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The moment had slipped away from her. As she watched Luke drive off into the night she reminded herself of her mother’s favorite saying. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Once again, she had chickened out and failed to say what was resting so heavily on her heart.

“I love you, Luke.” She said the words aloud as she watched his headlights disappear in the distance, wishing that she had summoned the courage to say those words to the man himself rather than to the night air. He still didn’t know the extent of her feelings. She still continued to struggle to make the declaration to Luke. And he deserved it. Above all else, he deserved to know that what he felt for her was mirrored in her own heart, her own feelings. Her very own soul.

Somehow she would find a way to say what she needed to say. She wasn’t going to allow herself to be swept under by the same old insecurities and issues. This was a whole new chapter in her life. She wasn’t about to repeat the mistakes of the past.

“We like to think that tomorrow is promised, but it’s not. Live each day like it’s your last. Don’t have regrets. Don’t leave anything unspoken.”

Pearl Lucas

Chapter Seven

The early morning sun slanted through the kitchen windows, providing a cheery glow to Morgan’s kitchen at Savannah House. She loved how the rays of the sun brightened up the room so beautifully. Morgan didn’t consider herself a morning person, although she’d long ago accepted the fact that chefs had to be early risers. After all, breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

“Tell us again about the theater marquee,” Charlotte pleaded. Charlotte, Hope and Olivia had planted themselves in the kitchen in order to grill her about her date night with Luke. Although she’d told them all the major details, her friends kept insisting on hearing her go over the details again and again.

Morgan groaned. She was in the midst of preparing a gigantic fruit bowl that would be placed on the buffet table in the dining room. She wiped her hands with a towel and placed the fruit bowl on the island in the middle of the room. “Again? I can’t believe you guys aren’t sick of hearing this over and over.”

“Because it’s all so terribly romantic,” Hope said in a dreamy voice. “It gives me hope that something special is waiting around the corner for me.”

“I’m sure it is,” Morgan said, giving Hope a quick hug. She turned back toward the platter of scones and muffins she’d baked early this morning. Her sous-chef Henry was at the stove, putting the finishing touches on pancakes and sausage. Morgan had been tip toeing around him all morning long. With his spiky brown hair and dark, over-sized glasses, he looked like an edgy college student rather than a culinary artist.

The sound of him slamming his spatula down on the stove rang out in the kitchen.

“What’s with him?” Olivia whispered. “He seems to be in a foul mood.”

“His girlfriend broke up with him,” Morgan explained in a low voice. “He was really in love with her. She said she didn’t see a future with him.”

“Maybe he should have told her that after she gave him food poisoning with those pork chops,” Charlotte teased.

Olivia and Hope laughed at Charlotte’s comment.

“Shh,” Morgan warned, darting a glance in Henry’s direction. He was in such a funk. It seemed that he was in his own little world at the moment. “If he hears you he might just lose it. He’s really on the edge and I need his help. He’s pretty invaluable.”

“I’m going to head back to the front desk,” Olivia said. “Fancy might need some help. We have a few guests checking out after breakfast and some more guests arriving this afternoon.”

“I might as well scoot too. I’ve got to plan something elaborate for the gardens. Something festive for December,” Hope said. “And I’ve got Ella here with me today. She’s sleeping upstairs at the moment, but I have my trusty monitor here in case she wakes up and cries out for me.” Hope patted the monitor strapped to her hip.

“Need some help?” Charlotte asked as Hope and Olivia left the kitchen.

“It would be great if you could help me bring out some of the dishes. That way Henry can keep making another batch of pancakes while we serve the guests.”

“Sure thing,” Charlotte said. As they began loading up trays and heading into the dining room, Morgan uttered a prayer of thanks for Charlotte’s help. She was still trying to find her groove with providing meals for both breakfast and lunch. Although she’d avoided any disasters up till this point, the pace was hectic. There really was no room for error. Breakfast started at 7:00 sharp and lasted until 9 a.m. For the entire breakfast service, Morgan was on the go, making sure everything was running smoothly and that all the needs of the guests were satisfied. Despite Henry’s current state of mind, he really was a wonderful ally in the kitchen.

Just before nine o’clock, the crowd in the dining room began to thin out, and Morgan thanked Charlotte for her help, setting her free so she could attend to other tasks related to the inn. With her arms full of platters, Morgan turned toward the doorway, stopping in her tracks as a familiar face drew her attention.

No! It couldn’t be! Not here at Savannah House. Preston Sykes. Her childhood nemesis. The relentless bully who had seemed to hate her with every fiber of his being. The boy who had caused her to fear going to school for so many years. The person who had tormented her every time they crossed paths.

A beautiful Asian woman with long dark hair walked beside him. The look etched on her face as she looked up at him was pure adulation. Morgan’s stomach twisted. Their eyes locked, and for a moment she thought Preston recognized her. His features hardened and he was no longer smiling. Bile rose up in her throat. Morgan turned toward the hallway, beating a fast path toward the kitchen. Once she had sequestered herself in the kitchen, Morgan began taking deep breaths.

He can’t hurt you anymore. She repeated the words over and over to herself.

“Are you okay?” Henry gazed at her with a worried expression etched on his face. “You look like how I feel. Like roadkill.”

“I-I’m fine, Henry. I just need to catch my breath and make a phone call.”

“Take your time. I’ll start putting the dishes in the dishwasher.”

Morgan scurried out the back door and into the fresh outdoors. She raised her face to the sky and let the sun rain down on her. She pulled her cellphone from her apron pocket and pressed contacts to bring up Luke’s number at Duvall Investments. She just needed to hear the sound of his voice to convince her that everything was going to be okay.

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