Page 38 of Rags to Riches Baby

“Is that Trash Casserole?” he asked with a look of astonishment on his face.

Lucy nodded. “It is. Have you had it before?”

“Have I had it before?” He took a step back and shook his head. “It’s only the best thing Aunt Alice ever made. She cooked it every morning for Harper and me after we stayed the night with her.”

She turned off the oven. “Well, good. She’s the one that taught me how to make it, so hopefully it’s at least half as good as hers.”

Oliver eyeballed the dish with a wide grin. “It looks exactly like I remember it. I don’t think I’ve eaten that in twenty years.”

Lucy looked at him with a confused frown. “How is that possible? You had all the stuff to make it in the house. It’s not a particularly complicated recipe. You mean you’ve never tried to do it yourself in all this time?”

He shook his head and took a step toward the coffee maker. “No. I don’t cook. Not even a little. I pay a lady to come in twice a week to clean and stock the fridge with a few things I can eat. I found if I didn’t do that, I’d just eat takeout until I needed bigger pants. Anything you found in the house, she left here, I can assure you.”

Lucy wasn’t surprised. “Well you’ll have to apologize to her for me when she comes by again and finds I’ve used up her supplies.”

Oliver chuckled as he popped a pod into the coffee machine and turned it on. “She won’t mind. I’m sure Patty would be happy to come here and find evidence of cooking instead of candy wrappers and take-out containers in my trash can.”

Lucy made them both plates and they settled together at the kitchen table. It was a nice moment to share, diffusing any of the morning-after awkwardness. They were nearly finished when Oliver’s cell phone rang.

She sat silently as he answered, giving one-word replies and frowning at the table. “Okay. I’ll be there shortly. I just got up.”

He hit the button to hang up and looked at her with an apologetic expression on his face. “That was my dad. They’re taking Danny to the hospital in an ambulance. He had an accident at his riding lesson this morning. I’m sorry to cut our breakfast short, but I need to go meet Dad in the emergency room.”

Lucy’s soft heart ached at the thought of his little brother at the hospital without his mother there to comfort him. She was hardly a suitable substitute—she’d never even met the little boy Harper called Noodle—but she couldn’t go home in good conscience. She had to do something to help. “I’ll go with you,” she offered, getting up from the table with her dish in her hand.

He flinched at the suggestion, making her wonder if she was crossing a line by imposing on his family even after the night they’d shared. Was it too soon? Perhaps his father wouldn’t want her there. He hadn’t seemed any more pleased with her at the will reading than the rest of the family.

“You don’t need to do that, Lucy. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

She wasn’t about to let him push her away that easily. “I know I don’t need to do it, but I want to. If we can just stop by my place on the way, I’ll do a quick change of clothes and I’ll be happy to keep you company. It sounds like it’s going to be a long day for everyone. I can fetch coffee or something. Let me help.”

Oliver’s thin lips twisted in thought for a moment, then he nodded with an expression of relief. “Okay.” He stepped forward and pulled Lucy into his arms, dropping his forehead down to gently meet her own as he held her.

“Thank you.”

CHAPTER NINE

Danny was a trooper. Oliver had to give him credit for that. He wasn’t sure he’d have handled all of this as well when he was his age. He’d broken his wrist riding his scooter when he was nine and had been convinced at the time that no one had experienced his level of pain, ever.

Danny had four broken ribs, the doctor had said. X-rays showed the breaks were clean and would come together on their own. There was no risk for the bones puncturing the lungs. It sounded bad and it was quite painful, but it could’ve been much worse. During his riding lesson, the horse had gotten spooked by something. It bucked Danny out of the saddle, then stomped on his chest while he was lying on his back in the riding ring. He could’ve been killed in about four or five different ways, so some bruises and a few cracked ribs were a best-case scenario, really.

Dad had gone back to the apartment to get a few things. The doctors were going to keep Danny overnight. The first twenty-four hours were the most painful and where his breaks were located, he couldn’t do much of anything for himself, even raise a juice box to his mouth.

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