CHAPTER 13 | crimson tide

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📎A/N. Hello my lovelies... Hope your weekend is going well :) Take care and thanks for your continued support!

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Before Grace reached the front door, Sydney's flight instinct took over. She quickly murmured her excuses to Henry and escaped towards the dinner table in an attempt to appear busy. The table was only half set, which gave her a pretext for something to do.

From her vantage point, the front door was just out of her line of sight. She was a wreck, torn between erratic emotions that were making no sense. One moment she was looking forward to seeing him, the next dreading it.

So what if he knows about Samoa? Why should I care? It will just prove I was right about him.

The little voice at the back of her head began to laugh at her. The problem was, this was one of the rare times in her life she wanted to be wrong.

As she placed the last napkin in its place, she heard the sound of voices from a short way off. Not able to resist the urge she glanced up, she could now see Mason trailing behind Grace as she led her new guests further into the house and within Sydney's line of vision.

Grace's pleasure at the bunch of roses in her arms was evident by the blush in her cheeks and glow as she began the introductions. Despite the fact they were close enough for her to hear the conversation, Sydney failed to register any of the words spoken. She was solely focused on the man who had occupied far too much of her thoughts lately.

Ethan, two bottles of wine tucked in the crook of his arm, was shaking hands with Henry. Unlike the t-shirts and shorts that had been the norm over the past few days he, as well as the others, were attired a little less casually. The black and grey Abercrombie and Fitch polo shirt moulded perfectly to his upper body and was offset by a more formal black single pleat dress pants which hung from him perfectly. She felt like she was in a candy store eyeing up forbidden sweets. Remembering her previous resolve, Sydney turned back to the table, adamant that she was not going to let her hormones control her that evening.

She was startled a moment later when the object of her turmoil placed the wine bottles he had been holding on the dinner table. Caught unaware, her breath hitched as her eyes locked with his.

"Is here okay?" he smiled.

"Pardon?"

"The wine," he said, pointing to the bottles. "Is it okay to leave them here?"

Sydney cleared her parched throat, her frayed nerves now at breaking point. "Um, yes... there is fine."

A small glimmer of hope pushed through. Maybe he hasn't heard?

She stumbled with the cutlery when he didn't move and instead, continued to watch her set the table. "Did you manage to get a lot of work done today?" he asked conversationally.

Nodding her head she smiled weakly, unable to look directly at him. "Yes, a bit," she lied. Not one word had been written since the conversation with her uncle.

"Oh, I nearly forgot," he said, as he reached a hand into his pocket. "This is for you."

Sydney glanced up to discover Ethan had an arm stretched out towards her, his hand curled around something small. She darted her eyes from his hand to his face and back again, unable to see what he was holding. Her resolved disintegrated the moment she took in his boyish grin. His face was devoid of any censure that would indicate he was aware of the news of her father.

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