A Very Holland Christmas

Holland Brothers Book 5

by Toni Griffin

It's Christmas time for the Hollands, and everyone is bustling about preparing for the coming festivities. As Marcus, Alex, Simon, and Patrick try to make time for their mates, they feel the pressure to make everything perfect. Thankfully Maryanne has the solution. However, they forget one important detail, leaving them scrambling at the last minute to prevent a Christmas disaster.

Please Note: This is a reedited, and expanded, second edition.

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Excerpt:

The sounds of childish giggles rang through the house, quickly followed by the small thump of running feet. Heavier thuds chased the lighter ones, and Alex’s laughter flowed through the hallway into the room Patrick sat in.

Rick looked down into the angelic face of his three-month-old daughter and cringed slightly when she jumped in her sleep at her uncle’s loud voice. He had just gotten Charlie Marie Richmond to sleep, and the last thing he wanted was his loud-mouthed brother waking her back up again.

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He cooed softly to Charlie and continued to rock her in the rocking chair they had purchased especially for her nursery. Thankfully no damage had been done and Charlie slept on, none the wiser. Rick continued to hold his daughter for several more minutes, loving the feel of her in his arms.

Charlie was such a daddy’s girl, and Jake spoilt her rotten. Once Jake had gotten over his nervousness that he would turn out like his old man and actually held his daughter, everything seemed to fall into place. Now, he was always picking Charlie up and never wanted to put her down again. Jake thanked Rick often for giving him the gift of his daughter.

The Holland genes had held true for yet another child in the family being born with chocolate brown eyes. However, Charlie’s hair was as black as night, just like Jake's. Rick’s light golden brown locks didn’t even get a look in. Her thick hair had started to thin out, as most babies’ did, at the age of three months but remained just as dark.

Rick stood, careful not to jostle the sleeping babe in his arm and walked her over to her cot. He kissed her forehead and placed her in her bed, covering her with a thick blanket. December was summertime, but up in the alpine region of Victoria where their town of Leyburn was situated, it almost never got over twenty degrees during the day. It got down into the single digits overnight. The snow had all melted, though, long before Christmas came around.

It was a shame really. Rick would love to be able to wake up Christmas morning to a blanket of white snow on the ground. It had happened once in 2006 when severe drought had given way to abundant snowfalls on Christmas. Unfortunately, they lived on the wrong side of the equator for that to be possible too often.

After making sure his daughter was settled, Rick left the room and quietly closed the door behind him. He looked at his watch and groaned as he realised the time. Rick usually loved his mornings, but Charlie had woken at five that day and he was now in desperate need of some sleep.

Rick had gotten up with her as Jake had to go into his office today to finalise all his cases so he could take the next two weeks off. Jake wanted to spend some quality time with his family during the Christmas break and Rick couldn’t be happier.

He stopped past his and Jake’s room and picked up the baby monitor before heading into the kitchen to get himself a cup of coffee. Hopefully it would help wake him up a bit. Brian currently danced around the kitchen putting dishes away. He smiled at Rick as Rick made his way to the carafe of coffee and poured himself a mug.

Milk and sugar added, he took a sip before turning and sitting on the bench.

“So, everything ready for tomorrow?” he asked his brother-in-law.

Brian laughed at him. “You’ve got to be kidding, right?”

Rick smiled to cover the fact that he really hadn’t been kidding.

“Have you got any idea the amount of preparation that goes into cooking a meal for all you hungry men? Let alone a Christmas feast that includes your parents.”

“Not really, but I’m happy to help while Charlie is sleeping if you want,” Rick offered. 

“Thanks, that would be great. Mum will be here in the morning to help out, but until then there are veggies that can be peeled and chopped, a glaze for the ham to be made and desserts to be prepared.”

Rick laughed. “Okay, okay. I get it. What can I do to help?”

He finished his coffee before jumping off the bench. Brian placed a bag of carrots in front of him with a peeler and told him to get to work.

“You know, I have the strangest feeling I’m forgetting something, but I can’t put my finger on it for the life of me,” Rick said to his brother-in-law in the hopes something Brian said might trigger his memory.

They worked, listening to the sounds of the house, with Brian throwing out all sorts of suggestions, on the off chance something would stick. Nothing did. Rick sighed after a while and gave up, hoping whatever it was wasn’t that important.

They could hear the television going in the living room. The occasional squeals of delight from Hayley and the twins, who were currently being kept occupied by Marcus and Alex, drifted through to them as well.

Jason, Simon, and Zack were all out getting last-minute Christmas presents with a detour past the supermarket on the way home. Brian had been working on an extensive shopping list of everything he would need for Christmas day that he didn’t already have.

Rick could have sworn they had already done the shopping, but apparently there were a few things missing. He was just thankful it wasn’t him who had to brave the stores on Christmas Eve.

He had finished all his shopping last week so he wouldn’t have to step foot within one of the overcrowded stores in the days leading up to Christmas.

“Da-da.”

Rick turned around to see both little Sammy and his twin Dylan standing at the entrance to the kitchen. They were holding hands and looking at their daddy with big brown eyes.

“Hungwey,” Sammy said.

Brian squatted down in front of the pair and kissed both of them. “You guys hungry?” he asked.

Twin heads bobbed up and down. Brian scooped them both up and stood. He walked over to the table and placed them in their highchairs.

“How about a carrot stick with some peanut butter?” he asked.

The boys’ indecipherable answer chorused out, and Rick assumed they were happy with the choice.

Brian ruffled their hair before heading back to the kitchen. He stole one of the carrots Rick had peeled before deftly cutting it into sticks. Brian grabbed the jar of peanut butter and went back to the table.

He watched as Brian dipped two sticks into the smooth peanut butter before pulling them out again. Both sticks had a small glob of peanut butter on the end. He handed one each to both boys and headed back to the kitchen.

Rick laughed at the many faces the boys pulled as they ate the thick, sticky substance, their little tongues working in and out of their mouths.

Marcus walked into the kitchen and took one look at his sons before wrapping an arm around his mate and kissing him soundly.

“Have you got a snack for the big boys as well, baby? Or is it just little guys that get the special treatment?” Marcus asked with a wicked smile.

“You can have anything you want,” Brian replied seductively.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Toni Griffin lives in Darwin, the smallest of Australia's capital cities. Born and raised in the state she's a Territorian through and through. Growing up Toni hated english with a passion (as her editors can probably attest to) and found her strength lies with numbers.

Now, though, she loves escaping to the worlds she creates and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come. She's a single mother of one and works full time. When she's not writing you can just about guarantee that she will be reading one of the many MM authors she loves.

Feel free to drop her a line at info@tonigriffin.net anytime.


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