Completed: a Devoured novella
To my relief, Gram takes me moving out surprisingly well, particularly when she finds out that the hotel I’m staying at until I can find an apartment of my own is less than a few miles from the cabin she’s lived in my entire life. When she quietly asks me if I’m okay with it—which I translate as her questioning if I think she’s choosing my mother over me—I let her know I love her and we’re fine. And I even go a step further by telling her I know she’d never do that, and vice versa.
The day my mom realizes the solidity of the bond between me and Gram, maybe things will change.
If she ever realizes it. Because right now, I can think of a thousand other miracles that’ll probably happen before my mom comes around.
With my stress-free move knocked out by Wednesday, I spend the rest of the week meeting with clients—both old and new—and trying to promote my business as a wardrobe consultant and personal shopper. When Lucas calls me Saturday night to let me know he’s just touched down in Nashville and he’ll be at my hotel as soon as he picks up his rental car, I’m ready for a break. Making up my mind to finish answering emails sometime tomorrow, I close my laptop and leave it on the coffee table before padding into the tiny bathroom to check my appearance. Dressed in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, with my long red tresses piled into a messy bun, I look a little crappy. Okay, a lot crappy.
Even though Lucas has assured me he wanted to spend the evening at home—well, my hotel room—I still decide to change. I go for simple and casual, dark skinny jeans, an oversized sweater, and brown boots. I’m in the process of brushing the fifty billion tangles from my hair when my doorbell rings, and immediately, my heartbeat races in anticipation.
“Good God,” I say under my breath, leaving my brush on the bathroom counter before attempting to keep from sprinting to the front door. “Less than a week away from him, and I’ve already got butterflies before the man even steps inside.”
Reaching the door, I tuck a strand of unruly hair behind my ear, trying my best to smooth it. When I fling it open, a delicious grin stretches across Lucas’ face, which instantly draws a smile from me. Especially when I take in the way he’s dressed. Like usual, he’s clad his incredibly tall, tattooed, and muscular frame in jeans and a black-and-gray long sleeve tee, but he’s wearing the same glasses he’d sported several months ago when we went to a bar together.
And trust me, the sight of Lucas in those glasses—with his messy dark hair gathered at the nape of his neck—is just about enough to make me come undone.
When I don’t say anything, he finally teases, “Don’t tell me I’ve taken your breath away.”
“Absolutely not.” I step aside to let him in. “See, I’m breathing just fine.”
“Damn, Si. Way to fuck with my ego.” But the corners of his eyes crinkle as he continues to stand in the hallway. I motion for him to come inside, causing him to shake his head. “You look too beautiful, too perfect, for me to come inside just to peel your clothes off. I’m taking you out. At least for a little while.”
I nod slowly, and when I walk backward to grab my things, he steps into the doorway, following my movements carefully. “What would’ve happened if you found me dressed in sweats? Would you have still taken me out?” I ask with a laugh as I grab my purse and keys from one of the end tables.
Returning to him, I shift an eyebrow and he feathers the pad of his thumb across my cheek. “You’re a brave man, Lucas Wolfe.”
He brushes his lips over mine, and then grins. “I swear this won’t take long and then you’ll have that night at home I promised.”
Navigating through the Saturday night pre-Christmas Nashville traffic, Lucas probes me about my week, taking care not to ask too many questions about my move from Gram’s place and focusing all his attention on my business. I’m probably a little too enthusiastic talking about clothes, but he doesn’t mention it.
A moment after he takes the exit for Brentwood—a suburb just outside of the city—he turns to me and says, “I fucking love seeing you happy, Red.”
I wrinkle my brow in confusion. “I have been happy.”
“Uh huh.” He turns into a residential area. “Bullshit.”
Frowning, I twist completely in my seat to stare at him. “What do you—?”
“You haven’t been yourself since your mom came back into the picture. Usually when I’m in town you’re moody because of her. This is the first time I’ve seen you this … this relaxed in a long ass time.”
I touch his thigh. “I’m always happy with you. You know that.”
He closes his fingers around mine, dragging my hand up a couple inches. “Careful,” he warns in a sexy growl. “You’re gonna change the course of our night real fast doing things like that.”
I start to speak, but then he pulls the rental car into a circular driveway, stopping and turning off the ignition once we’re in front of a large brick house that’s already been decorated for the holidays. I let the bright, cheery Christmas lights dazzle me for a few more moments before asking Lucas, “Another one of your colleague’s parties?” He moves his head slightly, and I worry my bottom lip between my teeth, staring down at what I’m wearing. “Should I have dressed up? It looks like we’re early, so maybe we should go back to my place to—”
He gathers my face in his, pulling me close to him, and I breathe him in. “Relax, Si. You’re perfect. You always have been.”
His response only makes me worry more as we walk to the front door together, but he gives me a reassuring smile as we step into the luxurious house. To my surprise, it’s utterly quiet. Touching his finger to my lips to quiet the question that’s on the tip of my tongue, Lucas then takes my hand in his and guides me through the house.
“I know we’ve wondered a lot about where we’d live after everything was said and done, but there’s no rule we have to live in one place, Si. We’ve got my place in L.A. and the vacation house in the mountains, but I wanted a home where your heart is too.”
“Lucas,” I start, my breath catching in my throat as we turn the corner and enter the kitchen.
He leads me closer to the center counter, where there’s a piece of paper sitting next to a couple of keys. My heart feels like it’s in my throat as he nudges me closer. I read the brief note on the paper slowly, squeezing his hand tightly.
I fucking adore you, Si. So much that I’ll probably write a hundred more songs about you before it’s all said and done. Let’s start here. Merry early Christmas, Red.
“Lucas, did you buy this house?” I question breathlessly.
“Yes,” he answers without missing a beat. “Last month, in fact. It was supposed to be a Christmas present for you, but given the circumstances, I figured you could unwrap it a few weeks early—”
I launch myself into his arms, and silently, he holds me close. Everything he said earlier about having a night in suddenly makes sense, and when I pull away from him, I can feel tears prickling the corners of my eyes.
“You didn’t have to do this,” I say, but he shakes his head.
“I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Welcome home, Sienna.”