**EXCERPT** WHEN I’M GONE by Abbi Glines




by Abbi Glines




Two days after I took Reese home from Harlow’s, I was still wondering about her. Worrying about her damn hand and her walking everywhere. I was trying like hell to shake it. She wasn’t my responsibility.

Harlow handed me Lila Kate after she rescued her from her car seat. I held the little miracle baby close in my arms, because she was still so stinking tiny. And the way Grant hovered over her like she might break made me think she just might. I was careful.

“You carry her. I’ll get the diaper bag,” Harlow said, reaching for the large bag full of Lila Kate’s traveling supplies. The bag was bigger than the baby.

“We’re just going to meet the Finlays for lunch. She really needs all that stuff for the whole two hours we’re gone?” I asked, wondering how it was possible that Lila Kate required a bag that big.

Harlow just grinned and put the strap over her arm, then locked up the expensive SUV our father had given them when Lila Kate was born. “Let’s go.”

I followed Harlow toward the entrance. “Why didn’t we just use the valet?” I asked, thinking it would have been easier.

“Because it takes a while to get Lila Kate and all her stuff loaded. I hate holding up the line.”
I glanced at the valet, and there was no one there. I didn’t comment, though.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Carter, Mr. Manning,” the guy at the door said, as he opened it wide for us to enter.
I wasn’t a member of the Kerrington Club, but Harlow, Rush, my father, Rush’s father, and, of course, Nan were all members. I think people assumed I was, too.
“Mrs. Carter, Mr. Finlay and his wife are already seated in the back room. You’ve been given privacy,” the hostess said, before we even reached her. We followed her through the dining room into a room with three glass walls overlooking the gulf and tennis courts.
Blaire stood up immediately and made her way to me. She wasn’t coming for me, though. That much I knew.
“Give her to me.” Blaire all but squealed, holding out her arms for Lila Kate.
“Hey, Mase!” Nate Finlay said, as he stood up on his chair and waved at me. The kid looked more and more like his father every time I saw him.
“Hey, little man.” I walked over to give him a fist bump.
“B’whoa it up. Like dis,” Nate said. Then he made a sound with his mouth like something was, in fact, blowing up and opened his fist.
“That’s an Uncle Grant thing,” Blaire said, laughing.
I made sure to blow it up and took the seat across from Nate and Rush.
Rush was grinning like Nate was the most entertaining thing in the world. “Sit in the seat. No standing. Remember,” he corrected him. Nate plopped down, and Rush ruffled his hair, then looked at me. “Enjoying your visit?” he asked.

“Yeah. It’s good to see Harlow doing so well. And happy.”

Rush nodded in agreement. “Grant, too. He’s always smiling these days.”

“Glad I don’t live here. You guys look happy and all, but you’re falling like dominoes. You, Woods, Grant, and now Tripp.” I leaned back and grinned. “It’s in the water here, so I can’t stick around too long. Not ready for that yet.”

Rush chuckled and looked over at Blaire, who was cooing at Lila Kate. Blaire was a beauty. No doubt about it. When Rush had decided to settle down, he picked a winner. But still, that wasn’t something I wanted. Not yet, at least. I was only twenty-five. Family life couldn’t be all fucking roses, the way this bunch made it appear.

“You just haven’t met her yet,” Rush said, as he looked at Blaire. “When you do, it doesn’t matter what you think now. She’ll be all you want in life.”


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