Undercover Groomsman

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Chapter 23

Declan’s POV

A smile was etched into my face as I walked into work the next morning. Last night was progress between Margaret and me. The guilt still ate away at my stomach for lying to her in the first place but eased when she said she understood why I did what I did. Even if she forgave me for lying to her, and I pray to God she does, I don’t know if I’ll forgive myself. Margaret trusted me enough to tell me things she rarely spoke to anyone and I couldn’t reciprocate the feeling.

I adjusted the cuffs of my dress shirt as I walked into the lobby, immediately taken back by the stark contrast to the FBI building in Memphis. Must be nice to be surrounded by this twenty-four seven.

The receptionist glanced up as I walked past, her eyes go wide at the sight of me. “Agent O’Connor. I have something here for you!”

I raised a curious eyebrow as I approached the large metal desk. “What is it?” The receptionist reached into a drawer and pulled out a single white envelope. The envelope was stuffed, the flap barely able to hold it closed. She slid the envelope towards me before turning towards her monitor. Who the hell would drop something off in an envelope for me? I’m only here for a temporary job and I’ve only been here a few days.

Scrawled across the middle of the envelope was “Declan O’Connor” in small print. The handwriting looks familiar, but I can’t place where I’ve seen it before. I grasped the envelope in my hands, surprised by the weight of it in my hand. I nodded to the receptionist before stepping to the inside and turning it over in my hands. Normally I would have waited until I got back to my desk to open it but the anxiety of what was in it continued to tear away my resolve. Here goes nothing.

I tore open the envelope, nearly giving myself a papercut at the speed I did it. Inside there was a printed-out piece of paper with various paragraphs of information on it. Upon further inspection, I saw that it was reservation confirmation for a cabin reservation in Spring. Wait. This cabin is only a few minutes away from Percy Priest Lake. That’s where my dad would take us for the fishing trip.

My hands shook as I pulled the rest of the contents out of the envelope. Along with the cabin reservation was the confirmation for a boat rental for the week. Coincidentally big enough for six people. Several tightly folded pieces of paper sat in the palm of my hand. I tucked the envelope in my suit jacket before unfolding the pieces of paper. The same small print from the envelope filled the pages, tightly condensed together. My eyes quickly scanned the sheets desperate to find an answer for my confused and jumbled mind.

Declan,

Regardless of what I said last night, I knew from the second my eyes laid on the tablecloth I knew whether or not I was going to forgive you. I’m sorry that it took you taking a job here and orchestrating everything with Derek for me to accept your apology. You didn’t have to jump through the countless and unnecessary hoops I set in your way, yet you did. Every single time.

That’s why after you left, I called your brother Derek. He gave me the name of the lake where you guys used to take your fishing trip to when you were kids. With a little determination (and maybe a little sweet-talking to get the reservation so late at night), I was able to get you guys a cabin and a boat rental for next spring. When you told me about the fishing trip, it was the happiest I’d ever seen you. If you ever ask me this in person, I’ll deny it but the look you had on your face before I got in my car to leave for back home after- everything happened haunts me. For someone that tries his damnedest to be the stoic tough guy, you do a pretty good job at expressing your emotions. That is when you finally decide to do so.

I’m not one for big gestures. You know this. But, I figured, if you can swallow your pride and apologize for everything that happened, this was the least I could do. I don’t like accepting new people into my life. I’ve been burned and hurt too many times in my life to where I’ve just resorted and turned into the shell of the person I used to be. You’ll be the first person I’ve fully trusted since I met Audrey after my mother died.

Don’t make me regret it asshole

~Margaret

I couldn’t wipe the smile off my lips as I held back the tears, pulling my phone out of my pocket at the same time. After dialing the bakery’s number, it rang for a few moments before she picked up.

“Olsen’s Bake Shop, this is Margaret speaking. How can I help you?” The sound of her voice naturally carrying through the line was the catalyst for my tears to fall down my face.

“Hey Mags, it’s me.” I cleared my throat as I raised a hand to wipe the tears from my eyes. “I got the envelope this morning.”

“Well, I figured as much considering you’re calling me before 8 in the morning.”

A soft chuckle escaped my lips as I ran a hand through my hair. “Ever think it might be because I missed hearing your voice?”

“That’s a given Declan. You seem to forget how irresistible I can be.”

“Trust me, sweetheart, I most certainly haven’t forgotten.” I allowed silence to fill the space between us for a few seconds before continuing. “Thank you, Margaret. I can’t tell you how much this means to me and how much it’ll mean to my family.”

I knew from the silence on her end that her cheeks were bright pink from the compliment. “It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing Mags. You, me, tonight. 8 pm. I’ll show you all the different ways I know how to express my gratitude.” I ended the call abruptly, tossing the phone into my pocket as I walked towards the elevator. A smirk rose on my face as I pictured an extremely flustered Margaret as she stared at the screen of her phone with wide eyes.

Margaret wasn’t going to regret allowing me into her life. I’ll make sure of it.

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