China reports 49 new coronavirus cases in mainland on August 9 Driver killed in WHO vehicle carrying virus swabs in Myanmar's Rakhine

He did? Haley asked, thrilled. Oh, what a good boy he is. I knew he could do it.

Keeping one hand possessively curled around my hip, Ben looked to me to answer.Everything’s great, Mom. I gave Ellie a reassuring look, too, letting her know there were no hard feelings for dragging me over here.

My dad and brother remained planted across the room, watching us as they quietly sipped their drinks. Watching me with Ben, my dad’s mouth curled into a lazy smile, and while Porter still looked guarded, he nodded something in silent agreement to Ben.Now that I was more relaxed I took in the room more thoroughly. The ten-foot evergreen tree smelled intoxicating and made the room cozy and inviting. I didn’t know how he’d managed to get a Christmas tree delivered to a hotel room, but I knew there was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. The thought filled my heart with love.My mom, ever the hostess, ensured everyone had a cocktail in their hands and encouraged us to eat. The hors d’oeuvres did look delicious and smelled even better.

Are you hungry? Ben asked.A little, I admitted.

He released his hold on me just long enough to prepare me a small plate of bruschetta, spicy shrimp on skewers, and mushrooms stuffed with feta cheese.

I accepted the plate and nibbled on a bite of shrimp. The emotional journey over the past hour had left me surprisingly hungry.Literally, in his case.

The lone woman in their midst was Molly Malone, equally fearless, though in other ways. She was the one to keep them all on their toes. No one would dare venture into her domain at her desk and put their hands on her stuff to check her schedule, but he could at least ask around. I’ll go check her ETA, he said and headed inside.He found Archer and Joe in the employee room inhaling donuts. Grabbing one for himself, he nodded to Archer and looked at Joe, one of Lucas’s best friends and also his work partner. Where’s your sister?

Joe shrugged and went for another donut. Not her keeper. Why?There’re two elves outside waiting to talk to her.

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