Tuck swears under his breath before responding to the call. "I found her, Coop. At the old lighthouse. She's okay, but send the Coast Guard this way."
Despite the cold stones seeping through my skin and the torrential rain, when Tuck's mouth claims mine again, warmth spreads through my body, from every nerve ending in my lips straight down to the tips of my pinky toes.
I have so many things I want to say to him.Thank you for rescuing me. Please never let me go. I love you, I love you, I love you.But the words can wait. For now, I try to say it all with my kiss.
Tuckwalksmetomy door, waiting as I punch in the code on the keypad. As if anything could happen to me in Friendly.
Besides losing my kayak, getting stuck in a storm, and being on the brink of hypothermia, of course.
My teeth haven't stopped chattering since the Coast Guard arrived at the lighthouse. The second Tuck and I broke apart, the cold returned with a vengeance. I'm dying to take a hot shower and fall into bed. I have no doubt I'll sleep well tonight.
When I reach the stairwell to my apartment, I smile at the sight of Hildy's motorized chairlift. I'm tired enough to risk the possibility of tampering by gremlins. Taking a seat, I push the button.
It inches slowly—very slowly—up the stairs, but I laugh with delight. I wish I'd known my great-aunt. Despite the fact that she wasn't a people person, I really think I'd have liked her.
At the top of the stairs, I step off the chair and head to the bathroom, turning on the tap to the shower. As the bathroom begins to fill with steam, I feel the cold and the weariness begin to leave my bones. Only the complete physical and mental exhaustion remains.
Too tired for a long, luxurious shower, I stay under the stream of water just long enough to warm up. When I fall into the bed, I find a handsome fella is already there waiting for me.
He stretches, arches his back, and then curls up on top of the comforter. I snuggle in next to him, lulled to sleep by his purring. When I wake in the morning, Houdini is gone, but there's a black collar in the middle of the bed.
Smiling, I think of the Keeper of Collars.Tuck. My love.
Feeling happier than I've ever felt in my life, I hum as I make a pot of coffee. Flipping on the television, I search for aYoga by Adrienevideo on YouTube. As I stretch out my yoga mat, I see Hildy's motorized chair at the top of the stairs. There's something sticking out of the bottom. Going over to inspect, I see that it's an envelope that's been tucked into the arm of the chair.
Grinning, I open it. Maybe it contains the secrets to Houdini's leprechaun magic.
My breath catches as I read the typed words at the top of the page. LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF HILDY STERLING.
Quickly, I skim the document. It's not long. It's short and to the point, leaving no room for misinterpretation.
Hildy had a will.
And she left everything to Tuck.
What does this mean?Her estate has been through the probate courts. Will they reopen the case now? They have to, right? Tuck has a legal claim to Sticks & Stones.
No. He has a claim to Hildy's Hut. Sticks & Stones should never have existed in the first place.
My heart thunders against my ribs. I could stick the document in the garbage disposal, shred it to pieces, and pretend it never existed. Everything can remain just as it is—absolutely perfect.
Except it's not perfect, is it? Not for Tuck. He still needs more space for his kayak shop. And the building rightfully belongs to him—not me.
I'm going to lose Sticks & Stones.
After all my hard work getting the town to accept me, I’m going to lose them, too.
And worst of all, I'm going to lose Tuck.