“Are you in any pain?” I asked as I walked over and wrapped my arms around her shoulder.

“No.” She shook her head. “I can’t really feel anything at all . . . except my stomach growling.”

I sat down on the bed next to her and held her hand. “Want me to get you something?”

“Yeah—out of here,” she barked back.

Viper stood and walked around the bed, brushing past me. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where’s he going?” Gam asked.

I followed him to the door, then shrugged and looked back at her. “No idea. Okay, all joking aside. How do you feel?”

“Like shit.” She sighed. “I hate this. I like to do things by myself and not depend on other people. This isn’t gonna work for me.”

“I know,” I said quietly, trying to calm her irritation. “This is definitely going to be a change for a while, but you’re strong and you’ll battle back. I know you will. And I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.”

She tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips. “You have those two sweet kids to take care of and a household to run. The last thing you need to be worrying about is taking care of your boyfriend’s grumpy old grandma.”

I squeezed her hand again. “I happen to love my boyfriend’s grumpy old grandma. And it would be my pleasure to help you out.”

“We’ll see about that,” she answered, her red-rimmed eyes dropping to her lap. In that moment, I wasn’t sure if she was upset about her situation, or if she was sentimental because of what I’d said and just avoiding her feelings like her grandson.

I stretched my neck to sneak a peek at the paper on her tray. “What’s this?” I asked, picking it up.

“Ugh,” she groaned, waving her hand dismissively. “That’s the menu they gave me.”

I raised my eyebrows and looked at her. “Oooh, really? It looks good!”

“That’s the key word. It looks great, but it tastes more like they have Tweedledee and Tweedledum cooking the food down there.”

Shaking my head, I let out a small laugh. “I have a feeling nothing would be good enough for you when it comes to food though. If there’s one area you’re the master of, it’s that.”

“Damn right it is.” She nodded proudly. “In my opinion, serving bland food should be a crime punishable by law.”

“Oh, Gam. You would hate my kitchen.”

“I thought Viper was teaching you how to cook?”

“He was. He did . . . kinda. Then we started dating, and now he just cooks for us,” I said with a quick laugh. Gam was important to me, and not just because she was my boyfriend’s grandmother, but because over the last year I’d grown to love her . . . a lot. She wasn’t just his family, she was my family, too.

“Maybe he wasn’t the right teacher for you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sometimes you need to let the master teach you in order to really learn.”

“You?”

“Yes, me!”

My eyes traveled down her body and back up to her face. “How would that work now?”

“My mouth still works, doesn’t it? I’ll sit at the kitchen table with my whiskey and tell you what to do.” She shrugged. “Sounds like a perfect plan to me.”

“What sounds like a perfect plan?” Viper bellowed as he walked back into the room, making us both jump. “You two conspiring to take over the world?”

“Maybe,” I said in a facetious tone.

“What’s that?” Gam asked as he set a white box on the end of her bed.

“I ran to the bakery at the corner. It’s a blueberry muffin, a piece of lemon poppy seed bread, a cinnamon scone, and an éclair—your favorite.”

Gam’s mouth dropped open as she stared up at Viper in amazement. “You went and got this for me?”

“Of course I did.” He smiled back as he handed her the box.

She quickly lifted the lid and peered down into it. “There’s a bear claw, too.”

“That’s Michelle’s. They’re her favorite.” He shot me a quick wink.

“And three key lime tarts?”

“Mine. I’m starving. Don’t judge.” He snatched the box back from her and started pulling the pastries out, setting them on the tray one by one.

“This is really sweet of you,” Gam said, watching him closely.

“What can I say?” He held his hands out as a big grin spread across his lips. “I’m an amazing human being.”

“We’ll see how amazing you are.” Gam raised an eyebrow at him.

He dropped his arms and stared at her blankly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She covered her mouth and let out a small laugh. “It means what am I getting for lunch and dinner?”

 

 

Gam was up and walking that day and back home a week later. Though she complained about the food every chance she got, she handled the rest of the week like a champ. But boy was she glad to be home.

Unfortunately for me, the day she came home was also the same day I had to head out of town for a quick three-day road trip with the Wild. Michelle assured me she had everything with Gam under control. What I didn’t tell her is that I had Andy Shaw, my friend and agent, ask his assistant look into hiring a full-time nurse to help Gam out around the house. I didn’t tell Michelle, or Gam, because I knew they would both argue, but it was the right thing to do.

Michelle had the kids to take care of already and spending most of her days and some nights at Gam’s just wouldn’t work. And if I told Gam, she would just say that she was fine and possibly end up hurting herself again. That was a risk I wasn’t taking. Period.

“Hey!” Brody smacked me in the hand. “Why are you so serious today? What’s up?”

“I’m not serious,” I said, pinching the bridge of my nose and squeezing my eyes shut. “I just have a headache.”

“No shit. I would too after all you’ve been through.”

“It’s been a long week. Everything hurts . . . my back, my head.” I arched my back off the airplane seat, trying to get some relief for my tense muscles. “I need a vacation.”