Home > Dare Me (The Donovans #1)(8)

Dare Me (The Donovans #1)(8)
Author: Samantha Chase

“Would you stop?” Liam said with a laugh. “Jeez, what’s with you? You were less nervous about going into combat operations than you are about dinner. What’s going on?”

So many responses came to mind, but he went with the most logical.

“Look, I didn’t have a big family growing up and honestly, I kind of feel like I’d like to decompress a bit. No offense or anything, I would really just like to go someplace and relax and not be in the middle of your family reunion.”

It sounded completely plausible and it wasn’t a total lie.

“Okay, I get it,” Liam replied. “But…I already told them you were coming and it’s just dinner and then you can escape to my place. I’ll give you the keys and I swear I won’t say a word about you leaving early. Come on. What do you say?”

“I say that it’s getting really freaking annoying how you constantly have to get your way,” he murmured. “If this is how it’s going to be with the business, we’re doomed.”

And he was only partially kidding.

“You’re right, you’re right. I do tend to plow my way through most situations to get my way, but this time I swear I’m doing it for your own good. When’s the last time you had a home-cooked meal?”

Will felt his heart squeeze hard. “Dude, seriously?”

“Shit,” Liam hissed. “Sorry. That was completely thoughtless of me.” After letting out a long breath, he looked over at Will. “I didn’t even think in those terms, so if it’s really going to be too rough on you…”

It was exactly what he hoped his friend would say, but maybe it would be better for him to get this over with and let the chips fall where they may.

With her entire family present, Arianna certainly wouldn’t jump up and run into his arms. And hopefully wouldn’t come up and slap his face either. Still, he’d allowed himself to be persuaded into coming to Laurel Bay, and it was time he stop hiding and deal with the fallout from his actions.

No matter what that meant.

“Um…yeah. I guess that will work,” he forced himself to say.

“Awesome. And trust me, you’ll be glad you stayed for dinner. My mother’s Sunday meals are legendary. I’ve sort of been dreaming of this day for over a month!”

The rest of the drive was spent with Liam pointing out different places in Laurel Bay and some of the properties his younger brother owned or managed.

“Okay, so Patrick is two years younger than you, right?”

Liam nodded. “Yup. He’s always been a real go-getter and I swear he’s going to end up owning a good portion of this town before too long.”

“Good for him!” Pausing, he took a minute to remember the other siblings—other than Arianna. “And then there’s…”

“Ryleigh,” Liam supplied. “My sister is freaking awesome and there’s nothing she can’t do. She works as a cook at our pub and does graphic design stuff too—like with websites and advertising. She handles all the social media for my folks and for a handful of the businesses in town.”

“That’s cool.”

“Once we get our stuff together, I plan on asking her to help us with all that too.”

“Naturally.”

“After her is my brother Jamie. He’s the smartass who was texting me the other night.” He let out a small huff. “Jamie can sell anything to anybody. He’s a natural-born charmer and a consummate flirt. I swear, half the girls in Laurel Bay are in love with him and that means he’s got a huge ego.”

“Sounds to me like you’re a little jealous,” Will teased and then laughed when Liam snorted. “Maybe it’s time you gave your baby brother a run for his money.”

“Please, I’ve got better things to do with my time.”

“And he’s the one who everyone thinks will take over the pub, right?”

Liam looked at him like he was speaking another language. “What? Who told you that?”

Oh, shit…

“Um…”

That was something Arianna had shared with him and now he had to figure out how to talk his way out of this.

“Well, it just seems obvious,” he began. “I mean, you told me what Patrick and Ryleigh do for a living, and I guess I just assumed that the pub would get passed down to one of you.” Then he chuckled as he looked at Liam. “And you didn’t mention going into the pub business in all of our plans, so…”

And that did the trick because Liam laughed too. “Yeah, I guess. I can’t imagine him being mature enough to run the place, and I haven’t been home enough to observe it all, but it makes sense.” He grinned. “That was pretty intuitive of you.”

There was no way he could comment on that and fortunately he was saved from having to say anything because the GPS announced they had arrived at the Donovan family home.

And Will felt like he was going to throw up, which irritated the crap out of him because Liam was right—he’d been less afraid of going into genuinely dangerous situations as a Marine in combat and here he was freaking out over facing his family.

Okay, not the entire family, just one member in particular.

Liam was already out of the car and there was no way Will could sit and hide, so he let out a long breath and followed suit. “Does anyone know you’re coming?” he asked.

“They all do, but I didn’t give them a time. I’m hoping they haven’t sat down to eat yet.” And as they walked into the house, it looked like they were all getting ready to do just that.

Will stood back in stunned silence as cries of pure joy seemed to come from every direction. It wasn’t hard to figure out who was who—Shane and Kate Donovan both beamed with pride as they were the first to embrace their son. The dark-haired guy walking over was a little more reserved, so he figured that had to be Patrick. That meant the lighter-haired guy who essentially jumped on Liam’s back had to be Jamie. Once everyone pulled back a bit, Will spotted Ryleigh who squirmed in to hug her big brother and Arianna was right behind her.

But she froze for a moment—almost as if she sensed him there. Turning her head, she looked directly at him. Her eyes went wide and all he could do was give his head a slight shake before taking a step back into the shadows. Besides her, it seemed like no one even knew he was there and he was completely fine with that.

The group moved—en masse—away from the entryway, when Liam stopped them. “Everyone, I brought a buddy home and I’m hoping he’s going to stay and go into business with me! He’s a little more reserved than we are, so don’t give him a hard time, okay?” He laughed and brought everyone’s attention to him. “This is Will Jameson, one of the best friends a guy could ask for.”

Shit.

Will did his best to focus on Mr. and Mrs. Donovan, and then Patrick and Jamie. They all came over and shook his hand before ushering him into the dining room. He wanted to look around and try to gauge Arianna’s reaction, but it was like a wall of Donovans around him.

“It’s so nice to meet you…”

“Where are you originally from?”

“What do you think of Laurel Bay so far?”

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