Read Her Charming Heartbreaker Online

Authors: Sonia Parin

Tags: #humor, #family, #family relationships, #love romance, #family and friends, #humor about romance, #humor about brothers

Her Charming Heartbreaker

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
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Her
Charming Heartbreaker

 

Sonia
Parin

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2015 Sonia
Parin

 

 

 

No part of this
publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without
the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of
brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of
the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales
is entirely coincidental.

 

 

To JG, thank you for
being there when I most needed you and for sharing a very special
journey. Also, to the two people I most wanted to share this with,
J & E, thank you for everything. And to Lollie because you said
I should.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

The dart missed Theo by
a hairsbreadth. He should have moved or at least flinched, but
instead, he pushed his gaze toward the dartboard hanging several
feet away from him and, switching off the heated debate raging
inside his head between his resident fools and angels, he cleared
his throat.

“I’m here about a room.
I have a booking.” Even as he spoke, he sensed the precise
measuring of intention, the forward and backward motion of the dart
thrower’s wrist, and then, he’d swear on his life, he heard the
distinct sound of a dart swishing through the air.

It hit a bullseye.

Another one followed,
hitting its target.

A mishit.

Two bullseyes.

And a flaming
red-haired dart thrower.

The combination should
have triggered alarm bells or at least prompted Theo Kendrick into
reassessing the scene he’d walked into, but if he did that, he
risked setting off a snowball of rethinking every decision he’d
made in the last few days, and he’d come too far to do that.

He’d already clocked up
a fifteen-hour flight from L.A. to Melbourne, then a three-hour
drive to Eden, a small town nestled in a valley, surrounded by the
hills and mountains of the Victorian alpine region. While he hadn’t
come to terms with the reasons for his trip here, any more delays
would have crammed his head full of guilt, uncertainty, and...

It didn’t matter. He
had business to take care of.

“I emailed three days
ago,” he said turning toward the woman.

She lifted an eyebrow
and he imagined her thinking, “I nearly killed you and that’s all
you have to say?”

He took in her long
legs and subtle curves, her jeans hanging low on her hips with a
western style shirt tucked neatly into it. Her face looked pale but
the lift of her chin told him she’d stand by her dart throw, no
matter what.

She didn’t look old
enough to be Claire Muldoon. At a guess, he’d say his assailant was
in her late twenties and, by the looks of it, in no hurry to leash
her attitude.

Whipping a dishtowel
off her shoulder, she rocked on her heels and sent her large brown
eyes skipping around his body. “We’re fully booked.” Then, with a
shrug of indifference, she turned toward the bar and proceeded to
ignore him by giving the counter a brisk wipe.

Theo’s resting heart
rate twitched. If the circumstances that had brought him here
hadn’t been dire, he’d suspect someone had engineered an elaborate
hoax. Everything looked so contrived, even the girl with the
attitude…

Moments before Theo had
stepped inside The Gloriana Hotel, a small town pub displaying an
eclectic collection of stuffed animal heads that made him think of
an English hunting lodge he’d stayed at the previous fall. There’d
been several patrons hovering around the pool table, a few hunched
over the bar, a lost-love-broken-heart tune playing in the
background, and the redhead beauty standing in the middle of the
bar, her feet slightly apart, her body relaxed as she’d taken aim.
Then she’d noticed him, and in that split second, the dart had left
her hand.

Theo drew in a deep
breath.

He could handle a bit
of attitude.

He’d grown up in
California where his father had made a career in film, appearing in
a string of movies that had turned him into a screen icon. His
mother was in the same business, but she’d chosen the stage to
strut her stuff, so Theo had firsthand exposure to people
pretending to walk the walk.

Going by the light
blush coloring her cheeks, he’d say she was doing a fair share of
pretending.

He approached the bar
and, leaning against the counter facing her, he searched his
jetlagged brain for a contact name. “I have a confirmation email.
Eddie. Eddie Faydon sent it to me.” Drawing in a breath, he
scratched around for some charm, but found none. “I’ve had a long
drive and an even longer flight before that, so I wouldn’t
mind—”

“Just a sec,” she said
turning her attention to pouring a draft beer. After serving it to
her customer, she strode back, the edge of her lip lifted forming a
dimple on her cheek. “I flew once. It took days before I got my
hearing back.” Her voice took on a teasing tone. “Maybe you’ve got
a case of blocked ears.”

Theo relaxed his jaw
before speaking. “There’s nothing wrong with my hearing.”

Her eyes danced around
his face. “Are you sure you have the right place? The roads around
here can be tricky. You might have taken a wrong turn.”

“I entered the
directions in my GPS—”

She shook her head, her
eyes showing a spark of amusement. “Those things aren’t always
reliable.”

“This is a state of the
art one.” Courtesy of his luxury rental car. “Then there’s the
email Eddie sent me. He gave me clear directions. I set my mental
compass to them.”

She chuckled. “Aha,
that’s where you went wrong. It’s the roads in these parts. They
play havoc with mental compasses and make you do crazy things like
pointing your car in the wrong direction.”

This time, it took all
his effort to relax his jaw. “I can assure you, there’s nothing
wrong with my aim.”

She tilted her head and
her smile turned impish. “I can’t pinpoint your accent. It’s
American, but with a difference.”

Anglophile-American,
his father called it whenever he regretted funding Theo’s Ivy
League education—in his opinion, a dead-end indulgence.

“It sounds stuffy,” she
said under her breath.

Another flush of red
swept up to her cheeks, a hint she might not be entirely
comfortable with the way the conversation was going. For some
reason, it made him want to apologize.

The last few days had
been a whirl of activity, worrying, and waiting. He hadn’t actually
slept on the flight over. His mind had been too busy trying to sort
out his thoughts and decide how he’d deal with the fool’s errand
he’d been sent on. However, he could still engage his senses long
enough to sniff out a hint of desperation. She didn’t want him
here. And she seemed almost pleased to try anything she could to
get rid of him.

“I’m from
California.”

“I bet you favor
British spelling.”

More often than not,
yes. Two of his degrees were from Oxford, and years of living and
studying in England had been habit forming. But that was all beside
the point... “About that room—”

“Like I said, we’re
fully booked.”

“No, we’re not.”

In the blink of an eye,
her gaze shifted from amused nonchalant to deer caught in
headlights. The reaction lasted only long enough for the man who’d
spoken to reach her side and stand close enough for her to elbow
him in the ribs.

He matched Theo in
height but his survival instincts were sharper. Stepping back, he
leaned against the opposite counter, his hand giving his rib a
discreet rub.

“You must be Theo
Kendrick. I took your booking.”

Theo felt his relief in
the next breath he took. “You must be Eddie.”

“No, that’s my sister
here. She usually takes care of all the admin stuff. It was her day
off.”

Eddie? “I guess that
explains the mix-up.”

“I’m Matthew Faydon,
welcome to Eden.”

“Good to know I’ve
landed in the right place. There was some confusion about it.”

“Well, it’s all cleared
up now.” Turning to his sister, he put his hands on her shoulders.
A sensible precaution, Theo thought. “I’ll look after the bar while
you show Mr. Kendrick to his room.”

 

* * *

 

Eddie ducked into the
small office next to the bar. She didn’t have a suitcase, but she
could use her backpack and stuff all her essential belongings
inside and... and leave.

Pushing out a breath,
she sank against the edge of her desk.

“You’re twenty-nine
years old, not six.” Leaving was no longer an option the way it had
been when she’d dragged out her bubblegum pink school bag and had
threatened to follow the yellow brick road because anything was
better than living with selfish, insensitive little toads. Her
threats to leave had been a constant source of amusement to her
brothers who’d followed several steps behind her, making sure she
didn’t stray too far. They’d always managed to entice her back home
with underhanded tactics and pretend acts of contrition, giving her
sweets and ice-cream…

She should have learned
by now. Men were not to be trusted.

Pushing off the desk,
she snatched a key for a room furthest away from the residential
side of the building, and returned to the bar where she found her
brother deep in conversation with their new guest.

Eddie pressed her lips
together, and turned toward the stairs. Personal feelings aside,
she knew she needed to apologize to Theo Kendrick, but then she’d
have to explain what had happened...

“This way,” she threw
over her shoulder.

“I guess I’ll get my
luggage later.”

“Suit yourself.”
Edwina! She groaned silently. Could she try a little harder and
switch off the urge to bite his head off?

If she hadn’t done a
last millisecond adjustment on her shot to avert certain disaster,
Theo Kendrick would be on his way to hospital instead of following
two steps behind her. As wrong as it was to wish anyone ill,
anything would be better than having him stay.

Anything, Eddie? How
about facing jail time for attempted maiming?

He hadn’t made a fuss.
But that didn’t get her off the hook. She had to apologize.

Eddie drew in a shaky
breath. She’d never live this down. Everyone knew better than to
start discussing it in front of her, but now that she’d left the
bar, that’s precisely what they were doing, putting their heads
together like the worst type of sewing circle. And once word got
out, the day’s takings would soar with people piling in to gawk at
the one-woman freak show she’d become.

How could she have lost
it? It had only been a split second. Long enough for her to imagine
Adam had changed his mind.

Fool. Did she think
he’d walk straight into the pub, make a public declaration, and
sweep her off her feet like in
An Officer and a
Gentleman
?

Sadly, yes.

It was all she’d been
thinking about for the past week. This would never have happened if
she hadn’t had so many bees buzzing in her ear urging her on, like
her own personal cheering squad.

Put it out there.
Rah, rah, rah.

You’ve got nothing
to lose. Rah, rah, rah.

Eddie squared her
shoulders. Even if Adam did change his mind, she wouldn’t spare him
a second look. She still had some pride left. Not much since she
now had another Eddie Faydon embarrassing moment to replay in her
mind. That near miss had cost her another layer of pride. She never
missed her target. Not even on a bad day.

It wouldn’t take a
mathematical genius to add two and two together and come up with
the answer burning on everyone’s lips. She’d mistaken Theo Kendrick
for Adam.

At first glance, they
might have looked the same. But on closer inspection, she realized
the resemblance was coincidental since the average male in Eden had
light brown hair and just about every male she knew stood a head
taller than her. If she’d spared him more than a brief glance, she
might have noticed everything that set him apart from everyone
else—the expensive clothes and haircut, the square jaw, the chin
with a dimple in the middle, and eyes that looked like the deepest
part of the ocean.

“Does anyone call you
Theodore?”

“My mother. But not
often.”

She pushed the door to
his room open. “This is it. There’s no room service. If you want
something to eat, you’ll either have to go down to the pub or find
your way to the local restaurant. We have a cleaning service, which
starts at ten sharp, so try to be out of the room by then. If you
can’t manage it, put a sock on the doorknob. Otherwise, Dani will
barge right in.” She crossed her arms and leaned against the
doorframe. “You’re not blinking. Is something wrong?”

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
5.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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