Childhood traumas lurk deep. Victoria Sparrow knows that. Especially when oneâs father rejects one as not being worthy. Her romantic relationships founder, until Logan Doherty. He gives her reason to believe in goodness and true love, and she commits her heart and soul to him.
No longer prey to her damaged, young self, Victoria eagerly looks forward to their upcoming marriageâuntil she meets Logan at the altar. He informs her the wedding is off before their assembled friends and family, and will not tell her why.
Cast back into the nightmare of rejection, a devastated Victoria undertakes the momentous task of putting her life back together, her trust broken, her worst fears realized.
Meanwhile, Logan is working equally hard to deal with the secretive events that led to that cruel rejection, and then he plans to make it up to his tattered bride. If she will forgive him.
The world narrowed to him and her, and a little slice of churning emotions she couldnât decipher. âYouâre calling off the wedding. Our wedding. Now.â Just in case she hadnât heard him correctly. This had the makings of a horrible, sick jokeâ¦
Shoving a hand through his hair, he obviously struggled to meet her stare. His tawny eyes were turbulent. âI am. I â¦ just decided. Itâsââ
âWhat?â Victoria tumbled to it, falling into the abyss of her history. Deep down, she knew why. Too bad heâd only just decided. Now. At this inopportune time. All her issues and stupid insecurities washed over her from wherever theyâd been banished to, banished by Loganâs resolute pursuit and sincere belief in her. Heâd addressed her fears, made her wholeâand now? Now her tender underbelly was exposedâwithout a shred of armorâfor the deathblow. The sublime lovemaking of a mere few hours earlier faded in the face of it.
âIââ Real pain and misery now seemed to burn in his eyes, and despite her terrified anticipation, she wanted to soothe him. Through set lips, he continued, âI donât have the words to tell you why Victoria. Iâm sorry. But the wedding is off.â
Still, she waited, believing he would somehow embellish, give her an explanation that wouldnât make this about her, but he stood there mutely, now staring someplace over her shoulder. She checked out the direction of that gazeâmaybe there was an answer there, but she saw only a watercolor of a pastoral scene. Please.
She let her pride crumble and begged. âLogan. This doesnât make any sense. Weâ¦ Only this morningâ¦â
He shook his head and straightened to his full height. âItâs off.â
Deep inside there was an utter certainty that it did indeed make sense. Heâd figured her out. Seen to the core of her the way others had. In despair, she gave up the fight to believe in him and their love in response to his firm declaration. The Victoria of her childhood emerged, in blind response, lashing out to hide from the truth.
âWas it the thrill of the chase? And then when you caught me, you became afraid you were settling? That thereâs something better around the corner?â
She didnât want to wait for a response. She had to leave. Now. What would get her past the sideways looks and the knowing stares? The church was full of family and friendsâand others who had probably predicted this very momentâ¦
âVictoria. You need to calm down. Itâs not like that.â
âCalm. Down?â She was aware her voice was climbing as she talked over him, and the small room, the one where she and Logan would have been closeted to sign the papers finalizing their marriage, wasnât soundproof. She modulated her tone the very best she could, humiliation and pain squeezing her very being. âWhat is it like, then, exactly?â
âI canât say.â
He looked away. âI canât.â
Dropping her beautiful bouquet of red roses, entwined with babyâs breath and white, embossed ribbon on the desk, the air currents disturbed the uncompleted marriage papers. They fluttered, mocking her. She stared up at the face of the man she loved. And faced the realization that she indeed still loved him. That part, at least, hadnât changed despite the mortification of being dumped at the freaking altar. Love. She thought it was love. Too bad it wasnât real.
âAnd Iâm supposed to take that and be calm!â
âYes, calm down.â His face was set in grim determination, his eyes hot. âWeâll â¦ weâll get through this.â
She narrowed her eyes and leaned into him. What couldnât she be one of those classy women who took this kind of thing in stride and walked away without making a scene? Maybe she could be. Drawing on a reserve of strength she wasnât aware she possessed, she said, âIâm calm. Dead calm. So shut up now. I never want to hear your voice again, let alone set eyes on you.â
Squaring her shoulders, she closed off his next attempt to speak. She avoided his outstretched hand and ignored the sudden abject despair written across his handsome features. Was he embarrassed? If he didnât want a scene, why in hell had he chosen this public place to dump her? Flinging the door openam to the main part of the church, she surveyed the people filling the pews. Those congregated there stilled into silence, with only an occasional murmur marring the quiet. Dozens of pairs of eyes looked in their direction. Victoria stepped forward. Classy. She could do this.
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