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By Jalena Burke


Alyssa thought she was spending a quiet, romantic Christmas in a mountain cabin with her husband, but when he tells her that his mother is coming and won't agree to say they have other plans, Alyssa leaves without him. After the last catastrophic holiday with her mother-in-law, she would rather spend Christmas by herself. When Alyssa arrives there, she realizes how much she misses her husband, though it's too late for her now. Or is it? Minor McClaren has no intention of letting his wife spend Christmas without him.



"Our cabin is already paid for." Alyssa McClaren went to swipe a strand of hair from her face, thought better of it, and left it there. At least it'd hide her eyes and the tears that threatened to escape.

"I'm sure they'll give us our money back," Minor said.

"We've discussed this over and over again. I want to go away, just the two of us, for Christmas. You promised me."

"Oh, come on, Alyssa. I can't tell my mother she's not welcome."

"It's not that she's not welcome." Alyssa's voice cracked, and she turned away to adjust an ornament on the tree she'd decorated herself. Why couldn't Minor understand anything she tried to tell him? He was always taking his mother's side.

Margie had been a bitch to her over the Thanksgiving holidays. That was nothing new, she always acted like a bitch to her, but this time had been humiliating. And now Minor tried to tell her that his mother decided to come down for Christmas, and they were to cancel their plans?

She didn't think so.

"Our plans can be changed. We shouldn't ask her to change hers."

Alyssa turned on him, glaring. She wished daggers would come out of her eyes. At this moment, she hated the man she was supposed to love for the rest of her life.

"Our plans have been made for months. You just didn't want to tell her at Thanksgiving."

"It isn't a big deal."

"Not a big deal? Fuck you." She flung past him into the bedroom. He followed.

"I'll help you cook dinner," Minor said as if that might be the only reason she was pissed. "We'll prepare it the night before so my mom won't be around to criticize. It'll be fine."

It wouldn't be fine. Alyssa was sick of that woman destroying their lives. She didn't have one of her own, so she tried to live through her son.

Alyssa grabbed her suitcase from the closet and threw it on the bed. Her throat ached from suppressing tears, but now she let them roll.

"Come on, Lys." Minor place his hand on her shoulder, and she nudged it away. "It's Christmas. She'll be devastated. It's supposed to be about family."

"Family? I haven't spent Christmas with my family in three years." She held up three fingers to make her point, and evaded his maneuver to get closer. She shoved him away and grabbed clothes from the closet with jerky movements. "And we're not the only children your mother has to annoy. We're just the only ones who haven't given her grandchildren yet. You'd think she'd want to go see them."

"Maybe she's afraid we'll be lonely."

"Ha," Alyssa spat. "If you'd told her we had other plans, she couldn't think that, now could she?"

"I didn't want to hurt her. It's only for a few days."

"She just wants to rub my failures in my face and ruin any plans we might have made."

"Oh, come on, don't be ridiculous."

Alyssa didn't know how she was being ridiculous. She lived thousands of miles away from her family and she only saw them once a year, in the summer. Heaven forbid if they should go see them for the holidays. We don't want to hurt poor Margie's sensitive feelings, but it was okay to hurt everyone else.

It was okay to cancel the plans they'd made, the money they'd paid, but nobody can tell poor Margie no.