Tour Stop & Excerpts: Holiday Short Stories by Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker

Holiday Blog Tour – Exclusive Excerpts from Bestselling Authors Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker

This winter, rejoice in a festival of entertaining new tales from Amazon Original Stories. Unwrap unique short reads by bestselling authors to keep your holiday season merry and bright. Visit to browse a curated selection of stories—free for Prime Members and Kindle Unlimited Subscribers—and read on for excerpts from the titles by Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker.

After a long, lonely year, two people stumble toward each other in If the Fates Allow a holiday short story by Rainbow Rowell the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl.

“You must think I’m crazy. Paranoid.”

“I would have,” she said, “before the pandemic. But now . . . I don’t even know what it means to be crazy. If you’re as careful as you’re supposed to be, you seem neurotic. I feel neurotic. Now. And I never used to be. I’m the sort of person who’d share an ice cream cone with a dog.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“I know. But I’ve never cared about that sort of thing. I go swimming in lakes. I wear shoes in the house. If I drop my hot dog in the grass, I’ll just brush it off and eat it.”

Mason laughed.

“But now I wipe down my mail.”

“They say you don’t have to wipe down your mail,” he said.

“I know, but I’m in the habit now.”

“You get a lot of mail? I don’t get any mail.”

“I’m a homeowner with a retirement plan,” she said.

“Now you’re just bragging.”

Reagan laughed. She leaned on the railing of the deck. She was tired of standing.

“They’re in there eating pie,” Mason said.

“How long has it been since you’ve all gotten together?”

“Indoors? Months. Probably June or July.”

She nodded.

“Is your family all being careful?” he asked.

“God no, they’re all at my mom’s house. They’ve been acting normal this whole time. I haven’t seen my mom since March.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right. She still calls me every other day. And texts me weird YouTube videos.”

Mason laughed. “I don’t think my mom knows how to get on YouTube.”

“Count your blessings.”

“I do.” He looked down again, still kind of chuckling. “It’s not fair,” he said, more seriously. “I made that pie.”

“I’m impressed,” Reagan said. “I struggled with the Jell-O salad.”

He looked up. “I thought that might be Jell-O salad . . . What kind did you make?”


“Green is the best,” he said.

“Green is the best,” she agreed.

“I’m impressed.”

Reagan smiled at him. Only because he couldn’t see it with her mask on. “Wait right there.”

She turned around and walked into the house. Into the kitchen. The Jell-O was in the fridge.

“You talking to somebody?” her grandpa called from the living room.

“Just Mason,” she said.

“I like that Mason. He’s got a job in Washington.”

“Mm-hmm.” Reagan got two everyday bowls out of the cupboard. Blue-and-white Pfaltzgraff. “Do you want anything while I’m in here?”

“No, thanks. I’m still stuffed.”

“All right.” Reagan took the bowls out onto the deck. Mason was still standing there, with his hands in his pockets. He laughed when he saw her.

“I’m not sure how to do this,” she said.

“You could set it on the deck, then back away from it.”

“Yeah, all right.” She set one of the bowls down and then stepped back.

Mason sat on the edge of his deck and slid under the wood railing, hopping to the ground. It wasn’t much of a drop. He took the bowl and climbed back onto the deck, using the stairs. Then he leaned against the railing across from Reagan again. “It looks perfect,” he said. “Are there layers?”

“It’s just Cool Whip and cherries,” Reagan said. “Also—there are pecans in there.”

“Yeah there are.”

“In case you’re allergic.”

“I’m not.”

“Well, good.”

He was looking at it. “You can eat it,” she said.


“Yeah, we’ll just keep our distance.”

“All right.” He sat down at one end of his deck.

Reagan sat on her grandpa’s deck, at the other end. Mason took off his mask and smiled over at her. He took a bite. “That’s the stuff.”

Read More About If the Fates Allow Here >>

From Suzanne Redfearn, the bestselling author of In an Instant, comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding in The Marriage Test.

“Here, hon,” I say, “taste.” I hold out my finger with a scoop of batter on it.

“It has raw egg in it,” he says, recoiling.

“Right. Of course.” I just suppress a groan and stop myself from tasting the delicious-smelling batter myself. Wiping my finger on a paper towel, I say, “Do you want to grease the pans?”

“Sure,” he answers with the enthusiasm of a slug. He pulls the tins in front of him and grabs the butter.

Meanwhile, Esther and Walton are laughing again, and I look up to see Walton unsuccessfully trying to catch pecans with his mouth as Esther tosses them across the table.

“I need to make a call,” Justin says, pushing away a half-greased tin and standing as he looks down at his phone, which is lit up with a message.

“But we’re making a cake,” I say.

Either he doesn’t hear or he isn’t listening, his brow furrowed tight as he continues to look at the screen. I pull the pans in front of me, finish greasing them, and pour in the batter.

“Okay, mon canard,” Esther says the moment I finish, “this is key—how you pour the batter is as important as how you mixed it. You need to fold it in gently so as not to undo all the love we put in by dumping it in without a thought.”

I look down at my tins, filled with batter I very unceremoniously dumped into them. I dip my finger into the pan closest and taste it. Delicious! Esther’s cake might be lighter, but it will not be tastier. Feeling better, I slide the pans into the oven and set the timer, ignoring Esther and Walton, who are using their graters to shave coconut.

“Come, mon canard,” she says after she slides their cakes into the oven beside mine, and she links her arm through Walton’s and leads him out the back door and into the night.

Alone, I slump to the stool and drop my face in my hands. I thought this would be so much more fun. Through the open window, I hear Esther laugh, and I shake my head against my palms.

“Not everyone can cook together.”

I look up to see Madame Charlemagne in front of me. I had forgotten she was still in the kitchen. I watch as she lifts her wrinkled face and opens her nose wide. “Mmmm,” she says, inhaling deeply. “There is nothing so joyous as a cake.”

I silently disagree; “joyous” is the opposite of how I feel, and I’m glad Madame Charlemagne can’t see my face.

“My husband and I couldn’t share a kitchen,” she says.

“Really?” I say, my heart heavy for how bad Justin and I were together.

“And we were married nearly seventy years. Early on, we figured out it was best not to be together in a confined space filled with knives and cleavers.”

I want to smile but can’t quite manage it. I was so looking forward to this day.“We were terrible at it,” I mumble, and Madame Charlemagne nods.

“No marriage is perfect,” she says. “And not everything you do together will work. The question is what you can live with and what you can’t live without. For me, I could live with my husband not sharing my love of cooking, but I could not live with a man who did not understand my love of cooking.”

I consider this. One of my greatest joys has always been cooking with other people—my mom, my grandmother, my roommates in college, Walton. But also for other people: something about cooking is a direct expression of love.

“You and Justin are different,” Madame Charlemagne goes on, “which is good.”

I sniffle and realize I’m crying.

“It’s only a cake,” Madame Charlemagne says. “Nothing but a few ingredients mixed in a pan to make something delicious. You and Justin, you are like butter and sugar.”

“Fatty and sweet?”

Madame Charlemagne smiles. “More together than apart.”

“Oh,” I say, thinking that’s a much better way to look at it.

“And when you are together is when the magic happens.” I wipe the tears from my cheeks, realizing she’s right. Me and Justin, we make each other better.

Read More About The Marriage Test Here >>

Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes the sharp witted short story, Model Home, about the reality of reality TV.

Things weren’t always so bitter between us.

Damian and I have been together for twenty years. Half our lives. When we met, we were junior realtors in the same RE/MAX office. I thought he was gorgeous the first time I saw him. His green eyes and shaggy black hair. But I was even more attracted to his fierce ambition. He’d do anything to land a client, to make the sale. Our coworkers seemed mostly interested in counting down the minutes to happy hour. We were different. Both determined to make something of ourselves.

There was a time when we were so madly in love that all other people seemed superfluous.The entire world was the two of us on a futon in Damian’s bedroom, the sound of his roommates playing Nintendo on the other side of the door the only proof of life.

Eventually, we settled into something bigger and more meaningful. We were best friends. We were one another’s family, an area in which neither of us had lucked out, genetically speaking. We had plans. Our girls came along and I felt the strongest urge to give them everything I never had. It’s easy when they’re babies, toddlers, and you can throw them into any five-dollar unicorn T-shirt and they’ll be happy. But as the girls got older, they wanted things in a way I could remember wanting.

I didn’t want my kids to have just a good enough house. I wanted them to be the ones who brought friends home after school and stunned them (not to mention their mothers) by living in opulence. I wanted everyone to be jealous. I wanted my girls to be popular for the wrong reasons as well as the right ones.

The first house that Damian and I bought, the one we lost, was way too expensive. I knew we were in over our heads as we signed the offer letter, but I ignored that fact because I wanted that house like I’d never wanted anything before. The bank let us put down 5 percent. Our monthly mortgage payment was six thousand dollars. Every month, we just barely managed to scrape it together.

But we’d started our own real estate business by then, and it was doing well. I kept thinking we were one or two major commissions away from paying the mortgage down fast. Instead, the housing market tanked, we lost our business and our house. After vowing to ourselves that we’d never be poor like our parents, as if poverty was a character flaw you could simply choose to avoid, we ended up basically homeless. If Damian’s mother hadn’t taken us in, I don’t know what we would have done.

Eventually, we started buying and flipping foreclosures, capitalizing on other people’s bad decisions. We saved enough to move out of Damian’s mom’s basement and into a two- bedroom apartment.

The memory of those years when we didn’t have enough will always burn in me.When I was shopping at Goodwill for the girls and pretending I bought everything new. When we sometimes had to eat cereal for dinner and tried to portray it as a fun treat. I’ve never felt like such a failure. Like I’d done to them precisely the thing I wanted most to avoid from my own childhood.

Then came the television show. Our salvation. Our miracle. Our winning Powerball ticket.

The first thing we did when the network picked us up for a second season was buy the Glencoe house, which was twice the size and price of the one we’d lost. We deserved it after all we’d been through, and, given what we do, how could we not live in a beautiful home? I’ll admit I went a bit nuts, insisting on high-end finishes and custom furniture in every room.

I did, on occasion, feel nauseous after hours spent online, bingeing on backsplash options or bathroom faucets. Scrolling and scrolling until the whole thing came to feel disgusting and I thought to myself that a house was meant to provide shelter, not a means of making up for your every deficiency.

I guess I pushed through that feeling, though. The end result is spectacular.

Now Damian says we should downsize. I tell him the only way I’m leaving our house is feet first.

That goes double for the show.

Read More About Model Home Here >>

Everyone is home for the holidays, clamoring for all the Christmas cheer only their mother can whip up. They can already smell the chestnuts roasting—or is that Mom’s hair on fire? From New York Times bestselling author Chandler Baker comes the laugh-out-loud short story, Oh. What. Fun.

It was Sable’s day to move the candy cane that marked the days in the Pottery Barn Advent calendar—Mom is way into Pottery Barn. We even considered whether it might be worth checking out all the stores in, say, a fifty-mile radius. Something about the English country farmhouse aesthetic really soothes her. Sable counted three more sleeps until Christmas and so did we.

The doorbell rang. If Mom hadn’t been sure that it was a package, she probably wouldn’t have opened the door at all, but when she did she was saddened to see that there was no smartly uniformed UPS man standing by but instead Jeanne Wang from down the street.

“Oh, hi.” Jeanne wore a shirt that read Mama needs her Jingle Juice, which we thought Mom of all people would appreciate, but, believe it or not, she didn’t seem all that amused. “I just came by to drop off a little something.” Jeanne held out an adorable little reindeer bag with red tissue paper. “It’s just a little something,” Jeanne repeated and, using only her eyes, encouraged Mom to open the bag.

Without inviting her in, Mom reached into the tissue paper and pulled out a silver bell ornament. “Thank you, Jeanne.You’re so thoughtful.”

“Oh, it’s nothing. You know, Lillian and her husband, Johnny, got me a new iPad for Christmas.They couldn’t wait to give it to me. I told them it’s way too expensive, but, really, it’s amazing. Takes great pictures, fills up the whole screen, very cool. Do you have one?”

“Me? I wouldn’t have anything to use it for.” Mom said, “we’re just headed out the door, but can I swing by to drop off your Little Something later this afternoon?”

“Of course.” Jeanne waved her hand. “You can see Chris and the new baby. They’d love to visit with you.”

After Mom shut the door, Tyler asked where we were going.

“I didn’t get her anything.” Mom looked horrified.

Hold the phone! She didn’t get Jeanne anything! Jeanne! From down the street! Honestly, you would think she had shown up to visit the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem, only to realize that the other two wise men had both brought gifts. “I didn’t know we were exchanging.”

We have never known Mom to lie, but fibbing, well, that’s another story. Mom maintains, for instance, that Channing was reading at two when we all know she’s not even the smartest of the three of us. She claims the mall is only five minutes away (it’s at least fifteen). And, well, her pumpkin pies are not actually homemade.Where this particular crock with Jeanne Wang fell on the spectrum is still a matter of open debate.

Mom hiked her purse over her shoulder. “I’ll be back. I’m headed to Williams Sonoma to get some of that peppermint bark.” Oh boy, was she in a huff. The bell ornament was just a silly trinket; we couldn’t understand why she was so worked up.

We all passed around “the look” and telepathically agreed to keep our mouths shut until Mom’s mood blew over. Historically speaking, this has been a tactic that’s worked out well for us Clausters.

Read More About Oh. What. Fun. Here >>

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