My mouth dropped open. “Nooooo!” I whispered loudly.

“Sorry,” she said quietly. “He came running in and said he wanted to snuggle, then fell right to sleep. What was I supposed to say?”

“I don’t know, how about: ‘I know you want to lie here, sweetie, but Viper’s penis has been a very lonely guy for the last six days, so I’m going to keep it company and rub it for a few minutes until it spits back at me. Now hurry back to bed, little cock block.’ That probably would’ve covered it just fine.”

“Shhhh! He’ll hear you,” she scolded through a giggle as she looked down at Matthew, who hadn’t moved a muscle.

“So? You’re never too young to learn about the importance of getting your rocks off as often as possible.” I walked over to the bed and plopped down with a sigh.

“I’m sorry,” she said as she reached out and rubbed my cheek with the back of her fingers. “I promise, promise, promise I’ll make it up to you tonight.”

“Sure you will,” I groaned.

“I mean it. Free reign. Anything goes.”

My face flashed over to hers and I raised one eyebrow. “Free reign? Anything goes?”

“Anything goes,” she repeated with a nod as she licked her lips.

“You’re gonna regret saying that.” I shook my head as I stood. “You’re also not gonna be able to walk tomorrow.”

“No walking? Sounds good to me. I’ll just lie in bed and read all day while you do all the chores and parenting,” she said with a wink.

“Deal.”

“Wait, where are you going?” she asked as I turned and headed out of the room.

“I’m starving. I’m gonna make the kids pancakes. Want some?”

“No.” She leaned over and grabbed her cell phone off the nightstand to look at the time. “I actually have to get them up and moving. We have a breakfast date with Gam.”

“We do?”

She nodded. “I talked to her yesterday and she asked us to come over. I had no idea you’d be home already, so you should come.”

I sighed. “I’ve been trying to come for like twelve hours now.”

Her mouth fell open as she grabbed a pillow and threw it at the door, just as I closed it.

 

“Lawrence!” Gam called out, crossing her yard with open arms as we climbed out of the car an hour later.

“How’s my favorite girl?” Gam’s larger-than-life personality made me forget how small and frail she really was, but when I put my arms around her and squeezed gently, it was a sharp reminder that she wouldn’t be here forever.

“I lived to see another day, so I’m great.” She pulled back and looked up at me but didn’t let go, her tiny hands holding mine. “This is a nice surprise. Michelle didn’t tell me you’d be home already.”

“She didn’t know.” I shook my head. “I got in late last night and surprised her and the kids.”

“Well, I was already excited to see her and my favorite kids, but now I get to see my favorite grandson, too. What a great day!”

“Gam,” I said dryly, “I’m your only grandson.”

“Whatever.” She waved her hand at me. “Shut up and take a compliment, would ya?”

She said hello to Michelle and Matthew and gave each of them a big hug before she bent down to Maura, who was sitting happily in her stroller, trying to pull the little pink bow out of her hair. “And you . . . I’ve missed you so much, my sweet Little Mo.”

Michelle’s lips spread into a wide grin as she looked from Gam to me and back again with a twinkle in her eyes. We had no idea where it came from, but a while ago Gam had started calling Maura “Little Mo,” and it was Michelle’s favorite thing. Matthew and Maura still saw Mike’s parents whenever they came into town, but with them living on the other side of the country, Gam was their only consistent grandparent. But I knew the twinkle in Michelle’s eye wasn’t just for Little Mo. Michelle loved Gam, and Gam loved Michelle. They had an instant, intense connection that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but sometimes I was pretty sure if Gam was forced to choose one of us, I’d be on the outside looking in.

“You guys come on in.” Gam waved her arm, walking toward her house. “I made your favorite. Blueberry breakfast cake.”

“Yay!” Matthew threw his arms in the air excitedly.

As we stepped onto her creaky wooden porch steps, something off to the right caught my eye.

“That’s cool. Where’d you get that?” I said, taking a couple steps closer to the new, brightly painted coffee table that sat in front of her white wicker couch.

“You like that? I made it,” she said proudly.

“What?” I looked at her incredulously. “No, you didn’t.”

She nodded. “I sure did. Got a bunch of those pallets from the dumpster behind the grocery store and followed a plan I found on Pinterest. I made it, then I painted it. Voila.”

I looked back and forth from her to the table a couple times, processing what she’d just said.

“What?” she asked defensively after I didn’t respond.

“I just . . . wow. I can’t believe you did that. You’re almost ninety. Shouldn’t you be rocking in a chair, knitting your handsome grandson a sweater?”

“I would, but I don’t think it would fit past that swollen head of yours,” she joked as she turned and opened her screen door.

I leaned down, close to Michelle’s ear. “Speaking of swollen heads, I have two . . .”

She let out a quick gasp seconds before I took a sharp elbow to the ribs.

 

We followed Gam through the door and instantly . . . it smelled like home. Her house was small but cozy, and it always smelled like cinnamon and sugar.

“Mmmm,” Michelle hummed with a smile on her face. “It smells amazing in here.”

“Thanks!” Gam replied proudly. “I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and made a double batch at four o’clock this morning.”

Michelle pulled her brows down low. “You what?”

“She’s always done that, didn’t you know?” I answered with a laugh. “When she can’t sleep, she cooks. Sometimes it’s meatballs, sometimes it’s spaghetti. This morning, I guess it was a double batch of blueberry breakfast cake.”