Needing A Little Christmas – First Chapter
Dec 14, 2012 Filed under: book release, contemporary, excerpts, holiday, m/m
Let Needing a Little Christmas put you in the Christmas spirit!
“What do mean you’re not going to be with Dave’s family for Christmas? Why?”
I pulled the phone away from my ear. I’d known my mother would be upset, but her reaction was even more vehement and loud than I expected. “Apparently one of the junior partners at his firm isn’t nearly as boring as I am. They’ve been having an affair for months.”
My mother made a sound of disgust. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry, and you are not boring.”
“Sure, I know, but Dave thinks I am.” And honestly, I thought he was probably right. I preferred to stay at home rather than go out. I spent most days in sweats and T-shirts. When Dave did drag me to a party with his socialite friends, I inevitably embarrassed him with my lack of knowledge of current affairs. I’d taken to hiding out in the bathroom writing notes for my next book on my phone. He’d even attempted to coach me in the art of party conversation. I’d used his lessons in a book but ignored them as they applied to me. The book had done well; readers found the lessons hilarious.
When Dave suggested I was not only an uninteresting social companion but boring in bed as well, I’d taken that seriously. I might prefer a quiet lifestyle, but I knew how to please a partner sexually. After pondering what I could do to shock him, I’d gotten my nipples pierced, something I’d secretly wanted to do for years. He’d laughed. I should have broken up with him that night. We’d only had sex a few times after that, and each time, Dave raced to completion, showered off the scent of me, and promptly fell asleep.
I heard my mother’s heels click against the floor. She must be pacing, something she always did when strategizing. “I’m so sorry, honey. Do you want us to cancel our cruise?”
That was the last thing I wanted. “Of course not. You’ve been looking forward to it for months. I’m fine. Really.”
“Are you sure?”
I held the phone between my shoulder and ear as I poured myself a generous measure of whiskey. “Yeah, things hadn’t been great between me and Dave for a long time.”
She huffed. “That doesn’t give him any excuse to—”
I held up my hand even though she couldn’t see me. “No it doesn’t. He acted like an ass, and I think he knows it. He moved out of his beloved apartment and told me I could keep it.” Not that I could afford it for long unless my next book was a runaway hit.
Mom sighed. “I don’t want you spending Christmas alone.”
After draining my drink, I’d wandered into my bedroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were red from lack of sleep and they looked more hazel than their usual bright green. My curly dark hair stood out at odd angles. The stress of trying to meet the deadline for my book and trying to hold on to a relationship that had died long before I caught Dave fucking his colleague in his office hadn’t been good for my appetite. I’d lost weight and the bones in my face showed prominently. I was definitely not looking my best, but I wanted a few more days to wallow in self-pity.
“I really don’t want to be around anyone right now.”
My mom sighed. “But it’s Christmas.”
I ran my hand through my hair, making it stick out even more. “I’m not in the mood for holiday cheer.”
“Your dad and I can go on a cruise another year.”
“No, arranging this once was difficult enough. Rick and Cindy will want to spend next year with you since they’re with Cindy’s family this year. And Ally’s trip to California is a special one-time deal. This is our gift to you, and I won’t be responsible for screwing it up.”
“You wouldn’t be responsible, Dave would be.”
“I wasn’t exactly looking forward to listening to his family brag about how wonderful they all are. I’ll have a better time alone.” My mom’s pacing stopped, and I realized I’d said the wrong thing.
“Eli, why didn’t you tell us you didn’t want to go home with Dave? We would never have agreed to the cruise if we thought you’d be miserable at Christmas.”
I tried to back pedal. “It would have been fine. I enjoy visiting Boston even if the company leaves something to be desired.”
“Hmm.” My mom didn’t sound convinced. “Maybe we could get you a ticket for the cruise. It might not be full.”
The cruise was supposed to give my parents some uninterrupted time together. And the last thing I wanted was be trapped on a ship with lots of happy, smiling people encouraging me to socialize while my mom fussed over me. “No, thanks. I really, truly would rather be on my own.”
“But what will you do?”
“Stay home and drown my sorrows in Christmas cookies and eggnog.”
She gasped. “Eli, I’m going to see if we can schedule the cruise for another time.”
I rolled my eyes. “Mom. I’m kidding.” A little. “I’m truly not that upset over Dave. More than anything I’m angry I didn’t end it sooner. I’ll enjoy having some quiet writing time.”
“You work too much. At least if you’d gone to visit Dave’s family you would have been forced to get off the computer for several hours a day.”
While being tortured with small talk and the dreaded Christmas play Dave’s family put on every year with Dave playing a wise man who somehow became the star of the show. “I like my work.”
“Still, you shouldn’t be in that apartment for Christmas. There are too many bad memories for you. You need to get away.”
“Mom, I haven’t been in love with Dave for a long time. I’m not going to be lying around pining for him”
I imagined she was weighing what she could and couldn’t say. To help her out, I said, “I know you didn’t like him.”
“He didn’t respect you.”
I ran a hand through my hair. “No, he didn’t. I realize that now.”
“What did you see in him? I mean, he’s lovely to look at, but—”
What had I seen in him? He was older, successful, and interested in me when I would never have expected a man like him to be. I wanted him to want me. He’d lavished me with gifts and had been very attentive initially, if a little bit cold. At first I found his reserve charming. He was a fantasy, and I didn’t want to admit he didn’t really live up to my expectations. “I think I liked the idea of him more than the man himself.”
“Hmpf. You made his life way too easy. The nerve of him to cheat on you after all you did for him.”
Mom was right. He’d never taken my work seriously since I could do it from home in my pajamas, and I’d reinforced his thinking by doing the majority of the domestic chores since I was home anyway. No wonder he hadn’t wanted to break up with boring old me. How could I have been such an idiot?
My mom made a little noise of excitement. “I’ve got a great idea.”
My stomach knotted. What crazy scheme had she come up with now? I loved my mom, but once she concocted a plan, getting her to let go of it was next to impossible.
“Linda and Jim are going to visit Rosalind this year so they won’t be using their cabin. Let me call Linda and see if you can use it. At least a trip to the mountains would get you out of that awful apartment.” My mother had always found Dave’s apartment spartan and uninteresting, and she had a point.
“Mom, I don’t need to—”
“You need a vacation.”
I wanted to protest further, but my mother’s tone told me it would be useless.
“Think of it as a writing retreat if you must.”
There was no stopping her. If I didn’t give in to this scheme, she would cancel her cruise, and I’d never get over the guilt. And, as much as I hated to admit it, she was right. Getting out of Charlotte for a few days would be good for me, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to go anywhere as remote as Linda and Dave’s cabin that was located in Middle of Nowhere, Madison County. It did have the advantage of being only a few hours away so I wouldn’t have to stay long.
“Fine. If the cabin is free, I’ll use it for a holiday writing retreat.”
My mom sighed. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too.” And I really would. I’d gone home for Christmas every one of my twenty-eight years.
“I’ll give Linda a call and see what I can arrange.”
“Okay, Mom. I love you. Tell Dad I love him too.”
She made kissing sounds into the phone. “I love you too, and so does your dad. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” Angry, embarrassed, and disgusted, but fine.
“You want me to do some damage to him, you just give me the word.”
Her words made me smile as she’d known they would. My mom might be five feet even and girlishly thin, but she was a force to be reckoned with. Dave would not want to tangle with her. “Thanks, Mom.”