I can people-watch. I get some thinking done. And I enjoy my own company.

Except tonight, because I’ve spent the entire day overthinking every aspect of my life.

I’m at the Snow Ghost Lodge restaurant at a table against the window, enjoying the sunset and the view. The lodge is on Whitetail Mountain, nestled in the ski resort village. Of course, it’s September, so there’s no skiing today, but the mountain boasts plenty of summer activities, as well. Hiking, downhill biking, zip-lining. You name it.

Thankfully, the summer rush of tourists is over. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’m from southern California.

This little town of roughly seven-thousand ballooned up to almost a hundred thousand at any given time. It was insane.

I’m glad it’s over.

I finish my meal and place my cloth napkin next to my plate just as my server comes over with a smile.

“Was everything okay?” Kyle asks. He’s a young man, probably in his early twenties. He’s handsome. Flirty. Way too young for me, but easy on the eyes.

“It was delicious, as always.”

“Can I show you a dessert menu?”

I’m tempted. Sugar is my vice, but then I remember this morning at Drips & Sips and shake my head no.

“Just the check, please.”

He sets the tab on the table, gathers my empty plate, and bustles away.

I take my time paying the bill, enjoying the last of the sunset as I finish my glass of wine.

Yes, eating alone in Cunningham Falls is lovely.

Once I’ve signed the receipt and gathered my handbag and light jacket, I walk toward the door.

“It’s you.”

I stop and glance down, surprised to see Sebastian smiling up at me.

“And it’s you,” I reply with a grin. “Are you okay? No visits to the ER?”

Sebastian laughs, and Jacob Baxter, the owner of the ski resort and a friend of Jenna’s, watches us with interest.

“I take it you’ve met?” Jacob asks.

“Briefly,” Sebastian replies, still watching me.

“I smacked right into him earlier,” I add with a shrug.

“She fell right into my arms. It must be fate.”

I bust up laughing now, enjoying the banter. “Or Mercury is in retrograde, and I’m extra clumsy.”

“Well, that’s not romantic at all.”

There’s that word again.

Romantic.

“Sebastian, this is Nina Wolfe. She’s a friend of my wife’s.”

“How is Grace?” I ask him. I like Jacob’s wife very much. She’s one of Jenna’s best friends and has been nothing but kind to me.

“She’s as beautiful as ever,” Jacob replies with a smitten smile.

“Tell her I said hello.”

“I’m happy to do that,” he says.

“Are you here alone?” Sebastian asks.

Let me just say right now that listening to these men with their British accents is doing things to me. Sexy things.

It’s just ridiculous.

“I am,” I confirm.

“You’re welcome to join us,” Sebastian offers.

“Thank you, but I just finished eating. I’m headed home. Have a good evening, guys.”

I nod and walk away, perfectly aware that Sebastian’s gaze is pinned to my ass.

He’s a hot one, that Sebastian. And he’s even better-looking in person than in the magazines. Shouldn’t that be illegal?

My house is situated along the lake, not far from the mountain turn-off. It only takes me about ten minutes to drive home. Once I’m inside, I strip out of my jeans and top and choose a pair of yoga shorts and a tank to be comfortable in.

When I’m on the couch, about to tackle the chore I’ve been avoiding all day—sending out emails to vendors that I already signed with, telling them that I have to either postpone or cancel altogether—my phone rings.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hello, dear,” she says into my ear. Just from her tone, I can tell this is going to be a doozy of a conversation.

Pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip.

“What are you up to, Mom?”

“Oh, you know, just watching some television. I’m quite sure I have cancer, by the way.”

I roll my eyes, thankful that she didn’t FaceTime me this time.

“Why do you say that?”

“I have painful urination.”

Ew.

“It’s probably just a UTI. You should go to the doctor.”

“I don’t have anyone to drive me.”

“You have a car that Christian bought you. You can drive yourself.”

“No, I couldn’t possibly drive in my condition.”

I take a long, deep breath. There’s a reason Christian doesn’t talk to our mother anymore. And I get it. I do. But it’s left me in the middle and made me the one she calls to vent, or cry, or insist she’s dying.

Because, according to her, she’s dying every single day.

She’s always needed a lot of attention, and not just from her children. She was an overbearing mom manager when Christian was young, and even stole a whole heap of his money. She was his power of attorney, and she took advantage of him. He’s never forgiven her.

I don’t blame him. But I wish I weren’t the only one left to take care of her.

“You can always call a car service,” I suggest.


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