All the Way (Romancing Manhattan #1)(7)

I still have work to do.

I finished the library this morning and decided that I’d take a stab at Dad’s office today. I cave and use my cane to help me get up the stairs. It’s a slow, painful process, but once I’m in the office, I forget about the pain and just look around the room.

Where Mom’s library was soft and feminine, with pretty upholstered chairs and dainty-looking tables, Dad’s office is the exact opposite. The walls are lined with gleaming honey-colored wood. There are shelves covered with heavy, leather-bound books and a large, wide desk that faces the water.

I didn’t spend much time in here as a child. The only time I was called in here was if I was in trouble, not unlike being called to the principal’s office. This room was designed to be masculine and intimidating, like the man who lived in it, and the designer did a good job of it.

I sit in his big leather chair and let it rock back and forth, running my fingers over the smooth wood of his desk. It still smells like him in here, like peppermint with a hint of tobacco. It brings an unexpected tear to my eye.

I’ve never considered myself a sentimental person. I don’t hold on to much. I’m not a hoarder. So I didn’t think it would be so hard to go through my parents’ things and try to part with them.

It’s kind of like losing them all over again, and I wasn’t prepared for that.

Thankfully, this wasn’t Dad’s full-time office, so I don’t have to tackle too much paperwork. And what is here, I can box up and have sent to the house in Greenwich so I can go through all of it at one time later.

I’ll have to have someone come help me. I won’t know what to save and what to shred.

But no need to think about that right now.

Going through Dad’s desk, I find photos and journals, newspaper clippings from the reviews of my work on Broadway, which surprises me. Check that; it shocks the fuck out of me.

I didn’t think Dad was particularly sentimental either. Not to mention, a Broadway career was absolutely not what he had in mind for his daughter, and he made no secret of his opinion. Seeing the clippings from my shows touches me deeply.

He was proud of me after all.

There’s a Valentine’s Day card that Mom gave to him. It’s dated 1998, and it’s super mushy, which makes me grin.

I spend two hours sifting and sorting, and am surprised to realize that not one thing ended up in the trash can. That can’t be right. What am I going to do with all of this?

I shake my head and rub my leg, reminded that I worked hard today and I need to take something for it. So I reach for the cane and hobble down to the kitchen. I make myself a cup of coffee, reach for a cookie, and walk out to the porch. I have the outdoor heater on so I can still enjoy the view out here, even with the stormy weather.

“I don’t want to!” I hear Gabby yell next door. I don’t know why she’s outside, but I remind myself that it’s none of my business and take a sip of my coffee.

I can barely make out the low murmur of Finn’s voice, and then Gabby yells back at him.

“I hate karate! It’s dumb! I don’t know why you’re making me do this. Why can’t I take jujitsu? It’s better than stupid karate!”

I can’t make out Finn’s words, but he replies calmly, and then Gabby continues her tirade.

“You’re so mean to me! I don’t know why you have to be like this. I hate you!”

I cringe. Oh man, stab to the heart.

“Gabby,” he says, loudly now, which surprises me. “I’m trying my best here!”

There’s no more yelling, and a few minutes later I hear his car start and pull away.

I can’t help but remember the brief moment of hurt that passed across Finn’s face yesterday afternoon. He loves Gabby very much, it’s painfully obvious. He wasn’t lying when he said he’s trying. I honestly feel badly for both of them.

I hope Gabby comes around sooner rather than later.

Suddenly my phone rings, making me forget all about Finn and Gabby.

“Hi there.”

“Hey stranger,” Sasha says, chewing something in my ear. “Whatcha doing?”

“I’m sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee,” I reply. “Would you like me to start keeping a journal of my comings and goings for you?”

“Yeah, that would be easier,” she says, not bothered by my bitchiness in the least. “Just e-mail it to me every evening.”

“Smartass.” She chews something else. “What are you eating?”

“Celery.” She swallows and goes quiet, I’m assuming because she’s drinking something. “Dinner of champions.”

“Yes, it is. I’m eating a cookie.” I take a bite.

“Bitch. I haven’t had a cookie in two years.”

I laugh, happy to hear from her. “Life’s too short to not eat cookies.”

“My ass gets too big,” she says. “And then my costumes don’t fit and the seamstress gets catty about it.”

“Easier to not eat the cookies, I guess.”

“Yeah, but I do miss them.”

“Come visit me and I’ll give you all the cookies you want. Also, now is a good time to mention that I can eat all the fucking cookies I want. I’m officially fired.”

“Oh, babe,” she says, and I can hear the sadness in her voice. “I’m sorry.”

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