AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: TJ Hamilton
CHRISTMAS IN THE BAHAMAS
“But I want my daddy read me stor-wee.” Little Maria rubs her eyes with tiny fists as she battles with sleep, and her bedtime story.
I flick open the picture book. “Daddy’s not home yet, so I get to read you a story, for once. And the quicker you go to sleep, the sooner Santa will be here in the morning.” I kiss her fat little cheeks and clear my throat to begin the story.
The thought of Pacer not being home, gives me a moment of uneasiness. Even after four years since we faked our deaths, I still can’t help but worry about Pacer when he has to go away somewhere. I know he’s more than capable of handling himself, but there is always an element of doubt, wedged into the back of my mind. It just comes with the territory.
But he should be home by now.
He only had to go over to the mainland to collect our Christmas packages in the mail. I didn’t expect him to be away all day.
I’ve got nothing to worry about.
I flick out the back of my hair. Just as I begin the opening sentence to the story, I hear the front door creak open.
“Did I miss Maria’s bedtime story?” Pacer’s voice alerts Maria and her eyes light up like floodlights.
She jumps out of bed before I even get an opportunity to react, screaming, “Daddy, daddy, daddy,” as she bolts down the hallway as quick as her little legs will carry her.
I don’t even take three steps before I hear a high-pitch squeal come from Maria. “AU’TY LODAN!” she screeches.
“Logan?” I murmur.
Holy shit! Logan’s here?
My walk turns into a run and as I turn to corner at the end of the long hallway, I see that it really is my cousin, my best friend —my brother and sister combined.
With Maria swinging around in her arms, Logan catches sight of me, and grins wide. I can’t help but laugh out, loud.
“What the hell are you doing here? You look so beautiful! Have you had some work done? You look … like …”
“Justin Bieber!” We both say, at the same time and laugh hysterically.
When she calms down, Logan explains her change of look, “I decided that I wanted to be more female than male, so I got some lip injections and fillers around my smile lines, but in the process of looking more feminine, I’ve come out looking like bloody Justin Bieber.”
I cannot stop laughing. This is the most ironic thing I have ever heard! For someone that didn’t want to be identified as either male or female for so long, her efforts to look more feminine have totally backfired on her.
“Is that nature telling you that you just need to be you?”
“Possibly.” She winks.
“Anyway … the more important question is how the hell are you even here?” I look across to Pacer, who is smirking mischievously, “I can’t believe you kept this from me,” I say to him and backhandedly slap him across his broad chest.
He shrugs. “This is part of your Christmas present, my beautiful wife.” leaning in, my husband kisses me softly on the lips.
“Kiss, kiss!” Maria claps and squeals.
“Come on, let’s settle in and I’ll pour us all a drink to celebrate.” Pacer directs us to the kitchen.
Logan over-exaggerates a groan as she puts Maria down on the ground, “You are getting so big now, Maria Logan Fratelli!”
Maria smiles and stretches up on her tiptoes, trying to make herself even taller.
I smile to myself as I think about part of Pacer’s present that I have waiting for him. If he’s surprising me with an early Christmas present, then I guess I had better do the same — especially if he’s about to make us drinks.
“This is a beautiful villa. I like it better than your place in Costa Rica.” Logan looks around our open plan living area and takes a seat on the banana-leaf woven couch. “Oh wow! That is a seriously beautiful tree. That reminds me of the one we would always have as kids, at Dolorous.”
Nodding, I agree. “I did that on purpose. I used to love that tree. I wanted Maria to experience the magic of Christmas, like we used to have as kids. I absolutely love living on this island. Hey! Guess whose villa is on the cay next door?”
Logan smiles as she answers, “Please don’t tell me it’s Bieber. Maybe he might need a body double?”
I laugh again. “No, Sir Richard Branson! How cool is that! The whole fifty acres on this cay is all ours. I’ll show you the entire private island tomorrow.”
“We have a chef coming in from the mainland at eight in the morning, to cook us a traditional Christmas lunch. There will be more than enough for all three and a half of us.” Pacer smiles and picks up Maria, brushing her dark wavy locks back with his hand.
I love seeing the two of them together. Their bond is special. The moment they wheeled me into the maternity suit — after my emergency caesarean — and I saw the sparkle in my husband’s eyes, as he peeled his them up from his tiny daughter. Right then, I knew there would be no greater love than theirs. Since that day, the two have been predictably inseparable. As much as I wish it were different sometimes, Maria is most definitely her daddy’s girl.
“You don’t miss your family?” Logan directs her question to Pacer.
He smiles sweetly and kisses Maria’s head. “I have my family right here.”
I know it’s been harder for Pacer to leave his family than it was for me. After my family gave me the ultimatum of Pacer or them, I had little choice. As I discreetly rub my belly, I know four years on, that this decision was definitely the right one.
“Let me get this Munchkin to bed, and I’m going to make us some eggnog, or would you prefer champagne? I had a create of vintage Veuve shipped in from Uncle Carlo.”
Now is my moment. I make my way towards the presents that spill out around the bottom of our four metre tall Christmas tree. Picking up the smallest wrapped gift, I make my way back to where Pacer is standing.
“Seeing as you’ve surprised me early, here’s my early present to you.” I hold out the long present that’s only just thicker than a pencil.
Pacer’s eyes light up as he puts Maria down slowly and takes the gift from my outstretched hand. He grins wide but shakes his head in disbelief. As he tears the wrapper away, his eyes narrow, focusing on my bulging boobs and pot-belly. When he sees the positive pregnancy test in his hands, he beams overwhelmingly bright.
“W—we’re having another baby?” he says with a slight pitch to his voice.
Nodding, a tear springs from the corner of my eye and I throw my arms around Pacer’s strong neck. He swings me around, narrowly missing our toddler daughter nearby. He catches sight of her and scoops Maria up to bring her into our embrace.
“You hear that, you’re going to be a big sister. Mummy’s got a little baby in her tummy.” He rubs my tummy, gently.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pacer more excited. This feeling will never get old. I’d have a football team if it meant sharing this special moment with him, every time.
Pacer stretches his head beyond me, to Logan. I turn around instantly to find Logan standing stunned, and clutching her mouth, tears streaking her cheeks with black lines from her thick mascara.
“That is the most special moment I have ever seen. Thank you,” she splutters.
I stretch my arm out for her to join us. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
Logan piles into the family huddle. “This is the best Christmas, ever.”
TJ is a former cop turned writer, published by Harlequin Mira. Using her first-hand experience from working in the belly of the beast at Sydney’s Redfern Command, TJ now writes sexy stories of mystery and intrigue.
Her head has been buried in crime since studying criminology at university over a decade ago, and she just can’t seem to shake her fascination with the macabre.
Life is gritty in TJ’s world, so sit back and expect the unexpected with one of her books.
Nowadays TJ re-lives the action packed life she may have once had through her strong fictional characters while living a quiet life in the tropics with her handsome husband and kids, where she writes a weekly column for her local newspaper.
Visit TJ Hamilton's website: http://www.tjhamiltonauthor.com/
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You can call me Miranda: http://amzn.to/1m9cfKd
Death's Shadow: http://amzn.to/1m9chBU
Defending Pacer: http://amzn.to/1MzciUp
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1. If money was no object what would take out the number one spot on your Christmas list?
Around the world trip with my family, every continent, for an entire year.
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”?
Agatha Christie. I was 9. Then I received my first Agatha Christie book for Christmas when I was 11 and it just cemented my obsession with writing. I still have that book today.
3. What does Christmas mean for you?
Being with family. Watching my kids open presents on Christmas morning, then eating and drinking your body weight for the day.
4. What’s your guilty pleasure, the one thing you hate admitting out loud?
I love reality TV shows. The Bachelor is my fave.
5. What’s next for you in terms of writing?
I’m in the midst of writing a crime/thriller. 2016 is a slight step away from romance to embrace my inner crime novelist.