soon to be, bruises. Grant, who was ten at the time, had come out of the garage, where he was doing who knows what, and had helped her into the kitchen. He had silently cleaned up all of her scrapes and placed band aids over them. He hadn’t seem bothered by Amelia’s little girl sniffles and hiccoughs. And when he finished fixing her up he gave her a big, handsome smile and kissed the bruise that was forming on her cheek, said “There, all better.” and then helped Amelia off the table. And that was it. She was in love.
When she was a child she loved him as only a child could. She worshipped him like he was a hero. Amelia would follow him around like a shadow and looking back she couldn’t remember a single time he showed annoyance with her, or her puppy dog ways.
So now at twenty- seven Amelia (still hopelessly, pathetically in love with Grant) both hoped that Grant would be there for Christmas and also hoped that he would be out doing whatever superman stuff he did for a living. Protecting annoying, rich chicks, trailing corporate traitors, flying through the air instead of driving and kicking terrorist ass like a ninja- that kind of stuff. Okay, so he actually worked for a high end security firm, but Amelia liked her version better.
Amelia quickly made her way up the stairs to her apartment and she heard her cell beep as she closed and locked her door.
The text was from Kelly.
“Mom says to make double your regular recipe of crab dip for tomorrow.”
Great. That could only mean one thing. Amelia felt the one side of her scale disappear. The hope that Grant would be out saving the world had vanished. Now, excitement, terror and giddiness took its place. Grant loved her crab dip. Shit, shit, shit. Grant was coming to Christmas.
Wish Granted by Olivia Night
Part 2 - 7:30 a.m. | Part 3 – 9:00 a.m. | Part 4 - 10:30 a.m. | Part 5 - 12:00 p.m.
Sneaking Up On Santa – Part 1
With her cashmere camel coat draped over her arm, her scarf carefully tucked in the sleeve so it would be ready on her return to the cold, brisk air of Manhattan, Claudia pulled her rolling carry-on Louis Vuitton suitcase across the tarmac toward the Savannah airport. Inside she looked about for a man in a black suit and tie then headed toward the only person in uniform.
A black-haired trunk of a man in a plaid flannel shirt and jeans cut into her path. “Excuse me,” she said, trying to step around him.
Her name had her stumbling, mentally and physically off balance so she toppled into the lumberjack and dropped her suitcase handle leaving the expensive leather to fall to the tile. “Wha—?”
In one deft turn, he caught her and scooped her suitcase up off the floor. Taking her elbow, he steered her toward the exit. “I hope your flight was smoother than your landing.”
“Should I know you?” Unamused by his joke, Claudia tugged her arm free.
“I’m Ethan,” he stated and strode through the endless cloud of humidity toward a shiny wooden-paneled maroon Jeep Wagoneer. He opened the passenger door and glared at her with emerald eyes ringed by lashes her friends would pay for. His terse lips only served to emphasize the squareness of his jaw.
She forced herself to provide a civil explanation. “I was expecting...”
“What? A chauffeur from a fancy hotel? This ain’t the Ritz, lady.”
Her perfect holiday vacation started on a less than perfect note. “I’m sorry. Okay?”
“Not really,” he muttered as he stowed her suitcase in the back, leaving her to climb in and close her own door.
With her words so rudely deflected, Claudia pretended not to notice him buckle his seatbelt and crank the engine. Instead she began furiously punching at the keyboard on her phone, texting her best friend. Arrived safely...
Claudia screamed and stumbled into the open door. Without releasing her phone, she stuck her head inside the vehicle and barked, “What was that for?”
“Some of us have things to do. Your flight was half an hour late which means I’m already behind schedule.” His left hand gripped the steering wheel, knuckles whitening. “When do you think you’ll be ready to go?”
She crawled in the ancient SUV and answered with a slam of her door. Hello? Isn’t this your job? The bed and breakfast had touted having someone—likely him—at her service for the next five days she had booked at O’Malley House in Moss Point, Georgia.
When Ethan manually rolled down his window, she sniffed the salt air, closed her eyes, and couldn’t help but smile. They exited the highway and crossed "creeks" that were wider than New England rivers, passing long docks from marsh-front homes with small fishing boats tethered to the ends. Rounding a turn, she gasped as they entered a picture perfect version of a small southern town. Massive oak trees canopied the avenue. Victorian homes with wrap around porches sprawled across manicured lawns. Palmettos and palm trees grew in random clusters throughout the medians. A tiny, perfect white wooden church caught her eye then was gone.
She looked ahead and gasped at railings draped in greenery interspersed with bows and magnolias. Matching wreaths hung over the glass of double doors. "It's beautiful," she whispered under her breath.
For the first time since they’d met, Ethan’s tone softened. "It's home. Let's get you inside."
Sneaking Up On Santa by Kristine Bria
Part 2 – 8:00 a.m. | Part 3 – 9:30 a.m. | Part 4 – 11:00 a.m. | Part 5 - 12:30 p.m.
Christmas Lost and Found – Part 1
Holiday music piped through the speakers in the bland room. Even though the guards had put up red and green streamers and a little ceramic tree in the corner where the coffee maker usually sat, there wasn’t much you could do with industrial tan. But none of it mattered to Tess. She didn’t do Christmas. Not for two years, and never again. It was just another day to get through. She pasted a smile on her face and studied the little girl sitting next to her desk.
“Mommy says manners are real important. Mommy says only aminals don’t use manners.”
Tess smiled at the little girl sitting in the too-big chair, her legs swinging as she chattered and clutched a stuffed snowman to her chest. The endearing face with light brown hair separated into two long braids tugged at Tess’ heartstrings. It had been two years since her own little girl had died – along with her husband – victims of a driver full of too much Christmas cheer and snowy roads. Helping this little munchkin had brought the memories rushing back, along with the pain. Tess sighed and clicked the general announcement button on the PA system.
As a security guard for the Columbia Mall, she often helped lost children, but none pulled at her as this little girl in her snowflake patterned sweater and white leggings did. Tess made the announcement and sat back to wait. Technically, she was off-duty, her shift having ended ten minutes ago, but she wanted to stick around and make sure the little girl got safely hooked back up with her parents. As she waited, a pang of pain twined through her. This time of year, she should be happy, right? Celebrating. Enjoying the season. But all she felt was sadness. She’d have preferred to take the entire season off, but that wasn’t an option. Instead, she often worked extra hours, giving those who actually had families time to be with theirs.
“You’re mommy sounds like a very smart person,” Tess said. Yeah, smart enough to let a little one like this out of her sight, especially this time of year. Didn’t the woman know what could happen to kids these days?
“Oh, she is!” The little girl went back to the coloring book and crayons Tess had dug out of her desk drawer. “Mommy is pretty too. Like you.”
Tess bit back a snort. Yeah, she looked real pretty in her black pants and gray uniform shirt, practical shoes made for walking the mall beat all day long and shoulder-length hair pulled back in a tight knot. Real pretty. She glanced up as a tall, frantic, incredibly good-looking man in jeans and off-white fisherman’s sweater burst into the security office.
“Daddy!” The little girl jumped from the chair and launched herself into the man’s arms.
Tess thought she wouldn’t mind doing the same thing. Where the devil had that idea come from? She hadn’t looked seriously at a man in two years – not from lack of trying on the part of her friends. She just hadn’t found anyone that sparked her interest – until now. This guy, though, had definite possibilities. A head taller than her 5’5” frame, well-built, tanned, dark hair that fell over his brow and the most amazing green eyes she’d ever seen. Shame he was married.
Christmas Lost and Found by Vicky Burkholder
Part 2 – 1:00 p.m. | Part 3 – 2:30 p.m. | Part 4 – 4:00 p.m. | Part 5 - 5:30 p.m.
Home for the Holidays – Part 1
She sat on the pull-out bed and looked around her father’s den. Being home for the holidays after four years should have been a great thing. But here she was, staying in the room where her heart had been shattered the last time she was there.
This time it would be different. Kayla didn’t need to worry about her brother, Ryan, showing up with his business partner and best friend. She was going to have a Liam-free Christmas with her family. If only she could block out the memories of what the two of them had done in this lumpy bed years ago.
It had been the Christmas after she’d graduated from college. Liam and her brother Ryan had just opened a landscaping business. Up until then, she had been happy to flirt with Liam. He’d occasionally put his hand on her back in passing, but nothing more.
She didn’t know why he was so different. Having four older brothers meant her home was always filled with guys. But she’d always treated those guys as extensions of her brothers. Not Liam.
From the moment he’d stepped in their house with those sad, dark eyes and messy blond hair, she knew she’d never think of him as a brother.
She’d never expected him to feel anything for her. She’d been wrong.
“Do you have everything you need?” her mother asked as she stepped into the room. Her father’s den was a well-stocked man cave. Complete with its own refrigerator and bathroom. Located above the attached garage, it offered privacy as well as access to the house without having to put on a coat.
“It’s great. It looks the way I remembered.” The same sports memorabilia hung on the walls. “The TV might be bigger.”
Her mother nodded and patted her shoulder.
“Josh and his family will be here soon.”
“When is Ryan getting here?”
“He said he and Liam would get here tonight. But I don’t expect them until tomorrow afternoon.”
Kayla could feel her eyes go wide as her mouth fell open.
“Liam is coming? You said he couldn’t make it this year.”
“He had plans to go to skiing, but they fell through at the last minute. I told him we had room so he’s coming.” Her mother tilted her head to the side. “What’s wrong? You don’t like Liam all of the sudden? I thought you liked him.”
She did like him. Too much. More than he liked her apparently. After he’d come knocking on her door that Christmas Eve four years ago, she’d shown him exactly how much she liked him.
It had been perfect. Only the lumpy pull-out had kept it from being magical.
But the next morning she’d woken up alone. And at the breakfast table on Christmas morning, he’d acted as if nothing had happened between them.
She hadn’t come home for Christmas since because every year Liam had been visiting. The only reason she’d given in to her mother’s pleading this year was because she’d been assured Liam wasn’t coming.
Now she was going to have to see him.
“It will be so nice to have the whole family together for Christmas again,” her mother said, spreading on an extra layer of guilt.
“It’s going to be great, Mom.”
Home for the Holidays by Allison B. Hanson
Part 2 – 1:30 p.m. | Part 3 – 3:00 p.m. | Part 4 – 4:30 p.m. | Part 5 – 6:00 p.m.
Beach-Bound – Part 1
He knew where he was before he opened his eyes.
First he heard the surf, the rhythmic rush and crash of waves hitting the shore perhaps ten yards from where he lay. The fresh sea air tickled his nose and awakened him further. When he shifted, sugar sand cascaded from his hair, brushing his face as it fell to the ground beneath his cheek.
His eyelids lifted to reveal a weak December sun whose light barely penetrated the gray carpet of clouds covering what appeared to be his own private beach. Diffused and dim, the sky was still too bright for early morning; he guessed the time to be maybe ten? Perhaps closer to noon.
What was he doing here? His mind was clear, his perceptions crisp… but he could not recall the events leading to his current circumstances. He drilled his memory, encountering only blackness until a single image surfaced like the too-brief revelation of a dark landscape by a flash of lightning. A party in someone’s backyard… no, on the beach, at night. There was a fire and laughing; and strange, beautiful women drifted around him and several other guys, everyone a stranger. The women were extraordinary – their eyes, their skin, their hair – every feature, every movement fascinated him. He and the other men examined them hungrily, riveted. He felt like a predator hunting the one he would choose… but then maybe he and the others were prey, there for one of them to select. His mind shuttered and the picture disappeared.
He decided to work his situation backwards instead, to search for tangibles in what he could see and understand at the moment. He was on his back with his face turned toward the ocean, and he was blanketed under an enormous pile of seaweed. Which he supposed he appreciated since he would otherwise be dead from hypothermia. He started to disentangle his arms, and then quickly tucked them back into his body for warmth, and because he apparently needed to make a stronger inventory before he acted as he didn’t seem to be wearing anything underneath all this kelp. This was a significant problem he wasn’t sure he could solve – it felt like it might actually snow – and he peered up the beach. He had an insubstantial memory of parking his car in a lot possibly located just to the north. He calculated the time it would take him to traverse the half-mile stretch and immediately abandoned the idea. He wasn’t sure the lot was even there, and in any case, he’d never make it in this cold.
He lifted his head as high as the weight of his cocoon allowed and noticed markings in the sand next to him. Someone had left him a note.
Seth - Go to the house over the berm.
An arrow pointed behind him and he followed it to see where it indicated. He glimpsed the roofline of a simple, heretofore unnoticed shack, a brown-shake Cape Cod perched on the otherwise bleak landscape, not too far from where he was. Seth fought his way out of his nest and sprinted to the cottage.
Beach Bound by Errin Stevens
Part 2 – 2:00 p.m. | Part 3 – 3:30 p.m. | Part 4 – 5:00 p.m. | Part 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Thank you for joining the authors of Liquid Silver Books
for a week of fun on Romance Lives Forever!
Baby it's cold outside! Heat up your holiday with hot spicy romance novels. Go ahead, be naughty ... save Santa the effort!
Liquid Silver Books…Find us at: