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Morgan turned up the thermostat the minute she entered her small, but functional apartment. It was freezing outside; the temperature had dropped twenty degrees from the time she had left her office an hour ago and had taken the two buses to her apartment building. She set down her briefcase and purse and walked to the window. The snow was steadily coming down and a brisk wind swirled it around those brave enough to challenge the elements.
She abruptly pulled the blinds, then flicked on the TV, but after twenty minutes of channel surfing and finding nothing but Christmas specials, she turned it off. She'd be glad when the season to be jolly was over. The last two weeks had been agony at the office with everyone full of Christmas cheer. All she had to do was get through the week between Christmas and New Year's. That one wouldn't be as bad. Once the new year came everyone would settle back into the familiar routine.
Morgan looked around the apartment making a mental note of the tasks she would complete this weekend. "I suppose the cupboards could use a good cleaning," she said to her cat Scruffy who had sidled up to her leg purring for his dinner.
Morgan fed Scruffy, then fixed herself some soup and a sandwich. As she ate her solitary dinner, she heard the blaring music from the apartment below and the muffled voices of the inhabitants. "Oh damn. I'm supposed to go to Davis' party," she said to Scruffy. She set her dishes in the sink.
Davis Michaels was her best friend. They'd been born and raised in the same neighborhood in Boston. They'd gone from the sandbox, through puberty, high schooland college together and had been there for one another when their hearts had been broken. Morgan always felt safe and protected in his arms. She would lean her head against his chest while he gently patted her back and patiently listened as she sobbed over one boy or another. When a girl he'd been dating for two years abruptly broke off the relationship the night before he'd been about to propose, she'd held him all night as he cried like a baby. She knew he'd never shown that side of himself to another human being. What they had was special. Their friendship was as solid as the first day they'd met as toddlers.
Morgan was twenty-eight now and Davis was a year older. Two years ago Davis had gotten fed up with the corporate three-piece suit life and announced to her one night, as they sat together in her apartment drinking wine, that he was going to chuck it all. Even though this abrupt change would be a culture shock on his wallet, he'd found a position as a maintenance man in a large apartment building in Connor's Cove, Maine. He'd be provided a nice apartment and small paycheck. As he animatedly told her his plans for a more tranquil life, she had sat devastated not wanting to believe that he would be that far away from her. She masked her own sorrow and enthusiastically applauded his decision. Even though she had several close women friends and, of course, her fiancé Thornton Wilder, she still missed seeing Davis several times a week, in the flesh. Talking to him through emails or on the phone wasn't the same. She'd made a few trips to visit him and had enjoyed the tranquility of Connor's Cove. All tension seemed to have left his body and she knew he was at peace. She'd chided him a few times about his new reputation as a playboy, and he'd just sheepishly look at her like a little boy who had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
When Thornton called off their engagement, Davis was the first person Morgan called. She was inconsolable. After a few months had passed and she still couldn't come to terms with the breakup, Davis had persuaded her to move to Connor's Cove. He found her a job with Linden Textile Company as a computer technician and an apartment in the same building in which he resided.
Davis was truly happy and it showed. Still for Morgan, something was missing from her life. She loved the serenity of Connor's Cove and her job, but none of the men she met could ignite even a tiny spark in her heart. She'd built her life around Thornton and she couldn't let go of the plans they'd made for their future. Now he'd be spending that future with someone else.
Minutes later she pushed the buzzer to Davis' apartment. He smiled broadly when he saw her. "I was wondering if I'd have to go upstairs and drag you down here." He hugged her. "Get your butt in here."
She eyed the Santa's hat he wore. "Nice hat," she said with a smile as she made her way inside the apartment.
The moment she stepped into the room, she was instantly surrounded by Davis' friends, some she knew and others she didn't, offering her drinks and food. A pretty brunette led her to a seat at the end of a long sofa.
"I'm just happy you decided to join us," Lisa said. "Davis was just saying that he was going to find out what was keeping you."
Morgan glanced at the large diamond ring on Lisa's finger. "Is that what I think it is?"
Lisa beamed. "Yes, Tony asked me last night!"
"Congratulations!" She hugged her. "This is going to be a great Christmas for you and Tony."
"We're driving to Portland to spend the holidays with Tony's family. I can't wait to tell them," she squealed.
Morgan liked Lisa and Tony. Lisa was cute in a perky kind of way; short, and petite with chestnut brown hair. Tony was a tall, handsome, husky, dark-haired man who right now seemed to be the life of the party, judging from the laughter coming from those standing around him.
"Tony's telling jokes again." She tossed her pretty head. "Did you know that was one of the first things that attracted me to him?"
"I can see why." Her eyes traveled from Tony to Davis who was surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women. She wondered if he'd ever settle down. Even though he appeared happy, sometimes she saw a haunting sadness in his eyes which might have gone unnoticed by others but not by her. That was how well she knew him. She supposed he was still dealing with his own heartbreak.
Davis was extremely good looking like one of those men that graced the covers of romance novels. His dark brown eyes with sweeping eyelashes, strong chin and jaw line, dark brown hair, trim body and an engaging personality made him every woman's dream. He stood six feet two inches tall with broad muscular shoulders and rippling muscles. Even in his corporate life he'd managed to work out at the gym three times a week. She had seen the envy in the eyes of men a few years younger who had let their bodies grow soft when they observed Davis' abs and biceps.
"We're having a New Year's Eve party and hope you'll come, unless you'll be out of town for the holidays," Lisa said.
Morgan turned her attention back to Lisa. "I'm not going anywhere. Davis and I are celebrating the holidays together. Thanks for the invitation; it sounds like fun."
Tony hurried over to them. "Hey, that's our song." He looked at Lisa. "Do you mind?" he asked Morgan.
"No, go ahead. And congratulations, Tony."
"I'm the luckiest man in the world," he said, grabbing Lisa's hand.
Morgan watched them walk to the small section of the living room where the furniture had been pushed aside to make room for dancing. Lisa tightly wrapped her arms around Tony's neck and his large hands pressed her body close to him. Seeing them brought back memories of dancing with Thornton like that. Why had he so unexpectedly dumped her? She hadn't seen it coming and consequently was totally blindsided. His excuse was that he wasn't ready to settle down. He wanted to see other women.
A few months before the breakup she'd been jealous when he stayed late at work several times a week with his new business associate: a tall, leggy blonde whose father just happened to be the major investor in Thornton's company's latest venture. His excuse had been that the meetings were only business related, but when Thornton and the blonde started meeting for private drinks and dinners, Morgan should have seen red flags, but she trusted him. She believed that he loved her as much as she did him. Her friends had warned her that maybe his meetings were more than business related, but she refused to believe it. Instead of seeing other women, Thornton and the blonde had become an exclusive couple. Morgan was not only heartbroken, but also humiliated at her naivety. Davis was the only person who could console her. Maybe it was because he'd gone through almost the same thing himself.
A gentle hand touched her shoulder causing her to jump. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you." Davis laughed.
Morgan grinned up at him. "This is a great party. I'm glad I came."
"Thanks." His eyebrows knitted together. "There are a couple of guys interested in getting to know you. What do you think? Are you ready to start dating again?"
She frowned. "I'm sure they're nice, but I'm just not ready, Davis."
He nodded. "I figured as much, sweetie, so I let them down gently. But you do look hot tonight. Dressing like that, what do you expect a guy to do?"
She knew she was attractive, but she wasn't vain. Her blond hair was shoulder length, eyes green and she had a good figure. She was wearing a tight black skirt, pink blouse and heels. "What would I do without you?"
"You'll never find out," he said as he pulled her to her feet. "Would you like to dance?"
She smiled, looking at the dance floor. "I don't think another couple could squeeze in."