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Even If It Hurts
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When you have a perfect marriage, only an impossible reconnection could make you risk it all.
From USA Today best-selling author Marni Mann comes Even If It Hurts, an emotionally charged contemporary romance.
Then, my first love came back into my life …
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That love … was so wild.
My hands shook as I squeezed the envelope between my fingers, my eyes glued to the return address, scanning each of the lines over and over.
The letter had traveled so far to get here.
Just to give me an answer.
“Open it already,” my best friend said from the other side of the small room.
Slowly, I glanced up at Molly while she sat on the end of the couch, holding a tall coffee to her lips.
We’d been roommates since we were freshmen. Now, two weeks into our junior year at Boston University, I was finding out my fate for next semester. Whether I’d be here or subleasing my room to study abroad in London.
“I’m so nervous; my hands don’t want to move,” I admitted, unable to take my eyes off the return address as though the words would change if I did.
University of Westminster.
It was a highly sought-after program at my college, making it extremely competitive. Almost everyone in my major had applied, all of us hoping the international marketing experience we would gain would be enough to set our résumés apart when we graduated.
“Girl, you got in,” Molly said, her heels tapping the floor. “Stop stressing and trust me.”
I slowly lifted the corner of the envelope and slid my finger across the top to break the seal. When the thin stack of papers was in my hands, I took a deep breath, and then I unfolded them.
My eyes immediately landed on Congratulations, and my mouth fell open.
“Molly, oh my God.” I read a few more lines just to be sure and finally looked up at her. “I got in.” My heart was beating so fast; I could barely get the words out. “I’m … going to London.”
She left her coffee on the table to rush over and hug me hard. “You’ve worked your ass off for this.”
I was far from the smartest student in my major, and school didn’t come easy to me. So, to compensate for my lack of straight As, I had to do all the extra things, like become a TA and volunteer and nurture my relationships with the professors in my department. I had known this program was going to be a long shot, but I’d had to try. That was why I couldn’t believe I’d been accepted.
“I’m so ridiculously happy for you,” she continued, squeezing me even tighter, “because I know how badly you’ve wanted this. But I’m devastated at the same time because you’re leaving me for six whole months.” Her voice softened, her emerald eyes a little teary. “Like seriously gutted.”
Molly was an accounting major. There was no reason for her to study abroad. But we’d spent every semester and even our summers together, so this separation was going to be challenging in many ways.
I clutched her shoulders as firmly as she was holding me. “Me too.”
When she pulled back, her hands went to my forearms, several pieces of her long chocolate hair landing on her lips. “Promise me something?”
I held my breath. “Anything.”
“Since our freshman year, you’ve worked nonstop. You’ve sacrificed nights out, parties, football and basketball games, and you’ve always put school first. When you’re in London, I want you to have the best time and experience it all—I’m talking about every bit that comes your way. I want you to put fun first.”
Just because I’d gotten in didn’t mean I could stop studying the minute I got there. I would have fun, the same way I did in Boston; I’d just have to find a balance.
“I’m not done, missy.” She smiled. “I also want you to grab ahold of the sexiest single British man you can find, and I want you to let him fuck your brains out.”
My cheeks were so hot; they felt sunburned, and I couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re crazy. You know that, right?”
Her fingers grasped my arms as though she wanted to emphasize. “It’s time, Chloe.”
It hadn’t been my plan to be a virgin this long, nor was it intentional. But I’d learned very early in high school that I didn’t have time for it all. Something had to be sacrificed, and it ended up being boys.
I held her with the same force, so she knew how serious I was. “I’ll go to England with the most open mind, I promise.” As I pulled my best friend in for another hug, I was hoping some of the nervous energy would loosen.
But it was still very much there, matching the excitement I had felt when I got accepted to BU, knowing then that my whole life was about to change.
The same way I knew right now.
“You’re never going to want to come back,” she whispered.
I hoped she was right.
From the moment I landed at Heathrow Airport, I saw similarities to New England everywhere I looked. In the narrow cobblestone streets and the architecture, even in the foliage.