Revel (Second Chance Romance #1) by Alison Ryan
Declan DeGraff was hungover.
It was the kind of hungover he hadn’t been since his fraternity days at the College of Charleston. And that had been almost a decade ago.
After graduating, he’d grown up a bit and only imbibed when in the presence of his business colleagues; to network and close deals. And it was always bourbon for him. Beer was for college kids and shrimpers. And he was no longer the former and never the latter.
Returning to Charleston, however, meant a return to old vices.
He stood up and immediately smashed his head against the ceiling above him. Right. He’d forgotten he was on his yacht. In a bunk. Naked.
He was really too old for this shit.
“Dec-laaaaaaan,” a faux high-pitched voice yelled down to him from the deck. “Get your drunk ass up. Your daddy is calling your phone.”
Ugh, Declan thought. His father was the last person he needed to hear from at the moment.
“I’m comin’, I’m comin’,” Declan said, jumping down from the bunk, still naked. He noticed two slender girls were sleeping on the bottom, their legs intertwined and their breasts mashed against each other. One was a blonde and the other a red head. And he couldn’t for the life of him remember either of their names.
It didn’t matter. They’d be gone in a few minutes anyway.
His best friend Winston Ravenel handed him his buzzing iPhone.
“You look like shit,” he told Declan.
“Thanks,” Declan replied. “Can you get those girls dressed and out of here? I want to go to brunch. I need to eat.”
“Why can’t they come with?” Winston asked. Declan gave him a look and Winston dropped the subject.
Declan didn’t take women to brunch. He took them to bed.
Declan answered the phone, “Hey, Dad. Everything okay?”
“Where are you?” his father, Henry DeGraff, bellowed into the phone. “I’ve been texting and calling you all morning.”
“Well, I’m on the boat,” Declan said, trying to be patient. “Why? I told you, your nurse was coming in…”
“I just fired her,” Henry said. “She was incompetent.”
Declan was angry now, “Fired her? Today was her first day. You’ve fired every nurse we’ve hired in the last month. This is getting out of control. You will not fire her. I’m not dealing with this bullshit, okay? I have a life to live and handle and you’re making that very difficult.”
“Oh, so sorry Declan. Didn’t mean for my pancreatic-fucking-cancer to be such a burden on your life. You know, the one you still get to live? With all the money your family made for you.”
Declan sighed. They had this same exact conversation every damn day lately.
“May I remind you,” Declan said. “That our family money is now actually money I’ve made. That our old, aristocratic money ran out and I went and made us more so you can have all the nurses and care and morphine in the world! Or is your memory going, too? Because if that’s the case, I can always put you in a home- “
“Stop.” His father said it every time. Before Declan would say something he regretted. It was one his father’s few mercies.
They were both silent.
Declan spoke more softly now, “Dad, I’m just asking that you give the nurse a chance. And if she’s that bad, I’ll get rid of her, okay? But we’re running out of nurses, Dad. Charleston isn’t a major metropolis.”
He heard his father relenting, “Okay, son. But I don’t have to like her.”
“Dad, you’ve never liked anyone. Why start now?”
They hung up.
Declan walked over to the side of the boat. It was docked in Charleston Harbor, right next to the Charleston Yacht Club, where he planned on having brunch in just a few moments.
He watched as the two leggy coeds disembarked and sashayed their way down the plank and onto the sidewalk that led to the stairs that went up to the parking lot. He noticed one of them had a magnificent ass and suddenly he remembered a little bit about last night, just enough to put him in a slightly better mood.
“Hair of the dog?” Winston asked, handing Declan a glass of Maker’s. “Thought it would help.”
“Always does,” Declan said, taking a long drink.
“Hey, another thing,” Winston said.
“Can you please put some pants on?”
Charlotte had been driving for two hours. She’d left Nashville that morning after a brief goodbye with her sister, Vanessa, punctuated by a promise to be back in a week, two weeks at the most.
She hated lying to her younger sibling.
“Why Charleston?” Vanessa asked. “You haven’t been back there since college. Right?” Vanessa leaned against Charlotte’s very sensible Volkswagen Passat, her hand shielding her freckled face from the Tennessee sun.
“Right,” Charlotte said, shoving the last of her suitcases into the back seat.
“So why go there now?” Vanessa asked. “It’s not about…”
Charlotte slammed the back door shut and started walking toward the other side of the car.