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The following morning, I retracted my assertion of needing Jordan's help only through the weekend. We had another full table for breakfast and then the added responsibility of handling check out for all but one of our couples. Jordan assured me this wasn't typical and that usually weekenders left Sunday morning, but with the tree lighting and the traffic congestion that a holiday weekend brought, often guests would stay a tad later than normal.

Once we helped shuttle everyone's things down the stairs and out to the little parking lot on the south side of the manor, I went to cleaning up the only occupied room in the house. Then, I moved on to completely stripping down the now vacated rooms and scrubbing them raw. It was past lunch by the time I dragged my tired bones back to my room with a rejuvenating cup of coffee in hand.

I walked over to my desk and peered out one of the windows to find Jordan outside hammering the railing that lined a raised portion of the patio. From what I heard the posts were spaced too far apart and could be a safety hazard for children. I told him about how that particular portion of the patio was completely made by Gina and how she learned how to do it by checking out books at the library. He just grinned and said that explained why it was so horribly out of line with code.

I smiled at the memory of his warm laughter and perhaps sensing my thoughts, he turned up from his work and looked straight to my window. I couldn't see his smile through the breath-fogged glass, but I did see his hand raise in greeting. I bit my lip to contain my grin and responded with a similar gesture.

Thinking I'd better get to my desk before I did anymore damage, I slumped into my chair and pulled my laptop towards me.

I'd finally lugged my computer out of my bag that morning, sending out an email before our guests had even considered rising up from their peaceful slumber. I notified the office that I had to extend my holiday, taking half days and working remotely until I could settle my aunt's estate. I had plenty of vacation built up as I hadn't used any since my grandmother's death years ago. Often weeks of vacation just ended up getting thrown into the trash because I didn't use them.

When the screen awoke, my email client was still open. Already several emails from my coworkers filled my inbox offering their condolences, although Mary's email had a touch of enthusiasm in it. She'd already learned the news of my aunt's death after all, so she didn't need to offer her pity. Instead, she asked about how the inn was, whether I got to do anything fun over the holiday, and if the town was really as beautiful as the pictures in the brochure I had left with her. Although, I initially considered pushing Mary's email to the side, I decided to give her a lengthy report so that perhaps she could then diffuse that information out to the others and they wouldn't pester me further on the topic. Knowing Mary, I had no doubt in my mind that she would be bursting with excitement over my email and would be telling everyone about my trip even if no one else particularly cared. I could always count on her to dote on me.

Then, there was the email from HR. After learning of the death in my family, they wanted to point out that I didn't need to use my vacation time to cover this unforeseen trip. I had a fews days available that were granted whenever there was a loss in the family.

I really wondered about my family, though. The more I read my aunt's journal, the more I doubted that word. I had stumbled across a few more snippets of my family's history in her entries. Mainly that she had tried to send letters to my father during his childhood years, but that they were always returned unopened. Then one day she actually got a letter back, but she was heartbroken to find it was only from my grandmother and it included a threat to get the police involved if Georgina didn't stop harassing her family.

Her family.

What was even more surprising than my grandmother's disdainful reaction to Georgina's attempts to connect with her nephew, was that my great aunt didn't fight what was a gross overreaction. She certainly lamented that it seemed to be going a bit too far, but also didn't suggest that my grandmother's continued barrier between her and Jack was wrong. She instead gave up and never sent a letter again. After that, there was no mention of my family. Instead it was only about opening up the inn after five years of renovating and working odd jobs in town to pay for it. She'd been a waitress, a house painter, a receptionist, and even a mime. But on April 16, 1979, the Hound and Sparrow Inn opened for business. She named it after nicknames she and my grandfather had for each other, but didn't elaborate more than that. She rarely talked about my grandfather in her journal.

Her Christmas Legacy *COMPLETED*Where stories live. Discover now