Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(4)By: Alison Ryan
Charlotte shook away the memory as she drove down I-26. She turned on the radio and switched through a million gospel and country stations until she gave up and threw in a Ray Lamontagne CD.
His soulful voice filled the inside of her car and for a moment Charlotte allowed herself to forget about what had happened years ago and stop worrying about the future. For now, it was just her and the music, and her trying her best to hang on to the present and forget the past.
Declan’s summer in Charleston had not been part of his master plan.
And what was the plan? What it had always been – make money, travel the world, suck the marrow out of life, and forget about the past. And each day and year he’d gotten further away from that past had been such a relief. The pain from it still shrouded him, but the baggage was getting lighter and lighter with each passing day.
Until his father got sick.
So he’d come back, as a good son does. And as an only child, he had little choice. There were no other DeGraffs left to take care of the patriarch, so Declan returned home for the summer so he wouldn’t have to live with anymore regret in his life.
When he’d first seen his father, it had taken everything in him not to show the shock he felt at how skinny the old man had become. Cancer was insidious enough, but pancreatic cancer was a whole other monster. Henry DeGraff had always been a barrel-chested, powerhouse of a man. But his illness had turned him into something different. He was incredibly thin, his skin sallow, blue veins forming rivers up his scrawny arms and legs. Declan had needed a moment by himself to take in what he’d just seen.
His father would not be getting out of this battle alive.
His father’s mansion on Meeting Street was almost two hundred years old and badly in need of renovations. Declan had planned on redoing it completely as a surprise for Henry, but once he’d realized how sick his father was, that plan went out the window.
Why redo something his father would never live to see to completion?
It was all too much to take in. Not to mention his father being ornery as hell and firing every nurse Declan hired for him. So Declan had escaped to his yacht the past week and tried to drink his troubles away. He hadn’t been one to look for answers in the bottom of a bottle in almost a decade, but this seemed like as good a time as any to become a borderline drunk.
Declan had enjoyed his brunch at the yacht club with Winston, ending their meal with one of the best Bloody Mary’s he’d ever consumed.
“You heading home?” Winston asked as they walked out into the parking lot towards Declan’s Range Rover.
“Hell no,” Declan replied. “I was thinking of heading to Sullivan’s to check out the new digs.”
Declan had bought a home on Sullivan’s Island shortly after he arrived and realized the gravity of Henry’s situation, and that he might be in the Holy City for more than a couple days; or even months. The yacht was okay for a little while, but Declan needed space and a view. The 6,000 square foot beach front mansion on Sullivan’s provided both.
“You closed on it already?” Winston asked.
“Yep. It was vacant and I paid cash. So she’s all mine,” Declan smiled as he put a pair of Aviator sunglasses over his blue eyes.
“Must be nice,” Winston chuckled. “That house is one of the most expensive on the Charleston market.”
“Was the most,” Declan corrected him. “But it’s all relative.”
“When you’re worth almost two billion dollars I guess spending eight figures on a house is just a drop in the bucket,” Winston pulled the Audi keys out of his pocket. “You’ve come a long way since our Kappa Sig days.”
Declan shrugged, “I would hope so.”
Winston slapped his friend on the back, “And you’ve gone through a lot of ladies since your Charlotte days.”
Just hearing her name almost made Declan’s heart stop.
“Why would you even mention her?” Declan asked. “That was almost ten years ago.”
Winston could tell he’d overstepped, “Sorry, man. Didn’t realize it was still a sore subject.”
Now Declan was pissed, “Who said it was? It’s just fucked up to mention her when she hasn’t been a part of my life for so long.”