How My Brother's Best Friend Stole Christmas
by Molly O'Keefe
Book 3 in the Kane Christmas Trilogy
I have one Christmas wish: to get Sam Porter, my brother’s best friend and the man I’ve loved from a distance for most of my life – to notice me.
To really notice me. So, I’m doing that super cheesy thing where I get all dressed up at the Kane Co. Holiday party in the hopes he’ll see what he’s been missing.
And for the span of a blackout every one of my sex dreams about Sam come true. But then the lights come back on and he pushes me away with both hands.
So now I’m done with him. Done with his handsome face, and his not-so-hidden pain and all our inside jokes. And my love for him – I’m really done with that.
But Sam has been discharged from the Marines, and my brother has hired him on at Kane Co. In the shipping department. Where I’m the boss. And he’s…irresistible.
But Sam has his own Christmas wish and it’s me he’s wanted all along.
Oh, brother's best friend. One of my favorite tropes.
How My Brother's Best Friend Stole Christmas is the conclusion of the Kane Christmas trilogy, and, I feel, is a rather good conclusion. Solid plot and writing. I think this story may have deserved more pages than it was given, so it felt a little rushed, but it was good. Enjoyable. The characters were likeable, and interesting. Especially Sam, who suffers from PTSD, and brain damage that occurred during deployment. From what I know of PTSD, I felt like Molly O'Keefe wrote a realistic portrayal of it effects, while balancing that very delicate line of it not taking over his entire personality. He went to war. He had to do and witness terrible things. He lost people he loved. He was injured. But he is also a loyal friend. A devoted son to his mother. Polite. A hard worker.
As for the romance, I felt like Sam and Sophie are a good fit. They had chemistry and tension. Sophie understood Sam before war, and is learning to understand him after war. And while Sam's hesitation to entering into a relationship with Sophie, in my views, is totally valid, there is a healthy balance in their relationship. Sophie isn't going to take less than she deserves. She isn't giving it all and him nothing. She expects him to put in the effort. And can I just say, I love a brothers best friend romance where the brother ENCOURAGES the relationship. Protective of his sister's heart, but also, knowing its her choice to be with whomever she wants - including his best friend. Love it!
While I feel like the Kane Christmas trilogy started out rough, Santa Baby Maybe and How My Brother's Best Friend Stole Christmas were both enjoyable and fun little holiday romances. I encourage you to read them this holiday season - and best of all, they are available on kindle unlimited.
Sophie: “Have you talked to him?”
Sam: “Nah. Saw your mom.”
Sophie: “Christmas spirit herself?”
Sam: “She hissed at me.”
Sophie: “Well, that’s an improvement.” Sam: “You can take care of yourself, can’t you?”
Sophie: “You mean…can I make myself come? Sure. Can’t you?”
I cocked my head at him.
Sam: “Make you come?”
His lip lifted, the half smile that changed the beat of my heart.
Sam: “I think I can figure it out.”
Oh, this was our old game. I understood him like this. Trash talking over video games and Broncos vs. Bears. Arguing over the last chicken wing, which television series had the worst ending, or who was the best Batman. This was comfortable. I’d just never been mostly naked while doing it.
Sophie: “Go for it,” Sam: “Make that sound again,”
he said. I couldn’t even remember which sound he was talking about.
Sophie: “Make me.”
His laugh was dark desire made audible, and my toes curled in my shoes.
Sam: “I’m going to make you scream my name.”
Sophie: “Oh my God, now you’re talkative guy?” Sophie: “Is this the part where you say something mean and leave?”
Sam: “I don’t—”
Sophie: “Is this where you make me feel used and cheap and—”
Sam: “Sophie. No.”
Sophie: “—stupid for letting you fuck me with your face?”
Oh. She wouldn’t like it if I laughed at her. Even my smile was too much and she narrowed her eyes at me.
Sophie: “Get out.”
Sam: “Fuck you with my face?”
Sophie: “What else would you call it? And get out!” Sophie: “So help me God, Sam. If you don’t let me suck your dick—”
The laughter barked out of me. Surprising. I mean…so fucking surprising. Wes: “Sam. I’m telling you, you have my permission. My blessing. Whatever. But…”
He stood up from the desk, pushed through that boundary. I tensed.
Wes: “Right now, you’re hurting her. I don’t know what you did. Or what you’re doing. But you’re hurting her and you keep doing that and…you and me?”
I saw that kid on the basketball court, arguing with me about the free throw line. The one who told me not to steal from his family again. That he would help—anything I needed—but I had to ask.
Wes: “You and me will be over, Sam. I love you like a brother, but she’s my sister and you keep hurting her and you’re out in the cold.” Mom: “I love you, Sam. I am so proud of you. There isn’t a mother on this planet more proud of you.”
Sam: “Am I getting buttered up for something?”
I looked at her through one narrowed eye.
Mom: “Let that girl go. All the way. Or love her the way she deserves. Otherwise…you’re damning her to half a life.”
Sam: “Half a life?”
I said like I didn’t understand. But I did. This was my mother sitting here looking back with regret at the choices she’d made.
Mom: “I loved your father knowing he’d never love me the same way. The way I deserved. But he was so weak and I was even weaker—”
Sam: “Mom. Nothing about you is weak.”
Mom: “That girl loves you, and she’ll take anything you give her just so she can stay there. And if you let that happen, you’re cruel. Your father is a weak man and he doesn’t understand that. But you do.”
A few days ago, before the party, I would have pretended not to understand. I would have told her our relationship wasn’t like that. But the party had happened. This week had happened. And I’d tried to push her away with both hands. But Sophie…Sophie drove out here to sit by my mother’s side. To help. And she’d do that every day if I wanted. And oh my God, did I want that.
Sam: “I love her,’
Mom: “I know.”
Sam: “I mean. Like…love her.”
Mom laughed and then stood up and put her hand on my face.
Mom: “I know. And she loves you. It’s all right to let it happen.”
I asked, because that seemed to be the hard part.
Mom: “Stop fighting. Just stop fighting.” I sucked in a breath.
Sophie: “You’re ticklish.”
Sam: “You try and you will be sorry.”
Sophie: “Gonna kill me with your bare hands?”
Sam: “No, but you’ll be bent over that counter and it will be my hand against your bare ass.”
Sophie: “Is that supposed to deter me?” Sophie: “What…what does the brain damage do?”
Sam: “It can…fuck up how I feel. Someone can touch me, and even if I know it should feel good, some wire gets crossed and it’s like my skin is trying to crawl off my body.”
I shifted away but he put his hand down on my knee.
Sam: “And sometimes, with the PTSD and a shortened temper, I don’t handle it well.”
Every word was pulled from his lungs. I could hear it. Feel it.
Sam: “And I just thought you deserved to be with someone who felt what they were supposed to feel when you touched them.”
Sophie: “I think I know what I deserve.”
Sam: “Someone who could take off their shirt and not feel like a freak,”
he said, not listening.
Sophie: “Those are your words. Not mine.”
Sam: “Who could be…easy with you.”
Sophie: “I happen to like difficult,”
Sam: “I don’t want to be difficult.”
Sophie: “Stop. You’re not…difficult. You’re not. You’re not damaged-“
He said my name like a scold.
Sophie: “Not to me. Not to Wes. Your mom. The people at the company. To us you’re not damaged.” Sophie: “Do you trust me?”
I asked. Because really this was what it came down to in the end. We could go on and on about friendship and loyalty and helping each other when we needed it but if he wasn’t ever going to trust me, we were done. Right now.
Sophie: “Really trust me. Not just to be good to you. But to know my own limits and boundaries and be good to myself.”
Sam: “Yeah. I trust you.”
Sophie: “Then you trust me to know what I deserve.”
Sam: “I see what you did there. You’re so clever, Soph.”
Sophie: “I am,”
I said with a smile.
Sophie: “Do you love me?”
Sam: “So much.”
I poked him in the chest.
Sophie: “That’s what I deserve. Someone who loves me. It’s what you deserve too.” Sophie: “Oh, sweetheart—”
Sam: “Sweetheart? That’s what we’re going with? Sweetheart?”
Sophie: “You want me to give you a different pet name?”
Sam: “I always imagined being called babe.”
Sophie: “This conversation is not happening.” Sophie: “You talking about moving in?”
she asked, and I paused.
Sam: “I wasn’t trying to jump ahead—”
Sophie: “Let’s go get your stuff,”
Sam: “In a minute,”
I said, kissing my way down to those red socks I loved so much.