Fourteen Months Ago
Miranda Tyler chewed absently on the pen between her fingers, oblivious to the germs she was probably ingesting from the well-used object. She stared pensively at the blank email draft in front of her. Was she really going to do this? It seemed pretty pointless, and yet . . .
Her friend Emily had just gone to try to speak personally with the only Sinclair living in the area, the only man who had the resources to save Christmas for the seacoast town of Amesport, Maine.
It wasn’t Emily’s fault that all of the funds for the Youth Center of Amesport had been stolen, but Miranda—otherwise known simply as Randi to her friends—knew that Emily was blaming herself completely for the fiasco. Her friend was sweet, trusting, and those traits had gotten her completely screwed. All of the money was gone from the Christmas fund for the Center, stolen by an asshole who Emily had trusted, and now they desperately needed help.
Come on, Randi. If Emily can go try to talk to the Amesport Beast, Grady Sinclair, you can find the damn balls to send a stupid email.
Honestly, sending an email off to a generic address in the hopes that one of the billionaire Sinclairs might actually read it and help the town of Amesport did seem like a meaningless action. But Randi was desperate, and she couldn’t seem to conjure up a better idea, although she badly wished she had one. Her foster parents had left her their home, but her teaching job wasn’t exactly lucrative. She got by on what it paid, but she didn’t have the kind of funds needed to replace the Christmas money. If she did, she’d give it without a thought. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.
Once Emily had gone to meet The Beast—aka Grady Sinclair—Randi had sat down at one of the Center’s aging computers, trying to find email addresses for the rest of the Sinclair family. Like the billionaire brothers and cousins are really going to make their personal emails public? Still, Randi wanted to do something.
Emily had been so devastated and desperate. Randi couldn’t bear it, and she couldn’t sit and do nothing while Emily went to grovel to Grady Sinclair and continued to make everything her fault. In reality, Emily was an amazing director for the Center, a selfless woman who had dedicated herself to the nonprofit organization that was the heart of Amesport life. The Center was a better place since Emily had accepted the job of director.
Just do it! Send the damn email. What’s the worst that could happen?
Randi put down the pen she was chewing on and copied and pasted the “info” email address published on the Sinclair Fund web page into her empty draft. She’d found the site during her search—the organization was a large group charity in which all of the billionaire Sinclairs participated. More than likely, her email would end up in the hands of some assistant or secretary. She very much doubted that any of the Sinclairs were really hands-on with the charity. But maybe one of the employees would have a heart and pass the emailed info to one of the bosses. It was almost Christmas.
Dear Mr. Sinclair:
Randi paused after typing the generic greeting, figuring that was as good a start as any, since every one of them had the same last name. She quickly wrote the shortest email possible, explaining the crisis and practically begging for their assistance. When she finished, she breathed a sigh of relief. She hated groveling for anything; it rubbed her the wrong way. But she loved Emily, and there was very little she wouldn’t do for her real friends.
Grady was the only Sinclair who lived in Amesport, and Emily was currently approaching him personally. With his reputation for being a jerk and a recluse, it had taken a lot of guts for Emily to seek him out on the secluded Amesport Peninsula.
Her eyes darting to the clock on the wall, Randi realized that Emily was probably just now arriving at Grady’s mansion. Grady’s brothers Evan and Jared each had a home on the same cape right at the edge of town, as did their sister, Hope. The mansions were currently empty and rarely, if ever, visited.
Plenty of people gossiped about the Sinclairs, especially about Grady, but nobody really knew any of them. Honestly, Randi couldn’t remember an occasion where she’d actually seen any of the other Sinclairs come to Amesport on vacation. Jared had overseen the building of his siblings’ homes on the exclusive peninsula, but she’d never seen any of them.
All of the Sinclair men have to be stiff-necked snobs! They certainly have never frequented any of the local businesses, or people would know them.
Randi dearly wished she had found information on the Sinclair sister, but Hope was rarely in the media and apparently not active on social media. Grady’s cousins, Micah, Julian, and Xander, had little connection to the town, but some of their heritage was here. So she’d try to appeal to their sense of family.
As she read the hastily written note to check for errors, she hesitated on how to sign the letter. Writing from her email at the Center, she could be anonymous, a worried citizen. Everyone in the town of Amesport had access to email here in the tiny computer room of the Center, and Randi had her own free email address she’d created only for business here. She rarely utilized it except for sending progress reports to the parents of the students she helped tutor after hours as a volunteer. Unfortunately, she was fairly certain most of the parents didn’t even bother to read her correspondence.
She ended up simply signing the email: A Concerned Resident of Amesport.
Hitting the “Send” button with a heavy sigh, she watched as the letter was sent off into cyberspace, wondering exactly who would read it. Probably an assistant who would delete it without another thought. The Sinclair Fund was an enormous charity. They were in the business of raising funds for large nonprofit organizations, not giving them out to a small town in crisis.
Randi signed herself out of her email for the Center and shut down the computer. She’d promised Emily she’d watch over the activities here while her friend was approaching Grady Sinclair to try and raise the funds they needed to save Christmas for Amesport and the surrounding villages. Unfortunately, Christmas wouldn’t be very merry if they couldn’t get the funds back for presents for needy children and the annual Christmas party. For some of the kids, whatever they got from the Center would be their only gift, and the food provided at the Christmas party their main Christmas dinner.
Randi pushed the dreary thought from her mind as she looked at all of the decorations around the old building. Emily had brought life into the aging structure, even though the tired Center desperately needed maintenance. Colorful wreaths and Christmas decorations were everywhere, hung with love for the season by its employees and volunteers.