Some of you know my friend and fellow moderator Becke Davis, she's multitalented she moderates the B&N Garden and Mystery book clubs, runs a number of her own blogs and is a published author although she'd like to see herself published in the genre of romance that hasn't happened yet, but be on the lookout because one of these days very soon some one will notice and appreciate this talented woman and then my To Be Read Pile will explode because any and everything she writes will be on my shelves.
“Triple Trouble on Christmas Eve”
By Becke Davis
“It was Mom’s last wish,” Holly said, her cheeks flushed from her second martini. “We had to honor it.”
“And look where it got us. It’s Christmas Eve and not one of us has a date.” Noelle’s laugh was strained. Eleven o’clock and no Kris. She’d really thought he’d be here tonight. “You’re such a pleaser, Holly. It’s ridiculous, anyway.”
“Ridiculous or not, we promised Mom.” Merrie closed the cash register drawer a little harder than necessary and wiped her hands on the Rudolph apron. The flashing red nose was making Noelle see spots in front of her eyes, or maybe it was a side effect of her martini. “And don’t blame Holly—middle children are always pleasers.”
Noelle snorted. “You don’t believe that crap, do you?”
Holly tilted her head, every thought clear on her face. “I don’t think it is crap. Look at Merrie—she’s the oldest, and she’s always been the leader, the organized, responsible sister. And you, Noelle…” She blushed and let the sentence trail away. That was Holly, innocent as the day she was born and always worried about hurting someone’s feelings.
“Don’t mince words, Hol. We all know I’m the screw-up.” Noelle snorted. “Been there, done that, read the article in Cosmo.”
“It also said youngest children have a good sense of humor.” Peacemaker Holly was quick to try and mollify her baby sister. “And that they’re creative.”
She’d have to be damn creative if she wanted to avoid bankruptcy. Noelle studied her drink as if she could read her fortune in it. Not that she’d ever heard of anyone seeing the future in a martini, even if it was Merrie’s holiday special Triple Espresso Chocolate Martini.
“It also said youngest children bore easily, like to be pampered, take stupid risks and are financially irresponsible.” Noelle bit into the stick of Cadbury’s Flake decorating her drink and choked it down. “Which is why I had to hit up you two for a loan.”
Unlike her, Noelle’s sisters were financially stable. Merrie ran the bar and Holly did the books, when she wasn’t busy with her start-up computer business.
Merrie unwrapped another chocolate Flake and passed it over. “It’s not a loan; it’s an investment. Serendipity needs a book store—I still think it’s a great idea.”
“I assumed it would take time to make a profit,” Noelle frowned. “Just not this long.”
There was a moment of silence broken only by the sound of chocolate wrappers being torn away.
“This is a no-guilt garnish,” Merrie reminded her sisters. “The Flake bars soak up the alcohol, so the calories don’t count.”
“So, back to Mom’s last wish,” Holly said brightly, brushing away crumbs of chocolate. She stopped abruptly. “Oh shit, there he is.”
Noelle swiveled around to see who had just come into the bar. ‘Oh shit’ was right on target. She turned to Holly, trying to sound nonchalant. “I didn’t realize you knew Kris Wild.”
Noelle’s stomach started to hurt as Holly’s feelings once again shone in her eyes. Shit shit shit. That magazine article also mentioned youngest children were competitive, but how could Noelle compete with her own sister, whose obvious crush on the jerk had left her tongue-tied and speechless? Her mood lightened instantly as her sister gave Kris’s friend a shy smile.
“Hi Nick,” she stuttered. “I didn’t expect to see you here.” Holly’s face turned as red as the Santa hat she wore when Kris’s friend sauntered over and brushed his lips against her cheek.
“You said you’d be working with your sister on Christmas Eve,” said Nick, who seemed oblivious to the presence of anyone besides Holly. “After hearing so much about your family’s bar, I wanted to check it out.”
“I’ll show you around.” Holly took Nick’s hand and led him away, giggling at something he said.
Interesting. Being secretive was another middle child trait, if Noelle remembered right, and Holly had definitely been keeping Mr. Blue Eyes-and-Dimples under her hat.
Noelle’s eyes narrowed. Holly had been badly hurt by her college boyfriend, and it had taken years for her to rebuild her confidence. If this dude was playing her sister, she’d have to inflict some pain on him.
A hand clamped on her shoulder as she rose to go after them. “Whoa there, Kimosabe—we come in peace.”
“Sorry?” Distracted, Noelle looked up and was momentarily blinded by the heat in Kris’s dark blue eyes. It was a family trait, this weakness for blue eyes. She and her sisters, brown-eyed brunettes, lost all reason when guys flashed their baby blues.
Kris leaned closer. “I keep thinking about last night.”
Noelle’s brain turned to mush at the images Kris’s words brought to mind. A flush crept up his neck, making her knees go weak because she knew what caused it. Just like her, Kris was remembering what they’d done in his bed last night. And on his kitchen table. And on the hall floor. His unrestrained talent for invention was one of the things she loved best about him.
Okay, so maybe ‘invention’ was the wrong word. Certainly in the course of history, lovers had done those things before. But not Noelle. And not with Kris.
Love. Unless her sisters both magically fell in love tonight, her relationship with Kris was a pointless exercise. All because of their mother’s last request, made while she was under the influence of heavy pain killers. Mom had been nearly crushed when a truck driver lost control of a load of beer kegs he’d been delivering to the bar last St. Patrick’s Day. Holly and Merrie had seen it happen and rode along in the ambulance. Noelle didn’t get the news until Mom was in surgery. There wasn’t much the doctors could do.
Noelle hated remembering that day. Mom’s final words weighed heavily on all of them, but they felt bound by her last wish. Mom had made it sound almost like a prediction.
“My girls,” she’d whispered, as if it hurt to talk. “You three are so special. Your father and I tried so long to conceive, we’d about given up when you came along. People thought we used fertility drugs, but we couldn’t afford to go to a specialist. When you were born on Christmas Eve, it was a miracle.”
They’d heard the story a million times. All three of them were sobbing by then, knowing it was the last time they’d hear it from their mother’s lips.
“Our family has been blessed, even though it may not always feel that way.” Mom held up her hand weakly, and all three of them reached for it together. Their mother was too weak for a family hug, so they poured all their feelings into the tangle of hands.
“I want you to promise me something.” They were silent, suspecting the end was near. “You’ve had some bad luck with boyfriends, but that’s going to change. Promise me you won’t make any kind of commitment until your sisters are ready to do the same. Christmas Eve isn’t just any birthday, you know. There’s magic in it, and even more magic in threes. Triple trouble—three brothers for three sisters. Try not to give your hearts until then. Midnight…Christmas Eve.”
They’d been crying noisily by then, and there was all kinds of confusion as alarms went off and the room was filled with medical personnel. When Noelle, Holly and Merrie talked about it later, none of them could swear to Mom’s exact words. It sounded like their mother wanted them to hold out for triplets—like that was going to happen. Still, they agreed to avoid serious relationships until Christmas Eve. It wasn’t a hardship, since none of them felt like dating in the months after their mother’s death.
And then Noelle met Kris.
When she added a coffee bar in October as a last ditch effort to bring people into the bookstore, Kris was one of her first customers. She thought the attraction was mutual, but hadn’t been sure until last night. Now they were lovers—or at least they’d had really great sex—and yet she didn’t even know what kind of work he did. Once again, she’d plunged blindly into a relationship. So much for honoring her mom’s wish.
“A penny for them.” Kris had taken Holly’s seat at the bar and was quietly watching Noelle as she toyed with her drink.
“They aren’t worth it.” How long had she been daydreaming, anyway? God, no wonder she couldn’t keep a boyfriend. She watched Kris’s throat move as he drank the Guinness Merrie set before him. Her insides started tingling—even his Adam’s apple turned her on.
Noelle grinned at him, watching her so seriously.“I bet you’re the oldest child.”
Kris’s face lit up with a lopsided grin that sent her nerves haywire. “You’d win that bet. How can you tell?”
“I read a magazine article on birth order traits.” She ticked them off on her fingers. “The oldest child is a natural leader, obeys the rules, is responsible and, uh, a little bossy.”
Kris kicked up the sexy grin a notch. “Smile when you say that, Kimosabe.”
“What’s with the Lone Ranger talk today?” Noelle tried to signal Merrie to bring her another martini, but her sister had disappeared. There was no sign of Holly or Nick, either. Noelle’s heart pounded as she realized she and Kris were alone. Merrie had dimmed the lights when the bar emptied out earlier, and the soft glow made the room almost romantic.
“Nice bar,” Kris said, running his broad hands over the mahogany. “I bet this has been here awhile—it has the patina of age.”
“The bar has been in the family for five generations.” Noelle spoke automatically, her eyes drawn to Kris’s sensual movements. Those same hands had stroked her body with sensitivity and strength, arousing her beyond anything she’d ever felt before. He’d made her completely lose control.
Frankly, it terrified her. Noelle had two older sisters already. She didn’t need another older, responsible person. She felt like a loser already, and, besides, Kris wasn’t really her type. Rebellious guys with shaggy hair and leather jackets were her usual choice, like the long drink of water who set the bells jangling as he threw open the door to the bar.
“Damn, it’s nasty out there. Never have understood the fuss about a white Christmas.” He shook the snow from himself like a wet puppy and smiled broadly.“Thought I’d find you here.”
Noelle blinked, and her jaw might have dropped a bit. Tall, Dark and Dangerous was an erotic dream come to life. But while TD&D gave her libido a happy jolt, there was no real magnetism involved. Nice, but no cigar. While solid, buttoned up, short-haired Kris filled her body with lust and her heart with thoughts of forever.
“Joe—you made it!”
To her surprise, Kris rose from the bar stool and greeted the newcomer like an old friend, throwing his arms around him in an enthusiastic bear hug. Noelle did a double take. Joe had an inch or two on Kris, but now that she saw them together there was a definite resemblance. “Hey! You two are brothers!”
“More than brothers,” Kris said with a wink.
Holly, looking disheveled and freshly kissed, straightened her Santa hat as she and Nick came up from the cellar. “What’s all the racket?”
“You’re here! I was worried you’d be stuck working all night.” Nick rushed over to wrap his arms around Joe. Noelle had never seen guys who hugged like this bunch. “Were the roads okay?”
Merrie came in from the back, brushing snow from her hair. “I just took out the trash, and you wouldn’t believe how it’s coming down.” She stopped dead. “You!”
“Hello, Merrie.” Joe’s jaw clenched. “You went out in this weather without a coat? Are you mad?” He whipped off his leather jacket and put it around Merrie’s shoulders, then held the back of his hand against her cheek. “You’re like ice.” He glanced at their stunned faces. “Don’t just sit there gawking. Bring Merrie one of those drinks you’ve got there.”
“I don’t drink,” Merrie said primly. When Noelle coughed loudly, she backtracked. “Well, not much. I’m a bartender—it’s too risky.”
“And you’re not one for risks.” Joe spoke as if he knew Merrie, and knew her well. “Okay, Holly’s your twin, anyone can see that. I take it this is your younger sister?”
Noelle spoke up before Merrie could reply. “Merrie and Holly are identical twins, but we’re triplets. I’m just fraternal.”
Kris looked stunned. “You’re triplets?”
“Why are people always shocked when I tell them we’re triplets?” Noelle always felt ‘less than’ somehow, since she didn’t share the bond of identical twins. “Am I so different from my sisters?”
“Vive la différence!” Noelle warmed at Kris’s immediate response. “I was only surprised because you never mentioned it.”
Nick laughed. “Fair’s fair, brother—did you tell Noelle about us?”
She turned to Kris. “What about you?”
Joe and Nick came over and clapped him on the back.
“I think our older brother’s been holding out on his lady.” Joe gave Noelle an audacious wink. “Of course, he’s not that much older.”
Nick nodded. “He beat me by six minutes.”
“He’s ten minutes older than me, and never lets me hear the end of it.” Joe singled out Merrie and crooked his finger at her. “I call dibs on the number one sister.”
“You wish.” Merrie blushed to her roots. “I’m not convinced you’re really triplets. Your name isn’t even like theirs. We were born on Christmas Eve, as you can tell by our names. What’s your excuse, Joe?”
The three brothers shared a grin. “We interrupted Christmas dinner. Mom and Dad had been expecting twins, and when I came along Dad grabbed his chance at namesake. I was named Joseph Claus Wild, after him. I followed his footsteps when I became a detective.”
Kris shifted on the bar stool. “Kristopher Kringle Wild, since we’re revealing secrets. And, by the way, Merry Christmas. As the new manager of your bank, I’ve approved your request for a loan extension.”
Noelle gaped at Kris as Nick shrugged. “My turn? Saint Nicholas Wild. Those must have been some powerful drugs they gave our mom before she named us. I use my middle name, for obvious reasons. Mom still calls us Triple Trouble. Job-wise, I’m a geek—I admit it. I work with computers.”
Noelle could hardly believe it. She and her sisters couldn’t have met men better suited for them if they had sent a wish list to Santa. Speaking of wishes...
“I’m sorry about your mom.” Kris reached over and squeezed Noelle’s hand gently. “We lost our dad a few years ago. The first Christmas without him was really hard.”
“I feel as if she’s with us tonight.” Noelle shared a secret smile with her sisters as the clock in the town square rang in the arrival of Christmas. “Pull up a chair, guys. Let me tell you about Mom’s last wish.”
Read on for Merrie’s magical martini recipe!
Dedicated to Jennifer Oprean Sanchez, who arrived on Christmas Day some years ago!
Copyright Becke Martin Davis 2010
TRIPLE ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE MARTINI
Looking for a Martini with a little jolt? Try the Triple Espresso Martini. This power packed cocktail is absolutely delicious and somewhat addicting due to the mix of Triple Shot Espresso Vodka, coconut and Amaretto and when you add the chocolate rim, it's all about satisfying your sweet tooth. you'll notice that the rum and Amaretto are shaken together and the vodka is shaken on its own then layered on top. It adds a little more pizzazz despite the extra work.
- • 1 1/2 oz Three Olives Triple Shot Espresso Vodka
- • 1 oz coconut rum
- • 1/2 oz amaretto
- • chocolate for rimming
- 1. Rim a cocktail glass with chocolate.
- 2. Pour the rum and amaretto into a cocktail shakerfilled with ice.
- 3. Shake and strain into the prepared glass.
- 4. Shake the vodka and layer into the glass.
Garnish with half of a Cadbury Flake:
Birth Order Traits: http://www.thecutekid.com/parenting/birth-order-characterictics.php