Font Size:  

I rolled my eyes. “If Granny jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?”

“Of course not,” she said primly. Then she ruined it by continuing. “Someone has to stay behind to shoot the video for social media, after all, and Irene’s worse at cinematography than at cards.”

I snorted, and her haughty front softened as she lifted a hand to cup my cheek. “You only get one shot at this life, Miller. And I already have enough regrets to last a lifetime. I don’t want to sit in some quiet room somewhere and wait out the rest of my days peacefully. I want to take chances and enjoy every minute of the adventure, even if that has consequences.”

I dropped my chin to my chest and groaned. “My grandmother just YOLO’d me.”

She fussed with her cuffs, but I could see the hint of a smile on her lips. “I never did get the hang of those things. Damned string kept tangling around my fingers.”

“That’s a yo-yo,” I corrected.

She shot me a wink, and I groaned again.

“Sucka,” she said, standing up. “Since you only live once, I would ask you to escort me back to the tent for dessert, but I fear you have another place to be.”

“I don’t have anywhere else to be,” I said, standing and holding out my arm for her. She swatted it away.

“Really? Because I feel like a certain someone might be waiting to wish you a Merry Christmas. Someone who’s been endowed with a magnificent, perfectly sculpted—”

“Tilly,” I said in a warning voice.

“—head of hair,” she finished guilelessly. “Honestly, Miller.”

I shook my head. She was incorrigible. “Pretty sure Darius left.” I tried not to think about how he must have felt seeing me break down in the middle of the party. “I doubt he’s waiting for me.”

“Care to make a wager on that? Because I’d be willing to bet that Darius Grant has been waiting a long, long time for you. And he’ll keep waiting until you’re ready.”

My cheeks went hot. “I… He doesn’t… I’m not sure… We only met a few days ago.”

“But you and I know better than to waste time, don’t we?”

I blew out a breath. “Yeah.”

“That’s why you’re going to go find him and make the most of your time together. And if he turns out to be as special to you as it seems… well, then… you’ll have to move here to be with him. And I suppose I’ll just have to purchase a plane and make frequent use of the private airport here. It will lessen your inheritance, of course, but needs must. I certainly can’t do the trip in that dreadful recreation vehicle. Especially now that Dante and AJ have… personalized it, shall we say.”

“Inheritance?” I squeaked. “No. My mother—”

“Was very much aware that you would be my sole heir after she passed.” Tilly’s tone dared me to object. “I believe it gave her some comfort to know that you’d be well taken care of as my heir. And even more that you’d be well loved.”

“Heir?” I squeaked again.

I stared at her until she reached out a long finger and lifted my chin. “Close the shock flap, darling boy. Who else would it be? Now, skedaddle. I expect you boys to be here for Christmas morning present-opening, yes?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied automatically.

“Good. Because I bought you a Ferrari, and I can’t wait to see the look on your face when you open it.”

I nearly tripped over a toy dump truck. “You what?”

“Relax. I’m just kidding. I knew you’d never accept something so gauche.”

As we parted ways farther down the hallway, I could have sworn I heard her say, “You know what’s not gauche? Mutual funds and real estate holdings. They’re a bitch to wrap, though…”

I turned to stare at her, dumbfounded, and she laughed exuberantly. “Give Darius my love. Hopefully for Christmas he’ll slip you some of his hot, yummy Greek—”

“Pastries?” I guessed, refusing to fall for her joke again.

She wrinkled her nose. “Well, I was thinking dick, but you do you, boo.”

I ignored her and continued on my way, grabbing the keys to Mikey’s SUV without stopping to ask permission. He’d already given me blanket permission to borrow it, and I knew he and Tiller had two other vehicles they could use if something came up.

The drive down the mountain was filled with promise. I turned on the radio just in time to hear my mother’s favorite Christmas carol. The sounds of “Joy to the World” filled the vehicle and made me smile. I spent the rest of the drive through town and up the other side of the valley singing at the top of my lungs.

When I pulled up outside of Darius’s house, I parked beside his truck and stared into the trees.

I felt like I was on the cusp of one of those important, pivotal moments, the kind that split one’s life into Before and After. I’d had many of these moments in my life up till now, and, in fact, they littered my past like small rock cairns along a winding path through the wilderness.