Second Chance(5)

By: Natalie Ann


“I guess.” But time still hadn’t healed him. “Why do you keep looking in the kitchen? Are you expecting someone? A hot date?” he asked, joking.

Though the thought of some older gentleman calling on his dear old granny was making the sandwich turn in his stomach, he couldn’t understand why she was acting so antsy.

“No, I’m not expecting a hot date. You know better than that. Us Millers love only once. I lost my love twenty years ago. No one will ever replace your grandfather. And you know your mother and father were just meant to be. My Susan always knew who she wanted and who she loved, and she chose well with your father. So I’m thinking you Buchanans are the same.”

“Not me though, right? I didn’t do a good job of choosing.”

“You haven’t chosen yet, so don’t say that.”

He didn’t believe it though. Or maybe his grandmother was right. Maybe he was destined to have one soulmate and he’d lost her. Maybe he’d never find another.

“I guess time will tell. But for now, I’m going to get my clothes out of my car and go take a shower, then sleep. Don’t let me sleep too long. Wake me for dinner and I can take my best girl out for taking such good care of me.”

“You always were a charmer. I’ll let you do that.”

***

Mallory Denning rushed down the hill toward the dock and her waiting kayak, holding her breath the entire way. She didn’t even waste the time to put her life vest on…just threw it on top of the kayak, climbed in, pushed away fast, and headed back toward her own house a mile away.

She normally visited Trixie a few times a week and today was no different. She’d been stuck on work and needed some fresh air. Trixie always helped her get through it and relaxed her enough to get back on track.

But when she opened the back door, she’d heard Trixie talking. She stood back a few feet in the kitchen to see if Trixie had company or was on the phone.

Then she heard another voice. A male voice. A voice she hadn’t heard in almost twelve years. It was manlier now, but she still recognized it. The voice of her past, the voice of her dreams, the voice of her first love.

The voice of the boy—no, man now—who broke her heart.

Trixie always told her when family was coming for a visit. A forewarning for Mallory to stay away. To not be seen by anyone on the lake or in town when they were here.

It was always inconvenient to hide for weeks on end, but she was used to it by now.

Why hadn’t Trixie told her Nick was coming? She wondered what he was doing here. She knew all about his upcoming wedding and how it ended. Trixie always kept her informed, even though Mallory didn’t ask and didn’t want to know.

That was a life she’d put behind her and she didn’t need it to be relived. Part of the reason she still hid. No one from her past knew she was alive. No one knew anything but Trixie.

Still, she’d have to find a way to talk to Trixie and see how long Nick planned on being in town. She wasn’t prepared to stay in her house long. Since she’d overheard Nick was going to shower and take a nap, she figured she better run into town and stock up on food and anything else she needed now and not risk being seen.

What could he be doing here? Why did he have to come? And why did she have to hear his voice?

It would be exactly twelve years in a week since she’d left Richmond. She’d thought she’d done a great job hiding all this time.

Now Mallory was worried this unexpected trip of Nick’s might unbalance her. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt it deep in her soul.

Her world was going to be turned upside down once again.





Fear Was Fear



Mallory pulled her kayak on her dock, tossed her life vest next to it, and raced toward her house.

Stop and breathe, she told herself, only she couldn’t seem to make her body respond.

Fear of being found was causing her to tremble. It didn’t matter she was stronger now as an adult. It didn’t matter she wasn’t a scared child anymore. Fear was fear, and this was the closest she’d ever come to being discovered.

In the past, she’d had time to prepare for visits from the Buchanans. Time to get her mind to relax, and for her past to stay hidden.

It didn’t even matter that she always wanted to see Nick’s parents, Susan or John, when they visited. Or even Rene, when she thought of how the two of them played together growing up.

Then there was Nick. The first boy she’d kissed, the first boy she’d had a crush on, and the one she’d thought she loved.

Only he didn’t love her in return. He only broke her heart and sent her away. Left her in the house with her mother and stepfather to face a horrible future alone.

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