Last Christmas


West Media Internal Memo

Dear Valued Employees,

The holidays are upon us once again, and I’d like to personally remind you that my company does not allow sick or vacation days during this time of year.

Since some of you have recently submitted requests to Human Resources for off-days around Christmas, allow me to reiterate what I said when I first hired you:

There is no such thing as an “off day” in December.

My definition of Christmas is a 14-hour workday.

& The Office Party is a mandatory event.

There are no exceptions to these rules, my top executives and I included.

I look forward to seeing you at the prep–ceremony, where our travel partner will reveal this year’s destination for our two-week, all-expenses-paid work retreat.

Be sure to bring whatever gift you purchased for your coworker(s) via the annual Secret Santa tradition.

Unless you want to be unemployed.


Garrett West

C.E.O., West Media International

P.S. You’re very welcome for the generous opportunities that I provide for you.

~ The entertainment industry never sleeps, so neither do we. ~



Last Christmas

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

“Are you sure that your boss is okay with this?” My younger sister, Georgia, unbuckles her seatbelt once our plane lands. “I could’ve sworn you said that he never grants anyone the holidays off.”

“That’s the whole point,” I say. “I’ve planned this trip perfectly. By the time we spend the first two nights here, it’ll be too late for him to do anything about me missing the office party. The worst of the weather will have already approached the coast, and all flights will be cancelled. Especially since Teresa is supposed to be a category four hurricane.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Her eyes widen. “You assured me that hurricane season was over in November.”

“He’ll try to email me at that point, I’m sure.” I can’t stop talking. I’m too excited at the thought of getting away with this.

Getting the hell away from Garrett West.

I started the planning for this trip six months ago, and this surprise, off-season hurricane must be my Christmas gift from the universe. It’s my reward for making the fastest rise in the company within three years and successfully resisting the urge to strangle Garrett West to death.

As his top advisor, I know his routine like the back of my hand. I know that at this very moment, he’s on his private plane en route to Hawaii. He’s leaning back in his chair with that cocky smirk on his lips, sipping his favorite brand of Scotch. Minutes from now, he’ll analyze all the reports I’ve sent him, and then he’ll email me pages of “highly suggested changes” for no reason other than to make my life miserable.

“I’m sure he’ll wonder why I’m gone sooner or later,” I say aloud, smiling. “But I’m not allowing him to torture me with his ridiculous office party this year. During our flight, I set up a specialized responder for any question that he can possibly ask, so he shouldn’t notice my absence for a while.”

“Can you back up and elaborate on just how bad this hurricane is supposed to be?” Georgia asks. “That’s what I want to hear about right now.”

“I’ve never worked for someone who is so obsessed with his work,” I say. “You’d think he’s curing a disease with the way he talks to us. I’ve told you about his ‘’ before, right?”

“The hurricane, Savannah ... ” She narrows her eyes at me. “Start talking about the hurricane.”

“Like, who wants to share Christmas Day with the people who drive you insane during the workweek?” I shake my head. “Some of us actually enjoy going home to see our families.”

“I give up.” She stands to her feet, grabbing her bag from the overhead bin. “You know, in all fairness, you hardly ever come home for the holidays. And if you want me to be perfectly honest, you’re a bit of a workaholic, too. I still haven’t forgiven you for bringing your laptop to my graduation ceremony.”

“I had an emergency deal to finish, and I’ve apologized to you a million times.”

“You’ve apologized twice.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m anything like Garrett West.” I pick up my bag and follow her down the jet bridge. “I’m fully capable of tuning out work and taking a break.”

As if I’m trying to prove my point, I turn off my phone and place it into my back pocket. Then I set the alarm on my watch for when I’ll need to turn it on again.

Following the signs, I lead the way to the customs area. We wait half an hour for the agents to check our passports, and then we grab our suitcases from baggage claim and head to the transportation zone.

A man in a short-sleeved, flowery shirt is holding up a “Welcome to paradise, Savannah & Georgia Grey!” sign.

“Good morning and welcome to Punta Cana, ladies!” He smiles. “I’m Emilio, and I’m looking forward to escorting you to The Excellence Resort. Is there anything you need to—” He pauses as a round of thunder roars from afar. Flashes of lightning follow.

“I’m getting back on the goddamn plane,” Georgia says. “I refuse to die today.”

“Don’t worry about that, Miss.” Emilio holds out his hand for her luggage. “We’ll return to blue skies in a matter of minutes. It’s only a late afternoon thunderstorm.”

She hesitates for a few seconds before giving him the bag.

Smiling, he opens the back door of the black SUV and carefully arranges our things.

Before pulling onto the road, he pours two champagne glasses and hands Georgia a chocolate strawberry plate.

As we ride, I shut my eyes and mentally rewind through my preparation—making sure I’ve dotted all of my i’s, crossed all of my t’s.

Gave a fake doctor’s note. Check.

Made sure my team was two months ahead on their project. Check.

Told the neighbor to hang ‘Get Well Soon, Savannah’ balloons outside my brownstone tomorrow morning. Check.

“Oh, not at all, Miss!” Emilio’s deep laughter pulls me out of my thoughts. “Our resort is built to withstand the strongest of hurricanes, and the worst of this storm won’t hit anywhere near us.”

I look over at Georgia, who doesn’t look the slightest bit soothed. She’s clutching her bag against her chest and rocking back and forth as if we’re seconds away from approaching the end of the world.

“I double-checked everything,” I whisper. “We’re going to be fine. Trust me.”