Chapter 8

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Anya woke from a restless night with her to-do list as her second thought. It was Christmas Eve, the Inn was booked to capacity and they still had more people coming for the ball the next night and yet Manny had wedged himself firmly into the first thing she thought of when she woke.

It was with a grunt of frustration that she threw off the pile of quilts and welcomed the refreshing sting of the chilly air filling her bedroom.

She was showered, dressed and hopefully ready for whatever the day had for her in under ten minutes. The only antidote she could think of to her constant barge of memories of Manny from the night before and the rest of her life was movement and hard work. True to her determination Anya didn't stop moving until every guest was awake and eating happily in the dining room.

Eve appeared sometime around nine in the morning to check-in. Anya had sent Michaela down to the basement with Frank to help prep the ice skates for the guest excursion scheduled immediately after breakfast. Eve found Anya at her station behind the front desk, a steady flow of workers seeking her out as she passed out instructions for the day.

"Good morning, Anya. How did you sleep?"

"Fine. Thanks for asking. And you, Grandma? How are you this morning?"

"Fine."

Anya didn't have to look up from her work to know the skeptical look on Eve's face. Eve had a particular look of concern when it came to Anya that Anya only ever saw directed in her way. Eve's natural calm manner meant that she was hardly ever concerned, things were always under control with Eve and Eve was always in control.

Except when it came to Anya. Eve had been wearing the same look of concern when looking at her granddaughter when she thought Anya wasn't looking, ever since Anya had moved into the Inn after her parents' car accident.

Eve's process of grieving for her daughter was cut short as she found she was suddenly a parent once again and this time to a heartbroken young pre-teen. Eve knew it was only with a little luck and the gentle firmness of her late husband that Anya had turned out as well-adjusted as she had.

"You really need to stop staring at me."

Anya aimed her words at her clipboard and could feel her grandmother shift attitudes from across the counter.

"I have no idea what you are referring to. I wasn't staring at you. I was observing the guests in the lounge."

Anya looked up and found what she expected, an empty lounge.

"Sure. Whatever you say, Grandma."

"Are you alright, dear? You seem worn a bit thin. More so than usual. I was hoping you might get to enjoy this year's holiday season."

"I'm fine."

Anya stopped working when she found Eve was not buying her vague attempt at reassurance.

"I am. I promise. Things are just busy. People keep popping up as if from nowhere and it's starting to get a little annoying."

"Perhaps I should have told you he was coming. I thought it would be a nice surprise. Finally, you have a reason to slow down and enjoy the holidays."

All thoughts of work flew from Anya's works as a realization hit her smack-dab in the middle of her forehead.

"Wait. You knew?! That Manny was coming here?! And you didn't tell me?"

"He called the night before he showed up, asking if there was any room for him. He made some excuse about Gloria running out of space and his parents spending the season on a Caribbean cruise. The kid's practically family. I wasn't going to turn him away."

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