Authors: Teresa Hill
His Wedding Date
Second Chance Love
USA Today Bestselling Author
Special Author's Cut Edition
Previously Titled: Not His Wife
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Copyright © 1994, 2013 by Teresa Hill. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
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To everyone at St. James Pre-School,
For making it such a joyous place
And taking such loving care of my children.
It arrived in February, tucked so innocently between a credit-card bill and an offer for a totally free surprise gift valued at no less than one hundred dollars.
Encased in an envelope made of the finest cream-colored stationery, addressed by hand in an elegant script she recognized, the invitation bore a Tallahassee postmark and a return address that she recognized. It was right next door to the home where she'd grown up.
Shelly Wilkerson had been waiting for this particular invitation for years, waiting for it and dreading it at the same time.
She set her satchel and her carton of curry chicken and rice down on the counter of her apartment in Naples, Florida, then threw the rest of the mail aside. Feeling more than a little shaky, she pulled out a stool and sat down, all the while calling herself ten different kinds of a fool.
She had known this was coming for so long, known one day all her foolish dreams would come crashing down around her.
Still, it felt like little butterflies were frantically flying around inside her stomach when she pulled the letter opener out of a drawer and slit the envelope in a single, trembling stroke.
She felt sick when she saw the telltale inner envelope of the same heavy, expensive paper, then her name in the familiar, graceful script she recognized immediately as Rebecca's mother's. Shelly put the envelope down, not needing to open the inner envelope to know what was inside.
Brian Sandelle, one of her dearest childhood friends, was finally marrying Rebecca Harwell, a woman he'd loved as long as or longer than Shelly had loved him.
Shelly had no right to react this way. She wasn't a little girl anymore. She was a woman, and a woman couldn't live her whole life on sweet dreams of a tall, dark-eyed man and all the possibilities of what might have been between her and him.
It was time she set those dreams aside and stopped comparing every man she met to the one so firmly entrenched in her heart. It was time to move on, to start over, to fill the gaping hole this man left in her heart.
He had never been more than a wonderful friend to her, and she'd promised herself—once Brian married Rebecca, that would be the end. Shelly would put him firmly and forever out of her heart, because she would never get in the way of their marriage, never get involved with a married man.