Shattered Grace - By K Anne Raines Page 0,1

his face. Through her grief she could see how young he looked. How in the world could he be an attorney at his age? He appeared barely out of college. She tried not to let her skepticism and distrust work their way into her expression; it would be rude, and after all, he was the only one talking to her. But her brows drew together on their own volition, as the rest of the frown took over her mouth.

He withdrew his hand and chuckled. “I can see you think I’m a little young. I assure you, I’m actually an attorney. I’m older than I look.” With that, he gave her a wink.

The wink threw her off guard, but not so much she couldn’t remember all he’d said. “What promise?”

“Could you come with me to his office?”

Her legs shook as she rose from the step, and her gaze fell upon where her family members still congregated. The ugly scene only made the bile rise again. With a slight clearing of her throat, she nodded and followed along.

One of her grandfather’s favorite places in Morgan Manor was the open hallway. All the special moments from Grace’s birth to now were captured behind wooden frames hanging on the walls on either side of the hallway. He had taken every single picture. A lifetime of memories flashed before her eyes, making it nearly impossible to stay walking upright as her feet faltered. She touched the wall with her hand to help steady herself as she continued.

The sound of clinking metal tore her attention from the onslaught of flashbacks. When Quentin turned the knob to open her grandfather’s office door, she had to control herself from stopping him. An overwhelming panic washed over her. She wasn’t ready to go in there. Quentin’s eyes were searching out the office when he swept his arm out in invitation for her to go inside.

She hurried past him, not thrilled about him seeing her cry even more. The instant he felt the effects of being in her grandfather’s office, she knew. The nonchalance that controlled his features seemed to flee as he walked into the room, pulling his face down into a frown as it left him. The grief in his eyes mirrored hers. Grace appreciated the camaraderie, no matter how unfamiliar. Quentin hesitated before walking to where she stood, and held his hand out. Confused by a tri-fold black folder lying across his palms, she carefully took it from his outstretched hands without touching him, and held it in her own.

Quentin hurried to move away from her and as he turned, she saw him take an inconspicuous wipe at his eyes. Her heart constricted painfully in her chest, seeing how choked up he was as well. He continued to the fireplace and knelt to start a fire. “I never understood why Christophe insisted on keeping this hearth exactly as it’s always been.” His voice broke as he spoke. “I’ve tried for years to get him to replace it with a gas insert, but he’d have no part of it.” He chuckled softly.

Thoughts of her grandfather and his stubborn ways brought a smile to her lips. The cool, soft material of the folder slid along the tips of her fingers as it started to slip from her hands. Gripping it tighter, she inched a couple more steps into the office. “What is this, Quentin?”

Still on his haunches, he gazed up at her. The firelight danced hypnotically along his bronzed skin and flickered behind him, creating a luminescent halo around his raven hair, cut a little long for today’s standards. Instantly, she was taken aback by how handsome he was. Embarrassment warmed her cheeks as Grace forced her eyes to the folder in her hands. She turned it over, not at all surprised to see the unique seal of her grandfather’s crest melted in wax over the folds. The creak of leather as Quentin took a seat on the sofa brought her eyes back to meet his steel-colored gaze. “It’s why I brought you in here.”

“This folder?”

“No. The contents inside it.” A few minutes passed as she visually inspected it, and she wondered if he could sense her hesitation. “Go ahead, Grace. It’s okay.”

A few more pressure-filled moments passed before she found the courage. She broke the seal between her thumbs and pulled the folder open. On the left lay a folded piece of paper with her name written across the outside, and on the right, a brass key with

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