both allow resentments and misunderstanding spoil
what was meant to be?
The warning grew more intense until Mitch couldn’t help but turn around and stare right into the beautiful hazel eyes of Sydney Preston.
His heart stuttered in his chest as a wave of conflicting emotions; anger, love, bitterness, joy crashed through him. His first instinct was to leave, which only pissed him off. He’d stared down insurgents in the Middle East. He could survive seeing Sydney Preston. Another, equally strong, part of him wanted to touch her, to hold her close and see if she felt as soft, smelled just as sweet as he remembered. But he wouldn’t succumb to her charm again. Like a steel gate, everything inside Mitch closed.
“Doctor Preston is our new OB/GYN from New York. She’s helping out at the free clinic, too. Doctor Preston, this is my husband, Kevin, and our friend Mitch McKenna. They’re Charlotte Tavern’s finest police detectives. But watch out for Mitch, he’s a real ladies’ man.”
The hazel eyes that had once captivated him flashed with surprise and maybe panic. But then it was gone, replaced by a blank smile.
“Hi.” He choked out the word, not wanting to appear rude. At the same time, he wasn’t going to go out of his way for a chummy reunion. She didn’t deserve his recognition, so he wasn’t going to give it.
Her head tilted to the side, and a slight smirk crossed her lips. “Actually, we’ve met.”
“Really?” Jenny’s voice suggested intrigue and delight at the prospect. “Where?”
“We went to college together.” Sydney held his gaze. If she wouldn’t flinch, neither would he.
“Oh, wow. Hey, maybe you know his old girlfriend. Poor Mitch lost his heart to her, and she crushed it like a bug.”
“Honey.” Kevin patted Jenny on the back, while casting Mitch an apologetic smile.
Mitch didn’t know if Kevin was intervening because he knew no man liked to have his emotional history laid out in public or if he recognized there was something more between Sydney and him. Probably both. Kevin was observant and insightful, which is what made him a skilled detective, one that Mitch was grateful to have as a partner.
“What?” Jenny blinked up at her husband.
“Yes, I knew her.” Sydney’s tone was matter-of-fact. Mitch’s eyes narrowed with scrutiny as he waited to see if she was going to admit to being the one who squashed his heart.
Jenny turned her attention back to Sydney. “Was she a real bitch? I heard she came from a rich family that didn’t like Mitch. But what’s not to like, right? I mean, he’s as yummy as cherry pie.”
“I thought that was me.” Kevin pouted.
“You’re peach pie, my favorite.” She smiled coyly at Kevin, who gave her wink. Mitch imagined there was a story there but blocked his brain from filling in the details of what it might be.
“Speaking of peach pie, why don’t we go to the cafeteria and get some,” Jenny suggested. “We can let Mitch and Doctor Preston get to know each other.”
“I don’t need to get to know Doctor Preston. I’m sure I’m not her type.” He knew the minute it was out of his mouth that Jenny would reprimand him.
“Why, Mitchell McKenna, your mother would light you up if she knew you were being so rude. I’m so sorry Doctor Preston—”
“It’s okay.” Sydney waved the comment away, much like she’d waved him away ten years earlier. “I have to check on Mrs. Warner anyway. You go enjoy your pie.”
She said it with such smoothness, it highlighted Mitch’s bad manners. But he didn’t care. Let Jenny and Kevin think he was a heel. He knew the truth and Doctor Preston knew the truth. She didn’t deserve his time or attention. Not anymore.
Sydney walked, back straight and chin up, until she turned the corner. Then she sagged against the wall, hoping her legs would still hold her upright. Her hand shook as lifted it to cover her thundering heart. Over the last ten years, she’d imagined what seeing him again would be like. But what actually happened had never been in any of the scenarios she’d considered. Not that she’d thought he’d take her in his arms, confess his undying love, and kiss her senseless as he used to do, although, admittedly, she’d always hoped that would be his response.
He was still ridiculously handsome with his bronze wavy hair and emerald eyes. But gone were the affable smile and charm, replaced by eyes that were as hard and cold as his welcome.
She hadn’t considered that he’d pretend to not know her. It showed just how deeply she’d hurt him. Even so, she wasn’t going to let him get away with it. She was in Charlotte Tavern for one reason only: to fix things with Mitch McKenna. Sure, they still might not have the future they’d once planned, but at least she would address the regret and hopefully make amends. Life, she’d recently learned, was too short to not live it to the fullest without guilt and unresolved issues.
“Are you okay, Doctor Preston?”
Sydney looked at the nurse approaching her.
“Yes, Meg. Just a little tired.”
“I have Mrs. Warner’s meds. I was just taking them to her.”
“Actually, I’m on my way to see her.” Sydney pushed off from against the wall, grateful for the distraction.
“She has such a cute baby.” Meg walked alongside Sydney. “Not all babies are cute.”
Sydney agreed, although she was surprised to hear Meg say it out loud. “No. But they’re all a gift.” A gift Sydney knew she’d never have.
Jenna Harte is a die-hard romantic writing about characters who are passionate about and committed to each other, and frequently getting into trouble. She is the author of the , the first of which, “Deadly Valentine,” reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She is also the author of the contemporary romance series, Southern Heat, with includes Drawn to Her, and upcoming September 2016 release of Meant to Be. She has a bundle of stories filled with romance, mystery and even time travel rattling around in her head and is eager for the day when a device is invented allowing her to download what’s in her brain onto her computer. When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. She lives in central Virginia with her husband, two college-bound children and a two fat cats.