"We can all see what this job is doing to you," she told him now. "Seriously, you should have seen the way you looked when I walked in. Heck, the way you look right now, just thinking about meeting with another client."
His sister was a know-it-all. The problem was, sometimes she actually did know what she was talking about. Still, he had to say, "You think it’s that easy? That I can just buy the cabin, turn over my clients to Ben, and head out for the summer?"
"Why can’t you? I mean, you are the boss."
"You’re the boss over at Sullivan Realty, but you’re not exactly buying the lake house and leaving your employees to pick up your slack."
"True," she agreed a little too readily, "but there’s one big difference between you and me. I like my job. Besides, when’s the last time you took a real vacation?" Before he could reply, she said, "Fact is, there are always going to be people cheating, so there is always going to be more work coming your way. You’re the only one who can press the Pause button, Rafe. Especially after what happened to you with—"
His glare cut her off before she could talk about the same damn thing that everyone had been talking about for the past couple of months—the knife wound to the side of his ribs. He was over it. Why couldn’t they be? The guy had barely hooked the tip into Rafe’s skin before Rafe had thrown him across the parking garage.
And yet, it grated more than he liked to admit that his little sister was right about his taking some time off. Not because he was afraid of being jumped again in a dark parking lot, but because a guy needed to recharge his batteries every once in a while. Sex was usually good for that, but lately even the few hot hours in the sack he'd managed with women who weren't looking for love any more than he was had fallen pretty damned short of the mark.
Mia was also right about his employees; he’d made it a point to hire the best, and he could trust them to keep things running for a little while.
Just the thought of waking up to the sound of water lapping on the shore instead of traffic outside his window, and getting out in his fishing boat rather than handing tissues to sobbing women, had him almost feeling ten years younger.
"Okay, you’ve sold me on a vacation," he told his already gloating sister, "but I can rent a place."
She picked up the flyer from the coffee table. "Remember how we used to have cannonball contests off the dock and the Jansens next door would vote for the winner?" He had to laugh at the memory, the sound rusty after being out of use for so long. He hadn’t seen little Brooke Jansen or her grandparents in more than fifteen years, but he hadn’t forgotten them. Rafe looked down at the picture of the lake house. "I loved this place. We all did."
Mia’s gaze was no longer challenging or gloating. He and his siblings often fought and teased, but at the core of it all, they loved each other...and they always looked out for each other, too.
"You loved it more than anyone, Rafe. You’ve got the money. It’s time to finally use some of it and clear your head out on the lake."
Rafe figured he could have kept arguing with her, but what was the point? He wanted the cabin, and not just for himself. For his whole family—especially his parents, who should never have lost it in the first place. This time, he would make sure they would never lose it again.
He picked up the listing and looked more closely at the picture. At first glance, it hadn’t looked too different from the way he remembered it, but now he noticed the peeling paint, the overgrown shrubs, the overly worn and slightly crooked front steps.
"After all these years, it’ll probably need some work."
"I’m sure it does, but you’re nearly as handy as Adam. And you know he’ll be thrilled to weigh in on how to best fix any problems you might find. The listing agent and I have been playing phone tag all morning, so I’ll find out more specifics soon, but the flyer says it’s furnished, so hopefully you won’t have to deal with buying much furniture."
If it were any other house, he would have had Mia show him more pictures and give him the inspector’s report, but he knew this place inside and out. Sure, he didn’t know anything about the people who had lived in it for the past eighteen years, but how much could there be to fix?
"You win. I’ll make an offer."
Mia’s grin lit up her already pretty face. "I knew it!"
He looked at his watch. "I’ve got to take another couple of clients this morning, but I can probably come in to your office later this afternoon to sign everything."
"No need." She reached into her bag again and pulled out a large folder. "Sign here, here, here, and here. I already called with your initial offer. Once I send this in, we should be good to go."
Clearly, he needed a vacation, because he should have seen this coming. Mia Sullivan always got what she wanted.
Especially when she was trying to help someone she loved.
"One day you’re going to find a guy you can’t wrap around your finger," he told her as he took the pen she handed him and signed next to all the yellow flags. She was smiling when she took the papers back, but her grin suddenly looked a little forced.
He put a hand on her arm. "Everything okay, sis?"
"Everything’s great." He wasn’t sure he believed her, but she was already walking out the door and saying, "You should be the proud owner of the lake house by tonight."