Little, Brown and Company
The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married—and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day—she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.
But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise—she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.
Little, Brown and Company
Book One | Christmas Dreaming
CLAIRE DONOGHUE, Gaby's eldest daughter, had just finished her mother's video, and, well, wow. Go, Gaby! For the moment, though, Claire was paying her household bills, and bill paying was kind of like playing "I love you, I love you not" with hand grenades. Sooner or later, Claire knew, one of them was going to blow up in her face. In everybody's face. "I love you, South Carolina Electric and Gas," she
said, placing that bill in the stack she intended to pay. "I love you not, emergency root canal." It was as good a system as any for deciding how to parcel out their slim income to pay the usual fat stack of bills. It was only during the luckiest of months that Hank's money from construction work, and Claire's income from tutoring, covered most of the bills. This was not one of those months.
Claire sat at a small, wobbly oak table in the chilly sunroom. She wore two Shetland sweaters in two different shades of dark blue, white painter's pants, and fingerless woolen gloves. She called her style cheap cute. And, in fact, Claire was cute. Even after three kids, she was still holding her own—pug nose rather than spreading pig nose, smattering of freckles, short reddish-brown hair, "girlish" figure.
The truth was, though, she felt anything but cute; she felt tired and run-down. She felt like total crap, and nobody knew it, and nobody much cared.
James Taylor was playing softly on Claire's laptop. She liked James okay, always had.
I've seen fire and I've seen rain.
Claire knew what he was singing about. She gazed out of the sunroom and although their house was three blocks from the beach, she could see a sliver of the gray December ocean. The sand was cold and the horizon lifeless. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was a summer hot spot, but for Claire and Hank Donoghue it was their year-round home. That meant that when the tourists left and the cheesy concession stands closed down and the splintery boardwalk was deserted—well, that meant that Claire and Hank were left with each other. And that wasn't always a good thing. Not for the past few years. And definitely not today. Hank just kept getting worse and worse and worse.
"Hey, babe," she heard him call from his downstairs den. "Can you bring me a big coldy-oldy tea and maybe-baby some Eyetalian crackers?"
Claire knew he was asking for an iced tea and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. She also realized, from his ridiculous language, that he was stoned out of his mind.
"In a minute," she called. She did not want a fight today. Or any day, really. She couldn't stand his blowups, but she didn't know what to do about them. The kids loved Hank.
She stood up, but she couldn't stop obsessing about the video from her mom—the one that had knocked the wind out of her. So, Gaby was getting married. That was pretty terrific. But her mom wouldn't say to whom. Just when and where. Christmas Day back home in Massachusetts at their farm. Gaby loved her mysteries.
"Hey, Claire, where's the grub?" Hank shouted again.
Claire rolled her eyes and headed for the kitchen. She couldn't help thinking that her mom would never, ever fetch coldy-oldies for her father—and her father would never have asked, certainly never have shouted up from the basement.
Keep the peace, Claire, she reminded herself. Only twenty-four days until Christmas.
Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Read by Susan McInerney, Kathleen McInerney, Ax Norman, Allyson Johnson, and Eileen Stevens
Susan McInerney is an audio book narrator of fiction and non-fiction—over 160 titles. She brings her experience in theatre, television, and radio to the recording booth.
Kathleen McInerney is an Audie award winning narrator. She has performed in New York City and around the U.S. in both classical and contemporary theater. Her other credits include television commercials, daytime drama, radio plays, and animation voice-over.
With nearly 20 years of voiceover experience, Ax Norman has voiced every conceivable type of voiceover. Ax has voiced over 60 audio books including I Drive a Dump Truck, Art Through the Ages, and Field Trip Mysteries.
Allyson Johnson began her entertainment career in her hometown of Chicago as an Emmy Award winning child news anchor. A graduate of Brown University, she is a working actress, singer, and audio book narrator in the New York City metropolitan area.
Eileen Stevens is a voice over actress living and working in NYC. Her voice can be heard on cartoons, promos, English as a Second Language programs, and audio books. She currently is the voice of "Iris" on "Pokemon" and a frequent narrator at Audible.com, among others. She’s directed audio books for Random House and was producer/director at Full House Productions, a recording studio in NYC, for over 6 years. She’s also a graduate student in speech language pathology at Hunter College.
Little, Brown and Company