Home > The Engagement Arrangement(3)

The Engagement Arrangement(3)
Author: Jaci Burton

   She didn’t pull away, just kept staring at him with those amazing eyes and dark lashes that always made his pulse kick up.

   “Thanks.”

   He got up and grabbed the bin, then held out his hand for her. She looked at his hand for a few seconds, then let him haul her to her feet.

   He handed her the bin.

   “Thank you for the help. Not that I needed it.”

   “No, you didn’t. You don’t need anyone, Brenna. But you might want someone. Sometime. Don’t forget I’m here.”

   He turned and walked away, smiling as he did.

   That had gone well.

 

* * *

 

   • • • • • •

   BRENNA TOSSED THE bin of vegetables on the kitchen counter with a loud thud.

   “What’s that all about?” their cook, Louise, asked. “Did some of the veggies go bad?”

   “No, they’re all ripe and fabulous.”

   Louise gave her a curious look as Brenna left the kitchen.

   She went upstairs and headed straight for the shower. She was covered in sweat, dirt and consternation, all of which needed washing away.

   After showering, she put on panties and a sundress, which was just about all she could stand to wear in this unbearable heat. Kneeling shoulder to thigh with Finn hadn’t helped her internal heat situation, either.

   How dare he interrupt her self-isolation, the time of day when she got into her own head and enjoyed digging in her vegetable garden? Didn’t he know that was one of her favorite things to do—alone?

   Men. Always getting in her damn way.

   She went downstairs and fixed herself a glass of ice water, then closed herself in her office to do some paperwork.

   Growing and harvesting grapes was a year-round job. With the weather ever changing from year to year, it was her job to decide what they would plant and when. A bad decision could ruin a crop for the following year, and cost Red Moss Vineyards a ton of money.

   They weren’t a huge winery by many vineyard standards. They couldn’t compete with the California vineyards by any stretch of the imagination. But her parents had been in the vineyard business for over twenty years, and Brenna had been working in it with her dad since she was a little girl. Growing grapes had always held an interest for her. There was a science to it that she found fascinating. Types of grapes and yield and managing weather conditions, so much of it was out of her control. Yet she loved everything about it.

   Her sister Honor knocked on the doorjamb. “You ready for the meeting?”

   She hated meetings. “I’ll be there in a sec.”

   “Okay. See you there.”

   She gathered up her notes and her laptop and headed into the dining room, which had the biggest table in the house. When all three of the sisters joined the winery and wedding business, Mom and Dad had had the offices built on, but they’d all decided the dining room table would suffice as the conference room for meetings. Plus, they could eat snacks there, and who didn’t like snacks?

   Dad was busy in the wine cellar and hated coming to morning meetings anyway, so typically Brenna attended them so he didn’t have to unless it was necessary. If there was something earth-shattering that he needed to be informed about, she’d let him know.

   Mom handled the overall organization of both family businesses. Erin handled the budgets of the wine and wedding business, making sure invoices went out accordingly, and Honor was the Bellini Weddings planner. And though Brenna’s primary function was with Dad on Red Moss Vineyards, she also worked with Honor on supplying wine for the weddings they held on-site.

   Honor came in and took her seat. Mom was on a call in her office and had held up one finger as Brenna had walked by, so she knew their mother would be in shortly. Which meant they’d just have to wait for Erin. Since she lived with her fiancé, Jason, now, she had to drive to the house every day. She came running in a few minutes later, her dog Agatha trailing in behind her.

   “Sorry I’m late,” she said, tossing her things on the table and brushing her dark hair away from her face. “Jason had an early surgery and I forgot to set my alarm and then Agatha took forever to get ready.” She ended with a smile.

   “Oh, sure,” Brenna said. “Blame the dog.”

   Agatha bounded over to Brenna for her morning scratch behind the ears. She plopped her fluffy butt right on top of Brenna’s right foot, wagging her tail back and forth.

   Brenna smiled down at the furry pup. “Don’t let her blame you because she and loverboy stayed up late last night fooling around.”

   “Hey,” Erin said. “Not true.”

   “The telltale blush on your cheeks says otherwise,” Honor said, then laughed.

   “Sometimes I hate having sisters.”

   “No, you don’t,” Brenna said. “We’re the best thing to ever happen to you.”

   Erin sniffed. “If I hadn’t had two sisters I’d have had more shoes.”

   Honor snorted. “That’s probably true. You are the shoe queen around here.”

   “Hey,” Erin said. “And you’re the one who loves clothes.”

   “Guilty,” Honor said. “And Brenna buys all the books and pretty bracelets.”

   “Now that I think about it,” Brenna said, “without you two I could have had it all. The shoes, the clothes, the books, the bracelets—everything.”

   “But you wouldn’t have had us,” Honor said. “And you’d have missed out on all our sisterly shenanigans.”

   “Point taken.”

   “All right, girls,” their mother said as she walked into the room, so used to the three of them bickering it rolled right off her. “Can we get started now?”

   Agatha bounded out of the room, no doubt to bug Louise for treats or to go looking for their dad.

   “Okay, to get things started,” Erin said after taking a seat, “I’ve sent out the invoices for last weekend’s super successful weddings.”

   “With happy brides and grooms for both,” their mom said.

   Honor smiled. “They were lovely weddings, weren’t they?”

   “They were,” Erin said. “We did well on both of those. Also, I’ve made adjustments on a couple of budgets. The Harrison/Landell wedding on the twenty-seventh added thirty-six guests, and the Mathison/Blue wedding on November sixth wants ice sculptures and ten more cases of cabernet.”

   “We’ll need more wine for Harrison/Landell,” Brenna said.

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