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‘And you decided to start seeing each other?’

‘No, it wasn’t like that. You make it sound as though it was all planned, as though I woke up one day and decided to go looking for him to spite you or something. It wasn’t like that. He made me feel worthy. He made me feel as though my life wasn’t floundering. He made me feel good about myself. And believe me, after the guys I used to date, that felt like finding a needle in a haystack. I fell for him. I thought he was my knight in shining armour.’

‘But he was myex. I was going to marry him.’

Pulling a tissue from her pocket, Kelly wiped the tears from her face. ‘I know. I do know that. I just didn’t think like that. I thought he was the one. All of that didn’t matter.’ She held her palms up. ‘I’m not saying it didn’t matter. I know it mattered to you, but I just couldn’t think like that. He was the only one I could think about.’ She looked down at the ground, her words mumbling. ‘He made me feel special.’

Jessie swallowed. She could understand that. Brad had made her feel special. To begin with anyway. The rest of the world had melted away around her. It had become her and him. Just the two of them.

‘I really am sorry. I feel so stupid for believing that we could have ever had a future together. That someone like him could ever love me. For the last few months, I’ve been trying so hard to be strong. To pretend that none of it matters, but inside I just want to curl up into a ball and cry. I feel so ashamed that I believed him, that I pushed you away. I’m so sorry.’

Chewing her bottom lip, Jessie looked at her younger sister before stepping forward and wrapping her arms around her. She could feel Kelly’s shoulders shaking against her own, she could feel the wet of her sister’s tears seeping through her top. ‘Why didn’t you tell me any of this?’

‘Because I deserved you to hate me.’

Jessie sighed. ‘I hate what you did, but I never hated you.’

‘Do you forgive me?’

Did she forgive? Could she forgive? Jessie took a long shuddering breath in. ‘I understand why you did what you did.’

‘Thanks.’ Kelly wiped the tears from Jessie’s face. ‘I am sorry.’

‘Hey, I guess you’re going to the trouble of giving me a nephew so I can’t be that cross with you.’ Jessie laughed. She could feel her the muscles in her shoulders relax. She hadn’t realised how tense she’d been all of these months.

‘I know that this isn’t going to be easy.’ Kelly looked down at her baby bump. ‘But with you beside me, I know it’ll be easier. It’s been so horrible not having you around.’

Jessie nodded.

Chapter Twenty Five

Pausing on Simon’sdoorstep, Jessie wiped her cardigan sleeve across her face again before knocking. She didn’t know how long she’d been speaking to her mum and Kelly, but the sun had set and the cosy glow from the streetlamps illuminated the hill.

‘Jessie, hi.’ Simon pulled the door open, frowning as he saw her, and stepped aside. ‘How did it go?’

‘Okay. We spoke. I understand why she did what she did now.’ Stepping inside, she slipped her sandals off. ‘I’m sorry about our picnic.’

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