Grayson's Vow

Page 2


I walked back outside into the bright summer’s day and let myself into my car, parked up the street. I sat there for a minute, staring out the front window at the quaint downtown area: crisp, clean awnings adorned the fronts of the businesses, and large containers of brightly colored flowers decorated the sidewalk. I loved Napa, from downtown, to the riverfront, to the outlying vineyards, ripe with fruit in the summer and colorful with the vivid yellow, wild mustard flowers in the winter. It had been where my gram retired to after my grandfather passed, where I’d spent summers at her small house with the large front porch on Seminary Street. Everywhere I looked I saw her, heard her voice, felt her warm, vibrant spirit. My gram had been fond of saying, Today may be a very bad day, but tomorrow may be the best day of your life. You just have to hang on until you get there.
I drew in a deep inhale of air, doing my best to shake off the loneliness. Oh, Gram, if only you were here. You would take me into your arms and tell me everything was going to be okay. And because it was you saying it, I would believe it to be true.
Sliding my eyes closed and leaning back against the headrest, I whispered, "Help me, Gram. I'm lost. I need you. Give me a sign. Tell me what to do. Please." The tears I'd been holding at bay for so long burned behind my eyelids, threatening to fall.
I opened my eyes, movement in the passenger side mirror immediately catching my attention. As I turned my head, I spotted a tall, well-built man in a gray suit . . . Grayson Hawthorn. I jolted slightly, my breath faltering. He was standing against the building next to my car, to the right of my bumper, the perfect location for me to see him clearly in my mirror without moving. I slunk down in my seat just a bit, leaned back, and turned my head to watch him.
He had his head leaned back against the building behind him, and his eyes were closed, his expression pained. And my God, he was . . . breathtaking. He had the beautifully carved features of a knight in shining armor, with almost-black hair a tad too long, making it curl over his collar. It was his lips that were truly devastating, though—full and sensual in a way that made my eyes want to wander to them again and again. I squinted, trying to take in every detail of his face, before my gaze traveled down his tall form. His body matched his beautifully dark masculinity—muscular and graceful, his shoulders broad and his waist narrow.
Oh, Kira. You hardly have time to be ogling beautiful felons on the sidewalk. Your concerns are slightly more pressing. You're homeless and well, frankly, desperate. If you want to focus on something, focus on that. I chewed at my lip, unable to drag my eyes away. What had his crime been anyway? I tried to look away, but something about him pulled at me. And it wasn't just his striking male beauty that made my eyes linger on him. Something about the expression on his face felt familiar, speaking to what I was feeling right that very minute.
If you were worth more . . .
"Are you desperate, too, Grayson Hawthorn?" I murmured. Why?
As I watched him, he brought his head straight and massaged his temple, looking around. A woman walked by and turned as she passed him, her head moving up and down to take in his body. He didn't seem to notice her, and fortunately for her, she turned, looking ahead just in time to narrowly miss colliding with a light pole. I chuckled softly. Grayson stood staring off into the distance again. As I watched him, an obviously homeless man moved toward where he stood, holding his hat out to people walking by. They all moved quickly past him, looking away uncomfortably. When the man began to approach Grayson, I pressed my lips together. Sorry, old man. It seems to me the person you're about to approach is in pretty dire straits himself. But to my surprise, when the man approached Grayson tentatively, Grayson reached into his pocket, hesitated only briefly, and then grabbed the bills inside. I couldn't be sure from where I sat, but when the dark interior of his wallet flashed my way, it looked like he'd emptied it for the old man. He nodded his head once at the man in rags, who was thanking him profusely, and then stood for a moment watching the homeless man walk away. Then he strode in the other direction, turning the corner out of sight.
Watch what people do when they think no one's watching, love. That's how you'll know who they really are.
Gram's words floated through my mind as if she had spoken from somewhere just outside my car. The shrill ringing of my phone startled me, and I let out a small gasp, grabbing my purse from the passenger seat to rifle inside for my phone.
"Hey," I whispered.
A beat of silence. "Kira? Why are you whispering?" She was whispering, too.
I cleared my throat and leaned back on my seat. "Sorry, the phone just startled me. I'm sitting in my car in Napa."
"Were you able to close the account?"
"Yeah. It had a couple thousand dollars in it."
"Hey, well that's great. That's something at least, right?"
I sighed. "Yeah. It'll help me get by for a little bit."
I heard Kimberly's boys laughing in the background, and she shushed them, holding her hand over the phone and speaking to them in Spanish, before coming back to me and saying, "My couch is always yours if you want it."
"I know. Thank you, Kimmy." I couldn't do that to my best friend, though. She and her husband, Andy, were squeezed into a tiny apartment in San Francisco with her four-year-old fraternal twin sons. Kimberly had gotten pregnant when she was eighteen and then learned the shocking news she was carrying twins. She and Andy had beaten the odds so far, but they hadn't had an easy time of it. The last thing they needed was their homeless friend sleeping on their couch and putting a strain on their family. Homeless. I was homeless.