Authors: Tressa Messenger
By: Tressa Messenger
Copyright 2011 Tressa Messenger
All rights reserved.
The publisher wishes to acknowledge Candi Mancuso for editing services
Cover design by Devyn Dawson Books.
All rights res
erved. Except as permitted under
U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
The brand-name mentioned in this book are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
This publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
First Edition June 2011.
Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
There have been many people who have come into my life at some point who have influenced and inspired me. I honestly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. Some people come into our lives or events transpire that have the ability to rock us and change us profoundly. Good or bad, I have absorbed all of life’s obstacles and they have made me who I am today.
There are a lot of people I would like to thank for seeing me through this writing process. It’s hard to know where to begin so I will start with the most important person in my life, my daughter, Brennan. Ever since the first day I found out I was pregnant, I have worked hard to be a person of substance and a mother she could be proud of. I have strived to give her this amazing life that we have. All that I am is because of her and everything I do in this life, I do it for her. I leave with her my passion and love of the written word.
I also want to thank my mom, Nancy
, for editing this book for me and helping me make it as great as it is. I also want to say thank you for the life she gave me. We never had it easy by any means, but we pulled through. I was always a dreamer and no matter how many times I stumbled, she was always there to pick me back up without resentment or judgment. As an adult I see all of the sacrifices she had made for us and I only hope to be as good a person as she is.
There’s no way I can get by without thanking my co-workers for the patien
ce they gave me and apologizing for all of the nights I didn’t pull my weight because I was too absorbed with writing this novel.
I owe huge thanks
to Mr. Bill Benners, who has become somewhat of a mentor, for all of the advice he has given me throughout this process and showing me that this dream of mine is possible, and for having enough faith in me to keep pushing me.
My beta readers, my girls in the YA at Heart Book Club, Devyn Dawson, you guys are awesome and help and encourage me more than you may know, especially Devyn, thank you for paying it forward with me. I will never forget you and all that you have done for me.
Last but definitely not least, I want to thank my business manager and partner for life, Eric. He is my rock and my biggest support through it all. He sees so much more in me than I do, nor anyone else ever has. He constantly encourages me to excel and pushes me past my limits, whether I like it or not, which is exactly what I need. No amount of thanks would be nearly enough for all that he has done for me.
There’s no way I can dedicate this novel to anyone else but to my “Lobster,” Eric. You are my very best friend and I adore you more then you could ever know. If it weren’t for you, I don’t think I would have been able to do any of this. Thank you for loving me so much, you have made all of my dreams come true.
Try as you may, a person will come across their destiny,
Even on the road they take to avoid it.
Dylan looks at the clock above his office door and curses to himself. It was seven o’clock already, long past quitting time. Before he left the apartment this morning, he had told Anna-Marie they would go out for dinner to celebrate if he got the new account with a major franchise, and he did, but he didn’t realize just how long it would take him to organize all of the information. He smiles to himself, overjoyed that he landed the account. He has been with the firm since he graduated college six years ago and it has taken him this long to fully establish himself with the firm. Looking back, it has been difficult, but well worth it. He competed with two other agents who were well known in the marketing industry and after three weeks of endless meetings and strategizing, he knew he was ready for his final presentation. Today was the long awaited day. He had gotten dressed this morning with confidence, choosing his favorite olive green suit that Anna-Marie suggested, dubbing it his “lucky suit.” It was very expensive and tailored to fit his masculine shoulders and narrow waist perfectly. At the end of the day, he was the one they had chosen to handle the account. If all goes well, this account would be his ticket to a partnership with his marketing firm and the ultimate success he has been striving for.
With one more glance at the clock, he decides enough is enough for the night. He throws a few files into his briefcase, just in case he has a chance to work on them sometime tonight, and then leaves the office.
His office is on the south side of town and with a town as big as Wilmington it takes him a good thirty minutes to get home on a normal day. Thankfully for him, rush hour traffic subsided an hour ago. He makes it to the downtown area on the main road they live on, Market Street, within twenty minutes.
Anna-Marie’s dream to go to college at the University of Wilmington in North Carolina, so he was destined to go there as well. He doesn’t mind the big city life most of the time, but he finds himself missing the slower pace of their little hometown, Oriental. Nothing compares to lying around lazily on a pier that is stretched out towards the river and listening to the rhythmic sloshing of the water against the wood as the seagulls cry out from up above. There’s no noise from traffic, horns, or sirens to intrude on the tranquil sounds of nature. Wilmington is a beautiful coastal town as well, but much bigger and busier than Oriental. Oriental is only two hours up the coast from here, but it seems worlds away sometimes. Quite frankly, Dylan could live anywhere and be content as long as he has Anna-Marie to share it with. So as long as Anna-Marie wants to be here, here is where they will stay.
A few blocks
from his apartment, he stops in at Matrix Jewelry store that is owned by his best friend, Charles. He and Charles met in college and became fast friends so if he was going to buy jewelry anywhere, it had to be there. He had recently made the decision that fourteen years of dating was long enough and had secretly sworn if he were to land the account he would finally propose to Anna-Marie. They never talked much about marriage throughout their relationship, but he figured it would happen eventually.
He says a quick hello to Charles before starting his search.
He looks around then stops to look through all three of the engagement ring cases, while Charles stood behind the counter quietly waiting. He scans each ring as he goes, until his eyes settle on the perfect one.
“Hey Charles, can I look at this one” he says, pointing to a platinum princess-cut diamond ring with emerald stones on both sides.
Charles notices the beautifully crafted ring that Dylan is pointing to and gives him a sly knowing smile before he hands him the glistening ring.
“How big is this diamond?”
“That diamond, my friend, is a karat.”
Dylan looks up at Charles, “Is that good?”
Charles laughs and shakes his head, “Yes Dylan, it is. Do you know how screwed you would be right now had I not been your friend and you asked that question?”
Dylan laughs and pulls his attention back to the tiny object in his fingers tips. He turns it all around as he exams the unique ring. He had never seen a ring so beautiful. The emerald green stones match
Anna-Marie’s emerald green cat shaped eyes and sets off the princess cut diamond perfectly.
“This is the one,”
Dylan says with a big smile as he hands the ring back to Charles.
“This is a very nice choice. It is perfect for
Anna-Marie. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to bite the bullet.”
a hand through his sleek, chocolate, wavy hair, “Well, it has been fourteen years. I figure I better do it sooner rather than later.”
Charles laughs, prints out the receipt and hands it to Dylan, “It will be sized and ready for you to pick up by the end of the week.”
“Thanks Charles, I’ll see you then.” Dylan shakes his hand and as he walks towards the door Charles calls out to him.
“Hey Dyl, why don’t you go see Sally next door? Make sure to tell her I’ll be closing up soon.”
Dylan smiles, “Okay, I can do that, but you have to promise not to tell her about the ring. I don’t care if she is your wife.”
“I won’t, but you better do it soon
because that woman can read me like a book.”
“Trust me, I am.”
Dylan turns, walks out and heads next door to the Fresh Flower Market for some flowers for Anna-Marie. Dylan smiles all the way, knowing that Charles and Sally put these two stores beside each other on purpose.
-Marie has always loved flowers and preferred them over any other gift he could give her and he was always surprising her with them. She didn’t really have a favorite, so it made it easy for him. He sifts through the different assortments and creates a beautifully romantic bouquet of different colored roses, oriental lilies and baby’s breath to break it up. Satisfied with the arrangement of assorted shapes and colors of smelly goodness in hand and a rushed greeting with Sally, he starts back on his journey home. Visions of Anna-Marie’s face as she sees him down on one knee, with that gorgeous ring in his outstretched hand cloud his thoughts for the rest of the drive home.