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 (7 page)

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
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“My head is fine,”
Eddie said as she sat next to him. “But the rest of my body is
functioning at slow speed and I can barely stand up straight.”

Theo chuckled. He’d
come close to sharing their pain. If he’d given in to the
temptation of oblivion last night, he’d be moaning and groaning
this morning too. Instead, he’d kept a clear head and had spent
most of the night thinking, not that it had helped provide a
solution to his latest hurdle. In hindsight, drinking the night
away might have been a better option.

“Joyce tells me you
girls had a party last night.” Theo pushed his cup of coffee toward
Eddie. “I think you need this more than I do.”

“You, sir, are the
perfect gentleman. As for last night, we imbibed copious amounts of
bubbles and savored numerous cakes,” she said doing a very good
impersonation of what she’d referred to as his snooty tone. “The
jury is still out on which flavor we prefer for Sophie’s wedding
cake. Otherwise, it was a perfect night. That’s my version, and I’m
sticking to it.” She took a long sip of her coffee and sighed. “How
about you? What did you get up to?”

“I played a game of
pool with your brothers.” He watched the two women exchange a look
that struck him as nothing short of conspiratorial.

“Was that after you had
your hair cut? Yes, before you ask, you were seen entering
Groomingdale’s at approximately six-oh-ten in the evening.”

“And now you want
details.” Theo wanted to throw his head back and laugh. Despite
Claire’s discretion, they’d been caught red-handed. He hunted
around his mind for an excuse but couldn’t find one. He supposed he
could let them assume to their heart’s content, so long as it
didn’t hurt anyone.

“Your hair looks the
same, but not in a bad way. In fact, we wouldn’t mind knowing your
secret. Every strand seems to sit perfectly. But that can keep for
another day. Come on. If you’re going to spend any time in this
town, you’re going to have to learn to share details. Nothing you
do escapes attention.” Eddie’s nose wrinkled. “I just realized. We
live in a fishbowl. Nothing’s a secret.”

Joyce nodded. “I prefer
to think of it as the circle of trust. It makes it sound less
intrusive.”

Theo sat back and
crossed his arms.

“Oh no, you’re not
allowed to exclude yourself from the conversation.” Eddie finished
her coffee and leaned forward. “We will get the truth out of you
eventually.”

“At the risk of—”

Eddie lowered her
sunglasses. “A boycott. That’s what’s at risk here. Think about it.
Where will you get your caffeine fix? And you should also know
we’re armed with some facts, so we can cross-reference whatever you
tell us.”

“What if it’s not my
tale to tell?”

“Please don’t take
advantage of our sluggish brains.” Eddie drained a glass of water.
“Anything you leave unsaid now, will fire up our suspicions. We
have nothing better to do.” She stuck out her lower lip.

Theo shifted in his
chair, his eyes fixed on her mouth. “I see nothing short of the
truth will satisfy you,” he mused. There had to be something in the
town drinking water to make the women of Eden so stubborn and
determined. For the second time, he’d managed to spook Claire away.
Who in their right mind turned down an all expenses paid trip
overseas? Not to mention a personal invitation from Jon Kendrick.
Claire Muldoon had been the first person his father had thought
about when he’d regained consciousness. Any woman would give their
eyeteeth to be in her shoes.

Eddie wagged her
finger. “That cone of silence you’ve got happening is not going to
work with us. We have ways of making you talk.”

“It’s amazing,” he
said, “You’re functioning at a less than normal capacity and you
still manage to do a splendid job of wearing me out.”

She gave him an impish
smile and rubbed her hands. “Juicy details coming right up.”

“Oh, no. I might look
defeated but I’m not beaten yet. My pride is on the line. What sort
of man would I be if I kiss and tell?” Theo mentally kicked himself
and wished he could withdraw the comment. These women were too
sharp to miss a beat. If he’d been alone with Eddie, he would have
thrown all reason and common sense out the window.

The thought sounded
like a bugle call, rallying his troops. He smiled to himself and
sat back letting the idea take shape and gather momentum as it
marched through the main street of his mind. Yes, he would have
pulled her against him and kissed her and if that didn’t make her
forget what she’d been talking about, then he would have kissed her
again. He’d seen it happen in so many movies surely it could work
in real life—

“Do I have something on
my mouth?” she asked, “Oh, please tell me I’m not dribbling.” She
snatched a napkin and gave her lips a brisk wipe, in the process
making them look plumper, more inviting.

If temptation came by
any other name, Theo thought it would have to be Eddie Faydon. And
if he spent any more time with her…

He tried to shift his
attention away from her mouth, but he’d have better luck trying to
entice a kid away from an eat all you want candy store.

If he kissed her…

Would she moan with
pleasure or laugh with glee and excitement for what would
follow?

“Theo? Are you still
with us?”

“I don’t really know
how to answer that.” He had both their attentions. “I haven’t been
myself lately. I’ve recently experienced something unexpected and
it’s thrown me off kilter.” That had to be the reason why he kept
losing track of his purpose here.

“That’s something we
hadn’t considered,” Joyce said. “He’s escaped from a funny
farm.”

Eddie laughed. She’d
pushed her sunglasses back in place so he couldn’t see her eyes,
but he’d bet anything the laughter didn’t reach them, and it would
have nothing to do with her night of indulgence.

As enticing as she was,
Eddie Faydon was not part of his plans. Now, he only needed to
convince his body…

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

 

“You don’t seem to
understand the severity of the situation,” Theo said in response to
Claire Muldoon’s raised eyebrow. He’d spent the better part of the
afternoon sitting on her front porch waiting for her to arrive and
he was prepared to sit there all night until he got a reasonable
answer out of her.

After his breakfast at
Joyce’s Café, he’d returned to the pub. He’d called the hospital
for an update and had ended up having a brief conversation with his
father. He’d sounded crestfallen. Almost defeated. So, Theo had
lied saying Claire had been out of town and was expected to arrive
within the next couple of days.

Claire closed her car
door and, folding her arms across her chest, she strode up to him.
“You can’t be here.”

He rose to his feet. “I
need to know why you won’t get on a plane and—”

She shook her head.
“I’m sorry for what happened to Jon. I suppose I could call him and
have a chat, for all time’s sake. But I can’t jet off to the other
side of the world at the drop of a hat—”

“It would only be for a
few days.”

“You don’t seem to
understand. Responsibilities aside, I don’t see what good a visit
from me would do.”

“Plenty. He sees the
accident as his wake-up call. He doesn’t want to live with
regrets.” Theo dug inside his pocket and drew out the velvet case
he’d been carrying around all this time. He didn’t know if the ring
had been meant as a token gift for the time Claire had spent with
Jon Kendrick, or if he’d planned on taking the relationship a step
further, he only knew his father’s heart had been in the right
place.

“Mom.”

Claire gave an
impatient shake of her head. “I told you to stay in the car,
Ben.”

Theo’s gaze zeroed in
on the boy who’d stepped out of the car and was leaning against it.
Hearing his mother’s order, the boy threw his head back and huffed
out a breath.

Theo’s fingers
tightened around the velvet case he’d planned on giving Claire as
proof that Jon Kendrick had also had feelings for her. “You didn’t
say anything about being married.” Or having a child. This changed
everything. And not for the better.

“I told you I couldn’t
just up and leave and I meant it.”

 

* * *

 

Eddie had two more
stops to make before she could go home and curl up under the covers
to enjoy a well-earned pity fest. She tipped back the bottle of
water until the last drop slid down her throat. Pushing her
sunglasses back in place, she emerged from the car, opened the
trunk, and retrieved Mrs. Larson’s dinner. Once a week she made the
rounds, visiting Eden’s elderly to drop off their meals and menu
request forms for the following week. Everyone knew better than to
engage her in conversation because that would make her late for her
next stopover and invoke the wrath of the next person, so everyone
made sure to stick to bare essentials.

“Still single?”

“Hello, Mrs. Larson.
And yes, I am. And... I’m loving it.” Now was as good a time as any
to start getting used to it. The more practice she got, the better
she’d become at pretending.

“My grandson is
visiting next week. I’ll expect you for afternoon tea at three
o’clock sharp.”

“Thank you, Mrs.
Larson. I’ll be here.”

“And wear a dress.”

With a wave goodbye,
Eddie pushed herself into a trot. It would be nice to catch up with
Jimmy Larson. After their afternoon tea, he would take her to
dinner as a thank you for bailing him out yet again. Something to
look forward to, she thought.

On her last stop, Mrs.
Kenny was waiting for her on her front porch. “Did Betty Larson
invite you over for afternoon tea? Her grandson is coming for a
visit.”

“She sure did.”

Eddie laughed under her
breath. Everyone, including sweet Mrs. Larson, knew Jimmy was gay.
Yet every time her grandson came to visit she would extend the
invitation, and not out of malice. Mrs. Larson simply thought Eddie
needed practice wearing a pretty dress and having someone paying
attention to her. And so every three months when Jimmy drove up
from Melbourne to visit his grandmother, Eddie dove into the back
of her wardrobe and pulled out one of her two dresses.

At least she got a good
dinner out of it too.

Moments later, she was
back in the car and driving home. Maybe she’d do some online
shopping and get something new for Jimmy’s visit or borrow
something from Sophie, she thought swearing under her breath as a
car pulled on to the road ahead of her, gravel spitting behind
it.

Without looking, she
knew the house belonged to Claire Muldoon. And since no one in Eden
drove a red convertible, the car could only belong to one
person.

“I’m developing an
intense dislike for Murphy and his Law,” she said. Slowing down,
she tried to put some distance between herself and the object of
her increasing anxiety.

That morning’s
breakfast was a bit hazy but she still managed to recall her
reaction to hearing Theo say he didn’t kiss and tell. She’d laughed
but, in reality, she’d wanted to cry. The thought of him kissing
Claire...

She clutched her
stomach but the stabbing sensation didn’t stop.

Even as she tried to
switch off her curiosity, she couldn’t. Had they met on one of
Claire’s trips to Melbourne? Maybe they’d hooked up online.

“Should I try online
dating?” she asked. “And is talking to myself a sign I should try
and do something to change my circumstances before it’s too late
and I find myself sitting on my front porch waiting for meals on
wheels to deliver my dinner?”

She looked up ahead and
saw Theo had pulled up by the side of the road. He had driven out
of Claire’s driveway with more than a hint of urgency. Had they had
a falling out? What if he needed comforting? “Yeah, right.” Men
didn’t cry over break-ups. They simply shrugged and shuffled off to
the next woman waiting in line.

Eddie pushed her
attention back onto the road and told herself to keep driving, but
curiosity played havoc with her willpower until it got the better
of her. Slowing down, she pulled up behind Theo’s car, taking her
time to get out of her car, giving him a chance to either pull
himself together or drive off. Before she reached him, the driver’s
door opened and Theo emerged.

He didn’t have anything
she hadn’t seen before, day in, day out. Broad shoulders. Sinewy
muscles on his forearms. And because he made a point of running
bare-chested, she knew he had a washboard stomach giving him the
sort of body...

Eddie forced herself to
stop. He really didn’t have anything she hadn’t seen on any one of
the guys who came into The Gloriana on a Friday night for a game of
pool. So why did her heart feel like a pebble skipping across a
pond?

“Feeling better?” he
asked.

“I have some residual
champagne bubbles floating around in my head, and it still hurts to
blink. Otherwise, I’m fine.”

He leaned against his
car, and threw his head back as if looking for answers from the sky
above.

“How about you, are you
okay?”

He shook his head.
“I’ve driven up and down this road several times now and I’ve yet
to see a kangaroo.”

“They usually come out
at night, and like the deer you have in your neck of the woods,
they’re mesmerized by car headlights.”

“I’ve never seen a deer
either but I’ve seen plenty of road signs alerting me to their
presence. I feel cheated.”

“I know the feeling.”
She hitched her fingers in her pockets and stubbed the toe of her
boot against the ground throwing up a small puff of dust. “Um—”

He lifted a halting
hand. “As much as I enjoy being tormented by you, can we not do
this now?”

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
8.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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