Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(6)

By: Alison Ryan

"Well. Try to get back to her. I’m tired of screening my calls."

"I'll text her later. I don't know why she's calling the house."

They both sat quietly while a horse drawn carriage click-clacked by the house. Tourists in chinos, polo’s, and boat shoes sweated and snapped photos as the driver of the carriage lectured them on the age of the Vanderpage home (the DeGraff’s neighbors).

"It's the largest private residence in Charleston. A wedding gift for..." His voice trailed off as they sauntered by. Declan always felt so bad for the poor horses that had to pull those pasty people down this street every day. It couldn't be a fun gig in life.

It was the perfect day, other than the suffocating humidity. The plantation-style fans hummed above their very privileged heads. The DeGraffs’ housekeeper, Antonia, was setting out cold cuts in the kitchen. Anna DeGraff stirred the sweating pitcher of tea between them on what was a very overpriced serving cart Declan’s dad had bid too much on at one of his Sotheby auctions.

"You haven't really made plans for this summer, have you?" Anna's voice was slow and sweet. Declan watched as she tried to discreetly pour gin in her tea.

"Not so much. I’ll probably spend a bit of time at Sullivan’s,” he stretched his well-muscled calves and yawned. “Or just nap the months away.”

“You know, the house on Sullivan’s is getting renovated this summer, sugar. Didn’t Daddy tell you?” Anna crossed her ankles. “I don’t know why he thought summer of all times would be a good time for that, but such is the way of your daddy.”

Well, hell. The Sullivan’s Island house was the DeGraffs’ mansion on the beach, about 20 minutes from the Meeting Street house. Declan had spent every summer since birth lounging on the deck and shouting at beautiful women from the beachside pool. His Labor Day party at the end of summer was the event of the season. He hadn’t expected the renovations to be this summer. He’d just assumed they wouldn’t start until the fall. This was not what he wanted to hear.

“Have they started yet?” Maybe he could have Dad postpone the work. Declan didn’t know what his father could be thinking. He knew Declan pretty much lived full-time at Sullivan’s and Isle of Palms in the summer time.

“They started two weeks ago,” Anna burst his bubble. “I went by just the other day. All the floors are ripped up to hell.”

Declan stood up and looked over the balcony onto Meeting Street. A couple stood kissing in front of the Vanderpage gate. He’d seen that scene hundreds of times. Kissing couples, newlyweds, elderly couples, gay couples. People saw that gate and started dreaming about what it must be like to live in an old southern mansion, with no worries, the love of their life by their side.

Declan didn’t have to dream about it. He’d been living it his whole life. He couldn’t complain. It wasn’t all that horrible. There were worse destinies to have in life than being an old money, southern male. Much worse. He tried not to take it for granted like so many of his buddies did. If he feared anything, it was becoming one of those men who feel entitled, who enter places expecting to be known and catered to.

“I don’t mean to sound like an entitled rich kid but… I wish someone had told me that. All my buddies were planning on coming up for the fourth.”

Anna stared at Declan over the glass that she had just started refilling, “Well, I am sure y’all can come up with another plan. The world is at your Sperry–clad feet after all.”

Declan smiled, “I sound like a spoiled ass, huh?”

“Kind of,” his mother winked at him. “But that’s probably my fault. You’re my only baby and I’ve never wanted you to feel deprived.”

Declan sighed, “I suppose if not having a beach home for the summer is my biggest problem, I should probably reevaluate what I call problems.”

Anna put down her tea and stared at her son, “Since when did you get so self-aware?”

Declan shrugged, “I don’t know. Those bleeding heart liberal professors of mine must be getting into my head.” Declan winked at Anna and she laughed.

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