Story of Us (Love Unexpected)(10)

By: Jody Holford

“They were pretty upset when she left, if I remember correctly. Dec and I were close to Marc, and he didn’t handle it well. But he’s always had the most pressure of the four of them from his dad, so it was probably the stress of knowing he’d have to pick up his sister’s slack on top of his worries about her taking off that made it more difficult.” Adam looked like he was mulling this over.

The bell rang to signal a food order was up. Declan’s brows scrunched. “It’s not unusual for kids to go off to university. Maybe her family shouldn’t have put so much pressure on her.” Great. He sounded defensive even to himself.

Adam arched a brow. “Regardless, you think they’ll be on board with her working here?”

Declan sighed. “I don’t think they’ll be happy she’s here, and I don’t know about respecting the choice, but she’s as stubborn as any of them, so hopefully they’ll accept it and I didn’t invite family drama into my place.”

He walked to the kitchen, grabbed their breakfasts, and set plates of bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, and toast in front of them. His own stomach growled. He snagged a potato off Megan’s plate and grinned at Adam’s responding glare.

“Maybe you should get your own,” Adam suggested, unfolding his napkin.

Yeah, bud. I was already thinking that myself. And he didn’t mean the breakfast. He’d watched Adam take the slow, reluctant tumble into love with Megan. He’d also watched him almost fuck it up. At the time, Declan was able to offer advice without any undertones of jealousy. He’d had a steady flow of women in his life. Women he laughed with, cared for, slept with, flirted with—he’d never felt the need to settle down with just one. He’d thought he was in love once, at eighteen, but when she’d run off to marry a man twelve years older than her who could better provide the future she wanted, he hadn’t dwelt on her any longer.

“You okay?” Megan asked, tilting her head and picking up a piece of bacon.

“I’m good, cutie.”

Adam nearly growled. His uptight, by-the-book buddy was over the moon for his wife. You never thought it’d happen for him, and here he is. He’d be lost without Meg.

“Hey, Dec,” Sophia’s sultry, sweet voice said from behind him. Even with the music pumping through the speakers, he had no trouble hearing her.

He turned, hating the way just her voice made him feel like she’d run her fingertips over his skin. Dangerous territory, man. Hiring her was supposed to lodge her firmly in the off-limits-employee category. His heart—and other areas—were acting slow on the uptake, though.

Sophia held his binder that housed contact information for all of his vendors. She glanced at him and then to Megan and Adam.

“I can wait, if you’re busy. Or if you want to come back to the office when you’re free, I just have a few quick questions,” she said.

With her skin the color of silky, smooth caramel, he didn’t expect the flush of pink that spread over her cheeks. His heart hammered harder in response, and his gut clenched. Adorable.

The printer signaling an order buzzed, and the kitchen rang the bell for another food order up. Declan stood there staring at Sophia’s lips, and it wasn’t until Adam tossed a crumpled napkin at him that he shook himself free of the trance.

When he did, he felt like an idiot. All three of them were staring at him with a mixture of amusement and curiosity. Smooth. Leaning over, he picked up the napkin and tossed it in the trash.

He glared at Adam but kept his voice even. “I’m not busy. This clown used to be one of my friends. Marcus’s too, actually. This is Adam Klein—who you might remember—and his wife, definitely his better half, Megan. Guys, this is Sophia.”

Megan leaned over the bar, hand outstretched. “Hi, Sophia. I am a big fan of your family’s restaurant, but you probably hear that all the time.”

Declan grimaced. He got the feeling her father’s restaurant was not what Sophia wanted to be known for. But Sophia shook Meg’s hand, a wide smile on her pretty lips.

“The recipes were passed down from my great-great grandmother. She’d be thrilled to know that all these years later, people still enjoy her food.” Sophia looked at Adam and shook his hand as well. “I do remember you. Sort of. Everyone has filled out and matured. I probably still just look like Marc’s younger sister.”

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