By Debby Giusti
Rose’s head pounded. The dull throb that had started on her flight to Virginia had escalated throughout the afternoon and continued to sour what should have been a joyous reunion with Mason. Now, sitting in his office and staring at the handsome and seemingly competent lawyer added confusion to what was turning into a very unsettling day.
In addition to her concerns about the property, she was also having concerns about Mason. What they had experienced fifteen years ago had seemed so right, yet the flutter in her stomach whenever he smiled at her could be the result of a foolish memory she had held onto for far too long. Instead of a mysterious boy who had stolen her heart, she was interacting with her father’s executor, a man who was providing sobering information about financial matters that could impact the rest of her life. The idea of owning a town had been difficult to accept. Realizing the inheritance came at a hefty price she would somehow have to pay compounded the problem. Where would she get the capitol she needed?
She took the papers Mason held out to her. Carefully, she sorted through the brittle, yellowed pages until her gaze fell to what appeared to be an aged document. Leaning closer, she struggled to read the fluid script written with a flourish.
“Be it remembered on the 7th day of April 1878 that Mr. Andrew DeFoliate, aged twenty-five, and Miss Martha Grant, aged twenty-one, were lawfully married …”
Even more confused, she glanced at Mason. “Martha Grant? Was she a relative?”
His smile faded. “A very distant relative.”
“But she married one of the DeFoliates.” Rose tilted her head. “That means the brothers who are trying to buy my grandfather’s property are your relatives.”
“Distant relatives, Rose.” He stood and rounded the desk. “I would never encourage you to sell to either developer.”
“Did my grandfather realize that his lawyer—the man he trusted to provide sound legal advice--was related to the people who wanted to buy his town?”
Mason’s face darkened. “I don’t recall the subject ever came up.”
“Were you withholding the information from my father?”
“Of course not. Surely you remember that I encouraged you to keep the property.”
Had he? As much as she wanted to recall what Mason had said, she could only remember his twinkling eyes and inviting smile. What was wrong with her? In her real life back in San Francisco, she was an accredited historian. Since arriving in Lovelace, she’d stepped back in time and was acting like a teenager in love.
Steeling her spine, she broached a question that kept circling through her mind. “If I don’t have the money to pay the taxes and the liens, who gets the property?”
“Ah…” He hesitated for a long moment and blew out a stiff breath. “In that case, the Lovelace Bank would take possession of the property.”
“Then that’s where I need to go.” She returned the papers to his desk, grabbed her purse and hurried out of his office.
Attracted though she was to Mason, she needed information about her options. She couldn’t let his deep set eyes and angular jaw tempt her to do something that wouldn’t be good for the town her grandfather had loved so dearly.
“Rose, wait!” Mason hurried after her.
She raced past the Forever Yours Florist and the Chocolate Confectionery, refusing to glance back lest her resolve weaken and she do something foolish like ask for his advice. Surely, the president of the bank would provide a clearer assessment of her financial situation.
“There’s something I need to tell you, Rose.” Mason fell into step next to her.
Refusing to let down her guard, she crossed the street and marched straight for the bank.
Before she could push open the door, he gently grabbed her arm. “Please, Rose, you need to know that—”
She turned to face him, but as she did, her gaze landed on the bronze wall plaque near the door.
President of the Bank
Mason Grant lV
Her heart stopped. “What’s going on, Mason?” She pointed to the sign.
“I can explain. I’m Mason Grant, the fifth. My father owns the bank.”
In that instant, everything she’d remembered about the handsome guy she’d met by the lake vanished like a bad dream. How had she been so foolish?
Tears burned her eyes. She blinked them back, unwilling to show weakness. “Seems you and your family win no matter what I do.”
He shook his head. “That’s not true.”
“Isn’t it?” She pulled her arm from his hold. “Sell to the DeFoliates or default to the bank. Either way the property returns to your family.”
Needing to distance herself from the man she thought had been someone special, Rose ran back to her grandfather’s house and locked the door behind her. She had left Mason fifteen years ago. If need be, she would leave him again.