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Enigma: A Second Chance Holiday Romance (Callahan Series Book 2) by Taylor Brent (1)

Prologue

Margery sat stunned as she listened to Mitchell, her husband of seven years. He had been going on for the last fifteen minutes about how in love he was. Normally, Margery would have found his heartfelt declarations romantic… except he wasn’t in love with Margery. He was in love with Catherine Felstone, his medical assistant at the clinic where Mitchell practiced as the town’s only doctor who specialized in sports medicine.

At least this answers whether he forgot it’s our anniversary, Margery thought bitterly. Well, she hoped it meant he had forgotten today was their seventh anniversary, but with Mitchell, she could never really tell. She listened to his reasons for ending their marriage with only half an ear while she thought about what she was going to do next.

“And you’re always at that diner,” Mitchell complained, drawing Margery’s attention back to him.

Margery rolled her eyes. This was a fight she had grown weary of over the last few years. Her grandfather had left his diner to her when he’d died ten years ago, and she had put everything she had into keeping it going. That diner had put Mitchell through medical school and his residency, but, of course, Mitchell wouldn’t care. He never had.

Thoughts of the diner turned Margery’s mind back to her own plan of action, and she tuned Mitchell out until he brought up their two-year-old daughter, Ainsley.

“I never wanted to have Ainsley, but you forced the issue,” he accused, arms crossed as he glared at her.

That wasn’t entirely true. Mitchell had wanted kids years ago when they’d first gotten married, but Margery had wanted to wait until he had finished school. She had also wanted to wait until the diner was stable, refusing to hand over the reins to the diner while she was pregnant and raising kids. More than anything, she’d wanted to wait until they were ready. That meant that they’d had Ainsley only two years ago when Margery was already out of her twenties and on her way to her forties. Margery couldn’t understand why Mitchell was so hung up on when they’d had Ainsley, and it angered her that he would use their child in his reasons for cheating and deception.

“Don’t you dare blame Ainsley for your utter lack of morals and control,” she hissed. “I don’t remember forcing you to create her with me. You joined me in that endeavor willingly enough, so stop blaming me and everyone else around you.”

“You’ve never cared about my happiness.”

“That is not true,” Margery replied. “But it doesn’t matter now, does it? Instead of talking to me and trying to work on our problems like adults, you moved on to the shiniest, newest thing you could find.”

“I love her,” Mitchell insisted.

“Fine. Then get out of my house and go live with her. I don’t want you near me anymore.”

“Fine,” Mitchell snapped, picking up his suitcase and striding from the room.

Margery wondered if he would stop in and see the daughter he claimed he’d never wanted, but he—unsurprisingly—did not. She tried to call up some pain or sadness at the loss, but all she felt was utter relief. Their marriage hadn’t been happy for a long time, and, deep down, Margery had suspected he was cheating. She just hadn’t had proof until now.

Sighing, she reached into her purse and called her best friend, Rose. If there was anyone in the world who would know what Margery should do next, it was Rose Callahan.

Rose arrived at Margery’s little cottage a half hour later with a bottle of wine in one hand and a box of chocolate cupcakes in the other. The house sat against picturesque red cliffs just a couple miles from the diner; Margery’s family had owned both the house and the diner for generations. Margery had planted trees for privacy and had cared and tended the yard for her young daughter to play in. Although not very large, the house had a quaint charm to it that made Rose smile as she walked up the front steps, but that smile dropped from her face when she remembered why she was there.

It had come as no surprise to her that Mitchell had not only left Margery but had cheated on her. Rose had told her friend long before Margery and Mitchell got married that she believed Mitchell to be wrong for her, but Margery had been in love and hadn’t listened. Rose wasn’t about to tell the woman “I told you so”—at least not today.

Margery answered Rose’s knock in her bathrobe and eyed the wine and cupcakes.

“You know me so well, Rose,” she laughed, stepping aside to let Rose enter the cozy house.

“I should hope so,” Rose replied, her voice soft and even. “We’ve known each other since we were kids.”

Margery smiled and beckoned Rose into the living room, then dashed into the kitchen to get a wine opener and some plates. Rose set the wine and cupcakes on the wooden coffee table and looked around the small room. A giant stone fireplace sat as the focal point of the room, the rough-cut stones hundreds of years old. Margery had hung a big, flat-screen television over the hand-carved wooden mantel, securing it in the jagged stones with large steel bolts. A couch and two recliners circled the room, offering a decent amount of seating. Rose settled down on the couch. The mix of modern and antique gave the room a cozy, warm feel, and Margery’s own energies added to that tranquility.

“Found the bottle opener,” Margery announced, striding into the room.

Rose took the proffered opener and twisted the cork out of the wine bottle while Margery set out two glasses. It didn’t take long for the two women to relax and start talking about the issue at hand.

“Do you want to fight for him?” Rose asked, curious.

Margery took a sip of her wine giving herself time to think it over. She shook her head. “No, I don’t. It’s funny, Rose, but I don’t feel pain right now. I only feel relief. Maybe I knew deep down this was coming. The hardest part isn’t even letting him go, it’s the humiliation of the whole town knowing what he did.”

“The town will hardly judge you for what he did.”

Margery shrugged. “It will be hard to see them around town after this. And what about Ainsley? How will all this affect her?”

“Ainsley is young,” Rose replied. “She’ll be fine. And so will you. You’ll find love again, Marge. Trust me on that.”

“If I had trusted you years ago, I wouldn’t be in this situation now, would I?” she asked Rose.

“Who can say?” Rose said, shrugging.

“You really aren’t going to say ‘I told you so’?”

“I’m your friend,” Rose murmured. “How would saying that be helpful?”

Margery shrugged.

Satisfied, Rose served her a cupcake. “Eat up. And let’s start planning your future as a strong, independent woman. You’ll see. Everything will be just fine.”

Margery didn’t say anything. She had learned her lesson. From this moment on, she would trust Rose Callahan. After all, the woman had yet to be wrong so far.

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