Read The One That I Want Online

Authors: Marilyn Brant

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction, #Humor, #Literary

The One That I Want

THE ONE THAT I WANT

(Mirabelle Harbor, Book 2)

BY

MARILYN BRANT

THE ONE THAT I WANT is Book 2 in Marilyn Brant’s Mirabelle Harbor series, but this story and all of the contemporary romances in this series can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels.

The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality.

After her best friend Sharlene—one of the well-connected Michaelsen siblings—talks her into finally going out on the town again, Julia finds herself stunned to be the object of interest of several different men: The boy who’d broken her heart back in high school. The college ex she’d left behind. And most surprising of all, the movie actor she’d always fantasized about but had never met in person…until now. Can one woman have more than one “great love” in the same lifetime? And, if so, how can she be sure which man that’ll be?

Sometimes the person you think will be best for you isn’t the one you really want. THE ONE THAT I WANT, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

The One That I Want

(Mirabelle Harbor, Book 2)

Copyright © 2015 by Marilyn B. Weigel

Twelfth Night Publishing

Editor: Hamilton Editing

Formatter: Author E.M.S.

Cover Designer: Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations

Ebook Edition

ISBN-13: 978-0-9961178-0-7

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner and the publisher of this book, excepting brief quotations used in reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, businesses or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Ebook License Notes:

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Learn more about
New York Times
&
USA Today
bestselling author Marilyn Brant on her website:
www.MarilynBrant.com
and sign up here to receive her free newsletter for book releases & giveaways:
www.marilynbrant.com/contact
!

Dedication & Thanks

For my family, my good friends, and my amazing readers & early reviewers—I appreciate you all so much! And for Jeff, for endless reasons.

Thank you to A.J. for your editorial eye—you have a true talent.

And an extra-special thanks to Debbie Fortin, Gina Paulus & Ceri Tanti. Your insights on this book when it was in draft form were tremendously helpful!

Chapter One

I could still remember how it felt to be a lonely teenager, sitting in the middle of another mind-numbing social studies class with old Mr. Tremain droning on and on about the political factors contributing to WWII…

As he jabbered, I’d drift off into my favorite, most often replayed romantic fantasy. The one where my high-school crush or my latest movie-star heartthrob—or, ideally, both—confessed their love for me. I’d mentally spool between their dramatic declarations of affection, like it was one of those cheesy film montages, complete with steamy love scenes and a hot musical soundtrack. And it always made me smile because it was
just so wonderful
.

But when you were two decades older than sixteen, the mother of a sensitive and depressed ten-year-old daughter, and a relatively new widow, you didn’t expect fantasies like that to happen for real. Not anymore.

Then again, when you had the world’s loveliest (but pushiest) best friend, you had to get used to expecting the unexpected.

Early in the summer, my best friend, Sharlene Michaelsen Boyd, said to me over the phone, “It’s been over six months since the car accident, Julia. You should come out for drinks with the Quest group. They did me a world of good after The Snake left, and I know you’ll like them. It’ll be fun. I promise.”

I raised my eyebrows at this, glad Shar couldn’t see me. The Quest group was a local singles’ club she’d belonged to in the several years since her divorce from Stephen, aka “The Snake,” Boyd. Once upon a time, Shar had been deeply in love with Stephen. He’d been her high-school sweetheart. Now, he was her ex-husband and ex-soulmate. Ex-mammal, too, if Shar had anything to say about it.

“We’re trying out that new place in town—The Lounge. This Friday night. Seven o’clock. They’re known for their merlots,” she informed me. “And I hear they have wicked spicy chicken quesadillas, too.”

“I’ll think about it,” I told her. My standard answer.

I heard a groan on the other end of the line. “Look, girlfriend, I’m serious. You’re coming out with me this time. You have no more excuses. Summer vacation just started, so you can’t bury yourself in teaching tasks, and Analise is leaving for camp in just a few weeks. You will not spend the entire two-and-a-half-month break at home reading Austen and the Brontës or watching
NCIS
reruns.”


NCIS: Los Angeles
,” I specified. “And what’s wrong with that? The bromance between Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J is—”

“Not the point,” Shar interrupted. “I totally get that you’re not yet ready to date again, and I don’t blame you. I know you and Adam had a very happy marriage and that half a year of working through your grief might not be long enough. I’m not suggesting that you forget him or the life you all shared. But Julia—” She paused. Then her voice turned very serious. “How is Analise ever going to learn to move on if you won’t? You need to model it for her.”

I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling drenched in a wave of pain that came over me like a tsunami.

Dammit
.

Despite all the months I’d already grieved and mourned, some days the loss hit me extra hard. I wanted to scream, “None of this was supposed to happen!” Losing Adam and becoming a single parent was nowhere in my well-structured plans. Or in my late husband’s. But it had happened anyway, and now our once vibrant and joyful daughter was clinically depressed, seeing counselors, taking medications I could barely pronounce, and struggling to live without her dad in her life. Witnessing Analise’s pain was far more gut-wrenching than even dealing with my own.

I bit my lip to keep a sob from escaping, but my silence had lasted too long for my good friend and teaching colleague.

“I’m so sorry,” Shar whispered. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I just want to help.”

“I know you do,” I said, trying to imagine myself going out with a group of strangers in just a few days, drinking wine, looking for new friendships or maybe love, and talking about…who knew what they all talked about during these outings? It had been a dozen years since I’d been on the dating scene. Music, movies, fashions, and pop culture had all changed. I didn’t even know where to begin. Or how to start a conversation with a man. I told Shar this.

“Oh, c’mon. You’re a better conversationalist than my brother Chance. The guy hardly speaks when there’s a woman in the room, and not much when there isn’t. Even
he
managed to meet someone and fall in love.”

I rolled my eyes. Chance Michaelsen wasn’t exactly your average guy. “Your brother is a dazzlingly good looking twenty-eight-year-old personal trainer. He has the body of an action-film star and the face of a Giorgio Armani model. He doesn’t
have
to talk to a woman. He just needs to smolder at her.”

My friend scoffed this off as “insignificant.” Shar, who was in her early thirties, was a classic middle child with excellent negotiation skills. She had two older brothers, Derek and Blake, and two younger ones—the twins, Chance and Chandler. In addition to being at the center of Mirabelle Harbor society, such that it was, every one of the Michaelsen siblings was strikingly and infuriatingly attractive. They never seemed to factor in that gift when talking to mere mortals like the rest of us.

“Just start with a glass of wine, Julia. That’s all I’m asking. One hour. One glass. See how you feel after that and take it from there, okay?”

“Okay,” I said, not wanting to keep fighting her on this. I knew my best friend. Very well. She was going to wear me down until I agreed anyway. “Friday night at The Lounge. See you then.”

~*~

My daughter literally stumbled into the house that afternoon.

“Ouch!” Analise howled, rubbing the knee she’d bashed into the doorframe. She bounced on one leg and, in the process, managed to bang her elbow on the inside doorknob as she twisted around to shut the heavy oak door.

She whimpered like an injured puppy, and I rushed to her, trying to soothe away the sting of both new bumps. If only all bruises could be tended to so easily. Sadly, I knew my daughter’s deepest hurts were invisible to the eye.

“How was your play date with Brooke and Lindsay?” I asked. They were Yvette Hampton’s daughters, our neighbors down the block. The girls were one year older and one year younger than mine, respectively. I’d known their mom ever since high school.

“Brooke got mad because Lindsay went into her room and borrowed her iPod without asking because she wanted to play me an Ariana Grande song. But then Lindsay got mad when Brooke took her phone and snapped pictures of us that she said she’d post on Instagram with the caption ‘Annoying Aliens’ if we didn’t give her back the iPod.” My daughter squinted at me and shook her head. “Whenever I’m with them, I’m always kinda glad I’m an only child.”

I laughed, but I knew she was lying. I could see the wistfulness in her large gray eyes—the eyes she got from her father. Analise had always wanted a sibling, ever since she could point to her favorite doll and say, “Baby.” Adam and I had tried to give her one. Halfheartedly at first. More intentionally in recent years. But he was busy with his medical practice, and I was only thirty-six. We thought we had time.

I made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner—her favorite—and tried to get her to talk about her “everyday feelings,” just like the grief counselor suggested. We were supposed to make a habit of discussing our emotions, not reserve such chats only for periods of stress and trauma. It was a routine we hadn’t quite mastered yet, but we were both trying.

“Can you believe camp is coming up so soon?” I asked, injecting as much enthusiasm into my voice as humanly possible. “How are you feeling about that?”

“Brooke and Lindsay keep telling me I’m gonna love it,” Analise stated in a tone that made me certain she wasn’t a believer.

“Their mom said they both really did love it last summer. And they’ll be there to show you around this year. You’ve got two friends as tour guides, which is pretty great!”

Analise cringed, the little cynic, and shrugged. “I liked what we did last summer better. Daddy and you and me and that trip to Florida.” She sighed.

Yeah, well, it was hard to compete with the allure of Disney. Or with a living dad.

“I know. Me, too,” I admitted. A part of me wanted to just cancel camp. Keep her home with me for the whole month of July instead. Cradle her in my arms where she would stay safe.

But the counselor had strongly suggested it was time for something like this. That, while some kids did better at home, clinging to memories and coming to terms with loss, Analise wasn’t one of them. She was sinking deeper into depression. In order to break out of her shell again, the counselor felt my daughter needed a drastic change of environment, one that didn’t constantly remind her of her dad. A place where she could “exercise her independence,” do “high-interest activities” that she hadn’t before tried, “feel empowered” as she “gently separated” from the past in a place where this was seen as a positive thing—not as a loss.

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