Chapter One

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Chapter One

 

Noel

"Nolan, hey, did I wake you?" he heard. Alex’s voice hazy over the phone. Noel rubbed his eyes to see that it was ten past seven in the morning. He groaned at the sight of the time and noticed the sun was hidden behind clouded skies.

"Nah, what's up?" Noel replied as he climbed out of bed and opened the window to the smell of Boston in the morning. As he looked out at the view of the city he could hear his best friend sounding frustrated over the phone. Noel shook his head in an effort to properly wake up before making his way out of his bedroom and into the living room.

Noel and Alex Lawrence had been best friends since they were babies. They both had the same dreams and went after their own pursuit of happiness. They worked hard at school and grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. When Noel and Alex were accepted to Stanford University, they were the talk of the town, two Melbourne boys off to the States. Noel owed everything to Alex. If it weren’t for him, Noel would have never survived Stanford or received the promotion in Boston, which Alex deserved instead of him.

But Noel knew that Alex wouldn't call him at such an hour if it weren’t important. Even at seven in the morning, Noel knew the importance of Alex’s early morning call from the New York office. They both worked for G&MC, one of the leading accounting firms in the country. Although New York was lucrative, Noel held one of Boston's head office positions, practically Alex's boss.

"Mate, you know the Owens account?" Alex asked as Noel heard the clatter of papers and the sounds of erratic typing.  

"Yeah." 

"IRS is looking into it, claiming fraud. G&MC are in trouble, Noel. I could be fired. I handled the account, remember?" Alex said, reminding him. 

"Shit! That could be our asses on the line. What the hell happened?" Noel asked, utterly shocked at the circumstances his best friend was in. Having once worked for the New York office, by association, Noel would also get looked at.

"Fraud’s gone back long before we picked up the account, but it doesn't look good, even for us. This account could ruin the company's reputation." 

"Anything I can do?" 

"Nah, I don't want to put this kind of pressure on you. You have your own problems in Boston, but listen, I do have one favour to ask," Noel heard as he walked over to the kitchen counter.

Anything.

Through all the times Alex came through for Noel, this was the time to be the best friend. 

"Go back to Melbourne without me. Get your ass home without me. I know we were meant to meet up in L.A together. But I'm going to have to stay here in New York till this gets sorted. But can you please take care of Clara? I even booked flights that landed back home a day earlier than she expected just to surprise her. She’s going to be disappointed that I'm not there for her birthday." He could hear the desperation and pleading in Alex's voice.

"You want me to babysit your sister?" Noel blurted out. He hadn't seen her since he and Alex left for Stanford, almost five years back. She was fourteen when he left Australia, and when he left, he never really thought much of her. He had only ever thought of her as Alex’s sister.

"Please, Noel, you know our folks are cruising all around the world, and she needs company right now." 

"Doesn't she have a boyfriend or something?" Noel asked, hoping he could offload Clara Lawrence to anyone else.

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