"Emily?" Mimi said.
"Sorry, I was..." She paused. "Overwhelmed for a second." She shot Mimi one of her best smiles.
"Look at you. I swear, you could be in an Ultrabrite commercial with that smile," said Mimi.
"Thanks," Emily said. The first time Mimi said that to her, she'd just had her braces removed, clueless what an "Ultrabrite smile" even was. Of course Mimi being Mimi, she found the old commercial on YouTube, thus explaining her comment, and she continued to use it whenever she could.
"Mom, now stop that," Julia said to Mimi. "I think Emily knows by now she has the prettiest smile this side of the Continental Divide."
Emily said "Thanks" to her mother, then asked, "Where's Dad? I saw him a few minutes ago, but now he's disappeared."
The two older women looked at each other, both with grins as wide as Willie's Way, the most spacious and easiest run on the mountain. It was one of the bunny hills.
They were up to something, Emily could tell. "What? I know something's up—you might as well tell me."
"Nothing that can't wait for the perfect moment, sweetie," Mimi told her. "Relax and enjoy the party. Indulge in a glass of that very expensive champagne your mother ordered."
"I've had three glasses and I'm half-lit, Mimi, so I don't think I'll 'indulge' any more than I have already." She had recovered a bit after eating, but wasn't totally clearheaded. "Why Emily Nicole Ammerman, you ought to... have another glass," Mimi said, tossing her head back and laughing so hard Emily couldn't help but join her. Not one to be a party pooper, her mother started hooting as well, the three of them cackling like a trio of hyenas.
"No more for me, seriously," Emily said, barely able to control her laughter. "I'm teetotaling for the rest of the night."
Mimi shook her head. "You are such a spoilsport. Julia, I thought we raised this girl to party?"
"No, you both taught me how to throw a party," Emily added. "Not to be the inebriated gal lying on the floor at the party, wondering how she got there." Memories of that nightmarish Christmas Eve came to mind, but she wouldn't mention it tonight. Her parents deserved this party tonight. The end of one adventure and the beginning of a new one.
"True," her mother agreed.
"Of course not," Mimi reminded them. "Besides, that's not ever going to happen, at least not as long as we're at the same party, right, Julia? I must say it's a miracle you turned out as well as you did. Especially with all the freedom we gave you."
Emily raised her brows. "Freedom?" she said to her mother. "I recall having to ask you and Dad if I could stay up an extra hour just to read. On the weekends!"
Julia looked at her mother. "That's enough, Mom. I can't have my daughter thinking of me in a heathenish way."
"I would never think of you in such a way," Emily told her. "Though I do recall you being somewhat of an anomaly."
"Yes, she was, and still is. She just keeps it well hidden," Mimi said, then winked at Emily.
Julia rolled her eyes. "That's enough, Mother," she said, with emphasis.
Emily loved watching her mom and grandmother spar. They reminded her of the characters Sophia and Dorothy from the sitcom The Golden Girls, minus the off-color innuendoes they occasionally used.
"We'll finish this discussion later," Mimi said to Emily. "I've loads of stories to tell you."
"Mother!" Julia said, loud enough that several of their guests turned to look at them.
"It's true," Mimi said to her daughter, then to Emily, "Later, I'll fill you in on all the sordid details."
"I'll hold you to that," Emily said, adding, "another time."
Mimi chuckled, turning her attention to a group of women heading in their direction. "I'll see you girls in a bit," she called over her shoulder as she joined her friends. "Aren't they the card ladies?" Emily asked her mother, who remained by her side.
"Some of them. Willowdeen and Mabel are still recovering from their bout with that nasty virus."
"Good to know. Lots of folks got hit with that second round. I'm grateful no one in our family was sick." She knew they'd all been vaccinated, though that wasn't a full-fledged guarantee they wouldn't catch the virus.
"We're from a strong line of folks," her mother said, though Emily had no way of knowing this because the only family she'd ever known were her parents and grand- parents on her mother's side. Her father had a brother, William, who he hadn't spoken to in years because of some family feud—one that was never discussed—so as far as Emily knew, her family line wasn't 100 percent con- firmed. Her father's parents both had passed away long before Emily was born, so she wasn't sure about her dad's side of the family and their longevity. Someday, when she had a bit of free time, she'd go to one of those websites that searched genetics. Maybe she'd find there were more Ammermans out there, some that her dad didn't even know existed.
"I hope so," Emily replied.
"On my side of the family," her mom added.