Dashing Through the No by Tara Sivec

PROLOGUE





Bodhi Preston Armbruster III

“Happy Holidaze.”


Christmas Eve, 12 years ago

Malibu, California

“Smoked salmon mousse canapé for you, sir?”

As I look down at the antique pink tray a server holds out for me, my nose wrinkles in disgust. I’m not quite sure if it’s because of the neat little piles of pink baby shit that are being offered to me, or because this poor guy who looks like he’s around the same age as I am has to call me sir. And he’s being forced to wear a designer pink sweatsuit onesie all night long, serving food to rich and overprivileged assholes, instead of being at home with his family to celebrate the holiday.

“What’s a guy gotta do to get some eggnog and Christmas cookies around here?” I joke, like a rich, overprivileged asshole.

“I don’t know,” the server replies in a bored voice. “Maybe try the flamingo petting zoo out on the east lawn, or the ballroom where Katy Perry is getting ready to perform.”

Seriously, who throws a party on Christmas Eve where everything from the floor to the walls, and the staff uniforms and the décor, is nothing but Pepto Bismol pink, without a tree or an ornament in sight? Every inch of the walls is covered in real pink roses. Thousands of strands of pink roses attached to fishing line are hanging down from the ceiling of every room. There are pink tablecloths, pink dinnerware, pink food, and pink bubbles from bubble machines floating around the sprawling mansion.

It’s bad enough I’m twenty-two years old and I’m still being forced to attend functions like this because my daddy told me to. There isn’t one Santa in a red suit, one strand of multicolored twinkle lights, one Christmas carol being sung, or one red-and-green-wrapped package. Not that I have any personal knowledge of what a real Christmas Eve should look like, but I’ve seen it plenty of times in movies and on TV, and this is not it. They sit around a table eating roast beast, followed by everyone putting on matching pajamas and curling up in front of the tree, with snow falling gently outside their rustic cabin in the woods. And I’m pretty sure there’s a yule log somewhere in there—although no one really knows what a yule log is, but I want one. They do not eat tiny piles of baby shit, followed by flamingo petting on the east lawn, while Katy Perry sings about kissing a girl, in a mansion on the beach in Malibu.

Is this really what my life is going to be like? Forever?

“Yo, Bodhi! There’s so much tail at this party all I’ll have to do is trip and my dick will fall right into a ready and willing female. Merry fucking Christmas to me!”

A hand is clapped against my back, and I don’t even bother giving one of my oldest friends a smile in greeting as he grabs a pile of baby shit from the tray and shovels it in his mouth. I shrug away from Brandon’s hand on my back and give the server in front of me still holding the pink tray a small smile of apology for my friend, because I know this is only just the beginning of what’s going to come out of his mouth.

“Hey, didn’t I ask you to get me a Jack and Coke like, fifteen minutes ago, slacker?” Brandon asks the server right on cue, grabbing another pink hors d’oeuvre from the tray and popping it into his mouth. “You’d think the Parker family would be able to spring for better help. You’re a lazy fuck.”

“Jesus, Brandon, shut up,” I mutter, unable to keep quiet any longer, giving the guy in the ridiculous onesie a quick verbal apology for Brandon, before he just rolls his eyes and walks away to offer some other offensive asshole a pile of pink baby shit.

I don’t know if my friends have gotten worse lately with their atrocious behavior, or if I’ve just become less tolerant of it. Whatever it is, I’m tired of shrugging it off all the time. I’m tired of being embarrassed by half the things they say and all of the things they do. I’m ashamed of myself that I’ve acted like them on more than one occasion over the years, trying to fit in and appease my father, and I’m tired of pretending like any of this makes me happy.

Happiness would be wearing matching Christmas pajamas, sitting in front of a tree in a cabin in the woods with people who let me be me… whoever that is. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever know who I am or what I really want to do with my life. I’ve never been given a choice about anything, and it’s never been more glaringly obvious how weak and pathetic I’ve become than right now, being stuck at a party I don’t want to be at on Christmas Eve, surrounded by people I can’t stand.

“What’s your problem?” Brandon scoffs, pointing his thumb over his shoulder at a group of our friends a few feet away, who are most likely sexually harassing the female server in a pink onesie trying to offer them a tray of hors d’oeuvres. “The guys said you’ve been in a pissy mood all night. We got an invite to the Parker Christmas Eve party, man; get in a good mood already. I heard this is going to be a yearly thing, and it’s going to be bigger and better every year. Thank God Richard Parker kicked the bucket and his wife decided to have a little fun in his honor, am I right?”

Brandon nudges his elbow into my side and laughs, and I suddenly have the urge to flip a table. Anyone who’s anyone in Hollywood knows who Richard Parker is. Or was, I should say, since he just passed away a few months ago. I met him a couple of times over the years when I was out with my dad, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Owning one of the biggest real estate companies in California, Mr. Parker’s firm only caters to the very wealthy, and the majority of his clients are celebrities. I guess since his passing, his wife took over the real estate business, and she decided to throw this pink nightmare of a Christmas Eve party at the request of her YouTube-famous twin daughters. And since my father is one of the most widely known celebrity attorneys in California, I’m forced to attend this thing, just like the other couple hundred people here, not doing anything Christmassy on Christmas Eve.