Home > Dare Me (The Donovans #1)(9)

Dare Me (The Donovans #1)(9)
Author: Samantha Chase

“Business? What kind of business?”

On and on it went, even as they all sat down and food was being passed around. Doing his best not to appear obvious, he glanced across the table and caught a smirk on Ryleigh’s face. One seat over, he noticed how Arianna was simply staring down at her plate. Undoubtedly, if he kept looking at her, others would notice, so he put his attention back on answering the dozens of questions the rest of the family was asking. Luckily, most of them were about the business now and Liam was fielding some of them as well.

It was loud and boisterous and the best food he’d ever eaten in his life. Damn, Liam wasn’t joking about his mother’s cooking.

Smiling at Kate Donovan, Will said, “Everything is delicious, Mrs. Donovan. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such an amazing meal.”

Clearly it was the right thing to say because she blushed. “You’re welcome here any time, Will. And might I say we’re all very sorry about your mom.”

He nodded and murmured, “Thank you.”

“Consider yourself family now,” she went on. “And there’s always room at the table for family!”

As much as he wanted to believe that, he wasn’t so sure everyone felt the same. Chancing another look at Arianna, he noticed she had been exceptionally quiet, nothing like the girl he spent the best day of his life with.

What did you expect? You showed up with no warning with her brother. What was she supposed to do?

“Hey, Will?” Jamie asked. “Are you sure you’re prepared to deal with Liam’s bossy ways?”

Everyone laughed.

“I mean…we all know what a control freak he is. It’s not too late for you to run. We’ll even hold him down!” Jamie teased, and then flinched when Liam punched him in the arm. “Damn! I was just kidding!” Then he looked over at Will and grinned. “I’m really not kidding. He’s a pain in the ass. Run while you still can!”

“Jamie,” Mr. Donovan called out. “That’s enough. Your brother’s done an admirable service to his country, and he doesn’t need to come home to you behaving like an idiot.” The words were said firmly and everyone went quiet for a moment. But then he grinned. “You could at least let him get through dinner before you do that.”

And everyone laughed again and Will felt himself relax.

It was an interesting dynamic and after a little while, he just sort of sat back and observed.

Just like Arianna was sitting back and observing him. He could read the question in her eyes and hoped the way he was looking back told her he could explain.

But could he?

The meal seemed to go on forever and no sooner had they finished dinner than dessert was being served. It was beginning to feel like he’d never get a moment alone—or a chance to leave—but considering how nice everyone was, it would have been rude to complain.

“So Will, do you have a place to stay?” Patrick asked.

“For now, I’m going to crash at Liam’s. He’s got a second bedroom and…”

There was a collective groan around the table.

“What?” Liam asked. “What’s going on?”

Everyone turned to Arianna.

She blushed as she looked at her brother. “Um…so…here’s the thing. I’ve kind of been living at your place,” she blurted out.

“Why?” he asked, confused.

“When I got back from San Francisco, Mom and Dad had turned my room into a gym,” she explained. “And the other bedrooms were in total disarray!”

“We were cleaning out the attic and one thing led to another,” their mother interrupted.

“So I went and crashed on Ryleigh’s couch,” Arianna went on. “But her place is small and we were sort of tripping over each other.”

“You have no idea how much stuff she has,” Ryleigh commented.

“Anyway, I thought I’d just stay at your place since it was empty after your friend Jackson moved out, and then…” She shrugged. “I got comfortable and sort of forgot about looking for a place.”

Liam looked at his parents. “You guys knew she was coming home,” he said in confusion. “Why would you turn her room into a gym?”

“We thought we’d have everything done before she got back and that we’d have at least one bedroom done,” their father chimed in. “But the project became too much and by the time I get home from the pub, the last thing I want to do is work on the house.” Then he laughed. “If you go upstairs, you’ll see we haven’t really done anything about it either.”

“Plus, we just figured she’s so independent that she wouldn’t even want to move back in with us,” his mother chimed in.

“But…Dad…”

Shane held up his hand. “I know, I know…we’ll get something cleared out so Ari can move back in. I guess this was the kick in the pants I needed.”

“Okay,” Liam said with a small smile. “Thanks.”

“Um…” Arianna raised her hand and Will thought that was kind of funny. “Look, I know I should have found a place by now and I totally get that you need the spare room for your…friend,” she added begrudgingly, “but if you can just give me a few days, this will all be a moot point.”

“What are you talking about?” her father asked, his tone firm as everyone around the table fell silent.

“Well…you see…I applied for a position back in Chapel Hill,” she said, straightening in her seat. “I’m totally qualified for it and the money’s better than what I’m making at my current job, so…yeah. I’m guessing I can be out of Liam’s place relatively quick.”

Will’s heart sank. He’d just finally gotten here and she was leaving? Seriously?

“Absolutely not!” Shane roared as he slammed his hand down on the table. “You’ve lived away from home for over four years now and I was against it the whole time!”

“Dad…,” she meekly interrupted, but he wasn’t listening.

“No! I told your mother this would happen and she assured me that once you were done with school, you’d settle back here with your family! This is where you belong!”

“Shouldn’t that be for me to decide?” she challenged.

“We let you decide when you picked a college hours away! And we let you decide when you chose an internship on the other side of the country! Now it’s our turn to decide and I say this is where you’re going to stay!”

“But…”

“It’s not up for discussion!” Shane snapped before looking around the table. His gaze stopped on Liam. “Your sister will go home with you and get some of her things so your friend can have the guest room. If we had known sooner, I would have made sure she was moved out completely.”

Will glanced over at his friend and saw how uncomfortable he looked. There wasn’t anything he could say, and he had to wonder how normal conversation was going to return after that outburst.

Wordlessly, Arianna rose and excused herself before walking away and he had to fight the urge to go after her. Before he could, Ryleigh was on her feet and leaving the room.

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