Whisper of Attraction(3)

By: Melanie Shawn

Her mother had been calling regularly to “check-in” with Brynn which always dissolved, rather quickly, into discussing whatever sensational headline had been revealed that day. Brynn would tell her mother she didn’t care and that he had nothing to do with her, which Shea would ignore completely or even defend Ramsey saying he was her father and nothing would ever change that.

It had always seemed strange to Brynn that her mom had no animosity toward the man that had left her to raise a child on her own. But, the truth was, Brynn felt no ill will toward Max, either. Just like her mother, she didn’t hold the man that she shared a child with accountable for anything.

And people wondered why she’d wanted a degree in psychology.

Brynn dipped her toe into the water to test the temperature and a smile tugged on her lips. It was just hot enough to cause a prickling sensation to break out on her skin, but not so hot it actually burned, which was in her estimation, perfect.

“No,” she preemptively chastised Lucy AKA The Destroyer, her adorable, yet highly mischievous pug before slipping into the tub.

Lucy had never grown out of her “puppy stage” of chewing everything in sight. Especially if it was cotton. She’d eaten more towels, shirts, and blankets than Brynn wanted to think about.

As the heat of the water enveloped her, she gave her munchkin-faced mutt the side-eye to make sure she stayed in her designated corner of the small bathroom. The two-by-two square area she was banished to was far from temptations like toilet paper, the trash, and her plush robe.

When she saw the resignation in her pug’s big brown eyes, she relaxed into bubbly heaven. Just as she was reaching for her Kindle, her phone buzzed again. A quick glance told her it was her mother. Again.

I need to talk to you.

She hadn’t checked the headlines today but she assumed it was something related to her father.

Brynn had no interest in following her father or his story. To her, he was little more than a sperm donor. She was done talking about a man that hadn’t been in her life for over a decade. And now she knew more than ever that she’d made the right decision to cut him off all those years ago.

She ignored the message and tapped her Kindle and the cover of her new book filled the screen. Since she hadn’t had anything remotely resembling a love life in years, Brynn lived vicariously through the romantic lives of the characters in her beloved romance novels. The heroes in these stories never let her down and no matter how difficult the heroines’ circumstances might be, they were strong and always just kept swimming.

She set the device in the holder of the bath caddy and lifted up her wine glass. Her fingers wrapped around the thin stem and she tilted her head back as the fruity, sweet liquid filled her mouth before trickling down her throat as she prepared to lose herself in happily-ever-after.

Just as she was about to be transported into another world, her phone rang. A quick glance revealed that it was her mother. Again.

“Oh, for the love of Pete.”

A frustrated sigh fell from her lips as she sank into the water until it was just shy of her nose. She thought about continuing further beneath the bubbled surface, dunking her head and screaming as she stomped her feet Pretty Woman style, except her tantrum would be born of frustration whereas Vivian’s was out of pure, unadulterated glee.

She opted instead to answer the call. She pressed speaker.

“Hi, Mom. I was just taking a b—”

“Oh good. I’m so glad you picked up, Sunflower. Are you at home?”

“Yes, I was actually just taking a ba—”

“Good!” Her mother interrupted again. “He’ll be there any minute.”

“He’ll? He’ll who?”

“Axel Vaughn.”

Brynn wasn’t sure if that name was supposed to mean something to her, but it didn’t. And since her mother didn’t elaborate, Brynn figured a follow up was in order. “Who is Axel Vaughn?”

“He’s my new tenant.”

“Your new tenant?” Brynn repeated. “I thought we agreed that you weren’t going to be doing Airbnb anymore since you’re not here to deal with things.”

Shea had been renting out the vacant apartment above the garage since she’d moved to Arizona. Which would’ve been fine and dandy if she didn’t tell all of the occupants that her daughter lived in the main house and to “let Brynn know if they had any problems or questions.”

Guess what tourists had a lot of? Yep. Problems and questions.

It had been nothing but a headache. The water pressure up there was non-existent. The stove worked only about half of the time. A fuse would blow if you had the coffee maker and a hair dryer plugged in simultaneously. All things that Brynn had grown used to over the decade that she’d lived there, but vacationers weren’t too keen on.