Chapter 24: Brad
Nassau, Bahamas - 1994
Brad carried a glass of wine to Parisia, who lounged on a sunbed facing the ocean. The blanket of stars above them was awe-inspiring. Even if Brad had enjoyed the spectacle a million times, he would never get sick of this view. This far east on the island, the lights of the downtown didn’t dim their glow. If Brad searched hard enough, he would find the Milky Way and catch a few shooting stars.
Unlike Christopher and Elizabeth, who ignored their sweet grandma Pearl’s parting gift, Brad was a fan of Water’s Edge. He had his own place, a shiny, soulless warehouse-sized one-bedroom penthouse overlooking Cable Beach, but he preferred it here and often stayed over. Christopher had his guest house at Highwater, a palatial spread close enough to the main house to keep the five-star treatment from staff. Brad wasn’t even convinced Christopher knew how to turn on an oven or a washing machine. Christopher thought Water’s Edge was too small, had no servant’s quarters for a start, and was too old-fashioned. Brad loved the old Abaco pine beamed ceilings, the expansive patio on the sea, and the bathtub warm swimming pool. The patio at Water’s Edge felt like sitting on the deck of a yacht. Parisia had laughed when he’d told her. This house could fit inside Grandpa Uly’s yacht with room to spare. He should offer to buy the others out and move here permanently, but his grandfather would disapprove. He would say it wasn’t the right place to bring clients or remotely suitable for the CEO of Hanna Group. Grandpa was never a fan of this house.
“So? How was it?” Parisia waited until Brad passed her the wine and settled into his lounge before she spoke in a low voice. Parisia hadn’t seen him since the Highwater dinner two days ago because Brad thought it wise to stay out of the way and let Christopher’s girl settle in. Catriona hadn’t been too pleased with him at the party.
“She didn’t appreciate my joke.” He said, matching her low voice. Cat was sleeping inside. There wasn’t much chance she could hear them over the waves as her windows were closed. But better to be safe than sorry.
“Ah, yes. Fred the Fisherman. Hilarious.” Parisia chinked her wine glass against his sparkling water.
“I didn’t know who she was or why she was here. I was feeling cheeky.” He mumbled.
“So I understood.”
“I recognized the dress she was wearing.”
Parisia shrugged. “I like her—a lot. And I felt sorry for her. She is clearly not prepared for whatever your brother has planned for her. I didn’t want her to stand in front of Ulysses in the Dress Barn sundress or the mafia wife cocktail dress she had in her suitcase.”
“You’re too nice. You know she probably doesn’t deserve it. She’s some gold-digger Christopher picked up in New York and plans to clean him out. Little does she know.”
“Spoken like a true pessimist.” Parisia yawned and stretched back on the lounger. She moved like a cat. He half expected her to purr.
“I’ve told you I’m not a pessimist. I’m a realist.”
“Shooting star,” Parisia said, pointing. “Make a wish.”
“I wish I was Fred the Fisherman.”
Parisia chuckled. “Well, you’re not Fred the Fisherman, are you? So deal with it.”
Brad followed the path of light that glistened and flashed in the choppy water to the full moon. He’d do anything to get his boat ready for a dawn excursion to the Exumas. He’d spend the morning fishing and return his catch to Water’s Edge grill. Parisia loved his fish recipes. He was pondering the best recipe for a grouper when Parisia interrupted his thoughts.
“I don’t think she’d a gold digger,” she said. “If she is, she won’t get very far. Trust my virgin-dar. The girl has zero experience with men. Or life.” She put down her drink and turned to Brad. “Even if she is a gold digger, why has Christopher brought her here? He’s never brought anyone here before?”
“You don’t think she’s a prostitute, do you?” It was the only thing Brad could think of. “Is he going to, like, sell her virginity or something?”
Parisia barked a laugh before covering her mouth to stifle the noise. She recovered and then lifted her glass to toast Brad.
“Spoken like a true misanthrope.” She said. “Cheers!”
She swallowed a mouthful of wine and then got the giggles again and almost spit in Brad’s lap. He smiled at her.
“Okay, so maybe not a prostitute.” He said as Parisia shook silently. “What? It’s Christopher. Who knows?”
Parisia recovered herself. “Your brother is many things, Bradley. But he is no pimp!”
Bradley shrugged to himself and lay back to look up at the sky. He had to admit he was worried about the girl. Not worried about the girl herself. He didn’t know her and wasn’t prone to caring about folks beyond his immediate family. He barely had enough energy to worry about them. No, he worried about what Catriona meant to the Hanna family overall. He’d seen the look on his mother’s face. Her plans for Christopher and Jessica were well-known in their social circles. Catriona was not only a spanner in the works. She was a threat to his mother’s very existence. Ever since Grandma Pearl died, Toni had always been the most beautiful Hanna in the room. Granted, Cat wasn’t a Hanna, but she was Hanna adjacent, and his mother didn’t like any adjacent people to shine brighter than her. He couldn’t deny that even if he didn’t trust or particularly like Catriona, she shone brighter than these stars.
He would have to monitor the situation and, as usual, keep his brother out of trouble. Christopher had secrets he wouldn’t share anytime soon, so Brad would have to dig them up. He glanced over at Parisia. Let’s hope Christopher didn’t decide to dig up his. He couldn’t handle a family implosion and save the Hanna Group simultaneously.
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