I nearly cracked up at the look on Dad’s face as he held onto my hand. He definitely didn’t want to be talking to this lady. I almost felt bad leaving him with her. Almost. “Oh, fantastic,” I said to Axel, my voice so thick with sarcasm that Dad laughed. “I can’t wait to meet this person.”
Before I could get away, tight dress lady smothered me with a hug. Her hand brushed the top of my arm.
I hadn’t been to Dad’s office in a while, but I recognized it—the wall of glass behind his desk with an amazing view of the city. She was in his chair. In black lace lingerie.
Dad walked into the room and she stood up.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Dad yelled as he spun around. “I’m giving you five minutes to get dressed and get out of my office. When I get back, you better be fucking gone.”
Axel tugged me away from her and the onslaught stopped. He brilliantly played it off as tripping, glancing at nothing on the hardwood floor and cursing. “I’m sooo sorry. Lost my balance there for a second. Must be something spilled here.” He didn’t give her a chance to say anything before he started walking away, towing me with him.
Holy shit. Did I just see what I thought I saw?
I spotted mom and pulled on Axel’s hand. When he turned, I motioned to her. She was already heading our way.
Mom was super cute with her short, wavy dark-brown hair, and looked ten years younger than she actually was thanks to her daily power yoga routine. A boldly printed Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress showed off her curves, and got her quite a few stares from the male contingent as she walked through the crowd.
“You decided to come down on your own?” she said to me.
I raised an eyebrow. “Not likely.”
She smiled, and it wasn’t a totally happy one. “That’s what I thought. Thank you anyway. I know that your father will appreciate you making the effort.”
Before she could leave, I stopped her and leaned close. “That lady talking to Dad—the one that’s about to have a wardrobe malfunction—totally tried to come on to him. She’s thinking yucky things. Fifty shades of things…”
Mom laughed her big, booming laugh.
Not the reaction I was expecting from her. “Don’t worry though,” I whispered into her ear. “She hasn’t gotten anywhere with him.”
Mom sobered and stepped back to look at me. She seemed to realize something and then shook her head. “Of course she hasn’t. That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about. Your father and I are one of the few who have a forever marriage. Your abuela made sure of it.” Growing up with my abuela made Mom able to block everything but what she wanted me to see. No one else I knew could do it. So when she reached out to cup my cheek, I relaxed my head into her hand and closed my eyes.
I was flooded with the twenty or so times that they’d said they loved each other today. She kissed my forehead, and I heard the echo from her mind that she loved me.
I opened my eyes and smiled. “Thanks. Love you too, Mom.”
She gave my cheek a couple of light pats before looking at my brother. “Be good, you two.”
Axel scoffed. “Are we ever not good?”
“Yes. Frequently.” With that, Mom slid back into her role as hostess.
“Let’s go before anyone else stops us,” Axel said.
We made our way to Dad’s office and locked the door. Thick law texts were haphazardly stacked in his now mostly empty shelves. Bankers boxes were piled high to the right of his large oaken desk. Two long file cabinets sat along the wall behind the desk. I had no idea where to even start to look for the St. Ailbe’s stuff.
“You find the file, and I’ll touch it.” I took off my right glove and stuffed it in the back pocket of my jeans. “I’m not touching anything I don’t need to.”
He dug through some drawers, and then started in on the Bankers boxes. My palms were sweating. The longer Axel took, the better chance there was that Dad would look for us, even if that was ridiculous when we had half of Hollywood in our house.
“Got it!” Axel stepped around the mess he’d made and handed me a folder.
I grabbed it and my father’s office disappeared.
An image flashed through my mind. Five red brick buildings in a circle, surrounded by forest. Teenagers. Students carrying books walking through the center of them. Wolves running through the forest around the buildings.
Why weren’t the students scared of the wolves? Were they tame? Or maybe they were just large dogs. Or maybe it was a farm school. A giant-sized, wolfish-dog farm school.