In They Waltzed

“Did you get a load of Crain Carraway at the Kampmueller/Devine ball the other night? That man makes me want to move to Texas.” Tinley DuVal sat in the corner of the Mixed Grill with her older sister Lucy and their cousins, Vivi and Jacey.

“He’s like a hundred times older than you,” Lucy scolded.

“Hmm. I like older men. Big, broad, Texas-born older men.”

“I’m still crushing on Annabelle Devine’s fiancé, myself,” Lucy sighed. “I’m telling you, if she doesn’t marry him soon, I’m going to declare him back on the market by default and make a play.”

Tinley rolled her eyes. “You are so full of talk when it comes to going after men.”

“Well, no one’s like you. You literally threw yourself at Vivi’s boyfriend, Lane.”

“I was simply trying to keep their cover.” She shined a cheesy grin at her cousin Vivi. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

“Stick to the single ones. Both of you,” Vivi ordered. “We can’t afford to get on Annabelle Devine’s bad side. She’s like the crowning glory of Henderson. And that goes double for Tansy Langford Carraway now that she’s brought Crain and his money into this town.”

“For being able to lure two bona fide hotties into marriage, it seems both Annabelle and Tansy have a hard time when it comes to actually tying the knot. What is Annabelle’s problem anyway?”

“Why do you think she’s got a problem?” Vivi asked.

“She’s been engaged for a year with no wedding date set. Everybody’s talking about it,” Lucy said.

“Maybe she simply wants a long engagement?” Vivi defended. “She’s a busy woman. Travels for work.”

“All I’m saying is Duncan James is too darling for words and a lot of temptation to leave walking around Henderson all by his lonesome.”

“Lucy, you are not making a play for Duncan,” Vivi insisted. “What is with you two?” She shot accusatory looks back and forth between her cousins.

“Asks the woman who has Notre Dame running back Lane Kettering wrapped around her finger.” Tinley drawled.

“Obviously the two of you need a trip out of town. I imported Lane after meeting him at the beach. Tansy met Crain in Dallas. Even Annabelle found Duncan in Raleigh,” she reminded them.

“Annabelle met Duncan here in Henderson,” Lucy defended.

“Yes, but he didn’t live here did he?”

“No, but his friends did.”

“That was a one-off. My point is, attractive men aren’t going to simply waltz in here on some out-there, random whim.”

A lot of male voices and shuffling of feet brought all of their attentions over toward the double doors. Vance Evans entered the Mixed Grill leading a long line of casually dressed, strapping men of various ages and sizes toward the bar. It wasn’t just the DuVal cousins’ table that had stopped talking. The entire place went silent as every neck stretched to take in the glorious scene.

“Harry,” Vance called. “I’d like you to meet some of the coaching staff and key players of the University of Central Florida’s football team.”

Harry’s brows shot up as the men lined up at the bar in front of him. “Wow. Congratulations on an undefeated season,” he said. “Ya’ll got an exhibition game close to town I don’t know about?”

“They are the new game in town,” Vance said. “Here as my guests. Recruited—as an already proven winning team—to consult on the facilities and amenities for the new sports academy.”

Harry glanced over at the cousins’ table and grinned at Vivi. “Kinda unexpected. A group like y’all just waltzing in here. How long you staying?”

“Two weeks, maybe more.” Vance went on proudly, “We’ve got every bed-and-breakfast in town promising to show them our famous Henderson hospitality.”

“Right,” Harry said. “Along with that big reception you’ve got planned for Saturday night. Right here in the Grill Room,” he said, glancing over at the DuVal cousins again. “Where they’ll be able to mix and mingle with the prettiest of our locals.” Harry looked directly at Vance. “I’ll get it all set up.”

“Riiiight,” Vance said slowly, looking at Harry quizzically. “The reception. You sure you got that handled?”

“Trust me.” Harry shot a grin at Vance and then a wink toward the cousins.

With that, the entire Mixed Grill lit up with conversation.

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