Home > Race to a Christmas Reunion

Race to a Christmas Reunion
Author: Brenda Jackson


CHAPTER ONE


LISA ST. CLAIRE TOOK a deep breath as she closed her car door, and glanced toward the lit entrance to the church where the wedding rehearsal was being held.

She couldn’t help asking herself yet again if she was ready for this. Could she look Myles Joseph in the face and pretend nothing had happened? Ignore the fact that he had broken her heart five years ago when instead of giving her the engagement ring she had expected, he had delivered the news that he was leaving town to pursue his dream of becoming a race-car driver? Now he was fast becoming one of the most popular drivers in all of stock car racing.

Yes, I can do this, she convinced herself as she began walking, feeling the cool breeze penetrate the light cotton blouse she was wearing. Myles means nothing to me anymore. He’s a part of my past and I don’t begrudge him his success. Like everyone else in the small town of Chiefland, Florida, she was glad he had made it big. She wished him the best.

But then another part of her wished he hadn’t returned at all.

That same part of her didn’t care one iota that his best friend, Ronald Harris, was getting married and Myles was here to be Ronald’s best man. As far as she was concerned it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that the woman Ronald was marrying was none other than her best friend, Sheila Townsend, and she was Sheila’s maid of honor.

As Lisa got closer and closer to the church’s entrance, she thought the only thing that mattered was that she would have to go through the evening pretending that she had gotten over Myles. And the sad thing about it was that up until she had driven into the church’s parking lot she was convinced that she had.

Now she was thinking differently because on the other side of that door was the man she had loved since discovering what love was about; the man who had been her first in everything, even heartbreak. Everyone in her family, especially her three older sisters, had tried to warn her that Myles would one day break her heart. But she had ignored all the warnings. She had seen something in Myles they hadn’t seen and she had believed in him when no one else had.

And she had loved him with all her heart.

The only thing she could take comfort in was knowing that Myles had proved everyone wrong. He had made something of himself just as she’d known that he would one day.

She opened the door and walked inside the vestibule, where a huge decorated Christmas tree sat, reminding everyone of the holiday season. Sheila and Ronald wanted a Christmas wedding and would be getting married on Christmas Day after all of the church services had ended. They had promised to have a short rehearsal so everyone could enjoy dinner and be home early. After all, tonight was Christmas Eve. Plus the church was having a night service starting soon.

She opened the doors and felt a stirring sensation in the pit of her stomach when her gaze crossed the room to the man standing on the sidelines talking to Ronald and a few other men. A few years ago, except for Ronald, the others would not have been caught in Myles’s company even if they had been paid a million dollars. And now it seemed they were hanging on his every word.

The crowed shifted and she got a better view of Myles. He stood tall, almost six-two, and was dressed totally different than he would have been years ago when a pair of tight jeans, a T-shirt and a black leather bomber jacket would have been his usual attire. Tonight he was wearing a pair of pleated trousers and a dress shirt that emphasized broad shoulders and a tight abdomen. His face was as handsome as she remembered, with dark eyes, sharp cheekbones, full lips and dark hair that was cut short and neatly trimmed around a face that was the color of rich cocoa.

And he still had that friendly dimpled smile, the one that came to life whenever he spoke. She could vividly recall the times when he’d had very little to smile about and when he did, his smile had been reserved for her.

She stepped into the sanctuary and, as if her feet were made of lead and had made some sort of loud noise, Myles stopped talking in mid-sentence and glanced over at her. Breath rushed out of her lungs the instant their eyes connected. She felt it all the way to the bones. She knew he recognized it as well, the seductive chemistry that had always flowed between them, even when they had been too young to understand it.

It was strange how, although they hadn’t seen each other in five years, he could still look at her and his gaze could touch her in a way no other man could. She tensed, noticing that when he had stopped talking all eyes had gone to her. Everyone knew that at one time she had been Myles Joseph’s girl.

Just like everyone knew how he had dumped her.

But she had sorted out her life and moved on. Upon graduating from the University of Florida, she had decided to open a gift shop near the campus. The shop was doing well, and she didn’t mind making the forty-five-minute drive each morning from Chiefland to Gainesville. She even had an apartment in both places and on those days when she worked late into the night and was too tired to drive home, she stayed in the small apartment she had above her shop. She had started dating again although she hadn’t gotten serious about any one guy.

Her attention was pulled back to the present when she noticed that Myles had moved away from the crowd surrounding him and was walking toward her. She braced herself, fought to control the way her pulse was racing. There was no way she could avoid the attention the two of them were getting. Everyone was waiting to see what would happen after all this time.

She knew these days he was a very wealthy man due to numerous endorsements. And if she could believe what she read in those tabloids, he was a sought-after bachelor, living the life of a playboy when he wasn’t on the race tracks. Just last week his name had been linked to some actress’s.

Over the years Lisa had never imagined Myles returning to Chiefland; however, as soon as Ronald and Sheila had announced their wedding plans, she had heard he would attend. When it came to those he considered friends, he was as loyal as any man could get. It seemed that becoming a big star hadn’t changed that about him. He still valued true friendships.

This made her wonder where she would fit. There was a time when she had been more than a friend to him…or so she had thought. The five years that had passed made her uncertain of everything, other than what her true feelings were for him. Even with the way things had ended, she didn’t regret the impact he’d had on her life. Both good and bad. The good because she had enjoyed the time they had shared together; the bad, because he had shown her there was no such thing as true love. Not really.

Before she could ponder that further, she saw that he was there, right in front of her, and more handsome than ever before. “Lisa, it’s good seeing you again.”

She noticed the huskiness in his voice and couldn’t deny that hearing it brought back memories she would rather not recall. Deciding to be as cordial as possible, she responded in kind. “It’s good seeing you as well, Myles.”

“Liar.”

His whispered comeback had been so quick and unexpected—and so like old times—that she could feel her face soften with amusement. He could joke around her, but only with her. She would see his lighter, less serious side when others didn’t. “You think so?” she found herself asking.

He chuckled. “Yes, but only because you could never lie worth a damn.” After a few seconds he asked. “Do you know what I think?”

“No. What?”

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