A confident girl, a shy guy, and a secret that changes everything.
Everyone has secrets. The question is how far would you go to protect them?
The day before your whole life changes forever seems just like any other day. The hotel lobby commotion makes it impossible to think. I walk through the crowded room, my stride long and with purpose, dodging conversation after conversation in hopes of escaping the inevitable. I burst through the set of glass doors leading onto a ginormous gazebo-like deck overlooking the harbor. Weaving around wrought-iron furniture and heat lamps, the reality of my new life begins to sink in with an odd twinge of relief mixed in with trepidation.
“Now what?” I grill the hotel's resident cat napping in a nearby chair, but the diva in a blingy collar swishes her tail over her face, dissing me without a second thought.
My eyes survey the landscape with trees dotting the harbor walkway leading to the tall ships anchoring off the distant shore. Twilight has not only bailed, but now a blanket of fog looms over the horizon and threatens to erase the city’s skyline. Despite the faint glow from outdoor string lights, I can't find an alternate escape route.
“Where is the freaking fire escape?” I lean against the banister and swallow the panic taking up residence in my chest, making my breath stall.
A throat clears behind me and a chill pricks my skin. “Just answer my question and I’ll leave you alone.”
My shoulders flinch at the familiar gravelly voice that's smoked one too many cigarettes. “No way.”
My fingers grab at my white, high school graduation dress, fisting the delicate lace. I flip around to give the asshat a coming-to-Jesus smackdown. He steps into the waning moonlight, blocking the entrance to the lobby and apparently, my only escape route. My eyes land on his outfit and I can't hold back the wince. What a douche.
“No self-respecting fan wears both Patriots and Red Sox gear at the same time. Go back from whatever rock you crawled out from and kiss Boston’s ass goodbye.”
“Oh, that’s original.” Sarcasm drips from his thin lips as he advances and I shrink against the railing until my back hits the wood.
A flicker of fear sweeps through my veins. I survey the area for help, but nobody's outside and it's not like the cat can save me from the humiliation lurking around every corner of this hotel. I need to don my forgotten Boston Strong panties and face the situation head-on like a true-grit Southie. Dad Dearest thrusts his hand into the air and the click-click-click of his phone causes my anxiety to spike thermal nuclear. My arms fly to cover my face and ward off the flash. Tears pool in my eyes, melting my makeup into a hot mess.
“Leave me alone.” All sense of dignity has gone by way of the dodo.
My estranged father's dirty thumbnail, from years of working with grease and grime and who only knows what to score his next gig, taps his phone screen and a raucous beep surges a voice recorder to life. Thrusting it in my tear-soaked face, he gestures for his only child to spill her best-guarded secret. “Answer the question and I’ll stop hounding you, Maile. People have a right to know. I have a right to know. You owe me.”
“I believe the nice girl asked you to leave her alone.” A male voice, whiskey smooth with a hint of southern charm, calls out from the shadows. “Are you okay, miss?” The guy steps forward as Daddy Dearest retreats several feet to his left. Brightness now cascades through the lobby’s glass doors, highlighting this hella-hottie's tall, muscular frame and masculine features. He doesn't have that jaded look of a wary-of-the-world college student or a frustrated guy beating a worn path to a weekly paycheck, so he's probably around my age. A lingering glance details his short dark hair fights a sinful curl skirting his neck. His skin holds a deep tan hue with a full day’s scruff giving him the badass look with a hint of mystery. Long black eyelashes surround his cobalt eyes.
His checkered shirt drapes over his white tee and his dark jeans are ripped in all the right places. I resist the urge to unbutton it in that unkept way it's meant to be worn. He almost fits in by wearing the signature threads of a common New Englander, if not for his slight accent, his designer clothes blow his cover. Clearly, he hails from somewhere else, which bursts my attraction bubble to smithereens. He's the sort of guy I have spent my entire high school career trying to avoid. But tonight, despite my sudden predicament, I can't tear my gaze away.