Home > Coming Home for Us

Coming Home for Us
Author: Carrie Ann Ryan



Chapter One






When my phone began to chirp with notifications in rapid, staccato bursts, I knew my morning would end in shambles. I paused my yoga program on my laptop, slid out of downward dog awkwardly, and then picked up my phone. It continued to buzz, one right after another, and I cursed myself for setting my notifications to alerts, sound, vibrations, and flash. Before this job with the Wilders, I had been able to hide from all social media and email notifications. I had been able to decide whether I wanted to check those little red boxes on my phone or not. Now, though, I needed to know immediately what was going on. I was the wine club and tasting manager of Wilder Wines. Meaning people needed to know where I was, and I needed to be on top of things. Only as my phone did its own little break dance across my hardwood floors I winced.

No, today was not going to be a good day.

I sat down cross-legged on the floor, rolled my shoulders back, and figured that half of a workout was at least decent.

I looked at the screen, and my eyes closed.

Seventy-four new messages.

I had just checked my email earlier and everything had been labeled and set in the correct folders for priority, while eating quick overnight oats with my coffee before I worked out. I wasn’t one of those people that could just wake up and do things without food in my stomach. No, even half-blurry, one-eye open, still crust in that eye, I needed food in my stomach.

I was the exact opposite of all of my friends, but it didn’t matter. I knew my routine, so I checked my email while doing that, and now I was supposed to be enjoying a nice relaxing workout, only it didn’t seem to be that way.

I opened up the first email and cursed.

“Are you kidding me? Seriously? No. Someone couldn’t be that stupid.”

But they were.

A local business had cc’d instead of bcc’d three hundred or so people a confidential email. One that had to do with a wine club festival we were trying to be invited to.

Oh, dear God.

And it wasn’t just that he had cc’d instead of blind copied. Now we could all see each other’s emails, could see who was on this list, who wasn’t, and who was important enough to be considered.

The next email, of course, was an apology, this time a blind copy which didn’t negate the fact that he had already ruined the day for so many of us—including himself.

Because now the worst was happening.

Not just the confidential email with contract language and introductions. All of those things needed to be personalized and hidden.

No, it wasn’t that. It wasn’t even the fact that now all other businesses that might not understand consent were going to have our email addresses and there was going to be no getting out of that.

No, it was even far worse.

The first email was the dreaded reply all.

Not just to reply to him to let him know that he had sent the wrong email to everybody. Or that it was, yes, I got it, or an acknowledgment. Professional or laid back, it didn’t matter.

Oh, all of those were in there.

And they were reply all.

I groaned as my phone continued to vibrate. One message after another.

Thank you. Got it!

Awesome. See you soon.

Oh wow, I didn’t realize it was that date.

Did you send the right attachment? Thank you!

On it.



Hey, stop using reply all everybody. Reply all means we all get it.

The irony that that person replied all to that did not escape my notice. Nor the notice of the fifteen replies that reply all-ed to that man to explain it.

It was going to be a long day. Because as each person emailed back a reply all, other people took it on themselves to reply all to that reply all.

I was going to need a drink before this day was over. Luckily, I worked at a winery. However, it didn’t seem like there was going to be enough wine on the planet for this.

I stood up and stretched my back. I knew that no amount of yoga was going to fix this.

Instead, I took my vibrating phone to the restroom with me and quickly showered. It continued to buzz as it sat on the ledge in my shower, and I glanced through soapy eyes to see if it was anything important. It would take a lot of effort to weed through my emails to find legitimate ones because people were idiots and hadn’t kept the subject line the same. So instead of all of the emails being embedded on one line, they took up and ever expanding amount of space.

And it just kept going. It was never going to end.

I finished showering, wrapped my hair in a towel, and proceeded to lotion, pluck, and get ready for my day. I wish I could be one of those people that just wore jeans and a T-shirt at work. A lot of my friends who worked on the vines and within the company were able to do that. One of my best friends, Kendall, could just wrap a chef’s coat around whatever she wore and be fine.

But I was one of the faces of the Wilder Retreat. Which, considering I was one of the few of my friends not married into the Wilders, made it a little odd.

When the Wilders retired from the military, each for various reasons that I still didn’t know and it wasn’t my business, they bought the Retreat and Winery.

From the outside, it seemed as if they had lost their damn minds. None of them knew anything about wedding venues, owning a company like this, and they sure as hell didn’t know anything about wine. It turned out that Elijah and Evan both knew a little bit about wine because of their family connections, but when I first met them I was really afraid I was about to lose my job and end up penniless, or spend all of my time being mansplained to while having to teach them.

Thankfully, it had been nothing like that, and in the years we had worked together, we’d become a family, a powerhouse on the wedding and winery circuit outside San Antonio, Texas.

I knew that they could have done anything and succeeded. Whatever the Wilders wanted, they got, because they worked their asses off for it.

Well, at least most things they got, but I didn’t want to think about that familiar pain.

It had been two years since the Wilders had lost one of their own. Since I had lost one of my good friends. A woman I didn’t think I was going to like at first because of who she loved. And who loved her. But Joy had been my friend, and it still hurt to think about her, because one of my best friends was dead. Gone. And the man she had loved was still sort of my boss.

And that was all he was. At least anymore.

I shook my head at those morose thoughts, and quickly dried my hair, grateful for my new blow dryer that did it in a quarter of the time now, so I didn’t have to wake up before the sun rose to get it done.

My hair used to stop right above my butt, with slight waves and caramel highlights, but I recently chopped it to just above my shoulders, and I liked the look. It was different, but it worked for me. At least, I hoped it did. My boyfriend thought it did, so I counted that as a win. Not that I’d seen my boyfriend often in the past few weeks. Time and messy schedules meant we were two ships passing in the night, not actually seeing each other, but maybe that would change soon.

I finished my makeup and went through my notes for the day, making sure that I was ready for what was coming up. I had two wine tours and a club meeting.

Wine clubs bought our wine and helped us sell it. Between that, and hopefully this upcoming festival, despite how these emails started out, we were putting Wilders on the map. Wilder Wines was a thing now, and not just a hobby for six brothers.

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