Alove rekindled (the game of love #1)

ALove Rekindled

(TheGame of Love #1)

BySharon Cummin

Copyright©2014 Sharon Cummin

AllRights Reserved

Warning:This story contains explicit sexual content that is not intended forthose under the age of 18. All characters appearing in this work arefictitious and the age of 18 and older. Any resemblance to realpersons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Tableof Contents

Chapter1

Chapter2

Chapter3

Chapter4

Chapter5

Chapter6

Chapter7

Chapter8

Chapter9

Chapter10

Chapter11

Chapter12

Chapter13

Chapter14

Chapter15

Chapter16

Chapter17

Chapter18

Epilogue

Chapter1

Jessica

Jessicastood as she looked at herself in the mirror. It was Friday night,and she had been invited to a Christmas party. Her friend Linda, fromwork, was having all of her friends over for an evening celebration.Jessica had not been out in months. Her friends from work tried toget her to go out with them often, but she always turned them down.She liked being at home with her son. He was her everything. That waswhat she had always told them.

Hersister Renee talked her into going to the party. She knew Jessicaneeded to get out and have a little grown up time. Renee was twoyears younger than Jessica, and they had been best friends theirentire lives. Anytime Jessica needed her little sister, she wasthere. Renee volunteered to watch her favorite nephew for the night,so that that Jessica would go out and be with her friends. Jessicadidn't want to hurt her friend Linda's feelings, so she agreed to goto the party. She figured if she stayed for a few minutes, she couldleave without anyone noticing.

Thedoorbell rang and snapped Jessica from her thoughts. She ran andopened the door. It was her sister Renee. She had her hands full ofpizza boxes and bags.

“Whereis my favorite nephew?” Renee called out.

“I'mright here,” a cute, little, brown haired, blue eyed boyshouted, as he ran up to hug her.

“Ibrought pizza, soda, popcorn, and candy,” she said. “Weare going to have some fun.”

Thelittle boy laughed and ran back into the living room.

“Youbetter not feed him all of that stuff,” Jessica snapped.

“Weare going to have fun. I don't get to spend as much time with himnow,” Renee said. “Go get ready for your party.”

“Iam ready,” Jessica said.

“Youare wearing jeans a sweater to a party with your work friends?”Renee asked.

“Iam not staying long. This is fine,” Jessica said.

“No,”Renee said, as she put the boxes and most of the bags down.

Therewas a dress bag wrapped around her arm. She held it out with anotherbag toward her sister.

“Thisis what you are wearing,” Renee said. “Go get dressed.”

Jessicablew out a sigh, took the stuff from her sister, and headed to herbedroom. What did it matter what she wore, she thought? There wasnobody she needed to impress. She wasn't even planning to stay.Aggravated, she took off her clothes and pulled out the dress. It wasbeautiful, she thought. The dress was knee length and a very prettyred. Jessica put it on and looked into the mirror. She smiled atherself. It did look much better than jeans. The front was a littlelower cut than she would have liked. Her sister always wore thingsmore revealing than her, so she was not surprised. In the bag was apair of heels, necklace, and very cute little round earrings. She puteverything on and finished getting ready.

Asshe looked at herself, she started to feel a little better aboutgoing out. She decided to do her hair and put on a little moremakeup. By the time she was done, she had a huge smile on her face.Maybe it would be a fun night after all. She would do her best tohave a great time. It was the first time she had been out in months,and she was actually looking forward to it. She felt pretty.

Jessicawalked into the kitchen and her sister let out a whistle.

“Now,you are ready,” Renee said, as she laughed. “You lookbeautiful. That dress was made for you. It shows all of your amazingcurves, and your ass looks juicy.”

“Thankyou,” Jessica said, as she laughed. “I am glad youapprove of my ass. It is a beautiful dress. You have such goodtaste.”

“Ofcourse I do,” Renee laughed. “Go have a great time. Wewill be here having fun. Please try to enjoy yourself.”

“Iwill,” Jessica said. “I feel weird that I don't have adate. I don't want to be the only single woman there.”

“I'msure you won't be the only one without a date,” Renee said.“Maybe there will be a super sexy hottie there for you. If notyou can always go home with John from work. He has been into youforever.”

“That'snot funny,” Jessica replied. “You know I don't feel thatway toward him.”

“Getout of here,” Renee said. “Don't do anything I wouldn'tdo.”

Theyboth laughed as Jessica hugged her son and left for the party.

Chapter2

Jessica

Jessicapulled up to her friend Linda's house. She parked her car as shethought about her life. Since high school, she had accomplished somuch and was proud of herself. She had gotten a job in an office as ascared teenager. Seven years later, she had worked herself intomanagement. She had become strong and confident. That scared littlegirl was gone. She owned her own home and had taken care of her andher son. Surely, she could get through a tiny party.

Shelet out a deep, nervous breath as she got out of her car. Only stayfor a little while, and then you can leave. She had no idea why shewas so nervous about going alone. Her friends at work knew she wassingle. It was not a big secret. She still felt weird about goinginto the party without a date. Jessica walked up the steps to thefront door and froze. Maybe she should just go back home, shethought. Before she could turn around, the door swung open, and Lindareached out and grabbed her arm.

Lindapulled her into the house. There was music playing and laughtereverywhere. Linda had her house decorated for the holiday, with cutethings everywhere. Jessica was surprised at how many people werealready there. The party had just started. Linda walked her to thebar area so she knew where to get her drinks. Then, she pulled heroff to meet people. Jessica had no idea how she was going to rememberall of the names Linda was throwing at her. She met so many newpeople. Linda was so proud of her party, and she was having such agreat time.

Jessicalaughed as she walked over to her group of friends from work. She wasthe manager in their department, but nobody would ever know watchingthem. They all got along really well. Tammy, Leslie, and John werealready there. Their friend Heather would be there later with herdate. A few more people were supposed to be going also. They weresurprised to see her all dressed up. She felt beautiful for the firsttime in a long time. John ran off and came back with a drink for her.He made sure to tell her how beautiful she looked. She took the drinkand thanked him. He was very nice to her. She did not know why shehad not given him a chance. He really liked her and was alwaysconcerned with her and how she was doing. It was not that he was notattractive. Many of the ladies at work liked him. He was tall andmuscular. His hair was dark and his eyes were blue. He was veryattractive. No matter how many times she turned him down, he stilltried to get her to go out with him. He would laugh and joke aboutit, but she knew he was serious. She thought he was super sweet. Hersister thought she was crazy for not going out with him. Renee wouldjoke about how good he would be in bed. Jessica would always tell herto be quiet. Jessica caught him looking at her several times duringthe party as they all talked. There was nothing wrong with him. Ifshe was going to date, he would be her first choice. Jessica didn'tcare how many times he asked her out, she would always say no. Lovewas not in her future. She saw no reason to put her heart out therefor someone to tear it up and throw it back at her. Her life was justfine the way it was.

Lesliegrabbed Jessica's arm and pulled her off to dance. Tammy and Johnjoined them as well. They all danced like crazy. Every few songs,they would stop to grab a drink and talk. Jessica was having anamazing time. It was nice to not think about stress for an evening.She was happy her sister had talked her into going. The night wasturning out to be so much fun. A slow song came on, and John pulledher toward him. They laughed as he spun her and pulled her back in.She felt so pretty and confident. It was the first time she hadreally let herself go around herfriendsfrom work. They were shocked by how well she could dance. She agreedto let them take her out to a club one day. Jessica was actuallylooking forward to it. She continued to dance with John. Jessicaheard the door bell and saw Linda bring Heather and her date in asJohn dipped her. She felt her body freeze as she heard Heather's datelaugh. Jessica would know that laugh anywhere. He came into view andtheir eyes connected.

Chapter3

Luke

Lukewas on his way to pick up his blind date for his friend Linda'sparty. He really didn't feel like going. Luke went to college withLinda at University of Michigan, and they remained friends when heleft to play professional football. They had a class together hisfreshman year, and became friends immediately. His heart had beenbroken by his high school sweetheart, and Linda's friendship was awelcome distraction. They had known each other for seven years. Shefelt horrible when he was injured and could no longer play ball. Hehad only been home for about a month. Linda had tried getting him outof the house for the past month, but he wasn't interested. She askedif he was depressed about not being able to play anymore, or if therewas some other reason he didn't want to go out. Luke just shruggedand never answered. He never really talked much about home exceptabout his mother. When Linda invited Luke to her party, he turned herdown. She bugged him over and over until he finally agreed to go.Maybe she would leave him alone about going out. He would put in anhour or so and then be gone. On top of that, she wanted him to take afriend of hers as his date. He was not looking forward to it. Lindahad set him up with Heather, a girl she knew from work.


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Whenhe picked Heather up, he was pleasantly surprised. She was a littleshorter than him, had long blonde hair, green eyes, and a nice body.They walked back to his car and he opened her door for her. Shethanked him with a flirty smile. He went around to his side of thecar, and they were on their way. Heather talked the entire ridethere. He answered her questions but really did not concentrate onthe conversation. She was very interested in the fact that he playedtwo years for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heather seemed nice and wasattractive, but he wasn't that interested.

Theysat in front of Linda's house for a minute. Luke hoped he would notsee anyone he knew at the party. What were the chances? She livedabout a half an hour away from the town he grew up in. He was prettysure he wouldn't cross any paths from high school. Luke knew thatpeople might recognize him from football, and he was fine with that.He just didn't feel like running into any old friends. He let out asigh as Heather looked over at him.

“Areyou okay?” she asked.

“I'mfine,” he replied.

“Doyou want to go in?” she asked.

“Sure,I'm sorry about that,” he replied, as he got out of the car.

Hewalked around to open her door and help her out of the car. She had along blue dress on and very high heels. They made their way up thelong driveway. Just get through the party, he thought. Maybe it wouldbe fun to have a few drinks. Be open minded, he told himself. He letout a deep breath as he knocked on the door.

Lindaswung the door opened and wrapped her arms around him.

“Iwasn't sure you would actually show up,” she joked.

“Veryfunny, I told you I was coming,” he replied, as he laughed.

Hestepped into the house. That was when he saw her. Their eyesconnected as she was being dipped by some guy he had never seenbefore. Luke felt a growl escape his lips.

“Areyou okay?” Linda asked.

“Oh,Yeah, I'm fine,” he said, as he brought his attention back toLinda.

Shit!I have to get out of here, he thought.

“Comeon in. Let me show you around and introduce you to some of myfriends,” she said.

Lindapulled him and Heather through the hall and into the house.

Chapter4

Jessica

Johnpulled Jessica up from the dip.

“Areyou okay?” he asked.

“Ofcourse, why?” she questioned.

“Yourbody tensed up. I didn't mean to scare you,” John said.

“I'mfine. It was fun,” she said, with a smile.

Jessicahad a million things running through her mind. She had not seen Lukesince the day he left for college. Seeing his eyes made her heartdrop. He was even better looking than she remembered. She had heardhe was back in town, but had no idea she would run into him so soon.They were a half an hour from their town. Why was he at the party,she wondered? Oh yeah, he was with Heather. She could not believe it.Heather had never mentioned her date's name. Jessica needed to find away to leave. There was no way she could see him with one of herfriends, or anyone else for that matter. She was hoping that her eyesdeceived her. Maybe it wasn't him. She was looking at him upsidedown. Who was she kidding, she thought? She could never forget Luke'seyes. They were one of her favorite features of his.

Shesaw Linda walking their way with Luke and Heather.

“Ineed to get a soda,” Jessica said. “I'll be back in a fewminutes.”

Jessicahurried off to the bar, keeping her head down as she passed them. Sheheard Linda introduce her friend Luke to Tammy, Leslie, and John.They all said hello, and Jessica heard Tammy start to talk.

“Youlook so familiar Luke,” Tammy said. “Do I know you fromsomewhere?”

“Heplayed for Pittsburgh Steelers for two years,” John said.“After he played four years at University of Michigan.”

“Areyou serious?” Tammy asked.

“Yes,”Luke answered. “I did.”

Jessicawalked up and handed John a drink. She kept her head down and drankher soda. As her eyes looked up, with her head still down, she sawLuke staring a hole through John. What the fuck is his problem, shethought? He is on a date with one of my friends.

“Jessica,this is my friend Luke from college,” Linda said, as Jessicalooked at Heather's arm on Luke's waist. “This is my boss andfriend Jessica.”

“Hello,”Jessica said, as she stuck her hand out to shake his.

“Hello,”Luke responded, as she took her hand in his.

Jessicajumped and pulled her hand back as she felt heat race up her arm.

“I'mgoing to go over and sit on the couch,” Jessica said. “I'llsee you guys in a few.”

“I'llgo with you,” John said.

“No,you stay here and talk football with Luke,” she answered. “I'llbe fine.”

Jessicawent over to the couch. She put her head in her hands with her elbowson her knees and sighed. How was she going to get out of there? Sheneeded to leave. There was no way she could stay. She knew she shouldhave never left her house that night. She could see an image in herhead of Luke kissing her and could feel her lips tingle just thinkingabout it. He was in her thoughts as she felt a familiar heat crossher body. Jessica could feel him there before she saw his shoes infront of her. Maybe if she didn't look up, he would go away.

“Areyou okay?” he asked.

“Yep,fine,” she replied.

“Ihad no idea you knew Linda,” he said. “Are you her boss?”

“Yes,”she answered.

“Iwent to college with Linda. We have kept in touch this whole time.She talked about her boss Jessica,” he said. “I had noidea it was you. I wouldn't have come here if I had known. I didn'twant to come. She bugged me and bugged me until I agreed.”

“So,you're here with Heather?” she asked.

“It'snot what you think,” he said.

“Noneof my business,” she replied.

Holdit together, she told herself. Don't cry in front of him. Wait untilyou leave. Get your ass out of here before you lose it. Why does hehave to look so damn good? She had butterflies in her stomach andfelt like she was going to be sick. Don't look at his face, shethought.

Shefelt like he could hear her thoughts, because he sat down next to heron the couch and leaned down to look at her. He looked so good. Hismuscles looked so tight. She thought he looked good before he leftfor college. There was no comparison. His dark brown hair hung justabove his eyes, and she could see the beautiful blue in them. Theeyes that made her feel safe and that she loved so much. They were sofamiliar. She thought about how their color used to change dependingon his mood and wondered if they still did. He was so incrediblysexy. Snap out of it, she thought. He didn't even fight to keep youwhen he left for college, remember that.

“Howlong are you in town?” she asked. “I was kind ofsurprised you even came back.”

“Imoved back home,” he said. “I am staying at my mom'sright now, while I look for a house.”

“Soyou aren't playing football anymore?” she asked, pretending notto know he had been injured.

“No,”he answered. “I got hurt pretty bad. The doctors say I can'tplay anymore. If I do and get hurt again, I may not be able torecover. How was college?”

“Ididn't go to college,” she answered quickly. “What areyou going to do now?”

“I'mnot sure,” he said. “I am going to buy a house. I want tocoach football and do something working with kids who can't afford toplay. I'm not sure what yet, but I plan on starting something. I wantto help kids who were like me when I was little. I want them to havesomething to look forward to and someone to be there for them. Whydid you not go to college? You knew exactly what you wanted to do.College was a very important part of your plan. We talked about itall the time. When I left, you were going.”

Whydid he still have to be so wonderful, she thought? She could notbelieve he was sitting there telling her how he wanted to help kidswithout money and kids who did not have their dads. He had notchanged one bit. Luke was still the most amazing man she had evermet. Just as she went to say something, Heather walked up and sat onLuke's lap. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed hischeek. At the same time, Tammy, Leslie, and John walked up.

Jessicastood up quickly.

“Ihave to go,” Jessica said.

Johnreached out and grabbed her arm.

“Areyou okay?” he asked.

Jessicapulled her arm from his hand.

“I'mfine,” she said. “I need to leave.”

Shemoved her way through the people as fast as she could and hurried outthe front door. Jessica ran down the driveway, got in her car, anddrove down the street. She stopped a few streets over, parked hercar, put her face in her hands, and cried. Why was he going to stay?When she found out he was not able to play football, she thought forsure he would stay where he was. Not for one second, did she think hewould move home. He had not been in town for more than a day in thelast seven years. She thought for sure she was over him, but afterseeing him that night, she realized she would never be over him. Hewas her one and only love. She had dated here and there over theyears, but never anything more than a couple of dates. Seeing Heatherplop down on his lap and kiss his cheek was more than she couldhandle. She sat in her car and cried for what seemed like hours.Finally, she dried her face and drove home.

Chapter5

Luke

Notlong after Jessica left, Luke decided to go home. Heather wanted tostay, so she said she would get John to drive her home. Luke drovestraight home and went to bed. All he could think about was Jessica.He could not believe she was at the party. She had on a revealing reddress. He was shocked at how low cut it was. Her beautiful brown eyessucked him in, just as they always had. He wanted to wrap his handsin her long brown hair and pull her in for a kiss. She was prettierthan he remembered. He pictured her in his mind a million times overthe years, but she took his breath away that night. Why had shegotten so upset and ran when Heather touched him, he wondered?Jessica had broken up with him without any explanation. She had noright to get upset with him.

Jessicawas his love. She was the reason he had never been home. The day hewas leaving for college, she broke his heart. She never even told himwhy. He loved her and thought they were going to be together foreverand have a family. He called her a few times a week for the firstmonth he was gone. They would talk about what they had been doing,but each time he brought up their relationship, she would find areason to hang up the phone. The last time he had called her, sheacted different. Something had changed, but he had no idea what itwas. She was short with him and he felt like he was inconveniencingher. When they ended the call, he told her he loved her. She didn'trespond and just hung up. That was when he decided to stop callingher. He never understood why she didn't want to be with him anymore.Was there someone else? Did she not love him anymore? Was he not goodenough for her?


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Whenhe saw Jessica at the party, he wanted to be mad at her. Every ounceof him wanted to ignore her, but there was something in her eyes whenshe looked at him. She looked so sad. When they talked, she seemedlike a different person. His heart broke for her. When she ran off,he had no idea what was going through her mind.

Luke'smind wandered to their conversation earlier that night. She had aplan when they graduated high school. They were both going tocollege. He wanted to play professional football and she wanted tostart her own business. It was very important to her. When he askedher about college at the party, she told him that she never went. Itdid not make any sense to him. He leaned back in his bed wondering.What had prevented her from her going after her dreams? She workedwith Linda, so she never went on to open her own business. He triedto figure out if it was because of her family. They were happy abouther going to college, so he did not think that was it.

Heclosed his eyes and tried to go to sleep. No matter what he did, hekept thinking about her. Was she married? Did she have a family? Didsomeone sweep her off her feet? Was she with someone better than him?Had she ever loved him? Luke let out a sigh as he closed his eyesagain.

WhenLuke woke up, he felt exhausted. He knew he had only slept for acouple of hours, before he heard his mom moving around and smelledbacon. He threw on some clothes and made his way to the kitchen.

“Howwas your party?” she asked.

“Itwas okay,” he said. “Do you remember Jessica?”

“Yes,how could I forget her?” she asked. “She was a nicegirl.”

“Whenis the last time you saw her?” he asked.

“Ihave not seen her in years,” she answered. “I heard shebought a house on same street as the high school, but I have neverrun into her anywhere. I see her mom from time to time, but she nevermentions Jessica. She only talks about Renee.”

“Isshe married?” he asked.

“Ihave no idea,” she said.

Hefinished his breakfast in silence and then went back to his room.Luke looked her up on the internet. He wanted to find her address. Anaddress came up under her maiden name. If she got married, she haddone it after she bought the house. It said she had lived there forsix years. That was strange. She must have bought her house not longafter he left. Why wouldn't she stay with her parents? She hadn'tplanned to move out until after she graduated from college. What hadhappened to her, he wondered?

Lukegot dressed and headed out the door. He told his mom he was going tobe looking at houses all day and that he would see her around dinnertime. Luke knew how important it was to his mom that he was home. Hetried to have breakfast and dinner with her each day. She would getused to him being home and he wouldn't feel like he had to be aroundas much. He was all she had. His father had taken off just after hewas born. It was important to Luke that his mom was happy. If havinghim around made her happy, then he would make sure to be around asmuch as he could.

Hegot into his car and left. The address he found was on the samestreet as the high school, so he headed in that direction. Luke wasnervous about what he was doing. He had no reason to go past herhouse. She probably had a husband and kids. There was no reason forwhat he was about to do. He knew he needed to move on. Maybe if hesaw her happy family, he would realize and let go. He started downthe street and looked down at the address on the paper. Slowly hedrove down the street until he found the number that matched the onehe had.

Lukepulled up in front of the house next to it and parked his car. Therewas only one car in her driveway. It was the same car he saw pullaway from the party as he raced out the door after her. It was ahouse she used to hang out at after school. It belonged to one of herfriend's parents. They had both spent time together sitting on thefront porch steps at the end of the school day and after footballgames. The house was cute and he could tell some work at been done tofix it up, probably by her husband. The thought of her being withanother man made his stomach sick.

Hesat looking at the house, when he heard a laugh. A small child raninto the front yard from around the side of the house. A momentlater, Jessica ran out from the side and tackled the child. They bothrolled onto their backs as they laughed. The two of them stayed stillfor a moment and then made snow angles, before they got up. When thechild stood up, he noticed it was a little boy with dark brown hair.Jessica stood up and brushed the snow from her jeans. Her long brownhair sparkled from the snow as she brushed her hands through her hairand laughed. Luke watched as the little boy started to roll snow fora snowman. He sat there for a few minutes. The little one looked tobe around six or seven years old. Luke's chest tightened and he feltlike he could not breathe.

Jessicaseemed so happy. The two of them making a snowman was adorable. Shehad never been very good at making snowballs or rolling a snowman. Inhigh school, he had always had to start the ball rolling for her.Luke wondered about her husband and little boy's father. Was shehappy? What did the man have that he didn't? Luke knew he didn't havemoney and couldn't give her huge gifts, when they were in highschool. He didn't think she minded. She seemed so happy with him,until that day she broke his heart. The more he thought about herbeing married, the more upset he got. He thought more about thelittle boy. If he was six, then she would have had to have gottenpregnant right after he left for college.

Hadshe been with someone else while they were together, or had shejumped right into bed with someone as soon as he left town? It suredid not take her long to move on. Luke had never moved on. He wasdevastated when he left. It had taken him months to even talk to awoman. He was so hurt, while she was having a good time with someoneelse.

Lukehad never let himself fall in love again. He had one-night standsmost of the time. A few times, he went out with the same woman for acouple of weeks. He never let himself have feelings for any of thewomen. It was all about sex for him. There was no way he was lettinganyone hurt him again.

Themore he thought about Jessica having a family, the more furious hebecame. It was supposed to be him having a family with her. He was somad at her. If he had known, he could have moved on from her. Henever knew why she broke up with him and always wondered it theywould end up together. Not anymore. He wasted years thinking abouther, and for what, no reason at all. Luke had worried about her allthe time. He wondered if she was okay and if she had her ownbusiness. If he had known years ago, what he had seen that day, hewould have saved himself a lot of time and worry. He shook his headand let out a growl, as he started his car and drove away.

Chapter6

Jessica

Theirsnowman was finished. He was perfect. They named him Sam. He hadeyes, a nose, and a mouth. They put a scarf on him so he would notget cold. Jessica took her little man into the house to warm up.Their snowman was in the yard, in front of their window, so he couldlook out at it every day. He took off his coat and boots and sat onthe couch, looking out at his snowman. Jessica took off her coat andboots and headed to the kitchen. She put on water for hot chocolate.

“Doyou think daddy would like my snowman?” he asked. “Did helike to play in the snow?”

“Hewould love it,” she answered. “Yes, he loved to play inthe snow.”

“Doyou have marshmallows mama?” he yelled from the couch.

“Yes,”she answered.

“Shouldwe give the snowman some hot chocolate?” he asked.

“No,he likes the cold,” she answered, as she laughed.

Shemade their hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows and turned on acartoon. He sat snuggled on her lap, as he drank his warm drink andwatched his show. She hugged him tight, as she thought back to thenight before.

Shethought about the moment she looked up and saw those beautiful blueeyes, as Luke walked through the door at the party. Her heart racedjust thinking about it. She was shocked when he asked her aboutcollege. Jessica thought for sure he already knew she had not went.She knew she had to get away from the party. He would have asked hermore questions, and she wasn't sure how she would have answered him.When she saw Heather touch him, she thought she was going to passout. Why did he have to be in town? Why didn't he stay away? How manytimes would she have to run into him? How was she going to make sureto avoid him? She felt tears run down her cheeks. Jessica did notwant her son to see her cry. She scooted him onto the couch and toldhim she had to go get something from her room and would be rightback.

Shewent to her bedroom and fell onto her bed in a pile of tears. Jessicareached under her bed and pulled out a box. Her hands shook as shetook off the lid. Slowly she sifted through the contents as tearsrushed faster down her face. Pull it together, she told herself. Ifhe is going to stay, you have to figure out how to move on. It waseasier when she could just watch his games on television. Everythingwas much different seeing him in person.

***

Hermind went back to that day he left for college. She sat with him,wrapped in his arms. Jessica knew she was about to do the hardestthing she would ever do. She knew if he was going to play footballfor college, he would never be home. There would always be somewhereto go with the team. He would be so busy with studying, practicing,games, and traveling. His ultimate dream was to play professional. Heneeded to keep his head completely on football. She was going toschool close to home, so she could save her parents money. There wasno way they could afford to send her to University of Michigan. Sheknew Luke would not be able to come home and she would not be able tovisit. There only communication would be by phone or internet. Sheloved him more than anything in the world. He was her love, hereverything. She also knew that for his dreams to come true, sheneeded to let him go.

Shewanted him to have an amazing life. His father had left when he wasyoung. It was always him and his mom. At college, he would be able tolive for himself. She wanted that for him. He did not need to thinkabout her while he was gone or wonder what she was doing. She wantedhim to be free and live. He would have so much to get used to and somuch to do. She wanted every decision he made to be for him. Jessicadid not want to hold him back.

Jessicaremembered the look on his face as she told him she did not want tobe with him anymore. He was devastated. She had no good excuse, onlythat it would be too hard with him so far away. No matter what hesaid to tell her they would make it, she shook her head. She told himshe wanted to stay in touch while he was away, but he was not sure hecould do that. She could still remember the look on his face as shegot into her car and drove away.

WhenJessica got home, she cried for hours. There was a hole in her heartand she was devastated. She knew she made the right decision forLuke's future. Her sister sat with her every day for weeks. Reneetried to tell her it would get easier, but she really had no idea.

Lukecalled her a few times a week. They would talk about football or whatshe had been doing. After about a month, he quit calling. Shecouldn't believe it. What happened? Each time her phone would ring,she would get excited, but it was never him. She could not figure outwhat happened that he quit calling so suddenly. If he had slowed downhis calls, she would have figured he was moving on. He had called hertwice the previous week, and everything seemed the same as the weekbefore. The last day she talked to him, she was not feeling well andit felt so good to hear his voice. The next week, she was excited andwaiting for his call. She had something she wanted to tell him. Hiscall never came.

Maybehe found someone else. She was sure he had found someone else. Thatwas when she made another huge decision. She decided not to interrupthis life and to let him have his dream.


Page 4

***

Jessicaheard a small knock on her bedroom door and snapped back intoreality.

“Mom,are you coming back out?” a little voice asked. “I wantto decorate the tree.”

“Iwill be out in one second. Let me put something away,” shesaid.

Sheheard little footsteps fade back to the living room. Jessica put thelid back on the box and slid it back under the bed. She sat for a fewminutes longer to dry her tears and then made her way back out tofinish her hot chocolate, which no longer had marshmallows. Shelaughed when she looked over at her little boy as he laughed.

Jessicahad her tree put together before her son woke up that morning. Shepulled all of the boxes from the attic so they could decorate. Theyturned on some holiday music and began decorating. She did thelights, while he put on the ornaments. He put them wherever hewanted, and she promised not to move them. She added a few to the topof the tree where he could not reach. Her favorite ornaments were theones he made at daycare or school. Those were displayed perfectly inthe middle of the tree.

Whenthe tree was done, they stood back to admire their work. He wasalready busy with coloring, when she decided to make some cookies.Jessica went into the kitchen to prepare what they needed before hecame in to help her. She was looking out the kitchen window thinking,when her phone rang and she jumped. She reached in her purse, as shejuggled the things in her other hand and put the phone to her ear.

“Heysis, how are you?” Renee chirped from the other end of theline.

“Okay.We made a snowman, decorated the tree, and are getting ready to makesome cookies. How are you?” Jessica answered.

Jessicahad mentioned to Renee, when she went home the night before, that shehad seen Luke at the party. Her sister sat with her and hugged herwhile she cried. Jessica figured Renee was calling to check up onher. Even though her sister was two years younger than her, she hadhelped her through so much.

“I'mmissing all that fun for work,” Renee laughed. “I don'thave to work tomorrow and figured you could use a couple of hours torelax. Can I take little man tomorrow? I want to take him shopping.”

“Ifyou want to,” Jessica answered. “We don't have anythingplanned. Are you sure?”

“I'msure,” Renee said. “I need some time with my favoritenephew. We need some bonding time. I miss his little face. I willpick him up at noon. Is that cool?”

“Whydon't you come over early and I will make breakfast,” Jessicasaid.

“Thatworks for me,” Renee said. “I will feed him lunch anddinner. We will bring you home something for dinner.”

“Great!See you in the morning,” Jessica said.

“Saveme some of those cookies,” Renee replied. “Bye.”

Chapter7

Luke

Lukecould not get his mind off of Jessica. He thought about her and thelittle boy playing in the yard. They looked so happy. He was supposedto be the man spending the rest of his life with her and having afamily with her. The more he thought about it, the more upset hebecame.

Heknew he had to get his mom something for Christmas, so headed to themall. Maybe he could get his mind thinking about something else. Heparked the car and walked into the mall. What would his mom want, hewondered? He went to one of those stores where all the aromas blendinto each other and turn into a super strong, flowery, and fruitysmell. Maybe she would like some lotions or candles. He wanted tomake the holiday special for her. It was his first year in a longtime that he would be home for the entire holiday.

Lukelooked around the store, not sure what to buy. He had not had arelationship since Jessica. Luke didn't buy presents for any of thewomen he had spent time with since then. He grabbed some lotion,candles, and body stuff he thought his mom would like. She always hada candle burning or some fruity smell around the house. Luke wasenjoying his time with his mom, but couldn't wait to buy a house ofhis own. He was not used to someone asking him where he was going andwhat he was doing, every moment of the day. Luke was used to keepinghis place the way he wanted. At his mom's house, he felt like healways had to be careful and could not really relax. It was not homeanymore. After being on his own for so long, he wanted that relaxed,comfortable feeling again.

Hetook the things he had picked out for her up to the register andstood in line. Luke stood and rolled his eyes as he waited for thewoman in front of him to ask a million questions. He looked at thegirl the register and thought she looked familiar. There wassomething about her. Where had he seen her before? Maybe they hadgone to school together. The woman in front of him finally left. Hewalked up and put all of his stuff on the counter. The girl laughedas she looked down at everything.

“Thewoman in your life is going to love you for buying her all of this,”she said, with a smile.

Lukesmiled and he felt his shoulders relax a bit.

“They'refor my mom,” he laughed. “I'm not sure what to get her. Ifigure she will at least like some of it.”

“Luke,”she said, as she looked up. “No way, is that you? I heard youwere back. Are you okay?”

Lukelooked at her for a moment. She laughed.

“I'mRenee,” she said. “Jessica's sister.”

“Noway,” he said loudly. “I knew you looked familiar. Ican't believe how grown up you look.”

“Howlong are you in town for?” she asked.

“I'mstaying,” he said. “I'm not leaving.”

Renee'smouth dropped open and he could tell she hurried to close it.

“Areyou okay?” he asked.

“Yes,”she answered. “I'm fine. I just can't believe you are reallyhere.”

“Isaw Jessica last night at a party, and she took off on me,” hesaid.

“Oh,wow,” she replied.

“Idrove by her house this morning,” he said, as he saw Renee'seyes widen. “She was playing outside with a little boy. Helooks just like her. Can you talk? I need to know something.”

“Iwill meet you in the hall in ten minutes,” she said.

Herhands shook while she finished checking out his stuff. Why was shenervous, he wondered? He felt like she was afraid of what he wasgoing to ask her. He paid his bill, grabbed his bag, and walked outinto the hall.

Reneewalked out and motioned over to an empty bench across the hall. Theyboth walked over and sat down. Luke put his head in his hands and letout a sigh.

“Howold is her son?” he asked.

“Six,”she answered.

Lukeshook his head.

“Shenever gave me a reason for breaking up with me. Did she dump me forsomeone else? Was she already with him?” he asked.

Reneesighed and sat still.

“Whois she with?” he asked. “Do I know him?”

Lukecould see sweat drip from Renee's brow. Her legs were shaking and shewas fidgeting. What was she nervous about, he wondered? She still hadnot answered him.

“Please,tell me something,” he said, as he looked directly into hereyes.

“Shewas not with anyone when she broke up with you,” she said.

Reneelooked down at the ground.

“Itsure didn't take her very long to sleep with someone else,” hemumbled. “I can't believe I let myself hurt over her for solong, when she never even cared.”

Reneereached over and put her hand on Luke's shoulder. He knew he wasshaking.

“DoI know her husband?” he asked. “Please tell me he is notone of my friends.”

“Youneed to talk to her,” Renee said. “You need to ask herthese questions.”

“Idon't know if I can,” he replied, as he felt his leg shake.“I'm not sure I can do it.”

“Thisis not something I can talk to you about, Luke,” she said.

“Soit is someone that I know,” he stated to himself. “Ishould have moved on. I'm sorry for asking you. I can't do this tomyself anymore. I need to go.”

Lukemoved to stand up and Renee put her hand on his knee to try to stophim.

“Iwill take my nephew shopping tomorrow. You go to the house and talkto her. I don't want him there while you two talk,” Renee said.

“I'mnot sure about this,” he said. “I don't know how I willreact to what she tells me.”

“Iwill take him out,” she said. “Show up or don't. That isup to you.”

Reneetook her phone out of her pocket.

“Iwill be right back. I need to make a call,” she said.

Lukesat quietly, as he waited for her. She was gone for a few minutes.She walked back up to him and stood in front of him.

“Iam picking him up at noon,” she said. “I will bring himback at six. You need to be gone by the time I get back. If you aregoing to show up, do it early. You need time for the answers youwant. Make sure you are gone by six. I do not want to bring him homewhile you two are still talking.”

“Whatabout her husband? Will he be home?” he asked.

“Itwill be fine,” she said. “Go talk to her. You really needto. It is important that you are done talking by six. I mean it. Idon't want her son to see you there. I have to get back to work.”

Reneeleaned down and wrapped her arms around his neck to hug him. He couldfeel her shake against him, as he hugged her back.

“Itsokay, Renee,” he said. “Thank you for talking to me.”

“Ican't believe you're here,” she said, and she turned to walkaway. “Bye.”

Lukegot up and walked out of the mall to his car. Was he making a hugemistake? He let out a sigh as his head fell back against the headrest. He knew he needed to talk to her. Why wasn't her husband at theparty, he wondered? Maybe he had business or maybe he was home withtheir son. He knew what she was going to say would probably hurt him,but it was time for him to move on. Luke needed closure and answers.No matter what she told him, it was time to make some changes in hislife. He was ready to fall in love and have a family.

Chapter8

Jessica

Jessicawoke up to the sun shining in her window. It looked like it was goingto be a beautiful day. She stretched her arms out and snuggled intoher blanket. Jessica decided she was going to relax and have a niceday. She was going to go the whole day without thinking about Luke.He was in town and didn't seem to be leaving. There was nothing shecould do about that, but she could make sure that she didn't bringhim into her thoughts. It was something she had to get used to. Shedecided to leave on her shorts and tank top for the morning. It wasgoing to be an amazing day.

Shethrew her hair into a ponytail as she made her way to the kitchen tomake a pot of coffee. Renee was coming over for breakfast, andJessica knew to have her coffee ready for her. Jessica turned on theradio and danced around as she made breakfast. Yes, it was going tobe a great day. Her little guy laughed at her when he caught herdancing in the kitchen. She laughed as she scooped him up to spin himaround. There was a knock at the door. She let him down and told himto go let his aunt in. Jessica saw her out on the front porch. Shemade eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, orange juice, and coffee. Reneewalked in and laughed as she looked at the table.


Page 5

“Someone'sin a good mood,” Renee joked.

“Iam going to read, have a hot bath, and relax today, while my babygets treated like a king. Of course I'm in a good mood,”Jessica said, as she twirled around.

“Whydon't you go and get dressed?” Renee asked her.

“Iam staying in this all day. It's my day to relax,” Jessicasaid, with a smile.

Reneerolled her eyes and grinned.

“Okay,whatever you say,” Renee responded.

Theysat down and had breakfast. As soon as they were finished, Reneelooked at the clock, jumped up, and told her nephew to hurry and gethis shoes and coat on.

“What'sthe big hurry?” Jessica asked.

“Iam in a hurry to spoil my favorite nephew,” Renee said, as shehelped him get ready.

“I'mthe only nephew you have silly,” he said.

Reneelaughed.

“Thatmakes you my favorite. Come on, get moving,” she said.

Reneehurried him out the door and Jessica closed it behind them. Shegrabbed her book, plopped down on the couch, covered with a blanket,and sighed. It was going to be such a relaxing time. As she read herbook, her mind wandered to Luke. Stop it, she told herself. You aredone thinking about him. He was out on a date two days ago, move on.Today is a day for you. Leave him out of it. She drank her coffee,snuggled in her blanket, and got lost in her book.

Chapter9

Luke

Lukeopened his eyes and looked at the clock. It was noon. Oh shit, hethought. He was running late. Renee did say he had until six o'clock.He wanted to get it over with. Rip it off like a band aid. He wantedhis life back. Luke hurried into the shower. It was going to be agood day. Maybe he would be hurt at first, but after she told him whoshe was with so soon after he left, he was sure he would move righton. He would be so mad and feel so betrayed that he wouldn't giveJessica a second thought. Luke dreaded hearing what she had to say,but knew it would all be over in a few hours. The years of wantingher would be over. He threw on a pair of nice jeans and a tight,black t-shirt.

Hismom stopped him on his way out the door to ask him if he wanted tospend the day together. He told her he had something he had to go anddo, but that he would be home later and they could do something then.She told him how happy she was to have him home and how much sheappreciated everything he did for her. Without him, she had no ideawhere she would be. Luke told her how much he enjoyed helping her. Itmade him feel good to know she had everything she needed. He kissedher on the cheek and left the house.

Hewas nervous as he drove to Jessica's house. It was going to be a dayof answers. By the end of the day, his life would be moving forward.He wanted to know what that guy had that he didn't. What was sospecial about him? How long after she dumped him did she wait? Hepulled up in front of her house, afraid to get out of his car.Quickly he finished the list of questions in his mind. It was reallygoing to be over. He had always hoped they would have a secondchance, but deep down, he knew that was just a crazy dream. He wasgoing to get answers, and he was going to get his life in order. Shehad moved on and so was he.

Lukeparked his car, got out, and put on a confident face, as he walked upto her door. His hands were shaking and he could feel the sweat onhis arms as he reached out to knock.

Chapter10

Jessica

Jessicawas relaxed and comfy. She was having a great day. Her book wasawesome, and she was completely sucked into it. There was a knock ather door. Who could that be, she wondered? There was no way hersister would be home yet. She would have called if she were comingback. Nobody else she wanted to talk to would have come over. Theyneeded to go away. Whoever it was knocked again. Go away, shethought. It was Sunday and there should not have been anyone at herdoor. She was not getting up from her nice spot to have to tellsomeone no thank you. People should not be out doing that stuff on aSunday anyway, she thought. She ignored them and kept reading. Nobodywas spoiling her relaxation time. There was a third knock, but muchharder that time.

Jessicathrew off her blanket, put her book down, marched to the doormumbling, and swung it open.

“What,”she yelled, as she looked up at Luke's eyes.

Jessicawas shocked. She just stood still with her mouth open. He looked intoher eyes, but did not say a word. After a few moments, she opened hermouth to talk. He cut her off. She could see his eyes darken and hisbody tense up.

“CanI come in?” he asked.

“No,”she snapped. “What are you doing here?”

“Ineed to talk to you,” he snapped back.

“No,you need to leave,” she said.

Shit,she thought. She needed to get him out of there before someone sawhim or he saw something she didn't want him to. What was she going todo?

“I'mnot leaving,” he said. “I need to talk to you. You answermy questions and then I will leave you alone forever. You made itvery clear seven years ago that I was not a part of your life, but Ineed answers. Then, you will never have to see me again.”

Jessicafelt her body shake and could feel sweat form on her face. Whatquestions did he have? What could he possibly want to know? Itcouldn't be that bad, right? She could let him in for a couple ofminutes, especially if that meant he would leave her alone. Sheneeded to hurry up.

“Finecome in,” she motioned into the house. “Excuse the mess.I wasn't expecting anyone to come over.”

Hewalked into the house, and she could see him looking around. Herhands were shaking, so she held them together in front of her.

“Havea seat,” she said, as she picked her blanket and book up fromthe couch. “Would you like something to drink, even though youwon't be here long?”

“Coffeeif you have any,” he said. “That would be great.”

“Creamand sugar?” she asked. “More sugar than coffee, right?”

Shesaw him smirk and shake his head.

“Yes,”he said, “same as always.”

“Ihave some breakfast left if you're interested,” she said.

“Thecoffee's fine, thanks,” he answered.

Shemotioned for him to sit down, and she walked into the kitchen. Damn,she thought. Why did he have to be so good looking? He was so muchhotter than he was before, and he was smoking hot before. His sexydark hair, that she loved so much, was still damp from his shower.Her body shivered just thinking about it. She could not help noticinghis muscles bulging out from under the sleeves of his t-shirt. Therewas a tattoo peeking out from under the sleeve. When did he get atattoo? What was it, she wondered? Stop looking at his body, shethought. Get through his questions and get him out of here fast. Shegrabbed his coffee and walked back into the living room. He took itfrom her and she sat down on the couch. She thought for a second asshe looked down at her shorts. Oh crap, I didn't change, she thought.She was in her pajamas, with her hair a mess, pulled into a ponytail.Why did he have to come over on a day she looked like she had justgotten out of bed?

“Pleaseexcuse the way I look,” she said, as she grabbed the blanket tocover back up. “I didn't plan on having anyone over today. Ijust planned on relaxing.”

“Youlook great,” he said.

Shecould feel her face blush. Snap out of it, she shouted in her mind.Get back on track. This is not the old Luke, and you are not in highschool.

“Howare you feeling?” she asked him.

“Fine,”he answered. “I hurt here and there, but it's getting better.”

“You'llreally never play again?” she asked, with her voice trembling.

Sheknew it was his dream to play ball. That was all he had ever wanted.He worked so hard for it.

“No,”he said, and they both went silent for a moment. “I want tostay active and coach. I still want to be a part of the game. That isall I have ever known.”

“Iknow,” she said. “Are you okay with that?”

“Ineed to be,” he answered, as he looked down at his coffee mug.“I can't let it bring me down. I really do want to do somethingto help kids. You know my dad took off and had nothing to do with me.My mom had to struggle. I want to be there for kids like me. I wantto give them something to look forward to. Every child should havetheir father and mother in their life. That is all that matters. Iwant to show kids that people care about them. Maybe one day I willhave a child of my own. I need to get a house and settle in first,before I start on that. You know my mom. She doesn't want me toleave.”

Jessicalaughed as she thought about how overprotective his mom was. She wasa great person and loved her son so much. Jessica felt bad that shehad not seen her all those years, but she knew that she couldn't. Ithurt so bad to hear him talk about his dad not being around and howmuch kids need their parents. Jessica felt like she could hardlybreathe. He was such an amazing man. She could feel herself saddenand hurried to get her emotions in order.

“Whatdid you come over for?” she asked. “I'm not really surewhat you want to know. You have been gone for seven years. I havenever heard from you. I guess I'm not really sure what you would wantme to tell you.”

“Whydid you break up with me?” he asked, in a low voice.

“DoesHeather know you're here?” she asked.

“Sheknew Linda. I didn't want to go with her that night. Linda asked meto take her,” he said.

“Really,”Jessica snapped. “You two sure looked pretty comfy to me.”

Lukelooked up at her with his eyes stern and his face rigid. Oh shit, shethought. Why did I just say that? He has no right to know that I careabout him. She held her hands in fists as she thought about what shehad just said.

“Youare really going to give me shit for taking someone to that party,”he said, as he ran his fingers through his hair. “If I recall,when I walked in, some guy was spinning you around and dipping you.”

“Itwas someone from work,” she said. “That was all.”

“Didyou notice the way he was looking at you?” he asked. “Theway he had to make sure you were okay and had what you needed. Theway he got up to run after you when you left. I had to push him backdown onto the couch, so I could come after you.”

“Youcame after me?” she asked.

“Itried, but you are already gone by the time I could get to the door,”he snapped. “Are you really going to say something to me abouthaving a date at a party? Do you have any idea what you did to me?”

Lukesmacked his hands on his knees and wiggled in his seat.

“What?”she asked. “I didn't do anything to you. I left because Icouldn't sit there and watch one of my friends grind on your lap andkiss on your neck. There is nothing wrong with that. If you want tobe with whoever, that is up to you. I just didn't want to watch you.Is that okay?”

Jessicacould tell her voice was hard and aggressive, but she didn't care.


Page 6

“Thatis not what I'm talking about,” he said, as he stared into hereyes. “I loved you, dammit. I thought we were happy and inlove. I thought we were going to be together forever. I wanted afamily with you. Everything seemed perfect.”

Lukeput his head in his hands and continued to talk. She could see himstart to shake his leg.

“Ihad the ring in my pocket. I had been so worried and excited aboutthat day. It was going to be the day I would have to leave for schoolwithout you, but also the first day of the rest of our lives. I wasgoing to work hard to be the best man I could, so that our familywould be taken care of. I was going to propose to you that day. I hadmy hand in my pocket all day, protecting that ring. I waited for theperfect moment to get down on one knee and ask you for forever. Justas I was about to do it, you changed my life. You crushed my world. Inever saw it coming. You never even gave me a reason. I neverunderstood why you did it. You broke my heart. I left for collegedevastated and alone. My life has never been the same. Did you everlove me?”

Lukelooked over at her with tears in his eyes. She didn't know what todo. How could he think she never loved him? She had done it for him.Jessica sat up and put her hand on his shoulder, but he pulled away.She could not hold her tears much longer. Give him his answers andsend him on his way, she told herself. You can't do this. She knewshe couldn't tell him everything. He would hate her if she did. Sheneeded to let him know that she did love him. It hurt her so bad tosee him like that.

“Yes,I loved you,” she said. “I can't believe you would thinkI didn't. I never knew you were going to propose. I did it for you. Ithought it would be better for you.”

“Don'tyou think it should have been my decision?” he asked, with hishands squeezed together. “I should have been the one to decidewhat was better for me.”

“Ididn't want to hold you back. You got a full ride to University ofMichigan. Football was your dream. You were going to go pro. Youworked so hard for that. I knew you needed to concentrate on yourdreams. It was crazy enough that you were going off to college, butyou were playing college football. That was a lot for you to take on.I didn't want you to have to worry about me too. I didn't want to bethe reason your dreams didn't come true.”

Shemoved closer to him and took his chin in her hand, as she looked intohis eyes.

“Please,don't ever think it was because I didn't love you. You called a fewtimes once you left. I looked forward to your calls. Then, youstopped calling. You never called me again. You were only gone amonth and were already done with me. I knew then, that I had made theright decision by letting you go. You were free to enjoy college andhave the life you deserved. I would have been holding you back. Ifyou would have been with me, you would have missed out on the funpart of college. I was devastated that you quit calling. I can't tellyou how many nights I cried myself to sleep. It was hard, but it wasthe right decision. You were going to be able to live the life youworked so hard for. You might have only been able to playprofessional for two years, but you got to do it.”

Shewanted to kiss him so bad, but pulled back and moved to the otherside of the couch.

“Really,the life I deserved,” Luke shook his head. “That was mychoice to make. You took that away from me. You have no idea what Iwould have chosen.”

“Itwasn't easy for me, Luke,” she said, as a tear ran down hercheek. “If something had happened, and you had chosen me overyour dreams, you would have regretted it later, and it would havebeen my fault. It was not easy to let you go. Do you have any ideahow hard it was to see pictures of you and your model girlfriends,all over each other?”

“Oh,really,” he snapped, as he stood up. “It wasn't easy?”

Luke'sface changed. She could see anger and hurt in his eyes. He paced backand forth. She was nervous about what was going to happen. Was hegoing to yell? Was he going to walk out? She wanted him to leave, butat the same time, she was afraid he was going to. Jessica had to hearwhat he was going to say. She sat silent and waited.

“Howdoes your husband feel about you looking at pictures of your ex?”he blurted out, as he ran his hand roughly through his hair. “Itwas so hard on you. You sure didn't wait long to be in bed withsomeone else. Tell me, did you sleep with him before I even left? Ishe the reason you broke up with me? Who is he? Are you with one of myfriends?”

Lukestared straight into her eyes. His chest puffed out and his armstensed up. Jessica was livid. How dare he accuse her of cheating? Shedidn't want to let him go. He was going to have a great future. Shedidn't want him to give any part of that up for her. Her face had tohave turned red. She could feel the blood rise in her cheeks. Shejumped up from the couch and got inches from his face. He wasn'tgoing to accuse her.

“Whatare you talking about?” she snapped at him. “Who? Iwasn't with anyone when you left. How dare you say that to me? Iloved you, Luke. I fucking loved you more than you could everimagine. I don't have a husband. What the hell are you talkingabout?”

Shewas not going to back down. Jessica was right in his face. There wasno way he was going to push her around. She had been through to muchto deal with his shit. He had his dreams. She worked her ass offevery day. Nobody was going to make her feel like she was lower thanshe was.

“Idrove by your house yesterday,” he said, as he got closer toher face.

Theirnoses were touching, and she could see his face darken a deep red.Her hands shook at her sides. The conversation was getting too deep.She had to stop him before he asked too much. What was she going todo? She went to tell him to leave, but he cut her off and spokelouder than her.

“Isaw you outside with a little boy. He had to be about five or six. Iwas in shock. I couldn't believe it. It doesn't take a genius tofigure out you were pregnant within months of my leaving. I felt likesomeone tore my heart out all over again. I was supposed to marryyou. You were supposed to have my babies. I was the one you weresupposed to have a family with. I can't believe I spent all thoseyears thinking about you, when you never even cared about me.”

Jessicastarted to cry. She couldn't take it. He was going to hate her, butit didn't matter anymore. It seemed like he already did. She took offto her bedroom and slammed the door.

Chapter11

Luke

Lukewas so upset. It felt good to get it out of his system. He walkedover and sat on the couch with his hands on his lap, clenchedtogether. Luke was glad she stormed off, because he needed to calmdown. As mad as he was, he still felt bad seeing her cry. He hadalways had a hard time when she cried. Luke loved her so much. Henever wanted her to hurt. She was his love. The only woman he wouldever give his whole heart to.

Hesat there for at least a half an hour. His muscles started to relax.He could feel himself calm down. Maybe he should just leave, hethought. Was she going to come back out? He was not sure what to do.Luke went there to get answers, and he had not gotten them yet. Afterall of the yelling, he still did not have his answers. He had comethat far, and he was not going to back down. Luke wanted to know whoshe had been with. Once she told him that, he would be on his way. Hewould make sure their paths never crossed again.

Suddenly,a door in the house slammed open against the wall. Luke jumped. Helooked up just as Jessica stormed into the room. Her eyes were redand her face was puffy. Had she been crying the whole time, hewondered? She had a box in her hands. He could see sadness in hereyes as he looked at her. She tore the lid off the box, turned thebox upside down, spilled the contents onto the floor, and threw thelid to the side.

“IfI didn't care about you, then what the hell is all of this,”she yelled.

Lukefelt bad as he looked into her tear filled eyes. He got off the couchand walked over to the pile. He bent down and picked up one thingafter the next. There were things there from their time in highschool. He moved some things to the side. Jessica walked over to awindow and stared outside. He picked up more stuff from the ground.There were a bunch of pictures, articles, and print outs from theinternet. They were all of him, from college and professionalfootball. The box was filled with stuff from while he was gone.Everything in it was of him.

“Whatis all of this? Why do you have this stuff? What the hell is goingon, Jessica?” he asked.

Shedidn't respond. He stood up and walked over to a wall with pictureson it.

“Youbroke up with me and immediately had a baby with another man.”

Lukesaw pictures of her with her son. They were all of just the two ofthem.

“Whyis his dad not in these pictures?” he asked.

“We'renot together,” she said.

Hesaw a picture of her holding the new baby in the hospital. She lookedjust as he remembered. Jessica was so beautiful.

“Whotook this picture,” he asked, “his dad?”

“Mysister, Renee,” she said, still looking out the window.

“Didyou go through your pregnancy alone? He asked, as she stood silent.“What kind of man would not be there for his baby?”

“Wewere fine,” she said. “Renee was there the whole time.She has helped me for years. I have given him a good life. I do mybest to be a great mom. I work very hard for what we have.”

Lukelooked at another picture of the little boy. He was so adorable.

“Heis so cute. He has your color hair, but he didn't get your eyes. Hehas beautiful blue eyes. You always said you wanted our babies tohave blue eyes,” Luke said, as he felt his breath catch in hischest. “He is adorable. Did his dad have blue eyes?”

Jessicastood still and stared out the window. Why won't she look at me, hethought? Look at me, he commanded in his mind. He wanted her to turnto him. If he had known she was alone and pregnant, he would havebeen there for her. No matter what the situation was. Luke felthorrible that she had gone through that alone. What kind of man doesthat to his child, he thought? It upset him to think someone had donethat to her and that little boy.

“Yes,”she finally answered, barely audible.

Somethingseemed off. Why was she acting so nervous? He felt a nervous feelingrush through his entire body.

“What'syour son's name?” he asked.

Hewatched her and waited for her to answer. Luke stood quietly. After aminute, she looked down at the ground. He felt horrible seeing her inpain. What was going on with her? She let out a huge breath of air.

“Lucas,”she said.

“What?”he asked.

“Hisname is Lucas,” she said.

Lukefelt his body freeze. He wanted to go and sit on the couch, but hecouldn't. He could not make his feet move. Jessica walked to him andput her hand on his arm.

“He'syour son, Luke,” she said, as tears ran down her face.

“How?”Luke asked quietly. “How could I have a son and not have known?How could you do this to me? How could you not tell me?”

Lukepulled his arm away from her and walked over to sit on the couch. Hefelt hurt and furious.

“Ididn't know when you left. I found out a month later. You had alreadystopped calling me. That quickly you were over me. You never foughtfor me. You were having fun at college. You were spending so muchtime with football and classes. I knew you needed to concentrate. Iwasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to take your dreams away.”


Page 7

Jessicawalked over and stood in front of him. He had his head in his hands.She wanted to see his face, but he wouldn't look at her.

“Myparents were so mad when I told them. They wanted me to give the babyup for adoption. I didn't want to. He was our baby. I was not givingup our precious baby. My parents stopped talking to me. I never leftfor college. I got a job and was able to buy this house. My sistermoved in with me so that she could help me when the baby was born.She was with me when I had him. She lived with me while she finishedhigh school. It was hard, but I got through it for him. He was myeverything. He was our son and the only piece of you I had. I knew Ihad to concentrate on building a good life for him. I wanted you tofinish college and play professional football. That was what you hadalways wanted. There was no way I wanted to be the reason you gavethat up.”

“Ican't believe you didn't even tell me,” Luke snapped. “Ishould have been able to make that decision. You had no right to dothat. I would have come back. I would have been here for my son. Iwould have been here for you.”

“Iknow,” Jessica said, as she knelt down in front of him. “Youwould have never played for the Steelers. I didn't want you to giveup your dream because I was pregnant. If you came back, I wanted itto be because you loved me, but you didn't.”

“Iwanted to be with you. You were more important to me than football.You knew my father was never there for me. I should have known aboutthe baby. I can't believe I have a son and have never been there forhim. That makes me no better than my own father. Do you realize howmuch I have missed? I feel horrible. I can't believe you kept himfrom me,” Luke said.

“Younever came back,” she said. “I wanted you to come back sobad. I wanted to tell you. In seven years, you never came back. Whydidn't you come back? Why didn't you fight for us? I thought youfound someone else.”

Jessicaput her hands on his knees.

“Iam so sorry,” she said. “I think about it every day. Iwas eighteen years old and scared. I know I made the wrong decision.I should have found a way to tell you. As time went on, the thoughtof telling you became more distant. There were pictures of youeverywhere with different women. You had made a life without me. Iaccepted that.”

“Youdumped me and crushed my heart. What did you expect me to do? Iwasn't going to beg you to love me. I came back. I would come in forthe day, spend time with my mom, and then hurry and leave. I neverwanted to be reminded of you. I never wanted to see you with someoneelse. I have never felt anything for anyone else. I can't believe youdid it all by yourself. You never should have gone through pregnancy,birth, and raising a baby alone. You were so young. I can't believethat I was not a part of any of that. We were supposed to be afamily. That was all I wanted. I have missed out on my family. Whatdid you tell him about his dad? Who does he think his father is? Doeshe think his dad is some loser that doesn't even care about him? Ican't fucking believe this. I would have never let him be without hisfather.” Luke asked.

“Heknows you are his father. I have shown him all of the stuff from thatbox. We talk about you all the time. We watched all of your games ontelevision, and he would always root for you. He is proud of you andtalks about you all the time. We talked about you yesterday. He askedif you would have liked his snowman and if you liked to play in thesnow. You are in his life every single day. He knows everything aboutyou,” Jessica said.

“Heknows all about his dad who has never been there. You have no ideahow much that hurts me. He should have had his father with him allalong. I should have been supporting you. You should never havestruggled. If I had known, you never would have. I would have doneeverything for you,” Luke said, as he looked into her eyes.

“Iknow you would have. You would have given up your dreams for me. Iwanted you to be with me because of love, not because you had to be,”she said, as tears ran from her eyes. “It only took a month foryou to be done with me. I never thought you would toss be aside thatquickly. I was eighteen and pregnant. You weren't calling anymore.Your life had gone on without me in it. I didn't think you hadfeelings for me anymore. I was afraid and alone. My parents were donewith me. I knew I wanted our baby and would love him enough foreveryone. I didn't know what to do, Luke. I'm so sorry.”

“Ilove you. I have never stopped loving you. I couldn't believe youbroke up with me. The thought of you being with another man broke myheart. You have always been my everything. There has never beenanyone else,” he said, as he rubbed his finger across her tearsto dry them.

“Ihave never been with anyone else. I put everything into taking careof Lucas. There was never another man for me. I would never havebrought another man around our son. I love you. I have loved youevery single moment of every single day. You are the man I dreamabout every night. You are the only man I have ever wanted,”she said.

“Youhave never been with another man?” he asked.

“Never,”she said.

Hefelt his shoulders and muscles relax slightly. The anger he felt wasslipping away. Luke pulled out his wallet, opened it, and showed her.There was a picture of her in the window of his wallet. He reached inand pulled out a piece of paper. It was a letter she had written himin high school. She could barely read the worn writing.

“Youhave been with me every day,” he said. “I love you,Jessica.”

Hewas so mad at her, but wanted her so badly. Don't back down, hethought. He knew he had every right to hate her, but he didn't. Lukecould see the sadness in her eyes. He knew she felt horrible for whathad happened. The thought of him being the only man she had ever beenand how much he loved her took him over. Luke leaned forward andsoftly kissed her lips.

“Iwant to be in his life. I want to do everything with him and teachhim everything there is to learn. I am not going anywhere. I am hisfather, and I will always be there for him. I am going to take careof him. You were my dream, my only dream. I would have giveneverything up to be with my family. I will not leave again. I willalways be here. You are my love. You are my forever,” Lukesaid, as he took her hands in his and pulled her to her feet withhim.

He wanted her toknow how much he cared about her. Luke wrapped his arms around herand softly kissed her cheek.

“Iwant you in his life. I am so sorry Luke. I never wanted to bewithout you. I have followed you through college and your career. Inever want to let you go again. I want us to be a family. I love youso much. He is going to be so happy to see you,” she said.

Lukelooked into her eyes and covered her lips with his. His kiss was softand sweet at first, but became more aggressive and claiming. Helicked and sucked her bottom lip, before plunging his tongue into hermouth. Her tongue found his as if she were memorizing every bit ofhis mouth. It had been too long since he had tasted her, and he knewhe needed to taste every inch of her body. She ran her fingersthrough his hair. Her fingers felt so good against him. He wrappedhis hand in her hair and pulled slightly giving him better access toher mouth. His kiss was filled with passion. He needed to claim heras his. She was his, and he was never letting her go. He slid hishand under her shirt and slid it up as he cupped her breast in hishand and rolled her nipple through his fingers. His mouth found herother breast as he sucked her nipple and slowly slid it through histeeth. She leaned her head back and moaned.

Lukegrabbed her hand and pulled her toward her bedroom.

“Ican't wait another second to have you,” he said. “I havedreamt of this moment for so long.”

“Reneeis bringing Lucas home at six,” Jessica said, as she tried tocatch her breath.

“Iam going to make up for every moment we have been apart,” hesaid, as he laughed.

“Youhave no idea how good that sounds,” she said. “It's beena very long time.”

Lukereached for her shirt and pulled it over her head. He pulled hermouth to his as he walked her back toward her bed. Her knees reachedthe edge and he softly pushed her back onto her bed. He reached downand slid her shorts down to the floor. She had on pink, lacy panties.

“Thoseare so sexy,” he said. “You look so damn good. Betterthan in my dreams, baby.”

Heleaned down and kissed her breast as he held the other in his hand.She was so sexy. Her skin was so soft. He softly sucked her nipple ashe felt it harden under his tongue. Luke gave the other side the sameattention, before making a trail of tiny kisses down her belly. Hestopped at the top of her panties and moved down to her thigh. Hekissed up her thigh to the bottom of her panties, where he slid histongue beneath them and across her soft skin. She arched her back andmoaned as he slid his warm, wet tongue across her folds.

“Youare so wet, baby,” he moaned. “You have no idea what youdo to me. I can't believe you are really here with me.”

Heslid her panties to side and looked at her. She was so sexy. Lukedevoured her with his mouth. She was so ready for him. He was rockhard just from looking at her. She tasted better than he remembered.He licked and sucked on her wet pussy. Every bit of her was amazing.She put her hand on his head and gripped his hair as he pleasuredher. He slid his tongue into her as she moaned out his name. It feltso good to hear his name from her lips. He had forgotten how good itsounded. Jessica pushed her hips into him and she pulled him intoher. He loved the feel, taste, and smell of her. She was his, and hewas never letting her go. He slid his tongue in and out of her andslid is fingers around her clit. Luke was so hard. He had no idea howhe was going to last once he was inside of her. She bucked her hipsinto him as he picked up the pace and pressure of his tongue insideof her. She cried out his name repeatedly as she came. He continuedto thrust his tongue into her, until he felt her relax around him.Luke looked up at her. He loved the sounds she made as she came. Shepulled him up and smiled at him.

“Thatwas amazing,” she said. “I had forgotten how good youmake me feel.”

Helaughed as she pulled him down so she could kiss him. Luke rolled onto the bed next to her. She moved so he was on his back as shecrawled on top of him. Jessica covered his mouth with hers and thrusther tongue into his mouth. He loved that she was taking charge. Shewas so hot. Jessica reached for the bottom of his t-shirt and heleaned up so she could pull it over his head. She flung it to thefloor and gasped as she looked down at him.

“Youare so damn sexy,” she said, as she leaned down to kiss hischest. “I remember how hot you were, but you are all man now. Icould spend all day kissing and touching these abs.”

“Baby,you can touch them anytime you want,” he said.

Hereached down to pull her up to him, but she stopped him. She leaneddown and kissed a trail of kisses down his chest and abs and stoppedat the waist of his jeans. Jessica undid the button and unzippedthem. She got off the bed and pulled them off one leg at a time. Allthat was left were his boxers. She slowly pulled them down as hiserection sprang free. She let out a groan as she threw the boxers tothe floor. Luke never took his eyes off of her. She leaned back downonto the bed and began to crawl up him. Her eyes stayed connectedwith his as she took his cock into her hand and stroked him. Luke letout a deep breath as she leaned down to lick across him. He quicklypulled her up.

“Thatwill have to wait,” he said. “If you do that, I won'tlast long enough to be inside of you. Right now, that is where I wantto be. I need you Jessica. I have waited way to long for this moment.I need to feel you around me.”

Shesmiled as she crawled up the rest of the way, keeping her handwrapped around his very hard cock. Jessica straddled him as sheplaced him at her entrance. Slowly she slid down onto him as shemoaned. He reached up and fondled her breasts as he played with hernipples. She arched her back as she pushed herself into his hands.Jessica took all of him into her. She leaned back and rested herhands on his legs as she lifted off of him and then slid back ontohim again.


Page 8

“Youfeel so fucking good around me,” he said, through raspy breath.“Come here.”

Hepulled her forward and onto him as he claimed her with his mouth. Histongue pushed into her mouth as he thrust into her hard. Her handswent into his hair as she kissed him hard. He pumped into her deepand fast. There was no sweetness in his movements, just passion andneed. He had to have her, all of her.

“Fuck,Luke,” she moaned into his mouth.

Hegrabbed her waist and flipped her onto the bed, without breakingtheir kiss. Jessica was under him within seconds. He leaned over herwith his hands on each side of her head, as he plunged into her hardand deep. There was so much passion and love between them. Sweat wasforming on his chest and she ran her hands across it and down hisabs. She grabbed on his waist and put her legs around him.

“Damn,Jessica,” Luke moaned. “You have no idea how badly I havewanted you. From the moment I saw you at that party; I have wantedyou beneath me. It feels so fucking good to be inside of you. I loveyou, baby.”

Jessicahad her head back as he thrust into her. She moaned his name andgrabbed him tight. Her eyes were closed as she ground into him.

“Openyour eyes,” he said. “Look at me. I want you to see whatyou do to me. I want to look into your eyes as we come together. Youare mine Jessica. All mine.”

Hethrust into her hard and fast as she gripped his back and yelled hisname. Luke could feel her tighten around his cock as he plunged intoher. He looked into her eyes as he called her name with his ownrelease.

Shepulled him down to her and put her arms around his neck. He rolledoff to the side, onto the bed. They both were quiet as they caughttheir breath evened out. Jessica rolled onto her side and put her armacross his chest and she ran her fingers through his sweat.

“Idon't know how I went without you all those years,” shewhispered, as she kissed his chest. “I'm not sure I will beable to go one day without having you inside of me again.”

“Youwon't have to,” he said, as he smiled. “I'm not planningon skipping one day with you. You are not going to be able to get ridof me.”

“Ilove you, Luke,” she said. “I am so sorry that I tookthose years away from us. I will make it up to you every single day,for as long as you will let me.”

“CanI be here when Lucas gets home?” he asked. “I want to behis father every second from now on. I am going to be the best fatherI can be. I want to make up for all of those years I have been gone.”

“Yes,you can be here when he gets home. You have nothing to make up for,”she said. “He knows everything about you. He will be so excitedto meet you. I have never kept anything from him. He loves you.”

Lukewas so happy to be in Jessica's bed with her. He was relieved thatshe had not had a family with another man. At the same time, he washurt that he had not been a part of his son's life. He held Jessicaas he thought about what he was going to do with his son. Lukecouldn't believe it. He had a son. There were so many things thelittle boy had missed out on. He had missed out on so much of hisson's life. Luke was going to do his best to make up for all of them.He already loved the little boy so much and would do anything forhim.

Jessicafell asleep in Luke's arms. He didn't want to wake her. There was noway he wanted the moment to end. His mind went back to the day shebroke up with him. She had seemed nervous, but he thought it wasbecause he was leaving. He remembered her crying as she told him thatshe did not want to be with him anymore. She was very upset as shewalked away from him. The last time she talked to him was a monthlater. He had quit calling her because he thought she was notinterested in him anymore. Luke felt bad knowing that she had beenafraid that she might be pregnant. He should have fought for her. Whydidn't he fight for her? Why didn't he know she was pregnant? He wasso happy that he had a son. Luke knew he was going to make sure theywere a family. He had to put aside how angry he was that she had nottold him. Jessica didn't want to disrupt his life and she was onlyeighteen at the time. He couldn't believe that her parents were soupset with her and had stopped talking to her over the baby. Whydidn't they realize how important their grandchild was? How did shedo it all by herself? He knew he needed to talk to Renee and thankher for everything she had done for his child. She was an amazingperson. He hoped she realized just how wonderful she was. She was twoyears younger than her sister, and she had given up her own childhoodto be there for her.

Lukethought about his own mother. She had a six year old grandson anddidn't even know it. How was he going to tell her? How would shereact? He knew his mother would open her arms and life to the littleboy. She would love him so much. Would she hate Jessica? He had noidea how he was going to tell his mother. Crap, he thought, as helooked down at Jessica.

Hesnuggled into her and drifted off to sleep. Luke jumped when he heardan unfamiliar noise.

“Jessica,wake up,” he said, as he nudged her. “Is that yourphone?”

Itwas a strange voice saying something he could not understand. Jessicajumped and ran to the living room.

“It'smy ringtone for Renee. She plays with my phone and changes theringtone for her calls. She likes to see how I react,” sheyelled out, as she grabbed her phone.

Shecame back through the bedroom door and sat on the bed as she answeredthe phone.

“HeyRenee,” Jessica said into the phone.

Lukesaw fear in her eyes as they widened. He could not hear the otherline. Something was wrong. He moved next to Jessica.

“What?”Jessica asked. “Slow down, Renee. What's wrong?”

“Whathappened?”

“Anaccident where?”

“Ishe okay?”

“Areyou okay?”

“Renee,calm down so I can hear you.”

Lukesaw the tears as they ran down Jessica's face. He rubbed her back andtried to hear the other side of the conversation. He could hearnoises, but could not understand what Renee was saying.

“Itsokay, Renee. Ride with him. Go with them. What hospital are theygoing to?”

Lukejumped off the bed, grabbed his clothes, and started putting them on.

“Okay,we are on our way. Is he okay? Is he going to be okay?”

“Shit,we'll be right there. It's going to be okay Renee. Nobody is going toblame you. It's not your fault. Stay with him. You have to calm downfor him. Tell him I love him.”

Jessicahung up the phone and started to cry. Luke had just tied his shoes.He grabbed her into his arms and held her. She tried to talk, butnothing was making sense.

“Iseverything okay?” he asked.

“Idon't know,” she blurted out. “There was an accident.They are taking Lucas to the hospital. I couldn't hear what she wassaying. We have to go. Is he going to be okay? He has to be okay.”

Lukeheld her tight. He was so scared, but he wanted to be strong for her.She had her face buried in his chest. He took her chin in his handand looked into her eyes.

“Everythingis going to be okay,” he said. “We are going to gotogether. I am going to be with you. We will all get through thistogether. I love you. He is going to be okay.”

Jessicapulled away from him, started pulling clothes out of drawers, and raninto the bathroom. Luke fell onto her bed with his face in his hands.He could feel the tears streaming down his face. Stay strong, he toldhimself. Be strong for her. All he could think about was his littleboy. Be okay, please just be okay. He already loved the little boy somuch and had never even met him. He was his son. He would do anythingfor him. Please let my baby be okay. I want to meet him and let himknow that his dad loves him so much. I want to make up for everysecond he went without his father. He needs to know how important andamazing he is. Please don't let anything happen to my son, hethought. If anything has to happen to anyone, let it be me instead,he said silently. He has to be okay. Everything has to be okay.Jessica walked back into the bedroom, and Luke hurried to rub hisface and dry his tears. He didn't want her to see him upset.

Shewalked over to him and wrapped her arms around him. He hugged hertighter than he ever thought possible.

“It'sgoing to be okay Luke,” she said. “He's going to meet hisdad. Do you know how happy he is going to be?”

Lukeshook his head. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to the door. Shehurried to lock the door. Luke pulled her down the porch steps and tohis car.

“Weare taking my car,” he said, and he hurried to open the doorfor her.

Heran around to his side and took off down the street.

Please,let my son be okay. Luke didn't care about being upset that Jessicahad kept Lucas from him anymore. He just wanted his little guy to beokay. Luke just wanted to be with his son and would spend the rest ofhis life being Lucas' dad. He just found out about him. Lucas had tobe okay. I will do anything for him, he thought. I will never takeone second with him for granted, he told himself. Luke was going toappreciate every single second with his son.

Chapter12

Jessica

Jessicacould feel her hands shake as they got out of the car at thehospital. She felt like she was going to be sick. Her baby needed tobe okay. She would do anything for him to be okay. Her sister hadbeen so upset on the phone that Jessica could barely understand her.She had no idea how bad the accident was or how badly her son hadbeen hurt. He had to meet his dad and know that his dad loved him.She felt like she was going to pass out.

Lukegrabbed onto her, and they ran into the hospital doors. Renee wassitting in a chair with her head in her lap, crying. They ran up toher and knelt down in front of her.

“Renee,is he okay?” Jessica asked. “Are you okay?”

Jessicatook Renee by the shoulders, pulled her up, and hugged her.

“Talkto me. Are you okay?” Jessica asked.

“Yes,I didn't mean it. I love him. He has to be okay. You know how much Ilove him, right? You know I would give my life for him. Why wasn't itme that got hurt and not him?” Renee said, through her tears.

“Whathappened? Where is he?” Jessica asked.

“Theytook him back there and told me to wait out here,” Renee said.“They said they would come and get me as soon as they could. Hewas awake in the ambulance. They had his head and body strapped down.He kept telling me to stop crying. He has to be okay, Jess.”

Lukejumped up and went to the desk. Jessica held her sister. A fewminutes later, Luke walked back over to them.

“Thewoman is going to go back and check to make sure they want us backthere,” Luke said.

Hebent down in front of Renee. She looked into his eyes.

“Doyou know? Did she tell you?” Renee asked.

“Yes,she told me,” Luke said. “Thank you, Renee.”

“Forwhat?” she said, with a confused look on her face.

“Foreverything,” he said, as he wrapped his arms around her. “Thankyou for yesterday and telling me to talk to her. Thank you for beingthere when she was having the baby. Thank you for being there when Iwasn't there.”

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