I Love How You Love Me (The Sullivans #13)(6)

by Bella Andre

His oldest brother, Ian, was not only the billionaire founder of Sullivan Investments, he had also recently become engaged to Tatiana Landon, a beautiful and talented movie star. Dylan’s second-oldest brother, Adam, was well known for his historic house renovations throughout the Pacific Northwest. His middle brother, Rafe, was a private investigator and was engaged to a woman who made gourmet chocolates. Rounding out the group was his sister, Mia, who owned Sullivan Realty and was engaged to rock star Ford Vincent.

“But I was wondering—” At a red light, he turned to smile at her, and her brain mixed up the question she meant to ask and the one she actually wanted to know the answer to. “What’s it like to be related to so many famous people?” She clapped her hands over her mouth, shaking her head as though that could magically erase the intrusive words that had fallen out. “I’m sorry, that was out of line. I meant to ask if they all sail, too.”

“It wasn’t at all out of line,” he said with a grin that had only grown wider by the time the light turned green and he hit the gas pedal. “And yes, they all sail, too. Which means that I can usually get them into the water if they ever need to be taken down a notch. There’s nothing like the ocean for knocking you around to help you remember that you’re only human.” He smiled at her again. “But most of the time I forget that they’re famous until I’m picking up some milk and see one of their faces on the cover of a magazine. The only time it bothers me is when I see something printed about one of them that isn’t true. Which, unfortunately, happens far too often.”

“That must be hard.”

“None of them are out there for the fame, but they’ve come to accept that it’s part of the dream they’re chasing. A rock star like my sister’s fiancé, Ford, could never hide out when there are stadiums full of fans around the world who love his music. So they deal with the fame, they handle the spotlight, and when we’re together we all forget about it for a little while.”

Since she’d already crossed a line, she decided she might as well stay there a little while longer. “Is that why you don’t usually do interviews? Because you’re afraid the press is going to twist your words around?”

“I’m not a musician or a movie star or a professional baseball player. I’m just a sailor who also makes boats. Anything I’ve got to say about sailing, someone could figure out for themselves by getting out on the water.”

She understood what he was saying, and yet she still couldn’t let it go, or keep her mouth shut. “I’m not sure I agree with you. I don’t know much about boats beyond what I’ve read about them for research, but from the pictures I’ve seen of the ones you’ve built, and getting to see the one in your boathouse, you’re obviously very talented. Just because you’re not acting or singing or hitting a baseball doesn’t make your gift any less special. Or any less fun to read about for all the people who will never get the chance to sail a boat from one continent to another.”

Caught up in making her point, she didn’t realize they’d pulled into a driveway in a suburban neighborhood until he turned off the ignition. As a child, her parents had encouraged her to say and do whatever felt right. It was a large part of the reason she’d had the guts to go after writing for a living when it would have been so much safer to get a nine-to-five job in a cubicle. But after allowing herself to be swept away had led to her being pregnant and alone, Grace had decided it would be better to rein in her natural—and wilder—urges.

She gave him a small and slightly rueful smile. “I can get a little carried away sometimes when I feel strongly about something.”

“Don’t ever apologize for your passion, Grace. Not to me or to anyone. Especially not when you have a way of making a guy look at things differently than he ever has before.”

Did he have any idea just how much she’d needed to hear that, especially now that her father wasn’t there anymore to remind her to keep taking risks? For the past ten years, her father had been her rock. Her cheerleader. Her main support system. She’d been able to tell him anything and had known that he would keep loving her no matter what, through thick and thin. She’d never imagined that he’d be gone by the time she had her first child. Or that seeing him in the way Mason smiled, in the deep blue of his eyes, would be so bittersweet.

When she looked back up at Dylan, the heat in his gaze made her lips tingle even though he hadn’t yet closed the small distance between them and kissed her…which she was almost positive he would have done if Mason hadn’t tossed his toy at the dashboard right then, barely missing their heads.

Relief that her son had saved her from herself—along with more regret over missing out on the kiss than she wanted to admit—washed over Grace as she quickly undid her seat belt and picked up the toy.

“If you don’t let me at least take the diaper bag this time,” Dylan said, “I’ll never hear the end of it from my mom.”

A few seconds later, she had Mason out of his car seat, Dylan had the heavy bag and the portable high chair, and the three of them were rushing through the rain to his parents’ front door. By the time they got to the covered porch, his mother was waiting for them with a big, welcoming smile.

“You must be Grace,” his mother said even as Dylan gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’m Claudia and it’s so nice to meet you.”

Grace had expected to feel awkward, but Dylan’s mother had a way of putting people instantly at ease. “Thank you for having us over tonight, Claudia. This is my son, Mason.”

“Hello, Mason,” Claudia said, her eyes soft and warm as she looked at the baby. “Aren’t you a little cutie? Do you want to come inside and play with some of the toys that have been up in the attic for far too long?”

Right on cue, Mason gave one of his big, one-toothed smiles and reached for her. It was only the second time he’d ever gone to someone else—first to Dylan and now to his mother. What kind of spell did these Sullivans cast over everyone to draw them in so easily and so quickly?

Grace appreciated the way Claudia waited until she’d nodded that it was fine to take Mason into her arms. Maybe tonight wouldn’t be quite as nerve-racking as she’d expected. At least until Dylan put his hand on the small of her back as he guided her inside, following his mother into the kitchen.