Have you ever thought of packing up everything you own and moving halfway across the country?
I’m talking about leaving your entire life behind—friends, family, school—with no turning back. No? Me either, but that was before a week of spring break changed my life forever. Before I did something I never thought I’d do at twenty-two. Before I fell in love with Grey.
Sometimes happily ever after isn’t always what you think it will be.
The office door opened, and a man whose shoulders filled the frame walked through the door. It wasn’t until he was inside and the silhouette from the sun vanished that I recognized him as the guy sitting in the corner at Pete’s.
I covered my mouth with my hand as I tried to chew and swallow the enormous bite of sandwich I had stuffed in my mouth.
He had a deep laugh. “Don’t worry. I won’t ask you a hundred questions while you’re eating lunch.” He pulled up a chair and planted himself in front of the desk.
I sipped on my water and cleared my throat. “Sorry.” I swallowed again. “What can I help you with?”
He crossed one ankle over his knee and relaxed into the chair. He had light sandy brown hair, and a five o’clock shadow that gave him the look of a cologne model. He was maybe just under thirty. Small lines circled his eyes, but the rest of his face looked young. I tried not to stare, not only was it not polite, but I also shouldn’t be staring for other reasons.
“Don’t you want to finish your lunch?” He eyed my sandwich.
“No.” I shoved it to the side. “I’m working. Do you need a room?” I smiled and retrieved the reservation book. Grey had reverted to the old system as soon as I left. A walk-in reservation today would be fantastic.
“Something like that.” His eyes raked over me, and I had a creeping suspicion this was not guest-related at all.
“Ok, then what can I do for you?” I noticed his sleeves were rolled just below his elbows, a style Grey often sported.
He leaned forward, his light blue eyes blazing. “I’m Mason Lachlan.”
“Lachlan?” It wasn’t a common name. Grey said he didn’t have any living relatives. Who was this guy?
“Yep.” He reached for one of my business cards I had ordered online and read the name. “Are you Eden Brady, the guest service, marketing, and planning manager?” His eyebrows arched.
The way he read out my self-proclaimed title made me feel ridiculous. I was the only one working in the office, so I tried to come up with something professional. It now sounded idiotic.
I nodded. “That’s me.”
“Maybe you can help me with something, Eden.” He leaned even closer to the desk. I could smell hints of cologne wafting across my computer.
“Ok.” I waited, hoping he would cut to the chase.
“I need to speak to the owner of the Palm Palace. I have some business I need to settle regarding the property.”
I didn’t mean to roll my eyes, but roll they did. No wonder Mac got annoyed with this guy. He was another investor in town, ready to obliterate the Palm and its history.
“Mr. Lachlan?” I straightened my shoulders. “I can probably save you a lot of time. The Palm Palace isn’t for sale. Grey isn’t interested in selling it and he never will be. Thank you for stopping in.” I smiled sweetly, pressing the point that it was time for him to leave.
He didn’t stand to leave. Instead, he reverted to his relaxed position. He chuckled. “I guess I wasn’t completely clear.” His gaze locked on mine. “I’m the rightful heir to the Palm Palace and I need to get the legal business settled. I already have a developer lined up. So if you could tell me where the other Lachlan is, I can get the ball rolling.”
My pulse raced. What was this lunatic talking about? I pressed into the desk, my knuckles turning white. “What do you mean, you’re the heir? Grey’s grandfather left him the Palm.” I didn’t want to air Grey’s personal business, but this was insane.
Mason didn’t seem surprised. “You’re talking about my nephew?”
“Nephew?” I shook my head. Grey told me both of his parents were only children. This guy was way too young to be Grey’s uncle, at best a distant cousin. “Grey doesn’t have an uncle.”
Mason sighed. “This wasn’t how I planned on meeting him, but sometimes shit happens.” He stood to leave. “Here’s my number.” He scribbled on the back of my business card and tossed it on the desk. “Tell Grey to give me a call.”
I jumped from my seat, ready to slug the smug look off his face, but I kept my palms by my side. I couldn’t start decking people in broad daylight.
“Nice to meet you, Eden.” He winked. “Hope I get to see you around soon.” He pulled the door behind him.
I picked up the closest thing I could grasp, a paperweight, and threw it at the door. The impact dented the wooden panel. I slumped into my seat. What in the hell had just happened?
She grew up catching rays and waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her husband, two children, and two canine kiddos.
T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing, or planning her next beach trip.