Mitch turned back in time to catch his sister when she jumped into his arms. He pulled her close and held her tightly for a moment. He had missed her. When she stepped back, she had a questioning look in her eyes which he ignored. Instead, he turned to the other woman. Rachel had blossomed in the past few months. Gone were the thick glasses and drab clothes. She now looked stylish and happy.
Mitch gave her his signature grin and placed his hand over his heart in a dramatic fashion. “Rachel, it breaks my heart to see your beauty and know that you are forever lost to me.”
“Shut up, Mitch,” Rachel said in her deep, smoky voice. She stepped forward and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before stepping past him and heading into the house. Victoria gave him a wide smile and followed Rachel.
“Yes, please come in,” Mitch said sardonically as he followed the two women. The movers had finished placing the desk and chair near the window. Mitch signed the necessary paperwork and sent them on their way. He then headed to the kitchen to find his guests.
Rachel was seated at the table that was now covered with burgers and fries. Victoria was emptying the bag of the last of the food. “We brought lunch.”
“I can see. The question is why. There’s plenty of food here.” Mitch had been pleased, but not surprised, to see that the refrigerator and pantry were well stocked when he had arrived last night. His sister was nothing if not organized.
“Who wants to cook on your first day home?” Victoria asked. “Sit, eat.”
Mitch sat down at the table and picked up a burger. “Not that I’m not glad to see you both, but shouldn’t you be at work?”
Victoria worked for an advertising agency in Dallas, and Rachel was head librarian at the Holton City Library.
“You know I’m part-time now at Whitman’s. I only go into the office twice a week.”
“I took the day off,” Rachel said.
Mitch ate a little of his lunch. “So Rachel, how’s married life?”
She gave him a smile. She knew what he was doing and was willing to play along. “It’s great. We’re all moved into the house. We’re still arranging things, but it’s coming together.”
“I’m glad. I always liked the Miller house.” Rachel’s husband Paul had recently purchased a house in town that had belonged to the Miller family for years. Mitch knew that Rachel had always loved the house.
“Me, too,” she replied.
He turned to his sister. “How are plans for Mark’s birthday going?”
Her eyes narrowed as she answered. “They’re going fine. He’ll be glad you are here this year.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“Okay, cut the crap, Mitch. What the hell is going on? Why are you moving back home?”
Mitch grinned, glanced at his watch, and then turned to Rachel. “Seven minutes.”
Rachel shrugged. “She lasted longer than I thought she would.”
Mitch laughed as Victoria glared at him. He picked up a fry and popped it into his mouth before saying, “You don’t want me to move back home?”
Her face softened. “Of course I want you to move back home, but you hate it here, Mitch. So I have to ask. Why?”
“I don’t hate it here.” He smiled at the disbelief on her face. “I’ve always loved Holton. I just hated the gossips and petty backstabbing.”
“That hasn’t changed.”
“I know, but I have. I’ve done my traveling. I’ve seen the world, and now I’m ready to deal with Holton, Texas. It can’t be any worse than some of the places I have been.”
The two women laughed. Victoria shook her head. “I’m glad, Mitch, but I don’t und…”
“Oh, good grief,” Rachel interrupted. “He’s back for Emily.”
“What?” Victoria exclaimed.
Mitch gave Rachel a dirty look which she ignored. She stared back at him calmly. He started to chuckle and then broke out into laughter. Rachel grinned. “Like you would have been able to keep it from her.”
“I know,” he said, laughter still lacing his voice. “But I had hoped for at least a little time to ease into it.”