Page 49 of Unexpectedly Yours

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“I’m over it. I don’t like the high-pressure social scene anymore. If I go out its because it’s there, but I don’t like it. The women are definitely only in it for one thing.”

“Sex?” Caroline asked, knowing she had wanted him for the same thing.

“If it was just sex it would be easier. Bling One and Two, as you called them, are looking for husbands. I’m not interested.”

“Not marriage material?” She thought he was. He’d be a great husband.

“I’d be really cautious before jumping in. My parents haven’t been stellar examples, but I’d like to think someday I could have what my grandparents had.” The busboy came by with water and a basket of warm bread. Josh took a piece of bread, buttered it and handed it to her.

“Thank you,” she said. “My parents had a wonderful marriage. It was hell on my mom when my dad died. Especially since we were all in a state of flux after leaving the estate.”

“I was so upset. I wanted to come home for the funeral, but I couldn’t manage it.”

He wanted to be there? At her father’s funeral? It seemed every time Josh said something, she was surprised. He was carrying around this reputation that he was a clone of his father, but it was easier and easier to see that he wasn’t the slightest bit like his father. “I don’t mean to be indelicate, but why would you want to come home?”

Josh grinned. It was sweet and boyish and was a crazy contrast to the sexy entrepreneur in the designer suit sitting across from her.

“I used to hang out with your dad in his office when I needed a quiet place to do my homework. He was a nice man. A great man, really. Did you know your mom proofread all my college essays?”

Caroline shouldn’t have been surprised, but she was. The Campbells weren’t exactly warm people. Her brother-in-law equated his parents with vipers, and many of the staff members stepped in with the children, to fill family roles that needed filling. Jason and Grace were at their house all the time, but Josh wasn’t around as much. Or so it seemed.

“I had no idea.”

“You were young. What were you—” He did the math in his head. “Twelve when I went to school?”

“Yes. Twelve.” The day he left for Yale it felt like her world had dropped out from under her. “My dad drove you to school. I wanted to go.”

That was too much information.

“You did? Why?”

Sipping her water, she thought about how she begged and pleaded, just so she could spend hour upon hour staring at Josh. Twelve was when she noticed him, and the year and half that followed was filled with gushy teenage poetry and finding ways to spy on him when he was home on breaks. Looking back, it was lovely and adolescent and full of angst and drama. Caroline loved her personal romance-soaked dreamworld, and then it all collapsed.

Her father died, her family moved off the estate, and nothing mattered after that.

The funeral was a blur, and in the days after they walked around in a daze. Kevin, her brother, had gone back to college, and that left Meg and Caroline with their mom, whose heart was shattered. Everything dropped off the grid... especially anything associated with the Campbells. Including Josh.

Now it seemed he may have grieved himself, and no one ever knew.

“Caroline? Why did you want to go on the trip to deliver me to school?” There was that grin again. It was almost like he knew the truth, knew about her unrequited love, and was baiting her. And she wouldn’t say a word.

Especially since she should be questioning him about her father.

“Forget about that. I was twelve. Twelve year old girls don’t need reasons for things.” She waved him off and refocused on what she said about her father. “I never knew you spent time with him, that he was important to you.”

Josh’s face always got to Caroline. Always. Classically handsome, with perfect bone structure, he was nothing short of breath-stealing and he’d gotten better looking over the years. His eyes were the clearest, crystal blue and were surrounded with spiky, dark lashes. Her words must have affected him because the pain that washed across that strong face was palpable.

Caroline felt her heart heave in her chest and without hesitation she went to the other side of the booth and scooted in next to him. His hand took hers and squeezed.

“None of us knew, Josh. Least of all me. You have to know we would have wanted you to be able to say good-bye.”

“I know.” He dropped his head and held tight to her hand while his thumb made lazy circles on her palm. “Like I said, he was a great man, your dad. He helped me keep my head on straight.”

“You want to tell me about it?”

The waitress interrupted before he could answer and they ordered. Caroline got the mac and cheese and Josh ordered two burgers and fries. Nothing fancy... just two people and some food. It was kind of perfect, actually.

“One night, when I’d just turned seventeen, I got wasted at a party. I knew I shouldn’t drive, thank God, so I left the car at my friend’s and figured I’d walk home. It was freezing cold, and the local police picked me up on Laurel Road. When they called the estate, it rang at your parents’ house.” He took a breath and laced his fingers with hers. “Your dad came and picked me up. Got me sober and warm and made sure my car got back to the house before anyone realized what had happened.”