Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(2)By: Alison Ryan
“Always does,” Declan said, taking a long drink.
“Hey, another thing,” Winston said.
“Can you please put some pants on?”
Charlotte had been driving for two hours. She’d left Nashville that morning after a brief goodbye with her sister, Vanessa, punctuated by a promise to be back in a week, two weeks at the most.
She hated lying to her younger sibling.
“Why Charleston?” Vanessa asked. “You haven’t been back there since college. Right?” Vanessa leaned against Charlotte’s very sensible Volkswagen Passat, her hand shielding her freckled face from the Tennessee sun.
“Right,” Charlotte said, shoving the last of her suitcases into the back seat.
“So why go there now?” Vanessa asked. “It’s not about…”
Charlotte slammed the back door shut and started walking toward the other side of the car.
“What?” Charlotte said. “About who? Declan?”
It had been years since she’d spoken his name out loud to anyone.
“Yeah, I mean,” Vanessa couldn’t look her in the eye. “I just don’t know why else you’d go. That city is him.”
Charlotte sighed, “It was almost ten years ago, V. If I’m not over Declan yet, that would be pretty pathetic. Besides, I don’t think he lives there anymore. Another perk of going.”
“So you keep up with him?” Vanessa was smirking now.
“No,” Charlotte said, emphatic. “He was in the New York Times a couple months ago. When he sold his company. He’s now one of the youngest self-made billionaires in the country.”
Charlotte thought about the long-form interview on the front of the New York Times’ business section. She’d been in her office at the hospital, eating a bagel, turning the pages of the paper over to look for the style section when his face suddenly appeared and she’d almost choked. There was Declan DeGraff, all six-foot-three inches of handsome leaning against a sleek, black Range Rover, his arms crossed. He smiled at her from the photo almost as if to say, “Miss me?”
She’d thrown the paper across the room, but then picked it up and folded it, right through his picture, and hidden it in her desk the past few weeks. Whenever she was feeling out of sorts, or like one of her panic attacks was on the horizon, she’d peek into her desk and look at his knowing smile.
For some reason it could still comfort her. Despite the past.
“Declan DeGraff is a billionaire now?” Vanessa guffawed. “Is he married?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” Charlotte said. “But the interview said he lived in California. Probably with a harem for all I know. It doesn’t matter. He has nothing to do with why I’m going.”
Vanessa sighed, “I just don’t understand any of this. You worked so hard to become an obstetrician. You loved your job, you helped people. And now you’re suddenly referring your patients to other doctors and giving up all your plans to take some random trip to Charleston. I mean, are you okay? Is this about turning 30? Are you having a crisis?”
Charlotte laughed, “I’m not afraid of aging. You should know me better than that.”
“Then why?” Vanessa’s eyes were wide and on the verge of tears. “I’m your sister. We’ve never gone more than like four days without seeing each other. And Dad…”
“I have to do this for my own reasons,” Charlotte said. “One day you’ll understand.
“I doubt that,” Vanessa muttered under her breath. “This just isn’t you, Charlotte. You’re the one that stays. You’re steadfast and solid and this is completely out of character for you.”
Charlotte sighed, “I’m not a robot. I’m a person. And I need to find my way out of a thing. Okay? You trust me?”
Charlotte was in front of her sister now, her arms outstretched.
“I love you, Vanessa,” she said. “To the moon and back.”
Vanessa paused, still sore over what was happening. But she couldn’t resist a hug from the Sanders sister that wasn’t known for being the most warmly affectionate of the two of them.