A moment for you
When an old flame walks back into Erin’s life, she refuses to fall for him again… until his surprising plea melts her heart
“I’ve figured it out!” Aunt Gertie called out triumphantly.
Erin March looked up from her to-do list. “Figured out what?”
“How to get the word out about the Thanksgiving parade you’re organizing!” Gertie smiled, fluttering out from behind the front desk of her yarn shop like a spooked starling. “There’s a new reporter at the town newspaper, and he just can’t wait to follow you around for a few days to get the scoop!”
“Wait,” Erin interrupted, pointing her pen at Gertie. “You set him up to follow me around without asking me?”
“There was no time to lose, here hang this up for me,” Gertie said, handing Erin a poster for the shop’s Ugly Sweater Contest, then disappearing into the stock room.
Suddenly, the shop door opened with a generous tinkle and Erin’s jaw dropped as the poster fell to the floor. There in the doorway stood Jacob Findley, her long-lost high school boyfriend, who looked as handsome as ever, with the same shock of blond hair falling in front of the deep blue eyes she’d gotten lost in 20 years earlier.
Erin plastered on her brightest smile as she pretended not to recognize him. “Welcome to Gertie’s Yarn Shop! How can I help you today?” “Erin…it’s me,” he said hesitantly. She looked up into his searching gaze. “Jake? Hi, wow, what brings you here?” “Here to report for duty with Gertie.” Erin grimaced. “Ahh, so you’re the new journalist…you’ll be following me.” “Oh,” he smiled sheepishly. “Well, I can’t say I wasn’t hoping that’d be the case.” Erin bit her lip. She wanted to tell Jake not to let the door hit him on the way out. But the truth was, she did need the newspaper’s publicity…and even though he’d left her heartbroken without a word many years ago, the sideways grin he was flashing still made her heart pound. Erin swallowed hard, strode past him and grabbed her coat. “Let’s go,” she said as he hurried behind. For an hour, they swung by local shops, talking to all the owners and reviewing the Thanksgiving parade route that would kick off the holiday season.
“The sideways grin he was flashing still made her heart pound”
Jake scribbled his notes feverishly, sticking the pen behind his ear with his age-old quirk that melted her heart.
“Think you can keep up?” she teased as they entered another shop.
“Never could with you,” he said, gazing into her eyes pointedly. It was hard not to remember all the things she’d loved about Jake in moments like this. His quick humor and his ability to truly connect with people. Things that made him a good reporter…and a good companion.
As they exited the last store, Erin turned to him. “I think you’ll enjoy the parade.”
His blue eyes blazed in the autumn sun. “I’ve missed this…” he said, and Erin’s stomach did a somersault as she realized he wasn’t referring to the town festivities. “One more stop. Daisy’s Diner.” “Daisy Williams?” Erin nodded. “Wasn’t she champion of Spirit Club bake sales back in the day?”
Her heart dropped: She’d always suspected Jake had a crush on Daisy. When they walked through the diner door, Daisy ran to greet them. “I heard you were in town, Jake! About time you stopped in to say hi to me.” She flung her arms around his neck affectionately as Erin felt a pang of jealousy stab in her chest. “Counter or booth?” “Booth,” Erin and Jacob chorused. He casually flung an arm over Erin’s shoulder. “Lead the way.”
Daisy grinned. “I knew the two of you would hook up if you moved back!”
“No—” Erin said, backing away. “We’re just working together.”
Jake beamed his signature smile. “Well, we do have a lot to talk about other than work.” He stepped aside to usher Erin into the seat, then slid in opposite her.
As soon as Daisy rushed off with coffee and muffin orders, he leaned in. “Tell me about the last few years!” He whipped out his note pad and pulled the pen from behind his ear, pretending to hang on every word. Erin’s smile flickered and faded. Jake discarded the pad and pencil on the table. “Kidding. Though I would like to catch up…and set the record straight.”
“About why you just left and never said goodbye?” Erin’s voice hitched.
“Yes,” he breathed. “We were so young. Too young. I loved you, but I was scared.”
Erin looked at him as the truth hit her. “I was afraid too, but you really hurt me.”
Jake gazed at her from across the table. “I know. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. The truth is…i’ve never gotten married or been really serious about any other woman because…i never stopped thinking about you. I moved back because I hoped you’d give me a second chance.” Erin stared at his earnest gaze, her breath hitching.
Just then, Daisy came back with their mugs of steaming coffee. The heat warmed Erin like liquid courage as Jake continued to look at her hopefully. Finally she smiled, and nodded. Then she raised her cup aloft, and replied, “To second chances.”
— Debbie Noone