Christmas with the Alexanders Page 1

Author: M. Malone

Series: The Alexanders #3.5

Genres: Romance

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CHAPTER ONE

ELLIOTT ALEXANDER CONSIDERED himself a pretty good sport. He wasn’t overly sensitive and could take a joke as well as the next guy. But he was on the verge of knocking his younger brother upside the head if he didn’t shut up.

“So, you opened the door and she was just standing there?” Nick glanced at him, a twinkle in his eye. “She wasn’t peering in the windows like a stalker, was she?”

Their friend Matt Simmons was telling them about his final week at Eli’s house last summer while he was in physical therapy. Now he was happily coupled up with his therapist, Penny, and living in New Haven again.

Matt shrugged and Penny laughed along with them. “All I know is I’d been doing some yard work and cleaning because I didn’t want to leave the place a mess. On my way out, I opened the door and there she was, standing on the porch. Judging by the way she was dressed, it wasn’t me she was expecting to open the door.”

Eli gritted his teeth as their howls of laughter continued. His youngest brother, Jackson, clamped a hand on his shoulder in solidarity. Either that or he was trying to hold him back so he wouldn’t strangle one of them.

“How did we get on this topic again?” Eli shot Matt a disgruntled look, but his friend didn’t seem daunted at all. He’d lost his intimidation factor it seemed because they were all having a hell of a time making fun of him.

“Wait, by the way she was dressed? What exactly was she wearing? Or not wearing?” Nick added.

His sister-in-law, Raina, walked up and pinched Nick’s arm hard enough to make his brother jump. “What did you just say?”

Eli watched in amusement as Nick’s whole demeanor changed. His normally smooth younger brother turned into a total wuss when his gorgeous wife was around. Raina had a successful career as a model and he could see why. She was far too thin for his taste, but her light brown skin and wild curly hair gave her an exotic look. Best of all, she was something of a ballbuster. It was always a joy to watch her handle his brother.

Nick held up his hands. “Oh, hey, baby. Matt was telling us about his last week staying in Eli’s house and all the women knocking on the door.”

He had hoped Raina would corral his brother’s antics, but that hope died when her eyes lit up. “Eli? I never knew you were such a ladies’ man,” she teased.

Elliott squashed the urge to growl. Half of his brother’s fun in teasing him was watching him get more and more pissed off. “First of all, it was one woman. One. Second of all, I have no idea who he’s even talking about.”

Matt covered his laugh by taking a sip of the beer he held. “Sorry, man. I didn’t mean to rat you out, but I couldn’t keep that to myself. She looked pretty devastated when I opened the door. I guess I wasn’t up to her standards.”

The group dissolved into laughter again. Eli was the darkest skinned of all his brothers and, to his chagrin, the shortest. With his brown hair and tanned skin, Matt was about as far from Eli’s looks as you could get.

“I don’t even need to ask what she looked like. Let me guess, petite and curvy?” Nick smirked at Matt’s nod. “There’s never been a busty woman near Eli that was safe. That’s been his type since high school. He had a crush on Janet Reed in the ninth grade because she developed a set of double Ds over the summer.”

Even Eli had to smile at that one. He could still remember how obsessed he’d been that school year. His poor teenage hormones hadn’t stood a chance against Janet’s suddenly full figure.

“Okay, I think we’ve had enough fun at my expense. And I really don’t think you want me to start sharing some of my high school memories of you.”

Nick immediately stopped laughing. Raina looked at him with interest. “Oh really? Maybe I do need to hear this.”

“Is that the baby crying? I’d better go check.” Nick sauntered off, leaving his wife shaking her head as she followed.

Eli walked over to the window and shoved the curtains to the side. A profusion of snowflakes turned the landscape into an endless wall of white. Snowstorms were the norm at his house in Northern Virginia but not in New Haven. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been home while it was snowing.

“She’s just fine where she is. Go on now!”

Eli turned at the sound of his mother’s voice. His earlier annoyance vanished as he watched Nick try unsuccessfully to take his baby girl back from their mother, Julia. Eli could have told him that wasn’t going to happen. Their mother was beyond excited about having a granddaughter, and she was probably going to have a grip on the baby all night. Finally Nick settled for pulling his wife into his arms instead. He nuzzled her neck and whispered something that made her smile. Eli looked over to where Jackson was similarly cozied up with his wife, Ridley.

It was a good thing to see his little brothers so settled and happy. He’d left New Haven years ago, sure he’d never return to live there again. But time had a way of putting things into perspective. A way of distilling life to what was important and what was window dressing. He was tired of casual encounters and empty nights. Strangely enough, he wanted everything he’d always had growing up. Family, friends, and the certainty that they weren’t going anywhere.

When he finally came out of his thoughts, he was startled to see his mother, Julia, standing right in front of him. Instinctively he stood straighter. His mom had a way of looking at him as if she’d caught him doing something he shouldn’t have been even when he was doing nothing at all.

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