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So far from good, but she nodded. She wouldn’t ruin today for him or Frankie. Or the rest of the family who’d made the drive in. “Of course.”

He kissed her cheek, then grabbed a beer from the cooler and headed outside.

From the window, Whitney could see him shake hands with his brothers-in-law and then set his drink aside to chase after the little ones playing tag in the yard. Squeals of delight and laughter drifted in through the open windows. A sound that used to give her so much hope about their future together.

“Man, the kids adore him,” Kara said, standing next to her, her arm draped around Arielle’s shoulders.

“The feeling’s mutual,” Whitney said.

“Hey, now that the men are gone, Whitney, could I steal you for just a second?” Frankie asked.


She followed the woman down the hall, scanning the row of family photos she’d seen a thousand times. School pictures from kindergarten to graduation. She loved seeing Trent grow from a shy, small kid to the confident star quarterback. A large family photo was on the far wall, a picture of all of them on the beach three years before, while Trent’s father was still alive.

“In here,” she said, stopping outside her bedroom. “I have something for you.”

“Frankie, you shouldn’t have.”

“Well, it’s not really from me,” she said, going to the closet and reaching for a small garment bag. She unzipped it and took out a beautiful antique white wedding veil. A tiara of pearls and small diamonds made up the headpiece, and soft, delicate lace hung down from it.

Whitney’s breath caught in her throat, recognizing it. “My mom’s veil.”

“It’s so beautiful. She gave it to me about a week before she moved into Rejuvenation.” Frankie handed it to her. “She wanted you to have it, but she wasn’t sure…”

Whitney nodded, the lump in her throat so big, it threatened to suffocate her. She fingered the row of beads, afraid to speak, to look at Frankie. Fear of the truth spilling out overwhelming her. This moment was bittersweet. Her mother should have been the one giving her this. Her cruel illness stealing this opportunity from them made Whitney angry…and now her own illness destroying what should have been a special moment with Frankie made everything seem wrong.

“I’m not sure if you’ve thought about your dress—and no pressure at all. I just want you to know that if you want to wear this, we can certainly find fabric at the shop in a shade that matches perfectly with the antique white. And I’m really good at embroidering beads.”

The soft pleading in the woman’s voice brought tears to her eyes. Frankie’s kindness was pure torture. She was nervous that she wouldn’t be a part of Whitney’s plans, and she was so lovingly providing her support without overstepping that it just made all of this so much worse. Frankie was so patient and understanding. She wasn’t pressuring her or asking for answers. She’d been so lucky to have her in her life this long.

After Trent, she’d miss Frankie the most if things ended.

“Frankie, I’d be honored to wear any dress that you make.”

The “but” on the tip of her tongue refused to vocalize as she saw the look of joy on the woman’s face.

Sadness and disappointment would come between them. But she didn’t have the courage to cause it today.

“You missed the turnoff,” Whitney said hours later, glancing up from her phone in the passenger seat.

“No, I didn’t,” Trent said, hoping this executive decision in the final seconds wouldn’t blow up in his face. “I thought we’d take a quick detour.”

Whitney sighed as she looked at him. “Where?”

“You’ll see.”


“Whitney…” He echoed her tone. “Just trust me. I’ll have you at the office in an hour.”

She had agreed to come to dinner at his family’s house today if he promised to be okay with her going into the office later to catch up on work, before the busy week started. He intended to keep the promise, but watching her at his mom’s house, he’d seen her yawn at least a dozen times and saw her stretching her legs quite a bit. He’d noticed her massaging her temples when she didn’t think he was watching, and despite participating in the family’s conversation at dinner, she seemed distracted.

She needed a break. She needed to take a moment. And while he held her captive in the Jeep, he was going to make sure she took one.

“Fine,” she said, but she shifted in the seat and checked her watch.

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