Second Chances Ch. 05


The horror of what she had just done dawned on her, and Naomi's face flooded with bright color. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I saw you from down the street, and I thought..." She trailed off, realizing that he already knew what she thought. Then, her expression turned even more mortified. "Oh please, Mr. McKenzie. Please promise me you won't mention this to Aidan. I couldn't bear it if he knew."

Liam cocked his head thoughtfully to one side as he studied her. "Hmmm, I'll have to think about that one. I was just about to head home. Are you going to be in town long?"

Naomi wiped the last of her tears away and shook her head. "No, I just came in for a few supplies. I'm finished buying what I needed."

"Alright," Liam said with a grin. He offered her his arm, and she took it tentatively. "Why don't we round up our horses and ride home together?"

Once they were mounted and riding toward home, he turned to her with a puzzled frown. "Would I be wrong in assuming that you are in love with my brother?"

Naomi shot him a startled glance. "No," she murmured. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, you said back there in town that Aidan had asked you to marry him."

Naomi blushed and looked away. "That's right."

They plodded along a few moments before Liam continued. "Well, maybe I'm missing something here, but you just said you love Aidan, and I know for sure that Aidan loves you or he wouldn't have asked you to marry him. I'm just wondering why two people who love each other would rather be miserable and apart than to be together." He looked at her expectantly, waiting for her answer.

Naomi gave him a lame shrug. "It's complicated."

"Then explain it to me. We've got time before we get to your place."

"I would rather not talk about it. I have a good reason for refusing Aidan's proposal."

"Does he know what that reason is?"

Naomi shook her head. "I tried to tell him once, but he misunderstood what I meant."

"Hmmm," Liam murmured thoughtfully. "Well, all I know is that Aidan has been miserable for the past few weeks. I'm worried about him."

Naomi searched his face, her eyes full of concern. "Why? Is something wrong with him?"

"I've never seen him like this. He barely talks to Brian and me. He walks around like he's in a daze all day, not really interested in anything. He barely eats, hardly sleeps, and he doesn't look too well. To tell you the truth, I think you've broken his heart."

"He'll get over it. Someday, he'll meet a pretty young lady and forget all about me."

Liam pulled his horse to a stop and waited until she met his eye. "I wouldn't bet on it, if I were you. Aidan has never been the fickle sort. Once he gives his heart to something, its forever. He's not going to get over you, Mrs. Tisdale, so unless you want him to go through the rest of his life being unhappy, you had better think of a way to patch things up with Aidan."

Naomi looked away, biting her bottom lip as she considered what he had told her. Finally, she looked at Liam again. "Tell me something, Mr. McKenzie. If you truly loved someone, but you knew if you married him, you could never give him the one thing that would make him happy, would you still marry him?"

Liam thought about it for a few moments before answering. "I would if I knew that the one thing that would make him happy was me."

They urged their horses into a walk and several moments of silence went by, as Naomi considered his words. Liam leaned close to her and nudged her with his elbow.

"I think the least you could do is explain your reason to Aidan and let him decide. He's a smart man. He'll make the right decision if you are honest with him."

"Maybe you're right," she murmured. "Maybe I should at least explain to him." She thought for a few more minutes and then looked at Liam. "Are you going to tell him about what happened today?"

"Not if you go to the dance with me this Saturday." Seeing her startled expression, Liam laughed. "Don't worry. I'm not trying to seduce you or anything. Aidan will be there, and I think seeing him at the dance might give the two of you a chance to patch things up."

"What about that pretty young lady I saw you with today? Don't you want to take her to the dance?" Liam blushed, and Naomi smiled at his sheepish expression. "What?"

"That was one of the saloon girls from Harvey's. She was trying to drum up a little business."

Realizing her blunder, Naomi burst out laughing. It was the first real laughter since she had ended her relationship with Aidan. Liam watched her with a grin. They reached the turnoff to her house, and once again, they stopped their horses.

"So what do you say? Will you go to the dance with me this Saturday?"

"Won't Aidan be angry with you for bringing me?"

Liam's eyes twinkled with mischief. "He'll be furious. He'll be ready to wring my neck. He'll be eaten up with jealousy. Shall I pick you up at six o'clock?"

His grin was infectious, and Naomi returned it with a nod. "Yes, Mr. McKenzie, I will go to the dance with you. And if Aidan will still speak to me, I'll explain to him why I've been refusing his proposals."

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