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Red Hot Christmas by Mara White, K. Larsen (8)

 

Amber

 

Just like she promised she would, Amber sped to Westchester at least twenty minutes over the speed-limit and made it to her parent’s house just in time for pie.

“Well, Amber Elizabeth decided to grace us with her presence!” her sister Hannah Grace exclaimed. Amber set down her small Vuitton duffel and ran to hug her niece and nephew and then slightly less enthusiastically hugged her twin sisters, her brother-in-laws and then her mom and dad.

“The stuffing was incredible and the turkey turned out great. We all helped with the cooking so you’re on dish duty” Emily Anne said. All of the girls in the family had double first names. They went by their solo name publicly but at home they were always double to their parents and each other. It was kind of a mouthful. Amber was thankful that her sisters had the common sense not to give their offspring more than one name to contend with.

“Why would I have to do dishes if I didn’t even eat?” Amber asked her sister. “I mean I’ll help out, but logically it doesn’t make any sense. I have to clean up after you because I wasn’t here?”

“Come tell you mother about work. You don’t have to clean up anything. We’re just happy you made it,” her mother said smoothing over the sibling tension.

“Were you like the only person in the whole Empire State Building today? Did you have to get security clearance?” Hannah Grace asked her.

“Maintenance and security were there, but most of the offices were closed.” Amber accepted a steaming mug of coffee from her father.

“Pie in about an hour?” he consulted the room. The dining room table was a pillaged mess. Amber rolled up her sleeves and decided cleaning up might help her cool down. She’d run the entire live auction by herself this morning. She wasn’t a humbug but her three partners all had families to go home to and she wasn’t about to make any kid miss their dad on Thanksgiving. It made sense that she’d take care of it and they could make up for it in other ways.

“How much money did you make today, Ace?” Her father’s sweet nickname for her came from her acing her way through school. No matter how many A’s she made, her father was always enthusiastic and proud.

“Millions,” was her standard answer for the question he always asked her.

“Buy me the Harley for Christmas that makes your mother say, over my dead body, would you?”

“Taking her side on that one, dad,” she said as they stacked dishes in the kitchen.

Amber’s father had walked her down the aisle when she married Chase in the church they’d grown up in. She wore a silk organza gown with a long train that made her feel like a princess. It had been one of the most poignant moments of her life. Amber was madly in love with Chase and excited to embark on their new shared life. She couldn’t help but feel like she’d let her own family down when her marriage fell apart.

“Meet anyone interesting lately? Hannah Grace asked her. Hannah had cut her strawberry blonde hair into a short bob and the look really suited her.

“I work, literally, all the time,” Amber told her as she stacked plate after dirty plate into the dishwasher.

“Any hot guys you’ve just been, um dating?” Hannah said throwing a look over her shoulder at their father.

“I heard that. I’m leaving,” their dad said and let himself out into the backyard where the kids were running around with a soccer ball.

“You are free to have brand new dick and you’re not even taking advantage of it,” Hannah said. She licked the rubber spatula after filling glass cups with some type of pudding.

“Isn’t Dave, like, right there in the living room?” Amber asked her sister.

Hannah waived the spatula in the air and rolled her eyes like she couldn’t care less what Dave heard her talking about.

“Most people would jump at new dick. Like jump out of a moving car going ninety miles an hour down the freeway for that shit.” Hannah had been drinking.

“Are you and Dave, okay?” Amber whispered to her sister.

“Peachy. I’m just saying, I’d take advantage of the situation if I were you. Plus, hot Instagram sis. That should definitely help you.” Hannah was eating one of the puddings by dipping a long finger in the cup and sucking it off.

“What?!” Amber nearly screamed, her face going red with embarrassment.

“Duh, I know you don’t use it anymore, but once upon a time you had a Facebook account. So when you joined, it said on my screen, “your friend Amber Elizabeth is now on Instagram as Red Hooker Shoes, or whatever your name is.”

“Holy shit. I didn’t know it did that!” Amber said. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand.

“Obviously.”

“Don’t tell ANYONE!” Amber said. She had really blown it this time.

“Too late. Anyway, it’s a perfectly respectable way to get new dick. Hell, I thought the pictures looked hot. I gotta step up my MILF selfie game.”

“Jesus.” Amber said. She undid the strings of the apron she’d put on and balled it on the counter.

“Dave, we thought Amber’s pictures were hot, didn’t we?” Hannah hollered into the living room.

“We sure did!” Dave yelled back.

“What pictures?” Emily Anne and her mother said simultaneously.

“I’m taking that down right now,” Amber said. She was wringing her fingers and turning as red the leaves on the maple tree in her parent’s backyard. She rummaged through her purse and couldn’t find the damn phone.

“Leave them up,” Dave said. He sauntered into the kitchen and wrapped Hannah Grace up in his arms. He kissed her head and smiled at Amber. “We’ll all promise not to follow you. Besides, if this doesn’t help you snag a man, nothing will. You should give Hannah your trainer’s number,” Dave said. Hannah Grace punched him in the arm.

“I’m fine on my own,” Amber said, but they weren’t listening to her.

“This belly is from your son for your information,” Hannah huffed. Dave pulled her into a tight hug and began whispering in her ear. Amber turned around to the sink trying to stifle tears. She was mortified.

“Amber, if Chase saw these he would flip. We all know you’re a catch. You just have to communicate that to the rest of the world. I like the provocative picture thing, myself.”

“Don’t like it too much, Cowboy,” Hannah Grace told her husband. Dave gathered Hannah in his arms and kissed her again.

Amber often had her own doubts about whether or not Chase kept in touch with her two brothers-in-law. They’d all been peas in a pod at one point before Chase went off the deep end and thought he was the Wolf of Wall Street and she was just his expensive ornament.

Dave left them in the kitchen and went outside to kick the ball with the kids. Amber felt like she’d been caught staring in a porno flick compared to how private she usually was about her life and especially her sexuality.

“I’m not being facetious when I say it was a step in the right direction. I felt kind of proud of you, Amber, when I saw those. You’ve moved on and you’re one sexy bitch. Own it.”

Amber reluctantly gave a weak smile to her sister.

“You can disconnect Instagram from your Facebook and nobody will know the difference. Or your secret. It’s safe with me, I promise.”

Amber had kept countless secrets for both sisters over the years. They trusted her, and for the most part, she also trusted them. They might have both been a pain in her ass, but regardless, the girls were close and wanted what was best for her.

“I made it for this one guy who works in the building. He’s a custodian. Young, insanely handsome, and I think he’s a model. Just for fun and to flirt. He has no idea it’s me.”

Hannah Grace handed Amber a cup of pudding and they knocked the rims together in celebration.

“Happy Thanksgiving, hooker shoes.”

“Happy Thanksgiving.”