“What a blessing it is to love books.”
~ Elizabeth von Arnim, The Solitary Summer ~
Odds and Endings: Fiction Short and Otherwise is Joe DeRouen's first short story collection, and contains thirteen all-new tales of magic, murder, and mystery. The compilation includes one novella and eleven short stories, one of which takes place in the Small Things universe and involves some of your favorite characters.
In A Stranger with Your Hair, we'll meet Parker McCain, a womanizer who's always looking for the perfect partner. He'll get all that and more when he makes a certain wish. Speaking of wishes, The Wish shows exactly why you should be very careful when you hold someone's heart in your hands, while Mommy's Favorite illustrates what can happen when a mother's love goes too far. And in Merryland, we'll spend time with Zara Boone, a woman who gets far more than she bargained for when she inherits her dead grandmother's house. These are just a few of the tales that await you in Odds and Endings!
I was always mother's favorite. Even after my little sister Samantha was born, I was the one who got all of the attention. Samantha came to hate me for it, and who could blame her? She was the baby, and yet I was the one constantly in the spotlight.
"Shouldn't we wait for Samantha?" I asked for the second time, as we began to open gifts on Christmas morning.
I always received the lion's share of the presents for birthdays and holidays, something my dear sister never tired of reminding me. The latest and greatest action figures, video games, Blu-ray players, and later, a brand new car for my 16th birthday. I got it all, and Samantha always had to settle for my hand-me-downs.
My little sister was currently upstairs, changing clothes after Mother complained that her attire (pink pajama bottoms and a "Hello Kitty" spaghetti-strap top) was inappropriate for company. Never mind that the only "company" here was my girlfriend Jordyn, who often dressed similarly in her dorm back at college.
"Nonsense, Alex," Mother said, for the third time pushing a red and green wrapped present with a white bow into my hands. "If she can't dress appropriately, she doesn't deserve to participate in family activities."
Samantha was a junior in high school and hated me more than ever, but I didn't care. I was madly in love with Jordyn, a beautiful and brilliant young woman who was studying to be a veterinarian, and I'd brought her home with me to meet my parents. Everyone adored Jordyn save for my mother, of course, who never seemed to approve of my girlfriends.
The house was decorated beautifully, as it always was for Christmas. The tree was strung with silver garland and sparkling white lights ("No colored lights on my tree," Mother always said) and yuletide trimmings filled the house, including a little baby Jesus manger set on top of the mantle that overhung the fireplace. The lights from the tree reflected off the maple wood floor and the metal surrounding the fireplace, giving the baby Jesus an unearthly glow.
"No need to wait for me, Alexander," said Samantha, using the long form of my name as she stomped down the stairs. "Go ahead and open your gifts. You'll still be opening them long after I'm finished anyway."