SECOND CHANCES by Brenda Minton
music and the low murmur of conversations flowed from the candlelit interior of
the restaurant. Jenna Foster stepped through the door. Her gaze connected with
a man sitting at a corner table.
as she crossed the room. She paused, unsure of the moment, of her reaction to
his presence. His gray eyes lit with humor and a smile tugged the corners of
his mouth. He touched the rose in the pocket of his shirt, the sign they’d
agreed on for this meeting. She raised her right hand and showed him the
corsage on her wrist. She’d felt a rush of anticipation when she’d lifted it
from the box.
glad you could make it,” he whispered close to her ear as he took her hand. “I
was afraid you wouldn’t come.”
thought about cancelling,” she admitted.
you didn’t.” He led her back to the corner table.
music continued to drift around them, soft notes and romance. The candle on
their table flickered as somewhere a door opened. He held out a chair and
waited for her to take a seat.
hadn’t felt so unsure in years. She had turned forty this past summer and
mirrors didn’t lie. There were lines at the corners of her eyes and things
sagged that hadn’t sagged twenty years ago. She didn’t feel old. Maybe because
she had been beating at the years with the treadmill and weights. She’d been
running from the inevitable ticking of the clock. She’d been avoiding home.
Home had become a place of tension, of angry voices and closed doors. And
been trying to outrun time and instead it had sneaked around a corner and
pulled the rug out from under her. The man sitting across from her had silver
at the temples and laugh lines around his mouth. Time had caught him too. It
was strange to notice those lines, the silver in his hair.
don’t think I can do this.” She whispered the words as she studied the menu.
for her hand. She slid her fingers through his and he held tight.
stop pretending.” His voice, baritone and smooth, forced her to look up, to
meet his gaze.
saw something of the man he had once been, a young man who had dreamed of a
career, a family, a life together. With her.
don’t know how to stop pretending,” she admitted. They were no longer
discussing this date. They were talking about their lives, their marriage.
had three children at home. She closed her eyes as grief washed over her, tight
and painful. Last week they’d learned their sixteen-year-old daughter was
pregnant. Their princess. When had she changed from the toddler who held her
arms out with laughter and trust to a withdrawn teenager?
family had fallen apart as they’d all gone their separate ways with doors and
hearts closed off. They were the American dream that had shattered, overcome by
lost our way,” her husband admitted. “Jenna, we stopped talking. We stopped
being a family and became our work and our separate goals. I want us back.”
cheated on me,” she accused, the words alive with all the pain she’d felt. Guilt lived where the anger lived. She’d come
so close herself. She’d picked the gym where she worked out every day, trying
hard to gain back time.
know.” He brushed a thumb over her knuckles. “I can’t undo what I’ve done. I
can only ask you to forgive me. Give us a second chance.”
forgive you,” she whispered and then met his gaze. “I don’t know if I trust
know. Let me prove myself. For us. For our children.”
do we start over?”
smile took her back. They’d been so in love. They’d shared everything--their
dreams, their fears, their achievements.
start over like this,” he said. “We talk. We spend time together as a family.”
want us back, Dean. I do. But it won’t be easy.”
will take time but I’m going to be the man I’m supposed to be for you and for
our children. When I cheated on you, Jenna, I cheated on them.”
waiter approached but Dean shook his head. He stood and pulled her up with him
to the dance floor. Piano music drifted around them and she realized it was
love you, Jenna. I’m going to love you forever. I’m going to show our children
what a father and husband should look like. When you’re ready, I’ll be here.”
leaned, capturing her lips in the sweetest of kisses. She kissed him back,
taking the second chance and knowing it wouldn’t be easy. But it would be worth