“Hi, Mom,” I say, stepping into her hug.
“Missed you.” She kisses my cheek and then cups it, leaning back to look me in the face.
“Missed you, too,” I tell her.
“You look good, baby. Really good.”
That’s a change from what I get every time I come home. I usually get the spiel that moms generally give once you’ve left home. You look tired. Are you eating properly? Sleeping enough? It’s probably thanks to all the sex I’ve been having with that little vixen back there, but I’m not going to say that to my mom.
Her eyes move past me to Charly.
“Charly!” my mom greets her like a long-lost friend. “I’m Everly, Vaughn’s mom, but everyone calls me Evie. Is this it?”
Charly looks down at the garment bag hanging over her arm. “Oh, yeah,” she says almost shyly.
“Oh, wonderful! You’re our lifesaver, Charly! Come here.” My mom bundles Charly into a hug.
I see Charly freeze the instant my mom’s arms go around her, and then she slowly puts her one free arm around my mom, hugging her back.
I know Charly has issues with hugging. I don’t know where it comes from. Maybe it’s from a lack of affection growing up; she told me her grandmother wasn’t that loving. I’m not going to question her about it. She’ll tell me if she wants to. But that’s why I make sure to hug her as often as possible—for all the years she wasn’t hugged.
“Where are Gran, Meg, and Sasha?” I ask Mom.
“Meg’s in town, running some errands. She’ll be back soon. Sasha’s out back, and your gran is in the kitchen.”
“No, I’m not. I’m here.”
I turn at the sound of my grandma’s voice.
I love all of my family, but my gran is just that little bit more special. She’s impossible not to adore. She’s outspoken, a bit crazy, and fucking awesome. Kind of like Charly.
“Hey, Gran.” I go over and kiss her cheek.
“I’ll go let Sasha know you’re here,” my mom says before disappearing off.
“I’m going back to work,” my dad tells us.
I watch him go out the front door, and I’m just about to introduce Charly to my grandma, but I don’t get a chance.
“So, Charly, are you sleeping with my grandson?”
My head snaps back to Gran. “Jesus Christ, Gran!”
“Don’t curse, Vaughn Anthony West.” She directs a look my way. “And how many times have I told you to call me Phoebe? Calling me Gran makes me sound old.”
“You are old. You’re eighty. You’ve got three grandkids and four great-grandkids.”
“And I would have five great-grandkids if you’d get your ass in gear and give me a grandson who’ll carry on your granddaddy’s name.”
I groan, rolling my eyes. Like I haven’t heard that before.
“And,” she emphasizes, “you’re as old as the man you’re feeling, so according to that, I’m seventy.”
“Jesus.” I groan briefly, closing my eyes in disgust. “I just threw up in my mouth.”
She rolls her eyes at me. My eighty-year-old grandmother rolls her eyes at me.
“So, are you sleeping with my grandson?” she asks Charly again.
Charly glances at me and then looks at my grandma. “Define sleeping,” she says with a curve of her lips.
My eyes nearly bug out of my head. Just when I think I’ve got Charly pegged, she does something to surprise me.
My grandma hoots out a laugh. “I like this girl, Vaughn. I think we should keep her. Now, come get a drink with me, honey. Do you like Long Island iced teas? Because I just learned how to make them. I bought this cocktail-making kit, and I’ve been making all the cocktails from the book that came with it.”
“How far through the book are you?” Charly asks her.
“Oh, I’ve already made them all. I’m on my second trip through it.”
Charly giggles, and my gran laughs.
And I watch them walk away. Charly tosses me a smile over her shoulder before disappearing into the kitchen with Gran and Jester at her heel. I’m left wondering what the hell just happened and why exactly I am turned on right now.
You’re a sick man, West. A sick, sick man.
I follow them into the kitchen. Gran already has a cocktail in Charly’s hand, and she’s finally put the garment bag down, hanging it over the back of one of the kitchen stools at the breakfast bar.
I watch her take a sip.
“Ooh, this is really good,” she tells my gran. “Try this, Vaughn. It’s delicious.”
She hands me the glass, and I take a sip. She’s right; it’s good.
“You’ll have to get a job as a bartender, Gran,” I tell her.
She pours me out a glass and hands it over. Apparently, we’re drinking early today in the West household.
“You’re here! Can I see?” Sasha comes bursting into the kitchen from the back door, advancing on Charly like she’s known her forever.
My family is a friendly bunch.
“Sasha?” Charly checks.
“And you’re Charly! God, Mom was right. You’re gorgeous! What are you doing with my little dweeb of a brother?”
“Dweeb? Um, what the fuck?” I frown.
“Language!” my mom and gran scold at the same time.
“Sorry,” I mutter. “But, um, Glamour’s Hottest Guy of 2016 right here,” I say to Sasha, pointing a finger at myself.