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New Year’s Day: Chapter 6


I WATCH Marta move about the room along with our butler Jerry, the both of them carrying trays laden with glasses full of champagne or sparkling apple cider. Marta is in charge of our glasses, and when she approaches us, handing off one to me and one to Willow, we both bow our heads to her with a smile, our thank-you’s ringing together in unison.

Willow stares at the amber liquid in the glass so hard it looks like her eyes are crossing. “I sort of wished I could’ve sampled the champagne.”

“No, you don’t,” Row pipes up as he joins us, clutching his own glass already. “It was kind of gross.”

“How was it gross?” I ask, curious. I’m still thinking about what my father told me. How I shouldn’t snitch on my brother all the time and I need to try and unite with him instead.

I just don’t know how. When I tried to approach August earlier, he told me, and I quote, to fuck off.

Ugh, he’s rude. Always cursing at me and Vaughn. I have a feeling he knows I’m the one who told on him sneaking the champagne and giving some to Rowan.

Oh well, I can’t worry about it. Augie is always mad at me. I’m used to it by now.

“It was bitter.” Row screws his face up, making me giggle. “And it sparkled on my tongue. Like bubbles.”

“That sounds…nice,” Willow says, a wistful expression on her face.

I don’t remember life without Willow, and I like it that way. I asked Mom a long time ago if my cousin could be my best friend, and she said of course.

“Having someone you’re related to who’s also your best friend is the best. You can connect on so many levels,” Mom said, her eyes glowing with happiness. “I’m just thrilled you two get along. When you were toddlers, you’d fight all the time and make each other cry.”

I love hearing those stories about me and Willow making each other cry, I don’t know why. They make me laugh.

“I don’t like the bitter part,” I say with all the authority I can muster. Like I know what I’m talking about. “I’ll just stick with the cider, thanks.”

I lift my glass in a toast, about to take a sip when Willow grabs my arm, preventing me from getting my lips on the rim of the glass.

“You can’t drink it yet!” she practically shrieks.

I frown at her. “Why not?”

“It’s bad luck. Do you want to put a curse on yourself for the next year?” I shake my head, my heart tripping over itself at the thought. “You can’t take a drink until we all yell Happy New Year.”

“I can wait.” I set my glass on the nearby table and Willow does as well, along with Row. “What time is it anyway?”

“Ten minutes to midnight!” Mom shouts, and I realize she’s been listening in on our conversation.

What if we’d been discussing something private? We live in this huge house yet my parents seem to know everything that’s going on with us. Everything that’s said. I love them. I love that we’re all so close, but I’m starting to envy the distance they give to August whenever he seems to need it, which is pretty much all the time.

They always say he’s a teenager and he needs his space. Well, guess what? I’m about to turn thirteen, which means I’m going to need some space too.

And plenty of it.

My parents start handing out party favors for all of us to use when the clock strikes twelve. Paper top hats and glitter tiaras. Gold and black feather boas and silly sunglasses. Poppers and noisemakers and tiny paper horns.

Willow and I wear matching tiaras and so do the twins, while the boys wear the black top hats and sunglasses. We all look ridiculous and the younger boys won’t stop blowing into the shiny gold horns but I don’t even mind. We’re having too much fun, anticipation filling the room as we get closer to midnight.

Dad turns on the TV and finds a New Year’s show. They’re live in Times Square and our cousin’s husband Tate Ramsey is singing one of his latest hits.

“Look, there’s Scarlett!” Mom yells, pointing at the screen.

Scarlett is standing off to the side of the stage, a proud smile on her face as she watches Tate perform. I wonder what it’s like, being married to a famous pop star.

Every time we see them though, they’re so perfectly normal, it’s hard to believe he’s famous.

Once Tate is done singing, the camera switches to the glittering ball that sits high above Times Square. It slowly descends as the time speeds by on the digital clock that’s shown on the top right corner of the TV.

“Get ready, everyone!” Wren tells us and we all surround the TV, our gazes never straying from the gold ball on the television.

“This is exactly what I used to do when I was a kid with my mother,” Mom says as she slips in between me and Willow. “We’d watch the ball drop too.”

“Some things never change,” I tell her and her smile turns almost sad.

“I suppose you’re right.” She grabs my hand and kisses my cheek. “I love you, sweetie.”

“I love you too.” My gaze goes to the screen because I can’t help it. I’m too excited.

“You going to make a wish?” Willow asks me after Mom leaves us to go stand with Dad.

“A wish? On what?” I’m confused. I don’t think we’ve ever made a wish on New Year’s Eve before.

“When the clock hits midnight, let’s take a drink and make a wish for what we want in the new year.” Willow smiles. “Maybe that’ll help it come true.”

“It can’t hurt,” I say with a shrug.

“Can I make a wish?” Row asks, right as August approaches us.

“Of course, you can,” I tell him, Willow nodding her agreement.

“You guys are lame,” August mutters, rolling his eyes.

“At least we’re not mean like you,” I throw at him. Wanting to prove I can dish it out just like he does.

“I’m not mean.” He actually seems insulted.

Row says nothing. Willow giggles, covering her mouth with her fingers to stop it.

“You are so mean. Maybe that’ll be my wish this year. That my brother will be nicer to all of us,” I say.

“Good luck with that happening,” Willow murmurs, laughing when Augie sends her an annoyed look. “See? You can’t help yourself, Augie.”

“Whatever. And don’t call me that.” He stomps off, mad like usual.

Ugh, I can’t worry about him.

“We’re definitely making a wish at midnight,” I tell Willow and Row. “And I’m not wasting mine on him.”

“Good,” Willow says with a nod, her gaze going to the TV screen. “Oh no, we need to get ready!”

The countdown is on. The younger kids start counting down from fifty, which is irritating but the parents seem into it. They start counting too.

I only join in at twenty, clutching the glass in my hand, spinning the noisemaker with my other hand. The noise in the room grows louder and louder and when we hit ten, I close my eyes and come up with a wish.

It hits me right when we hit two, and I open my eyes, screaming “one” as loud as I can.


We’re screaming and yelling and carrying on. The adults are kissing their significant others, and I take a big gulp from my glass to toast the New Year, thinking about my wish.

“What did you wish for?” Row asks minutes later, after we’ve gone quieter.

“It won’t come true if we tell,” Willow chastises. “Right, Iris?”

“Definitely.” I nod, though I’m dying to tell them what mine is.

I wished we’d have this party every year. Just us. Just the family and no one else.

I hope it comes true.


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