Authors: Dori Lavelle
(A Moments In Time Love Story 2)
By Dori Lavelle
Copyright © 2014 by Dori Lavelle
All Rights Reserved.
Cover Art: Dori Lavelle
Editors: Leah Wohl-Pollack and Samantha Gordon
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This book is dedicated to my wonderful Charms. It was written especially for you. Thank you so much for all your love and support.
Secrets. Lies. Betrayal.
How much heartbreak can one heart take?
Melisa Dane has made it through the worst. Her heart was broken, but Florian Dane, better known as “Heat”—and the man of her dreams—returned to mend it. Now, with her family almost complete, Melisa is ready to sit back and enjoy life.
But fate isn’t done with her yet. The perpetual smile on her face freezes when the second man to steal her heart shows up in her life once again. Scott Bergfeld, the husband she buried and grieved for years ago, is not dead, and he comes back bearing secrets.
Heartbroken and confused, Melisa tries to find answers to questions she never thought she’d ask, but what she learns throws her life into turmoil. Soon, cracks start to form in her marriage with Heat. As her heart is torn into two halves—between the man she loved first and the man she married first—she comes dangerously close to having her whole life destroyed again. How many people will end up getting hurt? This time, does she have the strength to make it through?
Melisa Dane feigned confidence, but her hand was curled so tight around her husband’s that she feared she might break one of his fingers. Underneath the round table, her right foot tapped as a storm of emotions caused her stomach to roll. She moistened her lips and sucked in a ragged, coffee-laced breath, but her lungs felt too small to accommodate the air.
There was nothing she could have done to be ready for this moment. How could someone prepare for something they never thought would happen?
Around Melisa and Heat, regulars and new visitors of MaryJane Café sipped their drinks as they chatted with their companions, or read books, newspapers, or text messages. Waiters took orders over the sound of country music. A group of teenage girls in miniskirts giggled as they peered at each other’s glowing cell phone screens.
Melisa wondered whether those people, who looked happy on the outside, painted different pictures on the inside. Were their smiles simply masks? What fears did they hide from the rest of the world? What secrets kept them up at night? Were their worlds about to change, like hers was? She wanted to be excited, but she knew today could either end up being one of the best days of her life, or she could leave the café with her old wounds ripped open.
Heat let go of Melisa’s hand and stretched his arm across the back of her chair, draping it around her shoulders. Melisa shifted her chair even closer to his and leaned into him. Underneath his shirt, his heart pounded as fast as hers.
“Mel,” Heat said, “it will all be okay. We should be excited, not scared.”
“I’m not scared.”
“Then why does it sound as if there’s a drum festival going on inside your chest?” Heat’s voice was edged with a hint of laughter.
Melisa pinched his thigh playfully. “In case you didn’t know, the heart reacts the same way whether someone is excited or scared.” She tipped her face upward to gaze into his. “By the way, yours is drumming along with mine.”
Heat kissed her cheek, his lips soft and warm against her skin. “That can be easily explained, my love. It’s entirely your fault. My heart pounds like that every time you’re close to me, Mrs. Dane.”
“You charmer.” She threw back her head and laughed. Some of the tension melted away. “You do know that since we’re married, you don’t have to use cheesy lines like that to get into my pants, right? All you have to do now…” Whatever else Melisa had thought of saying died on her tongue when the door to the MaryJane Café opened. More than a fresh stream of spring air wafted in. A hot bubble formed inside Melisa’s throat and she blinked away tears. No one needed to tell her it was him.
In the last ten minutes, people had entered and exited the small café without incident. This time, an electric current vibrated through her veins.
He stood in the doorway, in scuffed jeans and a grey T-shirt with a guitar painted across its front. Their son, Ben. He had chocolate brown, shoulder-length hair and dark eyes; no one could dispute that he was Heat’s son. The baby Melisa had given up for adoption nineteen years ago had returned to her, and he was now a man. The bubble inside her throat burst and tears filled her eyes. She wiped them away with the back of her hand.
Ben, too, must have felt the connection. His eyes met hers from across the room. He nodded and weaved his way around the tables toward theirs in the back.
Melisa sank her teeth into her lower lip and glanced at Heat. The blood had drained from his face.
“It’s him,” she whispered. “It’s our son.”
Heat nodded as Ben arrived at their table. “Hi,” he said cautiously. His voice was low and husky. “You are…”
Heat shot to his feet, followed by Melisa. “I’m Heat… My real name is Florian Dane.” Heat’s nickname from school had stuck so well that he often forgot his legal name. “This is my wife…” He placed a hand on Melisa’s shoulder.
Melisa stuck out her trembling hand. It broke her heart that they were introducing themselves to their own son like strangers. But in truth, they were. She had willingly chosen to become a stranger to him when she gave him up for adoption. “I’m… We’re so happy you agreed to meet us.” She curled her fingers around his. The touch almost knocked her over.
Ben squeezed Melisa’s hand and let it go almost immediately. Melisa swallowed her disappointment. Her whole body ached to reach out and hug him, to hold him and never let go.
Ben and Heat also shook hands, and Heat’s expression showed that he struggled with the same emotions. When he drew his hand back, he smiled. “Please sit.” He pulled out a chair for Ben, then reached for the menu and placed it open in front of Ben, as a waiter would do. “What can we order for you? They have great coffee here… It’s a new café, opened its doors only a month ago.”
They’d picked the new café in Madison, Wisconsin, where Ben lived, as a symbol of a new beginning.
Melisa lowered herself back into her chair, her gaze still fixed on her son. She tried to remember how he’d looked as a baby. Inside her room of memories, she could remember the blue, striped blanket wrapped around his little body when the midwife had placed him in her arms. She’d wanted to hold him, wanted to say goodbye, to tell him she was doing this out of love. She recalled tracing the tip of her finger from his forehead down the bridge of his tiny nose, a tear slipping from her eye and dripping into his silky, chocolate curls, sinking in like a mother’s blessing. She’d kissed the crown of his head, given him back to the midwife, and looked away as more tears slid down her cheeks. The same feelings she’d felt then—joy, fear, guilt—overwhelmed her again now.
She didn’t know what to say or where to start. Should she say she was sorry? Was that good enough?
“I’m fine, thanks.” Ben pushed his menu aside. “I can’t stay long, anyway.” He looked at Melisa and Heat in turn. “So, you’re my…biological parents?”
Melisa hated that word. It sounded so technical, detached. But she and Heat both nodded.
“Ben.” Melisa scrambled for something to say. “We’re sorry to hear about your…your parents’ death. Are you okay?”
In the letter the orphanage had given her four months ago, he’d told her his adoptive parents died in a car accident.
Ben shrugged and looked away, but not before Melisa saw the hurt well up in his eyes. “Life goes on. People don’t always stay in your life forever, no matter how much you need them.” He looked back at Melisa.
His words tore Melisa apart at the seams. She couldn’t help reading between the lines. She had been the first person to abandon him. “Thank you for writing to me.” On hearing he wanted to meet her, Melisa had called him the very next day. From the letter, he had sounded enthusiastic about seeing her, but over the phone she had detected none of that enthusiasm.
Ben crossed his arms in front of him.
“I never thought…” Melisa continued. “I never thought I’d see you again.”
“We want you to know we love you, Ben. Even if—”
“Funny. If you love someone, you don’t dispose of them.” He leaned forward and narrowed his blazing eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Melisa could no longer keep the tears at bay. They burned her eyes, her cheeks, her heart.
Heat threaded his fingers into Melisa’s. “We couldn’t keep you because—”
was a teenager with a crappy childhood and no money. Yeah, I read it all in the letters you sent.” His gaze didn’t leave Melisa’s face. His face was open to reveal all his pent-up disappointment and anger. “I grew up thinking I knew who I was. Then it turned out I didn’t.” He raked a hand through his hair, like Heat did when deep in thought or upset. “It messed me up.”
Melisa laid her hand on top of his, afraid he might slip away, but as if she were made of hot coals, Ben withdrew from her touch.
Under the table, Heat placed a hand on her thigh, a small but comforting gesture.
She looked down and a tear plopped onto her arm. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for everything. I wish… God, I wish I could go back and do things differently.”
“What’s done is done.” Ben’s jaw tightened and his eyes transformed into frozen marbles. “You did what you had to do, I get that, but you must have been really messed up to give your child to strangers.”
“Don’t,” Heat cut in, his voice a razorblade. “Never talk to your mother like that.”
Ben laughed sarcastically, and looked Heat square in the eye. “My mother is dead.” He shoved back his chair and got to his feet. “All I share with you two is blood. There’s nothing else between us. I’m out of here.”
Melisa bit her bottom lip to keep herself from screaming out at Ben’s words. Then she stood up as well.
Ben’s gaze dropped to her stomach. “Looks like you’re getting another chance. Congratulations.”
Melisa nodded. There was nothing else she could say? Ben clearly hated her, and he had the right to. “Can we keep in touch?” She was pushing it, but the thought of letting him walk out of her life, of never seeing him again, threatened to strangle her. “Please.”
“Fine.” Ben reached into his pocket and brought out a pen. On a napkin, he jotted down an email address. He handed it to Melisa, turned, and walked out of the café without looking back. He didn’t see Melisa crumble into Heat’s arms, sobs tearing her apart. He didn’t see how much she wanted to make things right.
Had she lost him for a second time? Would she have nothing left to remember him by but his letter?
Heat glanced at Melisa and tightened his grip on the steering wheel. Seeing her staring straight ahead, with tears dripping onto her hands, widened the gaping hole that was forming in the place his heart should be.
They had both been looking forward to meeting their son, but unlike Melisa, Heat had prevented himself from raising his hopes too high. Nineteen years of hurt were too many to undo in the blink of an eye.
With one eye on the traffic in front of them, he lifted a hand off the wheel and smoothed Melisa’s damp hair back from her face. “He just needs time. All of this is new to him.”
“I don’t think so. He’ll never forgive me for giving him away.” She sniffed. “I’ll never forgive myself.” Her voice was so low, Heat had to strain to catch what she was saying.
is a strong word. People change all the time, they change their minds.” Heat was one of those people. When a few months ago, Melisa had revealed to him that he was a father and she’d given their son up for adoption, he’d been seething with rage, and
was a word that hurt just to think about. But he did forgive her.
Ben could do the same, eventually. Time could do wonders.
When she didn’t respond, he turned on the radio at a low volume. Maybe her favorite classical music would soothe her on the drive back home to Serendipity.