Kate was working on Beth’s wedding dress when Boone returned to the shop at lunchtime. “I…I got the last of the supplies to finish that…that shelf in the back,” he said. “Are you…are you ready for lunch?” He seemed a little jumpy and hesitant, making Kate’s stomach start churning again, but for different reasons than earlier.
“I am,” she said, searching his face for any hint of what was on his mind. “Let me lock up first, then I’ll join you.” But she couldn’t move. Did he regret their kiss? Had Mr. Dixon spoken to him?
They stood in an awkward silence for a few moments until Kate couldn’t stand it any longer. “Is something wrong? Did something happen?”
Boone was looking everywhere in the room except at her. He’d open his mouth to say something then close it again a moment later. Kate’s heart sank lower and lower. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be pleasant.
“Just tell me what’s going on, Boone,” Kate said.
Finally, he looked at her, and she could see the conflict in the turbulent blue of his eyes. He let out a defeated sigh. “I need to talk to you about something.”
Dread began to fill her. “About what?”
“I…I don’t…” He wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Just tell me,” Kate whispered.
He sighed and extended his hand to her. She took it and allowed him to pull her into a loose embrace.
Boone leaned back and rubbed his eyes with one hand. He sighed before looking at her. “I…there’s a…it started when I wrote my mama…”
Kate had never heard him stumble over his words. He seemed so nervous and uncertain.
“Boone,” she said softly, “just tell me.”
Staring blankly at her, Boone stroked her face absently with his finger, sending warm chills down her spine.
Boone closed his eyes. “Kate, technically, I’m engaged.”
Kate froze and, for the next few minutes, everything was hazy. She felt like the ground had just dropped out from under her feet. It was only a few hours ago that Kate had admitted to herself that she loved Boone. And now, he was suddenly promised to another. Anger, pain, and betrayal surged through her like a fiery wave.
Slowly, she became aware of Boone holding her hands and then her face. Kate felt as though she were overheating. She needed to be as far away from him as possible.
Not again! she thought in anguish.
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