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“Which they didn’t,” Callie said in a flat voice.

“Which they didn’t,” Morgan repeated. Why did it hurt so much to acknowledge that things hadn’t worked out between them? It felt like someone was taking a knife and twisting it in her gut.

“Even though he sounded like a man in love about two hours ago? And he clearly wasn’t talking about Violet.” Callie met Morgan’s gaze with a raised eyebrow. Clearly she was having a hard time understanding the current state of affairs between her and Luke. Morgan didn’t blame her. She herself was having a tough time dealing with all of her own feelings.

“Luke is with Violet now. There is no Luke and me, Callie. It’s over. That’s in the past.” Morgan’s voice sounded full of certainty to her own ears. It was a miracle, considering she knew full well and good that the past wasn’t dead and buried. Not by a long shot!

Callie didn’t seem convinced. She shrugged. “I don’t know, Morgan. It didn’t sound like that to me.” She took two steps forward and reached for Morgan’s hand. “And please know, if you and Luke find your way back to each other, there’s no one who’ll be in your corner more than me.”

“We’d be your cheering section. That’s for sure,” Hope added. Her eyes glistened with emotion.

“So, were you in love with him?” Charlotte blurted out, her eyes full of curiosity. “Hey. If no one else is curious, I’ll fess up to it. I want to know.”

“Yes, I was,” she admitted. She almost burst into tears at the sympathetic expressions on her friends’ faces. “I loved him very much.”

What she didn’t dare to confess was that she was still madly in love with Luke. And she couldn’t imagine every falling out of love with him.

“At the end of the day, all that really matters is being with the woman you love. You could take away every penny I have, strip me of every material thing I possess…and if I still had Olivia, all would be right with my world.”

Hunter Rawlings

Chapter Three

The cool night air washed across Luke’s face as he left the offices of Duvall Investments. He breathed in the fresh air, savoring it as he did so. He’d been cooped up inside all day, with nothing but thoughts of Morgan rushing through his mind.

Luke wasn’t really looking forward to seeing Violet this evening. Seeing Morgan yesterday afternoon had served as a reminder of what it felt like to be crazy about a person. Dating Violet had been enjoyable, mainly due to her sweet nature and the similar interests they shared. But he knew he couldn’t keep this up any longer. It wasn’t fair to either one of them. He wasn’t feeling anything near to what he should be feeling for this charming woman.

Violet deserved to be free so she could find love with someone else in Savannah. He had no right to occupy a single more moment of her time, especially when he knew his heart belonged to Morgan. Sweet, beautiful Morgan had imprinted herself on his soul so many years ago and there wasn’t a single thing he could do to change that simple fact.

By the time Luke made his way from his office at Duvall Investments to Barnard Street, it was a few minutes past seven o’clock. He hated to have kept Violet waiting, but Savannah traffic was unpredictable. When he walked into Alligator Soul, Violet was already seated at a table for two, looking very polished in a dark gray sweater dress.

He leaned down and pressed a kiss against Violet’s cheek. She smiled up at him. “Sorry, I’m late. The traffic was backed up for ten blocks.”

“No problem. It gave me a chance to study the menu. I feel like ordering something new.”

The waiter came to the table and extended a menu to Luke.

After a few minutes, both Violet and Luke had made their decision. Luke discreetly signaled the waiter, then placed their entrée orders. “The lady is going to have the bacon wrapped beef filet and I’m going to have the Hilbo-spiced Ribeye. We’d also like the fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, along with a bottle of the Duckhorn Merlot.”

“Thank you, Mr. Duvall. The appetizer will be out shortly,” the waiter said with a nod.

Luke reached out and took a lengthy sip of his ice water.

“The Merlot was a nice choice,” Violet said with an approving nod of her head.

“I know it’s your favorite,” he said. In his head he was slowly counting the seconds until he broached the delicate topic with Violet. Was there ever a good time to break up with someone?

“Luke. I think we should break up.” Violet spoke in a matter-of-fact manner. She’d uttered the words in a low tone, presumably so none of the other diners might overhear her. Her eyes were bright and clear. There was nothing emotional about her announcement. No tears. Not even a single sign of distress.

He put his water glass down and studied Violet’s expression. She had a bland expression on her pretty face. Was it possible he’d misheard her? If not, this break-up had come out of left field.

He opened his mouth to say something, then began coughing. All of a sudden he felt incredibly awkward. He’d been planning to break up with Violet, then she’d flipped things around and done the honors. Luke wasn’t upset. A sense of relief flooded him. But, he couldn’t remember ever being so surprised in his life. No, he corrected himself. He’d been rocked to his core when Morgan had ended things. And his reaction to that had been a trillion times worse. He could still remember the feeling of absolute shock and pain, coupled with the sensation of his heart shattering into pieces.

“Are you all right, Luke?” Violet’s blue eyes were full of worry.

He reached for his glass of water and took another swig.

“T-this is rather sudden,” he finally said after placing his glass down. He didn’t want to appear too relieved over Violet’s unexpected announcement. The truth was it had saved him from having to break up with her. No man ever really relished breaking up a with a woman. And he did love Violet…but not in a romantic way.

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