Grayson's Vow Page 1

Author: Mia Sheridan

Genres: Romance , New Adult

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CHAPTER ONE

"Never fret, my love, the universe always balances the scales. Her ways may be mysterious, but they are always just."

Isabelle Dallaire, "Gram"

Kira

In a long history of bad days, this one was at the top of the list. And it was only nine a.m. Stepping out of my car, I took a deep breath of the balmy, late summer air and began walking toward Napa Valley Savings Bank. The sultry morning shimmered around me, the sweet scent of jasmine teasing my nose. I sighed as I pulled open the glass front door of the bank. The peaceful beauty seemed wrong somehow—the bleakness of my mood in direct contrast to the warm, sunshiny day. An arrogant idea, I supposed. As if the weather should express itself according to my mood.

"May I help you?" a cheery brunette asked as I approached her teller window.

"Yes," I said, withdrawing my ID and an old savings book from my purse. "I want to close this account." I slid both toward the teller. A corner of the savings book was folded back, revealing numbers my gram had entered when showing me how to keep track of our deposits. The memory tore at my heart, but I forced what I hoped was a cheerful-looking smile as the girl took the book, opened it, and began entering the account number.

I thought back to the day we'd opened the account. I'd been ten, and my gram had walked me here and I’d proudly deposited the fifty dollars she'd given me for helping with yard work throughout the summer. We'd made trips to this bank over the years when I'd stayed at her house in Napa. She'd taught me the true value of money—it was meant to be shared, used to help others, but also represented a type of freedom. The fact that I currently had little money, few options, and every material possession I owned was stuffed in the trunk of my car was proof of how right she'd been. I was anything but free.

"Two thousand, forty-seven dollars and sixteen cents," the teller stated, glancing up at me. I nodded. It was even a little more than I had hoped. Good. That was good. I needed every cent. Letting a deep breath out slowly, I joined my hands together on the counter and waited for her to count out the cash.

Once the money was safely tucked into my purse and the account closed, I wished the teller a good day and turned to leave the bank, stopping at the drinking fountain.

As the cool water hit my lips, I heard faintly from the office around the corner, "Grayson Hawthorn, nice to meet you." I froze, stood slowly, then used my thumb to distractedly wipe the water off my bottom lip. Grayson Hawthorn . . . Grayson Hawthorn? I knew that name, remembered the strong sound of it, the way I had repeated it to myself on a whisper to hear it on my lips that day in my father's office. I thought back to the quick glance at the file my dad had slid closed as I’d placed a tray of coffee on his desk. Could it be the same Grayson Hawthorn?

Peeking around the corner, I saw nothing more than a closed office door, the shade on the window pulled down. I walked around the corner to the restroom on the other side of the corridor from the office Grayson Hawthorn occupied.

Once inside the restroom, I locked the door and leaned against the wall. I hadn't even known Grayson Hawthorn lived in Napa. His trial had taken place in San Francisco, so that must have been where the crime was committed—not that I knew what that crime might have been, only that my father had taken a brief interest in it. I bit my lip, moving to the sink and staring at myself in the mirror above it as I washed and dried my hands.

I opened the door quietly and tried in vain to listen to the conversation in the room across the hall, but I could only hear muffled voices. Suddenly, I heard the door open and peeked out to see another man in a suit, most likely a bank executive, enter the office. He closed the door behind him, but it didn't click into place and stood very, very slightly ajar, allowing me to hear a few words of introductions. Again, I stood at the cracked bathroom door trying to listen.

Really, Kira? This is shamefully nosy. An invasion of privacy. And worse, somewhat pointless. Seriously, what is wrong with you? Ignoring my own reprimand, I leaned closer to the crack in the door.

I'd leave this less-than-stellar moment out of my memoirs. No one needed to know about it but me.

A few words drifted my way. "Sorry . . . felon . . . can't give . . . this bank . . . unfortunately . . ." Felon? It had to be the Grayson Hawthorn I thought it was. What a strange, random coincidence. I barely knew anything about him. All I really knew was his name, the fact that he’d been accused of a crime, and that my father had participated in using him as a pawn. Grayson Hawthorn and I had that in common. Not that it was likely my father remembered the name of one man, when he ruined lives so regularly and with so little afterthought. In any case, why was I eavesdropping from inside a bathroom, trying to listen in on his private conversation? I wasn't sure, however an abundance of curiosity was one of my confirmed faults. I took a deep breath and went to open the bathroom door so I could exit, when I heard the scraping of chair legs and paused. The words from across the hall were clearer now that they had probably opened the door wider. "I'm sorry I can't approve a loan for you, Mr. Hawthorn." The male voice that spoke sounded regretful. "If you were worth more . . ."

Another male voice, Grayson's I assumed, cut the other man off. "I understand. Thank you for your time, Mr. Gellar."

I caught the brief glimpse of a tall male figure with dark hair in a gray suit and leaned back inside the restroom, clicking the door closed again. I washed my hands once more to stall, and then left the small room. I glanced at the office Grayson Hawthorn had been in as I passed, and saw a man sitting behind the desk in a suit and tie, his attention focused on something he was writing. That must have been Grayson Hawthorn in the gray suit, and apparently he'd already left the bank.

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