Page 26 of Marked With Love

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“Oh my.” Grams’ gray brows lift at whatever it is she’s reading.

“What is it? Did Dad do something?” I try to glance at her screen, wondering if there is juicy gossip. “Oh.” I cringe when I see a picture of myself. How had I forgotten someone had taken a picture of me when I snuck out of Eros’ place? “What does it say?” I brace myself for what’s about to come out of her mouth.

“It says that—”

“Wait!” I shout, stopping her. “Maybe I don’t want to know.” I chew on my bottom lip. Has Eros seen this? What if he thinks I set this up? Maybe that’s why he hasn’t gotten in contact with me. I know a lot of socialites like to pull crap like that. They leak their own pictures so they are talked about. To them, there is no bad publicity.

“It’s not that bad.” Grams waves me off. “Says the equally mysterious Morgan Hoffman is dating Eros, who has never been caught out with a woman before.”

“Well, he wasn’t caught. I was.” I groan, dropping back down on the sofa. “How do they know that I wasn’t coming from the place next door? A pretty brunette lives there too.” People and their assumptions.

“It goes on to talk about what happened at the restaurant. There are a ton of details aboutthatouting.” Grams’ lips purse. We both know where that would have come from. “There are pictures from the security cameras in the restaurant as well.” I’m guessing Grams is going to be making a call to George herself. To be honest, she probably doesn’t even have to because I bet he’s already on it. “He has no right to sell that footage,” Grams snaps.

Oh shit. She’s pissed. An upset Grams is few and far between, but when she comes out, get the hell out of the way. It’s also how I know I’m a Hoffman. I can see where I get some of my attitude. The apple truly didn’t fall far from the tree.

“He’s here,” Alfred announces, appearing in the doorway suddenly.

We’re tucked away in our movie room. There is a bigger one downstairs, but this one has all my favorite snacks, a fireplace, and our knitting supplies. It’s kind of like Grams and my shared special space. Plus, not going to lie, it’s creepy to watch scary movies in the basement of a house you want to be haunted. I’m not that badass. Even if it’s daylight out still.

“George is here? Damn that man is fast. No wonder you keep him on retainer.”

“Not George.”

“Oh God, is…” I put my hand to my chest. “My father?”

“No, he’s calling me now.” Grams holds up her phone to show me. She declines his call. God, I love her.

I’m sure I’ll be getting an earful about all of this. He has to know now that Grams also handed ownership of the restaurant to me. I hope Ramona and Layla are killing it. Actually, now that I think about it, this might be just the kind of press they need to get some foot traffic over there. Then once people try the food, I’m sure they’ll be back. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all.

“Eros,” Alfred says dryly.

“He’s here?”

“Of course, he’s here, dear. You ghosted him.”

“He didn’t call or text. Who just shows up? That’s so 1920s.” I glance at Alfred. “No offense to your era.” Grams cackles at my joke.

“I’ll bring him right in.” Alfred turns to leave.

“No, I’m sorry! It was a terrible joke. Tell him I’m like ah, not here.” Why did it take me so long to come up with that? He really has me flustered.

“He knows you’re here. I told him I would go see if you were available.”

“This isn’t a whorehouse. People aren’t just available whenever someone stops by,” Grams says without missing a beat.

“When you two are together, I find—” Alfred trails off.

“Find what?”

“How did you get in here?” Alfred ignores my question.

“It’s him.” I try to jump over the back of the sofa and snag my foot and hit the ground with a hard thud.

“You have a knack for falling over furniture,” I hear Eros say. Slowly I pop my head up from behind the sofa.

“Oh, hey, Eros, didn’t know you were here.” Does Eros have a black eye, or did I hit my head too hard when I fell over and I’m seeing shit?

“Do you have a cat?” Grams asks him. Eros nods his head. “Makes sense.”