THE WORST CHRISTMAS (A Tallwood Tale)
by Jody Wallace (or Ellie Marvel)
Ebook release: December 2011
Length: Short Story (9K)
From: Meankitty Publishing
Cover: Angela Campbell
Buy Links (Free!): Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords
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Winifred Sampson can’t believe Peter Duvall ruined her new cashmere sweater at the honor society banquet and her secret crush, quarterback Chase McKnight, saw the whole thing. When an ice and snow storm hits Tallwood, Tennessee, right before the holidays, it looks like it might be a white Christmas for a change. Will Peter somehow ruin her Christmas too? Or is Mother Nature evil enough without Peter’s help?
Note: This title is a prequel to What She Deserves, a contemporary romance novella with mature themes. The Worst Christmas is suitable for ages 10+, with mild language but no sexual situations. It is approximately 9000 words long.
***** An excerpt from THE WORST CHRISTMAS *****
Winnie was halfway to the podium when the fat green bean bounced off her forehead. It ricocheted down her shirt, leaving a trail of grease on her yellow sweater.
Most of the nearby table, especially the brand new president of the Honor Society, who’d thrown the bean, broke into snickers.
“Real mature, Peter.” Winnie wiped at the smear with the print-out of her speech while everyone stared and laughed. She’d begged her mom for months to buy her a cashmere like the fashionista crowd sported during the winter. The burn of humiliation began in her cheeks and flooded all the way to her toes, paying particular attention to her stomach. If only she had a big handful of mashed potatoes to smack Peter with.
If only she had a baseball bat to smack Peter with.
“Now you’re really a beanpole,” said Sally Jones. The cheerleader tossed her curly blonde hair as everyone laughed harder at the not-very-witticism.
Winnie pretended she hadn’t heard. It’s what she always did whenever anyone used the dreaded nickname. Trying hard not to shake, she rubbed harder at the stain and let her long hair hide her hot face. God, her posh sweater. Why, green bean, why? This sucked.
“Is there a problem, Ms. Sampson?” Mrs. Beaker asked, her nasal voice amplified. “We’re waiting.”
Clenching her stupid speech, Winnie waved at their club sponsor and race-walked to the podium. Like having to stand in front of everyone and tell them how lucky they were to have a butthole as their president wasn’t bad enough, now she had to do it looking like a slob.
She reached the podium without tripping over her long, skinny feet in the unaccustomed high heels. Once there, she tried to adjust the microphone higher—she was five ten and had been for several years—but she couldn’t loosen the clasp. Thumps and bumps echoed through the speaker system followed by a high-pitched squeal.
Everyone laughed. Laughed more, that is.
She hated this town.
The honors club wasn’t the most popular organization at Tallwood High. But it was Winnie’s favorite extracurricular. The club did eldercare visits at a local rest home, they organized reading rallies, they sponsored study groups and mentoring, they raised funds for an annual senior trip, and they had an awesome club website Winnie helped maintain.
Best of all, it looked great on applications, college or otherwise.
Would have looked better if she could have put president, but no, that jerk Peter Duvall had won, making her vice-president.
She finally got the microphone fixed and flattened her speech on the podium. Her inkjet printer had a new cartridge, and the words were sharp and black.
Or had been give minutes ago. Smears distorted some of the text.
She couldn’t do anything about it now, so she cleared her throat and began. “Every year at the holiday banquet we welcome next year’s officers. This year you’ve elected Peter Duvall as your president.”
Risking a glance at her audience, her gaze first fell on Peter, the lights of the banquet hall glinting off his glasses. Across the table from him, Sally Jones was gossiping with another cheerleader, probably mocking what nerds everyone here was and how they were going to ditch the dinner ASAP and head to Sally’s boyfriend’s house to party.
They’d probably hitch a ride with quarterback Chase McKnight who, oh my God, was looking right at Winnie!
“And…um…er,” she stammered.
Duh. Of course he was looking at her. She giving a speech.
“We hope to continue the good works of the society and…”
Winnie frowned at the paper. The next sentence was thoroughly smudged, grease stains from her shirt obliterating the words that had been so painful to type. All hail President Peter, the most heinous little punk in the whole school.
“We hope to continue the good works of the society and issue in a great year, as most of us…” Good gravy, what did that say? “As most of us become senators.”
Chuckles rippled through the audience.
“I mean, seniors.” Winnie closed her eyes and wished she could start over. Or call in sick. What she wanted to say was they could all go suck it when Peter and his lameness meant the club did next to nothing compared to previous years. When their senior trip got cancelled due to lack of funds. When honors club became a club in name only.
She stumbled through the rest of her speech, skipping most of it because she couldn’t read it, and in about two minutes it was over.
“So anyway,” she said, a familiar resentment torturing her gut, “you elected him, so you deserve what you get, and now it’s his turn to speak. But first I guess I should lower the microphone.” She smiled. “A lot.”
This time, everyone laughed at Peter.
As she left the podium, Mrs. Beaker said, “Winifred, the cheap shot at Peter was not okay. It’s not like you to be such a poor sport. Please come to my office when we return to school in January.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Winnie fled to the women’s restroom to have a spot of nervous breakdown. The only thing that would make this night worse would be…
“Hey.” A smooth, masculine voice brought her up short before she escaped. “You can maybe get that out with hairspray.”
Chase McKnight—tall, blond and handsome—stood next to the water fountain between the men’s and women’s restrooms holding a silver flask.
Winnie’s heart stuck in her throat like a bite of overcooked banquet chicken. “What?”
“The stain.” Chase pointed at her chest.
Oh man, he was looking at her boobs! He was checking her out! He was…
“I don’t know how you did that,” he said. “but it looks like hell.”
The grease on her sweater had been replaced by black, streaky ink. “Oh, no.”
“Hairspray or baking soda. But it’s probably ruined. Cashmere’s a bitch. So I hear.” He drained the flask and began rinsing it in the fountain.
Forget the sweater. Winnie watched Chase’s movements with spellbound fascination. He’d been her secret crush for years. Part of it was he seemed so much more grown up than the rest of the idiots around here. The other part was he was totally hot.
“Is that…alcohol?” she whispered.
He grinned. She’d never talked to him before, and here he was, smiling at her. “Not anymore.”
He was just so…cool. And hot. And cool. That’s all there was to it.
“Of course,” she said right before an awkward donkey laugh blared out of her mouth.
Really, Winnie? Just plaster “dork” on your forehead and be done with it.
He got a funny look on his face and tucked the flask into his blazer pocket. “Yellow’s so not your color, by the way.”
It was a good thing he walked off, because she had no idea how to respond.
Not her color. What did that mean? That he thought she had a color? That he thought yellow was ugly? That he thought she was ugly? Jeez, if only she had somebody to talk to, but she hadn’t confessed her ridiculous infatuation to her girlfriends on the debate team.
Yeah, Winifred Sampson, the school’s biggest nerd, crushing on Chase McKnight, the school’s hottest stud. So sad. The only thing that would make this night worse would be…
© 2011 Jody Wallace