A Wright Christmas by K.A. Linde


1





Peyton





Sixteen years, five months and twenty-seven days.

That was how long it had been since I’d gotten into the summer intensive in New York City and left Lubbock, Texas, behind forever for the sprawling, bustling world of professional ballet. I never thought sixteen years, five months, and twenty-seven days later that I would be back in Lubbock. Not for any dance-related reason at least.

“Peyton, over here!” My sister, Piper, waved enthusiastically as I stepped through the revolving door with my dance bag and carry-on tucked tight to my side.

“Pipes!” I called, dashing through the crowd as if it were New York City streets.

“Don’t call me that,” Piper cried. She threw her arms around me but not before I saw her roll her eyes.

“Someone has to keep you on your toes.”

“Ugh! And here I thought, I was happy to have my sister home for the holiday season.”

I released her with a laugh, pressing back one of my loose curls into the braided bun at my head. “You are happy.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Piper said, ignoring her own brown hair.

She’d gotten lucky with our mom’s thick, stick-straight hair. Straight hair would have been much easier than my father’s curls that went back to his proud Mexican heritage. All of our aunts and uncles had hair like me, which I couldn’t deny I loved, but straight hair would have been better for ballet buns.

“Let’s go get your luggage.”

“I’m good.” I gestured to my small carry-on suitcase and dance bag, which currently contained a dozen new pointe shoes, an equal number of leos and tights, as well as enough tape wrap, toe pads, and sewing materials to make it through a season of The Nutcracker.

Piper eyed my scant luggage. “You know that you’re going to do something other than dance while you’re here, right?”

“Not if I can help it,” I said with a smile.

“All right, fiiine,” Piper grumbled. She knew the shtick too well by now. “Let’s go, seester.”

We exited the Lubbock airport and stepped out into the dry, arid climate that was my home. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere West Texas, I’d gotten really good at disabusing people of their biases about what Lubbock was like. No, it was not technically a “small town.” Unless you considered three hundred thousand people small. Small compared to New York City, not to what most people thought of when they heard the words small town. Yes, we had cowboys, but it was really just a city like anywhere else. People wore their hats, boots, and pressed jeans as their Sunday best, but no one was riding their horses into town. Okay, only that one time, and everyone had taken pictures because it was weird, y’all. Fine, most of the town was a cotton field and as flat as a pancake, but it was still home. Tumbleweeds and all.

We reached Piper’s blue Jeep, as bright as a spotlight in the sea of black and white trucks. The words Sinclair Cellars were plastered on the side.

“How’s the winery?” I asked, dumping my bags into the back.

“As excellent as ever. Dad thinks we’re going to have a new vintage this year, a specialty blend that’s going to win us awards.” Piper beamed.

When I was little, the only thing that I’d known other than ballet was the vineyards at Sinclair Cellars. Our dad had worked there his entire life, starting at the lowest job and moving all the way up to the top. So, when Ray Sinclair finally decided to retire, my dad had taken over. His kids still weren’t particularly pleased.

Piper worked at the winery full-time. She had a real knack for it.

“That’s great,” I told her, dropping into the passenger seat.

She revved the engine and then gunned it out of the airport.

“And Peter?”

“With his boyfriend,” Piper said.

“Probably for the better. I have to head to the studio as soon as I get in.”

As much as I wanted to see my brother, Piper’s twin, it would have to wait.

“All right. You can probably borrow the Jeep.”

The Jeep. Right. I’d have to start driving again. I’d gotten really used to walking everywhere I needed to go, occasionally taking the subway or a taxi. I was going to have to reacquaint myself with driving.

“Maybe I should rent a car,” I said, which wasn’t something I’d considered before this moment.

“Nah. Dad’s probably already figured something out for you.” She veered onto 27 South and headed into town. “Mom wanted to have a tamale marathon for your first day back.”