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

Woman's World - - Contents -

“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

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