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“Oh those millionaires,” Callie said dryly, making a reference to the huge fortune Olivia’s husband, Hunter Rawlings, had amassed as a businessman. Although Hunter had grown up poor, he’d parlayed his business acumen into a fortune. Thankfully, he’d remained grounded and humble. He and Olivia made a stellar pair.

Hope raised her hand in the air. “If he has any millionaire friends who are looking for a cute single mother, I’m ready and available,” Hope said in a teasing voice. Morgan grinned at her. She couldn’t get over how much Hope had come out of her shell in the last few months.

“I need to get back out front. We have some folks checking out this morning,” Olivia said, reaching out to give Morgan a hug. “I’m thrilled for you. This is a whole new chapter for the two of you. No dating in secret. No complications. Just straight up romance.”

Gulp. Little did Olivia know, but her kind words made Morgan feel as if the pressure was on. Now that she and Luke were openly an item, there would be plenty of probing eyes and gossip in Savannah. Morgan didn’t have any illusions about the Savannah gossip mavens and the society grand dames. Luke Duvall was expected to be paired up with society princesses like Violet, not a cash strapped chef who had been raised in a very humble manner. And although she would like to pretend it didn’t exist, she knew there might be some who didn’t think Luke belonged with a biracial woman. Morgan had grown up with acceptance and color blindness for the most part, but some of her experiences had shown her that there would always be people who sought to set her apart as different. Other.

“What’s wrong?” Callie asked. “You seem like you’re a million miles away.”

Callie and Hope were staring at her as if she had two heads.

“You look scared,” Hope noted. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not scared,” she said in a low voice. She pressed her palm against her belly. “I have butterflies flying around in my stomach. I…I really want things to work out this time for Luke and me, but I sort of feel like I don’t know completely what to expect.”

“Expect the best. Expect to be happy,” Hope said in a chirpy voice. With her long, dark hair and brown, almond-shaped eyes, Hope had a very expressive face. And despite her circumstances, she always had a great outlook on things.

Months ago, Hope had shown up for the reading of Miss Hattie’s will with a baby daughter named Ella in tow—a baby whose existence had been a tightly-held secret. To this day, Hope had chosen not to divulge the identity of Ella’s father, and other than a few discreet hints, none of them had put her on the spot.

“I want to be with Luke. I really do. And I’m well aware of the fact that I was the one who messed up last time. I gave in to my fears and insecurities.” Morgan fiddled with her fingers. “It’s just a little daunting thinking all of Savannah will have their eyes glued to us.”

Callie swatted a hand in the air. “Do not worry about those gossipy snobs. They had plenty to say when they learned about Mac being my brother. Don’t you remember? They wrote about it for weeks in the gossip rags and made up so many scandalous stories that it made my head spin. What I learned from that experience was to hold my head up high and know that the truth will prevail. It doesn’t matter what they think or what they write or insinuate. You know that what you and Luke feel for each other is real and meaningful. And it’s something that most people can’t ever hope to find.”

Hope began clapping. “Amen, sister.”

Morgan blinked away tears. Callie’s pep talk had happened at just the right time. Luke meant the world to her. Simply put, he was her everything. And she knew that part of being together meant stepping up and dealing with the reality of dating someone from a prominent Savannah family. Although she’d known the Duvall family her entire life, their lifestyle couldn’t have been more different from her own upbringing.

“Just don’t break his heart, okay? He has a heart of gold and he isn’t half as tough as he looks.” Callie wagged a finger at Morgan. “It’s very clear from the way he talks about you that he’s completely smitten.” Callie narrowed her eyes as she gazed at Morgan. “I know you aren’t the type to shout your feelings all over town, but I hope you care as much for him as he does for you.”

“I care for Luke so very much,” Morgan admitted. She wasn’t about to tell Callie that she was in love with Luke. She hadn’t yet summoned the courage t

o say those three gigantic words to him, and she wasn’t about to shortchange Luke by telling Callie first. Callie would just have to wait a little bit until she told Luke that she loved him.

She hated to admit it, but Callie was one of the reasons she’d been a bit hesitant about her relationship with Luke. Callie was fiercely protective of her brother—as he was of her—and Morgan had never wanted to jeopardize her friendship with Callie. They’d been friends ever since they were five years old, shortly after Callie had been adopted by the Duvall family.

It added an extra layer of pressure to the situation.

“That’s good to know,” Callie said with a smile. “I’ve got to go look at the books and juggle some things,” she said in an airy voice as she turned on her heel and headed out of the kitchen.

“I’ve got to get moving as well. I’m picking up Ella from my parents’ house so I can spend some quality time with her this afternoon.” Hope winked at her. “May you have the most romantic night of your life this evening.”

“From your lips to God’s ears. I am definitely in need of a little romance,” Morgan quipped.

Once Hope left, Callie had the kitchen to herself. Henry was out running errands and wouldn’t be back for at least an hour. She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out the note Luke had left for her this morning. The envelope with her name on it was a beautiful blue, the color of a robin’s egg.

Luke. She let out a sigh. She pressed the envelope against her chest. Luke’s beautiful handwriting had made her heart skitter when she’d first noticed the envelope in her mailbox.

Back when they were in elementary school, Luke had won a contest for best penmanship. When his friends had teased him about it, Luke had thrown the trophy in the trash bin during lunch period. Once the lunchroom had cleared out, Callie had dug in the trash and recovered the penmanship trophy. She’d held onto it for a few months, then returned it to Luke one hot summer day.

His eyes had bulged wide open. “Where did you get this?”

“In the cafeteria trash bin. You never should have tossed it in there. Awards are special. And so are the people who get them.”

Luke had rubbed the trophy as if he thought it might disappear before his very eyes. He ran his finger over his name. It had been engraved at the bottom in gold.

“Thanks, Morgan. I can’t believe it. I’ve been thinking about this trophy for months.”

“You’re welcome, Luke. Just remember that Miss Pritchard picked you for this award. She saw something special in you and your beautiful penmanship. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about the things you’re good at.”

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