94eb9-1454581_10152003373885902_120937176_nCan you believe the Pagan Writers Press Solstice Blog Hop is almost over? Where did the week go? I hope you’ve been enjoying the posts, because I have something special to close off the hop: an excerpt from my holiday-themed novella, Clutter. Go to the cut to see it and stop by later too, as I’ll be featuring a review of Michelle D. Argyle’s Out of Tune. Don’t forget to check out the other awesome bloggers participating in the hop at the image below. And don’t forget to enter my giveaway in celebration of the hop! There are lots of chances to win! 🙂 One prize each will be awarded!

December 31, 2013. 12:00 PM

Clutter CoverOne hanger after another was pushed aside as Justine Martin tried to figure out what to wear to the party later on that night. It was the last place she wanted to be; family functions weren’t the most exciting way to spend an evening. Still, it was tradition so she figured she could stick it out for a few hours. It was much easier than the alternative.

She couldn’t even imagine trying to back out. The last time she’d mentioned not being able to go to one of Annette Martin’s holiday parties, the look on her mother’s face stopped her cold before she could get the whole sentence out. She’d backed out of the refusal as gracefully as possible and put a fake smile on her face as she’d enthused about how nice it was going to be to get together.

I’m pathetic; that’s all there is to it. She frowned as she came across one of her favorite dresses and raised an eyebrow at it. My mother would hate this dress. With a sigh, she pushed aside the hanger and moved on to the next one, her thoughts focused on the lecture that would be sure to follow had she dared to wear it. She glanced over at the window, watching for a moment as the snow fell in light flurries. It’s too cold for that one, anyway.

One of those radio countdown shows played in the background as she continued going over her options. Justine rolled her eyes as she realized how sad the past year in music had been. So far, she’d been listening for an hour and only heard a couple of songs that didn’t make her want to cringe.

Why do I even listen to these things anyway? Oh, yeah–it’s tradition. It was a stupid thing, really, to do things just because it was expected of her, but she continued to do it. Justine’s eyes lit up as she came across the perfect dress to wear. It was a long, green frock one of her relatives had bought her years ago for the holidays. She ran her hand along the velvety material, deciding it would be warm enough.

As Justine pulled the hanger off the rack and relieved it of the dress, she once again congratulated herself on her choice before dumping it on the bed. Now, she just had to find something to wear with it. She turned her attention to her dresser and the small wooden music box sitting on its surface. A simple stone sat in the center, giving it its only distinctive feature.

Gentle notes mixed with the horrors on the radio as Justine opened the music box and peered inside. I really should organize this thing one of these days… Chains and bracelets of different colors lay tangled within the box with the odd earring or ring scattered about. Somewhere in there was a simple gold one with a little ruby attached that she thought would look nice—if she could manage to find it.

As she dug through the mess, Justine cursed her lack of organizational skills with every colorful adjective she could think of. Part way through her search her hand brushed a folded-up sheet of paper. What the… Justine tightened her grip on the paper and pulled it from the depths of her jewelry box. What’s a note doing in here? She unfolded the sheet and her eyes widened in surprise as she read the hastily-scrawled heading: Resolutions 2013.

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