Alex decided to let it go about her manager snooping in her private email. Today was a day to celebrate not debate insignificant details about the way they did things at her office. The way she’d said it, it sounded as if it were the norm.


“He’s been everywhere but in the gym training where his Hollywood ass should’ve been,” Manny said.

Romero and his uncle were arguing about the fight tonight. “There’s no f**king way he’s going down.” Romero shook his head. “Not Sanchez.”

“I didn’t say he was going down,” Manny countered. “I’m just saying I’m worried. He hasn’t been training like he normally does.”

“Yeah,” his other uncle Max agreed. “Haven’t you heard all the commentary? This whole week it’s all they’ve been talking about. If anything, this may be his first real close fight ever. Like maybe even go to a decision.”

“No way.” Romero shook his head stubbornly. “Sanchez is undefeated for a reason. He’s got this. Grecco ain’t got shit on him.”

Alex walked away toward the ice chest. The fight wouldn’t even be starting for a few more hours, and these guys could be here that long arguing about it. Romero had even more reason to argue his point about Sanchez. He’d already told Alex he had big money riding on the guy winning.

As he made his way to the ice chest by the back door, Alex smiled, pleasantly surprised to see Sal walking up the driveway into the backyard.

Sal must’ve recognized the surprise in Alex eyes because it was the first thing he explained. “Tio Beto and Tia Lucia showed up at the restaurant, taking over as usual,” he said. “With the entire restaurant reserved tonight for that one party and the party crew all there, Dad said they had it. Angel and Sarah should be here soon too.”

Alex nodded, bending down to open the ice chest. “And Sofie?”

“They have that wedding for Eric’s cousin to go to, but she said they’d be here later.”

The ice chest was filled to the top with beer. “Damn,” Alex said, laughing and pulling a bottle out. “How many people are they expecting tonight?”

Sal laughed, grabbing a beer for himself as well. “Listen. I’ve been talking to Dad about that expanding-the-restaurant idea you and I talked about, and you know pop.”

“He said no?” Alex asked, surprised.

Sal made a face, taking a swig of his beer. “Are you kidding me? He’s already talking about adding a second floor to the place.”

“What?” Alex laughed. “That’s crazy. We don’t need that much more room.”

“He says we do.” Sal shrugged. “You should’ve heard him tonight. He was pissed that the whole restaurant had been reserved. He said we need some kind of banquet room for parties so we can keep the restaurant open even while servicing a larger party.”

“But those people paid a grip to reserve the place for the night.”

“That’s what I told him,” Sal said. “But you know what he always says. He didn’t get where he’s at by thinking conservatively. He says we could be making that much and have the restaurant going at the same time.”

“Well, he’s gonna have to hire more people to run the place then”—Alex frowned—“cause the crew we have can barely handle the business we get now.”

“Did you tell him?” Valerie sauntered up to them, smiling big.

Sal reached over and hugged her hello. “Tell me what?” he asked as he pulled away.

“I got my real estate license.” She beamed and Alex couldn’t help but smile just seeing how happy that made her. “I’m officially a licensed real estate agent.”

“You did?” Sal asked.

Alex peered at Sal, willing him to not mention that he was considering getting his real estate license “just for fun.” Alex had always gotten the distinct feeling Valerie got a little nervous around his brainy brother, as if maybe she was afraid to say something dumb around hm. He didn’t want her thinking for a second her getting her license wasn’t impressive. Maybe for his brother who actually loved to study it wouldn’t be such a feat, but Alex knew how hard Valerie had worked for this.

“Congratulations,” Sal said genuinely, reaching out to hug her yet again. “That’s fantastic. And from what Alex tells me,” he said as he pulled away, “I already know you’re gonna be insanely successful.”

Once again, Valerie beamed beautifully then glanced back at Alex. “Well, my dad has always said the most successful people in the world are those doing what they love for a living.” She brought her hands over her giddy smile. “I can hardly wait to get started.”

Sal chuckled as Alex continued to stare at Valerie proudly, unable to tone down the smile on his own face. “Your dad’s right on the money with that,” Sal said. “Few people are ever fortunate enough to be this excited about a job.”

They stood chatting with Sal for a few more minutes until they made their way back to barbeque area. As they sat and ate doing the usual kissing and laughing in between bites, Angel and Sarah arrived. Valerie quickly let Sarah in on her news, and Sarah seemed just as excited about it as Valerie was.

As usual, when Alex was around this bunch, time flew. Hearing Romero and his uncles go at it never got old. Max had gotten a haircut earlier that day. He’d gone with a new do, something he said would be more hip. It didn’t go quite as he hoped, and Romero wouldn’t stop busting his balls about it either.