Holiday Games


Page 7





Author: Jaci Burton






"I do not. Dave's doing a great job managing the bar. He doesn't need me meddling."


"But it's still a family-owned business, which means someone in the family has to watch over it, right?" Alicia asked.


Jenna shrugged. "I might look in every now and then. So does Dad."


Liz shot her a look. "Dad is happy being retired and stopping in the bar every now and then to visit with his old friends. Not check on liquor stock, personnel, and accounting."


Jenna sighed and cast a pleading gaze toward Savannah.


"Don't look at me," Savannah said. "I agree with them. I think you have your hands full and you take on too much."


"Well, someone has to do it. Dad has the health issues and he has to take it easy, so he can't deal with the stress. Mom can't deal with the financial issues because it's not her thing. I ran the bar for years before I started the music club. I know Dave is doing great as a manager and we all trust him completely . . ."


"But he's not a Riley," Liz finished for her.


Jenna sighed. "The family has to oversee the family business. That's just the way it is. The bottom line is, it's our business and we have to run it. I thought I could step away, but I just haven't been able to walk away completely yet."


Alicia turned around and sat sideways in the chaise so she faced Jenna. "I think you're just having trouble letting go. Do Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Kathleen believe there's any issue with trusting Dave to run Riley's bar?"


Jenna looked at Alicia for a few seconds before shaking her head. "No. They have complete confidence in him."


"Okay. So do you have any issues with Dave?"


"No."


"Then maybe you're the one who has issues with letting go of something that was yours to manage for so many years," Liz suggested.


"You're probably right. I do have a problem with letting it go. I'm afraid something might happen. Something could get screwed up, and if it does, it'll be my fault."


"Why?" Savannah asked. "Because you wanted something for yourself? Because you had the nerve to chase your dream?"


Jenna looked down at her hands, then lifted her head, her gaze scanning all of them. "Yes. Part of me still feels like I don't deserve all of this."


"Okay," Liz said. "That's normal. You're happy. You have the career of your dreams, the man of your dreams, and I don't think there's any one of us who hasn't been in the same position and felt like it's too good to be true."


"Liz is right," Savannah said. "Once we get that happily ever after, where everything falls into place with career, and we're lucky enough to find someone who loves us for who we are, we can't help but have those self doubts creep in. Are we deserving enough? Surely something is wrong with this picture. When will something come along and screw everything up?"


"We're our own worst enemies when it comes to our happiness," Tara said.


"Why is that?" Jenna asked. "Why can't I just be happy about having everything I've ever wanted?"


Liz laughed. "The nature of women, I guess. As soon as we think we have everything we could ever want, something comes along to screw it up. Or at least we think something is screwing it up. Even if it's all in our heads and there's absolutely nothing wrong with our perfect lives."


Tara frowned. "Uh-oh. That sounds like a personal cry for help."


The waiter came and they ordered another round of drinks. Liz ordered a club soda this time.


"You're not drinking," Savannah said, giving her the once-over.


"I'm not pregnant, if that's what you're thinking," Liz said, taking a sip of her club soda. "And that's the problem. I want to be and I can't make it happen."


"I'm sorry," Savannah said. "I didn't know you'd been trying."


"For over a year. It's frustrating. I'm someone who gets what I want-at least in business. Even with Gavin. I secretly loved him for years. And he fell in love with me. It bowled me over that I got the man of my dreams. So why can't I have this, too?"


"This isn't exactly business, Liz," Alicia said. "And you ended up with Gavin because the two of you loved each other. But as far as fertility? That's something you have no control over."


Liz sighed. "Tell me about it."


"Is there a problem?" Savannah asked. "Have you talked to your gynecologist?"


"Yes. She's run tests on me and says all my girlie parts are fully functional, and Gavin's got champion sperm."


Savannah laughed. "Good to know."


"So it's really a matter of things just not . . . happening yet."


"Maybe you need to relax," Alicia said.


Tara nodded. "Same thing I told her. Just have sex and have fun with it."


"Again with the sex with my brother topic," Jenna said, wrinkling her nose. "Clearly, I'm never going to get away from it."


She'd have to remember to thank Jenna later for the subject change. She laughed. "Yes, enough of that topic. I think I'm ready for that dip in the water."


After lounging at the water all day, they headed up to their rooms to rest. Taking a nap in the afternoon was decadent, at least for Liz. And it made her feel refreshed.


They went out to dinner, then went for a walk along the beach. But they made it an early night and hung out in the room because everyone was tired from the trip. Plus, it was nice to just hang out. With their busy lives it was nice to just sit and talk with the girls. Tomorrow night they'd party.


The next morning they hit the pool early, staking out a couple of the best cabanas with water views. All the girls wanted to work on their tans, pre wedding, while Liz was content to hide in the shade, limiting her sun exposure . A light tan worked fine for her.


"Again, I'm never leaving," Jenna said, sipping a cocktail in the cabana.


"I think Tyler might object to that."


Jenna grinned at Liz. "He can come live here with me. I'll open a bar."


"He might miss hockey," Savannah suggested.


"Are you suggesting I'm going to have to rethink my plan to relocate to Jamaica?"


"Possibly," Alicia said.


Jenna sighed. "Damn."


After spending the morning in the sun and the water, they changed and went shopping at some of the local markets. Jenna bought bracelets, Savannah bought a dress, Alicia bought earrings, and Liz found an exotic perfume she loved. Tara found something for Sam along with a watch for Mick.


They ate, then headed back to the resort. Alicia and Jenna went back to the pool for a couple of hours, but the rest of them took a nap.


Liz could definitely get used to this napping thing. It was decadent.


When it was time to leave for the evening, she took a shower and got dressed, choosing a short white dress and, of course, ridiculously high heels.


She came out to the living room where Tara was waiting with Savannah.


"You women are knockouts," she said. Tara wore a coral bandage dress, and Savannah a gold strapless. Jenna came out wearing a simple black cocktail dress and sexy matching heels, followed by Alicia in a slinky red number.


"We're going to kill tonight," Liz said with a grin.


"You look stunning," Jenna said. She put her hands on her hips and swiveled around in a circle. "Hell, we all look stunning. Men will be falling at our feet tonight. I'm going to want a lot of photos."


Tara pulled her phone out of her clutch. "I'll be the official photographer. At least until I get drunk."


Liz laughed. "I don't plan on drinking, so I'll take the photos."


"No drinking, again?" Alicia asked. "Are you sure you're okay?"


"Someone has to make sure all of you don't end up in Barbados by the end of the night, carried away by some smooth-talking hottie. I'm the designated babysitter, so the rest of you can party on."


"Sounds like a plan," Jenna said, "because I'm ready to have a cocktail."


After they had a most amazing dinner, they headed to a fantastic nightclub on the premises, with lights, perfect music, and some of the best drinks around. Liz had been here before and she loved this place, plus she knew the manager and the bouncers, so she knew her girls would be well taken care of tonight. And even more, they'd be safe.


They were escorted to their table in the VIP area and ordered drinks. Liz opted for a club soda with lime while the others ordered this and that with rum, of course. It wasn't long before she saw Sebastian, the manager, making his way toward their table. She got up and hugged him.


"Sebastian."


"Elizabeth. You look wonderful as usual. And this is your entourage?"


She smiled and introduced all of them one by one to Sebastian. "And this is our bride-to-be, Jenna."


"Ah, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. It's been fifteen years for me and my lovely wife, Vita."


"How wonderful for you," Jenna said.


"Is Vita here tonight?" Liz asked.


Sebastian shook his head. "No, she's home with the children. She'll be sorry she missed you. And where is your husband?"


"He's in Las Vegas attending the bachelor party with Jenna's fiancé."


Sebastian laughed. "Gambling, yes?"


"Yes. And drinking."


"Then I'm glad you chose to come here. I'll make sure you have a good time tonight. Enjoy."


After their drinks came, Liz turned to them. "Well, what do you think of the place?"


"I think it's fantastic," Tara said. "Such a great choice."


Jenna took a couple deep swallows of her rum concoction, then grabbed Savannah's hand. "Come on, ladies. What I think is we should be on the dance floor."


"Oh, Jenna. Wait. You forgot your veil."


Jenna paused and narrowed her gaze at Tara. "You did not do this to me."


"Oh, we definitely did," Alicia said. "You can't be a bachelorette without having a little fun, and doing a little work. We have a sash for you, and a veil. And we have a bride-to-be to-do list for you tonight."


"I'm going to kill you. All of you."


"Yeah, you can do that later. After you check off every item off the list," Alicia said, handing the list to Jenna.


Jenna perused the list, then looked up at them. "You all suck."


"And don't forget, I'll be here to take pictures. Lots of pictures."


Jenna glared at Liz. "You suck the most."


"That's what Gavin says."


"Oh, my God, Liz. Does it ever stop?"


Liz laughed. "No. I do enjoy torturing you."


This was going to be fun. Cheesy, but oh-so-much fun.


***


Two hours later, Jenna had obtained a condom from a stranger, had gotten a guy's cell phone number, one guy had gleefully given up his boxers to her, one had bought her a drink, one had danced with her, another had let her take a pen and draw a tattoo on his hand, and one had offered up a photo of his girlfriend. A very charming man had even let her call his girlfriend-and the girlfriend had been a really good sport about it once Jenna had explained it was her bachelorette party and she was totally in love with her own fiancé.


Despite being reluctant about the list at first, after a few drinks and the number of shots these guys were buying her, Jenna was totally drunk and fully into completing the tasks.






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