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 (9 page)

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
9.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“He’ll be gone
tomorrow.” Eddie chuckled. “Stick with the food poisoning.” She
pressed her hand against her churning stomach. “You know that
saying about feeling wrung out? All this thinking has exhausted me.
I can’t figure him out.”

Joyce nodded. “If it
makes you feel better, your hair looks great. It’s all shiny
and—”

“Wait until it catches
up with how I feel inside,” she said and threw her hands up in the
air. “I’m never talking to men again. Especially not men I enjoy
talking to.”

 

* * *

 

Theo stretched and took
stock of the damage he’d incurred from one night of utter
recklessness. He would have fared just as badly if he’d slept on a
bed of jagged edged rocks.

“Good morning.”

He lifted a hand and
waved to Claire.

“Oh good, you can move
your hand. I’m not going to ask if you slept well. That would make
a mockery of your injuries. And yes, I heard you moaning. But I did
warn you. That sofa is a health hazard. At least you haven’t been
completely crippled.”

“I haven’t tried to sit
up yet,” he admitted. Claire sounded slightly on edge and he didn’t
blame her. After the long talk they’d had last night...

He brushed his hands
across his face.

“I should have asked
you to sign some sort of waver.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t
sue you.”

“That’s a relief to
hear, but I’ll wait out the statute of limitations period.” She
shrugged. “Sorry, I’m a natural born cynic.”

She’d given him the
same explanation the night before when he’d asked point blank about
Ben’s parentage.

A brother. He had a
brother. A nine-year-old brother. Jon had another son...

“I’m about to prepare
breakfast, but I’m not sure what you like.”

“That’s very kind of
you. I think I’ll stick to my regular schedule.” He could do with a
cup of Joyce’s coffee and some time to let everything sink in. It
hadn’t been his place to challenge Claire Muldoon’s decision to
keep Ben’s existence a secret. But it still affected him. A
brother... “Unless you think I should hang around and spend more
time with Ben.”

They’d spent the
evening together getting to know each other. After reappearing on
her doorstep, he hadn’t given Claire the option to turn him away.
Two could play at being stubborn. Armed with a load of suspicions,
he’d been wary of spooking her again. It had been a risk to mention
Ben’s age, but it had been enough to gain him entry.

Claire had crumbled and
after they’d established a few pertinent facts, he’d made an inroad
into convincing her to take up his offer. He wouldn’t tell Jon
about Ben. That was her job...

After Ben had gone to
sleep, they had stayed up and had tackled the logistics of going on
a trip at short notice and leaving Theo in charge of her son. When
he’d finally made a move to leave, he’d been surprised to find it
was two in the morning so he’d taken up Claire’s offer to use her
couch.

“Ben has school.”

“I can pick him
up—”

She shook her head. “He
has a schedule too. After school activities followed by a study
group. I pick him up after I close up the salon. We’ll work on a
list tonight. Meet us back here at six. It’s pizza night.”

“Sounds good.” He
brushed his fingers through his hair. “Don’t take this the wrong
way, but I’m going to spend the day shopping for a couch.” Seeing
her about to protest, he lifted a hand. “I explained about Jon’s
parting gifts to his… friends. You left him before he had the
chance to give you anything. This is the least I can do to rectify
the omission.”

“Is that what the
ring—”

“I was told to deliver
it to you. If you want to know more, you’ll have to ask Jon.”

She looked down at her
hands. “I wasn’t after his money.”

She would have had it,
in spades. If only she hadn’t kept Ben’s existence a secret. “I
don’t mean to sound crass, but Jon has plenty of it. Anyway, I’m
the one buying the couch.” He rubbed his face. “The prospect of
trying out the sleeping bag has me quaking in my boots. I’m just
not game to try the floor. The damage could be irreversible.”

She laughed. “You
haven’t done much camping.”

“None whatsoever. And
I’m not even prepared to fake it.”

“You’re a lot like your
father, but he’s more of a rough diamond and you’ve been buffed...”
She tilted her head, “And yet, I can imagine you playing a cowboy.
I’m surprised you haven’t followed in your father’s footsteps.”

“And he’ll never
forgive me for it.” He swung his feet off the couch. “I should get
a move on now. I need to contact the airlines and let them know
you’ll be traveling in my place. There’ll be some necessary
paperwork...” He also needed to do whatever he could to stop
himself from thinking about kissing Eddie Faydon.

He swore under his
breath.

He’d be keeping his
distance for a few hours, but then what? Eventually, he’d bump into
her. He couldn’t pretend it hadn’t happened. Nothing would erase
the memory of her lips from his mind… his body. Best to bring it
out into the open. Tackle the kiss head on. And tell her what?

There were far too many
questions marching through his head. He’d bet anything she was
juggling a few of her own.

Eddie Faydon deserved
answers. And he wouldn’t mind hearing some of them too. He hadn’t
inherited his father’s acting abilities, but they had similar
traits. Where women were concerned, both he and his father
exercised a sense of tact and exclusivity. One night flings simply
didn’t do it for them. Sure, unlike his father, he’d never married,
and he hadn’t always set up house with his partners, but there’d
always been the possibility of more...

More of what, he had no
idea.

It didn’t matter. He
only knew he wouldn’t be able to explore the possibilities with
Eddie. There simply wouldn’t be enough time. His life was
elsewhere.

Regardless, he needed
to clear the air...

 

* * *

 

“Matthew. Mitch.
Markus,” Eddie said in a voice that spoke of calm and control, “I
know you cheat, so from now on, there’ll be no more drawing of
straws.”

“What do you suggest we
do instead?” her older brother Markus asked.

“It’s a fair system,”
Mitch insisted, his arms folded, his feet crossed at the
ankles.

“Tried and tested,”
Matthew agreed. “It’s not our fault if you always draw the short
straw.”

“How’s this for new
rules,” she said and slammed her hands against her hips, “As of
today, we have a roster system in place and there are only three
names on the list. Yours.”

Matthew ruffled her
hair. “It’s not like you to throw a hissy fit. What’s up?”

“Maybe I’m fed up with
always getting the raw of the deal.”

Markus drew his
eyebrows down. “Is someone giving you a hard time?”

Eddie crossed her arms
and pressed her lips together.

“She’s clamped up. That
has to mean something,” Mitch said.

“It’s an innocent
enough question, Red. Don’t make us hurt you.”

She poked Markus on the
chest. “Don’t. Call me. Red.” He only ever did it when he knew he
could get a rise out of her.

“It’s not Adam because
he promised to stay away, especially on Karaoke night.” Matthew
shook his head. “You should have known the microphone was on and
everyone would hear you.”

“You talked to Adam?
Even after I told you I could handle it?”

Mitch uncrossed his
feet and strode up to her. “Look me in the eye and tell me it’s not
Theo Kendrick.”

“Stop sidestepping and
trying to change the subject. It’s you. The lot of you. I’m fed up
with being the runt and always having to pick up the slack. I’ve
had enough. I quit.” She snatched the dishcloth from her shoulder
and threw it on the counter.

Mitch chuckled. “You
can’t quit. You’re a partner in the business.”

“Okay, we get it. You
need time off,” Markus reasoned.

She needed something,
she just wasn’t sure what.

Time to think? To
regroup? To revamp her life?

She couldn’t let
another dozen years fly by. Helena Wright had set her mind to
finding a husband and she’d put herself on track with a list of
possible candidates. It would work for her. She always seemed to
get what she wanted, when she wanted it. But Eddie had never been
methodical. Besides, whose name would she put on her list? None of
the available guys she knew in Eden appealed to her. Maybe her
trait was to fall for newcomers. The boyfriends she’d had, Derek
and Roy, had both been new to town...

Without thinking too
much about what she’d do and where she’d go, she packed a few
essentials into a backpack, threw them into the back seat of her
car, and drove off.

She ended up at Grandma
Wilson’s place, outside of town. The last place anyone would think
to look for her, not unless they wanted to lock horns with her
grandmother.

Steering her small car
along the rough road, she was careful to avoid getting stuck in the
ditches that always formed after a good rainfall, and there were
plenty.

Grandma Wilson tipped
back her wide brimmed straw hat, her hand shielding her eyes from
the sun. She stood in the middle of a paddock dressed in her pale
blue overalls, Grampa Wilson’s flannel shirt rolled up to her
elbows, and her menagerie of animals frolicking around her. Giving
her a brief wave, she made her way up to her.

Eddie killed the engine
and rolled down the window.

“Eddie? Two visits in
one week?”

“You’re supposed to say
how happy you are to see me again.”

Her grandmother studied
her long enough for Eddie to shift in her seat.

“I’ll put the kettle
on.”

Half an hour later, she
decided peace and quiet could be a lethal combination, bound to do
her more harm than good. “You haven’t asked why I came.”

“You’re obviously ready
to tell me now.”

“I think a part of me
wants to know if I could live like you. Out here, alone. With
goats, and chickens, and a vegetable garden.”

“I have a really good
internet connection.” Her grandmother patted her hand. “You’d miss
all the excitement. Have some fruit cake.”

Eddie broke off a
piece. “You soaked the raisins in brandy.” Her favorite.

“You should try living
in the city for a while. Get it out of your system.”

“You should move to
town and bake cakes to sell.”

Her grandmother’s eyes
crinkled at the edges. “What’s this visit really about, Eddie?”

“I always visit
you.”

“You have a backpack in
your car. It looks like you’ve bailed out or…” her grandmother
clicked her fingers, “Pressed the self-destruct button like on the
Starship Enterprise
and then launched the escape pod.”

“You still have a thing
for Captain Kirk.” Eddie drew in a shaky breath. How far would she
have to go to forget Theo’s kiss? She’d avoided going to a friend’s
house because she hadn’t wanted to fall into the vicious cycle of
talking about something that was clearly not going to happen. Best
to nip the urge bubbling inside her in the bud. The metaphor made
her cringe. What she felt flooding her veins couldn’t be cured with
words or thoughts.

“I need a forty-eight
hour hiatus.” Long enough for Theo Kendrick to leave town and never
return. “And I wouldn’t mind the recipe for this cake.”

“Man trouble?”

“Something like
that.”

“You need a hobby or a
new direction. That should take your mind off.”

Eddie shot to her feet
and strode to the window, her eyes skating along the lush green
paddocks surrounding her grandmother’s house. “A new direction.”
She’d told Theo she didn’t have any aspirations. No dreams to
pursue. Suddenly her life felt like quicksand, dragging her down.
She’d been watching life passing her by, the few opportunities
she’d had to alter her course slipping through her fingers…

“Fire-up a dream,” her
grandmother said. “Despite everything, you’re allowed to have them,
Eddie.”

“You’re the last person
I expected to hear that from.”

“Because your mother
had dreams?”

Eddie turned, her eyes
widened.

“You’re surprised I
mentioned her.”

She tried to clear her
throat but what she felt clogging it wasn’t something that would
shift easily. “I asked you about her once but you refused to talk
about her. Yes, I’m surprised. And shocked.”

Her grandmother drew in
a breath and released it slowly. “It took me a long time to come to
terms with my failings as a mother. I blamed myself and then I had
to convince myself we all make choices. At first I thought your
mother should have wised up to her dreams before committing to a
marriage, but you see where this is going...” she shrugged, “I’ve
been blessed with four wonderful grandchildren.”

“We feel lucky to have
you too.”

“I guess what I’m
trying to say it that you’re afraid to wish for something different
because you think you’ll end up taking the same road your mother
took. There’s a difference, Eddie. You’re single, with no
dependants. There’s nothing holding you back.”

“Everyone seems happy
for me to hold on to the status quo, to never change. Why are you
trying to push me out of the nest?”

“You’re too young to
have a midlife crisis.”

“Better to have it now
than to wait until I’m old and full of regrets.” Or, like her
mother, tied to a life she hadn’t wanted.

“No one would have
stopped you from doing something different. If you’d wanted to go
to university, your father would have paid for your studies. When
Derek went to Melbourne, you could have gone with him. But instead
you chose to stay.”

Did her dreams have to
involve moving away from her home, from everything, everyone she
knew?

BOOK: Her Charming Heartbreaker
9.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Loved by Morgan Rice
I'll Be Seeing You by Margaret Mayhew
Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley
Veiled (A Short Story) by Elliot, Kendra
Pursuer (Alwahi Series) by Morgan, Monique