Welcome to the Prologue of my Christmas novella!
I’ll be sharing the whole novella – one chapter a day – for the first couple of weeks of December (my Christmas gift to you, my wonderful readers!), so make sure you come back each day to read the next instalment of Emily and Matt’s story.
Tuesday, November 12
“Now, we all know why we’re here.”
“For the food,” Luke Mitchell quipped, quickly raising his hands in mock surrender when four matching frowns were directed his way. “I’m kidding. I know, I know. It’s for Emily. Although you have to admit, these cakes are amazing. Did Em know when she catered this little party for us that her love life was the reason for it?”
His joking words fell flat—for a second time. The wit the Mitchell boys were known for had apparently been left at the door to Drew’s very crowded home office. Luke took a large bite of his chocolate cupcake, thinking it best to do something useful with his mouth before he acquired any more of his older brothers’ ire. They certainly were a testy bunch tonight.
“She’s thirty in three months, and still single.” Drew tapped a pen against his notebook, one that looked suspiciously like he’d borrowed it off his nine-year-old daughter, Belle. Unless, of course, Drew had recently taken a liking to butterflies, glitter, and the color pink. Somehow, Luke doubted it. “And with no prospects on the horizon either, which just makes this matter more urgent.”
Did none of his brothers care that Emily wasn’t looking for a relationship at the moment? She’d said so herself, last time Luke had hinted at the question. A man wouldn’t fit into her future plans, she’d said, though she’d clammed up when he’d asked what plans they were.
“Unbelievable,” Gabe said, crossing his arms. “What’s wrong with the men around here? Are they blind?”
Jon huffed. “Busy, maybe. Although it’s likely as much Emily’s fault. Those kids are all she ever thinks about.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being devoted to your job,” Luke said. “Or being single, for that matter.”
He ignored the glares this time and helped himself to another cupcake. After all, someone had to defend their sister. And clearly none of her other brothers were stepping up to the task. Out of the six Mitchell kids, he and Emily were the only ones still single.
Of course, the two of them were also quite a few years younger than their older brothers, something he was pretty sure they were forgetting at the moment. Thirty might have been over a decade ago for Drew but it was only last year for Luke.
His brothers had all rearranged busy schedules to ensure this meeting happened tonight, something that Luke couldn’t ever remember happening before. Apparently, their sister’s marital status was far more important than noting that, in her past five years as a kindy teacher, and twelve leading Sunday school, she’d impacted more lives than all of them put together.
Emily would find a husband, just like he would find a wife. When the time was right. Although he probably should have eaten another cupcake instead of saying so. While he’d been invited to this meeting tonight, it appeared his differing opinion hadn’t.
“Come on, Luke. She’s never going to meet anyone worth marrying when all the people she ever sees are under three feet tall.”
“Which is where we come in,” Drew said. “The Pact.”
Luke watched—part incredulous, part amused, part horrified—as Chris, Gabe, and Jon nodded. He couldn’t believe they were actually serious about this. Emily was going to be furious when she found out.
He shook his head. “She’ll never go along with it, you know. She might have joked about us finding her a husband when she was younger, but I’ll bet if we asked her now, she’d tell us her love life is none of our business.” Even if she was interested in finding a husband, which, clearly, she wasn’t.
“What sort of brothers would that make us if we listened to that?” Gabe said. “She should be married by now. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.”
“Plus, who said she had to know?” Jon raised his eyebrows as he stared Luke down. Oh, this did not bode well.
“You’re doing this without her knowledge?” Luke asked.
“Do you plan on telling her?”
Him? Not likely. “Absolutely not. She’d kill me. She’d kill all of us.”
“Which is why we’re going to keep it a secret. She’ll thank us one day.”
“If we survive long enough to see it.”
“We just have to find her a man who makes her so happy, she forgets it wasn’t her idea in the first place—which it was, I might add.”
Yes. When she was fifteen, and so besotted with the idea of being in love and getting married that she’d plastered a good section of her bedroom wall with photos of wedding gowns.
Drew crossed his arms, stubborn and settled in his decision. “Are you in or out, Luke? Because the four of us can find a man for Emily just fine without you.”
He didn’t doubt it. He just didn’t agree with it. “Out.” Absolutely out.
“Very well. Four men should be plenty of choice for her anyway. So, here’s how this is going to work . . .”
Luke listened as Drew laid out his plan. It was clever, he had to give his oldest brother that. He just didn’t think Emily would appreciate their interference, nor that she’d be completely unsuspecting, no matter how subtly they tried to go about it.
Still, his older brothers were right about Emily’s lack of social life. Her idea of a good time was getting all her class’s flash cards cut out and laminated before nine o’clock so she could read for a whole hour before crashing into bed. Whether or not she ended up married at the end of this, she needed some friends.
And it wouldn’t be all bad.
After all, his brothers weren’t the only ones with a plan.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the Prologue of Deck the Halls (and bring a hammer). Come back December 1 to read Chapter One!