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 (2 page)

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
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“I’m… savoring the
unique flavor of local hospitality.”

She shrugged. “There’s
a bed and breakfast just outside of town. It caters to your type.”
Making it worse, Eddie? Yeah, sure. Why not?

“What type might that
be?”

He wore a
Tattersall
check shirt and tweed sports jacket matched
with equally expensive looking pants and Oxford brogues. The guy
looked like he was headed to a wild game shooting party. While no
one in their right mind would label her a fashion expert, she
recognized the country squire look because Charles Granger had
introduced locals to the style when he’d settled in Eden a dozen
years before to open his deer farm, complete with a replica of the
manor house he’d left behind in England.

“The afternoon tea with
dainty finger food type. You know, tally-ho.” Although, to be fair
to him, he wouldn’t look out of place watching a football game
while tossing back a few beers.

“I think I’ll pass. I
don’t mind roughing it for a while. And as the saying goes, what
doesn’t kill you, only gives you more stories to tell back
home.”

Just great. Her pitiful
life was about to go international. And…

He still sounded
stuffy, albeit in a gruff, masculine, melt in the mouth... Ugh! Get
a hold of yourself, Eddie.

“The bathroom is across
the hallway.” She couldn’t help lifting an eyebrow. She might not
be well traveled, but she suspected people like him liked their
convenient bathroom facilities. “You’ll be sharing.”

“Not a problem.”

“Sharing with other
people. Strangers…”

He drew in a breath
that appeared to call for calm. “If royal visitors to Buckingham
Palace can put up with the inconvenience of having to share
bathrooms down the hallway, then who am I to complain?”

“You’re pulling my
leg.”

He shook his head. “My
in-flight reading material was rather trite. Okay, truth be told, I
enjoy my share of trivia. The magazine I read had an interview with
Crown Prince—”

“How riveting. I’m sure
you’d be a perfect trivia night partner.”

His eyes swept around
her face. “I doubt I’ll be here long enough to take part in local
activities.”

She frowned. Had she
sounded friendly enough for him to assume she was trying to flirt
with him?

He looked inside the
room and then back at her, at first not quite managing to meet her
eyes. But when his gaze finally landed on hers, she knew he’d
pulled down a shutter. He was looking at her, but he wasn’t seeing
her.

Yes, Eddie thought,
this is an awkward moment. And all of her own making. At this rate,
her pride would be scraped right off the bone…

“Well, I suppose you
want to get on with whatever business brought you here, so I’ll
leave you to it.” Handing him the room key, she strode away, her
focus on making her legs work.

As the only female in a
male dominated household, she was used to being surrounded by over
inflated egos packed full of testosterone. She only wished they
weren’t so obvious about it.

She drew in a breath
and tried to relax the tightness in her chest. Somehow, she had to
get through the rest of the day. From experience, she knew it was
always better to dive headlong into the deep end. Get it over and
done with.

Bracing herself, she
started down the stairs. Even with the heavy thump of her boots
echoing in the stairwell, she could still hear the buzz of
conversation coming from the bar.

Her last birthday had
brought her a year closer to thirty. People were starting to
notice. People were starting to think she was getting desperate.
Never mind that she’d given them reason to think that after the
stunt she’d pulled with Adam…

You and me, Adam.
What do you reckon? Let’s give it a go…

It should have been a
private conversation. The words punctuated by her thumping heart.
No one else had been meant to hear… but everyone had. The whole
Friday night crowd who’d turned up for Karaoke night.

A new face in town
should have created a timely diversion, giving everyone something
else to talk about. Instead, she’d single-handedly stoked the
fire…

Belatedly, Eddie
realized she’d forgotten to apologize to Theo Kendrick.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

“Eddie! This is the
second morning in a row you’re having breakfast here. What’s up
with that?”

“Keep it down. I’m
trying to avoid drawing more attention to myself.”

Joyce laughed. “You
don’t have to try. I’m so used to seeing you at the pub, I didn’t
recognize you outside of it. It’s to do with how our brains
perceive information. If you don’t expect to see something, you
don’t see it, even if it’s standing right in front of you. Hang on
a tic, I’m going to get myself a coffee.”

Another trivia buff,
Eddie thought as she recalled the brief conversation she’d had with
Theo Kendrick a couple of days before.

So far, he’d had all
his meals at the pub, which made avoiding him near impossible. Not
that he’d made any effort to engage her in conversation. In fact,
he always seemed to be on the phone. Desperate to at least spare
herself the sight of him first thing in the morning, she’d been
hiding out at Joyce’s Café down the street.

“I thought you only
read fiction,” she said when Joyce returned with her coffee.

“It’s been fairly quiet
around town so I’ve been reading up on useless information. It
fills the void in my head.” Joyce drew out a chair and sat next to
her. “So who’s looking after the pub?”

“The boys, of course. I
played the pity card.” Eddie sighed. “I don’t like my chances of
trying it for a third day in a row.” Seeing more customers walking
into the café, Eddie lowered her head and focused on her
coffee.

“You’re going to do
your head in thinking everyone is talking about you.”

“But they are.” Eddie
threw her head back. “I made such a fool of myself.”

“And you’re still here.
The condition isn’t terminal.”

“So why does it feel
like a life sentence?” For two months she’d been rehearsing how
she’d ask Adam to be her date so she wouldn’t have to go to Sophie
Wright’s wedding alone, only to see her efforts blow up in her
face. “I don’t know what happened. I’ve tried figuring it out but
it makes my head hurt.”

“You spent too much
time working up your courage. Whenever Adam came into your line of
vision, your voice trailed off and we all disappeared.”

“Why didn’t you tell
me? You should have stopped me.”

Joyce stirred her
coffee and sighed. “Infatuation’s a bitch. You had it bad.”

Eddie tried to deny it
but deep down, she suspected she had been head over heels in
infatuation, or at least convinced she should try to be because it
was better than not being interested in anyone. “I’m blaming my
last birthday. Who knows what I’ll do when I turn thirty. It would
be best for everyone if I left town.”

“Adam is a good guy. He
won’t rub it in.”

It was Eddie’s turn to
sigh.

“I’ve seen your new
guest drive by in his convertible,” Joyce said after a brief
silence. “If I had a guy who looks like him staying under my roof,
I wouldn’t dwell on someone like Adam.”

“Newsflash. While I
like your coffee better than ours, Theo Kendrick is the other
reason I’m here.”

Joyce chuckled. “I wish
I’d been there to see your attempt on his life. I hear it was a
close call.”

“If I hadn’t pulled
back at the last nanosecond, he would have ended up pinned to the
wall.” She covered her face with her hands. “Remember the movie you
forced me to watch for the umpteenth time?”

“Pride and
Prejudice
?”

Eddie nodded. “One of
the lines keeps crisscrossing my mind.
I could die of
mortification
. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say to the
guy.”

“You’ll have to give me
a heads up when he’s at the pub. I wouldn’t mind a closer
look.”

“Sure.” Eddie was about
to take a sip of her drink when she saw him. Her hand dropped. The
cup rattled on the saucer. “Speak of the devil.” She took in the
smooth line of Theo Kendrick’s body. The broad shoulders. The long
legs with well-defined muscles. The runner’s calves. He wore red
shorts, a black cap and no T-shirt. Eddie tried to look away but it
was a crime to ignore such well-defined abs.

He jogged? The guy
sounded like a Shakespearean actor and looked like a model
advertising the finest cognacs or cigars. He was definitely the
type who belonged to exclusive wine tasting clubs and attended
opening nights at the opera and ballet. No, she would never have
pictured him as a jogger...

“About that closer
look,” Joyce said, “I think my legs would melt if I got any closer
to him.”

Eddie shook her head.
“We were friends,” she said as Theo Kendrick disappeared down the
street.

“You and Adam. Yeah, I
know.”

“Why did I have to ruin
it? Now he’s avoiding me and I don’t blame him. What the hell came
over me?” Two years of being alone and seeing a handful of her
friends getting married, that’s what. And now she had another
wedding to look forward to...

“It’s been slim
pickings for a while, but at least there are several of us in the
same boat,” Joyce said.

“I’m not sure I like
the sound of that. Overcrowded boats tend to topple over and sink.”
Eddie drank the last of her coffee and stood up. “I can’t let this
drag on any longer. Time to eat some humble pie and apologize to
Theo Kendrick.”

 

* * *

 

According to the poster
he’d seen outside the pub, Theo had slept through the Kevin Reynes
and the Posse Brats On The Way to Nashville gig with a special
appearance by Dani Reid, an up and coming local. They can’t have
been that loud. Then again, if he hadn’t set his alarm clock, he
would have slept through a fourth of July fireworks display in his
room.

He put it down to the
stress he’d experienced over the last few weeks. He’d been in
London when he’d heard about his father’s car accident, the result
of a stunt gone wrong. A stunt Jon Kendrick should not have been
attempting because he’d promised…

In less than an hour,
Theo had organized his flight, delegating all the rescheduling of
meetings to his virtual assistant, while tackling everything else
en route. The days that followed had been harrowing, not knowing if
his father would survive, having no control of the situation, being
forced to step back and allow others to take over.

His father had pulled
through, but the close call had brought him face to face with
unfinished business. Business Theo had to take care of...

Theo checked his watch
and decided he had plenty of time to shower and go downstairs in
time to grab a late breakfast. Then...

No more putting off
what he should have done yesterday. Or the day before. Trying
didn’t count. Just because Claire Muldoon hadn’t answered the door
or picked up the phone...

He splashed water on
his face. No more delays, he told himself. “Today. Do it today. No
excuses.” Even if it meant sitting on her front porch and waiting
for her to arrive. He only had a few days left before he had to
return to Melbourne and catch his flight back home to L.A.

The run had cleared his
head, but he could already hear the chatter that had kept him
company these last few days creeping up on him.

Do this for me,
son. Then we’ll be squared. And I’ll never ask for anything
else.

No more cliff-hanger
phone calls in the middle of the night urging Theo to drop
everything and troubleshoot the latest hiccup?

Theo couldn’t quite
shake off the image of his father’s battered body lying in
hospital. Otherwise, he’d laugh.

Find her and make
this right. If... when I pull through this, I don’t want to waste
any more time. She needs to know.

His father’s brain must
have been rattled. Why else would he experience this
uncharacteristic bout of nostalgia?

“Claire Muldoon, you’re
about to strike it rich.” But not before Theo ran a thorough check
on her.

Showered and dressed,
Theo went through his messages, then he made a couple of calls,
getting an update on his father’s condition, and touching base with
his mother who was appearing in her latest London stage hit. Over
the years, he’d become an expert at handling all his parents’
affairs, making sure their respective worlds ran like well-oiled
machines. While they trusted his judgment on all issues concerning
their careers and assets, their personal lives remained off
limits—that had been Theo’s one and only condition when he’d agreed
to act as their manager.

Theo wore his halo on a
crooked angle, but his parents’ revolving door affairs had more
than once made his hair stand on end. Now his father was dragging
him into his private life, forcing him to act as his proxy and Theo
had no choice but to go along with it all, albeit kicking and
screaming.

He dug around his
overnight bag and retrieved the velvet box he’d been carrying
around all this time. No point in thinking today would be the day
if he left the damn thing behind.

“On your way out, are
you?”

He swung around in time
to see Eddie Faydon striding into his room, her bright eyes peering
at him from behind a pile of bed linen. “Sorry, I didn’t realize it
was so late.”

“And I should have
knocked.” She tapped the door with the tip of her boot. “Knock.
Knock. Room service.”

“I was just about to
clear out.”

“I’ll work around you,
if you don’t mind.”

She didn’t wait for a
response. Setting down her load on a chair, she strode over to the
window, pulled back the drapes, and pushed the window open.

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
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