“I already backed up your eleven o’clock to two and we’ve got enough time to get uptown for the press conference about the holiday food pantry.”
Jon eased into the cushy leather with a sigh. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Pray you never find out.”
He grinned and mentally increased her end of the year bonus. She was worth every blessed penny.
“Will Tessa be joining you for the Jingle Jam?”
Jon dug his phone out of his pocket. “I doubt it. I’ll ask Jesse to go with me. He likes one of the bands performing.” He shot off a text to his son and dialed his daughter. Trish went back to her make-shift laptop as they crawled their way uptown.
“Am I interrupting finals or studying or…”
She laughed and her the pure sweetness of it evened him out the rest of the way. “I’m on my way across campus as we speak. Last final is today and then I’m homebound.”
Relief and the last bit of grouchiness evaporated. “Do you have any plans?”
“Sleep, sleep, eat Magda’s food, rinse and repeat.”
“Any chance you want to save Tessa’s life?”
Steph’s phone fuzzed as if she was juggling and then her voice came clear. “What’s up, Dad?”
A little voice pecked at the back of his brain, but he pushed ahead anyway. “Tessa’s cashier eloped with her stock boy.”
“Holy crap! For Christmas?”
“Yep, and finding anyone at this late date is going to be nearly impossible. Especially anyone that would be worth anything at the store. You’ve worked there off and on when you’re in town.”
“Sure. I like the bookstore. I’ll see if Michelle wants to make some extra cash, too.”
“You are a lifesaver.”
“I’ll remind you of that when I have control of the television at Mercer. Gotta go. Love you.”
He grinned despite himself and held up a finger when Trish’s mouth opened. He dialed Tessa. Trish sighed and went back to her typing.
“What would you say to one, possibly two cashiers at your service?”
“I’d say I’ll marry you again tonight.”
He chuckled, relief settling over his shoulders like a warm blanket. Meddling in Tessa’s business was always a crap shoot. She loved to be self-sufficient and her control-freakdom was as well honed as his. “You’d marry me again anyway.”
“Nine times out of ten.”
He snorted. “Steph and possibly Michelle are going to come in. That means we’ll get two Jersey girls squatting at the house.”
“I guess you’ll just have to put a breathe-right strip on to stop the snoring.”
“God, you’re such a smartass.”
“You wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“No,” he sighed elaborately. “I suppose I wouldn’t. Okay, that’s it.”
“I love you madly.”
“Oh, and one more thing?” When he only made a hmm noise, she kept on talking. “I’ll make tonight work. Wear the blue tie. I have plans for it after the gala.”
Part of him wanted to give her the easy way out. He hadn’t even reminded her of the dinner that night once she mentioned the crap with the store. But the other half of him wanted her on his arm tonight. He wanted to show her off tonight and drag her onto the dance floor to make the boring as hell reception worth it.
And then she was gone. He smiled at Trish and let her rattle off his killer day.