She has a point. A completely impossible, unrealistic point—that makes me feel like dog shit all the same.
“The first step downhill is the hardest, Drew. After that . . . sliding is easy. Taking our loved ones for granted works the same way.”
I stare at her for a moment. And she looks so sincere, I almost believe it . . .
Until I come to my fucking senses.
I laugh. “Did Kate put you up to this? Are you a friend of Dee-Dee’s? An actress?”
She sighs. “Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits.”
“Wow, a foursome. Will they all look like you?”
That makes her chuckle. “No.”
I pick up the phone from my desk. “While this has been memorable—and totally bizarre—I have work to get done.”
“They will come to you one by one—the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future—to show you what you will never again forget.”
“Since it’s Christmas Eve and all, it seems only fair to warn you—I’m calling security.”
“Good luck, Drew. It was a pleasure meeting you, at last.”
I look down at the phone and punch in the extension for the security desk, then glance back at the couch. But—you guessed it—she’s gone.
What. The. Fuck?
I stand up and look out the door. No trace.
“Can I help you, Mr. Evans?” Sam asks through the receiver.
“Did you see . . .” I clear my throat. “Have you let anyone up to our floor tonight? A woman?”
“No, sir. It’s been quiet down here.”
I knew he was going to say that.
“Well, if anyone comes by, make sure you call before letting them up. Okay, Sam?”
“Sure thing, Mr. Evans.”
I put the phone in its cradle and stand there, brow furrowed. What the hell was that?
My cell phone chimes with an incoming email. It’s Media Solutions’ lead attorney, confirming our conference in . . . damn it, in two hours.
I brush off the uncomfortable, eerie feelings left from the crazy woman’s little visit, and sit down at my desk to focus on what’s really important. What I came here to do—pissed off my wife to do.
Close this major fucking deal.
Here’s where shit gets weird.
Ten minutes later, while I’m detailing the projected profit margin in my proposal, I hear a giggle from the hallway.
A feminine, familiar giggle.
And a second later, my niece Mackenzie comes breezing through my office door.
She’s twelve years old now, with her mother’s build—tall and lithe. Her blond hair is pulled back in a long ponytail, and she’s wearing a red coatdress with pearl buttons, black leggings, and flat black boots.
I have no frigging idea how she got here or why, but you can bet your ass I’m going to find out.
She talks into a glitter-covered cell phone. “Tell them if we don’t have those numbers by tomorrow, their balls are going to be sitting in a glass case on my desk, goddamn it.”
It’s safe to say the whole bad-word jar thing didn’t work out like my sister had hoped.
She ends her call and flops down into the chair across from my desk. “Hi, Uncle Drew.”
“Did you come here by yourself? Do your parents know where you are? What are you doing here?”
“Oh, come on—you know why I’m here.” Mischief dances in her big green eyes.
Which is frigging strange, because Mackenzie’s eyes are blue.
I don’t have time to comment, because in a flurry of red fabric, she’s on her feet holding her hand out to me. “Let’s get going. Places to go, people to see. Time is money.”
I take her hand and we walk out of my office, down the hall to my father’s closed office door. Mackenzie opens the door and we step over the threshold.
And I feel the color drain from my face.
Because this isn’t my father’s office. Not even close.
I stumble backward, making contact with the yellow living room wall.
“What the fuck . . .” I whisper. Confused. A little horrified.
“You don’t look so good, Uncle Drew,” Mackenzie comments.
Losing your mind will do that to you.
I turn in a circle, taking in beige couches and an oak entertainment center housing a television that is definitely not a flat screen. Miracle on 34th Street is on, and the air smells like fresh baked cookies. A modest Christmas tree sits decorated in the corner and dark red poinsettias are scattered between multiple framed family photos on the shelves. Family photos of my parents, my sister, and me—until I’m about five years old.
And then I finally fucking realize what’s going on.