Book Lovers by Emily Henry



            Grant was only supposed to be in Texas for two weeks, just long enough to help close a deal between his company and the boutique hotel they were trying to acquire outside San Antonio. Having already experienced two post–work trip breakups, I reacted to the news of his trip as if he’d announced he’d joined the navy and was shipping out in the morning.

            Libby tried to convince me I was overreacting, but I wasn’t surprised when Grant missed our nightly phone call three times in a row, or when he cut two others short. I knew how this ended.

            And then, three days ago, hours before his return flight, it happened.

            A force majeure intervened to keep him in San Antonio longer than planned. His appendix burst.

            Theoretically, I could’ve booked a flight right then, met him at the hospital. But I was in the middle of a huge sale and needed to be glued to my phone with stable Wi-Fi access. My client was counting on me. This was a life-changing chance for her. And besides, Grant pointed out that an appendectomy was a routine procedure. His exact words were “no big deal.”

            So I stayed, and deep down, I knew I was releasing Grant to the small-town-romance-novel gods to do with what they do best.

            Now, three days later, as I’m practically sprinting to lunch in my Good Luck heels, my knuckles white against my phone, the reverberation of the nail in my relationship’s coffin rattles through me in the form of Grant’s voice.

            “Say that again.” I mean to say it as a question. It comes out as an order.

            Grant sighs. “I’m not coming back, Nora. Things have changed for me this past week.” He chuckles. “I’ve changed.”

            A thud goes through my cold, city-person heart. “Is she a baker?” I ask.

            He’s silent for a beat. “What?”

            “Is she a baker?” I say, like that’s a perfectly reasonable first question to ask when your boyfriend dumps you over the phone. “The woman you’re leaving me for.”

            After a brief silence, he gives in: “She’s the daughter of the couple who own the hotel. They’ve decided not to sell. I’m going to stay on, help them run it.”

            I can’t help it: I laugh. That’s always been my reaction to bad news. It’s probably how I won the role of Evil Villainess in my own life, but what else am I supposed to do? Melt into a crying puddle on this packed sidewalk? What good would that do?

            I stop outside the restaurant and gently knead at my eyes. “So, to be clear,” I say, “you’re giving up your amazing job, your amazing apartment, and me, and you’re moving to Texas. To be with someone whose career can best be described as the daughter of the couple who own the hotel?”

            “There’s more important things in life than money and a fancy career, Nora,” he spits.

            I laugh again. “I can’t tell if you think you’re being serious.”

            Grant is the son of a billionaire hotel mogul. “Raised with a silver spoon” doesn’t even begin to cover it. He probably had gold-leaf toilet paper.

            For Grant, college was a formality. Internships were a formality. Hell, wearing pants was a formality! He got his job through sheer nepotism.

            Which is precisely what makes his last comment so rich, both figuratively and literally.

            I must say this last part aloud, because he demands, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

            I peer through the window of the restaurant, then check the time on my phone. I’m late—I’m never late. Not the first impression I was aiming for.