'Tis the season. Fa la la la la. With thanks to my dear friend Rachael Craw and Walker Books Australia, they're giving away the entire Spark Trilogy to one lucky Australian or New Zealand resident.
To celebrate, I'm thrilled to be able to share with readers a bonus Christmas scene from the Spark series. Check Rachael's website next week for the final series giveaway!
A Note From Rachael
The following is a scene from a 2012 version of Stray that never went to print. I had forgotten all about it until I was trying to think of Christmassy posts to share with this giveaway. Then I remembered, looong ago in the recesses of time, that I had written a scene where Evie and Jamie exchanged Christmas gifts! How perfect. Of course, it's rather an old bit of writing so go easy on me Merry Christmas Spark Army, I love youse guys!
Merry Christmas from Evie and Jamie
“Merry Christmas.” Jamie’s voice carries down the hall from the front door. I picture the wry twist of his mouth as he bends to kiss Miriam’s cheek. This was all her idea – her and Kitty’s – a belated gathering to break the ice, post-trauma. I hide in the kitchen, pouring drinks and blindly arranging finger food as Leonard and Barb offer stiff greetings and Kitty overcompensates with breezy good cheer.
This is a terrible idea. They’ll never forgive me for putting Kitty in danger. Canapes and champagne for godsake. I glance over my shoulder like a guilty child and drain a crystal flute in a few desperate gulps before refilling it in a seamless manoeuvre.
I’m halfway through my second glass when Jamie’s reflection appears in the dark kitchen window. I spin, sloshing the contents over my hand, remembering his anti-booze speech after the Halloween ball, but Jamie’s reproving glare is nowhere to be found. His eyes skim the neckline and hem of my dress and my skin warms with an all over blush.
“Little early for tippling, love.”
“Shh.” I nod in the direction of the living room.
He takes the glass from my hand and swallows the rest. “Second thoughts, we’ll probably need it.”
I sigh and hang my head. The faint whiff of chimney smoke and winter air lingers on his dinner jacket. I love his crisp white shirt and cufflinks. He’s even combed his hair. He brushes cool fingers across the nape of my neck and I close my eyes. “This is going to be bad, isn’t it?”
“At least they came.” He circles my waist, drawing me close. “You’re very beautiful, you know?”
“Ugh.” I turn in his arms and wrinkle my nose at my hair in the window. “I look like a boy.”
“Hardly.” He rests his chin on my shoulder and places a small pale blue box with a tell-tale ribbon on the counter.
My brain blanks. The pressure of the last few months and all my dread for the future is displaced by another weight – my longing for what I can’t have. Him. I blink like a strobe, terrified to touch the box. “God, Jamie…”
He nudges me with his chin. “Don’t be difficult.”
“You make it impossible to compete. Now my present is going to look lame.”
“You got me something?” He releases me to lean back against the counter, grinning, eyebrows high.
“It’s been sitting in the bottom of my wardrobe since November.”
His lips form a small ‘o’ at the unmentionable season of separation. He ducks his head. “What is it?”
I reach past him for the small box wrapped in cheap Christmas paper on the windowsill and place it on the counter next to his ostentatious gift for me.
“You already have one.” I chew my lip, stupidly embarrassed.
He cocks his head. “I do?”
I can’t look right at him.
He chuckles. “Together?”
I grimace at the pale blue box, picking it up and trying not to watch him as he tears the paper from his present. I loosen the ribbon, lift the lid and hold my breath. There’s a small folded card which reads, Made to Order and under this a pendant.
“Oh…Jamie.” My throat constricts and I choke out a small laugh. “Snap.”
He opens his velvet case and bites his lip, smile spreading wide. “Saint Michael.”
“I don’t think they’re quite in the same league.” I sigh. “So I guess this’s no cubic zirconia?”
“Best not to ask if it makes you twitchy.” He raises the small silver medallion from the case and hands me the chain.
I help fasten the link behind his neck, breathing in his dizzying scent, and tuck the medallion inside his shirt. I fan my fingers on his chest. “Now he’s not just watching your back.”
His grey eyes sparkle. “Thank you.”
I offer up the little blue box.
“But it’s so…”
“What?” he murmurs, draping the filigree chain around my neck.
“Beautiful.” It is. Breathtakingly so. A tiny rose gold angel encircled with diamonds and the inscription ‘Saint Michael Protect Us’. I shake my head as he fastens the clasp.
“Nothing.” I snort, remembering an old conversation. “I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t a ring.”
He turns me to the window and my eyes fall first on the pendant then his face.
My soft laugh dies. “What?”
“We should probably go and rescue Miriam from the ice brigade.”
I turn and touch his cheek. “Jamie?”
He narrows his eyes. “What if it had been?”
“A ring?” My mouth dries. “I … um … I …”
“Thank you for my gift, Everton.” He bumps his nose gently against mine, making me cross-eyed. “I love it.” But it feels like, I love you.
My whole body tingles with the electricity of his touch and I stammer, “Well, this is … easily the most beautiful thing … I’ve – I’ve ever been given … and –”
He cuts me off with a kiss, soft, warm, lingering. Not remotely calming. When he finally pulls back I can’t think of a single coherent thing to say. He brushes his knuckle beneath my chin. “You’re welcome.”
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