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Authors: Elizabeth Bass

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He pulled back, looking worried. “But of course, I realize I’m not exactly a dream guy. My kids . . .”
“I love Lily and Dominic,” she said. “Of course, there’s also . . .”
“Jordan.”
The anxiety in his eyes made her laugh—as if he thought his other daughter might be a deal killer. “She brought us together, didn’t she?”
His worried expression turned to astonishment. “I hadn’t thought about it. I guess she did.”
“Jordan and I have made our peace. In fact, I think she’s starting to make her peace with the world.”
He shook his head and encircled her in his arms again, squeezing her in a supportive, tender embrace. “You work miracles, Grace.”
“Not me,” she said. “Time works miracles. Time, and love, and belonging.”
46
A B
ILLION
T
IMES
H
APPIER
“T
here are just a couple of lights on downstairs,” Jordan said, peering through her sister’s binoculars. Unfortunately, the curtains at the side of the Olivers’ house were closed.
“You shouldn’t spy on them.” Lily was sitting next to Crawford on the couch. In spite of her bandages and her arm’s being in a sling, she had color in her cheeks, and her eyes were bright.
Jordan sank back on her heels in her chair. “They’ve been over there a while, though.”
Dominic had been stretched out on the floor with Iago, ignoring everyone, but now he sat up. “A while? It’s been an hour! They’ve probably eaten the entire cake by now.”
Jordan and Lily and Crawford exchanged looks.
Dominic searched their faces. “What?”
“They’re probably not just eating cake,” Jordan said.
“Well what else
could
they be doing?” Dominic asked. “Professor Oliver took the television.”
For a moment, Jordan tried not to laugh, but after Lily let out a snort she couldn’t help herself. Even Crawford was laughing.
Dominic growled in frustration.
“What?”
“We’re hoping they’re having a romantic moment,” Lily said.
“Like, kissing?” Dominic asked.
“Yes!” Jordan said.
“The cake was just a pretext,” Lily said.
“Oh.” Dominic frowned. “A what?”
“An excuse,” Jordan translated.
Lily looked at her, impressed. “Very good.”
“You’re rubbing off on me,” Jordan said. “Terrifying, but true.”
Dominic stood up, took the binoculars from Jordan, and peered through the window with them. “So . . . do y’all think Dad and Grace are going to get married?”
“I hope so,” Lily said.
“Me, too,” Jordan agreed.
Crawford looked surprised by that. Everybody did. “You do?”
“Of course.” Jordan shrugged. “If that’s what Dad wants.”
“But last year you said you didn’t want a stepmother,” Lily reminded her. “Especially not Grace.”
“So? I feel different than I did last year about a lot of things. I’m about a million times happier than I was then.”
“Me, too,” Lily said. Jordan could tell she was trying not to look at Crawford, but her blush said it all.
Jordan wondered if this was the beginning of one of those high-school-romances-becoming-forever-love things, or if poor Lily would end up getting her heart smooshed.
“I can’t see a thing,” Dominic said, giving up on espionage and turning away from the window. He looked at Jordan thoughtfully. “So . . . maybe if you’re a million times happier this year, next year you’ll be a billion times happier than last year. And then the next year, you’ll be a trillion times happier, and after that, you’d be like a balloon with too much air, and you’d pop.”
“That could get messy,” Crawford said.
Lily let out a sound of disgust and whacked Crawford playfully with her free hand. Crawford seized the opportunity to grab it. He didn’t let it go, either.
Jordan stood up. “Hey, Nickel, let’s go walk the pup.”
She hustled her brother and the dog out the front door.
Dominic still held the binoculars and walked several paces in front of Jordan as she pulled Iago from tree to tree down the sidewalk. Every once in a while, he would peer through the binoculars again, up at the sky. The night was clear, and the half moon hung low and bright. Jordan thought of how her mom used to name the stars she saw, and babble about celestial navigation, which always seemed so goofy. Now Jordan wondered if there wasn’t something to it. She’d like to think that her mom was up in the heavens, exploring all the places she’d stared up at for so long when she was earthbound.
Dominic fell into step beside Jordan again. “You’re thinking of Mom, aren’t you?”
She nodded.
“Me, too,” he said. “It’s weird, but when I feel depressed, I really miss Mom and Nina. But when I’m happy, like right now, it’s almost like they’re here with us.”
A cool breeze blew around them, shivering the trees and sending maverick leaves tumbling in their path. Along the street, a few early-bird Christmas decorators had strung lights on porches and in trees, which now illuminated the sidewalk like bonus stars. They reminded her of Nina. Nina had always loved looking at the holiday lights.
Jordan darted her arm around Dominic’s shoulder and gave him a fierce squeeze. “I think they are here, Nickel. I really think they are.”
KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by
 
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
 
Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Bass
 
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
 
 
Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.
 
Library of Congress Card Catalogue Number: 2011922116
ISBN: 978-0-7582-3512-1
 
BOOK: Wherever Grace Is Needed
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