Meant To Be His begins with Nick Hanson arriving back in Fable Notch after his world in New York falls apart. But what was he up to at the end of Once More With You? This scene shows you!

Nick couldn’t believe what his brother, Theo, was telling him.

Not about catching the arsonist. He’d known Theo would be successful at that as soon as he heard Martin had reached out for help. And the part about Theo discovering he was still in love with Eden wasn’t a shock either. Nick knew what it was like to never get over the first woman you loved.

No, the surprise was that Theo was moving back to Fable Notch. Permanently.

Nick was pretty much the only one of the three Hanson brothers who ever went home. Theo couldn’t get out of there fast enough, and his oldest brother, Cole, was based in Colorado when he wasn’t touring with his rock band. As the youngest, Nick didn’t have as many rough memories of the town as his family. When he’d started to make enough money, he visited the Sinclairs once or twice a year and, depending on the season, took time to ski in the White Mountains.

With the first big bonus he’d received years ago, he’d gutted and renovated the house he and his brothers grew up in. And he’d been doing so well recently, that last fall he’d started building his dream home on land in the area. According to the most update Nick received a few weeks ago from his contractor, Ed Franks, the place would be done by July. Nick was looking forward to spending time there this coming winter. Assuming he could get away. His bank account was in great shape, but his free time was minimal. He hadn’t been to New Hampshire in over two years. Theo being there gave him a little more incentive.

And a recent loss gave him an additional reason to get away. Maybe he’d have time in the fall.

Stepping from his office desk, Nick walked to the wall of floor to ceiling windows and looked over the New York skyline, six hours and a world away from where Theo was. “Let me see if I have this straight. You found the arsonist, got the girl, and won over her father. That’s a lot to accomplish in only a few weeks.”

Theo’s laugh came through the phone, and Nick thought his brother sounded more relaxed than he’d heard in years. Theo had wanted out of Fable Notch since they were kids, but he’d always hoped Eden would be with him when he left. When he lost her, a sadness crept into his voice that remained, until now. “Tell me about it. Not sure which of those is the most surprising.”

Thinking about what Theo shared, Nick said, “Between Patrick shaking your hand and you deciding to move home? Yeah, that’s a toss-up. Never thought I’d hear about either of them.”

“You and me both, but it really happened, and I’m really staying.” Theo went on to tell Nick about what he’d learned about their mother, and how she’d refused all offers of help when they were little. Believing that the people in town turned their back on the Hansons was one of the things Theo held against Fable Notch. It was good to learn it wasn’t true.

“Do you need the house for a little longer?” Nick asked. If it hadn’t worked out so well, Nick would feel bad about the mixup that landed Theo in a situation where he and Eden had to live together. Best miscommunication ever. Nick wished that could be true in more situations.

“Yeah, for a few more weeks, if that’s possible. We’re looking for a place to rent, but it could take a while. Especially since I need somewhere that accepts dogs.” Harlow, Theo’s arson dog, had been the main reason Theo agreed to stay in the old house in the first place. “We can pay you.”

“You can, but you won’t. It’s not a problem.” Okay, it was a small problem. There was a rental coming up in two weeks that Nick would need to cancel, and he’d been counting on that income to help him out of some of the hole he’d dug himself into, but he wasn’t going to share that.

“My brother, the big financial success. At least that’s something we predicted.”

“What can I say,” Nick said with a laugh and hoped Theo didn’t hear how forced it sounded. “Some of us were clear about what we wanted.” Nick had planned to have a career on Wall Street since he was in his early teens, with a goal of making his first million before he was thirty. He’d graduated from college in three years to make it happen sooner and hit the goal a few months after his twenty-ninth birthday last year. There had been some costs along the way, but a lot of rewards.

“You’ve done an amazing job,” Theo said. “I’m proud of you, baby brother.”

“Thanks,” Nick said. He looked to the closed door of his office, feeling panic rise in him at his brother’s words. There wasn’t much to be proud of recently, but Nick was determined to come up with a plan to change that. “Listen, someone is standing at my door waiting for me, so I need to get going. The house is yours as long as you need it. Let me know when you’re ready to move out.”

“Thanks. I – we – appreciate it.” He was glad he could do something right for someone. “When will you be coming up for a visit? Millie tells me you haven’t been here in ages. There are some changes you really need to see.”

There was something cryptic in Theo’s words, but Nick didn’t have the time to ask about it. There was too much work to do. “Maybe for the holidays at the end of the year. Things slow down then.”

“Great. I’ll look forward to racing you down the slopes,” Theo said. For all the challenges he was having, Nick would never get tired of hearing his brother sound happy. If anyone deserved it, it was Theo.

They got off the phone, and Nick continued to stare at the city. He’d come here with his best friend to conquer the Big Apple and to take as big a chunk of it for himself as he could. Everything had been going according to plan, but for the last few months, Nick had been struggling. In the eight years since he’d been working for Jeffries and Waters, he’d done good work, and every year his bank account and portfolio grew substantially. No, he didn’t have a perfect track record, but no one did. And he’d never had a setback like the one that happened in the last week.

There had been too much going on in his life outside of work. What he needed was time to think, get a better perspective on what was happening, then turn it around.

He stepped out of his office, and his assistant looked up from her desk. “Ordering dinner in again,” she said with a knowing smile. It wasn’t a question. He hadn’t gone home before eight o’clock for the last two weeks.

With a nod he said, “Greek tonight, I think.” Add some vegetables to that, said a voice in his head. It must be because he’d been talking to Theo that he thought of Millie. “And a salad on the side.”

“You got it. Do you need me to stay?”

She’d put in plenty of late nights in the last few weeks as well, but tonight he planned to focus. “No, head home whenever you’re done with what you’re working on. Leave whatever you order for me on your desk, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

She must have heard something in his voice because she asked, “You okay, boss?”

He’d gotten a thrill out of her calling him that initially. Tonight, he heard the pressure of the word. He had responsibilities. Clients and team members who were counting on him to continue to be as successful as he always was. He plastered on a smile. “I’m great. Planning to make us all very rich. How does that sound?”

“Wonderful,” she said. Assistants got bonuses based on how well the people they reported to did. She was as invested in his success as he was. “I’m hoping to go on a cruise at the end of the year.”

“Then start looking for bathing suits.” Did he sound confident? He hoped so, because he sure as hell didn’t feel it.

Nick went back into his office, leaving the door partially open, hoping someone would walk in with an idea of how to salvage the project he was working on. When he’d taken on this merger, he’d been so sure it would be hugely successful. Yes, there were a few red flags, but he’d worked his way around those before. It was like navigating a black diamond ski run, the most difficult. You couldn’t anticipate every turn, but he had skills he could rely on.

Had he overreached this time?

No, he thought, shaking his head trying to clear his concerns. He’d be fine. This was nothing more than a stumble. He had plans for his future and even with the latest losses, he was going to make them come true. He looked out the window again as the sun set and lights came up around the city. He was going to make a new plan and find a way through. This was where he belonged.

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Meant To Be His

Cover of Elena Markem's Meant ToBe His. Handsome man in a dark suit jacket, small town image at the bottom