Before Emma appears in their lives, two men face four months that will change their lives forever. One has dreams outside Richmond and away from his family business. The other wants to make the business his only focus. In one summer, outside forces drive them both to make brash and irrevocable decisions that will render them at once supremely powerful yet emotionally vulnerable. How can these peers with identical pasts, as well as seemingly identical futures, reach a threshold where only one escapes with his integrity intact?
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“Anyway,” Hannah says. “It’s show week. Are you and James arguing yet?”
I’ve come to loathe the term “show week.” Girls staged on the other side of a mirror for potential husbands. It’s ridiculous. “Actually, I’m avoiding Dad for the next week. Just in case.”
She chuckles. “You sure you want to skip your appointment this month?”
“There’s no appointment. Dad and I have finally come to an agreement. If and when I’m ready to get married, I’m adult enough to handle it on my own.”
She turns her shoulders in a coy way and bats her eyelashes. “You sure you want to wait? I happen to know a couple girls who would be perfect for you.”
“And you happen to know what’s perfect for me, do you?”
“Sure. Attractive, of course. Someone who will appreciate your kind heart. Your fierce protectiveness. Someone compassionate and strong and funny.” She preens. “I’d be a great matchmaker if you’d let me.”
I roll my eyes. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Dad put you up to this.”
“As if he has your best interest at heart.”
“Well, in any case, I’m not ready yet.”
She rests on the table and props her chin in a fist. “Gabriel isn’t ready. Neither is Aaron. But you? I haven’t gotten that sense in a long time.”
I look away and rub the sudden tension seizing the back of my neck.
“What is it you really want?” she asks.
I can’t tell her what I want, because what I want is to look at a woman from across a room and know she’s the one. And ten seconds later I don’t want to have to key in the dollar amount I believe she’s worth. What I want is for the woman to look back and give me a sign that I’m not alone in our connection, then let me kiss her until neither of us can breathe. That is what I want. And I’d rather be alone with this fairy tale than give in to what’s expected.
I straighten and shake my head. “Nothing. I don’t want anything.”