Read A Second Chance Online

Authors: Ellen Wolf

A Second Chance

Copyright © 2011 by Ellen Wolf

Cover and internal design © 2011 by Ellen Wolf

 

The characters and events described in this work are entirely fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or deceased, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

P
rologue

‘I am so glad you could make it, Jade
.
’ Laura’s dark eyes sparkled from behind her glasses as she
looked
at her friend standing in the doorway. ‘Come in
.

‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world.’ Jade
smiled
, her calm face betraying nothing of the storm raging inside her slim frame. Would Liam be here? After all
,
it was his sister’s sixteenth birthday party
,
and she knew how close the two of them were
,
e
specially after their mom’s second divorce and third marriage,
when
their lives
had been
upset once again.
Both
Laura and Liam
had
struggled to accept yet another stepdad in the long list of substitute
fathers
their mom
had
provided over the years. La
ura
could be
assuaged
with the promise of a brand new
bedroom
and
an Olympic-
size
d
pool in the backyard.
True, Seattle’s weather didn’t really promise temperatures high enough to be able to enjoy it for most of the year, but the sheer thought of being able to do a few laps each and every day of the summer sufficed.
Liam
,
being
twenty-two
,
wasn’t such an easy target
,
and J
ade had heard enough from her best friend to
have
doubt
s
as to whether
he would show up at all today.
However, nothing was ever set in stone with Liam Latimer, and
so she allowed herself to
hope
.

She had
thought about him
while
getting ready for the eveni
ng in the miniscule upstairs bath
room of her family home.
The
image
of his dark eyes and winsome smile
had
inspired
her
to
apply a
second coat
of mascara to her lon
g curly lashes and try wearing
actual
lipstick
,
rather than her usual
colorless
lip-gloss
.
Jade was definitely not a girly
-
girl
,
and attending
a
strict all
-
girl
C
atholic
high school
hadn’t
help
ed
to expand her modes
t
education in
th
at
department. The no
-
makeup
policy
and
mandated
uniform
had taken
care of any budding attempts
she might have made
to improve what Mother Nature
had provided
.

Her glossy dark brown hair and huge hazel eyes didn’t really need much improving anyway, her natural beauty shining
beyond
the rather unbecoming blazer and skirt she wore on
a
daily basis. With her creamy skin and just a dusting of freckles on her perfect little nose, she turned enough boys

heads to make her realize she wasn’t bad looking.

Not that it mattered
.
Jade
Rowley cared about the opinion of
only
one man
;
the rest of the crowd never even
register
ed
in her infatuated brain. She had
had
a
weak spot for
Liam ever since she could remember
.
Compared to him
,
everyone else paled into the meaningless background
as she wove her way through the cheerful crowd at Laura’
s
party.
H
er
sixteen
-
year
-
old heart beat rapidly at the thought of seeing him again.
No
one
else
possessed his almost
cat
-
like gracefulness, his six
-
foot
-
three frame deceptively light as he walked. Female eyes would follow him, appreciating his raven hair
,
dark brown
eyes,
elegant features
,
and lazy smile that made women wonder what was going on in
side
his handsome head.

Her
stomach
churned
as she listened to Laura’s careless talk about him moving to California.
H
e had finished his university degree a year ahead of time
, and
his thesis project had caught the attention of prospective employers
.
H
e had been offered a job with one of the leading advertising companies on the
West
Coast. She could only imagine how pleased
he must be at
the idea of putting thousands of miles between
himself and
his stepfather’s elegant mansion
.
Not that she had ever heard him
complain
.
Liam didn’t talk about his feelings,
a behavior that
frustrat
ed
his family to tears. Jade realized that it
was
his
first
line of defense. The turbulent years following his parents

divorce
ha
d
left a mark on his way of thinking and acting, his calm and reserved expression only one of
the
many
outcomes
of the Latimer clan wars.

That night
, though
, she had a plan
,
a
great plan,
with
each and every step
carefully
thought through
.
S
he
had
spent more than one sleepless night imagining his departure. She couldn’t let him leave
without
noticing her as
some
one other than
his younger sister’s best friend. He had to realize that she was so much more
,
and that it would be well worth waiting for her to grow up and follow him, wherever
he might go
.

The thought
had come
to her a year earlier,
when
she felt his strong hands supporting her as she attempted to master the art of roller-skating. Her
embarrassment
at being totally helpless
at
keeping her
balance
subsided
as another
, completely different
,
emotion spread through her exhilarated body. She
had stolen
a glance at his face then, noticing for the first time just how incredibly good
-
looking he really was, the warmth of his
hand
around her cold fingers shaking
her to the core.

‘Just don’t look down,’ he ordered in a calm voice
.
H
is
dark eyes
had gone
to her flushed face
,
completely
misinterpreting it
s color
. ‘
There
’s
no reason to be embarrassed, Jade. You

re doing great
.

Only she
wasn’t
doing great
, and s
he knew it perfectly well
.
H
er
suddenly shaky knees
prevent
ed
her from doing anything more than cling
ing
to his
hand
as if he
were
her
lifeline
. She wanted desperately to impress him
,
and
the thought of him seeing her as
an
awkward teenager suddenly
became
unbearable.

‘There, you
’re
doing it all by yourself now
.

H
is
amused voice
came
from behind, a
nd she realized he had let go of her, her
feet aptly picking up the steady
,
smooth rhythm on their own.
She moved forward, braver with each stride as she felt her balance finally restored. For a split
second,
she regretted being better at the sport
;
the excuse to hold his hand
was
gone. She
had
put on a brave face and showed o
f
f her new
-
found talent, while her skin positively
crawl
ed
with this
fresh
awareness of Liam’s nearness.

Things
hadn’t
improved
during the
p
ast
year,
the long intervals between his
visits from university doing little to extinguish the fire that burned inside her each time they were together. If anything,
the pain
had
worse
ned
;
she missed him terribly and listened to Laura’s snippets of information with
the
desperation
of
someone
dying of thirst in the
middle
of a desert. Laura joked about his
ever-changing
girlfriends, completely unaware of her friend’s agony. Supposedly, he was very popular with the girls, a fact that didn’t surprise Jade at all. He was handsome, funny
,
and smart.
Being the
e
lder
of the Latimer kids
ha
d
taught him to be caring and protective
,
as well
.
All
of
th
e
se
qualities
created
an irresistible package that no woman could resist.

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