Two Truths and a Lie
Games We Play, Book Three
by PG Forte
Atlas Beach, New Jersey
Eleven years earlier…
Gorgeous eyes. Gorgeous smile. Gorgeous boy. I want him.
Seventeen-year-old Brenda Donovan could not take her eyes off the boy lounging against the reception desk at her grandmother’s hotel. From the messy waves of his burnished-copper hair, to the dimples that took his smile to a whole new level of yum, he was exactly what she’d have designed for herself if the Build-a-Boy workshop she and her cousin Gwyn had frequently joked about had been a reality.
“So what do you do around here for fun?” Noah asked, flashing that grin again. It was just the two of them now, his parents having gone off to settle into the cottage where the family would be spending the next month.
A month. He’s here for a whole month. That single thought had been repeating in her head for several minutes now. Anything could happen…
She forced her thoughts back to the question at hand. “Do you mean here at the hotel? Or in Atlas Beach in general?”
“Either one,” Noah replied as he stretched one long leg out behind him and leaned against the desk, a move that put them at eye level and made her even more keenly aware of his hot gaze trained on her face.
“Well, there’s the beach, of course—”
“And the boardwalk, the arcade, miniature golf. Stuff like that. Here at the hotel we show movies in the activity room. And there are dances and game night and—”
“Yeah? What kind of games?”
“Well, that depends.”
“On who’s in charge that night, for one thing.”
“Wouldn’t that be you?”
“Sometimes it is. There are a few of us who take turns running it. But generally it’s things like Telephone, Charades, Twenty Questions, Two Truths and a Lie…”
“Two Truths and a Lie.” It was all Brenda could do not to mirror his posture. She wanted to fold her own arms on the counter and lean in just a little—just enough to put them within kissing distance of each other. The impulsive side of her nature said, go for it. Just do it. But her practical side held her back. She was supposed to be working, after all. She didn’t want to give anyone an excuse to say she had only been given a job here because she was Moira’s granddaughter—even if that was mostly true. “Haven’t you ever heard of it? It’s just like the name says. Everyone takes a turn making three statements—only two of which are true—and then everyone else tries to guess which one’s the lie.”
Mischief gleamed in Noah’s eyes. “Like…you’re cute. I really want to kiss you. I have a pet monkey. That kinda thing?”
Brenda felt herself blushing. “Not bad, but I should have been more specific. The statements are all supposed to be about you.”
“I’m not sure I get it. I guess I’ll have to let you show me how it’s done.”
“I guess you will.” Giving in to temptation, Brenda braced her hands on the counter and leaned in. “You’re also supposed to make it so that people don’t immediately know which one is false.”
Noah’s dimples deepened adorably. “So you’re saying you think you know which one’s the lie?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
They swayed toward each other like saplings stretching toward the sky. “So tell me something,” Brenda murmured when their lips were only inches apart.
“Anything,” Noah replied, his words a barely audible whisper. “What is it you want to know?” “How long have you had that monkey anyway?”
Over the course of the next three weeks, they were inseparable. Brenda fell in love. Noah mastered Two Truths. I love you. I want you. I’ll be back soon. And finally, with ten days still to go before Noah was scheduled to leave, the two of them became lovers—each other’s firsts, or so they’d both claimed.
But later that same night, while Brenda was still blissfully asleep in the empty guest room she’d “borrowed” for their use, Noah and his family disappeared. She woke to find that they’d skipped town without notice or explanation, and without paying their bill.
At first Noah’s phone went straight to voice mail; within days, his in-box was full; within weeks the number had been disconnected. E-mails went unanswered, and eventually the account was deleted. Letters sent to the snail-mail address his parents had given when they’d checked in were returned as undeliverable. Brenda never heard from him again.
She hadn’t known him long enough to have actually fallen in love—that’s what everyone told her. It happened too fast. It was nothing but a crush. But Brenda knew better.
As August came to an end, she was left to cry on her cousin’s shoulder as her “best summer ever” broke her heart.
Max has no problem with hiding his true identity from Brenda's cousins. If that's the way she wants to play it, he's all in. But are Luke and Gwyn the only ones he's deceiving?
It's game, set, and match this time around. And when all the scores have been tallied, and everyone's secrets are finally revealed, will the cousins lose the Wild Geese Inn?