Christmas in the Billionaire's Bed(3)

By: Janice Maynard

Emma smiled wistfully. “They certainly do.” She had often seen Dylan and Mia and the baby out walking on afternoons when the weather was still warm.

Silver Glen was a small, cozy town, even though it boasted a strong tourist economy. Movie stars shooting on location often took up residence, as well as wealthy travelers who loved the peace of the mountains. The town’s alpine flavor reminded Emma of a Swiss village.

“There’s one more thing,” Maeve said, her expression cajoling. “Mia told me you’re not going home to England for Christmas, is that right?”

“Yes. I spent two weeks in September with my mother for her birthday. She’s handling the loss of my father better than I expected. And she has plans to tour the Greek Isles during the latter part of December with a group of her friends.”

“Then I want you to spend the holidays with us. Mia’s parents are coming only for the wedding itself. So I know Mia would enjoy having you around. We’re gathering for several occasions at Dylan and Mia’s home. My older son and his wife are still building their new house. And of course, we’ll have some special events up at the lodge, too. What do you think?”

Emma didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t afraid to be alone. In fact, her childhood had been solitary more times than not. She enjoyed the peace and tranquility of her own thoughts. And she was not a Kavanagh. Surely her presence would be awkward.

Maeve spotted a silver rattle and a matching small cup from the 1950s. “I knew I remembered seeing these,” she said triumphantly. “One of my college sorority sisters just became a grandma for the first time. This will be the perfect gift.”

As Emma rang up the purchase and took Maeve’s credit card, she wondered how large a wedding the Kavanaghs were planning. And then another thought struck. One that made her heart race.

“Will all of your family be able to attend on such short notice?” Emma had never actually confessed to Maeve that she knew one of her sons very well.

For the first time, Maeve lost a bit of her excitement. “I hope so. My third son, Aidan, lives in New York. We don’t see him all that often. And besides...”

She trailed off, her expression indicating that she had traveled somewhere unpleasant in her mind.

Emma wanted to know badly. “Besides what?”

Maeve’s lips twisted, her eyes shadowed. “Aidan had a very bad experience some years ago. It happened at Christmas. He comes home to visit, but not at the holidays.”

“And this wedding?”

“We hope he’ll make the effort, but who knows...”

What would Aidan think if he saw Emma ensconced in the bosom of his family? She hadn’t set eyes on him in a decade. Her original intent in coming to Silver Glen during the late summer had been to speak with him and bring some closure to what had been a painful time in their lives. She had hurt him badly, and she wanted to explain and make amends. But she discovered he no longer lived in the town of his birth.

Her recent birthday had brought home the fact that life passed quickly. Regret was an emotion fraught with negativity. After healing a decade-long rift with her father back in the spring, she had realized she wanted to move forward and to make better decisions than she had in her early twenties.

It was entirely possible that Aidan had not clung to the memories the way Emma had. She might be nothing more than a footnote in his past life. According to Maeve, he sounded like an entirely different person than the boy Emma had known.

The fact that Emma had chosen to settle in Silver Glen permanently had more to do with the town’s charm than it did with Aidan. But her initial motive remained. Even if her apology meant nothing to him, it would clear her own soul of lingering regret.

She couldn’t control his response. In fact, he might not even show up. But if he did, she was determined to do the mature, responsible thing and own up to her mistakes.

Emma wanted to grill her visitor, but she had already overstepped the bounds of polite curiosity. “I’m sure he realizes how important it is.”

Maeve gathered herself visibly. “You haven’t given me an answer. And I warn you in advance that I’ll only accept a yes.”

“Then I will say yes with pleasure.” And a healthy dose of trepidation.

“That’s wonderful, Emma dear. My invitation is selfish actually. Everything you say in that delightful British accent makes me want to listen to you for hours, but I have to fly.”

“I’d say you’re the one who has the accent,” Emma teased. “You, and the rest of Silver Glen. I’ve practiced my drawl, but it never seems to come out right.”

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