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He frowned. “Still what?” He ran a hand over his jaw. “Because for the life of me I can’t figure it out.”

“Friends,” she said, knowing that in a million years Luke could never be relegated to friendship status. He was so much more. Deep in her heart Morgan knew he always would be. Forever. Falling out of love with Luke had proved impossible. She had desperately tried to outrun her love for him when she’d traveled to France and found employment at a five-star restaurant in the heart of the Marais district. But even in another country, her love for this man had persisted. Endured. Thrived.

Luke heaved a tremendous sigh. He tapped his fingers idly on the butcher block island. Morgan studied Luke’s hands. They were long and finely shaped. Those same hands had held her, comforted her, stroked her hair. A musician’s hands. Suddenly, she was consumed by sadness that instead of living out his musical dreams, Luke sat all day in an office at his family’s corporation. Even if he never put it into words, Luke was trapped.

“Morgan, is it really that easy for you to reduce what we are to one another as simply friends?”

Morgan broke eye contact with him. She looked down and fiddled with her fingers. “I never said it was easy, Luke. Trust me, it isn’t.”

“Then why? Why didn’t you try harder?” He let out a sound of frustration. “Why didn’t we try harder? I should have gotten on a plane and followed you to Paris. I should have chased you down to the ends of the earth. I wanted to—”

The sound of shuffling feet alerted them to the arrival of the wait staff. Morgan wanted to shout out and order them to keep out of the kitchen. She was desperate to hear what Luke was trying to tell her. What had he wanted to do? She wanted to know so badly.

Luke held up his hands. ?

??Forgive me. I’ve always been really good at knowing the right thing to do in hindsight.” With a regretful look etched on his face, Luke turned and left the kitchen, his shoulders slumped in defeat. Morgan ached to follow behind him and clasp her hand with his and wipe that troubled expression off his face.

Call him back! Follow him! An urgent voice buzzed in her ears. Why was she so lacking in courage? Why did it always seem as if mountains stood between her and Luke? What was so wrong with her that she could never step out on the limb and reach for happiness?

She stood still, mouth closed, unable to follow the deepest urgings of her soul. Morgan turned and raced toward the bathroom adjacent to the kitchen. She closed herself in and sank down on to the tiled floor. Tears coursed down her cheeks. The pain of loss ricocheted through her. Did a person ever truly recover from losing the love of their life?

God, please help me to heal my heart. I love Luke so much, but I missed my chance to be with him. He’s with Violet now and she’s a lovely woman. I can’t keep hanging on to every word or gesture from Luke. Please help me get over him so I can move forward with my life.

Morgan stood up on trembling legs and looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. She reached for a tissue and began to blot away all signs of her heartache. She sucked in a fortifying breath. She could cry later in the comfort of her own home. For now, she was the chef for the world famous resort, Savannah House. It was time to strut her culinary stuff!

“Nothing feels as right as knowing you’ve found your soulmate, the one you were destined to walk through life with.

Callie Duvall Holden

Chapter Two

As Luke walked away from Morgan and back toward the grand foyer, he found himself battling a mix of emotions. Feasting his eyes on Morgan had been wonderful. With her big brown eyes and delicate features, she was a beautiful woman. When she gazed at him, Luke felt as if they were the only two people in the world. Morgan’s beauty radiated from the inside. Her kindness, wacky sense of humor and compassion set her apart from anyone Luke had ever known. She was warm and easy-going. A jewel of a woman.

He let out a sigh and placed his hand across his chest. Seeing Morgan wasn’t exactly easy on his heart.

Although he was happy to have sought Morgan out so they could speak privately, he still felt as if nothing had been resolved. They were still staring at each other across this great big chasm. They were still miles and miles away from resolution. Closure. He let out a bitter laugh. People always talked about closure as if closing a chapter on love was a good thing.

Love? He’d never told Morgan that he loved her, although he did, more than mere words could ever convey. Perhaps things might have ended differently if he’d spoken words of love, leaving no doubt as to how he’d felt about Morgan.

You’re dating another woman! A voice hissed in his ear, making him feel incredibly disloyal to Violet. He couldn’t control the way he felt, but it didn’t sit right with him to pine away for one woman while dating another.

Violet! Attractive and sweet-natured, Violet Craddock was a peach. She worked at the local historical society in Savannah. He’d known her since forever. If someone was looking at them from the outside they would find them a perfect match. Petite, blond and adorable, Violet looked perfect standing at his side. And her family was as well-known and established in Savannah as his own. They were wealthy and connected and philanthropic. His parents adored her.

But he didn’t love her. And he knew he couldn’t love her, no matter how much time went by or how many dates they went on. It was pretty impossible to love another woman when he was head over heels in love with Morgan. Tonight, like most nights, he would get down on his knees and pray to God for answers. Clarity! Vision.

He let out a harsh chuckle. His father—Lionel Duvall—was waiting on pins and needles for an engagement. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be downright hilarious. His father wanted to merge the Duvall Investments and family fortune with the Craddock empire. It was an entirely materialistic matchmaking scheme born out of his desire to create a Duvall-Craddock dynasty. And Luke—fool that he was—had allowed the entire situation to spiral out of control. He had continued to date Violet when his heart had rebelled against it.

Why had he done it? Why was it always so hard to say no to his father? A tight sensation spread across his chest. Luke knew the answer. Deep down in his soul he knew that he still felt a sense of obligation for his sister’s death. After all these years guilt still continued to place a choke-hold on him.

When Luke had first started dating Violet it had boiled down to two old friends from elementary school hanging out together and having a good time. Luke had been trying to mend his broken heart after Morgan had broken things off with him. Morgan had disappeared and gone to the other side of the world. During that time, he hadn’t known up from down. Violet, although she’d never divulged a word of it to him, had her own reasons for dating him. He suspected that she also had been hammered in the love department. It was his hunch, although Violet had never confirmed it. Truth was, he’d been dealing with his own wounds for the duration of their relationship. Had that been fair? Or right? Or kind?

And now, in the clear light of day, he knew that he had to do what was right. Even if it wasn’t easy.

He watched as Callie whirled around the grand foyer, alternating between greeting guests and conferring with her co-owners. Just the sight of his younger sister made him smile. The day his parents had brought five-year-old Callie home and adopted her, the Duvall home had been transformed. They had all been grieving the loss of his sister Rachel in a drowning accident. Although Callie could never replace Rachel, she’d added love and light to a household in mourning. It had allowed them to heal.

Callie had been through so much over the past year, yet she still radiated like the sun. Love triumphed over everything else in her world. Even though she had been cruelly separated from her biological brother, Mac Donahue, and their own parents had played a role in the deception, Callie had fallen in love with their childhood friend, Jax Holden. They were one of the sweetest newlyweds Luke had ever seen. Shortly thereafter, Callie’s best friend, Olivia Renault had married the millionaire, Hunter Rawlings, making another sickeningly sweet couple in their circle. And now his cousin, Case, was engaged to Fancy Tolliver.

He hated to admit it even to himself, but being surrounded by happily in love couples hurt sometimes. Although he was truly happy for all of them, it still made him feel as if he had an aching hole in his gut. A hole only one woman could fill up.

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