Excerpt from A Second-Chance Proposal

“I think this is it, Melina. Orrin said he wanted me to meet his mom tomorrow.” Willa Filmore unloaded the top layer of clean laundry from her hamper into the first drawer. “If I pass the Mom Test, I think he’s finally going to ask me to marry him.”

“Don’t be an idiot. No one passes the Mom Test. No woman is ever good enough for some mom’s beloved baby boy.”

Willa chewed the inside of her cheek and fingered the most recent couple photo, printed at a mall kiosk and tucked under a magnet on her decorative corkboard wall-hanging. She remembered the joke he’d cracked right before he snapped the selfie was taken and grinned anew.

Melina whistled into the phone. “Hello? Are you going to say yes?”

“Duh.” Willa opened drawer two: summer tops. “Melina, how can you even ask?” T-shirt burritos flew into the drawer in a cascade of white, yellow, green, and pink. “We’ve been dating for over two years. He’s smart and cute and—”

“A bit of a snob?”

Willa frowned. “Why do you always say that?” Drawer three: socks and hose, all tucked and balled for convenient paired sorting. She tossed with better accuracy.

“Because he’s forever talking about how much money he makes and how fast he’s advancing in his career.”

“Who cares if he’s rich?” Willa’s tosses turned into angry spikes, causing some of the wads to bounce back out. Grunting in frustration, she stooped to pick up an errant fuzzy ball.

Melina sighed. “I just think you need someone more service-oriented. You’re in elder care, for crying out loud. You hang out with people who drool and wheeze and barely have a dime to spare, and he’s always off at some fancy business luncheon working connections.”

“Whatever. I won’t hear you complain when he foots the bill for dinner tonight. Don’t be late!” She hung up and slid her phone into the back pocket of her denim capris with a happy sigh. Her future looked bright. She’d scored top marks at a placement agency for in-home caregivers, and the manager assured her she’d be able to get a sweet deal for her before the summer’s end.

Unless, of course, Orrin hurried up and proposed already. Then she’d have to go live with him in his deluxe condo, oh darn.

The phone rang and she snatched it out of her pocket quickly. “Hiya handsome. I was hoping you’d call soon. What do you think about meeting up with Melina and—”

“Hey, Willa.” Something in Orrin’s voice sounded off. Like off-planet.

“What’s wrong?” Willa sat forward on the edge of the bed. “Are you sick?”

“No, but I can’t make it tonight.”

“But Melina’s already got a date, and I still haven’t told you all about my placement tests.” She waited for an answer. “You there?”

“Yes, I’m here. But I won’t be there tonight.” He cleared his throat in a very uncharacteristic way. “Um, there’s no easy way to say this. I think we need to step back. This isn’t really working out.”

Willa felt the floor drop out from under her. “I thought I was finally meeting your mom.”

“Yeah, no. That’s not going to happen.”

“But…” She sank to her knees.

He’d disconnected.

Willa stared at the phone, blinking its Call Ended message. Her gaze settled on the photo strip from the mall where he kissed her cheek. Hot tears vaulted from her eyes. “But you were finally going to ask me to marry you.” Willa hugged herself. “And I was going to say yes.”

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