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Heart of Gold

By´╝ÜFrankie Love

Heart of Gold
Author: Frankie Love

Chapter One

There are only a few things that can get me off my mountain.

Weddings. Funerals. The birth of a baby.

And, apparently, my brother's engagement party.

I take a drink of my whiskey, scanning the swanky restaurant where we're going to be served a six-course meal. The place is stuffy. Overpriced. And not even mildly entertaining. There's no one here I'm interested in making small talk with, and certainly no one I'm interested in taking home tonight.

"Do you think you could look more irritated?" Taylor asks, standing beside me, shoulder to shoulder. We may be brothers, but we couldn't be more opposite. Taylor is business suits and cufflinks and courtrooms. And he's boring as fuck. His idea of a good time is walking around Pottery Barn.

Me? I'm flannel shirts and fresh air. Blood, sweat, and tears have been my motto for the past three years, ever since I left Denver and made my way to the Yukon Territory. Determined to stake my claim in the world, on my own terms.

Working for the man might work for a guy like Taylor, but I'm not him.

Of course, my sort of "life plan" pisses everyone off-honestly, I'm guessing that's because they are jealous little fuckers, sick of the daily grind they've indebted themselves to.

My brother has never been out to see where I live and what I do. And I like it that way. Let them talk about me; shit, no one else's words define me.

"I'm not irritated," I tell him before finishing my whiskey. "I'm just bored. You said this was an engagement party? I'm still looking for the party, brother."

My brother knows I'm giving him a hard time-I like parties just about as much as I like having a boss.

"Well, then you just keep standing here drinking your bourbon, looking pretty," Taylor teases. "Meanwhile I'll go talk to Sophia's parents. Have you met them yet?"

I cock an eyebrow at my brother. He might be six years younger than me but he's always been the bossier one.

I scoff, "You think I talked with your fiancée's parents? Who the hell do you think I am?"

Taylor shakes his head. "I know, sometimes I just... Her parents are very nice and it's nice to see a nice family."

"You think you can squeeze another nice into that sentence?" I know what my brother's getting at, though. We lost our parents when we were young; were shuffled around from foster home to foster home for years.

I was old enough to pull myself up by my bootstraps and keep Taylor under my wing. I had plenty of guilt over the whole situation, but I knew Taylor needed me, so I did well by him.

Taylor though, being younger, always missed having a mom and dad. I see it when his eyes narrow, and for a second I feel like shit for not offering him more of a family myself.

Leaving like I did for Canada, it probably fucked him up more. But Taylor was in law school when I left for the Yukon, he had his life mapped out and he knew how to take care of himself. And he has.

I may give him a hard time for his three-piece suits, but he's a partner at his soon to be father-in-law's law firm, and is engaged to a woman who comes from a legacy family. He always wanted a family and it looks like he's finally got it.

"Look, you sure do know how to lay it on on thick." I set down my whiskey and nod toward Sophia's parents, the family that he picked for himself. "Introduce your brother. I know I'm the only family you've got, together we can make a good show of things."

Taylor claps me on my back, and I know I did well. I'm glad I made the effort to come down here, leave my work on my mountain. I may be cold and not need a whole bunch of family getting up in my business the way Taylor has always wanted, but this night isn't about me and what I need or want. This night is about my brother.

We walk through the restaurant where people are mingling, still just arriving and getting cocktails before the six-course dinner is served.

At the far end stands an older couple with silvery hair and big, white toothy smiles. When they see Taylor and me approach, they open their arms and offer my brother hugs and a kiss on the cheek. Then Taylor introduces me to Troy and Cora Larson.

"So, this is the long-lost brother we've heard so much about," Cora says, reaching out to touch me as if needing to prove to herself that I am real. "How is it that my daughter Sophia has been with Taylor for the last two years and yet we've never seen your face?"

"I don't leave my mountain very often. Good to meet you Cora, Troy." I offer them a tight smile; it's the best I can fucking do. Like I said: family meet and greets are not my bread and butter.

Speaking of food, my stomach growls. I could use some bread and butter right about now.

"Well lucky for you, you won't have to go too far from it for the actual wedding," Sophia says, sidling up to her fiancé and wrapping herself in his arms. Sophia is blonde, blue-eyed, and wearing a pearl necklace. Her dress leaves everything to the imagination. If I were to sum up this woman with two words it would be tight-ass. Or maybe, hard line. Perhaps, stick in the mud, but I know that's more than two words. So, we'll just stick with, no thanks.

"What do you mean?" I ask. "Where's the wedding?"

"In Whistler!" Sophia says, squealing. She claps her hands and for the first time I see actual life in this boring woman. "It's going to be small, intimate, everyone here tonight will be there."

"Is that so? The wedding is at Whistler?" I ask, repeating her statement and looking at my brother for confirmation.

Taylor nods. "Sophia and I met on the slopes in Aspen, and a destination wedding would be apropos. Valentine's weekend-in two months. We don't want any of that long engagement fuss. And Valentine nuptials may be a bit cliché," Taylor says, eying the circle around us, "But anything for my Sophia." He gives his bride-to-b