Jilly: Breaking With Tradition – A Christmas Short Story

Where does the time go? Can you believe this is the fifth year of the Eight Ladies Christmas Short Story Challenge?

Check out Elizabeth’s post here for the rules and this year’s story prompts (I think I got ‘em all). And go here for Michaeline’s spooky and moving ghost story.

Below is mine—not exactly a HEA, but something sunny to contrast with Michaeline’s dark night of the soul 😉 .


Breaking With Tradition

Mia Bougainvillea glowered at her husband-to-be, wondering yet again what on earth had induced him to propose marriage. It was beyond baffling.

She knew why she’d accepted. He was her boss’s son. A brilliant scholar. Rich. Classy. Stylish. Blond, tanned, and perfectly proportioned. Out of her league. She’d been drunk on flattery and Dom Perignon. And now here they were, on her island, in a collision of cultures that had bypassed fiasco and was thundering toward disaster.

“Sorry, Mia. I’m not walking up there.” The midday sun reflected off Arthur’s mirrored shades as he stared at the sacred volcano, powerful and mysterious. “It must be five miles to the top.”

“It’s traditional,” Mia repeated. She folded her arms grimly over the knot of her bridal pilgrimage flame-print sarong.

His lower lip jutted. “I gave you my grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Isn’t that traditional enough?”

She shook her head, dislodging a few fragrant petals from her flower crown. “We have to walk to the crater and ask for Pinguis’s blessing. No islander would get married here without it. You said you were looking forward to it. You said it would be fun.”

“I was ambivalent at best.” His voice rose to a whine that made him sound like a colicky, grizzly baby. “Furthermore, when you first broached the idea I didn’t know it would be so damned hot.”

“You’d be cooler if you lost the suit and tie.”

“For the last time, Mia, a gentleman does not wear a skirt, even in the tropics.” He leaned forward slightly, eyes narrowed. “Are you naked under that wrap?”

“Of course. It’s customary.” She slanted a glance at him. “Many people find it sexy.”

“It’s embarrassing.” He smoothed out a non-existent crease in his sleeve. “Why don’t you put some proper clothes on—something that fastens. With a zipper. Or buttons. I’ll take you for lunch at the yacht club.”

Pinguis, help me. The honeymoon was over, and they weren’t even married yet.

“It’s not too late, Arthur,” she heard herself blurt.

He slid his lenses down his nose and frowned at her over the rims.

“You should go to the yacht club.” Inspiration struck and she smiled for what felt like the first time since he’d slid that rock on her finger. “Tell Angela I sent you.”

“Excuse me?”

“She’s tall, blonde, and speaks five languages. Her family owns the beachfront estate next to the club. You want zippers and buttons, she’s your woman.”

And if Angela ever walked barefoot up the volcano, they’d hear the eruption back in San Francisco.

He raised his neatly groomed eyebrows. “Are you jilting me, Mia?”

She slipped the ring off and handed it to him, watching the flawless stone blaze in the brilliant sunlight. Stood on tiptoe and kissed him neutrally on the cheek.

“Be happy, Arthur.”

The wedding was off, but the party was not. And on the beach under the stars, in the benevolent shadow of the volcano, with the sand in her toes and love in her heart, who knew what the new year might bring?

14 thoughts on “Jilly: Breaking With Tradition – A Christmas Short Story

    • I didn’t want to be too harsh on Arthur, which is why he got Granny’s diamond back–I decided against having Mia pitch it into the crater, Lord of the Rings style. Art’s not a bad guy, just the wrong guy. He’ll be a great match for one of those steel magnolias at the yacht club 😉

      I think Mia will have a great time at the beach party. I believe she’ll meet Pinguis’s earthly avatar, a hot guy (in all senses of the word) who spends part of the year working as a geothermal engineering consultant, but who always comes home for the holidays…

    • Thanks, Kay! Aren’t names wonderful? They do so much heavy lifting, before the writer has even put hands on keyboard. In Mia’s case, I borrowed a lovely, lush tropical holiday we took years ago, on which our guide’s default setting was to point out the hibiscus and bougainvillea.

  1. Pingback: Elizabeth: A Change of Plans – A Christmas Short Story – Eight Ladies Writing

  2. Jilly, I loved “Mia Bougainvillea.” Though what prompted Arthur to propose, one can only guess. What kind of guy is unhappy to learn his bride-to-be is naked under her wrap? Good think she cut him loose.

    • I know, what was Arthur thinking? One can only imagine things looked very different back in the city. Very good thing she cut him loose, and in the nick of time!

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