Every Little Thing

Page 12


“For about six months to a year. You’ve been living here for three years. You’re hiding out here.”
“I’m not hiding out here.” He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “Really, Dad, you came to see me to attack me?”
“I’m not attacking you. I’m concerned for you.”
“And I’m telling you there is no need to be concerned.” He pulled his suit jacket off the chair he’d draped it over and shrugged into it.
“Where are you going?”
“We are going out. For drinks.”
William raised an eyebrow. “It’s a little early, don’t you think?”
“Normally I’d say yes, but I want you to meet the proprietor of the bar next door. Cooper Lawson.”
His father followed him out of the suite. “Is he a friend?”
Vaughn hesitated over the word. A year ago he might have used the word “acquaintance” instead but during the past few months he’d grown to trust Cooper. He’d confided in the man. “Yes, he’s a friend.”
“Then I look forward to meeting him.”
Cooper’s wasn’t open yet, but the owner was used to Vaughn dropping by before opening for a drink when he needed a moment of peace from the chaos of his life. Between traveling from hotel to hotel, and managing them all from Hartwell, Vaughn didn’t have time for many moments of peace. It was a luxury to have somewhere quiet to go to where no one could get at him, where no one knew where he was.
And sure enough as he waited outside the locked bar with his dad after rapping on the door, it swung open to reveal an unsurprised-to-see-him Cooper.
Cooper stood before them in jeans, boots, a T-shirt, and a red flannel shirt. He was the salt of the earth type—hardworking, unpretentious, and loyal. Most people in Hartwell admired and respected him, and Vaughn had no doubt that he was the kind of man William Tremaine would respect, too.
“This is my father, William. May we come in for a drink?”
Cooper stepped aside to let them pass. His dad stopped and held out his hand to the bar owner. “You can call me Liam.”
Grinning, Cooper shook his hand. “Call me Cooper.”
With his eyes drinking everything in about the place, his father relaxed, a soft smile playing around his mouth as he unbuttoned his suit jacket and slid onto a stool beside Vaughn at the bar.
Cooper walked behind the counter, eyeing them with amused speculation. “Anyone ever tell you, you two look exactly alike?”
“All the time.” William grinned and clapped Vaughn on the shoulder. “I passed on good genes.”
Vaughn caught Cooper’s grin and grunted.
Laughing, William turned back to Cooper. “You’ve got a nice place here. Real nice. Reminds me of my local bar back home in Augusta.”
“You’re from Maine?”
“Yes. Born and raised and the family goes back a couple of generations in Augusta. My dad was a postal worker from a long line of postal workers.”
Cooper raised his eyebrows.
Vaughn was proud of what his father had accomplished. “Dad started with nothing. Put himself through college on scholarship, made smart investments, worked his ass off, and is now one of the biggest real estate and construction giants in New York.”
“I knew the real estate giant part, but I just assumed you were a blue blood,” Cooper said. “That’s impressive.”
Like always William Tremaine shrugged off the praise. “I worked hard and got some good breaks.”
“Still impressive. I know how hard it is just to run a bar, never mind an empire.”
“On that note, we’ll have two scotch on the rocks,” Vaughn said.
“Vaughn told me on the way over how you turned this place around,” his dad said as Cooper got them their whiskey. “It’s not easy to do. Bar and restaurant statistics for failure in the first years are grim.”
“Like you said . . . it’s all about hard work.”
“And you have a wife? Kids?”
Cooper grinned, a full, smug, big grin. “Girlfriend.”
William chuckled at his expression. “She must be something special.”
Dr. Jessica Huntington was definitely something special. Cooper was a lucky man. Unlike Tom Sutton, Cooper knew it.
“She’s the one,” Cooper admitted with ease. Most men he knew back in Manhattan would never dream of sharing those kinds of feelings. His longtime friend Oliver Spence would balk at the entire concept of thinking of a woman as “the one.” Oliver had been engaged more times than Vaughn could count and Vaughn suspected he’d cheated on every single one of those women. No. Oliver and his crowd were unable to say shit like “she’s the one.” And Vaughn had to admit he admired Cooper for his ability to be so honest.
William scrutinized Cooper, and Vaughn could tell his father liked what he saw. “It’s a rare thing to find. ‘The one.’ Hold on tight.”
Cooper shot Vaughn a look, having heard the story of his mother’s death during one of those times he’d trusted the man enough to confide elements of his personal life to him.
“Okay, I’m done listening to you two wax poetic.” Vaughn took a sip of his scotch. “What else is new, Lawson?”
And just like that the grin was wiped off Cooper’s face. “You’ll hear it sooner or later . . . Tom cheated on Bailey. She walked in on them last night. Apparently, she wasn’t quiet about confronting them at his place, so it’ll be all over town by the end of the day.”