CHASING AFTER LOVE
BY SUZETTE RIDDICK
Can a desperate lie lead to crazy love?
Nancy Redmond’s professional life is on point. It’s her personal life that could use a major overhaul. Selling her business and relocating from the midwest to the east coast, Nancy is determined to get a fresh start and prove to herself that she doesn’t need a man to fulfill her.
Gabriel “Gabe” Saxton’s world is turned upside down when he catches the woman he’s to marry in a compromising position. Devastated, he’s convinced karma has finally caught up to him for breaking an old lover’s heart.
After ten years Nancy and Gabe are unexpectedly reunited and the attraction between them is just as magnetizing. As the couple overcomes previous hurts and betrayals and is on the path to forever, Gabe’s former life collides with the one he’s building with Nancy. Blindsided, Nancy retreats and releases Gabe from his commitment to their relationship. But will she regret her decision?
Nancy Redmond was pissed the second her cell phone dinged, signaling an incoming text. If she wasn’t in one of Chicago’s five-star restaurants on New Year’s Eve, she would have made a scene. Bright red lips pursed, she glanced around the dimly-lit dining room at the other patrons. Their faces illuminated by flickering candles on the tables, they chatted and dug forks into succulent meats, while sipping on wine. Meanwhile, her stomach made obnoxious noises because she was so hungry.
Blindly, her hand searched the inside of the clutch on the chair beside her for her phone. A soft gust of air blew past her lips. Just as she thought, Christopher had texted to cancel their dinner date. It was the third time this month he’d bailed out on her at the last minute. The first time she understood because he forgot about a school event he was supposed to attend for his six-year-old kid. Being that her dad pretty much forgot about her after he and her mom divorced when she was four, Nancy refrained from catching an attitude. Every child needed their father in the picture. That’s what she believed and, besides, she didn’t want to be responsible for keeping a kid and his father apart.
Though she was livid, Nancy couldn’t help the smile that touched her lips. Her bestie, Daphne Turner-Collins, had praised her when she told her how mature she’d behaved and hadn’t flipped out on Christopher for ditching her.
“Look at you acting all grown up,” Daphne had teased.
Of course Nancy couldn’t resist telling her to “shut up.”
The second time he’d texted to cancel on their date to see Maxwell three hours before show time, Nancy couldn’t bite her tongue. His excuse this time had been his baby’s momma, Ebony, had an emergency and he had to go to the rescue to watch their son. The chick had four sisters. Nancy found it strange that not one of them was available to babysit. This time when Nancy told Daphne about Christopher jumping ship, she did admit his timing was suspect.
Before she could cuss Christopher out via text, the waiter walked up to the table.
“Miss, can I get you something to drink while you wait for your party to arrive?”
My Lord. Stephan the waiter was too fine for his own good. He wasn’t as tall as Nancy liked her men. But his flawless expresso complexion, heavily-lidded bedroom eyes and full lips made up for what he lacked in the height department. Her eyes discreetly, or so she thought, drifted to his feet. Nancy had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from groaning.
When she finally looked back up into Stephan’s handsome face, he was grinning at her and undressing her with his eyes. Heat fanned across her cheeks as she delicately cleared her throat. Somebody appreciated the effort she’d put into looking good tonight. Stephan and his fine self, for the time being, put her anger on simmer. His lingering gaze made her feel sexy and not rejected. Later for Christopher. A drink or two, something to eat and any excuse to keep Stephan coming back will keep the night from being a total bust.
“He’s not coming. I’ll be eating alone.”
Nancy hated how her voice lightly quivered the way it did right before you’re ready to cry. She wanted to jump across the table and wrap her arms and legs around Stephan when he murmured for her ears only, “He’s a damn fool. Sis, you’re beautiful. You deserve better.”
Yes, I do! “Thank you.”
By the time Nancy drank three glasses of wine, stuffed her face with savory seasoned lamb chops, grilled brussels sprouts, and red velvet cake, her mood had soured again. Couple after couple floated through the revolving glass doors, hugged up as they sought refuge from the cold.
Envy was such an ugly emotion that had taken Nancy years to combat. She could feel its familiar tentacles crawling up her insides as the couples were ushered past her table. Surrounding her like happy sharks in an ocean of sappy love, holding hands and grinning as they spoke in hushed tones. Nancy had to get out of there when the dude at the table across from her slid a ring box across the white linen tablecloth. She rolled her eyes when the young woman gasped before covering her mouth with both hands.
Nancy realized she was louder than she intended when dude shot her the evil eye. But she could care less about his funky proposal or the fact that she probably spoiled the mood. Her glass of red wine toppled over when she abruptly stood, spilling the contents and splattering the front of the overpriced dress she’d bought to impress Christopher.
Tucking her clutch under her arm, Nancy slightly staggered her way to the ladies’ room. Now in front of the mirror, tears stung the back of her eyes as her gaze went to the tiny spots the red wine made against the cream-colored fabric of the dress she wore. It felt like her entire life was nothing but one big stain beginning with her conception. Only two things had ever gone right in her life. Her friendship with Daphne and owning her own business.
Well, maybe three. After years of being at odds with her mother, Madeline, they were finally in a good place. Recently they were able to pick up where they left off when she was a teenager. Just as they were getting settled into a comfortable mom-daughter relationship, Madeline moved to Haddonfield, New Jersey six months ago. She’d joined a counseling practice across the bridge in Philly as a behavioral health specialist.
Nancy hustled her butt into a stall before a tear could fall and she was caught by someone coming in to use the bathroom. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness suffocated her as she wished for her mom or Daphne. Even though they were only a phone call away, they were probably off doing their own thing and could do without her drama. Daphne and her husband, Adrian, were most likely cozied up butt-naked somewhere in that huge house they lived in. And Madeline out with co-workers at some fancy club in Philly to bring in the new year. This once she would have to tough it out until the morning.
“Oh no,” Nancy mumbled under her breath as she made her way to the sink to wash her hands. Carefully, she set her clutch on the vanity next to the woman who she’d almost ruined her proposal. Turning on the water, Nancy eyeballed her reflection and then the woman. When their eyes met, Nancy smiled although she was miserable. “Congratulations.”
A brief stint of counseling taught her it was okay to show kindness even in the midst of chaos.
Blue eyes sparkled at Nancy as the woman smiled and wriggled the fingers on her left hand, displaying a sizable diamond. “Thank you! Isn’t it gorgeous?” she beamed, now holding her hand practically under Nancy’s nose.
Nancy couldn’t help laughing. Girlie was acting like they were besties. “It is.”
ABOUT SUZETTE RIDDICK
Suzette Riddick is a wife, mother and nurse practitioner who enjoys writing about flawed characters on a quest for love. She is an Amazon Best-Selling Author and was featured in USA Today ~ Happy Ever After. A native of Philadelphia, PA, Suzette loves to travel, read and is addicted to Chanel parfum. To learn more about Suzette visit her website at http://www.suzetteriddick.com.