“The wedding venue closed.”
“Well damn,” Tina said. “But we’ll help Pru and Finn figure it out. Later, when I have all my lashes on.”
Behind Tina, Kylie sat up, looking confused. Her hair was rioted all around her head as she narrowed her eyes at Sean. “Why are you interrupting my beauty sleep?”
“—Sean,” she said, holding up a hand. “I love you. I do. But this bed’s amazing. In fact, I plan to marry the next guy that makes me feel even half as good as this bed does. So please go away.”
Sean moved to the next door. Neither Archer nor Elle bothered to answer to his knock so he texted Archer.
Sean: It’s me. Open up.
Archer: Keep knocking and die. Painfully.
Okay then. Since Archer wasn’t much of a joker, Sean kept moving. But at Spence and Colbie’s room, it was more of the same, although they at least answered the door. Both had clearly been otherwise preoccupied. Spence told Sean not to expect him and Colbie until much, much later.
Giving up on riling anyone else up besides himself, Sean made his way downstairs. He sat at one of the three round dining room tables. The power had gone out again and stayed off this time, so the only light came from a few well-placed lanterns and candles. He checked his phone but nothing had changed.
They were still screwed.
In fact, most of Northern California was, and now also in a newly declared state of emergency. Overnight there’d been three inches of rain causing mudslides, sinkholes, and massive road closures. People couldn’t get out of Napa Valley. And they couldn’t get into Napa Valley—not that that mattered with the wedding venue closed down. It’d be months, their site said, before they recovered from the devastating mudslides and were operating again.
“It’s a nightmare,” Finn said, plopping down next to him. He had a plate full of food from the sideboard buffet.
Sean slid his gaze to his brother as he shoved in some French toast and bacon. “Real upset over it, are you?”
“Devastated,” Finn said and craned his neck to eyeball the food platters. “Think we can go back up there for seconds?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah. The French toast’s amazing here. That innkeeper, Lotti? She’s incredible. She’s got a small generator and she used it to cook for us. Have you eaten yet?”
“No,” Sean said. “I haven’t. Because I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to save your wedding. Where’s Pru?”
“She and the girls are about to go have mimosas in the thankfully gas-powered hot tub.”
Sean stared at him. “Does she know about the flooding and mudslides closing down her wedding venue?”
“And she’s okay?”
“No,” Finn said. “Which is why she’s inhaling alcohol at the asscrack of dawn. Listen, she’s trying to have a good attitude about this and so am I.” He shoved in more French toast. “She said as long as we’re in the same place with the people we love, that’s good enough. I have to believe her. She waited a long time for this and now there’s nothing else open all year. We might have to hit up the courthouse to tie the knot and throw a party. Whatever she wants.” Finn wolfed down the rest of his food and sighed, scrubbing a hand down his face, revealing his tension and stress.
For years the guy had been taking care of Sean. When their parents had died, Sean had been a fourteen-year-old punk-ass kid, but Finn hadn’t hesitated. At twenty-one, he’d stepped into the role of mom and dad and brother, and for a lot of days also judge and jury and jailer.
He’d never once failed Sean.
But Sean had failed Finn. Way too many times to count. He owed Finn everything, including the fact that he was even still here to tell the tale, because there’d been more than a few times where his stupidity should’ve gotten him killed.
And during that time, Finn hadn’t once given up on him. He hadn’t even let Sean see the strain it’d surely taken on his own life, taking care of a perpetually pissed-off-at-the-world teenager.
But this, today . . . it was a strain. It was in the tightness of Finn’s shoulders and the grim set to his mouth.
His older brother wasn’t okay.
And Sean was going to have his back, no matter what. He clasped a hand on Finn’s shoulder. “I’m going to work this out for you guys,” he said.
Finn smiled and shook his head. “Not your problem, man. Don’t worry about it.”
Something Finn had been saying to Sean since day one. Don’t worry about it, I’ll handle it. And he had. No matter what Sean had thrown at him.
Finn got to his feet.
“Where are you going?” Sean asked.
“To join my hopefully soon-to-be wife in the hot tub.”
“Finn, we still have to check out of here this morning.”
Finn shook his head. “You said it yourself, the roads are closed. We’re not going anywhere.”
“Did anyone actually check in with Lotti about the fact that we have to extend our stay?”
Finn stopped. “Shit. No.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sean said. “I’ll handle it.” And with that, he got up and moved out to the front room to deal with the problems for once.
There was no sign of Lotti at the front desk so he walked around it and peered into her office, hitting the jackpot.
Lotti was in the corner, sitting on top of a very overstuffed suitcase, bouncing up and down on it trying to get it closed while simultaneously listening to a call she had on speaker.
A female voice was saying “. . . I can’t believe you talked me into this, a cruise through the Greek islands with Aunt Judie, but we’re having a ball, honey. I just want you to remember your promise to me before I left, that you’re going to use your honeymoon tickets and go to Cabo. You need a breather from the past year, first losing your daddy and then breaking off your wedding—”
“Mom.” Lotti closed her eyes. “I’m fine.”
“Yes,” Lotti said firmly. “I mean, I did wake up this morning to realize I’m still not a billionaire rock star rocket scientist martial arts master, but hey, it could be worse, right?”
“Honey. I worry about you. If you don’t leave your past in the past, it’ll destroy your future. You’ve got to live for what today’s offering, not for what yesterday took away from you.”
“You sound like a Hallmark card.”
“They don’t make cards for this, Lotti.”
“I’m okay, Mom. Really,” Lotti said firmly. “Tell me about you.”
“Well . . . are you ready for this? I’m wearing sunscreen and a very cute new dress that I couldn’t pair a bra with, and there’s a gentleman who keeps sending me drinks. I think I’m about to have a very good time.”
“Be safe,” Lotti said softly. “Love you.”
“Love you too!”
Lotti tapped the screen of her phone and disconnected. Then she looked down at the suitcase beneath her and sighed before going back to bouncing on it to try to get it zipped. “Come on you, fu—”
“Here,” Sean said, coming into the office to crouch in front of her, taking over possession of the zipper. “Let me.”
Lotti had gone Bambi in the headlights. “Where did you come from?” she asked.