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Love At First Sight (Southern Bride #1)
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From New York Times best selling author, Kelly Elliott, comes a new series her WANTED fans will adore. Filled with love, hope, and second chances, LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, is book one in the Southern Brides series. Each book in this series will be stand alone books.
Love at first sight.
That’s what it was when Rip Myers came up to me in kindergarten. From that point on, we were inseparable best friends.
When I work up the courage to tell Rip I love him, I am met with rejection. He tells me he treasures our friendship too much. That statement might as well be a knife to my heart.
I want to hold out hope that he’ll change his mind.
Instead, he moves on.
The only choice I have is to pretend that doesn’t slay me.
So, I say yes…to the man I love. But he isn’t the man I’ve been in love with nearly my entire life.
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“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
— C.S. Lewis
“KEEP YOUR EYES closed, Chloe.”
“Okay, but will you tell me what is going on?” I asked Easton, my voice laced with excitement and a bit of worry. Things between the two of us the last few months had been sort of weird. It felt like we were drifting apart. Or maybe I was drifting away from Easton, knowing that our college days were coming to end. He was going one way, I was going another.
He guided me up a step and then stopped me.
“Can I open them yet?” I asked with a nervous giggle.
Easton and I had been dating for ten months to the day. I was positive this was a surprise anniversary dinner and a way for Easton to attempt to bring us closer. Plus, it was my last night in College Station before I headed home. We had both graduated from Texas A&M and were about to start our careers. It wasn’t lost on me that we still hadn’t talked about how we were going to handle our long-distance relationship. Easton was taking a position with a drilling company in Houston, and I was headed back to Oak Springs to work for my family’s cattle ranch, the Frio Cattle Company. It had been my life growing up, and I couldn’t wait to get back. I missed the smells, and I missed my pet goat Patches most of all.
Even though my heart wanted to remind my head how much I missed Rip, I wouldn’t let it go there.
Warm breath tickled my ear as Easton whispered, “Open your eyes, Chloe.”
I opened them and gasped at the sight before me. Red roses filled the small private room of my favorite Italian restaurant in town. A rustic, round table held candles and two plates filled with my favorite dish, chicken fettuccine alfredo.
“Oh, my goodness. This is the most amazing thing ever!” I said, spinning around the room, then facing Easton. “You did all of this for our ten-month anniversary?”
He dropped to one knee, and my stomach fell. Oh, my God. This was not happening.
No. No. No. Please stand up.
“I did this because I’m madly in love with you, Chloe Parker, and I don’t want to live without you. I would be honored if you would please be my wife.”
My mind spun as I stood there, staring down at him, unable to make my mouth move. Easton wasn’t my first love. He wasn’t the first guy I’d ever kissed. Hell, he wasn’t even the guy I lost my virginity to. He was someone I had come to care about. A friend. A lover. But did I love him enough to marry him? This was not how I had envisioned this moment. My chest rose and fell, and it felt like it was getting harder to breathe.
A single tear slipped down my cheek as I forced a smile. Easton would never know that that tear was not because I was happy… It was because I was about to let go of the past. My past. A past I had held onto for so long that maybe this was a sign I needed to finally forget him.
SENIOR YEAR OF high school.
“Run, Rip! Go!” I screamed from the sidelines as Rip caught the pass and headed for the winning touchdown.
When he made it, I spun around and looked for Alyssa. My best friend. She was in the stands holding the sign we had made for Rip and Mike. Alyssa and Mike had been dating for two years, while Rip and I, well, we were simply Rip and Chloe. The two best friends everyone thought should be dating—but weren’t. I agreed with them, although I kept that little secret to myself.
Rip, on the other hand, hadn’t once hinted at wanting something more since sixth grade when he kissed me at the middle school dance, and my father unleashed on him. To this day, I blamed my daddy for scaring Rip so much that he became deathly afraid to even look at me wrong. But sometimes, I did catch him looking. And the way it made my skin flame and my lower stomach ache confused me.
The sound of his voice had me spinning back around and launching into his arms.
“You did it, Rip. You won the game.”
He laughed as he held me tight and then spun me around, make me laugh.
Once my feet were back on the ground, he shook his head. “Nah. It was the whole team. Hell, the whole town backing us.”
Rip Myers. Always the modest one, no matter what it came to. He wouldn’t brag how he had scored the most points in this game, or how he had won a full-ride scholarship to three different colleges who wanted him to play football, as well as a baseball scholarship to the University of Texas and Texas A&M. He would play off the fact that he was most likely going to be the class valedictorian, with me trailing in second place. I was okay with that, though.