Sid and Teddy: Falling for Gavin.

For sale pretty much everywhere, only $4.99


Here’s the rest of the chapter, Sid and Teddy, Chapter 56 (Sid):

…Cameron had called me with a favor. His band wanted to open for a bigger band called Broken Blasters. (I googled them, they were a hot and upcoming band out of England) The lead singer, the guitarist, and the drummer of Broken Blasters would drop in to see Cameron’s band rehearse.

Cameron figured it would look good to have a small audience while they played. But his point was, basically, that it might sell them to have pretty girls watching them adoringly in the rehearsal studio where they practiced. I was a little flattered that he asked me. I was also a little irritated when he asked if I had any friends, and when I said I didn’t, not really, he said, “What about Zoe?”

I answered that Zoe and I didn’t hang out any more, and he huffed and said, “But you’ll come, right?”

And I said I would because I was bored.

Man, it had been a long time since I had anything interesting to do. Also, Dad had just reminded me I was supposed to be trying to be the kind of person who had fun.

When I got to the rehearsal, I perched on the arm of a ratty old couch while Cameron’s band, The Strange Monikers, tuned their instruments and pretended not to be nervous.

Then they walked in.

By they I mean—Gavin. And two guys who were impossible to notice because of Gavin.

He was hot. Wicked hot. Pale pasty white, like he might need an intro to the sun, dark wavy hair, a jaw that looked like you wanted to kiss it. Anyone would want to. Guy or girl, it only made sense.

Living in LA you get kind of used to people who are celebrities, the famous, or the On The Cusp Of Famous, walking around in your normal world. By used to, I mean, able to spot them, capable of maintaining your cool, knowing to ignore them, but also track them, in case.

Gavin had that famous person aura. He wasn’t a celebrity, but he walked into that room and every set of eyes landed on him. I caught my breath. The two young men with him, deferred to his decisions—where would he go, what should they do?

He swept the room with his eyes and then his eyes landed on me and he did this—I kid you not—he put his hand over his heart and took a step back. He literally said, “Whoa,” under his breath.

I looked down at my Mexican Coke bottle trying to figure out what might be wrong that this gorgeous stranger lost his step at the sight of me. Probably spinach in my teeth. I brushed, but still.

Gavin beelined for me. I stood up and we almost collided which caused him to laugh. He swiped his hand through his hair, and looked into my eyes, as if we had known each other for a long, long time, like he was trying to get me to remember. Positioning himself right there. Close.

Then he spoke in a sexy, sexy British accent. Jeez, could he get any better? “What’s your name then?”


“Sid? I never knew a ‘Sid’ to be quite so feminine.” Heat crawled up my cheeks. “My name is Gavin.” I stared down at my feet, one shoe on top of the other. He asked, “What brings you here?”

I said, “My friend invited me to listen to them play tonight.”

“Ah, but see, you strike me as above decorating-the-furniture-for-a-mediocre-rock-band.”

I chuckled and said, “You haven’t heard them yet.” And then I said, “You also just met me, this might be exactly what I’m suited for.”

He raised his eyebrows and smiled, head cocked back. “Are you from around here Sid?”

“I’m from the Southbay, actually.”

“Ah, Sid from the Southbay, makes perfect sense.”

I knew I should also ask questions, but I was having a hard time keeping up with his cocky assuredness. I took another sip of my Mexican Coke.

He watched me, like he couldn’t take his eyes off my face. I nervously glanced at an old ratty Green Day poster.

He put his hand over his heart and leaned in. “So Sid of the Southbay, what do you do, your day job, when you’re not decorating concert halls?”

One of his band mates thrust a drink into Gavin’s hand and he took it without looking and drank. How would that be? To have total trust that your needs will be fulfilled because you’re just that cool?

I said, “I’m a writer.”

“Oh, really? See, I was right. What do you write?”

“I’m working on a screenplay, about Mary Queen of Scots.”

His eyebrows knit together and he looked at me from the corner of his eye, “Mary? Our Mary? The Scottish Strumpet?” He laughed loudly.

Heat burned up my ears.

He said, “Will you tell about how she murdered that one Brit and then tried to overthrow the Crown?”

I glared, “No, I’m going more for the tragedy of her life, how she was carried along by a course of events she couldn’t control. That she was young, and basically good, but fate intervened.”

“Ah, a retelling. I see.” He ran his fingers through his hair. Then he smiled and his hand went back to his heart. “You see, us Brits, we’re divided into two camps, either we’re anti-royalists, like my father, or we believe Elizabeth the first was correct in all things, like my Mum. You won’t find many Brits that will embrace a retelling of the Adulteress of Edinburgh to make her look like she was treated unfairly. It will be a hard sell.” He looked deep into my eyes again, “That being said, a young American, like yourself, might be just the person to try.”

One of his band mates whispered in his ear. Gavin took a deep swig from his glass. “I have to get to work deciding the fate of this band. You best resume your seat so your beauty can distract me from their imperfections.”

He turned and stood with his band mates as Cameron’s band started to play.

What the hell was I supposed to do now? I couldn’t go sit on the couch. Not after being told to. But then again, he was just pointing out that Cameron had asked me to sit on the couch. Cameron was the problem, right? I also couldn’t stand here on the back wall of the room, by myself, while a band played. I looked ridiculous.

So I did the only thing I could think of—I walked to the couch and perched on the arm and tried to look beautiful. Like I had been told. But here’s the thing, you might think I had lost my power, but Gavin couldn’t take his eyes off me. Barely ever. He listened to the band, but he watched me, the whole time.

After Cameron’s set, Gavin came back. He sat on the couch leaned back, looking up at me still perched dutifully on the arm of the couch.

“I can see why you got this gig, you performed your part perfectly. Will you come to the show?”

Cameron was looking over at us. He was probably watching Gavin for signs of whether the Strange Monikers had been picked or not. Maybe he was a little jealous too.

I said, “I’m sure the band will invite me.”

He said, “No, I mean, will you come with me, to the show.”

“Oh, um, yes.”

He nodded and ran his hand through his hair. He shifted his weight and grabbed his phone out of his back pocket and said, “Sid of the Southbay, might I have your number, please?”

I called out the digits and he worked for two seconds until my phone vibrated in my pocket. “Sid, it has been a pleasure. I’m greatly looking forward to spending more time in your company, as you take my breath away.”

Seriously? This was real? He stood and cocked his head again. “It will also be fun to tell my parents I’m falling for a California girl named after Sid Vicious who happens to be a royalist and a believer in the goodness of the Harlot of Scots.”

He smiled and gave a small shake of his head, not in a bad way, in an I Can’t Believe The Way She Makes Me Feel kind of way. A way that made me get all hot inside. And then he said, “We have another band to see, will you be up later? If I text?”

I said, “Yes,” because who could sleep after all of that?

You can find it anywhere awesome books are sold. Catalog.

A boxed Set.

Because ya wanna read the whole e-book series, without stop, go go go. Gotta find out what happens next and…here ya go.

Only $6.99. A huge savings over buying the books one by one by one. Find the links on my catalog page.

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Most Anticipated YA Books to read in Early Summer 2017!

1. OUR DARK DUET by Victoria Schwab

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.



A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.



3. SID AND TEDDY by H. D. Knightley

Sid and Teddy are best friends. They surf together. They love each other. And maybe finally it’s time for them to be together — but tragedy strikes and interrupts their perfect first kiss, and they get completely stuck in Interrupted.
Because it’s hard to love each other when you’ve been best friends forever. It’s complicated. And the last thing Sid needs is complicated, right?
She needs easy. She needs to take fate by the hand and follow. She needs a hot rock star with a sexy British accent and a lickable jawline to kiss her sadness away.
Probably. But rock stars come with baggage. The kind of baggage that causes Sid to lose her way.
And lost, she desperately needs her best friend Teddy, but is it too much, too late?



4. BAD ROMANCE by Heather Demetrios

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone. Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.


5. WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.



India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be.


I hope you’re as excited to read these as I am!

H.D. Knightley

New Covers (For literally everything!)

The first cover I changed belongs to Sid and Teddy. I absolutely love how it turned out. It’s so fresh and as my newest baby looks pretty and like it smells good. It also has its very first review, five stars. So there you go. Want to read it? You can for free for like, another day.  But if you’re already convinced that it will be worth it, you can buy it at all the usual places, check my catalog here: Sid and Teddy






The second cover belongs to Violet’s Mountain. This one is perfect. Exactly how I wanted it to look. I hope you like and if you haven’t taken a chance on the story yet, now that it’s all cleaned up… (sadly I can’t offer it to you for free, while it’s in Kindle Select exclusively, but follow this link if you want to buy a copy.) Violet’s Mountain







Then I altered Fly: The Light Princess Retold ever so slightly. Simple is always better, now it’s like a cool breeze, much like the hero of our story, Amelia. The flightiest princess you’ll ever love. Available for free here, for a limited time: Fly














Lastly, I made Bright so much better, and improved Beyond a bit too. I also added a tag line and the number that each book is within the trilogy. You can get a copy of Bright for free here: But it’s always for free everywhere now. Check my catalog page for your favorite store: Catalog


New Release, Sid and Teddy + Free Books!

I have a ton of news and yet need to pace myself so firstly:

My book Bright (Book One of the Estelle Series) is free (along with some other great YA books you might like, scroll down, I’m near the bottom) here:

And this is pressing: Sid and Teddy will be released to the world on March 23, 2017. Three days, Aaaagh. I’m terrified and excited. I need rampant readers, kindly reviewers, and good positive vibes. So, to that end, here it is free for you:

Sid and Teddy

If you’ve read it already, thank you.
Yes, Sid needs a hug, and I agree, Teddy is awesome,
and I KNOW, I did not see Gavin coming.
I created a Dream Cast the other day, let me know if this seems right:

Sid Dalton played by Olivia Holt:

Teddy Ayers played by Cody Christian:

Gavin played by this hunky guy (don’t know his name ;o):

I may need to write to you again this week, book release and all, and there are more free books to come, but grab these while you can. And phew. That was a lot. But whenever I feel overwhelmed by it all I just look at that gif right up there, oh yeah.

Bright, Beyond, and Belief, a dystopian future that seems, um, plausible.

When I wrote the first draft of Bright the biggest issue in Estelle’s world was the unrelenting Light Pollution, but the story grew, the issues deepened, and by the Trilogy’s last page, Estelle became a strong activist, a brave citizen, a peaceful dissenter, and a powerful revolutionary. Also, and this is a spoiler alert, a thoughtful head of state.

Bright, Beyond, and Belief are novels about a young girl who wants to change everything but doesn’t know how, so she begins with what she can do. She starts a farm. Becomes a rebel. And unknowingly begins a revolution.

In the first book, Bright, Estelle’s world is darker than she imagines:

  • Estelle’s choices are severly limited
  • She uncovers thought control
  • Fear and pressure to submit to the control
  • The right to protest is curtailed
  • The legal system is unfair
  • Imprisonment without due process
  • and still that unrelenting Light Pollution.



Estelle fought back against the government with:

  • Protest
  • Nonviolent Resistance
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Civil-disobedience and Arrest

To get Estelle released from prison, her friends and family used:

  • Nonviolent action and occupation
  • Pressure within the legal system

In the end she is allowed the Right to Farm. And the skies above her farm are dark. Estelle feels like she has won.


In Beyond, Estelle uncovers the depths of the Government’s darkness:

  • The glittery facade
  • Secrets
  • Citizens are disappeared
  • The hidden wrecked environment
  • The opressed workers of the products

Estelle and her friends travel into the Beyonds and fight the power with:

  • Investigations uncovering the truth
  • Exposing the injustices


Unfortunately they discover that the government is controlling the citizens through the water supply. In the end she and her friends are banished and are forced to sign away their right to return.


In Belief, Estelle and her friends build a resistance:

  • They sneak into the city and stage a giant action
  • They debate the merits of sabotage vs nonviolent action
  • One of Estelle’s followers commits an act of sabotage
  • Estelle accepts the blame and turns herself in. accepting the consequences
  • The people of the city take to the streets.
  • Behind the scenes the government is pressured to step down.

Finally, the government is exposed and overthrown.




Through the stories Estelle is a reluctant leader, an In-Over-Her-Head activist, and a teen girl, who simply wants to see the stars, but in the end she strengthens her family, falls in love, and finds a purpose beyond her original dreams. She becomes a leader who didn’t aspire to the job, but took it because, in her own words, “. . . though almost everyone would disagree—they would be lying—I was responsible for them all.”

It is truly a story for our times, the trilogy may be bought here: 






The first book, Bright, is now available on audiobook, too.








Texts, Some Love, and Questions Answered

My new book (coming soon) Sid and Teddy has a lot of texted dialogue. I think there’s something kind of fun about adding this way of communicating to a novel, like adding diaries or letters back When that was how we communicated.

The other day I was texting a friend, from whom I’m seperated by distance, and they were excited about my new books and I thought the exchange was fun, so I’m adding it here. (Not screenshots, transposed and edited because: writer;o)

She had just finished Leveling 1 and texted me:

Friend: All I can say is OMG!!!!When will you be done with part two???

Me: Hee hee, it’s done! Already published! I’m so glad you liked it!

Leveling 2

Me: And I started writing Leveling 3!

Friend: Did you ever read “The Green Mile” by Stephen King? When it was first published it was a serial, sold in chunks. I loved Leveling 1, I’m buying part 2 today. So excited!! Picked up Violet’s Mountain to read next.

Me: I used to read a lot of Stephen King but somehow missed that one and had no idea it was a serial, cool that I’m in good company. Thank you for loving the books, it makes me super happy.

Also, I can’t decide who I love more, Edmund (Violet’s Mountain) or Beckett (Leveling)

Friend: At the Moment, Beckett.

Me: He is super hot. I’m impressed with myself that I could make a scaredy cat that is so hot. (I used that party horn emoji)

Friend: Lol, I’m a super fan of back tats and sleeves.

Me: Have you checked out my Pinterest boards? My daughters send me photos that remind them of characters :o) User name: hdknightley

Friend: I was sort of visualizing Luna to look a bit like Moana, but with short hair, and you know, not a cartoon. Lol.

Me: Man, wasn’t Moana awesome? And yes, exactly.

Friend: So are the Hawkes brothers (Violet’s Mountain) sort of the Hemsworth brothers?

Me: Yes. Sheepish grin. I joke that all my characters are based on Liam Hemsworth’s smile.

Friend: Look what came!!!!!

And then a few hours later: Oh my god! Book three comes out when??

Me: I’m beaming, I’m so excited, you liked?

Friend: Loved it! I’m almost done with Violet’s Mountain too. I’m at the point when Lala visits Edmund near the end of the book. Loving it as well.

Such a great idea for a story, makes me think about the stuff we hang onto as a culture. What we see as important. Also Emily being the exact opposite, so minimalist.

(The Emily character of Violet’s Mountain is based on Marie Kondo of The Art of Tidying Up.)

Me: You’re at my favorite part. When I was writing that novel I was surprised that Lala showed up.

Friend: I love hearing authors say that. Like the novel just uses them as a medium to get itself out in the world.

Me: It so does. When I started writing that book I thought Benjamin was going to win Violet, but guess what? Hee hee.

Stephen King said authors are like archeologists digging up a story, I kind of love that.

(Stephen King actually said, “I’ve never seen novels as built things. I have a tendency to see them as found things. I always feel a little bit like an archeologist who’s working to get some fragile fossil out of the ground. The more you get out unbroken, the better you succeed.”

Friend: That is a cool image and I finished Violet’s Mountain! Next I’m going to start on the three Bright novels! Apparently you will be a big chunk of my reading for the year.

Me: Did you like the ending? And I’m honored that my books are so high on your list.

Friend: I did. I love when I finish a book and want more of the day to day life of the characters. Life without the drama. Like what happens now that everything is calm. I want to know…what happens.

Me: I happen to have a glimpse on my site: Paperweights (tiny story three) This is Christmas with Violet and Edmund.

Friend: I love it.

Friend (later): I’ve been ruminated about Violet’s Mountain…I really liked that Ben and Lala didn’t get together. I liked that they could have a close loving relationship without dating.

Me: I’m really proud of that theme, finding family and making it your own and that Benjamin and Lala can have a happy ending that’s different from the normal boy meets girl falls in love happily ever after. That they found each other and became sister and brother. Also, that the mountain is not just the literal physical ‘mountain,’ the mountain was Edmund. And perhaps less noticable, the mountain that kept them all safe was actually Benjamin. He’s the true hero.

Friend: Yes!!

Me: That’s why it’s one of my favorite stories. My others are more straightforward but I wanted things about Violet’s Mountain to be more complicated and hidden and special. For instance, Benjamin and what he did for his older brother, isn’t the main point of the book, but he held the people together while Edmund climbed the mountain and solved the problem. It has so much about family and friendship behind the scenes of the love story.

Friend: You do a good job of describing your characters without over explaining them, which I think can be challenging. You’ve got a little JK Rowling going on, just enough info but leaving it open for the reader to see them in their own head.

Me: Thank you, you’re awesome.


If you like this behind the scenes glimpse, you’d probably also like what I’m doing over on Wattpad. I have a new story, Sid and Teddy,  that I’m writing now, and I’m posting a chapter every few days. You can leave comments and tell me what you think as I go. My handle is @hdknightley  See you there!


Tiny Story Three: Violet, Edmund, Lala and Benjamin

(Spoiler Alert)

Benjamin and Edmund are the two main characters of the New Adult magical realism romance, Violet’s Mountain.  Violet is the mysterious young woman who lives on the mountain, Lala is her younger cousin.  The brothers save their lives and they all become a family. Right now it is published exclusively on Amazon: Violet’s Mountain


Edmund woke and nestled in under Violet’s arm, resting his head on the soft place between her breast and shoulder. Violet asked, “You awake?”

“Uh huh,” Edmund wrapped tighter around her body. “You?”

“I’ve been awake for awhile. Merry Christmas Eddie.” He looked up and she stroked her fingers down the side of his cheek. “I’m glad you’re here to celebrate it with me.”

Edmund said, “Merry Christmas. I’m glad to be here too.” He kissed her on her chest and nestled back in.

“I need to warn you though, that it’s…” Her voice trailed off. Edmund looked up startled, his brow furrowed. “It’s just that Lala, Christmas is really hard on her, she’s a roller coaster and we just, you have to be ready to deal with it. Her heart is so broken that—”

Eddie raised up on an elbow. “This is Lala we’re talking about? She seems as light and carefree as ever.”

“But she’s not, that’s the thing, she covers it and keeps it hidden, unlike me with my broken heart on display.”

“I thought we had fixed that heart of yours.”

Violet looked deep into Edmund’s eyes and said, “Yes, love, I meant that in the past-tense.” Edmund kissed Violet softly and there was a knock on their door.

From the hallway Lala said, “Violet, Violet, Violet, it’s Christmas, are you up? Edmund? Wake up, it’s Christmas! I think I might die of excitement. Wake up.”

Edmund jumped stealthily from the bed and without a sound turned the doorknob. Yanking the door open, he exclaimed, “Merry Christmas Lala!”

She shrieked surprised, but quickly recovered. “Presents. There are presents under the tree, it’s almost 6 a.m., and you have to get up!”

Violet pulled a hoodie on over her pajama pants, grinned as she brushed by Edmund, both of them following Lala to the living room.

Benjamin strolled in. “You woke them? I told you to let them sleep, you’re relentless.”

“Benjamin, look at these presents, some are foiled wrapped, gold ribbons on this one, look at that one, what is that, can you tell what that shape is? No, you have to unwrap it, the mysterious nature of the thing could drive you crazy.”

Violet laughed, “I’m up in the dark because my mental health depends on it.” She grinned at Edmund and they both dropped at the same time onto the couch in front of the Christmas tree.

Lala remained standing and bellowed, “Uncle Bruce! Presents!” Benjamin dropped into an easy chair. Bruce walked in a second later, wearing bright red long underwear. His grey beard was braided and decorated with tiny shiny colorful Christmas ornaments. Everyone giggled.

He said, “I see you like my elf-ish attire. My dear, Lala, it is about time you summoned me, I put this on hours ago. I wanted to make a big entrance and had almost given up.” He sat in the opposite chair and spent a second adjusitng himself and getting into a cross-legged position.

Lala said, “As you can see, We have presents. Wrapped. And it’s almost light out. It’s time to open them.” She began plucking presents out of the small pile and placing them on everyone’s laps until each person had a small pile around and on them. And then she looked at the still large pile and clapped her hands merrily. “Look at all of mine. Have you ever seen so many?”

Violet said, “It’s quite the load, you must be very loved.”

“True,” said Lala happily. Everyone began tearing open paper, unwrapping, exclaiming, showing off, admiring and discussing. Bruce had a favorite book of poetry from Violet, Edmund had a new wetsuit from Benjamin, Violet had a dainty gold necklace from Edmund, the pendant (when she saw it) caused her eyes to fill with tears. But besides that it was all merriment and joy, until it wasn’t, and slowly everyone realized that Lala was stopped in mid-movement, staring at a square present, wrapped in exotic, hand-stamped paper.

Violet reacted first, “What is that Lala, from your parents?”

Lala nodded. “I don’t know if I can, they didn’t even call, I don’t even know where they are.”

Violet said, “It’s probably just a trinket Lala, we talked about it. Your happiness isn’t dependent on it anymore, right? You can open the present and it doesn’t—”

Lala said, “But maybe it’s a plane ticket. Maybe they want me to come and see them, when was the last—”

Bruce said, “My good for nothing sister and her husband haven’t been back in two years. Lala, I recommend not opening that present and returning to sender. You can write a poem that expresses your sentiment on the matter and we’ll mail it off to them today. Of course the post office isn’t running today, but tomorrow at the latest.”

Lala ignored Bruce and staring at the box said, “The more I think about it it’s got to be a plane ticket to meet them. Maybe in Thailand, I’ve always wanted to go there, and look at the wrapping, it looks very exotic.” She stared at the box, blinking.

Violet said, “It might not be, please don’t get your—”

Lala carefully peeled up the edges of the tape and unwrapped the ribbon revealing a white box underneath. She lifted the lid and pulled aside the tissue paper. Everyone leaned forward and she cocked her head. She lifted a glass ball out of the box. A shiny glass ball with a world globe on the inside. “What the?”

She spun the glass ball to the right and the globe spun to the left. Her brow furrowed. She gingerly rolled it onto the carpet in front of her and dug around inside the box and pulled out a small white card. On the card was typed: A globe paperweight to remind you to go see the world someday. Love, Mom and Dad.

Lala stared at the card for a long long time. Violet whispered, “Can I see it?”

Lala handed her the card and Violet read with Edmund reading over her shoulder. Violet’s mouth drew into a frown.

Tears slid down Lala’s face. “I thought this Christmas would be different. I’m older now, I’m not such a pain in the ass.”

Violet said, “Lala, you aren’t ever a pain in the ass. You are awesome and wonderful and anyone who doesn’t see that doesn’t deserve to spend time with you.”

But my own parents? I just thought…never mind.” Lala scooped up the paperweight and dropped it into the box and shoved it away. Sitting crosslegged on the floor she plucked at the carpet. Tears streaming down her face.

Violet said, “You know what I’m going to say?”

Lala nodded, “That it’s not worth thinking about, that I know this is how it is—whatever. I just thought this time would be different. Plane tickets or—I don’t know, something that means something. Not a knickknack. There have been too many knickknacks in our lives already.”

“All of that is true Lala, and I know it hurts, but it’s Christmas, and I want you to know that I love you. I’m sorry you got a paperweight.”

“I love you too.”

Edmund said, “I don’t think this helps Lala, but I want you to know that if you want to go travel, I will make it happen for you, all you have to do is ask.”

Lala nodded. “I know that Edmund, thank you, it’s not about the travel though, not really.”

“I know.”

They sat for a second awkwardly. Lala sniffling. Everyone else quiet. Finally Bruce stood up. His long underwear accentuated his barrel chest and rotund belly and he had placed a headband with antlers on his head to add to his festive look. “As the patriarch of this family I have an announcement. I have been giving the various members of my extended family a pass for a long long time, but it has come to me this last year that these people, my sisters and brothers and aunts and cousins, are all a bunch of nincompoops. I deeply regret all of the Christmas cards I sent out. Lala I am sorry that you must discover this in your youth, but here it is. You are wiser than me. You must be strong. Write poetry, from darkness comes light.” He sat.

Lala said, “Thank you Uncle Bruce, I’m grateful that you took me in all those years ago.”

Bruce smiled and winked, “Also, I look forward to my annual reading of Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree, dear Lala, we will begin as soon as you feel up to it.”

Through all of this Benjamin had been quiet, watching the exchange. Finally he smacked his hands on his knees, stood, stretched, and said, “It’s time for breakfast. I have a casserole to bake. Orange Julius to mix. Lala, come work the blender?”

She nodded quietly and followed him.

Violet leaned back on the couch and said, “Phew.”

Edmund asked, “Phew? Is it over?”

Violet said, “just listen. Your brother has a way.”

They all listened quietly as Benjamin moved around pots and pans, explained the recipe, asked Lala to beat the eggs, chatted merrily about his new blender, and then began humming to himself, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Lala’s favorite song. One minute later Lala was singing, and on the chorus their voices harmonized, the music drifting out of the kitchen and filling the air to the living room where the others sat.

Another minute later Uncle Bruce rose to go sit at the kitchen bar and lend his baritone to the song.

Edmund kissed Violet on the forehead and said, “Christmas is awesome when you’re surrounded by family.”

“That it is Eddie, that it is.”