All Jax wants for Christmas is for his favorite people to get along. So when he takes Ava home for the holidays, she vows to finally make peace with his drummer. What she gets instead is a house fire, house arrest, and the kind of dinner none of them will ever forget.
Jax pulls to the curb, and my heart beats so fast my vision goes swimmy at the edges. Oh shit, we’re already at his bandmates’ holiday party and I’m not ready yet.
I turn wide eyes to look at the over-decorated house. Somehow I never pictured Jera’s family as inflatable Santa people.
“This isn’t their place.” Jax tips my chin toward him, the callouses from his frets soothing against my skin. “Ava, I’d rather turn around right now than take you someplace where you won’t be comfortable. Especially not on Christmas Eve. Just say the word and we’ll go back to my condo.” He smiles, the tilt of it all wicked promise though his sky-colored eyes are whisper gentle: my soft place to land, always. “I’ll even Photoshop Justin Bieber’s head onto some pictures of chipmunks, the way you like.”
I laugh in spite of myself. “Okay, as awesome as that sounds, I’m not taking you away from your band family at Christmas.”
“Oh, great! Let’s get going, then.” Jax reaches for the gearshift and my stomach drops out through the floorboards of the car. I stop his hand and my eyes guiltily collide with his knowing ones. I just walked right into that bluff, damn it.
“Okay, you’re right. This was a terrible idea. Why don’t I just drop you off, I’ll go hide in your beautiful condo, and we can meet up after?” My heartbeat is like a rabid butterfly trying to escape my ribcage. Christ, I’m being such a coward right now.
It’s not like I haven’t been living knuckle to knuckle with these people for most of the year. It’s just…that was our concert tour. This is their town.
It’s Jax’s real life, and I haven’t claimed my place in it.
He starts to speak just as I say, “No, screw it. We’re going. We’re going together and it will be fun and festive, so help me God, or I will cut a bitch.”
Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem. Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. As a result, she wrote most of her books with solar power in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, a golf cart in a sandstorm, and a beach in Honduras. Currently, she’s addicted to The Walking Dead, hiking, and Tillamook cheese.