The smile he’d gifted her with had made its way straight to her heart.
She pulled out the note from the envelope and read his words for the umpteenth time.
Morgan. I’d like to take you out tonight. If agreeable, I’ll pick you up at six p.m. sharp at your place. Not too dressy. Not too casual. Come as you are. Counting the minutes until we meet again.
She loved this man. Hiding it had been painful. Sometimes she thought that she’d loved him ever since he’d been her knight in shining armor when they were kids. Luke had always ridden to her rescue and saved her from the ignorance and cruelty that had been directed at her by a few of her peers. He had always been so brave, so righteous. A truly upstanding human being.
As a child she had looked up to him. As a woman she had fallen head over heels in love with him. And they had been happy together, until it had all fallen apart. She vowed it wouldn’t happen this time around.
The truth was, she’d never felt quite good enough. Luke Duvall was the golden boy. He was also the heir to the Duvall family fortune. The Duvall family was one of the founding families of Savannah. Luke’s parents—Davinia and Lionel Duvall were pillars of Savannah society. Add that all together and it gave her a pounding headache.
Her parents, bless their hearts, had never been part of the elegant, moneyed crowd. They had both been blue collar workers, each one working their hardest to eke out a living to support their family. Although her father hailed from a wealthy family, they had become estranged after he chose to marry her mother. He’d been disinherited, which Morgan felt certain had added strain to her parents’ marriage. From what Morgan had gleaned, her father’s family hadn’t approved of her mother’s lack of social standing or the color of her skin.
Ever since she’d been a child, Morgan had been well aware of the huge social divide between her family and the Duvalls. She didn’t want it to be an issue. She prayed it wouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t be! This time, she was going to put her best foot forward and pursue a relationship with Luke. Life with him in it was much better than mourning the loss of him. And maybe tonight she would summon the courage to tell him the breadth and depth of her feelings for him. It was high time she stepped out on a limb of faith and reached for her bliss.
Luke chided himself for his nervousness. He’d been on dozens and dozens of dates before. Why did this one seem so very different? Suddenly it felt as the stakes were higher between himself and Morgan.
It was a beautiful November night in Savannah. The temperature was hovering at a balmy fifty degrees. As the night progressed, the temperature would dip even further. He’d have to tell Morgan to bring along a sweater tonight.
He drove his car into the pebbled driveway, past her mother’s house and straight back toward Morgan’s cottage. It was brightly lit, with glass lanterns sitting out front and illuminating the path to her house. Anticipation had been building inside of him all day long. He parked his car and jumped out, making it to her door in a few easy strides.
Before he could even knock, the door swung open. Morgan was standing there, her raven colored hair hanging about her shoulders like a dark cloak. She was dressed in a navy pair of slacks and a cream-colored silk top. As always, she took his breath away.
“I heard you drive up,” Morgan said, ushering him inside. “It’s so quiet out here I can almost hear a pin drop.”
The inside of the cottage smelled like vanilla and a certain type of flowers he couldn’t quite place. Morgan’s home was inviting and warm. He relished the idea of hanging out here and making lunch with her or sitting on the sofa with Morgan and reading or doing crossword puzzles. He didn’t need anything grand to make him happy. Just the simple things with Morgan would bring him more peace and joy than anything else.
“This is for you,” Luke said, turning toward her as soon as he crossed the threshold and handing her the gift he’d tied up with a curly white ribbon.
“What’s this?” she asked, her face lit up with surprise. “Candy!”
“It’s a candy bouquet,” Luke explained. He loved watching the delighted expression creep over her face. She exhibited the joy of a child. She didn’t need fancy jewels or expensive things to make her light up like a Christmas tree.
“Mmm. Yummy. My favorites. M & Ms. Licorice. Kit Kats. I love it, Luke.” She stood on her tippy toes and pressed a kiss on his lips. “Thank you. This was very thoughtful.”
“You’re welcome. And the candy is tied in to our date.” He grinned at her, knowing she was about to flip out. “We’re going to classic movie night at the Lucas Theater for the Arts. So you’ll have a nice stash of candy for the movie.”
She covered her mouth with her hand for a moment. “Seriously? That’s incredible. I love classic films.”
“I know, Morgan. I always laugh when I remember all the movies we used to fight over. You were always trying to convince me that your favorite movie was better than mine.”
She nodded. “I take my movies very seriously. So what’s playing tonight?”
He waited for a moment, intently watching her face as he made the announcement. “Moon over Alabama.”
He covered his ears just as she opened her mouth and let out a high-pitched scream. Morgan’s expression was one of pure delight. This was all playing out in perfect fashion.
She reached out and grabbed his arm. “Luke! I can’t believe it. I’ve never seen that one in the theater. I’d heard that they were restoring in for distribution but I had no idea it was coming here to Savannah.” She clapped her hands together. “Oh, I’m so excited. This is amazing.”
She threw herself into his arms and he happily wrapped his own arms around her. If given the chance, Luke knew he would work overtime to make Morgan happy for the rest of their days.
“And I have another surprise, but I’m not going to tell you until we reach our destination.” Luke wiggled his eyebrows at her in a teasing fashion.
“Oh, you’re holding out on me,” Morgan said. “I have my ways of finding things out, especially when I know one of your major weaknesses.”