Grayson's Vow

Page 25


"Oh, um, yes. That's fine." My heart started beating faster. "Okay." I felt ill.
He squinted at me slightly, but didn't say anything.
"Well then, it's a plan," I mumbled. "I'm going to drive into town for dinner tonight. I'll see you tomorrow." He kept looking at me suspiciously, not saying a word. I turned and walked quickly out of the house, practically running back to my cottage once I closed the front door behind me.
Grayson and I avoided each other for the next two days. Or at least I thought it was both of us. I knew I was steering clear of him, and I was pretty sure he was doing the same. I saw him a few times in passing, but other than that, I spent the time mostly alone. I took long walks around Napa, including the Hawthorn property, read, helped Charlotte with a few meals—meals Grayson didn't show up for. But I loved chatting with Charlotte. She was so very easy to get along with and had the same kind, open spirit that my gram had had. Even though I barely knew her, it was as if she filled the empty void created when Gram passed away—a motherly figure.
My father's number had appeared on my phone a couple times, but I didn't answer. Finally, though, I sent him a text telling him I was taking some time for myself and I'd call him soon. I didn't receive a reply.
At eleven on Wednesday, Grayson and I met outside the main house, then drove into town to the appointment with the lawyer he'd hired. We'd waived having separate lawyers to save both time and money. Neither of us spoke on the way there. Ever since the naked incident, there'd been a strange tension between us. I couldn't figure out if it was anger or awkwardness—perhaps a little bit of both? For my part, I definitely felt angry and awkward. Why he should feel angry, I had no idea, but he seemed to. Perhaps I just didn't know him well enough to read him. And, I reminded myself, I never would.
We parked and when we realized we'd arrived a little early, I asked if he'd mind if I went inside a small wine shop on the same street. I wanted to buy a little something for Charlotte who had so kindly gone out of her way to include me in Grayson's home—far beyond her role as a housekeeper merely doing her job. I wanted to let her know I appreciated it, especially under the circumstances.
Once inside, Grayson started looking over the wine selections at the front, and I headed toward the back of the store where wine openers and other kitchen items were kept. As I perused some pretty cheese trays in one of the aisles, I overheard a woman say in a loud whisper, "Did you see Grayson Hawthorn at the front of the store? God, I used to have the biggest crush on him."
I stiffened slightly as another woman giggled. "Who didn't? Go talk to him. I mean, you couldn't take him home to Mama now, but for a one-night fling, hot damn, I'd pay to experience that."
"Maybe I will. He's so hot." The other woman giggled and when I heard them walking toward me, my pulse skyrocketed, and I hightailed it in the other direction, grabbing Grayson's arm as I walked quickly toward the door.
"Whoa," he said, keeping pace with me.
"They didn't have what I was looking for," I explained, not even understanding exactly why I felt so flustered.
"What were you looking for?"
"Uh, a cheese tray, or a cake stand or something, I don't know," I hedged.
"They had all that back there."
"Look," I said, taking a deep breath and slowing to a normal paced walk. "I heard some women discussing you, and I felt like I was eavesdropping." I paused. "It's just . . . just that it was weird, and uncomfortable."
Grayson looked at me and when I turned my head, he raised one brow. "Discussing me?"
I waved my hand. "I'm sure you're aware that women find you . . . appealing for some unknown reason." I shrugged.
"Hot, panty-melting," I elaborated.
Grayson stopped and I did as well, turning to face him. The look on his face was filled with amusement. "This topic interests me. I'd like to stop and discuss it further."
I snorted, turning and walking again. He caught up, turning around so that he was walking backward in front of me, his expression disgustingly smug. "Wait, were you uncomfortable because . . . you find me . . . appealing, little witch?"
You don't have anything I haven't seen before.
"No," I said, possibly a bit more sharply than intended. "Not in the least. Here we are." I moved around him and walked through the door of the lawyer's office, Grayson's annoying chuckle following me inside.
Scaly winged creature.
The paperwork was straightforward and easy enough to understand. I ignored Grayson entirely while we signed it, although I still felt vaguely annoyed by his teasing outside. We both perused the paperwork carefully, though, and signed our names, taking a copy with us. And it was done. The only thing left to do was to get married. Married. To a dragon. A completely unappealing, annoying dragon. For money. I groaned internally. This was, by far, the craziest scheme I'd ever concocted. Cons: Crazy, ridiculous, probably shameful . . . Definitely shameful. Disrespectful to the sanctity of marriage. Disrespectful to my grandmother.
Those were a lot of cons. But . . . but it was going to work. I'd be free of my father. Focus, Kira. Focus on that. It was an incredibly weighty pro.
I'd made a list about The Dragon the night before, after he'd come into the kitchen to eat dinner, had seen me sitting at the table, and had promptly informed Charlotte he'd be eating in town. I had been avoiding him, too, so why that should have stung, I wasn't sure. The list had been made out of hurt pride, but it had helped.