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If Only
Celia Cooper
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Widow Barbara Langley, and best friend, Rachel, journey to Tampa, Florida. Barbara left broken-hearted years earlier and returns with her newly surgicized body to mend her grieving spirit. Can she juggle an old love who reappears, and the younger man who desires her or will old habits prevail?

The plane had descended over the shallow depths of Tampa Bay by the time Barbara realized she’d lost the bet. She’d watched Rachel and Robart intertwine themselves around each other’s soul with each conversation. She only wondered if she would be spending this vacation alone despite the promise she’d extracted from her friend. Rachel had a bad habit of doing the exact thing she hated in others--focusing all her attention on the new man in her life to the exclusion of everyone else. As the plane’s wheels screeched and bumped along the sun-warmed concrete to the terminal, Barbara started a mental itinerary for herself. It had been more than a few years since she’d been to Florida but, with a map and plenty of time on her hands, she would visit all those places that had left a warm glow in her heart--with or without Rachel.

“Hey, you coming or what?” Rachel pushed Barbara’s carry-on bag at her.

“I was planning the vacation I’ll be taking for the next month.”

“What? I’m not part of this? I thought you were going to show me Florida.” Rachel turned, her eyebrows rising, and looked down at her best friend.

“I was guessing by the disgusting public show of affection between you and Robart, you’d be keeping company with him the whole time we’re here; so, I’m planning on doing what I’ve dreamed about for more years than I can count: visiting the state I consider my home.”

“Well, smartass, you’re wrong. Robart will be in town tonight and tomorrow until noon. Then he flies to England for three days where he will visit his family, France for two days, Germany for two days, finishing the last leg of the journey in Italy for two days, and then, back here. While you were sleeping, and may I add you still need to rest more than you’ve been getting, we talked about the intense attraction we feel toward each other. We both want to pursue this relationship as more than fly-by-night, excuse the pun. He invited us both to dinner at a place in Tampa, or is it Clearwater; anyway, he’s treating us to dinner at some place called Bern’s Steakhouse.” Rachel bumped into Barbara’s rigid form stopped in the middle of the walkway.

She turned to the tall redhead, her brown eyes wide, and repeated, “Bern’s Steakhouse?”

“Yeah. Why? Is it really bad or something?” Rachel dropped her carry-on to the floor and flexed her hand.

“No, no. It’s a fabulous, expensive restaurant in Tampa with tremendous food and an incredible garden surrounding it; at least, it used to be. It was a quiet, romantic, setting; definitely not the place for three people to have dinner, especially if only two of them are ‘in lust.’”

“Barbara.” Rachel’s voice took on a dangerous tone. “I know where this is heading. Robart asked both of us to dinner so we could get to know each other and enjoy his one night in Tampa before he flies out. Not just me, but both of us.”

“Look, girlfriend, you just told me you think I need to get more rest. Well, I’m taking your advice. I’ll stay in the hotel tonight. You and Robart go out and enjoy the evening. I think I need some time to soak in the essence of being here, again.”

“Barb? Are you sure?”

“Yes. Go. Go and enjoy the place the way I did the first time I was there; enjoy it with someone you care about a great deal. Lose all sense of time, get wrapped up in Robart, and walk through the gardens hand in hand. It is a memory you will always treasure. It needs to be a memory for the two of you, not for the three of us.”

Celia Cooper has been a gypsy all her life. From her military child beginnings to her might-not-get-this-chance-again attitude after she left home, she’s seen most of the continental United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. She hopes to travel the world but is content to stay close to her family in the desert in Southern California--for the moment.

Old Enough to Know Better and Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Mazatlan were gifts from the writing gods. Her current novel, If Only, explores the wistful saying everyone has said at one point or other in their lives and scratches an itch.

She is now working on a Dragon Fantasy trilogy and several short stories.

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: General Books

ISBN: 1597057226
ISBN(13-digit): 9781597057223
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 328
Paper Weight (lb): 13.7

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