“You are so right, Georgia.” She clears her throat, giving me that fake smile again. “Dearest Cousin, I highly suggest that you check out the early morning light show on the lake. You can see it from your balcony.”

“Then again…” she continues, “since you’re spending your nights locked up in a room with your boss, you may want to know that the lake show is on the other side of the main lodge. So, whenever you two get done discussing your next promotion between the sheets, maybe you can walk outside and enjoy something other than each other’s bodies. I mean, who knows when you’re coming home just for your family again…”

Strike fucking three.

“You want to know why I stopped coming home, Taryn?” I slam my fork onto the plate. “Do you really want to fucking know?”

“Savannah Marie Grey.” My grandmother chides me. “Your language.”

“I stopped coming home because of you.” I’m done with Taryn’s bullshit. “It wasn’t because of the grief over losing my parents in an accident. It was because of you.”

“Because I couldn't enjoy the holidays without you going out of your way to make me feel like I was nothing. And even then, you still sent me gifts that cost half my salary, for no other reason than to show me how much a braggadocious bitch you are.”

The room falls silent, and I feel tears welling in my eyes. I don’t dare let them fall, though.

“You knew exactly what you were doing each time, too,” I say. “The subtle jabs that you tried to play off as jokes, the endless comparisons, the belittling of how my life was so much less than yours because I decided to work for a corporation instead of for myself.”

“I get it, okay?” I stand to my feet, keeping my eyes locked on hers. “You’re a self-made multi-millionaire, top thirty under thirty, and a ‘young mogul in the making.’ Congratulations. You’re also number one on my shit list, so feel free to brag about that the next time you try to speak to me.”

“Oh, and one last thing.” I narrow my eyes at her as I step away from the table. “I’ve never slept my way to the top, and I’ve never stepped on anybody else to get to where I am. The latter is your area of expertise, and I’m in love with my boss, and I have been for a very long time, so fuck you.”

I storm out of the room without another word.



This Christmas

Colorado Springs, Colorado




Calm down, Savannah. Calm down.

The only thing I regret is not snapping a picture of Taryn’s face when I gave her exactly what she deserves. Well, I also regret telling my entire family that I’m in love with Garrett, because I didn’t see that coming, and I know that he’ll hit me with a “Hey…Let’s not rush this too soon.”

Needing a breather, I walk into one of the late-night presentations and grab a glass of wine from the back table. As I’m stuffing a cookie into my mouth, Garrett grabs me from behind and pulls me into the hallway.

He presses me back against the wall, staring at me.

“About what I said at dinner…” I clear my throat. “I wasn’t trying to rush or—”

“I love you, too.” He looks into my eyes, cupping my face in his hands. “But since we’re going to randomly make confessional outbursts, do you mind if I make a few to you?”

I shake my head, and he kisses me long and hard, until I’m breathless.

“One,” he whispers, slowly pulling away. “I did ask the travel agent to book this resort on purpose.”

He presses a finger against my lips before I can react.

“Two, I also helped your grandmother hire the designers who did your apartment a few weeks ago.” His voice trails off for several seconds. “You talked about missing your family too much to avoid going home any longer, and as someone who would kill to make some different decisions with his family, I didn’t want you to make the same mistake.”

“They didn’t hate me like I thought they would ... ”

“They never have,” he says. “It’s all in your head.”

“Is there a third confession where you finally tell me why you keep this office party going? Is it a reminder of when things were better between you and your dad?”

“Not quite.” He smiles, pressing his thumb against my cheek. “It’s for my mother. She was obsessed with all things December, and she loved The Bachelor show. She had a special theme and dinner for every day of the month, and my participation—along with Seth’s, was non-negotiable.”

I’m stunned. He’s never said much about his mother to me before, only the words, ‘I wish she was still here’ and ‘I can’t talk about that.’

“She loved The Bachelor show so much that she watched every episode and started chat forums with other fans. She also found a way to guilt me and Seth into watching, too. For the record, I personally think the show is fucking terrible, but I still watch the rose ceremony. Just that part, of course.”

“Of course.” I smile.

“Anyway, one December, she left to get new wreaths for the windows, but she never made it home.” He looks into my eyes. “My father, Seth, and I went out looking for her, for hours. We must’ve checked every Hobby Lobby, Target, and Wal-Mart in the city.”

“We made it to an overpass just in time to see her being carried away in a helicopter, and we never got a chance to say goodbye.”

He sighs. “My father started drinking that day and he honestly hasn’t stopped. He became a shell of himself with a mean streak to cope, and I don’t try to pretend otherwise. What I can do, though, is keep honoring my mother’s memory in a way that gets attention. Whether people like it or not…”

“I’m sorry, Garrett,” is all I can say.

“Don’t be.” He presses his forehead against mine. “I’ve never told you that before. I’ve also never told you that I want you, and whatever this is with you, to work. I want you to give me a ‘needs’ list whenever you’re ready. Can you do that for me?”

I nod.

“Good.” He steps back and grabs my hand, leading me around the corner. “That gives us the rest of the night for me to handle a need I should’ve taken care of yesterday.”

“What are you talking about?”

“This,” he says, pulling me into an empty room. He gets down on the floor, pressing his back against the wall, and then he extends his hands toward me.

“I want you to sit on my face…”

Two hours later

“I think I should just cancel the rest of the office party plans, and let people do whatever they want to do,” Garrett says, gently pushing the curls off my forehead as I finally recover from another orgasm via his mouth. “It’s for a completely selfish reason, of course.”

“I’m just happy that your memo might finally reflect what the word ‘generous’ means. They’re all going to assume that you’re close to death or falling hard for someone.”