“Dear, I need you to sit down. You might not like what I have to say.”
“Might not or won’t like?” Meredith dropped back into her chair and braced herself for whatever her grandmother was about to say. Adrenaline began to pump through her system.
“Do you remember Jackson Remy?”
Oh, no. No, no, no, no. This wasn’t happening. “Yes, I remember him,” she gritted out through clenched teeth and tried to find her center and her balance. There was no way life was going to be this cruel.
“Well, I hired him. As you know, he spent his life growing up around the grapes, he knows what it takes to make a winery work and make money, and he has practical experience.”
“No?” Her grandmother sat back in the chair and narrowed her eyes. “I never took you for a chicken heart. Give me one good reason why I should tell him not to bother coming when he may be the only person who can help you turn things around.”
Meredith hung her head in resignation. Oh, she could name a dozen reasons why she thought this was a bad idea, but she wasn’t going to be selfish or silly. She was an adult and she’d act like one. It would be her secret that she was screaming like a child on the inside. Now would be a brilliant time for that long awaited big one earthquake to take place and swallow her whole.
“Good girl. I knew you’d be responsible and adult with this. I’m almost positive Jackson has forgotten all about that night.”
“Geez, Grandma, do you have to talk about it?”
“Dear, how is ignoring what happened going to make it go away? I think it’s best when you both meet that maybe you just get it out there and deal with it and move on.”
As if it was that easy. Meredith ran a distracted hand through her now tangled hair. If she could go back in time and change things, that long ago night where she made the dumbest of mistakes would be the one thing she’d re-do.
“After all you both were so young, and—”
“Grandma.” This was not something Meredith wanted to talk about—now or ever. She’d all but run away from the one guy who could have made her happy. She’d been such a twit a decade earlier.
“Please, don’t bring up that night again. I’ll work with Jackson to turn the winery around but I won’t rehash the past. It’s behind me for good or ill and what is done is done.”
“Clichés one and all dear. Maybe this is fate giving you a much needed second chance to right the huge mistake you made.”
“Yeah, because fate gives a rat’s hoo-ha about a mistake I made when I was nineteen.”
Her grandmother shook her head sadly. “I just want you happy, sweetheart, and I know Jackson was the man who would have added to your happiness.”
“Yes, well.” Meredith had no idea if that was true or not. She wasn’t terribly miserable; the last ten years had been good for the most part. Granted, there were days when she’d think about him and remember the summer spent under the stars in the vineyard with the son of the vineyard foreman. The summer days spent swimming at the lake, laughing and living. She missed the way he’d look at her before he’d kiss her senseless and how her body came alive when he touched her.
But she’d only been nineteen. It was her first trip visiting her family since her dad had passed away six years earlier. The whole summer with her family had been magical. She’d missed her California cousins and she loved being around the winery: the scents, the textures.
There was something very captivating about the winery. Maybe it was the family history, or maybe it was due to the fact it was something so very different from what she was used to. In any event, she’d thoroughly enjoyed her summer.
And then everything seemed to go wrong.
Or she ran off being a coward and that was what had been wrong.
However you want to look at, it the perfect summer ended up with a perfect dark mark.
“Why don’t you go upstairs and get ready, dear?”
“Get ready? For what?”
“Our company, of course.”
“He’s coming today?” So much for having a few days to get her act together and used to the idea of seeing Jackson again.
“Yes, dear. I figured it would be doing you a service to just get it over with—somewhat like ripping off a band-aid really quick on a hairy arm.” She nodded her head. “Yes, this is much more humane.”
Meredith could do nothing else but offer a smile and will her heartbeat to a normal rhythm and the desire to pass out to dissipate. “Why did I give up dance?” She muttered to herself as she stood.