The Hazards of Mistletoe (Hazards #4)


by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Preface

People usually fall into one of two categories when it comes to the holidays. Either you love them and turn on the Christmas music as soon as you toss the pumpkins, or you dread them and lock yourself away as you cringe at the fact that your neighbor has their decorations up in October. I was always in the first category. I’d be eyeing Christmas trees on Thanksgiving and I’d make my first batch of holiday cookies by December 1st, but Glen Maxton ruined that for me. How is it possible that a guy could destroy the holidays for a Christmas loving girl like me? I guess the best place to start this story is at the beginning. Or really at the end, the end of a ten year friendship that fell apart thanks to some strong egg nog, a romantic night of ice skating, and a single strand of mistletoe.

Chapter One

Savannah

“So you’re going to Harrison?” Glen asked as soon as I slipped into the passenger seat of his Subaru Outback.

“Hi to you too.” I buckled my seatbelt as Glen pulled away from the curb. I was glad for the seatbelt moments later when he slammed on the breaks.

“Try not to kill me before we get to my grandparents, ok?” I kicked an empty water bottle out of the way so I could stretch out my legs. Glen was a lot of things, but neat wasn’t one of them.

Glen laughed. “It’s the airport, don’t blame me.”

“It’s Denver, not JFK.” I’d just arrived in Colorado for my yearly trip to visit my grandparents for the holidays.

“Come on, southern girl, what do you know of JFK?” He put a hand behind my seat as he pulled out toward the interstate. I’d known Glen for as long as I’d been coming out to Vail, nearly ten years. Our grandfathers had been in business together years before and after retiring they had started the tradition of renting condos in Vail for the holidays every year. His parents had continued the tradition even after his grandparents had stopped making the trip.

“My mom’s boyfriend lives up in New York. You know that.” He also knew how awkward my relationship with her boyfriend was. I only saw Glen once a year, but we stayed in touch year-round through phone calls and text messages. He knew more about me than most of my friends from home. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing.

“Oh yeah. Any change on that front?”

“Nope, but on a positive note, it hasn’t gotten worse.”

“There you go. Glad to see you focusing on the good.” Glen played with the dial of his radio. He flipped through the stations before eventually turning it off. “But back to my original question. Why Harrison?”

“Why not? Charleston’s a cool city.” I was a senior in high school, and I’d just been accepted early decision to my top choice school.

“Yeah, but it’s like an hour from your hometown. Don’t you want to stretch your wings?”

“Stretch my wings?” I turned in my seat. “Like you? You go to school close to home too.”

“Hey, I spent four years in boarding school. I did my time away.”

“Prep school doesn’t count as stretching your wings.”

“Why not?’

“It just doesn’t.” I didn’t really have an explanation. I just didn’t like to think about Glen’s days at an exclusive private school. It was a reminder of how different our worlds were. I’d been in public school my whole life.

“You didn’t even come out to visit Boulder.” He changed lanes. “Why not?”

“You know I don’t like the cold.”

“It’s not that cold. Besides, you could have found someone to keep you warm.” He winked.

“Yeah, right.” Glen was hot. The devastatingly handsome and sexy kind of hot with slightly long brown hair and piercing brown eyes, but he’d never shown any interest beyond his flirtatious teasing, and no matter how much I wanted him, it wasn’t worth the risk of ruining our friendship in order to find out whether he wanted the same thing.

“It would have been fun having you around.”

“I can handle a week or two of being an icicle, but that’s about it. I feel good about my decision.”

“I get it. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

“And you’re stuck with me for the next week. Isn’t that enough?”

He tousled my hair. “It is, but why are you only getting here now?”

“I had a show last night.”

“Still singing?”

“Why do you have to say it like that?” I crossed my arms. “It’s not just some stupid hobby.”

“It’s not stupid, but it’s a hobby. You can’t make a career with it or anything.”

I shrugged. “I’ll worry about that later.”

“Ugh. I knew this was going to happen.” He slowed as we moved into traffic on I-70.

“Sorry. I don’t know why you agreed to pick me up. I could have taken a shuttle, or I could have waited a few hours for my dad.”

“You really think your grandpa was going to go for that?”

I smiled. “He loves you.”

“Correction, he loves the idea of me with you.”

“Eventually he’ll drop it.”

Glen glanced at me. “Yeah, I guess so.”

I unzipped my parka. The heat was on high, and I knew Glen had selected that setting for me. I wasn’t a fan of the cold and everyone knew it.

“I can turn the heat down if you want.”

“Just set it to what you want.”

“You’re too much of a pushover. You need to change that before you leave for school.”

“You worrying about me?”

He put a hand on my leg in a way that somehow felt different this time. “Do you mind if I worry about you, Savy?” Glen, like all my friends and family, called me by my nickname. Only my teachers called me Savannah anymore.

“Yes. I don’t need anyone doing that for me.”

“The last time I checked I wasn’t just anyone.” There was something in his expression that was so intense it nearly scared me. I shrugged it off. It was only Glen. He had this goofiness that sometimes came off as serious. It’s hard to explain.

“And I see you’re just as modest as always.”

He squeezed my knee once before moving his hand back to the wheel. “I’m just saying. I don’t lump you in with everyone.”

“Oh? I’m special then?”

He smiled but didn’t look over again. It was fun watching him when he couldn’t watch me. “Oh, you’re special all right.”

I laughed. “Ok, I kind of walked into that one.”

“You definitely did.”

***

The next few days flew by in a blur. I spent my days on the slopes, and my nights hanging out with my family and Glen. I only spent a few weeks out of the year with my grandparents, and I tried to make the most of it. In some ways I was even closer to my grandfather than I was to my dad, but I’d have never told him that.

We’d just finished dinner on Christmas Eve when my phone rang. I hurried down the hall to the room I was staying in and picked up immediately when I saw it was my mom. I hadn’t spent Christmas with her in ages, but it was still hard. “Hi.”

“Hey, honey. How are you?” Mom sounded excited. Almost too excited.

I ignored her question, and instead I asked one of my own. “What’s going on?”

“Mac and I have some big news.”

My stomach dropped at the mention of her boyfriend. “Oh?”

“We’re getting married!”

“Oh.” I gripped the night stand, needing to find a way to steady myself.

“Oh? Is that all you have to say?”

I heard laughing in the background. “So he did it with his kids around, but not me. Convenient.”

“Savy, you weren’t here. That isn’t Mac’s fault.” Mom managed to always make things sound so calm. She also managed to always make it sound like I was the one overreacting. Maybe I was, but for once I wasn’t going to own up to it.

“I was there for Thanksgiving. He couldn’t do it then?”

“Well then Mi—”She stopped.

“Exactly Mom, then one of his kids wouldn’t have been there, and of course he couldn’t do something so important and life changing without them.”

“I’m sorry.” All excitement was gone from her voice. I felt guilty, but then part of me didn’t. Mac had done it on purpose. I was sure of it.

“Congratulations. I hope you two have a wonderful life together. And let me guess. You’re moving to New York then?”

“Not until you start school of course.”

“When I start school an hour away from home… yeah, great.”

“It might not be too late. We could try to get you in somewhere further north.”

“No thanks. Mac will just find a way to exclude me from everything anyway. Enjoy, don’t worry about me at all.” I hung up and tossed my phone before lying down on my bed.

My phone rang. It was my mom again. The guilt was back so I picked up. “Hi.”

“Honey, I’m sorry. Mac just wanted to do it on Christmas. You know how much I love this time of year.”

“Yeah…” I could blame her for my love of everything and anything Christmas.

“How are things going in Vail? Is your Dad keeping you busy?”

“It’s been great. I miss you though.”

“I know honey. I’ll see you soon.”

“What if I come home early for New Years? We can rent cheesy chick flicks and order in Chinese. We haven’t done that in forever.”

Silence. I knew what that meant. “Oh. No, I’m guessing Mac made plans for a family trip—he must have forgotten my ticket.”

“Savannah. You spend Christmas vacation with your dad. You always do.”

“Yup. Merry Christmas, Mom. I hope the rock is big.” I hung up, and this time I turned off the ringer. I wasn’t talking to her again. I grabbed my jacket and slipped on my boots before walking back out toward the kitchen.

“Is everything ok, sweetie?” My grandmother asked.

Dad looked up from his book. I could see the suspicion on his face.

“Yeah, I just need some fresh air.”

“I’ll come with you.” Grandpa reached for his coat.

“I’ll be fine. I’ll stay close.” I hurried down the stairs before they could stop me.

Lionshead Village was bustling that time of night, and I tried to get lost in the crowd. Did they really have to do that to me on Christmas Eve? Couldn’t they have dropped the bomb another time? I walked around for a few minutes, trying to let the music and lights cheer me up. Mac wasn’t going to ruin Christmas Eve for me. Our relationship was crummy, but that didn’t mean I needed to take things out on Mom. Being angry at Mac was a lot easier than Mom. I texted her quickly. I am happy for you. I just need to process this. I love you.

She texted back right away. Love you too.

“Savy?”

I glanced up in time to narrowly avoid bumping right into Glen. “Hi.”

He put his hands on my arms to steady me. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I wiped away some tears and did my best to compose myself.

“You sure?” He looked at me skeptically. “You don’t look fine.”

“Ok, I’m almost fine.” I wasn’t good at keeping anything from Glen. I was notorious for texting him in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I’d have felt bad about it, but he did the same thing. “I’m just celebrating the fantastic news that my mom’s getting married. Hip hip hooray.”

“He did it when you weren’t around.” Glen knew exactly why it upset me. It was nice that I didn’t even have to explain it to him.