The Wednesday Before Christmas…

And all through the house, people were rushing about. Trying to get ready for all the get-togethers, they wrapped what presents they had and realized they had missed some. So off they flew to Walmart and Target, to World Market and Grocery Stores, and CVSs. Then when they returned home their crochet hooks flew and flew, twisting up yarn until those gifts were done too. Once all was done, they collapsed in bed. Thank goodness, they cried, that these holidays only come once a year. Next time we’ll start earlier, like in July.

Despite the horrible little poem I quickly came up with and shared above, we are actually pretty excited about the holidays here at the Olson household. It’s our first Christmas in our new house, and the boyo is old enough that he can participate last year, rather than just sitting in his bouncer. Next week, my husband has the entire week off from work, so we can all spend time together and do some daytripping around California. We also plan to finally get started on some repairs to the bathroom. Hopefully I can fit some more blogging in there too.

Anywho, since today is Wednesday, that means its WIPpet time. Since it’s December, here are 12 pages of a short story I wrote about five years ago. I may have shared it before, but I can’t remember, so here it is again! It features some of the characters from the Descendants, but is set before the Descendants takes place. The story itself has also changed significantly since I wrote it; for example, The Hounds of Hanoi biker club, it’s president Larry, and his wife Deanne no longer exist. The story also takes place in a little town called Ogden, but now it’s set in Tahoe, CA. Adam Palmer had no plans to get married any time soon, Vivian wasn’t a florist, and Audra was her best friend, not her soon to be stepsister.

Sometimes I miss this old version of the Descendants, but I do think the new version is stronger.

Without further ado, here is Mistletoe…

It was December in California again, and, while the temperature had dropped drastically in the Northern part of the state, they had yet to get any rain or snow. People grumbled about it and complained about another year of not having a ‘white Christmas’ but Matthew Bayranger found himself shrugging whenever anyone tried to bring it up to him. What did they expect, he would ask them. Had they forgotten that they were living in a desert? He had experienced enough snow and winter storms in his 30 odd years, and didn’t really care if it never snowed again. Besides, it was a pain in the ass to ride a motorcycle in the snow.

Usually whoever had who had tried to chat with him would back away at that point and Matthew would be left in peace until he ran into the next idiot who decided to bring up the weather.

However, today had been the Hounds of Hanoi MC’s annual Christmas toy run – which meant the club house was overrun with sweetbutts and hangarounds who didn’t seem capable of taking a hint. This blonde or that brunette had tried various ways to catch his eye, while a couple of kids tried to impress him in hopes that the biker might offer to sponsor him. The crowd waiting for their arrival at the hospital hadn’t been any better.

After everything had ended, Deanne, the club president’s wife, had insisted that the Hounds members and their families come over to her house for dinner and a gift exchange. She had made it clear to everyone that the groupies the club attracted were not welcome though, so when Matthew had pulled into the driveway and noticed that there wasn’t a scantily clad woman or yuppie wannabe biker anywhere to be seen he had finally allowed himself to relax a little. He was safe. He didn’t have to pretend to be nice and make small talk anymore. He could sit in a corner and not have to worry about being interrupted or being asked an inane question.

It wasn’t long before he had settled on his favorite spot in the backyard – the tail gate of the club president’s truck – with a drink in one hand and a smoke in the other. The perch gave him not only a good view of the goings on inside the house through the front window, but allowed him to keep an eye on the senior members who were gathered around the fire pit outside. Specifically the Old Man, Michael Bayranger, and the Old Man’s best friend, Adam Palmer.

While the rest of the men’s conversation seemed to circle around this run that they had done way back in the day, how that part was better than this one, or what air filter would be best for this member’s new Harley, Adam and Michael were discussing something far more serious; Palmer’s daughter Vivian, her latest boyfriend, and what to do about him.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if she cared about him, but you know she’s only parading him about to annoy me.” Palmer complained. Michael merely grunted in response; It was well known that Palmer disliked anyone who even looked at his daughter.“That’s all she ever does with any of these boys.”

“I’m surprised she brought him. I thought that this was supposed to be a family only party.”

Palmer grimaced, “Y’know how Deanne is. She has a soft spot when it comes to Vivi.”

Matthew snorted at that. He knew for a fact that Deanne wasn’t the only one; Michael also adored the girl, and, as much as he might rant and rave about her choice in men, Vivi was the center of her father’s world and he could never stay mad at her for too long.

And then there were his own feelings for her – which was another problem altogether. 

There was a burst of noise from inside the house and Matthew looked up in time to see Vivi helping Deanne carrying in some of the presents for the gift exchange. Most of the bags were skinny and tall, probably filled with liquor, though there were a few brightly wrapped boxes for the kids. One of the teenagers tried to grab one of the booze bags, but his plans were thwarted with Deanne smacked him on the head and took the bag back while Vivi laughed. Even though he couldn’t hear it, just seeing her laugh brought a smile to his lips. Damn, she looked good. He didn’t think that it would be much longer now – every day she looked more and more like the girl he met so long ago. Unfortunately, the date chose that moment to stand up and kiss her, ruining Matthew’s view. The biker growled to himself and lit a cigarette, turning his attention back to the old men.

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Vivi’s still young. She’s just sowing her wild oats.” Michael tried to appease his friend, but only got a dirty look instead.

“I’d rather not think of my daughter sowing anything.”

“Well what do you want her to do? Be a nun?”


Matthew chuckled at that and Palmer turned his glare on him. “You laugh now, but just wait till you have daughters.”

“I’ll leave them for the wolves.” The younger man stood and walked towards them. He jerked his head towards the house. “They just brought the gifts out.”

Michael smiled. “I thought that’s what you were up to.” He smacked Palmer in the arm and pointed to Matthew. “He was always like that as a kid; just couldn’t wait for Christmas to come to open his presents. I mean, he nearly broke his leg when he was seven, looking in the attic for that bike ‘Santa’ got him.”

“You were in jail that year. Remember? Mom moved us to England to get away.”  He was beginning to wonder if Michael had forgotten that this was all just a cover. It wasn’t a complete lie; Michael had had a wife who had left him when he went to jail for killing a man in a bar fight. He also had had a child who would have been Matthew’s age if the boy had lived past his sixth birthday. Thankfully Michael had joined the Hounds after the child passed away, so none of the older members knew. But more and more often he was having these slips where he would start bring up things that had never happened, making Matthew suspect that he really thought he was his son.

And that could be dangerous. What if Michael made a mistake one of these days and someone figured out that the kid in the pictures looked nothing like their newest member? The Hounds would not appreciate that they had been lied too for all these years, and he, Palmer, and Matthew would probably end up face down in a ditch somewhere.

“Oh, right.” Michael downed the remainder of his beer and tossed it into the fire pit, watching as it shattered against the metal ring. “Well, if they’re bringing out the presents, then let’s go inside where there’s more booze.”


Inside the house was already a mess. Piles of Christmas wrapping paper where everyone, and the kids were in the middle of the chaos as they played with their new toys. Those children who had already lost interest in their presents had clustered around Michael and were begging him to tell a story. The old man easily agreed and quickly started telling them about the Legend of the Three, which wasn’t exactly a Christmas story in Matthew’s opinion.

A muscle started to jump in Palmer’s cheek. “I wish he wouldn’t tell that stupid story anymore.”

Matthew ignored him. He could remind the man that he had told the story as often as Michael had back in the day but decided against it. Instead he scanned the room, looking for Vivi. The Three was one of her favorite stories, and normally she would be right there with the kids as soon as Michael started up. Tonight she was curiously absent. He finally spotted her in a corner – curled up on an armchair with the date, both of them completely oblivious to the rest of the room as they made out.

Shit. He suddenly preferred dealing with the idiots in town more and turned to leave. Palmer stopped him before he could reach the door, “If I’m stuck here with that, then so are you.”

The biker gave him a glare and forced himself deeper into the room. He managed to find a seat against a wall, where a bookcase hid Vivi and the dumbass from his view, just as Deanne started to hand out the Christmas presents for the adults.  Sadly he wasn’t lucky enough to get alcohol for his gift; instead someone thought it was funny to give him a whiskey bottle with two live goldfish in it. Great. Just what he needed; pets. If you could even call fish that. Personally he’d rather eat them. He snorted and watched them swim around for a minute before setting the bottle off to the side and opening up the other present; a Harley Davidson service manual. Now that was more much more useful than a couple of fish.

“Don’t you like them?” A voice asked.

“Like what?” Matthew looked up to find one of the Hound’s daughters standing in front of him. She looked like she was at least in her early twenties, and he thought that he might have seen her hanging out with Vivi at some of the get togethers. What was her name again? Annette? Arlene?

“The fish.”

“Oh. Um. Yeah. They’re nice.” He scratched at his head. “Did you get them for me?”

“Yeah.” Her smile was too perfect for his tastes. “Mom suggested that I get you something to help brighten up the garage like a plant or something. I thought fish might be more interesting than a plant.”

“Ah.” Matthew would have preferred the plant. “Thank you.”

She continued to stand there, looking at him expectantly. “They’ll need to be put into a fishtank eventually. I mean, I don’t think it’s good for them to stay in the bottle forever.”

“Yeah. I guess it isn’t.” He turned back to the manual hopping that she would take the hint and leave him alone. Unfortunately she was dimmer than the sweet butts, because, instead of giving up and leaving like they would have at this point, she sat down on the arm of his chair.

“There’s a nice little petshop about an hour down the highway.” The nameless one continued to babble. “It’s right next to this Italian restaurant. Maybe we could go down there this week and get a tank for the little guys, and maybe dinner too?”

That was the downside to living in this century; women were way too forward. Matthew didn’t know if he had the sexual revolution or Feminism to thank for that. “Thanks but I think the Old Man has a tank out in the garage someplace.”

“Oh, well maybe we could still get dinner sometime.”

“Italian’s not my thing.”

“There’s a Mexican place on the main drag…”

“Learn to take a hint, honey – he’s obviously not interested.” Vivian spoke up; she leaned around the bookcase to look at them, her eyes flashing in amusement.

The girl flushed a bright pink at the interruption. “Shouldn’t you be off helping Deanne or something?”

“Nah. Watching you make a fool of yourself is more interesting.”

“Look who’s talking!” The girl squawked. “I’m not the one making out with some wimp in front of everyone.”

Vivian’s expression turned cold. The girl had obviously overstepped some line by bringing up the date. “Look, why don’t you run along before I call up your Mom and tell her that her daughter is acting like a sweetbutt.” When the girl didn’t move she pulled out her cell phone and started tapping out a number. She quirked an eyebrow as she held the phone up to her ear. “Hello? Mrs. Morgan?”

Nameless fell off the chair arm in her attempts to get away from Matthew as quickly as possible. She retreated to stand by another club member that Matthew assumed was her father, and pretended to be as interested as possible in some tool set he had gotten. Vivian giggled as she snapped her cell phone shut. “Dumb blonde.”

Matthew shook his head and smiled, “I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess Mrs. Morgan wasn’t on the phone.”


“Nice. Thanks.”

“Not a problem.” She winked at him and Matthew felt his smile falter. For a split second he was thousands of miles and years away, where it was just him and her sitting in front of a campfire, their voices nothing but low murmurs drifting through the snow covered woods. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Fine. I’m going outside for a smoke.”

“Have fun with that.” She smiled at him as he made his escape, but was quickly distracted by something that her date told her. The boy must have said something funny, because her laugh followed him out the door onto the porch, and it took everything Matthew had not to go back in there and shove the kid up against the wall. That laugh, those smiles and kisses should be his, not the brat’s.


Michael came looking for him when he didn’t go back inside, and found him hiding in the President’s garage, sitting on the tailgate of his 55 ford truck. The old man hopped up next to him and handed him a beer. “Everything alright?”

“No.” Matthew shook his head and sighed. He flicked his cigarette butt away from him, frowning when it landed short of the fire pit.

“The boy being a problem.”

“Yes. And it doesn’t help that it’ll be any day now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Every day she looks more and more like the girl I met in the forest back home.”

Michael grunted. “Have you ever thought of maybe telling her?”


“Why not? Are you going to slowly disappear like Marty Mcfly or something?”

“Dunno. Don’t care to find out.” Matthew didn’t think his story would go over so well if he told anyone about who he really was. They’d probably laugh at him, then secretly arrange for him to be locked up in some padded room somewhere – If the Hounds didn’t kill him first. He sighed. “She had no idea who I was when we met, so that means that we never told her, so we won’t tell her.”

Michael chewed over that for a moment. “I would feel better about this if she knew something… just something to prepare her.”

“She’ll do fine.”

“Well obviously she lasts long enough to meet you. But what about after?”

That same thought kept Matthew up at night. He knew she was strong, that she had her friends to help protect her, but there was no way to know what the future held for Vivi. No way to predict if she would walk out of this alive or not.

What if she didn’t? What if something bad happened after she had left his protection? What if they woke up one day to find that she was simply gone? What would he do? She was the whole reason he was here after all. He jumped down from the tail gate. “I need another beer.”

“Why don’t you get me one too, while you’re at it.”

The younger man nodded and started off at a lope towards the house. Larry, the club president, had a spare refrigerator on the back patio that was usually stocked with Guinness or Sam Adams. And he wouldn’t be interrogated by Deanne about his disappearance like she was sure to do if he tried to get a beer from the kitchen. Unfortunately, Vivi’s date was there, his head almost all of the way in as he looked for something. Great. He went to turn around to head into the house but the kid looked up at his approach. “Hey bro…”

“I’m not your ‘bro’.”

“Sorry.” He paled a little and Matthew smiled to himself. “Ah, do you know if there’s any more Pabst around? The stuff Vivi and I brought ran out.”

“Nope.” The biker shoved him out of the way and grabbed three bottles of Guinness off the top shelf. Feeling a little bit charitable he tossed one towards the boy. “Try that. It’s better than that piss you’re looking for.”

“So you’re Matthew right? Vivi was telling me some pretty funny stories about you.” He decided to follow the biker back to the garage.

That peaked his interest a little. The real Matthew had passed away when she was two years old, so he hadn’t thought she would remember anything about him. Against his better judgment he motioned for the date to follow him back to the truck.“Like what?”

“She said that there was this one time you tried to drive your dad’s bike and crashed it…”

“Bullshit.” Matthew snorted. Michael had driven the same Harley softail for almost 40 years, a bike that weighed nearly a ton. No kid would be able to handle that thing. He glanced up at the old man. “Looks like you’re not the only one telling stories.”

“I can’t help it if I rub off on people.” Michael shrugged. “So how long have you two been dating?”

“Only about two months.”

“Congratulations; most of Vivi’s boyfriends don’t usually last that long.”


“Oh yeah. Don’t get me wrong – I love my goddaughter, but she doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to relationships. I think the only one that lasted longer than a few months was when she was dating this guy here.” Michael nudged the younger biker with his foot.

Matthew choked on his beer. “How can I date someone if I was half a world away?”

“Well, she certainly sent you a lot of emails. Like twenty a day. And then there was all that time that they spent together once you moved back here.”

“We did not…” Matthew started, but Michael nudged him again with his foot, hard enough to knock the wind out of him this time, and shot him a look to silence him.

“Don’t mind him. He just doesn’t like to admit to it because Adam was pissed when he started dating Vivi. Threatened to kill him and the whole nine, so he broke up with her to try to keep the peace, only that made things worse — well, you know how dads can be.” The date nodded, his eyes as wide as dinner plates, and Michael smiled at him. Matthew had to shake his head and look away. Stupid old man and his fucking lies. “So, has she started calling you anything yet?”

“Vivi? No. Why?”

Michael hissed and lit a cigarette. “Well, Vivi’s fond of nicknames. I’m boss-man, since she works for me at the garage.” He jerked his head towards Matthew. “He’s Lancelot because he was her ‘knight in shining armor’ or some bullshit like that. I think she called the last guy her partner in crime – I’m surprised she hasn’t found a name for you yet. She usually has one figured out by the second date, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Maybe it’s just a sign that she plans on keeping you around.”

“Hey! Guys! Dinner’s ready!” Vivian was standing on the patio, watching them.

“Coming!” The old man nodded at the date. “Why don’t you run along? We’ll be in in a minute or two.”

Matthew waited until the boy was out of earshot before laying into Michael. “What the fuck was all of that?!”

“Adam wants him gone. So we get rid of him.”

“By filling up his head with nonsense about Vivi and nicknames and…. You do realize she’s going to kill us right?”

“Better her than Palmer.”

“You haven’t seen her with a knife!”

Michael laughed, and jumped down from the truck. He slapped the younger man on the back. “Well, thankfully you haven’t taught her how to handle a knife yet, now have you?”


Dinner had just been cleared off of the table when Matthew ducked back outside for another smoke. Raised voices caught his attention and he looked up the driveway to where Vivi stood next to her date’s car, clutching to his car door and preventing him from closing it. He couldn’t make out what she was saying, but he had a feeling that she was begging the dumbass not to go, and it irked him. The Vivi he knew didn’t beg. She wouldn’t waste her tears on such a piece of crap.

But, he reminded himself, the girl he was watching now wasn’t his Vivi yet.

The bastard said something that made Vivi let go of the door. He slammed it shut and peeled out of the driveway, his car tires squealing on the asphalt. Vivian turned around and started up the driveway, the streetlight shining on her wet cheeks. Matthew felt his heart drop. Shit. She had been crying. That boy would be dead the next time he saw him.

He took a drag from the cigarette, plotting out the most painful way to kill someone as he leaned against the railing. Vivian must have seen the glow from his smoke because she looked up at him and her eyes narrowed instantly. “You… you asshole! And after I rescued you too!”

Matthew blinked in surprise. “Wait. What?”

“You told Denis that I had dated you, that I was still hung up on you.”

“No, you’ve got that all wrong; Michael was the one who said all that – not me!”

“And you let him?”


“You were standing right there, why didn’t you try to stop him?!” Her voice kept getting louder as she continued. Matthew tried to shush her. He grabbed her shoulder to pull her away from the house before anyone could hear, but she just batted his hands away. “I am so sick of this! Every time I get a boyfriend he gets chased off by the Hounds. Are you all deliberately trying to ruin my life or something?”


“It’s VIVIAN!”

“Vivian. Sorry. Vivian.” He was suddenly very glad that she hadn’t learned how to play with knives yet. “The old man was just having a little fun. We didn’t mean to chase him off. We don’t mean to chase any of them off. It’s just us joking around.”

She didn’t buy his lies. “Really? You could have fooled me. He’s the third one who brought up the Hounds just before he dumped me.”

“It was just a joke. If he can’t take it then he doesn’t belong here.”

“He wasn’t a prospect! He was my boyfriend!”

“Don’t kid yourself girl. You’re Palmer’s daughter. You’re family. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe he might have tried to become a Hound eventually? Or did you forget about some of your exes.” Vivian’s mouth became a thin line at that. She had been more than a little pissed when she discovered that two of the kids she had dated later tried to prospect with the club. Matthew had overheard her crying to Deanne about how she felt used – that they had only wanted to date her because her Dad was a Hound.

“Not him! He was a good guy!”

“Not if he was treating you like that.” Matthew snorted. She flushed and looked away, avoiding his eyes.

“He was just so mad at that shit you and your jackass of a father had to go and pull…”

The biker crossed his arms over his chest in order to keep himself from reaching out and shaking some sense into her. If he did, it would make him no better than the dumbass she was so worked up about. “Then he should have come and yelled at me or the old man, not taken it out on you.”

“Whatever,” She snorted, trying to act like she was still mad at him. Despite that he could see that he was getting through to her. “Just stay away from my boyfriends.”

“Then don’t bring them around.”


“Good.” Matthew lit another cigarette, and chose to ignore Vivian as she stomped up the steps to the porch and flopped down on the porch swing. How could he had thought earlier that it was almost time when she still acted so immature? Maybe his being here had changed something.

There was a giggle from the swing and he glanced over to find her smiling to herself. “He was a dumbass wasn’t he? I mean, especially if he thought I dated you – anyone with two braincells could see that if we dated we’d be at each other’s throats all the time.”

“Yeah.” He gave her a weak smile in return.

“Why is your dad so hung up on us being together, anyways?”

“What do you mean?”

“It seems like everyone you try to date, or I try to date, eventually gets told this story about how you and I used to be a couple, when we weren’t, or how we used to play house together when we were younger, or how you promised you’d marry me when you were two.”

“When I was two? You weren’t even a glimmer in your parent’s eyes yet.” Hell, she wasn’t even a glimmer in her many times great grandparent’s eyes for that matter either. Matthew allowed himself a small chuckle. “He’s an old fool; who knows what goes on in that brain of his.”

“Mmmm.” Vivian stood up and leaned against the railing next to him. She smelled good; a mixture of some floral soap and cider. It was distracting, yet he found himself shifting closer towards her so that their arms touched. “You still shouldn’t have let him say all that stuff though.”

“Have you tried to stop him once he gets started on one of his stories?” He raised an eyebrow at her and she shook her head. “No? Consider yourself lucky – I’m sure I’ll have a bruise from where he kicked me in the ribs.”

She laughed at that. “I’ll make sure not to interrupt him then.”

Her eyes caught the glow from the Christmas lights just right. Brown, with hints of red, blue and orange – but no green yet. She was still safe. Matthew couldn’t help but remember Michael’s words from earlier; ‘Have you ever thought of telling her?’ He couldn’t – but what if there was a way to warn her without flat out telling her the truth?

“Hey!” Vivian socked him lightly in the arm, startling him. “Earth to Matthew. Are you with us?”

“Sorry. I was just thinking about something.”

“I noticed.” Her gaze flashed to the driveway and then back to him. “You’re not going to go after him are you?”

“What? No.” He cleared his throat. How could he go about doing this? “You remember that story Mi…. my Dad likes to tell?”

“Yeah. The one about the Three. What about it?”

“What if there were actually four?”

The front door slammed open startling Vivian and making her jump away from him.

“Here she is! Adam! She didn’t leave with that boy after all!” Deanne’s cheerful voice rang out, invading the silence of the porch. She led Palmer outside. “What’s going on here?”

Matthew ducked his head to his chest and growled out a curse in frustration. It figured that that someone would choose now to interrupt them. Vivian seemed to realize that what he said wasn’t English, and glanced at him sharply, “What did you…”

“Nothing.” He cut her off and smiled at the club president’s wife. “We were just chatting.” That seemed to appease her.

“Oh. Just a chat?” Palmer’s gaze flicked between him and Vivian. “What happened to the boy?”

Vivian gave a fake little laugh. “Change of plans. He had to go run an errand for his Mom… so I decided to stay here.”

“Why don’t you two come inside where it’s warmer?” And where, Matthew knew, the older man could keep an eye on them. So much for trust between fellow Hounds. He can’t really blame Palmer though; he’d probably behave the same way if the shoe were on the other foot.

“I’m fine Dad.”

“I don’t want you getting sick.”


Palmer gave her a look that would have sent most people running. “Vivi. Inside. Now.”

“As soon as I finish out here.” She crossed her arms over her chest, refusing to budge.

Deanne gave Matthew a pleading look that neither Palmer nor his daughter noticed. The younger man shook his head and sighed, then grabbed Vivian’s arm and swung her towards the door. “Aren’t there more presents to open?”

“No. We handed them all out. Now what were you saying about the Three?”

“Y’know, I don’t remember anymore.” Matthew didn’t need to turn around to know that Palmer was glaring at him.

“You said something about what if there were four girls instead of three?” Vivian stopped under the entryway into the living room, refusing to let herself be pushed or pulled any further. There is a curious look on her face, like a religious fanatic finding a kindred spirit. It made Matthew regret bringing up the subject. He should have just left it alone and let her continue her ranting and raving about the Hounds should stay out of her social life. “I mean, it would make sense that there are four girls since there are four elements. That’s what I’ve always told Michael, but he just laughs at me.”

Matthew could almost feel the rage boiling off of Palmer. Shit.

Someone let out a wolf whistle and he looked over to find Michael watching them with a huge grin on his face.  The old man pointed to the lighting fixture above them. “Look who’s under the mistletoe!”

Vivian looked up, and Matthew couldn’t help but follow her gaze. There was a bunch of the poisonous berries tied above them with a bright seasonal ribbon. Matthew knew it was an old pagan tradition, but he had never really understood it. He was suddenly grateful for the interruption though because any discussion about the Three was instantly forgotten.

“Go on! Kiss her! I know you’ve wanted to ever since you got here!” Michael had to go and open his fat mouth again at the same time that Palmer shouted, “Bayranger! Don’t you even think about it!” Matthew wasn’t sure if he was yelling at him or at his friend though, but now all eyes were on him and Vivian, waiting expectantly and several of the Hounds were yelling cat calls.

“Oh no. Oh hell no.” Vivian was glaring at him again.

This was the perfect opportunity for Matthew to save himself from his own fuck up. If he kissed her against her will, she would avoid him for the rest of the evening – probably for months. He would feel like a hypocrite after earlier but there would be no more discussions about old fairy tales that were really true, and he wouldn’t be so tempted to tell her everything. He’d get hell from Palmer but it would be well worth it.

He couldn’t bring himself to do it though. He may have played the big bad biker for six years now, and had gotten really good at pretending that he didn’t give a crap, but he respected the girl she would be in the future too much to force her to do something against her will. Not to mention he didn’t want to face her wrath when she did wake up one day, recognized him for who he was, and remembered this night. Granted, they would have bigger problems to worry about at that time, but, in his experience, women tended to remember and get upset over the most irrelevant things at the most inopportune moments.

She stiffened as he leaned down so that his lips were next to her ear. “Take pity on a man in front of his brothers.”

“I’d be more concerned about my Dad than the rest of the Hounds if I were you. The Hounds will just give you crap – he’ll kill you.”

“I’m already on his shit list.” He smirked. “What’s the old saying? In for a penny, in for a pound?”

Vivian snorted. “Just a peck.”

“Right. Just a peck.” Matthew caught her lips with his own before she had a chance to change her mind. It was just a brief brush of his mouth against hers, but then Michael yelled out something about how it needed to be a real kiss and he pressed his lips against hers again, more firmly this time. Her eyes flew open in surprise, and he winked at her to reassure her – just like she had done to him so long ago. She rolled her eyes at him, but she soon closed them again and she didn’t pull away.

He’d forgotten how soft her lips were, how right it was to have her in his arms. God, how he had missed her. Unconsciously he tried to deepen the kiss, his tongue slipping inside her mouth to taste her.

It was a mistake. He had forgotten yet again that this Vivian wasn’t his Vivian yet, and she suddenly stiffened, pulled away from his touch and socked him in the face before running past Deanne and her father back outside to howls of laughter from the living room.


Loud noises woke Matthew up. He looked around the room for moment, confused by the smooth walls and stacks of books. Where was he? This didn’t look anything like…

Someone started singing some song about an old woman who lived in the woods, their off key voice carrying easily down the hall. The young biker flinched and covered his head with his pillow as everything from the night before came flashing back to him. Right. He was back in his room at Michael’s house. Somehow, miraculously, he had made it home to his own bed after allowing his club brothers to get him shit faced. Hopefully his bike was still in one piece.

The bastard singing his heart out got louder – loud enough that the pillow didn’t block out the racket anymore. Who the hell was up at such an ungodly hour? It couldn’t be Michael. Michael was never out of bed before two. Maybe it was an intruder? But who the hell would try to break into a Hounds house? His nose twitched as he caught the smell of fresh coffee. And why would the intruder be cooking for them? Groaning, Matthew forced himself to get up, pull on his jeans, grab a baseball bat from the hallway, for just in case, and head downstairs. He tracked the noise to the kitchen and found Michael was making scrambled eggs, alternating between humming and singing along to the old radio on the counter.

Matthew dropped the bat off next to the fridge before helping himself to a cup of coffee. “You’re up early.”

“So four in the afternoon is early now?” The old man laughed, making Matthew wince, then spotted the bat and smiled. “My singing that bad?”

“You sound like a cat in heat.”

“That’s what you’re moth…” He caught the younger man’s look and sighed, “Sorry. I mean my ex wife used to say. How’s your head?”

“I feel like a mac truck hit me.”

“You can thank me for that. I’m the one who taught that girl how to throw a punch. Or did you drink so much that you forgot what happened with Vivi?”

No, unfortunately he had not gotten nearly plastered enough to forget that. Matthew bent so he could look at his reflection in the window over the sink; a bruise covered his skin where she had caught him on the jaw. It wasn’t the first time he had gotten a bruise from her, but now he knew who to blame for teaching her to fight like that. Too bad there was no way to warn his younger self. “Did Palmer ever find her last night?”

“Yeah, she had made it halfway to old town. He took her home rather than going back to Larry and Deanne’s.”


“What in the world made you think that you could kiss her like that?”

“Some damned old fool shouting something about a real kiss.” He glanced over at Michael, but the biker was suddenly very busy with his eggs. “Palmer’ll have my hide for this.”

“Your hide, your cut, and probably your balls too. Was it worth it at least?”

“Oh hell yeah.”

Michael laughed again, making Matthew wince at the noise. “Merry Christmas son.”

“Merry Christmas to you too, you old fart.”

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