WORST HOLIDAY EVER: A FAMILY DRAMA HOLIDAY ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! OK—scratch that. It’s time for another obligatory family gathering. And nothing spices up the egg nog like bringing your partner home. Surely your belligerent brother-in law, your gimlet-eyed granny and your drunken uncle will keep it classy. With forced proximity and alcoholic beverages, what could possibly go wrong?
The Worst Holiday Ever series shares stories of love and holiday survival among couples from varied backgrounds. Straight couples, gay couples, inter-racial and inter-species couples…this collection has it all. Bringing your black girlfriend to your WASPy family's Thanksgiving dinner? Having your wife find out you’re an angel when your super-natural nemesis crashes Christmas? Ex-con cousins breaking bread with the cop in the family? It’s hard to beat that kind of drama.
Worst Holiday Ever delivers hilarious, heartwarming and sometimes sexy stories from nine award-winning authors. So, go ahead—take a break from your own crazy family and cozy up to the fire. You’re gonna need a drink for this.
Stories and Authors
Decked Out by Eva Moore | A Perfect Fit by Adrienne Bell | Crazy Old Money by Kilby Blades | Stealing Christmas by Kari Lemor | Touched by Fate by Preslaysa Williams | Ringing in the Reefer by Marie Booth | The Thanksgiving Parade From Hell by R.L. Merrill | Thankful in Perdition by Erin St. Charles | Feliz Chanukah! by Meg Bellamy
Excerpt FROM “CRAZY OLD MONEY” by KILBY BLADES
“You’re cute when you’re nervous.”
Jada’s lips set in amusement as her gaze shifted from Marsh to the scenery. Autumn must have been mild for all the russet and gamboge leaves that still clung to the trees. The sky had the look of snow, but forecasts had insisted it would hold off another day. Dry roads and mild November temperatures should have found them speeding up the Taconic Parkway.
“I’m not nervous.” Marsh’s smooth baritone held a calm she’d believed in when they’d first started dating. Marsh was the kind of man who could raise hell without ever raising his voice. Quiet control was his gambit, made more believable by his natural confidence. But she’d seen his game and knew every one of his tells.
“Oh, yeah?” Her sly gaze slid back to his face. “Then why are we doing forty in a fifty-five?”
“I like to obey traffic laws.” His slow, cheeky smile copped to the ridiculousness of the lie.
“Do you also like blood flow in your extremities?” Jada jutted her chin toward the grip that white-knuckled the steering wheel, eyeing the speedometer again as she did. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him take an A7 under sixty-five.
They had passed the point in their relationship that merited an out-loud answer to every question. Entire conversations were had with the slightest quirk of a lip, the precision of a gaze or the clever maneuver of a brow. And so should it have been for a couple who had been together for four years. The look he gave her then relented, admitting with the clarity of a church bell: “You caught me. I’m totally freaking out.”
“Baby…these are your blood relatives, not a pit of vipers. Besides, you know I can hold my own.”
Marsh did know that. Hell, everyone knew better than to go up against Jada Jones, titan of industry and one of the most successful venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road. Marsh was among the rare breed who actually meant it when he said that being with a powerful woman was a turn-on. It had happened that first time he’d seen her in her element and again every time since. His eyes smoldered when she put her bossy boots on.
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” he murmured.
“You forget that I’ve met them,” she pointed out. “More than once. A bit non-traditional, maybe…but, babe, they’re really nice.”
“Correction. You’ve met my parents. The ones who rebelled. The ones who got out of the family.”
“You make it sound like the mafia. You do realize that your family owns textile mills and isn’t an old country crime syndicate, right?”
Marsh didn’t share her humor. “My parents aren’t as bad as the others. They’re on the lovable end of the crackpot spectrum.”
“So it’s a spectrum, huh? What’s on the opposite end?”
He took his eyes off of the road long enough to blink over at her.
“Please. The Bay Area is crackpot central. If I had a dollar for every chem-trails conspiracy theorist I had to dodge at Berkeley Bowl…” Jada shook her head.
His responding smile looked forced. For the better part of a day, she’d sensed his anxiety around returning home. Marsh never went to Connecticut for the holidays and Jada never asked why. She’d convinced herself that he must have his reasons.
For one, he had never relished the quarterly trips he made from San Francisco to Hartford, solo voyages in service of his position on the Brewster Textiles board. He never said much about it—only that he went out of love and duty to his grandmother, who exalted the value of having a lawyer from the family on the board. All Jada really knew about that part of his life was that his family had run a small but successful business milling wool for the better part of one hundred years, and that his octogenarian grandmother, the CEO, was still going strong.
Jada had been more-than-a-little curious to meet them, not that she’d ever said as much to Marsh. She never wanted to be that girlfriend who applied pressure to be brought into the family fold. The truth was, she’d been brought in already. The only family Marsh saw socially were his parents. They’d had some good times together over the years whenever his mom and dad had paid their separate visits to the bay.
“Do we need to review again?” he asked.
Jada rolled her eyes. She’d barely slept on the plane for Marsh’s words of warning: half-primer, half-cautionary tale. The cast of characters she’d heard about only in snippets over the years were described to her in color. But they were the kinds of things she might have expected: what family didn’t have a religious zealot? A jackass who became a loud mouth when he drank too much? A grandmother who said whatever the hell she wanted?
Then there was the other thing she expected—the thing that Marsh didn’t have to say because they both understood: she was the black girlfriend coming home to meet the WASPy family. In the spirit of not bringing up ex-boyfriends, Jada hadn’t mentioned how much bad behavior she’d dealt with over the years. She could write a dissertation on people who had too much class to be overtly rude but too little class to mask their disapproval.
“I passed your test, babe. Twice. Talk loud with Uncle Peter—he’s loads of fun but hard of hearing. Don’t take the bait when your cousin Jason wants to talk gun control. Keep your mom’s new girlfriend away from your dad. And always let Maw Maw be right.”
But her answer didn’t appease him. If anything, Marsh seemed more on edge. Even his chiseled quad muscle that her hand rested upon seemed more-rock-hard-than-usual through his fitted slacks.
“Just…don’t let anything anyone says offend you.”
She moved her hand from his leg to stroke the back of his neck. “Baby. Don’t worry about me. I think I can handle one dinner with your family.”
Jada is in no way prepared to handle dinner with my entire family.
Driving up the Taconic, the thought slapped Marsh like a spiteful hand. For years, he had avoided telling Jada the whole truth. Keeping secrets about the money meant keeping secrets about the business. And for the Brewsters, business and family were the same.
Marsh would have told her everything in his own time, but Maw Maw had summoned him home urgently, ruining his plans for a romantic Thanksgiving getaway in Whistler. Supremely romantic, actually. It was the weekend Marsh had planned to propose. It had taken him all day Monday to rework the trip when he’d received the insistent call from Maw Maw. Thursday to Monday in British Columbia would become Friday to Monday in Vermont. It was less important, the location of their winter wonderland than the single circumstance that would add to the magic: Jada absolutely loved snow.
But first, they had to endure a situation he’d been careful to avoid. It was only a day, but still… He loved his family, but opting out of holidays was a logical response for someone who didn’t fit in.
Jada was anything but stupid. It went without saying that bringing his girlfriend home to his very white, very New England, very old money family would be met with shenanigans that summed up everything he’d tried to escape. Marsh had worked so hard to create a distinction between the way he lived now and the way he was raised that he’d never completely revealed to Jada what his family was like and how much money they really had…