All the Way (Romancing Manhattan #1)(11)

“Because I miss my family. I’m coming to your house on Martha’s Vineyard for a few days.”

I stand up straight and frown, staring unseeingly at the ocean.

“Is that a problem?” she asks when I don’t reply right away.

“No, of course not. You know you’re always welcome. I have plenty of space.”

“I’d like to see Gabby,” she says. “I won’t stay long.”

“It’s never an inconvenience to have you here, Mom. When shall I pick you up from the airport?”

Mom rattles off the time. I hang up after wishing her safe travels to find Gabby taking a bite of a Snickers.

“Damn it, Gabby.”

She just offers me a big smile and chews happily.

“Since you’re not feeling well enough to go overnight tonight, I’m going to cancel my date with London.”

“No!” She jumps off her stool and hurries over to me, and takes my hand in hers. “Uncle Finn, you have to go. You just have to.”


“Because you like her, and she’s so nice, and pretty, and you just have to go. You don’t have to worry about me, I can totally stay home by myself. I’ve done it before.”

“I don’t think so.” I shake my head, but Gabby holds on to my hand even more tightly.

“I’ll be totally fine here. You already ordered me a pizza for dinner, and I’m just going to watch a movie on Netflix with my heating pad. Seriously, you can totally trust me.”

This little girl says totally more than anyone I’ve ever met in my life.

“I can’t chance you running off again, Gabby. I love you more than anything, but you haven’t given me much reason to trust you lately. Not to mention scaring London last night with that story about someone staying in her playhouse. That was uncalled for.”

She starts to interrupt me, but I hold my hand up and she closes her mouth.

“You can’t just scare people like that. It’s not funny.”

“I’m sorry,” she says, and bites her lip. Her blue eyes are big, reminding me of her mom’s eyes, and I feel myself soften.

“If I give you back your cell phone—”

“Oh my gosh, yes!”

“Which still does not have any data available to you and you can only call me, your dad, or Grandma, who is currently on an airplane, so you can call me if something were to happen.”

“Nothing is going to happen. I’ve totally got this.”

“We are going to the Lobster Shack,” I inform her, and write it down on the pad by the refrigerator. “I’m picking London up at seven, and I’ll be home by nine, which is before dark.”

“Well, that’s a boring date,” she says with a laugh.

“Don’t push me, Gabby. I shouldn’t leave you here in the first place.”

But the idea of not seeing London tonight makes me nuts.

Not that I would put Gabby at risk if I thought she couldn’t spend two hours by herself. She can, but she’s been so . . . challenging lately.

“You should leave me here. I have food, entertainment, and a way to reach you should there be an emergency.” She’s put her serious face on now, reminding me of the sweet girl that she’s always been.

Reminding me so much of her mother.

It’s so damn good to see her again.

“You’re funny, you know that?”

“Oh, I’m totally funny,” she agrees. “And you are going to be late if you don’t go.”

“I’m early. She lives right next door.”

She shrugs and takes a few slices of pizza on a plate into the TV room. “Girls don’t like it when a guy is late.”

“How do you know this?”

“I’ve seen movies,” she says. “Go have fun. I’m totally fine.”

“Yes, so you’ve said. Here’s your phone.” I hand it to her and watch as she turns it on with glee. She’s been grounded from using it for two months, only getting possession of it when she’s at a lesson or somewhere that she may need to reach someone. No chitchat with her friends.

“Can I text Larissa?” she asks.

“Who’s Larissa?”

“My best friend,” she says. “I haven’t talked to her in forever.”

“Or, you know, since school got out a couple of weeks ago.”


“Yes, you can text her, and only her, unless you need to call me or your dad.”

She nods happily. I hope I don’t live to regret this.

I quickly change into jeans and a black button-down, check my hair, and then run downstairs to say good-bye to Gabby, who barely acknowledges me as she eats her pizza and texts with her friend.

She’s going to be okay.

I get in my car and make the quick trip over to London’s house, ring her bell, and wait for the gut punch that always happens whenever I see her.

She swings the door open, and sure enough.

Gut punch.

Fucking hell, she’s beautiful. Her dark hair is pulled back in a single braid and her blue eyes are wide, her cheeks a bit flushed. She’s in a simple blue sundress that manages to make her look even more petite than I remember her being yesterday.

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