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From the Hawthorne Vault: Marry Me Edition

Alright, I won’t bore you with my rambling other than to say: here is chapter 4 of The Brothers Hawthorne. You. Are. Welcome.

Chapter 4: Grayson

It had been years since Grayson had stepped foot in London, but the flat looked just the same: same historical façade, same modern interior, same twin terraces, same exquisite view.

            Same four brothers taking in that view.

            Beside Grayson, Jameson cocked an eyebrow at Nash. “What’s the situation, cowboy?” Grayson had been wondering the same thing. Nash almost never used his yearly nine-one-one.

             “This.” Their oldest brother plunked a velvet box down on the glass-top table. A ring box. Grayson found himself suddenly unable to blink as Nash flipped it open to reveal a remarkable piece: a black opal wrapped in intricate diamond leaves and set in platinum. The flecks of color in the gemstone were electric, the workmanship without peer. “Nan gave it to me,” Nash said. “It was our grandmother’s.”

            Nash was the only one of them with memories of Alice Hawthorne, who’d died before the rest of the Hawthorne brothers were even born.

            “It wasn’t her wedding or engagement ring,” Nash drawled. “But Nan thought it would suit Lib.” Nash bowed his head slightly. “For that purpose.”

            Lib as in Libby Grambs, Nash’s partner, Avery’s sister. Grayson felt a breath catch in his throat.

            “Our great-grandmother gave you a family ring for Libby,” Xander summarized, “and that’s a problem?”

            “It is,” Nash confirmed.

            Grayson expelled the breath. “Because you’re not ready.”

            Nash looked up and cracked a slow and devious grin. “Because I already bought her one myself.” He plunked a second ring box down on the table. One by one, the muscles over Grayson’s ribcage tightened, and he wasn’t even sure why.

            Jameson, who’d gone unnaturally still the moment he’d seen the first ring, snapped out of it and flicked open the second box. It was empty.

Nash already proposed. He and Libby are already engaged. The realization hit Grayson with startling force. Everything is changing. That was a useless thought, obvious and overdue. Their grandfather was dead. They’d all been disinherited. Everything had already changed. Nash was already with Libby. Jameson was with Avery. Even Xander had Max.

“Nash Westbrook Hawthorne,” Xander boomed. “Prepare yourself for a bracing, celebratory hug of manly joy!”

Xander did not, in fact, give Nash time to prepare before crashing into him—hugging, grappling, wrestling, attempting to hoist Nash into the air, it was all the same. Jameson joined the melee, and Grayson forced everything else to fade away as he clapped a hand on Nash’s shoulder—then pulled him backward.

Three on one, Nash didn’t stand a chance.

            “Impromptu bachelor party!” Jameson declared, when the four of them finally broke apart. “Give me an hour.”

            “Stop.” Nash held up a hand, then followed his first who’s-the-oldest-brother-here order with a second. “Turn.” Jameson obliged, and Nash fixed him with a look. “You planning on breaking any laws, Jamie? Because you’ve been on quite a kick lately.”

             To Grayson’s knowledge, there had been an incident in Monaco, another in Belize…

            Jameson gave a little shrug. “You know what they say, Nash. No charges filed, no harm done.”

             “Is that what they say?” Nash replied, his tone deceptively mild. And then, inexplicably, Grayson found himself on the end of Nash’s look.

What did I do? Grayson’s eyes narrowed. “You didn’t bring us here for your own sake.”

Nash leaned back. “You accusin’ me of a being a mother hen, Gray?”

“Them’s fighting words,” Xander said happily, altogether too pleased at the prospect.

Nash cast one last look at Grayson, then turned back to Jameson. “Impromptu bachelor party,” he agreed. “But Gray and Xan will help you plan—and treehouse rules.”

What happened in the treehouse stayed in the treehouse.

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