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Authors: Victoria H. Smith

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BOOK: Holiday Fling
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She knocked, shaking in her heels from the cold, and the door opened.

Georgia beamed when she saw Tarrah. “Good god, girl. We didn’t think you’d ever show.” She hugged her.

“Sorry. The craziest thing happened. There was a robbery and—”

Georgia pulled back. “A robbery? That’s so weird because—”

She pointed her thumb behind her and part of the Stewart clan came to the door.

Georgia’s little cousins tackled Tarrah.

“Tarrah, Tarrah, you’re here!” One of the four-year-old twins hopped into her arms, making her drop her bags.

Tarrah giggled. She loved these little rugrats. “Jessica-Anne, you’re going to wrinkle your holiday dress.”

Jessica-Anne hopped down, then both she and her sister straightened out their little white angel dresses in synchronization.

Tarrah couldn’t help but smile at the two. The little girls each grabbed an armful of gifts and Georgia helped them by carrying the rest of Tarrah’s stuff from the hall.

After kicking the snow off her shoes, Tarrah stepped inside. She was hanging up her coat when Samantha, Georgia’s aunt and the host of the Stewart’s holiday weekend, entered the hall. She looked as fabulous as ever, wearing an elegant, tight black dress and matching heels. To complete her chic look, her glistening auburn locks sat on her shoulders in a just bumped under style. Never a hair out of place.

“Tarrah, you’re finally here.” She gave Tarrah a hug.

God, she loved the Stewarts. They were her second family. “Sorry, I got tied up.”

Samantha held her out at arm’s length, rubbing her shoulders. “It’s fine. You’re here now. It’s going to be the perfect Christmas because everyone really is here this year.”

What did she mean by that? Tarrah never realized anyone was missing before. She watched as Samantha gestured to the side of the room.

“Chase, come meet Georgia’s roommate.”

Chase?

Tarrah then saw “Chase” and he saw her. The look of shock she shared with him, Tarrah knew could have been the perfect Kodak moment of the shittiest Christmas on the planet.

“Tarrah, this is my son, Chase, Georgia’s cousin.” Samantha beamed.

 

Chapter Eight

There were a couple things Tarrah noticed in that instant. The first was Chase’s shirt. It was a deep red button-down that he had bunched at the sleeves. She knew that shirt well because she was pretty sure she’d ripped it off Swanson a few times. He must have changed it since her blood was all over his. The second thing she noticed was what was in his hands. It was a bowl of the famous Stewart Family Chex Mix…and it was now headed to the floor.

Samantha stepped back and gasped. “Chase?”

He tore his wide eyes from Tarrah. “Sorry, Mom.” He bent down and started scooping the mix back up into the bowl.

Tarrah couldn’t have been more mortified.

“Oh, honey, it’s fine. We’ll get that in a minute. You have to meet Tarrah,” she said.

No, he doesn’t. No, he doesn’t.

He stood up, his eyes locked on Tarrah’s again. They stared at each other, neither saying a word.

Samantha gaze traveled between Chase and Tarrah and back again. “Honey, don’t be rude. Shake the girl’s hand.”

Chase dusted his hands off on his jeans and held one out to Tarrah.

She did the same, following his lead.

“Nice to meet you, Tarrah,” he said.

God, how awkward is this?
“Nice to meet you, Chase.”
For the second time today.

They shook in a daze, staring at each other.

“Great.” Samantha slapped her hands together. “I’m going to get Missy to clean this up.”

As Samantha stepped off to find the Stewart’s housekeeper Chase and Tarrah’s hands still shook. After a few moments, they both awkwardly pulled their hands from each other. Chase stepped forward and opened his mouth to speak, but stopped—along with Tarrah’s heart—when Swanson rushed into the room.

The well over six foot blond picked her up—by her ass—then set her down, nuzzling into her neck.

Tarrah wanted to cry.

She didn’t think it was possible for Chase’s eyes to widen any larger, but in that instant—they did. He now saw exactly who her ‘hook-up’ was, and by the look of his face, he wasn’t too happy about it.

After Swanson was done groping her he turned, seeing Chase. “Hey, bro. You met my girl, Tarrah?” he asked, pulling her into him by her lower back.

Bro. Of course. Brother. Oh God
.

Chase blinked a few times. “Yeah…bro. Your girl?” His brow arched.

Swanson cocked his head from side to side. “Well, she’s not
technically
my girl, but we have an understanding. Don’t we, Tarrah?” He nuzzled his nose into her hair, grabbing her ass.

Tarrah fought a whimper.

Chase crossed his arms. “I can see that.”

Tarrah wanted nothing more than to pull Swanson off her and explain herself to Chase, but really, what was there to explain? Chase already knew the truth. But she wanted to try anyway. She stepped forward to, but stopped as she watched Chase.

“If you’d excuse me.” He forced a smile and stepped out of the room as Missy came in to clean up the Chex Mix.

No time passed at all before Swanson was in her ear. “Hey, so I have our blankets and the space heater out in the shed. We just need to wait for the announcement of the fruitcake and we’re good to go.”

She nodded, barely hearing his words.

“Great.” He brushed his lips against her neck, grabbed her ass again, and then he was gone.

 

Chapter Nine

Tarrah scoured the house, looking for Chase. She didn’t know what she was going to say, but she had to say something to him. She found him in the large kitchen with the grandmothers, a few of Georgia’s aunts, and the help.

She took in a deep breath at the door and as soon as she stepped inside, Swanson’s arm came around her waist.

“What are you doing, girl? We’re watching the game.” He dragged her away and as she left the room, she noticed Chase’s eyes on her.

Swanson brought her into the great room where seventy-five percent of the Stewart clan sat around two sixty-inch television sets, watching Swanson and Georgia’s basketball games. They all wore either Swanson or Georgia’s jersey numbers, chanting like they hadn’t already seen their games. They were reruns for pity’s sake! She was astounded by how obsessed the whole clan was. Even Samantha had slipped a jersey on over her dress!

Swanson quickly slid on his number ‘25’ and handed a matching one to Tarrah.

“That’s okay, Swan. I’m probably not going to sit in here long. You know I always watch
A Christmas Story
in the other room.”

He shrugged and dragged her to a chair with him. He sat down and forced her on his lap. No one ever mentioned Swanson and Tarrah’s “friendliness” during the holidays. That was just how b-ball crazy and distracted they were. Even Georgia never asked about the extent of Tarrah and Swanson’s relationship. Not that she would care, but she just never noticed.

Tarrah was pretty much bouncing on Swanson’s lap in anticipation of a quick exit.

“You sure are antsy, girl. What’s up?” Swanson asked, eyes never leaving the screen.

“Um, Swan, I’m going to—”

“BOOM BABY!” he shouted, lifting his hands to the play he just made on the screen like he wasn’t there when he did it. “Nothing but net!”

Tarrah rolled her eyes, but stopped mid-eye roll as she watched Chase walk passed the door of the great room. Tarrah took that as a sign and escaped from the room just as the Stewarts chanted after another one of Swanson’s “stellar” plays.

*

Tarrah scanned the hall and lost the damn boy again. She noticed the family portraits on the walls and mantel. She’d seen them many times, but now realized something. Why hadn’t she noticed that Chase was a part of this family before? There was no denying the family resemblance. He looked just like Samantha, Swanson, and Swanson’s father, Clint. Not to mention Samantha’s red hair. It wasn’t as bright as Chase’s, but it was still red. Tarrah actually always thought it was weird that Swanson’s hair was blond because not only was Samantha’s hair red, but Clint’s hair was strawberry blond. So why hadn’t she made the connection? As she scanned the photos, she understood. They were pretty much all of Swanson and his basketball stuff, trophies and awards lining the walls. There were even some b-ball pictures of Georgia up there, but no pictures of Chase.

She stepped closer to the mantel and looked around the photos and when she did, she finally found some of him. His were there—they just weren’t at the forefront of the ledge. He had awards, too, but they were for science. In the very back was his college graduation photo. She picked it up and noticed he went to UCLA. He lived in California, just like he said. Why was he living so far away? And why hadn’t he come to the annual holiday family get-together before?

A noise down the hall drew her attention and she saw Chase pull a tight corner. Putting the photo back where she found it, she jetted down the hall in her heels. She was going to figure out what was going on with this mysterious Chase, but at the moment, she really just wanted to find him and explain herself.

 

Chapter Ten

“Chase,” Tarrah called.

He kept walking.

She quickly caught up and grabbed his arm. He whipped around and shrugged. She could tell he was pissed.

“What, Tarrah? You got my attention. Now what do you want?”

He spoke so stoically that it took Tarrah back, but he had a right to be upset, she supposed. She was sleeping with his brother on the holidays, so she gave him the benefit of the doubt. “I just… I just wanted to explain—”

He gave a short laugh. “Explain what, Tarrah? My brother’s your hook-up. What’s to explain about that?”

His voice was so cold. “Chase…at the bank you said this wasn’t a big deal.” She didn’t know what else to say. It was true.

His brows shot up. “Yeah, well, Tarrah, that’s before I found out you were fucking my brother.”

She actually cringed at his stinging words. “Why are you calling it that?” she whispered.

His lips formed a hard line. “Because that’s what it is, Tarrah, when you have sex with someone without attachment. It’s
fucking
and that’s all it is.”

She swallowed hard. He made it sound so dirty. She didn’t understand. Earlier, he said it wasn’t a big deal. He’d been so nice to her, and now, he was acting like the biggest d-bag on the planet. She knew her situation was bad, but she didn’t deserve this. Not one bit, and she was going to let him know that. “You know, what? Screw you!”

“Screw me?” He pointed to himself.

Tarrah’s face blazed molten. “Yeah. You come across as this nice guy when, in reality, you’re just a huge asshole. It was probably all an act so you could get in my pants.” Tarrah didn’t mean that last bit, but she was so mad she said it before she could stop herself.

He shook his head at her. “No, Tarrah, and I think Swan has that covered and whoever your other lays are for your other holidays.”

Tarrah gasped.

“You probably have New Year’s covered, Halloween, and god only knows how many you have for Valentine’s Day.”

It took all Tarrah had in her not to slap him across his face. “You don’t know the first fucking thing about me.”

He cocked his head to the side. “Actually, fucking is about the only thing I do know about you.”

Tarrah’s eyes watered and before she said something she was going to regret, she turned on her heels and fled the room.

 

Chapter Eleven

Tarrah washed the tears from her eyes in the Stewart’s bathroom. Chase didn’t know the first thing about her, not the first fucking thing. He didn’t know her situation. He didn’t know her at all, and he’d already summed up that she was a whore. Well, she didn’t care what he thought. She was going to bang his brother and it was going to be damn good too, like it was every year.

She left the bathroom with her head held high and heard Missy make the call for dinner. Swanson and the others left the great room down the hall and she quickly stepped up to him. She witnessed Chase coming from the hall he just bitched her out in and she gave him a smug look before placing her hand on Swanson’s shoulder.

“Hey, girl.” He kissed her neck and grabbed her ass again, leading her into the dining room.

She got great satisfaction when she saw Chase’s cheeks flame red and his lips purse. She’d gotten the upper hand and she was going to bask in it.

Swanson led her into the dining room where the whole Stewart clan sat at the grandiose table. The spread was just as amazing as last year, but Tarrah barely took notice of it. She was too busy putting her hands all over Swanson under the table.

“God, you’re feisty this year, Tarrah,” he whispered in her ear, giving her lobe a brief nibble.

She giggled obnoxiously, noticing Chase’s eyes were anywhere but where she and Swanson were at the moment. She knew his attention was there, though. Every time she let out a giggle his jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed a fraction more.

“Beverages?”

Missy came into the room with two platters. The first was frosted glasses of frothy cider with a cinnamon stick and a sprig of holly. The second were mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream on the top and a chocolate chip cookie stick sitting inside.

Tarrah reached for her usual cider.

“Are you sure you want that, Tarrah?”

Her eyes shot to Chase’s smug grin across the table.

“It might be a little too chilled for you. I bet you prefer your beverages
hot
, right? Like everything you do. I think the hot chocolate would be best.”

She bit her lip, her nostrils flaring. But then, she smiled. “You know what, Chase?” She reached for the hot chocolate. “You’re right. I much prefer
hot
chocolate.” She slightly nodded to Swanson. “But my problem with the cider isn’t the chill. I just don’t really care for the apple flavoring. Perhaps,” she said, shrugging, “it’s the apples. Red. A rather off-putting color. Don’t you think?”

BOOK: Holiday Fling
13.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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