We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

That Kind of Guy: Chapter 27

Avery

MONDAY MORNING, I sat in the kitchen reading the Queen’s Cove Daily article about our wedding while Emmett made us breakfast. “There’s a nice picture of my mom with your parents.”

He turned. “She’s coming back for Christmas.”

“Who?” My eyebrows went up.

“Your mom. My mom invited her to stay with them.”

I looked out the window, watching as a hummingbird hovered before it zipped off. Christmas was more than six months away. My gaze strayed to Emmett, where he stood with his back to me in his running shorts and t-shirt, and my mouth lifted into a soft smile.

This marriage was real. It wasn’t just me who had gained family. My mom had, too.

Emmett’s phone started buzzing on the counter. He tapped a button to answer it on speaker.

“Morning, Div. You’re on speaker in my kitchen with Avery.”

“Hi, Div,” I called.

“You both need to get to the town council meeting now.” His voice was a sharp whisper. I could hear someone talking in the background, a receptionist maybe.

I sat up straight. “What? When?”

Emmett froze, frowning at the phone, waiting.

“Chuck has put forth a motion to stop the sale of the restaurant to you, Avery.” Div’s words tumbled out. “He’s speaking in a few minutes.”

My stomach dropped through the floor, all the way to the core of the earth.

Hannah. The bookstore. The other day, with Cynthia. I still wasn’t sure if she had overheard us but something heavy and ugly settled in my gut. I had a really, really bad feeling about this. I thought I was finished with Chuck when Keiko said she wouldn’t sell to him.

I guess not.

“Max and I are here and we’re going to try and stall, but you need to get here.”

I jumped up. “I’ll be right there.”

Emmett turned off the burner and threw the spatula in the sink. “Five minutes.” He hung up the phone. “I’ll drive.” He picked up my bag, grabbed his keys, and gestured for me to follow.

On the drive to town hall, my mind raced. Chuck wanted the restaurant, and he was getting increasingly persistent. If Cynthia had overheard us, what was he going to do? Tell everyone that Emmett and my engagement was all fake? I blew a long breath out and my knee bobbed up and down as Emmett turned the corner onto the main street. Even if he did that, he couldn’t prove it.

My throat felt tight when I swallowed. Everyone would know Chuck was telling the truth the second they looked at my face. There was no way I could deny it to a room full of people.

Fuck.

Chuck was warming up to take me down and I had been wrapped up in Emmett, frolicking and having sex and laughing. I’d been gallivanting when I should have been focused on the restaurant and the sale.

I swallowed and looked out the window. Emmett’s hand came to my knee and squeezed.

“It’s going to be okay,” he told me, but I bit my lip with worry. I didn’t know if it would be, and his voice said the same thing.

If Chuck outed us, it would ruin Emmett’s campaign. The election was next week. He could never recover from something like this in time. No one would trust him to be mayor once they found out we lied to the town. The thought of disappointing Emmett and ruining his campaign turned my insides to granite. He had trusted me.

We pulled up to town hall, and I was out of the car before Emmett had even come to a complete stop. I sprinted into the building, through the halls until I found the large room used for town council meetings.

Everyone turned to look as I stepped inside.

There was about fifty people seated in folding chairs, mostly business owners from town. Hannah was near the back and shot me a worried look. Her face was flushed. Isaac and several members of town council sat at the front of the room, facing everyone. Max turned and looked relieved when he saw I had arrived, but beside him, Div glared at Chuck, who stood at the front of the room, paused at my interruption with an annoyed expression.

I swallowed. My heart beat in my ears. There were no available seats so I leaned against the wall at the back.

The door opened beside me and Emmett slipped inside, taking the spot beside me against the wall. His hand found mine and squeezed. A tiny fraction of my nerves untangled. Emmett was here. I didn’t know what he could do, but at least Emmett was here. I had someone on my team.

“As I was saying,” Chuck shifted from one foot to the other, eyeing Emmett and I with a sour look, “If he’s elected mayor, owning a business in Queen’s Cove would be a conflict of interest.”

Emmett’s hand tensed around mine. His voice rang out strong in the room. “I have no plans to own The Arbutus.”

Chuck’s gaze was cold. “Your little wife will, and what’s hers is yours. That’s the way marriage works, buddy.”

My throat clenched with fury. The way Chuck had said your little wife, the condescending, disrespectful tone he had used, it made me feel sick with anger. My stomach thrashed.

“Avery will be the business owner, and if I’m elected, I’ll be mayor.” Emmett dropped my hand and crossed his arms over his chest. “We’ll have nothing to do with each other’s roles.”

“That doesn’t mean you won’t make decisions in her favor,” Chuck pressed. Beside him, Cynthia was nodding with a smug look.

Cynthia glanced at me and then Hannah, and I knew she had told Chuck what she had overheard in the bookstore. Maybe they didn’t know every detail of our arrangement, but they knew. If they accused us of that, though, they’d be laughed out of town hall, so they found a different soft spot.

A soft spot that had merit.

Isaac wore a blank look but nodded as Chuck spoke.

“Imagine if she needs a permit?” Chuck asked Isaac and the council. He snapped his fingers. “Approved. There’s a dispute between her and another business owner?” He snapped again. “It’s ruled in her favor. Oh, look, a complaint against The Arbutus?” He shrugged. “Magically gone.”

“We would never do that!” The words burst out of me. My voice shook with fury and disbelief. The town council watched with rapt attention. Out of the corner of my eye, Hannah wrung her hands in her lap, looking stricken. “You know us. We would never do that. And when has The Arbutus ever had a formal complaint at town hall?”

“Chuck has made an excellent point,” Isaac said, nodding and steepling his fingers in front of him.

No. This wasn’t happening. This was a bad dream. I was still asleep, and I was having a nightmare. My mouth opened and closed but nothing came out.

“Are you kidding me?” Emmett shook his head and gestured at me. “She’s wanted to buy the restaurant for years and now you won’t let her because of me?”

“Our town prides itself in upholding the rules, Mr. Rhodes.” Isaac glanced at the council on either side of him and they nodded with pensive looks.

My stomach flipped. I could see the conflict on the town council’s faces. Sure, Emmett and I were well-liked around town, but what Chuck said had resonated with them. It was a conflict of interest. There was no doubt about it.

Isaac cleared his throat. “The issue is not with Ms. Adams buying the business but in Mr. Rhodes also running for mayor.” He looked at Emmett and I, and there was absolutely no emotion in his expression. Nothing. “It’s one or the other.”

My stomach shrank into nothing. “I’m going to sign the papers tomorrow. You can’t throw this curveball at me now.”

Isaac shook his head. “Sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”

Either I could buy the restaurant, or Emmett could run for mayor, but we couldn’t have both.

I shot a glance to Emmett. He looked like he had been punched in the stomach, like he couldn’t believe it.

“That concludes town council meeting for today,” Isaac said, gathering his papers. “We’ll pick back up next month.”

There was a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere in the room as people filed out. Emmett and I stood there, frozen and staring at each other.

His throat worked as he swallowed. “We’re going to figure this out.” He didn’t sound like he believed himself.

I didn’t, either. “How? How can we possibly—”

“Avery, I am so sorry.” Hannah blinked furiously in front of me, twisting her hands. “I can’t believe he did that. I can’t believe he would stoop to that level.”

“What do you mean?” Emmett tilted his head at her. “Why are you sorry, Hannah?”

She bit her lip and glanced around to make sure no one would hear us. “Cynthia overheard us talking in the bookstore about—” She gestured between us with an emphasized expression.

Realization dawned on Emmett’s face. He looked at me like I was a different person. “You told Hannah?” His mouth fell open and he shook his head in disbelief.

I threw my hands up. “She’s my best friend and I didn’t think this would happen.”

Hannah buried her hands in her face. “I am so, so sorry.”

The way Emmett was looking at me, like he couldn’t believe I had fucked it all up, it broke my heart. He was right. I had done this. I told Hannah when I should have kept it a secret.

Emmett was changing his career, his whole life so that he could make this town a better place. It wasn’t just for Will, it was for everyone living here. His intentions were pure.

I couldn’t ask him to drop the campaign. I would never. Even if I wasn’t head over goddamned heels for this guy, I couldn’t ask that. This town needed Emmett as mayor.

Over his shoulder, I could see Keiko glancing across the room at me as Chuck spoke to her. She wore an expression of hesitance and her arms were crossed over her chest as he leaned down into her personal space, saying something. Her and her family put everything into that restaurant. I was supposed to carry on their legacy, carry on the heart and soul of the place they had worked so hard for, but now she was realizing that Chuck may be her only option.

This was too much. Keiko’s legacy, Hannah’s guilt, Emmett’s disappointment, I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t think in here. I couldn’t get enough air. This room felt too small. I was suffocating.

“I have to go,” I told them and stepped through the door.

“Avery, wait.” Emmett was right behind me. “Let’s figure this out.”

I didn’t look back. “I need time.”

His footsteps stopped and I barrelled out of the building.


Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset