Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(5)

By: Alison Ryan



Winston’s smile faded, “I’m sorry, man. Really. I shouldn’t have mentioned her.”

Declan sighed, “Try to remember not to do it again.”

And with that, Declan turned away from his car and headed back toward the dock and the yacht, where a whole wet bar of bourbon awaited him.





Ten Years Ago…




Charlotte Sanders wasn’t in the best mood the day she first met Declan DeGraff.

First of all, it was hotter than Hell itself. By late May in Charleston, South Carolina, being outside is like trying to walk and breathe through wet cotton.

Second of all, she’d just been advised by her roommate that she was going to need to find a new place to live. Charlotte’s roommate, Allyn Legare, was an uppity sorority girl who wanted to live with her boyfriend for the summer.

“I mean, your lease is up anyway,” Allyn had said. “And Russell and I are ready to take it to the next level, you know?”

“I mean, you’re giving me no notice,” Charlotte said, trying not to raise her voice to match how she felt inside. “If I’d I would have to move out, I would have made arrangements months ago. It’s going to be almost impossible to find a place now.”

Allyn shrugged, “Sorry. It is what it is, you know?”

Charlotte had never been a violent person, but she wanted to punch Allyn in the face.

“Our place is two bedrooms,” Charlotte said. “I’m assuming you two would share one. I don’t mind him moving in, it would actually make rent cheaper for everyone if there was three of us.”

Allyn looked at Charlotte confused, “You know I don’t pay my own rent. Daddy handles all that. Besides, I want to turn your room into a big walk-in closet.”

Charlotte sighed. Of course. Girls like Allyn didn’t have to worry about the same things girls like Charlotte did.

“Okay,” Charlotte said, standing up from the futon they’d been sitting on. “Guess I should start figuring this out.”

“Yeah, sorry,” Allyn said, sounding anything but.



********



At the same moment, a few blocks over, Declan DeGraff was visiting his parents.

He was basking on the balcony of his parents' house on Meeting Street. It was May and his exams had ended the week before. Declan was a free man for the summer.

His father had flown out of town with some of his old fraternity brothers for a "man's weekend away" to Key West. Declan’s mother, Anna DeGraff, sat next to him in a wicker chair, sipping her sweet tea, fanning her perfectly applied face, talking about how much she was going to get done while her husband was gone. They were sitting there, a beautiful cliché of a moneyed, southern family.

"Saylor called today," Mama said, "She called yesterday too. When are you going to call that poor girl back?"

Saylor Embers was Declan’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. He had known her since before they were born, practically. Their mothers had gone to the University of Alabama together and both married old Charleston money. It was all very socially incestuous and forced, Saylor and Declan's relationship. She was a beautiful girl, yes. Probably one of the prettiest in South Carolina. She had legs for miles. Men would have turned their lives inside out just for her to smile in their direction. People couldn't help but look at her. She was raised to be admired, but at the same time to pretend she didn't notice.

But she knew. Which led to her having an almost insufferable personality in private. Over the past six months it had become completely horrible to be around her, alone anyway. Thus, the present "off" status of their relationship.

"I don't know. Maybe never. Maybe in five minutes. You know how it is with us," Declan said. His mother did know. Just this past Christmas she had to deal with Saylor's debutante ball. The event had made it clear to everyone that if Saylor was this demanding and monstrous for a damn coming-out party, she would be a beast whenever her wedding day approached. It was then that Declan knew he did not want to be on the other end of that deal. So he’d cooled it off with her. Pretty only gets you so far. I think that's something women don't always realize, Declan thought. Being beautiful is a big, huge deal. But being pleasant to be around eventually becomes just as important. Particularly when you're the level of turbo bitch that Saylor could be.

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