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"I know," said Jordan with a roll of his eyes.

"I don't understand," I mumbled. "This just doesn't make any sense. If she met me... Someone else is behind this picture. Someone else had to be there with me. Someone in my family had to have known about her. But then why wouldn't my grandmother have said anything? I just don't understand."

"I don't know what's wrong with your family," grumbled Jordan, "but what I do know is that that baby in the picture meant the world to Georgina. For whatever reason, she never had a family of her own, but this baby was enough for her."

I could feel him hovering behind me, looking over my shoulder at the picture still clutched in my hands. Somewhere in the foyer, Saundra waited, but she kept as quiet as a mouse while Jordan scolded me over a photo I'd never seen and a woman I knew nothing of.

"Well, I guess that explains why she named me in the will," I said since nothing else seemed right to fill in the silence around us. I placed the picture back down on the table, my hand lingering for a moment before I let go of my history.

"I guess so," said Jordan, his voice coarse. "Here, take the keys." He stepped out from around me and withdrew a ring of keys from his pocket. For a moment I just looked at them, wondering if he'd simply snatch them away if I tried to grab them, like a vindictive school bully. Yet, when I stretched out my hand, he dropped them straight into my palm and the deal was sealed.

"Excellent," said the lawyer, stepping out of her corner and presenting me with another stack of papers. "This is just saying you received the keys and that the will has been fulfilled to your expectations. You can take a minute to read through it if you like."

I looked up at her from the tops of my eyes, suddenly realizing that syrupy sweet disposition may be more formidable than I initially expected. She, however, smiled back with cheeks as round and rosy as Mrs. Claus's.

"It looks good," I muttered, having scanned the short document and ascertaining I wasn't about to fall into another pit set out by the kind folks of Hereford Hills.

"Fantastic," she said, taking the paper and slipping it into a folio. "I'll get these copied tonight and then deliver them for your files tomorrow. I assume you'll be staying here."

"Just for this weekend, but yeah I'll be here."

"Just this weekend?" asked Jordan, who was now leaning against the door frame to what appeared to be a library. "You realize there are still customers with reservations right? You either need to act as hostess and fulfill those reservations, hire someone else to do it for you, or refund their money before they catch the next plane over here."

"You've got to be kidding me," I grumbled, my hold upon my composure crumbling. "How far out are these reservations?"

"They are booked through March," he answered. "She stopped accepting reservations once she was checked into the hospital and it became clear she wasn't coming back out."

"March?" I cried, dollar signs flitting away before my eyes.

"Ski season is big here," he said with a shrug and a delighted smirk.

"Your buyer will likely be happy to honor the reservations in place," said Saundra, tossing Jordan another disapproving look, "and if they don't, you're only refunding deposits. People don't pay in full until they arrive. It's not that bad and there's still some money in Georgina's account left over after the funeral. You can use that to refund if need be."

"And where's the money to pay for the repairs coming from?" I groaned, my eyelids and legs becoming heavy with each passing second. Somewhere in that house a pillow called to me and I really just wanted to go find it.

"Well," said Jordan, his word drawn out as he popped himself off the door frame, "if you'd be willing to rehire me and let me continue living here, I'll do the repairs for you. Free labor and I've already got plenty supplies, I'll just need you to cover a thing here or there."

"And why should I trust you to actually get anything done?" I asked, my lip curling slightly in agitation. "Why would I believe you'll actually try to do these repairs properly or in a timely manner? Seems far more likely you'll do anything in your power to put me at a disadvantage."

"Because, one, you can still fire me the second it looks like I'm slacking," he said, counting his points on his fingers. "And two, I love this house. It's been my home for thirteen years. I'm not going to willfully damage it."

I pinched my lips. I couldn't deny this point. Even a complete outsider like me could tell that Jordan would hurt himself before he dared to hurt this house.

"It's a good deal," he said with a crooked smile. "Free labor, practically free parts. I live out on the grounds in a guest house by the workshop so you don't have to worry about me being in the house with you. I just want to stay here. It's my home and you got to let me have one last Christmas here."

I caught the slight shift of his brow, droop of his lip, and widening of his eyes. It was hard to tell behind the bluster of his cocky timbre, but I thought I saw a pleading cry hiding there.

"Fine," I muttered, looking away. "I won't be here to keep an eye on you, so you'll need to send me daily reports. If I sense even a..."

"Wait, I said I would do repairs," he said, holding his hands up. "If you want to sell this as soon as possible, I'll need to devote all of my time knocking out that list I gave you. Plus, the holidays are one of our busiest seasons. I certainly couldn't host and repair, even if I wanted to. You still need to find yourself someone to run this place and unless you take up that job yourself, you're going to have to pay this person as well."

"I..." I could hear my pillow chanting my name, beckoning me to it. My hand massaged my forehead. It was getting impossible to deny the seduction of sleep for much longer. "I can't deal with this right now. I will stay until I figure out what to do about the host. Okay?"

"Sounds good, right Saundra?"

"I was set once the papers were signed so I'm happy with whatever."

"Right, then," said Jordan with a victorious clap of his hands. "Saundra I'll see you out and then I'll show Ms. Creeke her new room."

As he walked Mrs. Waverly to the door, I glanced back to the small table standing beside me. There I smiled, joy spread across my face, completely ignorant of the pain ahead of me. Then I looked to my great aunt, Georgina Creeke. I wondered what pain she hid behind that wide smile and blissful gleam in her eye. Something erased her from my family history and so long as I was stuck at that inn, I was going to make it my mission to find out what.


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