Though, the amazingly talented Kahlen Aymes has been working hard on her third book A Love Like This, from The Remberance Trilogy, she has been kind enough to take some time out of her incredibly busy schedule and treat us all to a never seen before outtake from the lives of Ryan and Julia; their very first Christmas together at Ryan’s home in Chicago.
I am so excited to be the one to share this wonderful addition to Ryan and Julia’s story from Kahlen Aymes, with you all. I’m bubbling with excitement for you all to read it and love it as I do.
I was bored shitless; lying on the floor of my room at my parent’s house, with my lower legs flung on top of the bed. I didn’t know what to fucking do with myself. I’d been home two days and I was going stir crazy.
I tossed the baseball against the wall opposite me. My dad caught it from a pop fly on opening day two years before, when Aramis Ramirez was at bat. I threw it again, remembering how pissed Aaron had been that I’d won the coin toss and in turn, this ball. In retrospect, I realized I probably could have just let him have it. I rolled it around in my hand, admiring the smooth, almost new leather before I resumed the mindless activity. Thump, thump, thump… the noise and the motion of it providing the white noise I needed.
At the last minute, Aaron had decided to stay behind at college with Jenna and I would have joined him if my mother wouldn’t have been completely crushed having both of us bail on Christmas in Chicago. Now I was stuck in this rotten cold weather without a damn thing to do. My dad was called in for emergency surgery, so he wasn’t even in the house. Thump, thump, thump… I threw it harder in my frustration.
The door to my room burst open, and my mother stuck her head in. “Ryan! What are you doing in here?”
I flushed guiltily. “Oh, sorry,” I mumbled, holding up the ball in explanation.
Her features softened. She was always so elegant, dressed to perfection, her shoulder-length hair; the same color as mine was always perfectly styled, while I lay around like a slob in baggy grey sweat pants, white crew socks and an old Nine Inch Nails T-shirt. I scratched my head and then my stomach. I definitely needed a shower.
“I know you’re bored, honey. Can you call some of your high school friends?”
I sat up and shrugged. “Maybe.”
“I’m going downtown shopping later. Do you want to come?”
“Maybe,” I mumbled again. I hated shopping downtown. I hated the traffic, I hated the slushy streets. I stood up and went to my desk to fire up the laptop. “I guess I do need to buy a few presents. I’m not good at buying for girls and I need to get Jules’ gift. I could use your help.”
Mom came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. My room was pretty much unchanged from the day I left for Stanford. My high school football and basketball jerseys were stuck to the walls with push pins among posters of Milla Jovovich and Megan Fox, sports trophies, concert tickets and a bunch of pictures.
“What does she like?”
“Everything. She’s cool.”
“Is she the tomboy type?”
I huffed in amusement as I looked through my email. “Hardly. Why would you assume that?”
“I don’t know. She hangs out with my son and but she’s not his girlfriend. You never spend any time with girls that you aren’t dating, that I recall.”
Something inside me stopped. “Yeah, well, Jules is different. She has a brain, we can talk about stuff. She’s cool,” I said again, searching for the right words to describe Julia without making it sound like I had a crush on her.
“Ryan! Are you insinuating that most women are mindless?” Her eyebrow shot up in disapproval.
“No, it’s just… ” I paused searching for the right words. “Julia doesn’t yap on and on about clothes and make-up and meaningless crap. She’s the first girl that I’ve ever respected like that.” She shot me another reprimanding look. “Besides you, I mean.” I flashed a full-on grin and she smiled back.
“Girls like bath oil, shower gel and lotions. You could get her a gift basket or gift card.”
“Ugh! Seriously? That shit’s lame. It’s what you get your kindergarten teacher or old Aunt Sally.”
Mom chuckled. “If you like her that much, why aren’t you dating her?”
I stopped playing with my computer as I contemplated the question. I half-assed shrugged and shook my head. “We’re good friends. It might get weird if we dated.”
“Is she pretty?”
“Yeah,” I answered without thinking. “Super hot. Aaron thinks my dick’s broken.”
Shit! Did I just say that to my mom? I flushed guiltily then grinned.“What?” I asked incredulously. “He’s the one who said it, not me!”
My mother rolled her eyes and smiled despite her motherly chagrin. “I’ll have to have a talk with your brother. So, she is pretty?”
“She’s, er… amazing.”
“Yeah, but amazing goes way beyond looks. I like her mind and she’s funny. She’s fun to hang out with.”
“Do you think, if you spend so much time together, you should get her something a little personal for Christmas?”
“Probably, but I don’t know what.”
My computer dinged and an IM came up from Julia. I looked guiltily at my mom, hoping she’d take the hint and exit my room.
“Okay, we’ll figure it out. After I’m done putting the roast in the crock pot, I’ll have a few hours and we can go.”
“Sure.” My computer dinged again and still I waited until my mother had gone.
Ryan? You there?
Yes. Bored as hell. You?
Same. My dad is working on some big murder case and he’s never here. I wish I’d stayed at school.
Funny, I had the same idea.
How’s the weather? :-| It was obvious she knew it was like an iceberg. California might be cool, but Chicago was colder than hell.
Frigid, I typed back.
I don’t want to hear about your last one-nighter. LOL
I laughed out loud at her teasing remark. Shut up.
It’s nice here. Wanna come over?
I wish I could! I typed furiously on the remote keyboard, wishing I could hop an early plane back to California. My mom would kill me, though. She has this big shindig planned.
Dad’s living at his office. I’ve seen him for 2 hours in 2 days, so it looks like it’s turkey burger-ville for Christmas.
Ugh! Sounds nasty. Can you get on Skype? I hated the thought of her all alone on Christmas.
Yeah. Give me a minute.
I sat, impatiently tapping my foot, my knee bouncing obnoxiously as I waited for Julia to log on. I knew I looked like hell, but Julia wouldn’t care. I ran my hand through my hair and shoved my Cubs hat on my head, pushing the hair around the edge beneath it.
It wasn’t long before her call came in and I opened the window. She wore a dark pink hoodie with a Nike swoosh in navy blue and her hair was down. She didn’t have on make-up but she still looked beautiful in a natural, unpretentious sort of way.
“Hey,” she said. “I thought I was gonna get a break from your unbearable presence for a couple of weeks, Matthews.”
I grinned and leaned back in my chair. “You know you miss me, but I won’t make you admit it.” Julia looked at me through the computer, her brows furrowed and mouth pursed. I could tell she was doing her best not to smile.
“Whatever. I can see your ego hasn’t taken a hiatus,” she deadpanned.
I burst out laughing. It was just like her to goad me. “It’s gonna snow tomorrow so the lake effect will probably have me stranded in the house. Yay.”
“It’s pretty cool here, but I don’t think we’ll get snow.”
“So, will your dad be around on Christmas?”
“One of his partners has this big ta-do on Christmas Eve that he wants me to attend with him. It’s a bunch of stuffed shirts so I don’t think I’m going.”
I shifted in my chair, not loving how uncomfortable I felt at the thought of her canoodling at a party without me. I knew only too well what happened in situations like that.
“You could always come here,” I suggested sheepishly, deep down hoping to hell she’d agree and hop the first flight out.
“Yeah,” I said again. “But you gotta get here before the storm so we can be snowed in together.”
Julia inhaled and shook her head slightly. “You’re serious.”
“Yes!” I quickly opened Expedia.com and began looking for flights. “The best deal will probably be out of SFI.”
“Ryan, slow down. I have to speak to my dad, and don’t you have to ask your parents if it’s okay?”
“Nah. Aaron’s room is open.” I probably should ask them, but I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission if it meant Julia would be here in a few hours time.
“Ew. Really, you want me to sleep in Aaron’s room? Dude, that’s weird.”
“We have two other rooms, but one is my dad’s study and my mother is remodeling the other, so you can have my room, if you’d rather.” I winced a little, thinking Julia would find my room juvenile. For sure she’d make fun of the girly posters.
“I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”
“Julia! Shut up and call your old man, will ya? I’m booking the ticket right now.”
“Ryan, wait! I can’t afford this and I don’t want to ask my dad.”
“I said; I’m booking the ticket. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. I’ve been struggling with what to get you anyway, so this is perfect!” My blood was racing with excitement and anticipation. Suddenly the break didn’t seem so mundane after all.
I ran across the room the jeans lying in a pile of dirty clothes and began to rummage through the pockets for my wallet for my debit card.
“Ryan, will you wait?” Julia shouted over the computer.
I bit my lip over a smile as I sat back down at the computer and began to type in the card information. “Better hurry, your flight leaves in two hours.”
“You’re impossible! I should let you lose your money and stew in your own juice!” She was moving around her room and I could hear a big thump from what was surely her closet. “Ouch!”
“My hiking boots just hit me in the head! I don’t know what to bring? Do you get dressed up on Christmas? I don’t have gifts for your parents! I’ll feel like an idiot.”
“I’ll see you in a few hours. The flight is direct, United 2735 to O’Hare. I’ll be waiting just beyond the gates.”
“This will be great!” I was so excited I could hardly sit still. She said something else while she rummaged through her closet, but I couldn’t catch it.
“Just stop your mumbling and get your little ass on that plane.” At the sound of Julia’s tinkling laughter, I raced out of my room and down the stairs to inform my mother that my best friend would be with us for the remainder of Christmas break.
We want more, I hear you say! Believe me, I completely understand.
Well then, put this date in your diaries and mark it on your calendars – Monday October 29th, as the second part of the chapter coming to you all then, Monday October 29th at 8am EST.
You will not want to miss it!