AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Jodi L Perry
BONUS CHRISTMAS CHAPTER
The List …
The second I’m finished with my last client and all my shit’s cleaned and packed away, I’m out the side door of the tattoo parlour, taking the steps that lead to my apartment two at a time. This is without a doubt, my favourite time of the day. Nothing beats the feeling I get when I’m with my family.
“I’m home,” I say when I walk through the front door. Nothing. Everything’s so quiet. Did I walk into the right house? Usually I have my three little munchkins hanging off me before I even get a chance to remove my shoes. “Indiana.”
“We’re in the bathroom,” she calls back. She must be bathing the kids.
“Daddy,” they all squeal as soon as I enter the room. The love I see reflected on the sweet faces of my children is indescribable, they’re my life. Seeing that same look mirrored on the face of my beautiful wife, no words. I’m one lucky bastard.
After pulling her into my arms, I place a soft kiss on her lips. “Hi beautiful,” I breathe. I hear the kids giggle from behind me. The boys always do that when they see us kiss. I’m sure Eve just follows suit. She’s still too young to understand. She likes to copy everything her brothers do, and finds their crazy antics extremely amusing. She’s so sweet.
“Hi handsome.” Coming home to her will never get old.
Letting go, I take a step towards the tub before placing a kiss on top of Jaxson, Levi and Eve’s heads. “How was school today?” I ask the boys, when I stand to full height. Levi started school this year. Unlike Jaxson’s first day last year, Levi was fine. The moment we pulled up outside the gates he told us we could go. Of course we didn’t, but it again proved how different they are. Their personalities are miles apart.
I’m smiling as they give me a blow-by-blow of their entire day. The moment he’s done, Indi pushes me toward the door. “Watch your sister for me boys, I need to speak to your father in private.” I smirk when she gets me out into the hall, half closing the bathroom door behind her as she goes.
“Couldn’t wait to get me alone, huh?” I ask, cocking one eyebrow.
“Dream on,” she laughs. “There’s a pile of wrapped Christmas presents hiding under our bed. Can you put them up in the top of the wardrobe before the kids find them?”
“That’s it? You dragged me out here for that? I was hoping you’d at least give me a touch up, or something.” She laughs at my comment before reaching out to give my junk a squeeze.
“There. The rest will have to wait until the kids are asleep.”
“I can’t wait,” I say, cupping her face in my hands and placing a chaste kiss on her lips. With three small children, our alone time is scarce. I miss our marathon sex romps.
After grabbing the step ladder from the laundry, I head into the bedroom. I smile to myself at the amount of presents under the bed. I love seeing the kid’s faces on Christmas morning when they open all of their gifts. My children want for nothing. I’m thankful I can give them everything I didn’t have when I was a kid. I know my mum did the best she could with what little she had.
Opening the wardrobe doors, I grab the first few boxes and climb the ladder. That’s when I see a small wooden box sitting on the shelf. It’s pushed towards the back. After unloading what’s in my arms, I reach for it. I’ve never seen this before, it must belong to Indi.
Removing the lid, a smile graces my face when I see what’s inside. It’s a treasure box of some kind. It’s full of little trinkets, letters and cards. She has things that I’ve given her in there as well.
As I go to replace the lid, something on top catches my eye. It’s a list. A bucket list to be precise. Written up top are the words, ‘Things I want to do before I die’. I get a pang in my heart when I read that. All the memories of Indi and the tumour flood my mind. I’m so glad she beat that fucker.
My eyes scan down the list. Half of the things are already crossed off.
THINGS I WANT TO DO BEFORE I DIE:
1. Experience a white Christmas.
2. Marry the man of my dreams.
3. Have children.
4. Open my own Veterinary Clinic.
5. Build a snowman.
6. Go skinny dipping.
7. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
8. Go snorkelling somewhere tropical.
9. Dance in the rain.
She must’ve written this when she found out she was sick. My mouth curves into a smile as I read number two. I married the woman of my dreams as well. Come to think of it, I played a part in all the things she’s crossed off her list so far.
Memories of the time we went skinny dipping flood my mind. We’ve actually done it twice. Once in the lake out the back of her place in Sydney. The other time was before the kids were born. One night we snuck across the road and went skinny dipping in the ocean.
I read over the list one more time making a mental note of all the things she’s yet to do, before placing it back in the box. I’m gonna try my damn hardest to make sure she gets to do everything she’s wished for. I’m not sure how I’m going to pull off the white Christmas though. It’s too fucking hot in Australia in December. It will never snow here that time of year.
My mind goes into plan mode as I set about putting the rest of the presents away. The snorkelling will be easy. We’re taking the kids to Fiji in March with Megan, Drew and the girls. I can organise that for her when we get there. Then it hits me. A brilliant fucking idea. I think I can actually do everything on that list, or die trying. I have four weeks, surely I can pull this off in a month.
The kids already have their passports. I’m going to give my wife a Christmas she’ll never forget. Well try too. We did get married on Christmas Day, so that’s going to be hard to top.
By the 15th of December, I have it all sorted. I can’t wait to see her face when she finds out what I’ve done. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her. I just want to see her happy, and help make all her dreams come true. After everything she’s been through, she deserves that.
“Carter,” I hear her call out as I finish reading a bedtime story to Eve.
“Another story, Daddy?” she pleads. I chuckle as I stand, before gazing down at her hopeful looking face.
“Not tonight, Princess, it’s time to go to sleep, and I need to go and see what mummy wants. I’ll read you another story tomorrow night.”
“Okay.” Closing her eyes, she rolls onto her side. She’s such a good girl. She never gives me any trouble.
“Sweet dreams, baby girl,” I say as I tuck the thin blanket up around her chin and bend down to kiss her cheek.
“Goodnight, daddy,” she replies with a yawn.
“I love you,” I whisper as my fingers smooth the hair back off her sweet face.
“I love you too.” This kid melts my fucking heart.
“Carter,” Indi calls out again just as I’m closing Eve’s bedroom door.
“I’m coming.” As I walk down the hall a soft foam bullet hits me square in the forehead. I see Jaxson holding a Nerf gun in his hand as he and Levi quickly duck behind the wall laughing. “Keep it down you guys,” I say as I pass them. “Your sister is in bed.”
“Okay, dad,” Jaxson snickers. I cop another bullet in the arse as I make my way towards the bedroom, where I presume Indi is. Little shits. I hear them laughing again as they run off towards the lounge room.
“What the hell, Carter,” Indi says when I enter the room. The wardrobe doors are open, so I know exactly what she’s going to say. “Where’s all the kid’s presents gone?”
“I hid them in the storeroom down in my shop,” I reply as my arms encircle her waist and I draw her towards me. “I thought they’d be safer down there. The boys are getting bigger now and might start snooping.” I’m so glad I already had my story planned in my head.
“Oh. Okay. Good thinking. You’re getting very wise in your old age Mr Reynolds,” she says supressing a smile.
“Hey. I’m not fucking old,” I snap. “I didn’t hear you complaining the other night when I fucked you so hard you could barely walk.” My fingers dig into her arse cheeks as I pull her hips forward so she can feel my hardening cock. I have zero trouble in getting it up. Thirty-one isn’t fucking old.
I’ll show her just how young I am when I get her into bed tonight.
“Where are you taking me?” Indiana asks as we head towards Williamtown. Our parents had the kids overnight. Today she thinks I’m taking her out for a little us time. We got plenty of that last night, and again this morning, if you know what I mean.
She has no idea we’re on our way to the airport. Our parent’s and the kids should already be there. The airport shuttle bus was picking them up at 9:00 am. It’s now just after ten.
They have all our luggage with them. Mum came over a few days ago and helped me pack everything we’d need for our vacation while Indiana was with the kids at swimming lessons. Thankfully it’s summer so I knew Indiana wouldn’t even notice any of the kids, or her winter clothes were missing.
Everything has gone to plan, just like I hoped.
LJ spent the night at mum and dad’s, with the kids. He likes to be wherever they are. He’ll be spending the next week with my Grandma. She decided she wouldn’t be travelling with us. The cold weather doesn’t agree with her arthritis. I know she’ll be okay, but I’ve organised for Megan to check up on her from time to time while we’re gone, just to ease my mind. She’s also going to take her to their house for Christmas lunch so she’s not alone.
“Why are we at the airport?” Indiana asks when we arrive.
“You ask too many questions, babe,” I reply, leaning across the centre console and brushing my lips against her.
“We’re not going away are we? You know I couldn’t go anywhere without the kids right? Being away from them last night was bad—” I grab hold of her face and cover my mouth with hers to shut her up. She’ll find out what’s happening when we meet up with the rest of the family. She’s working herself into a damn frenzy. As much as I love the thought of just the two of us going away together, I couldn’t leave the kids either. When I finally pull out of the kiss, she narrows her eyes at me. “You did that on purpose.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I chuckle because there’s no point denying it. She knows me too well.
“You kissed me to shut me up.” She reaches over the seat and pinches me. I laugh as I rub my arm. Her damn fingers are lethal.
Dad called this morning after he told the kids where we were going to be spending Christmas. I had to leave that job to him. It was too risky for me to tell them. I couldn’t chance one of them spilling the beans.
He said they were jumping around screaming with excitement. I wish I’d been able to see that. Apparently Jaxson has made up signs for him and his brother and sister to hold up, to surprise Indi when we get to the airport.
He’s such a thoughtful kid.
The minute we walk through the automatic doors, she spots them. “What the hell?” she screeches as her head snaps in my direction. “Why are the kids and our parents here?”
“Surprise.” I don’t know what else to say.
Her head moves back in their direction. Jaxson is holding up a sign that says, ‘Surprise Mummy’. Next in line is Levi. His sign says, ‘We are having a white Christmas’. I laugh when my gaze moves to Eve. Her sign is upside down, but you can still read it. ‘In New York’.
“Oh. My. God,” I hear her whisper. When she looks back at me, there’s tears welling in her eyes. “Are we really going to have a white Christmas?” When I nod my head, she launches herself into my arms. “Oh Carter,” she cries. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too, baby.”
We’re fifteen hours in to our twenty-one hour flight. The kids have handled it better than I expected. Eve is asleep in my arms, and Indi’s head is resting on my shoulder. Our parents have taken one boy each, which makes it easier for us.
I’m grateful they agreed to come along. I can’t imagine spending Christmas Day without them, plus I know they’ll help out with the kids and give Indiana and I some alone time while we’re away.
“The kid’s presents,” Indiana says suddenly, bolting upright in her seat. “They can’t wake up Christmas morning to nothing.”
“It’s all sorted, don’t stress. They’ll get two Christmas’, one in New York, and one when we get home.”
“What do you mean it’s all sorted?”
“I’ve organised for some gift to arrive at the hotel where we’re staying.”
“You have?” she asks as her pretty face lights up.
“I have.” She releases a contented sigh before placing her head back on my shoulder and snuggling into my side. “You’re the best.”
Jesus fucking Christ.
The maniac who drove us from the airport to the hotel where we’re staying in Time Square, is lucky I didn’t knock him the fuck out by the time we finally arrived. I was so pissed he’d put my family in danger. I think we were all relieved to make it in one piece. We had way too many close calls. Ross even gave him a stern talking to when we were unpacking the luggage from the car, which cracked me up.
I love that man.
Although I was grateful we survived the airport transfer ride, I was gutted to see not an ounce of snow in New York. Not one damn flake. It was cold. Bitterly cold actually, but not snowing. I hope I didn’t fly my family all the way here just to freeze my damn nuts off.
The porter stacked all the suitcases onto the hotel trolley while I headed to the reception desk to check us all in. Jaxson, Levi and Eve are staying in our suite with us, but I booked a double room for my parents as well, so they have room to accommodate the kids overnight if need be. As you can tell, finding ways to have uninterrupted sex with my wife is always forefront in my mind.
With the time difference between countries, it was 5:00 pm New York time when we finally made it to our suite. We were all exhausted and ready for bed. Indi set about bathing the kids, while I ordered some room service so we could eat before crashing.
The next few days we did all the touristy things—the Statue of Liberty and Central Park to name a few. Also a shit load of shopping. Indiana couldn’t believe how cheap everything was over here, so she definitely made the most of it. Not sure how we’re going to get it all home though.
It’s safe to say that none of us were prepared for the sheer volume of people in the streets. It was fucking crazy. It blew my mind. Indi clung to the boys hands wherever we went, while I pushed Eve in the stroller. Now I know why they call this the city that never sleeps. Fuck me.
Christmas Eve rolled around fast and to my huge disappointment, there was still no snow. Even though we were all having a great vacation, I was feeling so let down and deflated. Her bucket list specifically stated a white Christmas, not just a damn cold one.
Later that night once the kids were all in bed, Indi and I snuggled on the sofa in front of the fake fire. I’d asked my travel agent to get me a room with a fireplace, but due to the fire hazard, this was the best she could do. It looked like a real one, so I was happy with that.
I also managed to organise with the hotel staff to have a large, decorated Christmas tree placed in our room. What would Christmas be without a tree? Indi bought some Christmas stocking for the kids yesterday, and she’s hung them on the mantel piece. It was a nice touch. All we needed now was the fucking snow.
“I’m sorry there’s no snow,” I say drawing her in closer to me. I feel like such a prick for letting her down. They’re expecting snow the day we’re due to fly out. Fat lot of good that will do us, Christmas will be over by then.
“You have nothing to be sorry about. You’ve given me and the kids such a wonderful gift. Snow or no snow, I’ll never forget this vacation.” Shifting her body so she’s facing me, her lips meet mine. “You’re an amazing husband and father for doing this. I love how you’d go to any length to make us happy.”
Her words bring a lump to my throat. Leaning forward, I push her backwards and lay over the top of her. “I love you.” She always knows the right things to say to make me feel better.
The second my mouth covers hers and my hand slides underneath her sweater, there’s a damn knock on the door. Fuck, nothing’s going right for me today. After placing a kiss on her nose, I instruct her not to move, while I get rid of whoever is at the door.
“I have the boxes you requested to be brought to your room this evening, sir,” the porter says when I open the door. Shit, the presents. I was so consumed by the no snow factor, that the kid’s gifts totally slipped my mind.
After helping him unload the trolley, I hand him a tip. I’m still getting used to this whole tipping thing. We don’t do this back home. The only person I haven’t tipped since coming here was the damn driver that picked us up at the airport.
Well actually I did give him a tip, but not a monetary one. Once our bags were unloaded from the car, he stood in front of me with his hand extended. Raising an eyebrow, I gave him a quizzical look. “You need to tip him,” Indi said, nudging me.
I had the perfect one for him. “You want a tip? Get some fucking driving lessons, dickhead.” Indian gasped beside me as soon as the words were out of my mouth, but I heard Ross chuckling in the background. Somebody needed to say it. He’s gonna kill someone one day if he keeps driving like that. Thankfully, the kids were already standing inside the lobby out of the cold, with my mother.
I’d never swear like that in front of them.
“What’s in all the boxes?” Indi asks coming up behind me and sliding her arms around my waist.
“Open them and see.”
As soon as she removes the tape and pulls back the flaps of the first box, she gasps as her hands cover her mouth. “Oh. My. God. Carter these are all the kid’s presents from home.”
“I know. I had them shipped over here a few weeks ago.”
“Far out,” she mumbles, the shock apparent on her face. “You really went above and beyond.”
After all the gifts are unpacked and under the tree, I pull her into my arms. “Let’s go to bed and finish what we started before we were rudely interrupted.”
“Sounds wonderful.” Getting up on the tip of her toes, she lightly brushes her lips against mine. While I turn off the fake fire, she heads over to close the curtains covering the floor to ceiling windows. “Carter look. Holy crap, it’s snowing,” she squeals.
Walking up behind her, I see her smile reflected in the glass and the small white flakes floating down from the heavens.
Thank fuck for that.
By some small miracle, it’s still snowing when we wake the next morning. The whole city is covered in a blanket of white. It looks majestic. I’m not sure if the kids are more excited about their presents or the snow. Seeing the pure joy on my family’s faces is the greatest gift anyone could give me.
“This is for you,” I say to my beautiful wife, as I hand her a small box. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” she replies, wrapping her arms around me and squeezing me tight.
“Open it.” I watch as she tears the wrapping off excitedly.
“Carter,” she breathes. There’s tears pooling in her eyes when they meet mine. I brought her a pair of diamond encrusted snowflake earrings.
“Something to remind you of your first white Christmas,” I tell her.
“This is the best Christmas ever. I’ll never ever forget it.”
“Even better than our first Christmas?” I say when she throws her arms around me.
“No. Nothing could top that day. It’s the day I married the man of my dreams.”
I can’t fight the smile that forms on my face. I love that she thinks I’m the man of her dreams.
“Open the envelope,” I instruct next.
“Tickets to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb,” she squeals. “Oh. My. God. Did you find my list?”
“What list?” I chuckle.
After we eat a big Christmas breakfast in the Hotel’s restaurant with our parents, I asked Indi to take the kids back to the room and rug them up. I needed to slip out and get a few things before we headed out for the day.
It took me over a damn hour to find what I needed, but was so grateful I did. I know it took that long, because I’m wearing the gold watch Indiana bought me for Christmas. She had ‘Forever My Man’ engraved on the back. I fucking love it … love her.
“What’s in the bag?” Indi asks when I arrived back at the room.
Passing it to her, she looks inside. “A carrot, a scarf and black buttons?” Her face screws up when she looks at me.
“We’re going to the park to build a snowman,” I say smiling, just as she launches herself into my arms.
“Will the surprises ever stop coming?”
“Nope,” I say with a chuckle.
“You give me so much.”
“Do you even realise what you’ve given me over the years, Indiana? And I’m not just talking about our three beautiful children. Right from the very beginning, you saw the good in me when nobody else did. You loved the bastard, nobody else could. And the moment you stopped fighting me and finally agreed to marry me, you made me the happiest man in the world. I’ll never be able to repay you for any of that.”
“I’ll never stop loving you,” she says, tenderly placing her lips on mine.
“And I’ll never stop loving you either.” When she finally lets me go, she steps back before raising her hand to pinch my side.
“Ouch. What was that for?”
“You so found my list, Carter,” she says narrowing her eyes.
I burst out laughing, pulling her back into my arms. “Oh that list?” I reply as I place kiss on the top of her head. “Yeah I found your list, babe.”
J L Perry is a mother and a wife. She was born in Sydney, Australia in 1972, and has lived there her whole life. Her love of reading, from a young age, gave her the passion to write. My Destiny was originally written for her sister, in 2013. It was never intended to be published. However, after finishing this book, she felt there was still a lot of Brooke and Logan's story left to tell. This inspired her to write My Forever. With the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided to follow her dream and become a published Author.
That dream was realised on the 6th of June, 2014.
My Destiny is her debut novel in the Destiny Series. My Forever is the conclusion to this book. Her third book Damaged - Jacinta's Story, was released October 15th, 2014. This is a standalone read, but is based on a character in My Forever. Her fourth book Against All Odds, is also a standalone read. It is based on Brooke and Logan's daughter, Angel. It was released on May 27th, 2015.Bastard, her fifth book, was released on September 14th, 2015. J L is currently writing two more books, Hooker, and Nineteen Letters. Both will be release early 2016.
J L's love of romance and happy endings makes a perfect combination when it comes to writing her beautiful love stories.
Her hobbies include reading, writing, drinking wine, shopping, listening to music, cake decorating and anything artistic or creative. She loves spending time with her family, friends and pets when she isn't writing. She also loves being outdoors and travelling and exploring the world.
My Destiny (Destiny series #1): http://amzn.to/1MWgIq2
My Forever (Destiny #2): http://amzn.to/1RcuGcw
Damaged (Destiny #3): http://amzn.to/1RcuHgE
Against All Odd's (Destiny #4): http://amzn.to/1MWgPlo
Luckiest Bastard: http://bit.ly/1XxYT5r
1. If money was no object what would take out the number one spot on your Christmas list?
Definitely a white Christmas in Aspen Colorado. It’s at the top of my bucket list. I’d love to be snuggling by the fire on Christmas Eve, instead of sweltering in the thousand degree heat we experience in Australian summers.
2. What was the first book you read that made you think “wow this is what I want to do, I want to be an author”?
I can’t really remember any specific book. I always had a passion for reading and have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I never thought it was something I was even capable of doing until a few years ago.
3. What does Christmas mean for you?
Family. I always look forward to my family Christmas’. Every Christmas Day of my entire life has been spent with my family, immediate and extended. We get together every year with Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I love it. It’s the one time of year we’re all guaranteed to be together.
4. What’s your guilty pleasure, the one thing you hate admitting out loud?
I love Abba. It’s my housework music. When nobody else is home, I blast it. I know all the words to every song. I also have a soft spot for Christmas Carols. I never erase them off my iPod, so listen to them all year round. Lol
5. What’s next for you in terms of writing?
I actually have three books in the works. All standalones. The one I’m currently writing now, is called Hooker. It’s about a young girl who spends a good part of her childhood being shuffled around from one shitty foster home to next. When she’s eleven, she gets adopted by a rich socialite. She thinks things are look up when she’s placed into an exclusive all-girls school and finishing classes. She is showered with designer clothes and vacations all over the world. What she doesn’t know, is her adoptive mother is actually a madam. She spends the next seven years being secretly groomed to become a high class escort. Years later, a one night stand with a sinfully hot stranger, changes everything, and turns her life completely upside down.