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Changing Lights

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Armed with the sage advice of a French grandmother, red lace panties, and a new passport, Mia is ready to step out of the safe, predictable routines she has hidden behind for the past three years. She wasn’t out to find him, she was out to find herself. Greg’s relationship with Mia died after that car accident and seeing her again for the first time in three years doesn’t change that. At least not the first time. But when they cross paths again at a London pub, it's impossible to ignore her - especially when she’s dancing. So what if he spent the past three years trying to forget her? So what if she can’t remember him? Surely they can indulge in just one night together without getting entangled in their past. It only takes a few glasses of Scotch to convince himself it’s possible. But when one night turns into two, and two turns into an impromptu trip to Paris, their past starts creeping up on them. Someone needs an apology. Someone needs forgiveness. Both need each other.

Dena Doval
5.0 27 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1 - Mia

According to my grandmother, nothing is impossible if you are wearing red panties. She insists it gives you instant confidence to conquer any challenging or unpleasant tasks from job interviews to busting out a flawless aria on opening night -her job, not mine - to breaking up with handsome doctors - that’s all me.

Except I’m not wearing red underwear.

I’m wearing plain black cotton panties - without even a stitch of lace - which I irrationally blame for my being late for dinner along with the throngs of people who crowd the city sidewalks between me and the steakhouse where I’m supposed to be in ten minutes.

The unexpected warm weather draws more people out on the sidewalks, forgoing taxis and subways in favor of thawing the lingering remnants of winter from work-weary souls. Men shed their suit jackets as they discover the unexpectedly warm April weather. Women pull up their hair into messy buns as they pause on the street corner waiting for the chance to cross. Sweaters are tossed into bags, shirt sleeves rolled up, as arms are bared to the warmth of the lingering sunlight.

I weave through the crowd gathered on the New York City corner. The ever-present tourists obediently stand with both feet on the sidewalk while the city-dwellers are ready to bolt to the other side as soon as the traffic lulls or two seconds before the light changes.

Fresh out of the office, I’ve got fifteen blocks to go before I reach the restaurant and only ten minutes until our usual six-thirty reservation. Those delayed moments at the office accepting a new assignment that will nudge my career in the exact direction I hope it to go, will now cause me to be late, out-of-breath, and sweaty in addition to being anxious.

Hitching the canvas strap of my bag higher on my shoulder, I dart across the street before the light changes. Even if I did forget the red panties, at least I remembered to wear flats instead of heels this morning. I zig zag around people so deftly it becomes a dance. But another crowded corner brings me to a halt. I glance down at my phone. Seven minutes. Shit! Shoving the phone back into my pocket, I sidestep around the family in front of me. The toddler in the stroller is crying and the parents look like they need a drink - or six. Squeezing between a girl on her phone and an older man, I make my way to the front of the crowd. A taxi flies by just as the light changes. I bolt across the street, hopping a nasty puddle lingering on the corner.

At this point I don’t know if my heart is racing because I’m rushing or terrified by what I’m about to do. Three years ago when my life spun out of control, Brett’s predictable routines were exactly what I needed. He grounded me, saved me from spinning completely out of control.

Ten more blocks.

How can I break up with the guy who’s stable, consistent presence once helped me get from one day to the next? Who convinced me to finish getting my degree and graduate?

Eight more blocks.

But I have to. My therapist doesn’t think I give myself enough credit for accomplishing those things on my own and recently compared Brett to a safety blanket. A safety blanket I only think I need, when in truth, I don’t.

And deep down - I know I don’t. I don't want to go to any more charity functions and sit with his mother while he runs back to the hospital. I don’t want to always eat at the same five restaurants each month and never try anything new. I don’t want to spend every vacation in the Hamptons when there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored.

Six more blocks.

I can do this. I’m ready. I’ve already made plans. Got my new passport. Took a dream assignment that requires a trip to Europe. I’m going. Without him.

Four more blocks.

My blouse clings to my damp skin and a bead of sweat rolls down my cleavage. Maybe Brett will be so appalled by my appearance when I get there, he’ll break up with me himself.

Wishful thinking.

I pause in the middle of a block to catch my breath and pull out my phone to text him.

Me: Running late. Be there soon. Sorry!

He is still going to be annoyed. Maybe it will be easier to break up with him if he is in a bad mood. The three little dots appear as he types his response.

Brett: I’ll order without you.

Slipping the phone in my bag, I start off at a near sprint - and slam right into something solid and firm and clad in an expensive dress shirt. Rebounding off the unexpected blockade, I fall backwards. Instinctively, I put my hand out to break my fall, but my hand gets tangled in the strap of my bag and I strike the cement. Something cracks as my hand is crushed between my body and the sidewalk. A sharp pain shoots through my hand. Out of the corner of my eye I see my phone spinning towards the curb, kicked by a foot of a person in just as much of a rush as I had been moments ago, and I lose sight of it.

Oh shit...damn...fuck!

Someone above me mutters a curse under his breath too.

“Are you okay?” the voice demands.

Pushing myself up with my left hand isn’t an option. The mere attempt causes tears to burn in my eyes. I hissed under my breath as a male form crouches down next me. A firm hand takes me by the elbow.

“Here, let me help…”

Flipping my hair out of my face, I turn with an apology on my lips. But when I turn, no sound comes out. Everything just freezes as I lock onto the dark eyes of the guy looking down at me. For a moment I see wonder. Shock. Bewilderment. And it echoes in my own heart.

People are hustling past us, a pair of horns blare at each other down the street, the jostling of metal and stench of diesel fuel indicates a truck is passing by. But all I can hear is the rising pound of my heart. Nerve endings tingle as his hand tightens around my elbow and all the pain of my fall is momentarily suspended. I’m spellbound by the knowing sensation that has consumed me. Something so beyond merely recognizing his face.

I know him.

Then his eyes slowly harden. The shock gives way to something else. Something colder. His chiseled jaw tightens as he swallows.


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