“Come outside and help me put up the lights before Avery gets home.”
We grabbed our coats and walked outside. Declan untangled the lights from the plastic bag someone had shoved them inside. I grabbed the ladder from the shed and put it against the house. Declan directed me where to hang the lights while he held the ladder. I wasn’t sure how long we had been out there, but it felt like it took forever. I didn’t care how long it took; I just wanted it to be perfect for Avery.
“I think it looks good,” Declan called up to me.
I walked down the ladder, and he ran inside to flip the switch. The house lit up with twinkling white lights, like some fucking winter wonderland. Avery never would have expected me to decorate for Christmas. I wanted to surprise her with it, to make it feel like this was her home, too.
Dec came out of the house and whistled. “Looks good. She’s gonna love it.”
I frowned and ran a hand down my beard. “I hope so. I want everything to be perfect for her.”
Dec nudged me with his elbow. “Take the night off. Go help your baby mama get the rest of her stuff and get situated. The brewery will be fine without you for one night. Okay?”
He cut me off by holding up his hand. “Nolan, this is why we have staff. You don’t have to work your fingers to the bone like when we first opened. You’re the head brewer. You don’t have to micromanage every tiny detail of the process. I know you’re stressed about money, but it’s gonna be okay.”
“I want to be good enough for her. And for Peanut.”
“Peanut?” he asked with a confused look.
I shrugged. “It’s what I call the baby.”
My brother beamed at me. “That’s so cute.”
I punched him in the shoulder. “Shut it!”
He pushed me back. “Get out of here. I’ll handle s**t at the brewery tonight. Go help your lady.”
Declan didn’t have a life outside of the brewery, either. He was just as bad as I was. I couldn’t remember the last time he even went on a date. I don’t think he’s had a serious relationship since his high school girlfriend Lila broke his heart when she went to college in California and never came back.
I was about to run back into the house for my car keys when two cars pulled up into the driveway. I planned to go over to Avery’s apartment to help, so she didn’t have to carry all those boxes inside. She shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy in her condition. I hadn’t realized how long it took us to get the tree up and decorated. Getting the lights up on the house had taken longer than I would have liked, even with my brother’s help. I felt like a dick. I should have helped her pack up all her things.
Avery got out of her car with a box in her hand, and I rushed over to help her. She scowled at me. “I can lift a box, Nol,” she argued, but the debate died on her lips when she looked up at my brightly lit-up house. “Oh… Oh! You put up Christmas lights?”
Her eyes sparkled as the reflection of the lights hit her just right. The way her entire face lit up in delight struck me in the chest.
“Nolan, did you do this for me?” she asked in surprise.
I grunted in response.
“But you hate Christmas.”
I took the box from her and walked into the house. I smiled when I heard her gasp. “Oh, Nolan,” Avery whispered.
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