Her first phone call of the morning left her stunned. Moments after hanging up, she was tearing through her old college textbooks on art history.
THE door of the Vane house was wide open. A number of burly men were hauling furniture and boxes in, or hauling furniture and boxes out. Just watching them gave Flynn a backache.
He recalled the weekend years before when he and Jordan had moved into an apartment. How they, with Brad’s help, had carted a secondhand sofa that weighed as much as a Honda up three flights of stairs.
Those were the days, Flynn reminisced. Thank God they were over.
Moe leaped out of the car behind him and without waiting for an invitation raced straight into the house. There was a crash, a curse. Flynn could only pray that one of the Vane family antiques hadn’t bit the dust as he hurriedly followed.
“Jesus Christ. You call this a puppy?”
“He was a puppy—a year ago.” Flynn looked at his oldest friend, currently being greeted by and slobbered on by his dog. And his heart simply sang.
“Sorry about the . . . was that a lamp?”
Brad glanced at the broken china scattered in the foyer. “It was a minute ago. All right, big guy. Down.”
“Outside, Moe. Chase the rabbit!”
In response, Moe let out a series of barks and bombed out the door.
“The one that lives in his dreams. Hey.” Flynn stepped forward, crunching broken shards under his feet, and caught Brad in one hard hug. “Looking good. For a suit.”
“Who’s a suit?”
He couldn’t have looked less like one in worn jeans and a denim work shirt. He looked, Flynn thought, tall and lean and fit. The Vanes’ golden child, the family prince, who was as happy running a construction crew as he was a board meeting.
“I came by last evening, but the place was deserted. When did you get in?”
“Late. Let’s get out of the way,” Brad suggested as the movers carried in another load. He jerked a thumb and led the way to the kitchen.
The house was always furnished, and made available to execs or visiting brass from the Vane corporation. Once it had been their home in the Valley, a place Flynn had known as well as his own.
The kitchen had been redone since the days when he’d begged cookies there, but the view out the windows, off the surrounding deck, was the same. Woods and water, and the rising hills beyond.
Some of the best parts of his childhood were tied up in this house. Just as they were tied up in the man who now owned it.
Brad poured coffee, then led Flynn out on the deck.
“How’s it feel to be back?” Flynn asked him.
“Don’t know yet. Odd, mostly.” He leaned on the rail, looked out beyond.
Everything was the same. Nothing was the same.
He turned back, a man comfortable in his frame. He had a layer or two of big city on him, and was comfortable with that as well.
His hair was blond that had darkened with the years, just as the dimples in his cheeks were closer to creases now. Much to his relief. His eyes were a stone gray under straight brows. They tended to look intense, even when the rest of his face smiled.
Flynn knew it wasn’t the mouth that showed Brad’s mood. It was the eyes. When they smiled, he meant it.
They did so now. “Son of a bitch. It’s good to see you.”
“I never figured you for coming back, not for any length of time.”