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“Right back ‘atcha,” she murmured. “You have been both mother and father for me. I can’t ever thank you enough for your sacrifices.”

Both dabbed away tears as they smiled at one another.

“So, since you seem to possess the wisdom of the ages, what are you going to do about the man who loves you? Seems to me that you have to make things right.”

“Yes, I do,” she answered. “I can’t live without him. And even feeling this way for a few hours is agonizing.” Her mind was whirling with a hundred different ideas about how to best approach Luke. She had no idea if the door had closed on a future between them. It was terrifying to imagine that he might reject her. Or that it might be too late to bridge the gap.

She looked at her mother as fear once again threatened to consume her. “Mama. Pray with me. I need some help. I need to know how to lay myself bare to Luke and tell him everything that’s lying on my heart. I want him to know that I love him. And I need to do it right now.”

“Happy endings don’t just happen. You have to do the work. You have to fight for them.”

Fancy Tolliver

Chapter Ten

Luke’s nose was buried in contracts when a loud crashing noise caused him to look up from his desk. Callie was striding toward his desk looking like a woman on a mission. Her pretty face was marred by a frown. Her gait hinted at unbridled fury. One thing he knew for certain. He didn’t have time for this!

“Callie! You can’t just come storming in here!” Luke made a mental note to remind his secretary, Jonathan, to screen visitors before they came barging in. Even family members were supposed to be announced via intercom.

Callie slammed her purse down on his desk. She folded her arms across her chest and glared at him.

Luke shook his head. “I have no idea what’s going on with you, but I’m sort of in the middle of something. Why aren’t you at Savannah House?”

“Because I’m standing right here in front of you fully prepared to knock some sense into that too-handsome-for-your-own-good face of yours.”

Luke stared Callie down. He raised an eyebrow in her direction. In order to simplify things, he was just going to cut to the chase. “I appreciate you sliding that compliment in, but seriously I don’t have time for meddling sisters who want to interfere in my love life.”

“I can’t believe what I just heard from Fancy. That it’s over between you and Morgan. You just reunited with her. And you guys are great together. Giving up on that is really lame.”

“Were great together,” he snapped. “As in done, finished, end of story.” He wasn’t a man given to fury, but he felt something rising up inside him that had the potential to be explosive. He felt like a keg of dynamite ready to explode.

“The Luke I know and love so dearly is not a person who throws in the towel!” Callie’s cheeks were flushed and her voice was raised. “You’re a fighter!”

All of a sudden it was just too much for Luke. His heart was broken. His spirits were low. He was sitting here working on contracts and business deals when he really wanted to be burying his head in the sand and grieving the loss of his dream about making a life with Morgan.

He shot up from his chair. Callie’s eyes went wide. He jabbed his finger in the air. “Enough! Give up? Are you serious. I’ve been fighting for almost three years to be with the woman I love. I’ve let Morgan know in every way imaginable that I was committed to our relationship. I’ve done everything but beg her to love me, to be with me, to adore me the way I worship her. I’ve prayed so many prayers God must be sick of me. So forgi

ve me if I don’t want to hear you telling me that I haven’t fought hard enough. The only thing I haven’t done is bleed for her.”

He was breathing so fiercely now he almost felt light headed. Luke reached for the side of his chair to steady himself. A pain shot up his leg. He didn’t feel so well.

“What’s going on in here? I can hear the shouting all the way down the hall.” Their father, Lionel Duvall, burst into the room with an irritated expression stamped on his face.

This was the last thing Luke needed or wanted at this moment. Although he’d already told his father about breaking up with Violet, he hadn’t yet told him about his love for Morgan. Knowing how much Lionel had been championing a relationship between him and Violet, Luke feared that he would automatically be opposed to him being with Morgan.

And so he’d been waiting for the perfect time to introduce Morgan to his family as the love of his life. They’d known her for years as one of Callie’s best friends and he knew everyone loved her. In light of their break-up, there would be no need for any announcements or introductions.

“It’s my fault, daddy.” Callie brushed tears away from her cheeks. “I was in the wrong. I’m so sorry, Luke,” she said in a choked up voice. “Please forgive me for shooting from the hip like that. I should have just kept my big mouth shut.”

“Why are you crying?” Lionel asked Callie. He had a scowl on his face. He swung his gaze toward Luke and held up an envelope high in the air. “And pray tell what is the meaning of this letter you left on my desk?”

Everything was happening all at once. Luke felt as if his head might explode. This morning he’d left a letter for his father asking for some time off so he could pursue the gig at the Savannah Blue’s House. As gently as possible, he’d explained that he wanted to divide his time between Duvall and his singing.

Sensing his father’s inflexibility, Luke had decided to lay it all on the line. Take it or leave it. “I’m serious about it, dad. I can’t live a fulfilled life if I ignore the artistic side of me that wants to sing. And whatever you might think about my choices, there are people out there who really believe in my talent.”

Morgan. She’d always been his biggest fan and his fiercest advocate. She’d encouraged him to pursue a career in singing. And he would always love her for that, along with a million other reasons.

“Luke. I have no doubt that you’re talented. You’re a Duvall after all. But all of these life changes are happening all at once. Ending things with Violet. Deciding to pursue a singing career and work part-time here at Duvall. Are you having a not so midlife crisis?”

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