Monstrous Valentines

Have you made Valentines for your friends and family yet? Fear not, we’ve got you covered with our Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests valentines!

Print them out, write your loved ones names, and you’re done!

Link to our drive here

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests by Jen and Éric Desmarais is available for pre-order soon!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Add it to your “Want to read” on Goodreads here!

Santa Part 2

A short story for Christmas when Kennedy was 8 years old. This was not written for small children.

It was, however, written for those who recently found out the truth about Santa Claus, a group to which my daughter now belongs.

Read Part 1 here

“Hey, Tommy. Are you taking a bath with me?” Kennedy asked the seven-month-old, who was sitting in the empty laundry basket next to the tub.

The little boy smiled happily at her and waved the yellow duck bath toy clutched firmly in his fist.

“No, he had his bath this afternoon,” her mother said. “He’s here because the big kids have chores and homework to do.”

“Oh, I don’t mind.” Kennedy made quick work of her clothes, dropping them in a little pile next to the basket. “I love hanging out with him.”

The water was nice and hot, and she sank into it with a sigh of satisfaction, propping her elbows on the edge of the tub so she could continue to watch Tommy playing.

“I got a call from Mrs. Fox, Sadie’s mom, this afternoon,” her mother said, digging a washcloth out of the linen closet behind the door.

Kennedy dropped below the edge of the tub, sinking as much of herself under the water as possible, but didn’t say anything.

“Sadie told her that her bloody nose wasn’t as bad as your black eye.” Her mother squirted a bottle of bubble bath into the water near the faucet before perching on the edge of the tub and sighing. “Kennedy, we need to talk.”

“They were being mean to the grade ones!” Kennedy blurted out.

“The grade eight boys?”

Kennedy nodded and swished herself around until she was sitting cross-legged, her knees poking out of the water. “Sadie told them to leave the kids alone, to stop telling lies about Santa not existing. They wouldn’t leave!”

“And instead of going to get a teacher, you decided to fight them?”

“I was angry.” Kennedy scooped some bubbles up with her hands and made them into a tower.

“Did it solve anything?”

“Maybe they’ll think twice next time.” Kennedy squished her mountain fiercely, sending bubbles splashing up the wall and onto her mother’s leg. “Oops. Sorry, Mom.”

“Would it be worth it if I got angry with you right now? You know you’re not supposed to splash in the tub.”

“No,” Kennedy replied quietly.

“What could you have done differently?”

Kennedy gathered the bubbles into a large circle in front of herself. “They attacked Sadie first. If I’d run for a teacher, she might have gotten hurt worse. I suppose… I could have asked a little kid to get a teacher and screamed my head off?”

“They attacked Sadie first?” Her mother’s mouth thinned. “I hadn’t heard that part. I think we need to have a discussion with those boys and their parents with the principal present.”

“Good idea. They need to know that they can’t tell lies and get away with it.” Kennedy started making a smaller circle above the big one.

“You’re right, but Kennedy, darling, we need to talk about Santa Claus.”

“Did he not get my letter?” Kennedy asked, sloshing the water when she flailed.

“Sweetheart, he doesn’t exist.”

“Of course he does!” Kennedy said, brushing off her mother’s words unconcernedly. “I have his letters to me in my closet.”

“No, dear, your father wrote those.”

“They don’t look like his writing.” Kennedy narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her mother. “Why are you saying this?”

“He wrote them with his left hand.” Her mother waved a hand in the air. “That’s not the point. The point is that you are old enough to understand that Santa is a concept used to teach little kids about the spirit of giving.”

“But…” Kennedy couldn’t stop the tears, her throat going tight with the pressure of them. “But Santa!” she gasped. “He’s real!” She buried her face in her hands, regretting that she was in the bath and couldn’t hug her mother.

“Oh, sweetie.” Gentle hands smoothed her hair back. “I think you know I’m telling you the truth.”

“What about Tommy?” she sobbed.

“What about him?”

“If Santa’s not real, how can he bring Tommy presents? It’s not fair that he doesn’t get presents from Santa!” She inelegantly wiped her nose with the heel of her hand.

Her mother chuckled. “Your father and I will buy him Santa presents, just like we did for you and your older siblings.”

“What about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy? They’re real, aren’t they?” Kennedy asked, grasping at straws. She couldn’t believe it.

“What do you think?”

A fresh wave of sadness swamped Kennedy. “No,” she said softly, tears flowing silently down her cheeks. “I guess they’re not either.”

“But now that you know the truth, you can help make Christmas special for Tommy and for the other little kids at your school,” her mother said.

“How?”

“Well, what is it that Santa does?”

Kennedy swallowed a knot in her throat. “He gives presents.”

“Okay. And?”

“He spreads joy.”

“How do you think you can do that?”

“By being nice to people?”

“How do you want to do that?”

“I could give them presents?” Kennedy frowned. “I don’t have any money.”

“You don’t. But you have time. How would you like to volunteer with the church youth group? They’re going to be wrapping presents for the homeless shelter after the service on Sunday.”

Kennedy brightened. “I can do that! I wrap really well!”

“You do.”

“I can wrap the presents for you too!”

“Not yours,” her mother teased.

“Of course not! I want to be surprised!” Kennedy said, shocked at the idea. She leaned over the edge of the tub and gave Tommy a kiss on the forehead.

He burbled back at her and grabbed for her hair.

“No, Tommy. We don’t grab hair,” her mother said firmly. “Are you feeling better about the whole Santa thing, dear?”

Kennedy sniffed. “I’m sad that he’s not real. I feel like someone I loved died.”

“He’s still here. He’s in all of us.”

“That’s what you said when Great-Uncle Ernest died,” Kennedy accused.

“So I did. Was I wrong? He lives on in the stories we tell about him.”

“I suppose.”

“Come on, let’s get you washed.”

“But I didn’t get to play!” she protested, sticking her bottom lip out. “And you just told me that Santa doesn’t exist!”

Her mother chuckled and shook her head. “That will only work for tonight. I can make your favourite for dinner, how’s that?”

“Chicken casserole? The one with the carrots?” Kennedy said, perking up. Usually that was dinner when they had company.

“Yes, that one.”

“Okay. Can I help?”

“You can peel the carrots.”

“Awesome. Where’s my washcloth?”

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests by Jen and Éric Desmarais is available for pre-order soon!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Add it to your “Want to read” on Goodreads here!

Save the Date

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests by Jen and Éric Desmarais is available for pre-order soon!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Add it to your “Want to read” on Goodreads here!

Santa Part 1

A short story for Christmas when Kennedy was 8 years old. This was not written for small children.

It was, however, written for those who recently found out the truth about Santa Claus, a group to which my daughter now belongs.

Friday the 9th of December, 1988 – Parry Sound, Ontario

Kennedy wiped her nose on the back of her woollen mitten as she waited for her older siblings to pass her on the bus. The eight-year-old avoided eye contact with the other kids on the bus, fixing them on the grey leather of the seat back in front of her.

“Come on, kiddo,” Phillip said, pushing her hat down over her eyes as he passed.

Kennedy fixed her hat and got up, dragging her backpack by a strap behind her.

“Have a good day!” the bus driver called after her, but she didn’t answer the way she usually did.

Instead, Kennedy trailed after her sisters, her backpack bumping against her leg with each step.

“You going to be okay?” Phillip asked. He was still beside her and she hadn’t noticed.

Not that she cared. She shrugged.

“Can I check your eye?”

“Okay.” Kennedy paused and looked up at her big brother. “When did you get so tall?”

He chuckled. “Probably when I turned sixteen last year.” He bit the finger of his glove and worked it off before gently holding her chin in his hand and tilting her head toward the light of the moon. He exhaled slowly, the steam of his breath fogging the air between them before putting his glove back on. “That’s a beauty. It’ll be nice and purple tomorrow. Does it hurt?”

“Only when I smile.”

“Best not to do that then.” They started walking again. “Why were you fighting?”

“The big kids ganged up on Sadie,” Kennedy said. “I couldn’t let her face them on her own.”

Phillip’s eyebrows rose. “Sadie, your best friend, who wouldn’t hurt a fly? Why?

“They were saying mean things. Telling the little kids that there wasn’t a Santa Claus. Why would they do that?” Kennedy sniffed hard. “Of course there’s a Santa Claus. Why make up such an obvious lie?”

“Let me get this straight,” Phillip said, frowning. “You heard some of the big kids telling lies to little kids, Sadie stepped in, then you joined her, and where exactly did the fighting come into play?”

“We were all yelling pretty loudly, and one boy took a swing at Sadie’s head. He was probably the biggest there. When she fell, I jumped on him and bit his nose,” Kennedy said unapologetically.

“Bit his nose?” There was a strange squeaky tone to Phillip’s voice, but when the eight-year-old glanced at him suspiciously, his expression was devoid of emotion.

“It was the only part of him not covered by winter gear,” Kennedy explained.

“Right.” He coughed. “And then?”

“We fought.”

“So I gather.” He sighed. “You’re going to get in trouble with mom.”

“I know.” She pouted.

“You were very brave to help your friend.”

She brightened. “You think so?”

“I know so, kiddo.” He pushed her hat down again and ran ahead, slowly enough that once she could see, she could chase after him.

The twins were still hanging up their coats by the time Kennedy and Phillip burst through the front door, rosy-cheeked and out of breath. Phillip’s jeans were soaked, but Kennedy’s snow pants had kept her dry.

Their mother was waiting for them, the baby on her hip. “Kennedy, it’s time for your bath.”

“Before my snack?”

“There’s a piece of cheese wrapped in cold meat on the counter. Grab it and let’s go.”

Kennedy brought her My Little Pony lunch box into the kitchen and left it on the counter next to the sink. Grabbing her snack, she returned to the front hall.

“You’re in trouble,” Eliza sing-songed, MacKenzie joining in on the second round.

Kennedy ignored them and trudged up the stairs. She could hear the water running in the shared bathroom at the top before she entered.

Part 2 is here!

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests by Jen and Éric Desmarais is available for pre-order soon!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Add it to your “Want to read” on Goodreads here!

Cover Reveal for Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests

It is my great privilege to show you the cover for our newest book: Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests. It is an urban fantasy romance, and it’s coming to bookstores on June 14, 2023!

Cover art by the incomparable @pinkpiggy93. Cover design by Éric Desmarais and Nathan Fréchette.

What happens when superheroes plan a wedding? Monsters, that’s what.

Kennedy and Jason are ready to get married. They just have to deal with evaporating monsters first. Available for pre-order soon. (Keep an eye on our blog by signing up for posts in your inbox!)

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests by Jen and Éric Desmarais is available for pre-order soon!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Add it to your “Want to read” on Goodreads here!

Aurora Awards Update

Hello family, fans, people who randomly read this blog, and friends (both real and imaginary),

Just a reminder that the nominations close on April 22, 2023 just before midnight.

One of the questions I was asked about this was “When will I receive the package of downloadable works?” and I had no idea and thought it was an excellent question, so I reached out to ask. Here is their response:

“We hope to have the voter’s package out around the 20th of May. With nominations not ending until the 22 of April, we expect it to take about a month. We first have to confirm who is on the ballot, then it usually takes 2 to 3 weeks for us to get the works for the package and put it together and test. If it’s ready earlier then it will be announced but at this point later in May is the best time to expect it.”

Thank you all for your time, attention, and support. Wish us luck!


The Aurora Awards, which are for Canadian science fiction and fantasy writers and artists, are open for nominations! This means the LONG lists of eligible works are being narrowed down to 5-6 per category.

Once they have a list of nominated works, every single person who signed up and paid the $10 membership fee gets ALL the nominated works as downloads. That’s all the adult novels, YA novels, novellas, short stories, graphic novels, and related works (usually anthologies), so about 36 works, for just $10 CAD, which is a great deal.

Getting nominated for an Aurora Award is a BIG DEAL in the writing community. You get a nomination pin (only once, so I’m terrified I’ll lose mine!), and you’re part of an elite group of people.

How do you nominate?

  1. Go to this website
  2. Join, pay membership fee
  3. Nominate up to 5 works per category

It would mean a lot to us if you’re willing to nominate us! (Categories are in alphabetical order by work)

  • Category 1 – Best Novel
    • Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers by Jen and Éric Desmarais
  • Category 3 – Best Novelette/Novella
    • Birth of the Aetherverse by Éric Desmarais
  • Category 4 – Best Short Story
    • Ringing In The New Year by Jen Desmarais
    • Choose Your Own Adventure – Welcome to Westmeath by Jen Desmarais
  • Category 7 – Best Related Work
    • Nothing Without Us Too by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson (Jen has a short story Semper Ubi Sub Ubi in this one!)
  • Category 9 – Best Fan Writing/Publication
    • JenEric Movie Reviews by Éric Desmarais
    • The Travelling TARDIS by Jennifer Desmarais

In case you’re wondering why Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers is not included in the best cover art category, it’s because our cover artist is Vietnamese! Only Canadian creators are eligible, unfortunately.

Thank you so much for your time, attention, and support!

Jen and Éric

Discussion Questions for Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers

Download the printable Discussion Guide

  1. Do you think that with half a martial arts class, a magic jewel, and a new suit, Jason should have been okay with Kennedy joining him for superhero work? Why do you think he agreed?
  2. Jason falls fast for Kennedy. Does his vocalization of that come off as honest or creepy? How would it differ if their positions were reversed?
  3. Kennedy is underestimated by both her boss and Jason’s uncle. Why do you think that is and how does she handle it?
  4. We meet several Aetherborn, both with and without powers, some who look human and others who don’t. How do you think the political power dynamic is balanced? Are some better off than others? Why or why not?
  5. Is Kennedy’s job at a boutique lingerie store empowering or fetishizing? When she chooses her outfits for the fashion show, do you think she felt pressured to wear certain items? How does her viewpoint make a difference?
  6. Jason is not shy about showing his emotions. Do you find that realistic? Why or why not?
  7. This book mixes urban fantasy and romance genres. Do you think it worked? Why or why not?
  8. Jason’s behaviour varies depending on who he’s around. Does this make him seem disingenuous? With whom, other than Kennedy, do you think he is most himself?
  9. Do you have a favourite secondary character? Who do you wish got more attention in the story?
  10. Suppose Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers became a movie or a TV show. Who would you pick to play the roles? (You can check out our dream casting for ideas) What aspects of the book would you want to see more of? What would be the most difficult part of filming?
Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr/@flowerraven93 on Instagram

Read Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers by Jen and Éric Desmarais

Physical versionelectronic version AVAILABLE NOW!

Nominate us for the Auroras please!

Hello family, fans, people who randomly read this blog, and friends (both real and imaginary),

The Aurora Awards, which are for Canadian science fiction and fantasy writers and artists, are open for nominations! This means the LONG lists of eligible works are being narrowed down to 5-6 per category.

Once they have a list of nominated works, every single person who signed up and paid the $10 membership fee gets ALL the nominated works as downloads. That’s all the adult novels, YA novels, novellas, short stories, graphic novels, and related works (usually anthologies), so about 36 works, for just $10 CAD, which is a great deal.

Getting nominated for an Aurora Award is a BIG DEAL in the writing community. You get a nomination pin (only once, so I’m terrified I’ll lose mine!), and you’re part of an elite group of people.

How do you nominate?

  1. Go to this website
  2. Join, pay membership fee
  3. Nominate up to 5 works per category

It would mean a lot to us if you’re willing to nominate us! (Categories are in alphabetical order by work)

  • Category 1 – Best Novel
    • Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers by Jen and Éric Desmarais
  • Category 3 – Best Novelette/Novella
    • Birth of the Aetherverse by Éric Desmarais
  • Category 4 – Best Short Story
    • Ringing In The New Year by Jen Desmarais
    • Choose Your Own Adventure – Welcome to Westmeath by Jen Desmarais
  • Category 7 – Best Related Work
    • Nothing Without Us Too by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson (Jen has a short story Semper Ubi Sub Ubi in this one!)
  • Category 9 – Best Fan Writing/Publication
    • JenEric Movie Reviews by Éric Desmarais
    • The Travelling TARDIS by Jennifer Desmarais

In case you’re wondering why Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers is not included in the best cover art category, it’s because our cover artist is Vietnamese! Only Canadian creators are eligible, unfortunately.

Thank you so much for your time, attention, and support!

Jen and Éric

Ringing in the New Year – Part 8

This is a short story set at Christmas after Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. If you haven’t read that yet, you can find it at all major book retailers, including Chapters Indigo.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


Tuesday the 31st of December, 2002 – Westmeath, Ontario

“Five, four, three, two, one!” Jason, Kennedy, Zoe, and Gabrielle counted down with the TV. “Happy New Year!” The couples exchanged kisses, and then hugged the others.

“I can’t wait to see what year two thousand and three will bring,” Kennedy said, cheeks flushed with the champagne they’d opened.

“Plenty of good things,” Zoe replied, smiling at Jason, and squeezed Kennedy’s hand.

Jason grimaced anxiously at his sister, who he could see was trying not to laugh. “I know what’s in your immediate future,” he said to her. “Sleep.”

Gabrielle checked the clock. “For another hour at least. Brooke usually wakes up at one or one thirty for a boob.”

“Then we’ll get out of your hair and let you get as much sleep as possible,” Kennedy said, wincing in sympathy.

More hugs were given once they were dressed in their winter gear. Jason tucked her under his arm and they headed next door, back to their house.

“Do you mind if we go into the backyard for a minute?” he asked, his stomach tying itself in knots. “I’m not quite ready for tonight to end.”

“I’m up for anything as long as I’m with you,” Kennedy replied, giving his arm a squeeze.

I really hope she is, Jason thought anxiously. He led her up the driveway to the back of the house and plugged in the cord that turned on the fairy lights he had set up the week before, while she’d been at her parent’s.

“Ohhh!” Kennedy gasped, clasping her hands to her chest. “Jason! Did you do this for me?”

“I did.” He took her hands in his and admired the way the little lights reflected in her eyes. “You’re so beautiful,” he breathed.

Kennedy blushed. “Is this when you’re finally going to tell me what’s been on your mind? You’ve been distracted for weeks.”

Jason gaped at her and then laughed ruefully. “I should have known you’d notice.” His carefully prepared speech vanished from his mind and he gulped nervously. “You haven’t felt upset about it, I hope?”

“Not at all!” Kennedy replied cheerfully. She kissed him gently. “You don’t keep secrets from me without a very good reason. I look forward to hearing about this one, whenever you’re ready.”

He nodded. “I’m ready.” He took a deep breath. “But it’s okay if you’re not.” He smiled at her confused expression. “I had a whole plan, but now that it’s time, I’ve forgotten everything I wanted to say. So I’m going to keep it simple.”

Her eyes widened as he let go of her right hand, pulled out a box from his jacket pocket, and dropped to one knee. “Kennedy Fairfield, you make me happier than I ever thought I could possibly be. You are my light and I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?” He opened the box with a flick of his thumb, revealing the emerald ring.

“Jason!” she gasped, her hand trembling in his. The other rose to her mouth. “We’ve only known each other a few months!”

“I have never been more sure about anything in my life.” He swallowed hard, steeling himself for her refusal.

Kennedy looked thoughtful. “I have fought assassins, robots, aliens, gang members, and monsters of all shapes and sizes with you.” She collapsed into a straddle on his knee and kissed him, lips trembling. “I will gladly keep doing that as your wife.” She kissed him again, more firmly this time.

Jason could hardly believe his ears. He pulled back to look her in her eyes, heart beating what felt like double-time. “Wait, sorry, is that a yes?”

“Yes!” Kennedy laughed. “Yes, yes, yes!”


I hope you enjoyed this year’s Christmas story! Have a great New Year!

Ringing in the New Year – Part 7

This is a short story set at Christmas after Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. If you haven’t read that yet, you can find it at all major book retailers, including Chapters Indigo.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


Saturday the 28th of December, 2002 – Parry Sound, Ontario

Suddenly Kennedy was draped across his back and he collapsed to the ground with a wheeze. “Warning!” he gasped, and everyone chuckled. “Or you can go with high weight, low rep.”

Kennedy settled herself, the scent of her shampoo filling his nostrils. He braced his hands and toes on the floor, tensed his abdomen and glutes, and pushed up. Down, up, over and over, he concentrated on pushing his body through the motions it was used to until he reached ten. He controlled his downward motion one last time until he relaxed.

He heard clapping and flushed. “It’s just a push-up,” he mumbled into the carpet.

“It’s impressive and you know it,” Kennedy chuckled. She sat up and climbed off him, letting him stand. “Come on, get in the shower and then we can start our day. Dad’s promised to take the sleigh out for rides!”

It turned out that the sleigh was large enough for four adults and a driver.

Jason helped push the sleigh out of the barn and watched, curious, as Gerard hooked up the two draft horses to the shaft. Then he helped the others pile the inside with warm quilts and blankets.

“Sometimes my dad would wake us up in the middle of the night to go for a ride,” Kennedy told him. “The stars would be out and it felt like we could see the whole universe. It was absolutely breathtaking.”

“Sounds idyllic,” Jason replied, smiling.

They were joined in the sleigh by Eliza and MacKenzie, and Kennedy cuddled into his arms. He knew she didn’t always get along with her sisters and gave her a squeeze.

“All set?” asked Gerard as he sprang into the driver’s seat at the front of the sleigh. He clucked at the horses and flicked the reins.

The brisk wind swept into the open sleigh and Jason burrowed deeper into the coverings, tucking his hands under Kennedy’s sweater and tracing her developing muscles. Her soft skin twitched as she giggled.

“Your hands are cold,” she murmured into his ear.

“They’ll warm up fast.”

She placed her hands over his, stilling them. “This is nice,” she said, loudly enough to include her sisters in their conversation.

“So how did you two meet?” Eliza asked, leaning forward to see past her sister.

Jason smiled. “I was out for a jog and I saw this beautiful girl eating a croissant. I waved and said hi, and she almost choked on her food.”

“That’s not the whole story,” Kennedy protested. “I saw him, wanted to get his attention but couldn’t figure out how, and then inhaled croissant crumbs. He made sure I was okay, we introduced ourselves, and then he said he’d see me around.” She pretended to swoon.

“And here I thought you meant that the whole story was you beating an assassin with a chair, kicking his knife away from him, and then sitting down to finish your croissant, as cool as you please!” Jason said wryly.

“I had to sit down, or else my knees would have given way.”

“That makes so much sense.” Jason grinned at the shocked expressions on the twins. “Then I found her again after work and brought her to a dance.”

“Where we stayed until it closed at three in the morning!” Kennedy laughed. “I was so tired at work the next day!”

Jason ducked his head sheepishly. “I actually slept in the next day.” He’d been up until almost sunrise with Phantom work.

Kennedy glanced at him sideways. “Lucky.”

“Mmm, I am.” He planted a kiss on her hair.

“And your first kiss?” Eliza asked slyly. “Was it at the dance?”

Kennedy blushed. “I wanted one then.”

“Did you?” Jason asked.

Kennedy rolled her eyes. “I would have let you—” She cut herself off abruptly, flushing even more.

Her sisters made faces. “We get the picture.”

Jason grinned and settled back. “Is that what you were thinking about while we were dancing?” he murmured into her hair.

“Trying not to think about,” Kennedy whispered back. She kissed his lips, her nose cold against his cheek. “I barely knew you at that point. I would have kicked myself if I’d fallen into bed with you so fast.”

“So you waited, what,” he did a quick calculation on his fingers, “Six days?”

“And five more dates,” Kennedy said primly.

Jason chuckled. “Only you would count all of those as dates.”

She raised her eyebrows at him and he laughed harder, pulling her closer. “It was the right timing for us. Too fast, too slow, those only apply if we say they do.”

“What is it that you do, Jason?” MacKenzie interrupted. “Kennedy said something about investments?”

“I run a pizza place and an investment company with my younger sister.”

“Working with your sister?” Eliza wrinkled her nose. “What’s that like?”

“We butt heads sometimes, but if we take a step back, we recognize that we’re working toward the same goal and can figure out a compromise.” Jason tried not to laugh as he remembered one standoff last week, when they were discussing the Council at home. It had ended with him soaking wet from a ball of water she had dropped on top of him. “She’s usually right. I have a one-track mind and sometimes fail to see the bigger picture.”

The girls looked impressed, and silence fell over the sleigh.

Jason looked out across the snowy fields, filled with what he knew was winter wheat, oat, and barley. “This place must have been pretty amazing to grow up in, with all this space.”

“We didn’t go out in the fields much as kids, but we rode the horses around the property pretty much every day.”

The house reappeared on the horizon, and they pulled back in front of the barn for the second group.

Jason hopped out first and offered his hand to each family member as they stepped down.

“You’ll do,” Eliza said as she accepted.

“Ringing praise,” Jason replied dryly.

MacKenzie laughed. “Gotta keep you on your toes.”

“What was that about?” Kennedy asked him as they walked back to the house together.

He shrugged. “Sibling approval?” he offered.

Kennedy glanced at the empty house, the rest of the family having squeezed into the sleigh for a second trip. “Hey… How long do you think they’ll be gone?”

Jason grinned down at her, hoping she was thinking along the same lines as he was. “At least half an hour, plus putting everything away.”

“What are we waiting for?” she asked, breaking into a run and tugging him toward the house. “That’s plenty of time for a quickie!”

He tossed her, laughing, over his shoulder when she stumbled in the snow. “I love how your mind works.”


Read Part 8 Dec 30, 2022