Party Favors by Erin McLellan
Series: So Over the Holidays #4
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: December 1st, 2020
Subgenre: Queer Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance, Holiday Romance
Synopsis for Party Favors:
Amanda Ellis knows three things: she’s tired of doing what’s expected of her, she hates her job at her family’s business, and the last thing she wants to do is attend her parents’ boring New Year’s Eve ball with a date her mother picked. A few days of fun with her online best friend is exactly what she needs to ring in the New Year on her own terms.
Wren Rebello is impulsive and always ready for fun. A last-minute girls’ getaway sounds like the perfect way to spend New Year’s. But even Wren isn’t prepared for the spark of attraction she feels when she meets Amanda in person for the first time. Good thing Wren loves popping Amanda’s cork.
After days spent sharing end-of-year resolutions and the one bed in their cottage, the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops on their time together. As Amanda and Wren go their separate ways, they leave new resolutions unfulfilled. Is there enough New Year’s magic left to turn their online friendship into real-life love?
You should never meet your heroes. Amanda believed that with her whole heart. Once, when she was twelve, she’d met a boy bander whose poster she had on her wall. It was one of those early formative moments. He’d treated her, and the other screaming preteens, like they were frivolous and silly and nothing special.
Well, today Amanda had flown six hours to meet her online best friend in person for the first time, and she was worried this plan would go the way of that adage about heroes. Except Amanda wasn’t concerned that Wren Rebello would be horrible or any different than she was online, which was funny, fierce, and kind. No, Amanda was scared shitless that she—Amanda Ellis, the disco ball heiress—would be pegged as nothing special. Again.
“About our cottage,” Wren said, wrenching her mind away from lingerie. “It’s called the Chalet, but in the description, it’s labeled as perfect for the junior executive. Did I tell you that?”
They came to a stop in front of the cottage door.
“No, you didn’t.”
“Right. I wasn’t paying attention. I mean, junior and executive sound like nothing words to me.” Wren used her keycard to open their cottage. They stepped inside.
The Chalet was a small two-story building with lots of windows, exposed wood, and a brick fireplace. The bottom floor had a sitting area, a lavish bathroom, and what Wren had expected to be a bedroom. Upstairs was a loft bedroom and another fireplace. There was also a private saltwater hot tub on the covered back porch, which was the type of extravagance Wren didn’t know how to deal with now that she had money. She’d grown up swimming in a horse trough with the other kiddos in the trailer park, so a private hot tub was fanciness personified to her.
“This is gorgeous. Is that my room?” Amanda swung open the door. “Oh. Guess not.”
There was a conference table in there. It had surprised Wren as well. It seemed so out of place. Evidently this was where they expected those junior executives to make deals and influence people. Or whatever it was that businessy folks did. She was luckily successful enough that she could hire junior executives to do that job for her lingerie endeavors.
“William was the one who booked the reservations. The resort is courting him to take over one of the bars or be in charge of their event circuit. Or something. I don’t pay attention,” Wren said in a rush. “Either way, he had the hookup. I didn’t look at pictures first. I’m so sorry.”
Wren should have done her own research, but instead, she’d jumped in feet first without investigating. Then invited along a friend.
“It’s fine.” Amanda dropped her suitcase and a garment bag on the stone floor. Her eyes seemed panicky. “So, there’s only one bedroom.”
“And only …” Amanda touched her forehead and laughed.
“One bed. Yeah.”
“Come on, pretty girl. We’re going streaking.”
An array of emotions passed over Amanda’s face, from disbelief to fear, but her expression ended on thrilled.
“Yes?” Wren asked. Her insides were still all jumbled from their interrupted conversation. She’d poured out her heart for Amanda to see, and Amanda had accepted it like it was precious.
But Wren didn’t know if she could trust it. Her last major heartbreak had happened because her partners—a married couple—had moved away. They didn’t think it was serious enough to try long distance with Wren. They’d told Wren that they didn’t want to stifle her fun and carefree spirit by tying her down to something so difficult. They’d thought she was too wild and silly to even try.
Now, Amanda was telling her she wanted the live-in-the-moment Wren. The rowdy Wren, the Wren who had been rejected over and over again. And Wren was going to give it to her, but she was going to protect her heart too because she wasn’t a dumbass.
This was a vacation hookup. A tiny drop in the bucket of time before Amanda went back to being the perfect daughter and heiress, hopefully armed with a little grit to stand up for herself.
Amanda stood and untied the peignoir, letting it fall open and loose around her breasts.
“God, you’re so hot like that,” Wren said, unable to help herself. “Leave that on while we run.”
“What if someone sees us?”
“They won’t.” Wren had walked around before Amanda had arrived yesterday. Those trees were just beyond the back porch with the hot tub, which was definitely designed with privacy in mind. There was no reason anyone would be back there.
“It’ll be cold.”
“Yep. You in?”
A slow smile tripped over Amanda’s gorgeous lips. She took a deep breath, then spun on her heels and sprinted to the back door. Wren laughed and ran to catch up with her.
The back door led to the enclosed back porch, where there was another door and two steps to reach the ground. Amanda made it outside first. She hitched the skirt of the peignoir up over her elbows and glanced back over her shoulder as Wren made it down the steps.
The cold hit Wren like a sledgehammer. The breath left her lungs, and she gasped out, “Oh my fucking fuck!”
Goosebumps sprouted up all over her body as her bare feet hit the snow. She covered her boobs with her hands out of instinct because it was freezing, but her hands were little ice cubes, so she dropped them.
Amanda turned and jogged backwards, laughing like she was having the time of her life. The cold had turned her cheeks bright red, and her bare tits bounced as she moved.
Wren wished she could spend an eternity tracing Amanda’s tight nipples with her gaze, but it was too fucking cold to linger. This was an amazing idea, and it needed to be over ASAP. Wren took off toward the trees, and Amanda matched her stride. Their fingers brushed the branches of a blue spruce at the edge of the forest at the same time, and they seemed to turn back to the cottage as one.
Wren slipped when they were about twenty feet from the back door, and Amanda caught her wrist, managing to right her. Then they were running, breathless, with their hands locked. The day was as fresh as new snow. Full of infinite hope and opportunity.
They tumbled into the enclosed back porch, and Wren rushed to the hot tub. She slung the cover off, jumped in without taking her boxers off, and dunked her head to warm up her frozen ears.
Amanda slipped the peignoir off her shoulders and folded it over a chair with extra care even though she was hardcore shivering. She also took her thong off, so as she slipped into the hot tub, she looked like a naked winter goddess.
“Oh my god. It’s so nice,” Amanda groaned. She pulled a ponytail holder off her wrist and twisted her hair up into a messy bun. The steam licked around her cheeks and immediately curled the fine hair around her ears and temples.
“Yes.” Wren swanned across the hot tub until she was in Amanda’s space.
“That was the most fun I’ve ever had,” Amanda said, her voice hushed.
Amanda grabbed Wren by the back of the neck and yanked her closer. So close their lips touched.
It had been wonderful in the middle of the night, but this was better.
Amanda controlled the kiss, sucking sweetly on Wren’s lips and turning her head just right to slip her tongue into Wren’s mouth.
“Oh,” Wren gasped and pressed closer, straddling Amanda’s lap.
Their wet naked skin melted together in the hot water. Amanda cupped one of Wren’s small tits.
“I didn’t expect the piercings when you took your shirt off earlier,” Amanda said, gently tugging the barbell shining in one of Wren’s nipples. That tug went straight to Wren’s clit. Amanda lifted Wren’s body until her breasts were all the way out of the water. “We should have gotten naked last night. Does this feel good?”
“Yes.” Wren arched into Amanda’s touch and dropped her head back.
“I love boobs,” Amanda mumbled against the soft slope of Wren’s breast.
Wren laughed. “Yeah. They’re great. You’ve got a rocking pair.”
“I know. Still awesome.”
Amanda’s arms tightened around Wren’s waist. “Thank you. Can I use my mouth on your piercings?” Amanda asked.
“Yes. Gentle, though.”
“Always.” There was a smile in Amanda’s voice that made Wren laugh.
“You don’t always have to be gentle with me. My clit likes it … oh fuck me, yes.”
Amanda ran her tongue lightly around Wren’s nipple, catching on the balls at the end of the bar. Her warm tongue, the steaming water, and the cold air outside the hot tub scrambled Wren’s synapses, her nerves on high alert.
“How does your clit like it?” Amanda asked. That should have sounded dirty, but it didn’t. It sounded like innocent interest, which made it infinitely hotter.
Wren had emailed her a week ago: Do you know what I need? To finally have that girls’ getaway with my online bestie. That’s you, by the way, in case that wasn’t clear. I’ve got a two-bedroom cottage at Father Time Farm and Resort booked from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 and a New Year’s Eve party ticket with your name on it. A few of my other friends will be there, but they’re all disgustingly coupled up. Please please please? I’m alone for New Year’s. You’re alone for New Year’s. Let’s be alone together.
The problem was that Amanda wasn’t supposed to be alone for New Year’s Eve. She was supposed to escort the honorable Mr. Thatcher Aldridge to her parents’ annual Midnight Charity Ball. Her mother had set it up, of course. The Aldridges were old tech money, whatever that meant, and Thatcher was the marrying age. Didn’t matter that Thatcher was a dick-pic-sending sleazeball who thought Amanda was nothing more than a mannequin for his arm.
Amanda couldn’t handle the bullshit for another night. She needed a break. She needed a real New Year’s Eve. A New Year’s Eve like the ones in movies with the countdown and the champagne and the glitter and the friends.
Her mother sending her a picture of the taupe evening gown she’d selected for Amanda had been the final freaking straw.
So, she’d lost her entire damn mind, sent a text to her parents, a fuck you to Thatcher Aldridge, and jumped on a plane.
She was here now, about to meet her online best friend. A woman she messaged with every day but whose voice she’d never heard. A woman who made her every day brighter and better but didn’t truly know Amanda at all. It was so easy to hide the scared or boring parts when you could curate your every word, every thought.
Amanda Ellis was blonde. Wren’s brain kept snagging on that point. In her profile picture on Twitter, her hair was a creamy, caramelly brown, and that was the only picture Wren had ever seen. But now, Amanda’s hair was blonde and very long. Wren liked it that way, all golden and sunshiny.
Amanda was also tall and curvy. Her legs looked a mile long in those fancy black boots with the spiked heels, and her skin was sun-kissed.
Basically, she was intimidatingly pretty even with melting mascara making a mess of her face.
Wren wasn’t easily intimidated, though, and nothing in the world would keep her from running full speed ahead into this time with Amanda Ellis. Wren had wanted this for so long. Had wanted to see if the butterflies she’d felt for years when her phone lit up with messages from Amanda transferred to seeing Amanda’s smile. To being in the same time zone as her.
It was odd, though. There was a disconnect in Wren’s brain. She knew Amanda so well. She knew Amanda’s hopes and dreams. She knew Amanda fantasized about ditching the family business for good. She knew Amanda hated to be called the disco ball heiress. They shared their daily triumphs and disappointments. Amanda treated Wren like she was more than the wild
child or the party girl. Amanda made Wren feel special with nothing but a DM. But Wren had never heard Amanda’s voice. Wren didn’t know Amanda’s hair color. It was a bit of a mindfuck.
But Wren didn’t need to know the physical things about Amanda to know she had an annoyingly huge crush on her.
The physical things were pretty nice, though.
Wren pulled up the DMs between her and Amanda from a little over a week ago. In one, Amanda had said that she’d never had a fun New Year’s Eve.
That moment had solidified it for Wren. She had decided to be an obnoxious, pushy pain in the hide until Amanda agreed to meet her here at Father Time Farm and Resort. Amanda deserved the best New Year’s Eve, and Wren would give it to her.
Plus, Wren hadn’t exactly been looking forward to watching Benji and William or her friends, Rosie and Leo, who were coming for the New Year’s Eve party, suck face at midnight. With Amanda here, they would both be kissless, so it wouldn’t feel so lonely.
But before Wren could give Amanda a rocking New Year’s Eve, she had to figure out a way to get them over this awkwardness hump. She thumbed out a message to Amanda, even though she was only a few rooms away and in the shower.
Wren: New plan.
Wren: Old year’s resolutions (get it?). A bit of fun to end this orbit around the sun.
A few minutes later, the shower shut off, and Wren’s phone lit up with a new message.
Amanda: Tell me more.
Wren smiled. She enjoyed talking to Amanda like this. It was familiar.
Wren: We have 2 days left of this year. Let’s make simple, fun resolutions that we can fulfill before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Wren: We’ll finish the year out with some successes.
About the author:
Erin McLellan is the author of the Farm College, So Over the Holidays, and Storm Chasers series. She enjoys writing happily ever afters that are earthy, emotional, quirky, humorous, and very sexy. Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska and spends her time dreaming up queer contemporary romances. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, gardening, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.
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