Back To Mr & Mrs

Back To Mr & Mrs
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Cade and Melanie–high school prom king and queen–the golden couple! Twenty years on, the reunion's looming, and Melanie Matthews must let the world know that the dream is no longer true…. Somewhere along their journey Cade lost sight of what really mattered. He let work take first place in his life and lost the one person who lit up his world.Now he's determined to show Melanie that he can be the man she's always wanted, the husband she always needed…and win back her heart.

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Back to Mr & Mrs

Shirley Jump

For the man I married, who fished my manuscript out of the trash and insisted I follow my dream. His support has given me the courage to make writing my full-time job, even though I still whine about deadlines and characters who refuse to cooperate.

A special thanks to the coffee shops in Indiana that kept me sufficiently caffeined up, so that I was working instead of napping or perfecting my FreeCell skills. In particular, thanks to the staff at The Grind, who gave me an insider’s view of how a great coffee shop operates.

All those lattes were research, honest.

















IF HER HANDS HADN’T been covered in double chocolate chip cookie dough, Melanie Weaver would have slapped duct tape over her mouth to stop herself from doing it again.

Saying yes when she really meant no.

Even when she had the best intentions of refusing, that slithery yes word slipped out instead. “Do you want a slice of Great-Grandma’s fruitcake?” “Can you call Bingo for the Ladies’ Auxiliary?” “Don’t you just love this orange sweater?”

She hated fruitcake, had grown tired of the “B-4 and After” jokes, and never wore orange. Yet every year, Great Grandma brought a rock-hard fruitcake to Christmas dinner and Melanie choked down a slice, praising the wrinkled dates and dried cherries. On Tuesday nights, she dutifully showed up at the Presbyterian Church and called out letters and numbers in a smoky room filled with frantic reddotters. And in Melanie’s closet, there were three orange sweaters, birthday presents from her aunt Cornelia, who took Melanie’s compliment of a mango-colored afghan as sure evidence of love for the color.

So it stood to reason, based on her history of always saying the wrong word at the wrong time, that on a bright spring Friday morning she would accept an invitation to her twenty-year class reunion when her life was as jumbled as a ten-thousand-piece puzzle.

“It’ll be wonderful to have you!” Jeannie Jenkins, former cheerleader, blasted Melanie out of her reverie with a voice that hit unnatural decibels on the phone. “Everyone is, like, so looking forward to seeing you. I just knew, when I saw your name on the list, that you’d want to go. I mean, you must have just forgotten to RSVP or something.”

“Or something,” Melanie said. She hadn’t returned the card because she hadn’t intended to go, nor to answer all those questions about where Cade was.

Or, worse, see Cade there with another woman on his arm. She may be ending her marriage, but she wasn’t quite ready to imagine him with someone else.

“The reunion is only, like, a week away. We’ll all be together again, in just a few days. Isn’t that so exciting?”

“Absolutely.” Melanie tried to work some enthusiasm into her voice. She wanted to see her old friends, to catch up on their lives, but the thought of running into Cade, surrounded by memories of happier days, was unbearable. Her resolve would falter, and all those maybes would pop up, the same maybes that had stalled her leaving over and over again because she’d thought things might change. Go back to the way they were.

Either way, there was no return to those days. Melanie had changed, and Cade hadn’t accepted those changes. She now had her shop, her new life. A life that no longer included Cade.

It was early afternoon and Cuppa Life was empty, save for Cooter Reynolds, who was sipping his daily mocha latte while reading the Lawford News and tapping his foot along with the soft jazz on the sound system. She had an hour until the college student flood poured into her coffee shop on the west side of Lawford, Indiana. And hopefully, only about five seconds until her daughter, Emmie, who worked part-time in the shop, was here for her Thursday shift. Melanie had started the cookies, sure Emmie would be in any second, but twenty minutes had passed since Emmie’s shift was due to start and she still wasn’t here.

“Did you like, go to college?” Jeannie didn’t wait for an answer. “Me, I totally couldn’t go. I was so done with school when it was over. The last thing I wanted was more.” She let out a dramatic sigh, as if Westvale High had been the equivalent of a stint in San Quentin.

Jeannie continued chattering on about how hard high school had been, how much she’d hated sophomore grammar, how the guidance counselor had tried to talk her into at least a two-year degree.

The words struck a note of pain in Melanie’s chest. Ever since she’d been a kid, Melanie had dreamed of owning her own business. She’d spent her summers here in Indiana, working in this very space, helping her grandparents run what had then been a very successful antiques shop. Her grandfather, who’d seen that spark of entrepreneurial spirit, had encouraged Melanie to go to school and get a degree in business.

Melanie had had a scholarship to Notre Dame—a free ride to the college of her choice—and then been sidetracked by marriage, a child. Always, Cade had said, there would be time for Melanie—until her chance came up and he’d dismissed it faster than a perpetually tardy employee.

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