First Christmas story for Cathy who wanted to see a little Ashwood sibling interaction.
“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven Leaud’s swimming, six Gregin’s growling, five silver bolts, four caged Zizks ….,” Viola sang as she pushed the door open with her hip.
“I’m going to kill Duke for teaching you that song.”
Viola stopped abruptly. The plastic shopping bags hanging from her wrists slapped her thighs. She grinned merrily at Sebastian before finishing the song. “Three days rotation, two Preas prancing, and a detachable box magazine for my FN Five-Seven.”
“You don’t even like guns, Vi,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the dresser.
“No, I don’t like to fire guns. I have nothing against them on principle. I can appreciate the shininess.” Viola dumped the bags at her feet and jerked her head towards the parking lot. “C’mon. There’s more in the car.”
“More?” Sebastian’s jaw dropped. He stepped over the small pile of bags and followed his sister to the trunk of his new SUV. Though he preferred driving cars over trucks and SUVs, the vehicle gave them more room during the long trips and the four-wheel drive was handy.
He gasped when he saw the bags piled up in the rear of the SUV. “Sheesh, Vi, what’d you do? Buy out the entire store?”
“Nope.” She pulled a long box free, stood it on end, and shoved it at his chest. “But I gave it my best shot.”
It took them four trips to clear out the rear of the SUV. Sebastian lined the bags up along the wall and the edge of the bed so there was a clear path to the bathroom. He tried to peek into one of the bags only to have his hands slapped away by a Santa-hat wearing Viola.
“Where’s the grouch?” she asked, nudging the bag under the bed with her foot.
“Olivia’s doing laundry like you asked her to.” Though he'd agreed that a little cheer was in order, he hadn’t enjoyed listening to Olivia’s ten-minute rant on irresponsible sisters and improperly opened ketchup packets.
“You should join her.”
Sebastian snorted. It was a well-known fact that he and laundry didn’t mix. Left to his own devices, he’d once turned an entire load of white clothes a garish shade of purple. Olivia had exempted him from all future laundry duties but had made him wear the purple shirts and socks as punishment.
“It wasn’t really a suggestion, Bas. Go keep Olivia company.” When he made no sign of moving off the bed, Viola sighed. She wrapped her arms around her middle and stared out the open curtains at the parking lot. Snow dusted the cars and the walkways. “Look, I know I’ve been a real Scrooge the past couple of Christmases, but I want to make up for it this year.”
“It’s not necessary, kiddo.”
Viola shrugged. She knew it wasn’t necessary; Olivia and Bas understood her reasons for being anti-Christmas the prior years. She needed to get out of her funk, though, and she worked better alone. “I brought my rock and roll Christmas CD.”
Sebastian grabbed his coat off the back of a chair. He pecked her cheek on his way to the door. “I think I’ll take Livy a cup of coffee.” The door slammed shut behind him.
“Works every time.”
While singing along with The Kinks and George Thorogood, Viola transformed the bland hotel room into a bright, festive holiday-spirit-palooza. She hastily wrapped the small presents she’d purchased for her siblings and placed them underneath the fiber optic tree along with the gifts she’d picked up weeks earlier. She hung long strands of metallic garland across top of the burgundy curtains, stuck blue snowflake decals to the bathroom mirror, and set cinnamon-scented flameless candles on every available horizontal surface. Stuffed reindeer, snowmen, and Santa Clauses covered the two queen-sized beds.
When she heard footsteps outside the door, she poured apple juice into plastic cups and stuck a cinnamon stick into each cup. She thrust a glass into Olivia’s hands as soon as the door opened.
“Merry, merry Christmas, Livy-liv-liv!”
Olivia glanced over her shoulder at Sebastian, pursed her lips and arched an eyebrow. “Look, it’s a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Crack.”