Where I'll Be

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Paige was remarkably calm when she answered the door that evening though Riley was sure that a few glasses of wine had probably helped to mellow her mood. She felt like a defendant entering the courtroom—though guilty until proven innocent in this case—as she walked through the door and entered the living room.

Clint was seated in his armchair, surrounded by the triplets. Trey and Trevor were showing him pieces of construction paper bearing their painted handprints and Thomas was leaning against Clint's left leg, flipping through a picture book.

"Riley, you missed an excellent evening!" Clint said. "Jesse was pretty disappointed that you couldn't make it, but luckily he ended up charming some fashion model all night. Can you believe that? It could have been you."

"No, thank you, Clint, but I owe you for the cost of the ticket. It will take me time, but I'll do it in installments," Riley replied. The children abandoned Clint and surrounded her, holding up their painted creations and, in Thomas' case, his book, Hansel and Gretel.

"Oh, you don't have to do that," Clint said, waving his hand. "It's a tax write-off for my company, and it's something we do each year. Paige and I just thought it would be a good experience for you to have. We even found ourselves a new investment! We are now private investors in an upcoming movie about some country western singer. It's still in development, but considering that Reign Studios just purchased the screenplay from these guys, I'm sure it's still an excellent venture. My companies have only really dipped into big budget films and not so much the smaller outfits, but no better time than any to start now, eh?"

"Okay," Riley said slowly. Having no extensive knowledge about investing, she'd let Clint invest her money for the last three years. "This is a bit different from the usual stocks and bonds and mutual funds you've put my money into, isn't it?"

"Just diversifying your assets, Riley. You can't be a barista forever, you know," Clint said as Riley felt herself being herded toward the playroom by the triplets, but she held her ground. The playroom would mean she'd be buried in all the toys and probably asked to assemble a new train.

Paige, who was standing by the window holding a glass of white wine in her hand, should have said something by now, Riley thought—even something snarky — but she was quiet, which told Riley that her sister was still pretty mad at her. She watched as Paige disappeared into the kitchen before turning her attention to her nephews who were telling her everything they'd done since they last saw her. Ten minutes later, Paige stepped back into the living room to announce that dinner was ready.

Oh well, whatever Paige had to say would have to wait till later then, Riley thought as she extricated herself from beneath the pile of identical triplets. But maybe it was for the best. That way, they could all enjoy a nice dinner, talking about the usual things they talked about, like what the triplets were doing now, who caught a cold and who didn't, who got into trouble at the pre-school or what game they were into now, which usually changed weekly.

Halfway through dinner, the conversation returned to the gala.

"Come to think of it, Gareth was there, too, so it would probably have been awkward for you both to be in the same room after that whole fiasco with that photo of you two kissing," Clint said, glancing at Paige before turning back to Riley.

"Now I'm really happy that I didn't go," Riley said, forcing a smile. "That would have been interesting, wouldn't it? Gareth and I in the same room?"

With that, Thomas suddenly announced that he'd eaten all he could and wanted to return to his storybook. Trey and Trevor wholeheartedly agreed though they had to stay for ten more minutes after Clint reminded them that they had to wait till everyone was finished with dinner before excusing themselves. As soon as the ten minutes were up, they rushed into the playroom and Clint excused himself as well.

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