Long Way Home (Chapter Six, page 1 of 7)


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Alexis didn't have to wait long to hear from Tyler. The next morning he texted her his show schedule, as well as a link to Lottie's Greenhouse with a question mark. Lottie's Greenhouse was a lovely garden center and landscaping company that hosted special events throughout the year. It was where she'd gone to see Santa as a child and where they'd go for their Christmas tree every year.

Sitting at the kitchen table nursing her second cup of coffee, she clicked the link to see whether he expected her to sit on Santa's lap. The link took her to a page about a Winter Wonderland skating rink available now through January second. Alexis bit her lip. A skating rink definitely seemed more like a date than two classmates catching up.

"You're up late again this morning," her mother's voice said from behind her. "I am on vacation," Alexis said defensively.

"I'm not making a point about your work ethic, dear. When you were younger, you were always up before the sun."

"I think I used to hear Dad getting up," Alexis said, although it was true that she liked to wake up early. 'The early bird gets the worm' was her private mantra and it had served her well in law school when the library study cubicles were all taken hostage by nine o'clock.

"Well, you're sleeping through it now," her mother commented wryly. She walked to the counter to pour herself a cup of coffee. "Betsy called to see if you'd like to do some Christmas shopping with her."

"Today?"

She shrugged. "Seems so. I left her number there," she said, pointing to a piece of paper on the counter. "She also wants to confirm that you're going to Owen's Nativity play at the preschool. Apparently, he insisted on your attendance and she needs to tell them how many tickets."

"Clearly, he recognizes his core fan base. When is it again?"

"Tomorrow morning, assuming you'll still be here," Tilly said archly.

Alexis didn't take the bait. "I'll be here."

"Great, then you can let her know when you return her call." Tilly slurped her coffee. "So how does it feel being back here? Bored yet?"

Alexis rolled her eyes. "I'm not twelve. I don't get bored."

"You roll your eyes as well as any twelve-year-old."

Alexis felt her cheeks burn hot. She may have become a successful lawyer in a big London law firm, but one snide comment from her mother made her feel as small as a thumbnail. She wished she could extract all the hurt and misunderstandings from her family dynamics and start over. A clean slate. No preconceived notions. Her phone buzzed again. Another text from Tyler.

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