Honey Wheeler hummed along to a Pentatonix Christmas CD as she wrote names on slips of white paper. “Isn’t this the best idea we’ve ever had?” she demanded of her best friend and fellow conspirator.

Trixie Belden nodded vigorously, sending her shoulder-length curls swinging. “You mean drawing names for the Secret Santa exchange? We’ve been doing that since Arizona!” she teased.

Rolling her eyes, Honey smacked Trixie’s hand away from the plate of Christmas goodies she’d baked to set the mood for the occasion. After all, it was acceptable to listen to Christmas music in October if you were doing a Christmassy activity. Probably. “The cookies are for after,” she insisted. “And you know drawing names wasn’t what I meant. Well, I guess it was. I meant having the significant others draw names. It’s only fair, you know. We could all draw names, of course, all fourteen of us, but I’m just not ready to give up the Bob-White tradition, are you? I mean, I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be planning a gift for a Bob-White. And I might have to make a gift for—”

“Linnie?” Trixie asked, and dodged Honey’s half-hearted smack.

“You know I adore Linnie,” Honey chided. “And I highly doubt that you’re eager to come up with a present for Dot! Or Hallie!”

Trixie wrinkled her nose. “You’re right,” she agreed, settling back in her chair and leaving the cookies untouched. “We’ve all been with our significant others for over a year. Last Christmas some of the relationships were too new to even think about inviting them into the exchange, and they weren’t even all here for Christmas. But this year they’re all going to be here. Ned, Nick, Pete, Linnie, Barbara, Dot and Hallie.” She shook her head in amazement. “I still don’t know how that happened. What are the odds?”

Relenting, Honey handed her a piece of Rice Krispy cake. “Didn’t you know? The Bob-Whites are all about beating the odds.”

Trixie grinned and took a bite of the treat. “I don’t care what anyone says—the red and green Rice Krispies do taste different. In an amazing Christmassy way.”

Honey raised her eyebrow but didn’t argue. “Anyway,” she said, “I’m just glad they all agreed to it. And it’s a great way for them to get to know each other, too.”

Trixie shrugged. “I guess. I still think it’s weird that we’re all dating but none of us are dating each other. Remember when we thought that you would marry Brian, I’d marry Jim, and Di would marry Mart?”

Honey smiled wistfully. “I certainly do. And Dan would marry Hallie.”

Both girls grimaced.

“Maybe Jim and Dan will grow out of their ‘bad girl’ phase,” Trixie said hopefully. “I mean, really. Hallie? And Dot?”

Honey covered her giggle with her hand. “Oh, Trixie. They’re not that bad. And Barbara and Linnie are lovely and you know it.”

Trixie nodded vigorously. “And I like Nick and Pete just fine, too. Maybe we do all have pretty good taste,” she said thoughtfully. “I mean, I certainly do. Ned and I have had a lot of fun together! But it’s a good thing that it’s Dan dating Dot, and not Jim.”

This time Honey didn’t bother to hide her laughter. “Remember when Jim told us he was seeing Hallie? That was bad enough!”

“I didn’t mean to laugh in his face,” Trixie said, shame-faced. “I honestly thought he was kidding!”

“We all did! And then it was almost worse when we realized he actually meant it. Didn’t Dan cross himself?”

“Is that what that was? Fat lot of good it did,” Trixie snorted. “After all, it didn’t save him from Dot’s clutches.”

Honey shook her head. Dot was still beautiful, still incredibly talented, and still ultimately self-centred. For the last eighteen months Honey had struggled to see what attracted Dan to her, but in the end she could only assume that it was Dot’s well-filled sweater. Not that she would ever say it aloud. Trixie did enough of that for the both of them, after all.

“They’ll figure it out,” she said weakly, repeating the mantra she’d conditioned herself to adopt. “Eventually.” She paused. “Probably. Anyway, the point is, we’re brilliant. And we’re going to have the best Christmas exchange ever.” She nodded decisively and tapped the container of white slips waiting to be drawn.

Trixie nodded, her mouth too full of sugar cookie to speak.

Three hours later...

Honey stared at the text message on her phone. In order to keep the drawing of names completely impartial (read: Mart was worried Trixie would deliberately draw his name and decide that her homemade gift to him would involve baking) Ms. Trask had drawn the names and then texted each person with the name of their giftee. It didn’t quite have the magic of reaching into a bowl and picking a slip of paper, but it did solve the difficulty of drawing names when most of the participants were hundreds of miles away.

Either way, it wouldn’t help her with the name on the screen of her phone.


Why, of all people, did it have to be Brian?

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to make him a gift. She loved the idea of taking the time to create something personal for one of the most important people in her life. In fact, it had been her idea! But making a gift for Brian? When he was dating Linnie Moore? The girl who sewed her own clothing, made quilts in her spare time, sold her pottery to help subsidize her education, and showered her boyfriend with exquisite ski sweaters on a regular basis?

What could she possibly make that would be special? Oh, he’d appreciate anything, she knew. But she took pride in creating unique gifts, and she couldn’t think of a single thing that Linnie hadn’t already made for him.

Unless she wanted to take up welding. She was pretty sure Linnie hadn’t branched into metal work.


She stared at the text, her mind blank. She always had ideas for Secret Santa. Trixie depended on her to have ideas as the procrastinating blonde inevitably panicked and came to Honey for help the week before Christmas. Honey had a list of websites bookmarked that specialized in simple, attractive crafts. And she knew without even looking that homemade penholders or Styrofoam Santas would not fit the bill. Knitting was her go-to idea for Secret Santa and for the last several years she’d knitted ski sweaters for her recipients. She loved knitting. Well, maybe not as much as she loved sewing, but she couldn’t think of anything more relaxing than spending a chilly November night camped in front of the fireplace with a knitting project.

And it was even better when she was knitting for some of the most important people in her life, because she thought of them with every knit and every purl. In fact, when she’d drawn Brian’s name three years ago, she’d knit him a lovely deep red cable sweater. Which was why she needed to get the idea of knitting out of her mind, she told herself sternly. He already had a sweater from her. And surely there were plenty of other things she could make. Things that Brian would appreciate.

Snapping her fingers, Honey opened a spreadsheet on her laptop. Jim had suggested (read: bullied) the Bob-Whites into providing a wish list. Honey hadn’t read it—she preferred to come up with her own ideas. But this year…

She scrolled through the document until she saw Brian’s name. Picture frame, she read, and smiled. Dan had recently started making picture frames from branches he collected in the preserve, and Brian was trying to hint that he hoped he would be this year’s lucky recipient. Of course, it could also be a hint aimed in Di’s direction. Last year she’d decoupaged a ceramic picture frame with fall leaves and placed a picture of the preserve in full fall colour in the frame. That frame, Honey thought with pride, stood in a place of honour on her own dresser where she admired it every day.

But photography wasn’t really her thing, and neither was decorating picture frames.

She looked for the next item on the list and sighed in frustration. The next item on the list was also the last item. Brian, it seemed, was as sparing with his words in written communication as he was with verbal. And his last/second item was… a muffler? Really?

She read it a second time, but it definitely said muffler. She had never seen Brian wear a muffler. In fact, he didn’t even wear a scarf until it was at least minus ten. But if he wanted a muffler, she could certainly learn to make him one. The neck warmer was a much smaller project than a sweater, but if that was what Brian wanted…

It was odd that Brian had added a winky face after the word muffler, but maybe that was Jim trying to be funny? She loved her full-blooded adopted brother dearly, but he tended to use the exact wrong emoticon more often than not. Sometimes he even sent them accidentally, she remembered. Probably this was just another example of Jim not paying attention to what he was typing.

Humming happily, Honey closed her laptop and began a mental inventory of yarn. Black? No. It was versatile, but Brian needed colour in his life. Blue? No. Trixie and Mart wore enough blue for all the Beldens put together. White? It would look lovely with the deep red sweater she’d knit him, but it would turn dingy far too soon. Green? She wrinkled her nose, thinking that Brian would look like a walking Christmas advertisement if he wore it with the red sweater. Maybe not green. At least, not a traditional green. Rifling through her knitting bag, she found what she was looking for. A green so dark it was almost black. It was perfect, she decided and opened her laptop again to research the absolute best muffler pattern.

She was going to give Brian the best muffler ever.

Trixie Belden glowered at the project in front of her and wondered if wood was sentient. After all, the wood had once been part of a tree, and trees were alive, and if the preserve was anything to judge by, trees were mostly jerks that all looked the same and spent their energy trying to get her lost.

So it was entirely possible that this wood was really the ghost of a harvested tree and was trying to haunt her. Or get revenge.

It was the only reasonable explanation for why her fingers were currently firmly entrenched in her untidy curls. She yanked again, but only succeeding in mashing more hair into the sticky clump.

It figured. It just figured that any product that came with extensive directions (which she hadn’t finished reading) and whose name was derived from some sort of chemical process (she’d stopped reading after the first “poly”) would turn on her. After all, the project was just like Mart, since it was for Mart. And since big words often got him into trouble, she supposed it made sense that something with a big name, or at least a technical name, would get her into trouble. And she’d only compounded the situation by etching a personalized inscription with a big word onto the back of the project. It had been worth the hours she’d spent using a thesaurus and obsessively checking to make sure she was spelling the word correctly. And after this project, she would always remember how to spell loquacious. She hoped she’d never have to use it again, but she’d know how to spell it if she did.

But none of that would get her hair unstuck from the Epoxy. She’d done well, she reminded herself. Building a bookstand for Mart like the one the dictionary at Cobbett’s Island had been on hadn’t been easy, but it was the perfect gift for her bibliophile brother. Her dad had helped her use the band saw, and she’d stained and varnished every last piece of wood herself. Putting it together had been surprisingly satisfying.

Except for when she’d lost control of the drill and splintered the wood. Epoxy, or to use the Mart-term, polyepoxide, she discovered online, would solve the problem. And it had. The small piece of wood that had broken off was once again attached, looking only slightly worse for wear. And really, if that was the only thing that went wrong with this project, she was going to consider it a resounding success.

But only if she could work her fingers out of her hair without having to shave her head.

At least she’d learned a valuable lesson. Never ever try to brush hair out of your eyes before you’ve cleaned the Epoxy from your hands.

She glared at the finished, gorgeous bookstand. “You’re lucky that you’re going to be the best Secret Santa gift Mart has ever gotten,” she told it, and could have sworn that it winked at her.

“I can’t believe I stayed up until 2 a.m. decorating these cookies,” Trixie groaned, plunking a box of cookies down on the clubhouse table.

I can’t believe you left it to the last minute,” Honey chided, placing an artistically arranged plate of perfectly formed homemade chocolates beside Trixie’s offering. She frowned and attempted to square the smushed corners of Trixie’s box, but it was pointless. She could only hope that the cookies had fared better than the box.

“I didn’t!” she protested. “I made them two days ago! But then Mart decided to raid the kitchen for a midnight snack for him and Barbara. And he passed them off as his own!”

Honey hid a smile, knowing that Trixie was more irritated by Mart taking the credit for her baking than she was by having to duplicate her work.

“So the decorating isn’t quite as good,” Trixie worried. “I just didn’t have time.”

“I’m sure no one will notice the difference,” Hallie assured her, breezing into the clubhouse. She lifted the cover on a tray of rum balls and studied the table carefully before placing it on the opposite side of the table, far from both Trixie’s and Honey’s offerings.

Dan followed close behind, tossing a bag of potato chips onto the middle of the table. Honey let out a tiny sigh, relieved that he hadn’t brought one of Mr. Maypenny’s fruitcakes. Dan was one of the few who enjoyed it. Honey did not, and always felt obligated to take at least a small piece.

But fruitcake was the least of her worries at the moment. Preventing an awkward standoff between Trixie and Hallie was significantly higher on her list. Both Hallie and Dot had mastered the art of making innocent-sounding comments that had lots of bite behind them if you knew what to listen for. Trixie knew what to listen for. Jim and Dan did not, which had led to plenty of irritation on Trixie’s part and confusion on Jim and Dan’s.

“The cookies are darling,” Honey declared as she peeked in the box and admired something that appeared to be a cross between a nutcracker and a snowman. Possibly a gingerbread man?

“The best part of baking cookies is the sampling,” Dot said, following Dan into the room and carrying a bowl of caramel popcorn. “Isn’t that right, Trixie?” she asked, her eyes travelling pointedly to the curvy blonde’s… curves.

Trixie flushed and Honey began to wonder if the entire evening was going to be an exercise in walking on eggshells. She had hoped that everyone would be on their best behaviour for the Secret Santa gift exchange, but it didn’t look promising.

“I did the sampling for both of us last night,” Ned said, giving Trixie a kiss on the cheek. “And I can assure you that this batch tastes just as good as the one that Mart stole.”

“You’re such a suck up,” Mart accused.

Ned grinned and snitched a maybe-reindeer-but-possibly-church-bells cookie. “I’m also not the one who gets his hand slapped every time he even looks at sweets.” He glanced pointedly at Trixie, who was eyeing Mart with obvious distrust.

“You baked them for tonight!” he reminded his sister. “It’s okay to eat them now!”

From the look on Trixie’s face, it was obvious that she’d ban her brother from the baked goods if she could. But Ned deftly offered her a piece of Di’s legendary fudge, and further friction between the siblings was averted. Mart might be the Belden who talked about food the most, but it was Trixie who had taught them all that chocolate was an excellent silent mediator.

“Well!” Honey said brightly. “Should we begin?” Her eyes tracked to the tree in the corner of the room with its mishmash of homemade ornaments, strings of popcorn, and blinking lights. It was nothing like the tastefully decorated trees she’d grown up with, or even her own tree, but it never failed to warm her all the way through. The hand-wrapped presents underneath the tree were just an added bonus.

“Significant others first?” Brian asked. He’d appropriated the threadbare loveseat to share with Linnie and the two looked so comfortable and sweet together that Honey couldn’t help but smile.

“I’d love to take their picture,” Nick murmured as he slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her back flush against his chest. “Do you think they’d mind?”

“I don’t think they’d even notice,” Honey whispered back, sighing happily.

She could feel him smile in return, even if she couldn’t see it.

“I think the Bob-Whites should go first,” Linnie suggested. “Show us how it’s done,” she insisted when the Bob-Whites demurred. “Go ahead, Brian.”

“And don’t forget the uniform,” Dan said, tossing Brian a red Santa hat. “Gotta look the part.”

Brian tugged the hat on, leaving it at a rakish angle. “Laugh it up,” he jokingly threatened when Linnie giggled at the picture he presented. “You’ll get your turn soon enough.”

“Go on,” Linnie urged, pushing him from the loveseat. “We’re waiting!”

Brian retrieved his gift from under the tree and handed it to Diana along with the Santa hat. Settling back in her seat, Honey tucked her hand into Nick’s and relaxed into the pure joy of the gift exchange. Even though she treasured each gift she’d received over the years, it really wasn’t about the gift. It was about being together and showing each other that they cared. And she knew that she was being sentimental, but—

“For me?” Honey’s eyes lit up as Jim handed her a small package. It was about the size of a jewellery box, she thought, tilting her head to the side. Which made no sense at all, unless he was trying to fool her. Probably it was the exact opposite of jewellery, though she wasn’t at all sure what that would be. Maybe a hoof pick? Or a—

“Just open it!” Trixie exclaimed, tossing a piece of caramel popcorn at her best friend.

Honey brushed the sticky treat off her sweater but obeyed. “Jim!” she cried, discovering that the box did, in fact, contain jewellery. Which certainly didn’t fit the homemade criteria for gifts they’d decided on years ago. “What is this?”

“I made it,” Jim said. “Honest!” He paused. “Well, I had some help.” He grinned at Hallie. “I know someone in the silver business, you see.”

“You made this? It’s amazing!” Honey removed the delicate bracelet and slipped it onto her wrist. The coloured lights from the Christmas tree made it glow, and she wasn’t sure if she actually cared whether or not the gift was homemade. It was beautiful.

“Now quit stalling,” Jim ordered, his face as red as his hair.

“Oh!” Flustered, Honey rummaged through the remaining gifts until she found the one she’d brought. “For you,” she said, handing the squishy package to Brian.

Having received similar packages from Honey in the past, Brian’s face lit up. “Not big enough to be a sweater,” he decided, rattling the gift close to his ear as if to listen for clues. “Socks, maybe?”

Honey giggled as he drew out the process of opening the present. He had to know what it was—he’d asked for it, after all! But it was wonderful to see the normally serious young man’s eyes twinkle with mischief.

“A scarf?” he continued guessing, finally slitting the tape and tearing the wrapping paper.

“Of course, not!” Honey scolded. “It’s a muffler, just like you asked!”

Brian unfolded the knit item and studied it, his head cocked to the side. “Just like I asked…” he repeated, sounding confused.

“Yes!” Honey was confused, herself. “Remember? On the wish list spreadsheet? You requested a muffler.” She paused, noting his blank expression. “Didn’t you?”

Recognition dawned and Brian’s face lit up. “Oh, that! I was just being a bit caustic, Honey. The muffler on my car is hanging on by a thread, and…”

He jumped up from the couch when he saw Honey’s face fall.

“You meant an actual muffler? For a car?” Honey cried. She stared at the knit neck-warmer that Brian still held in his hands.

“It was a joke,” he explained, sitting down on the floor in front of her. “Linnie recently took up metal working, and...”

“Of course she did!” Honey laughed, dashing away a single tear that threatened to fall while Brian studied the muffler.

“Now, how does this work?” Brian demanded, turning the muffler over and placing his hands inside the tube. “It looks more like a torture device than—”

“I’ll torture device you,” Honey threatened, laughing again. She turned the muffler right side out and slipped it over his head. It was perfect, she realized. She’d gotten the size right and the colour suited him to a tee. He’d even worn the sweater she’d made him years ago, and the two complimented each other just as she’d hoped they would.

“It’s just right,” Brian declared. “I love it.”

“My turn!” Trixie decided. With a grunt she pulled a large square box from under the tree. “Careful,” she warned, plunking in on her almost-twin’s lap. “It’s heavy.” She grinned at his surprised exhale of air at the sudden weight and then bounced on her feet, waiting for him to open his gift.

“Judging by the weight, it could be something you baked,” he worried, earning a swift kick from his sister.

“Open it and see!” she urged, her eyes dancing with anticipation. Trixie might give her brother a hard time as often as she could, Honey thought, but it was at times like this that it was obvious how much she loved him.

“It’s a bookstand!” Trixie exclaimed before Mart could make a guess as to the purpose of the wooden structure on his lap. “It goes on a desk, and you put the book here,” she gestured with her hand, “and the book stays open and everything! At least it’s supposed to. I think I got all the corners square enough… Oh! And look on the back!” Before Mart could do as she instructed, she turned the bookstand over herself. “See? It’s engraved!”

“You did this?” Mart asked, tracing the letters she’d engraved. “That’s amazing! That’s—” he paused, studying the inscription.

“Loquacious,” Trixie supplied, her eyes full of mirth. “It means—”

“I know what it means,” Mart retorted. “I was just checking to see if you put a ‘c’ before the ‘q’. I always think it needs the ‘c’, but it doesn’t. At least, not according to spell check.” He tucked the bookstand under his chair, his smile not quite natural.

Trixie’s eyes widened. She knew her brother, and she definitely knew when he was hiding something. Mostly because he absolutely did not have the gift of subterfuge. And everyone else in the room knew it, too.

“What’s wrong with it?” she questioned. “Did you get Epoxy on your hands? I thought I got it all cleaned off!”

Mart checked his fingers reflexively. “Nope! All good.”

“Then what—” Dodging his attempts to stop her, she pushed his legs aside and picked up the bookstand, studying it from every angle.

“It’s fine,” Mart told her. “Better than fine. I’m going to put it on my desk, and it’s going to be my dictionary’s new home.”

Trixie ran her hands over the wood, making sure that all surfaces were properly sanded and the corners square. He shouldn’t have gotten a splinter… She turned it over and stared at the inscription that she had spent so much time on. It hadn’t been just doing the physical engraving. It had been using the thesaurus to find the exact word she wanted, and then obsessively checking over and over again to ensure she’d spelled it correctly. Loquacious wasn’t part of her everyday vocabulary, but it was absolutely right for her brother, and it had been worth all the effort.

“I know I spelled it right,” she muttered under her breath. She still had the spelling memorized, and probably would for the next few years.

“You did,” Mart sighed, realizing that his sister wasn’t going to give up until she’d solved the mystery of what he’d noticed. “Loquacious is perfect. But…” He paused, and it was obvious that he really didn’t want to continue.

“But, what?” Trixie demanded. “Tell me. You know I’ll hound you until you tell me.”

“Library generally has two r’s,” he said in a rush.

It took Trixie half a minute to understand what he’d said. When she did, she looked down at the engraved words in horror.

Mart’s Loquacious Libary

“I don’t care,” Mart hurried to assure her. “Not one bit. It’s an amazing gift and it’s going to get a place of honour on my desk and I’ll use it every day and—”

“I spelled library wrong.” Trixie stared at the misspelled word, and Honey’s heart broke. Trixie had spent hours on Mart’s gift. She’d learned new skills. She’d tried so hard. And she’d been so proud of the completed project!

“I can’t believe it,” Trixie said. “I spelled library wrong.” Her voice broke at the end, and Honey realized that Trixie was in danger of doing something she rarely, rarely did. Her chin wobbled and she blinked furiously.

“Laugh,” Mart commanded, pulling her in for a rough hug. “It’s laugh or cry, and you know you’d rather laugh.”

Accepting the good sense of his suggestion, she managed a small laugh which grew stronger as she began to appreciate the irony of the situation.

“It could be worse,” Mart continued. “At least you’re not a libarian. Then this really would be embarrassing.”

Trixie laughed louder. “That would be worse. Can you imagine me as a librarian?”

“Oh for the love of—” Dot threw her hands in the air and then planted them firmly on her hips. “I can’t believe this! You win everything!”

“Can’t believe what?” Trixie questioned, fishing for a tissue in the pocket of her jeans. “And I won something?”

“Snarky Santa!” Dot ranted. “You didn’t even try! And you won!”

“Snarky Santa?” Honey frowned. “Dot, it was Secret Santa.”

“Oh, sure, for you Bob-Whites it was. But we,” she gestured to Hallie, “decided to make a few changes for our gift exchange. Some improvements. But Trixie had to go and ruin it! I mean, I was a little worried after you gave Brian a muffler,” she said to Honey. “You were totally in the running with that stunt. But Trixie knocked it out of the park!” She glared at the subject of her ire, who only looked confused.

“I don’t get it. You changed Secret Santa to Snarky Santa?”

Dot nodded. “Well, sure. Hallie and I had to have some fun, right? So we decided to give the snarkiest gifts we could. Oh, relax. Not mean gifts,” she clarified, rolling her eyes at Trixie’s horrified expression. “Just snarky. Like I got Nick a paint-by-the-number kit.”

Every eye in the room swivelled to Nick. Shrugging, the artist said, “Actually, that’s kind of funny.”

“That’s what I thought!” Dot exclaimed. “And Hallie—” She stopped. “I don’t actually know what Hallie brought because it was supposed to be a competition between the two of us. We were going to decide the winner after the gift exchange.”

“I pulled your name,” Hallie admitted. “And you now have your own copy of the Mean Girls movie.”

Honey thought she heard Trixie mutter something under her breath, but she decided it would probably be smart to ignore any comments just yet.

Dot smirked. “I love that movie.”

“I know, right? I was hoping we could watch it together before the holidays are over,” Hallie admitted.

“Count us in,” Di said. “Honey and Trixie and I used to watch that movie all the time!”

“Sure!” Dot agreed readily, surprising everyone in the room including herself. “That sounds like fun.”

Barbara frowned at the package she held in her hands. “I wish you’d told me. I’d have gotten something much more interesting for Ned if I’d known!” She tossed the gift to her childhood friend, and the gift exchange between the significant others proceeded. The Bob-Whites watched as their counterparts debated what they would have purchased for their recipients, had they known of the Snarky Santa option.

“I can’t believe Dot and Hallie changed Secret Santa to Snarky Santa,” Trixie griped several hours later as she and Honey finished setting the clubhouse to rights after the others had left. Honey could tell that Trixie wanted to be irritated, but was too intrigued by the idea to pull it off. “What’s worse is…” She paused.

“What’s worse is that you liked the idea,” Honey supplied.

Trixie nodded, chagrined.

“It might be a good tradition for the significant other Bob-Whites,” Honey mused. “But what I can’t believe is that you won without even knowing about it,” she marvelled. “How did you manage it?”

Trixie rolled her eyes. “Don’t forget, you came in a close second.”

Honey could feel the colour rise in her cheeks. “Poor Brian.” Her lips quirked and a giggle escaped. “What was I thinking? Nobody calls them mufflers anymore! And—”

“And I’ll be the warmest of any of us when we start our next tradition,” Brian interrupted, standing in the doorway of the clubhouse. Cold air swirled into the small building and both Trixie and Honey shivered.

“Next tradition?” Honey questioned.

Brian grinned. “Let’s see how well that silver bracelet stands up to a post gift exchange snowball fight,” he dared, and lobbed a cold, wet ball of snow at the girls. Shrieking, they followed him out into the crisp, dark night.

There was nothing wrong, Honey reflected as her snowball connected squarely with Pete’s cheek, with a new tradition or two.

Author’s Notes

This year I had the privilege of writing for the lovely Chey. In her questionnaire, she related a hilarious story about a muffler. The car kind. Sort of. And so this story was born. Merry Christmas, Chey! I hope your holiday season is filled with all your favourite things.

Thank you to MaryN and BonnieH for editing, and to MaryN for graphicing. You’re the best. *hugs*

Merry Christmas, Jix!

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. Story copyright by Ryl, December, 2016. Graphics copyright 2016 by Mary N.

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