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“Do me a favor and don’t bring my dating life up again around Jace or Alana, alright?” I should be pissed at Leena, but I’m not. There’s a lot of truth behind her words, a truth I’m not ready to deal with.

“No problem. I mean, heck, you’re not getting any younger, but you want to be old and alone, sitting in an empty house once Jace has moved out, that’s not my burden to shoulder.” My baby sister could always cut you to the quick with words. She takes that whole kill them with kindness a little too much to heart.

“Yep, text me when you get home. Thanks for taking care of the pipsqueak.” I kiss the side of her head, squeezing her to my side, knowing she means well even if she’s a meddlesome thing.

“I will. Give my favorite nephew a hug and a kiss for me.” She lightens up the mood with a joke.

“Sure, I’ll give them to your only nephew,” I tell her as we walk towards the door, my ear on the splashing coming from the bathroom. Knowing my son, the floor will be sopping wet and ready for me to mop.

“Well, you know, whatever works. Toodles.” Fuck, it seems the world is falling down all around me, and the talk I clearly need to have with Alana, well, it’s going to have to wait.



After Jace and his aunt left the school, I had grand plans of heading home and relaxing. That was until my grams called asking me to stop by for dinner. There is no way I could ever turn down the meal she was offering—, gramps’ meatloaf and her homemade mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli. A simple meal for some, but it’s everything to me. My parents weren’t the greatest, too involved in their own lives, so my grandparents being the best people ever in the world picked up the slack without a backward glance. And when I pull into the driveway of their small two-bedroom home that I spent more nights in than my parents’, I’ve barely put my car in park when gramps appears in the garage, tall and handsome despite his age, even with the lack of hair. The smile on his face when he sees me, well, it’s like home.

“Hiya, sweetpea.” I do my thing in the car, taking my seatbelt off and leaving everything where it is. No need for a cell phone, purse, school bag full of lesson plans. Nope, the only thing that matters is that gramps’ arms are open, waiting to wrap me up.

“Hi, gramps.” My head goes to his chest, arms wrap around his waist, and a sigh leaves my mouth.

“That’s a lot of weight you’re carrying, Alana. Are you okay?” He pulls back to look into my eyes, and thankfully, no waterworks make an appearance.

“Nothing you and Grams can’t fix.” I watch as he gives me a disbelieving look. “Promise. Work and life, you know.”

“Your parents call you lately?” My dad is his son. Mom has been missing in action for years now, and I’m not sure where she is even today.

“Does a text count?” It’s not a fib, because it did actually happen, though it’s not really what’s getting under my skin. That would be the man who unknowingly carved a piece of my heart out, scooped it into the palm of his hands, and took it with him when he left.

“I’d say so. Anything good to say or just same ol’, same ol’?” He wraps his arm around my shoulder, guiding me towards the door in the garage that leads us right into the laundry room before making it into the hub of their house—the kitchen. Grams is bustling around, checking the oven, then scurrying back to where her mixer is working on the potatoes.

“Mostly the same.” Gramps kisses the side of my head, squeezing me once more, and then goes to help grams. I stand watching, as if I’m an outsider looking in. I’m not; I know that. But this right here, what I’m looking at in the form of two people being together for almost fifty years, it’s the kind of relationship I want, and I’m not going to settle for anything less. Yes, I’m not an idiot and know that any relationship or marriage takes love, devotion, patience, communication, and a slew of other things. It’s not all unicorns and fairies, but watching my grandparents, it never ceases to amaze me just how well they mesh.

“Alana, get in here and give me some sugar,” grams tells me. She probably knew I was standing here all along, letting me do my own thing until she was tired of me wasting time and not saying hello.

“Grams.” Hugs have always been given aplenty in this house; same with words like I love you, and I’m proud of you. Today is no different. She barely has time to fix her glasses that slide down the bridge of her nose before my head is on her shoulder. We’re the same height, because that’s clearly where I get my stature from—the two shorties of the family, same color hair, eyes, and smile.

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