Read Her Charming Heartbreaker Online

Authors: Sonia Parin

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

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BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
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“What if I asked
questions? Would people huddle up and protect one of their
own?”

She tilted her head.
“Hoping to get some entertainment value, they’d send you on a wild
goose chase. Their willingness to share information would depend on
how forthcoming you are about saying why you’re looking for the
person. You could be an axe murderer.”

“If I mention a name,
everyone could safely discount my plan to kill her.”

“Her?”

“Or him.” He finished
his coffee and paused.

For a wild moment, she
imagined him breaking his silence and confiding in her.

“Edith?”

She frowned. “Is that
her name?”

The edge of his lip
quirked up. “I’ve been trying to figure out what Eddie stands for.
So far, I’ve come up with Edaline and Edith.”

“It’s Eddie.”

“But it’s short for
something else.”

“Do I look like I want
to tell you?” In her mind, she’d always been Edwina, but that
wasn’t something anyone needed to know. She wiped a spot on the
counter. “It’s an old-fashioned name.”

“Did you ever give it a
chance to grow on you?”

“Did you,
Theodore?”

 

* * *

 

Theo checked the
rear-view mirror and caught himself smiling. Eddie had warmed up to
him without losing her spark.

He’d probably lived
more than half of his thirty-one years in hotels, courtesy of his
nomadic lifestyle. He traveled regularly between the U.S. and the
U.K. dealing with his parents’ respective business interests and
taking care of whatever chaos they created.

In all his travels,
Theo had never encountered anyone like Eddie. At first glance,
she’d confused him with her cold shoulder act. Then again, he’d
been spoilt, always getting the green light from women happy to
engage him in conversation as a lead up to something mutually
satisfying—the sort of offer he only took up if he was staying in
one place long enough to make it worth everyone’s while. Now Eddie
Faydon seemed okay with him, engaging him in easy chatter. It
didn’t mean she was getting ideas. She probably wanted to break up
the tedium…

Theo brushed his hand
across his face. She did have an intriguing smile… “Stay on track.”
He’d driven out after breakfast. As Eddie had pointed out, the
roads around Eden were tricky, mostly because they lacked road
signs. Also, the houses were set well back from the road and most
didn’t have numbers.

He pulled up on the
side of the road and checked his cell phone. The reception wasn’t
great but it was good enough. From the start, he’d thought it would
be a good idea to let Claire Muldoon know he was on his way. But so
far, she hadn’t picked up his calls and he didn’t want to leave a
message. His overcautious mind told him it wouldn’t be the wisest
move. Maybe he could say something without mentioning his father’s
name...

He dialed the number
and when the call went through to voice mail, he hesitated.
Forgetting the lines he’d rehearsed, he hung up.

“Losing your touch?” It
only ever took one phone call to sort out anything from a damaging
leak to the tabloids to the most sensitive ego on the verge of
career suicide, namely his mother. He dealt with difficulties on a
daily basis. Sometimes, moment to moment. He faced dart-wielding
redheads without batting an eyelash. Leaving a phone message should
be a walk in the park for him.

Leaning against the
steering wheel, he could just make out the roofline and a corner of
the house. The last couple of times he’d tried, she hadn’t been
home. He supposed he could walk up to the front door, knock, and if
no one answered, he could leave a written message—introduce himself
and pave the way. Theo decided to go with that plan, but as he
opened his car door, a car emerged from the tree-lined driveway.
The driver glanced his way but didn’t pay him much attention as she
drove off toward town, leaving Theo no choice but to follow.

 

* * *

 

“If you’re going to put
your pride on the line do it with a stranger and start small. Have
a fling, or better still, a one-night stand.”

“Golden advice from a
woman in love.”

Eddie’s gaze bounced
between Sophie and Helena Wright. The two sisters had organized the
hairdressing appointment as a lead up to Sophie’s wedding but
mostly as part of their monthly get-together, which looked about to
be cut short because at the rate they were going, they’d be tossing
hair curlers at each other.

“Shouldn’t we discuss
veils and flower arrangements?” Eddie asked hoping to diffuse the
eruption before it blew up in their faces and ruined their girls’
day out.

“There’s no point in
focusing on bouquets when your private life is down the toilet,”
Sophie said.

“Telling Eddie to have
a fling is insensitive,” Helena Wright snapped.

Eddie sighed. “Maybe
Sophie’s trying to live vicariously. She’s no longer a free agent,
so it’s up to us to live it up,” she said and raised her champagne
glass in a toast. “Although,” she turned to Sophie, “Helena has a
point too. You might as well know I’m experiencing a bit of bride
envy.” And she didn’t want a one-night stand. She wanted what
everyone else seemed to get so easily. But first, she had to find
someone she wanted and who wanted her right back. “I don’t
understand why we haven’t done this before. A manicure. Champagne.
Chocolate covered strawberries...”

“Because this is the
first time I’m getting married,” Sophie said.

“You’ve caught the last
of the good guys. I doubt there’ll be a second time.”

“There are plenty of
fish out there. You only need to know what bait to use,” Sophie
said.

Helena tossed back her
drink. “Having a plan of action doesn’t hurt either. Meanwhile, I
suppose there’s nothing wrong with finding someone to have fun
with.”

Sophie nodded. “We hear
he’s good looking and traveling alone. He’d be perfect. Here today,
gone tomorrow. And don’t give us that blank look. Yes, we’re
talking about Theo Kendrick. Pity we can’t get into town early
enough to catch sight of him jogging. Does he really have a
six-pack?”

Eddie rolled her eyes.
“Yes, he does and I’m not after something temporary.” There, she’d
said. “I wouldn’t be any good at it.” She’d had a couple of
long-term relationships. With three brothers looking over her
shoulder, it hadn’t been easy to become more than friends with
anyone. There had been Derek. He’d moved to Eden during her last
year of high school. They were together for over three years.

Derek had always wanted
to study geology but first he’d worked for a couple of years in his
grandparents’ farm to save enough money to cover his living
expenses. Once he’d moved to Melbourne and started his studies, the
relationship had cooled down until eventually they’d gone their
separate ways. Although, they had remained friends and to this day,
they still sent each other birthday and Christmas greeting
cards.

It had taken her a
couple of years to find someone else. Roy had come to Eden to take
up a teaching post at the local high school. They’d become
inseparable and everyone had thought they’d get married. In fact,
they had been headed that way. They’d made plans. They’d looked at
houses in the area. They’d even set up a joint bank account. Then
one summer, Roy had gone on an impromptu holiday to visit his
family up north... without her.

Eddie’s breath hitched
and she mentally scurried to find her bullet point list of
events—the one she relied on to stop herself from falling into the
trap of dwelling.

He’d bumped into an old
girlfriend.

She’d fallen pregnant.
With his baby.

End of story.

At first, she’d given
herself six months to get over the feeling of betrayal. But with
each passing day, her head had filled with more reasons why she
should avoid becoming tangled up with a man again.

Yet, here she was
dreaming and wondering, wishing her special day would hurry up and
come. She wanted to be married. To start her own family. To live in
a house instead of at the pub. Everyone around her seemed to be
settling down. Why was it taking her so long?

She chortled under her
breath. Was she suffering from selective memory loss? There had
been Derek, and then Roy…

Assuming disasters came
in threes, her next relationship was bound to end up in the
trash.

If the best she could
hope for was another bad relationship, then maybe she should focus
on getting it over and done with. Then she’d be free!

“So you’re suggesting I
let my hair down, and go with the flow. Keep it casual. And if
anybody asks why I’m still single, I’ll pretend I have developed a
phobia about commitment.”

The sisters looked at
each other and shrugged. “Or you can hold out for the fairy
tale.”

Helena lifted her glass
in a toast. “That’s what I’m doing. I’ve already drawn up a list of
possible candidates. Doc Fisher is about to retire. I heard him say
his nephew is looking to set himself up in a country practice. I
wouldn’t mind catching myself a vet.”

“Is that your way of
calling first dibs?”

Helena grinned. “With
all things being fair and equal, we all stand a very good chance,
but there can only be one winner.”

“Who needs reality
TV?”

“Then there’s Luke
Sterling,” Helena continued.

The sip Eddie took of
her champagne nearly went down the wrong way. “Good luck trying to
land him. Everybody knows Luke Sterling has a girl in Melbourne.
Why do you think he travels there every weekend?”

Helena shrugged. “I’m
an optimist. He’s tied to the land. No way is he going to end up
with a city girl. It’s just a matter of time before he comes to his
senses. But we’re not here to talk about me.”

“That’s right, we’re
here to decide how Sophie is going to have her hair done and what
color nail polish to wear on the day.”

“Nice try.” Helena
refilled their glasses. “We need to put our heads together and come
up with a plan to get you together with Theo Kendrick. You have a
good foundation—”

“How do you figure
that?”

“He’s staying at the
pub. That’s a start and an advantage over any other woman. Not that
I would consider putting him on my list of prospective
husbands.”

“I’m glad we cleared
that up.”

“Please try to take
this seriously, otherwise you’ll be going to the wedding with one
of our cousins and we like you too much to let that happen.”

“I think I’ve drunk too
much champagne. I’m sure I said Theo Kendrick is only passing
through and that I’m not interested in a fling.”

“Okay. If you’re not
game, then that clears the way for me,” Helena said and lifted her
glass in a salute. “How do you feel about that?”

Eddie refused to
answer. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t.

 

* * *

 

Claire Muldoon slammed
her hands on the driver’s door of Theo’s convertible and did a
convincing job of staring him down.

“Why are you following
me?”

Up close, he had
trouble believing she was in her mid forties. She had high
cheekbones, glowing skin. Rich brown locks fell to her shoulders in
a fun, flirty style. Her eyes were large green gems... shooting off
sparks at him. “It’s not what it looks like.”

Her expression shifted
from angry to surprised. “You’re not from around here.”

“I suppose my accent is
a dead giveaway,” he chuckled. “I’ve been trying to get in touch
with you, to let you know... to ask if you’d be prepared to meet
with me. There’s something I need to discuss with you. Jon
Kendrick—”

Claire Muldoon pushed
away from the car as if jolted by an electric shock, took a step
back, and lifted a warning finger. “You need to stay away from
me.”

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 

Theo pressed the phone
to his ear and listened to the update on his father’s
condition.

Significant
improvement. On the mend. Asking about you. No longer
critical…

He frowned. When he’d
left L.A. a few days before, his father had been in a bad way but
not critical. He wrapped up the call and brushing his hand across
his face, he remembered how his father had taken hold of his wrist,
not letting go until Theo promised to do everything he could to
find Claire Muldoon.
Find her and bring her back...

So if he was off the
danger list now, it meant he hadn’t been entirely in the clear when
he’d forced the promise out of him. It made Theo wonder about his
father’s frame of mind. Desperate and anxious, but still cunning
enough to coerce the doctor into backing him up with a misleading
prognosis so that Theo wouldn’t hesitate and delay his trip to
Melbourne?

His back teeth pressed
together.

For now, it was enough
to know he didn’t have to rush back to L.A., and just as well,
because at this rate he’d be going back empty-handed.

“Somewhere between
yesterday morning and now you lost your happy face.”

Theo looked up from his
cup of coffee and seeing Eddie, he rubbed the tips of his fingers
across his forehead, easing down the ridges of concern, but his
thoughts remained. If he couldn’t convince Claire Muldoon to return
with him—

Eddie Faydon’s smile
distracted him.

“Surely our coffee
isn’t that bad.” She shifted and gave him a slanted look. “Okay,
between you and me, our coffee is not great but Joyce refuses to
share the name of her supplier with me, so until I wrestle the
information out of her—”

“Are you saying there’s
an establishment in Eden serving superior coffee?”

She laughed. “Did you
just use your snooty tone with me?”

“I may have.”

“Say something
else.”

“Who is this Joyce you
speak of and how do I find her?”

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
3.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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