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
BUT THIS CRAZINESS with Hank had to stop real soon, Claire was thinking. She could suck it up until the new year, for better or worse, for poorer or poorer, but then Hank had to get his act together and find a real, full-time job. No more excuses; no more softball games, flag-football games, or golf with his buddies three times a week.
Claire's overarching worry as she carried the snacks down to the den was that she might get a contact high from inhaling the gauzy clouds of weed that Hank had already generated in there. She also marveled at what a multitasker her husband was. He was resting on a faded foldout couch watching a Falcons-Saints game while listening to Radiohead blasting from speakers on the bookshelf.
Oh, yeah, and he was occasionally glancing at an article in Wired.
She studied Hank for a moment, trying to be objective. Talk about cute. In spite of the dirty matted blond hair, the two days of stubble, and the emerging potbelly, you couldn't miss the handsome farm boy hiding not too far underneath. Even the wardrobe was perfect: worn jeans, work boots, a worn-out blue-and-green-patterned flannel shirt.
"God, Hank, I don't know what smells more—you or the pot smoke," she said with a forced smile, setting a bag of Milano cookies and a huge glass of iced tea on the floor next to him.
"I was playing Sunday football, you get...you know...just get off my ass, will you...Like...just get...," he said, working hard to put together a coherent string of words.
"I have some good news," Claire said.
"You won the South Carolina lottery?"
"No. That's not it."
"Then why do I care?"
He was clearly in one of his sonofabitch moods, but she was determined to tell him her news. It had brightened Claire's day, actually, made her laugh out loud.
"I got one of those videos from my mom . . ."
Hank immediately began a bad and mean-spirited imitation of Gaby: "Oh, I'm so busy. I'm finding a cure for leukemia. I'm saving the rain forest. Me and my friends are feeding twelve-grain toast to the homeless of western Mass—"
"Stop it. That's totally unfair," Claire said. "Can I talk for a second here? Can I talk?"
To her surprise, Hank stopped. Maybe she'd confused him by interrupting his rant.
"My mom is getting married."
"Who's the lucky fella? I know, what's-his-name—Mark Harmon, right? Tom Cruise?"
"You're hilarious. Mom says she'll tell us at Christmas when we all go up there."
Hank's face fell, but not in a funny way.
"Yeah, well, I'm not snowplowing my way up to Massachusetts the day before Christmas," he said.
"My mom is getting married on Christmas."
"It's just some trick of hers to get everyone together at her farm. One big happy family."
"Maybe that is part of the plan. So? It's been almost three years since my dad died. The family hasn't been together since the day we buried him. My mother was in a dark place for a few years."
Hank tried another approach.
"C'mon, if you're up in Stockbridge for Christmas, who's going to tutor those colored kids you're so involved with? The retards that you spend so much time with?"
"First of all, two of the kids are white. Two are black, and those African-American children are classmates of our children, you asshole. I help them because . . ."
"What did you call me?" he yelled. Then he stood up unsteadily. Claire didn't like this. His face was so ugly now, and turning red.
"I'm just trying to explain, to get it through your . . ."
"What did you call me?"
"I called you what you're acting like—an ass-hole."
And suddenly he lifted his right hand and slapped her face hard.
Claire brought her own hand to her cheek. She rubbed the spot where he'd struck her. When she looked at Hank, he looked hurt, as if he had been the one who'd been assaulted. Hank reached out to her.
"Claire, I'm sorry. That was the weed talking . . ."
She turned away, lowering her head, not wanting him to see her cry.
He tried to touch her.
But Claire hurried toward the door. Before she walked out, she turned and spoke: "You are an ass-hole."
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