Between You and Me(10)

By: Jennifer Gracen

His pleased smile made her feel like she’d earned a gold star. “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked.

“No, thanks, I’m fine.” He glanced toward the back of the house when the dog barked, then looked back to Tess. “I’m going to my mom’s place for lunch when I leave here, so don’t you worry, I’ll be overfed.”

Remembering, Tess’s smile faded some. “How is your mother doing? Hopefully better?”

His grin faded too. “Uh . . . no, actually. Last rounds of chemo and radiation have made her weaker, but haven’t beaten the cancer. So, well . . .” He shrugged. “It is what it is. But she had a nice Christmas, so that’s something. It’s, uh . . . well. Yeah.”

“I’m so sorry,” Tess murmured. She didn’t know much about Logan’s personal life. He was a private man, and she had never pried for details that weren’t her business. But she remembered their chat last year when she’d made him a travel mug of tea on a particularly cold day, and he’d revealed a few personal details. How he’d grown up about half an hour outside Aspen, and when he’d moved back to start work in his cousin’s house-managing business, his mom had sold his childhood home and bought a condo in Aspen to be closer to him.

He’d told Tess that a few years ago things had changed, and he was also helping her—she was a widow battling breast cancer on her own. After a double mastectomy, she’d gone into remission for a year or so, but apparently . . . damn.

Tess sighed and said gently, “I hate to hear that. I really do wish her well. If there’s ever anything I can do, for you or for her, please ask.”

His pale eyes fixed on her, rounded a bit. “That’s very kind of you. Thank you.”

Bubbles barked and came running in, sliding a bit on the polished floor. Tess crouched down to scoop her up into her arms. “Silly girl, you’re going to slide right into a wall if you don’t slow down!”

Logan chuckled. “I put the poinsettias high so she couldn’t eat them,” he said, his voice stronger now, not husky as it’d been a minute before. “I know they’re not poisonous to dogs—that’s a myth—but it can make ’em sick if they eat ’em. So I just figured better safe than sorry.”

“You did that?” Tess glanced at him in surprise, then her eyes darted around to the bright red plants, then back to him. “How thoughtful of you. Thank you! The color is so fabulous. Red’s my favorite color, you know.”

“I didn’t know that.” He eyed the parka she’d removed. “But come to think of it, I guess you do wear a lot of it.”

“Yes, I do. Because I love it.” She grinned and walked across the living room to the glass wall. One of her favorite features of the house, the entire back wall was made of glass, from the foundation to the roof. The views it afforded of the mountains and the landscape beyond were absolutely breathtaking. Pristine snow covered the peaks, both close and in the distance, and the clear blue sky seemed endless. “Have to hit that mountain soon,” she said. “I haven’t been skiing in a long time; I’m likely rusty.”

“If you want me to set up a time on the mountain for you,” Logan volunteered, “I can do that.”

She turned back to him with a smile, stroking her dog’s soft fur as she walked back to him. “Oh, I can do that, but thanks. I don’t know when I’ll go just yet.” She paused. “Is the Lotus Yoga Center on Blake Street still open?”

“Oh sure. Business is booming, actually—they expanded the studio over the summer. Added another three rooms.” Logan ran a hand over his dark blond beard, an absentminded gesture that made something in Tess’s belly ping low. His beard looked like it was soft. She was suddenly seized with an urge to touch it and find out. “Their spa expanded too. My cousin Rick’s wife, Sami-Jo, is the manager now. Anytime you wanna set something up, ask for her. Tell her I sent you.”

“I will. Good to have connections in town,” Tess said with a conspiratorial air.