Authors: Dyanne Davis
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
Genesis Press, Inc.
An imprint of Genesis Press, Inc.
Genesis Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 101
Columbus, MS 39703
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, not known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying, and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without written permission of the publisher, Genesis Press, Inc. For information write Genesis Press, Inc., P.O. Box 101, Columbus, MS 39703.
All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author and all incidents are pure invention.
Copyright© 2006 by Dyanne Davis
Manufactured in the United States of America
Visit us at www.genesis-press.com or call at 1-888-Indigo-1-4-0
This book is dedicated to my editor, Sidney Rickman. Without you this story would have never been told. Thank you for hearing Mia’s voice clearly when she attempted to steal Ashleigh and Keefe’s story in The Wedding Gown, and for your wise counsel that perhaps Mia needed her own book. I am truly grateful for the psychic connection, and for your phenomenal editing. You belong in the editors’ hall of fame. Thanks, Sidney.
All Glory, Honor, Praise and Thanks go first and foremost to God—without whom I could do nothing.
I want to thank Dr. Goodman, for his support. You are the best, most gentle dentist in the world, but I’m glad you live in Bolingbrook and that you specialize in treating cowards.
To all of the staff at Dr. Summers, Goodman and Sulke office, you’re all terrific.
I would like to thank all of the readers who have waited so patiently for this book to come out. You’re the greatest. I appreciate your support. Thank you for your letters and emails this entire time.
I would like to thank the entire Genesis family, with special thanks to Angelique and Heather for always being there. And to Jennetta, I will always have a fondness for you. To the Genesis authors, I’m glad we’re in this together.
Special thanks to Stephanie Geter Pansy, and congratulations on your marriage to George.
And God’s blessings to Alvena McNeil. You’re the best. Thanks for your daily emails.
To all the RWA Windy City Members, you are the most talented and supportive group of women on the planet. Thanks to Sherry Weddle, for being our official cheerleader.
To my critique partners: Wendy Byrne, Barb Deane and Lauren Ford. You three are terrific writers and told me in the first three chapters of The Wedding Gown that Mia was attempting to steal the book. Thank God, Sidney wouldn’t allow it or Mia would not have had a chance to tell her story.
As always I begin with thanking God, and end with thanking the two most important people in my life. My husband Bill and my son Bill Jr. Bill, thank you for just being you, for never wavering, for going with me all over the place, for being so well known in the group that the women ask about you when you’re not there, for not making me dust off my driver’s license and for never mentioning that you taught me how to drive several decades ago. I love you. Billy, you’re the greatest gift God ever gave to two parents. I love you with all my heart.
Mia’s heart stopped. A tiny shiver began at her toes and traveled upward. “Damien,” she whispered. She’d reluctantly accompanied Keefe and Ashleigh to the nightclub and had not really been paying attention when the emcee called his name. Nothing could have prepared her for seeing the man she loved living out his dream. And to think she’d almost missed it.
She turned to look at her brother and Ashleigh. “You knew he’d be here, didn’t you, Keefe?” For an answer her brother kissed her forehead and held his hand out to Ashleigh, leaving Mia to deal with Damien on her on. He was right to do that. It was about time. A surge of pride filled her as she listened to Damien singing.
“I told you he was good,” she murmured as her brother and Ashleigh walked away. Though she spoke to them, her eyes remained fastened on the stage. On Damien.
As the background music played on, Damien began crossing the stage toward her, his eyes never leaving her face. She held her breath. It had been so long, and his face was unreadable. He was giving no indication that he was happy to see her.
Then it happened. On the stage he stopped directly in front of her and smiled, first a tiny little smile that could have been missed. Then the smile took over his entire face until he was grinning broadly. His eyes closed briefly and when they opened, the look he gave her was the same as the one he’d given her the first time she’d seen him and had fallen in love with him—just from the look in his eyes.
As it had been the first time, the look mesmerized her, embraced her, and filled her with things she’d felt for only one man in her entire life—him. Her love was for him. Passion, lust and love tumbled through Mia and again her breath caught in her throat.
Right in front of her, suddenly Damien stopped singing and simply stared at her. Soon the entire audience was looking in her direction, no doubt wondering why the entertainer had stopped singing even though the music continued to play.
“Mia,” Damien whispered, for the first time admitting to himself that he’d been afraid she wouldn’t come. He’d almost called a dozen times to ask her, but hadn’t. He’d been determined not to give in to his feelings for her. Yet he had hoped that she would be there to witness his success. And now she was. And all he wanted in the world was to climb down off that stage, take her in his arms and kiss her, and never let her out of his sight.
As he continued to stare at her, wanting to tell her those things, it finally registered that he wasn’t singing. He smiled again at Mia and waited for an answering smile before he resumed singing and turned to walk toward the other end of the stage.
This was it—his moment in the sun. He glanced into the crowd of smiling faces, listened to the women screaming his name. Though it was just as he’d always imagined, the truth of the situation hit him as he sang two more numbers.
None of the attention meant what he’d thought it would. As much as he’d dreamed of a singing career, he wanted something else more. He wanted Mia in his arms. Now, not when the show was over. Now. He smiled at the audience, hoping they would forgive him for what he was about to do. If they didn’t…well…so be it.
Damien walked back toward Mia, hardly able to continue singing over the sudden lump constricting his vocal cords.
Mia’s attention was riveted on Damien. She didn’t want to miss a note. As he sang, her heart soared with love for him. Conflicted, she both wanted the show to go on forever and also to end—so that she could throw herself into his arms, beg him to forgive her, and assure him that she would trust him forever.
When Damien turned and smiled at her again, her heart fluttered erratically and a sudden, intense heat speared her and pooled in her belly. She wanted nothing more than to be in Damien’s arms. She needed to warn him not to come any closer but it was too late. He was coming closer and closer, and she was doing everything in her power to remain seated. She didn’t want to ruin Damien’s opening but God how she wanted to kiss him. He must have had the same thought because a moment before she could whisper, “No,” he walked off the stage and stood directly in front of her. In his eyes she saw a question.
“Mia, I love you.” Damien said hoarsely. “Can we try again?”
Her eyes shifted automatically to the door her brother had exited through and Damien shifted his body to block her view.
“I don’t want Keefe, Mia, I want you.”
Her heart soared. She didn’t need Keefe’s opinion on this one. She’d been given a second chance at loving Damien and she was darn well going to take it.
She flung herself into Damien’s arms. “I love you,” she murmured into his ear. “Can you ever forgive me?”
He pulled back a little to look at her. “I will if you’ll answer my question. You didn’t say,” he smiled. “Can we start over?” He held her tighter, not wanting to let her go.
“Yes, yes, and yes!” she answered and gave him her entire heart in that moment, without hesitation, without reservation. His lips claimed hers and as the kiss deepened, loud clapping exploded, bringing both of them back to planet Earth. Damien smiled down at her.
“Come on,” he urged, taking her hand and pulling her onstage with him. His arm firmly around her, he whispered directions to the band.
He began singing a ballad with music so sweet that each note wrapped around Mia like a warm hug. Then she heard the words, “
Mia, I love you.
” In that instant she realized he’d written the song for her and about her. She was holding back tears as he sang to her as if no one else in the world existed. When he was done, he pulled her to the center of the stage.
“This is Mia,” Damien said by way of introduction. “Isn’t she beautiful?” Everyone clapped and Damien grinned. “I guess you can all tell that I’m in love with her.” Again, the audience went wild.
As much as she wanted to be in Damien’s arms, Mia wasn’t keen about doing it with an audience. She gave his hand a squeeze and started to walk away, a little afraid that he wouldn’t let her off the stage. He followed, kissed her one last time, and released her to return to his singing. She couldn’t believe it. She’d almost ruined things, but somehow it had all turned out fine. She smiled as she listened to Damien’s deep sultry voice belting out song after song. He’d made it.
“Hi, honey, mind if we join you?”
“Introduce yourself to the girl. She doesn’t know us.”
Startled, Mia pulled herself together enough to smile at the woman and man who’d just approached her table. She knew instantly who they were. Damien’s parents.
“Sure,” she answered. She stuck her hand out. “I’m Mia,” she said and immediately felt like an idiot. There was not one person in the club that didn’t know her name.
“Yes, we know that, Mia,” the man answered. “My name’s Charles. Charles Terrell. Most everyone calls me Chuck. I’m Damien’s old man and this is Kathy, Damien’s old lady.”
“Damien’s mother,” Kathy corrected.
“So you’re the little piece of…”
“Chuck,” Kathy warned.
“That wasn’t what I was going to say. So, Mia, you’re the little piece of fluff that’s been driving Damien crazy all these months? I’d sure like to know what you’ve got. My son’s nose is wide open. And honestly, you don’t look at all like what I expected.”
Mia felt the smile slipping from her face. Instant compassion for Damien flooded her. For months he’d put up with crap from her brother who until recently had despised him and had done everything in his power to keep her away from him, and at the same time he must have been taking crap at home.