Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(9)By: Alison Ryan
But instead she looked out onto the harbor and thought about how much she wished her mother was here. That thought crossed her mind at least a couple times a week, but it had been crossing her mind almost hourly the last month or so. She’d see girls around campus walking with their parents, or sometimes just their mothers, and a pain would hit her heart. She’d never know what it was like to talk to her mother about the things happening in her life, or to get her advice that only a mother can give you.
The tears were coming again and she was positive the stroller moms were looking at her now. It was time to walk back and get some much-needed sleep. Facing Allyn and figuring out the living situation could wait until tomorrow.
She stood up to start walking back, and all of a sudden she heard someone say, “Hey, watch it…” and she was knocked over, catching herself with her arms, but not before they skidded across the cement of the walkway.
“Shit,” she said, pain shooting through the scrapes. “What the hell?”
“Are you okay?” a male voice said. “I’m sorry, it was bad timing, I was running by, and you stood up and we collided…”
She turned to see who was speaking and that’s when she first laid eyes on Declan DeGraff.
He was shirtless, and his tan pectorals had a sheen of sweat across them. His hair was “ash blond” as Vanessa, her sister, would have called it, and it was wet from perspiration. His face was handsome, his blue eyes concerned over her welfare. He looked like the type of guy that Allyn would have fawned over, a loud and mean party guy screaming at passersby on King Street on Friday night after drinking too much.
But his eyes were kind. They didn’t match the rest of him.
“Sorry,” Charlotte said, gingerly accepting his offered hand so she could stand back up. “I wasn’t looking.”
“It’s just as much my fault,” he said, smiling now. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said, looking down at her hands. They were bleeding.
“Shit!” he said. “I feel terrible. You’re bleeding.”
Charlotte shook her head, “It’s not a big deal. Just some scrapes. I’m heading back anyway.”
“Do you live far? Or did you park your car on the Mt P end?” he asked.
“No, I came from the East Bay end. I live on that side. I’m seriously fine. You can keep going on your run or whatever.” Charlotte was mortified now. She just wanted him to go back on his way and leave her be.
“That’s where I came from too,” he said. “I’ll walk you back.”
“Totally unnecessary,” she said.
He looked at her for a moment and she couldn’t read the expression on his face.
“You’re always this stubborn?” he asked. “I was taught you walk a girl home even in the best of circumstances. And certainly in ones such as this. I wouldn’t feel right.”
Charlotte sighed, “Well, if you insist. That’s fine. It’s a long walk though.”
“I have nowhere to be. I’m Declan, by the way.”
“I’m Charlotte,” she said, and they began to walk.
Declan could tell she’d been crying. Her eyes were red, and with ones as large and distinct as hers were, it was hard to hide emotion in them. He was immediately stunned at their beauty, at her beauty in general. Her face was framed by wild hair, the color of a sunset, and again those eyes. He wanted to fix what made them look so sad. He didn’t even know her full name yet, but he was determined to make things right in her world.
I mean, what was a beautiful girl doing crying at the top of the Ravenel Bridge?
But he sensed that pointing out how upset she appeared to be wouldn’t get him very far. And he wanted to know what he could about Charlotte. If she would let him in, that is.
“So,” he said as they started walking back towards the peninsula end of the Ravenel. “You walk the bridge much?”
Charlotte shrugged, “Maybe a couple times a week.”
“Me too,” Declan said. “I’m surprised we haven’t run into one another before this.”
“I usually come early in the morning,” Charlotte said. “You’re probably not even awake yet. Or maybe haven’t even gone to bed.”