Chapter 1

 

     Giggling erupted in the next room, and Amy buried her head under a pillow, irritated that she was awake before the sun. Her alarm wasn’t set to go off for another hour.

      She rolled over and closed her eyes. When the talking and laughing in the other room subsided, she drifted back to blissful, much-needed sleep.

      A squawking alarm sounded next to her head. She slapped at her phone, rolled out of bed, and yawned as she walked into the kitchen.

     “Good morning!” Kyla bounced into the kitchen, makeup all done and not a hair out of place.

     Amy shook her head. “Do you ever sleep?”

     “Tim called early this morning. He had a dinner party and wouldn’t be home until after I was at work. I can’t wait until he’s back in Texas.” Kyla turned around, probably so Amy wouldn’t see the tears threatening.

     While Kyla put on a happy face, talk of Tim being so far away changed her mood but only for a moment. After a sigh, she wiped her eyes.

     “How much longer will he be in Australia?”

     “Six weeks. Anyway, I never went back to bed. Getting into the office early means I can work in relative quiet for a couple hours.” She poured coffee into a to-go cup. “I hope the first day of school goes smoothly for you.”

     “Thanks. Me too.” Amy sat down at the table with her coffee and scanned her checklist.

     “Maybe you’ll meet someone nice.” Second only to marrying Tim, Kyla’s goal in life was to find Amy a sweetheart.

     “Right. Because I see so many eligible bachelors. I’m a kindergarten teacher. The only men I see are dropping off their children.” Amy rolled her eyes.

     Kyla laughed. “Maybe you’ll meet someone at a restaurant or something.”

     “Don’t hold your breath.”

     “Amy, I don’t get you. You could have your pick, but it just seems like no one meets your criteria.”

     Kyla was right. No one matched what Amy once had, what she gave up.

     She shrugged. “Just waiting for the spark.” She didn’t want to explain the real reason, especially not to Kyla.

     “Bye. I hope you meet your spark today.” Kyla giggled as she walked out the door.

     After Amy downed her coffee and took a quick shower, she dressed, glad she’d laid out clothes the night before. Standing in front of the mirror, she applied makeup and surveyed her reflection. Jewelry. She needed at least a little something.

     Reaching for the jewelry box, she somehow managed to knock it over.  If that was a sign of how her day would unfold, she might as well call in sick. Earrings and necklaces littered the floor. She bent down, gathering up the pieces. When she picked up the single pearl on a chain, emotions she worked to keep buried exploded in her chest. She dropped onto the cold tile and allowed herself a few tears. As the necklace dangled from her hand, she watched the pearl swing back and forth and wallowed in regret.

     She closed her eyes. Shoved to the back of the jewelry box, the necklace had stayed hidden with all its memories for over three years. It only served as a reminder of her ex.

     Regret flooded Amy, but the first day of school was not the time to sit on the floor and cry. Amy picked up the other items, dropped it all on the counter, and wiped her eyes. The outfit would be fine without jewelry.

***

     Amy flipped on the light in her classroom, excited to see the reaction of her students. She’d worked hours to make the room look inviting. She reviewed her list of students and double-checked that each one was assigned a cubby and that it was labeled correctly.

     She was no less nervous beginning her second year as she was her first. At least this time she knew what to expect of the first day. Last year had been a zoo, a tear-filled chaos.

     Guy strolled in, grinning. “You ready for the craziness?” He was the librarian and had no reason to be in the kindergarten hall.

     “I think so.” Amy didn’t want to be rude, but she wasn’t in the mood to chitchat.

     “The room looks great. You must’ve spent hours getting this set up.”

     “I did. But it’ll be worth all the time I spent if the kids love it.”

     Guy lingered near her desk. “Maybe—if you aren’t busy after work—we could . . . want to grab dinner?”

     Students would be arriving in a half hour, and he was asking her out? She had no interest in Guy, and his timing was way off.

     “Not today. I’m always wiped out after day one.” She was careful not to suggest they do it another day.

     Setting tissue boxes around the room, always a necessity on the first day, she glanced at the clock.

     Guy seemed to take the hint. “I’ll get out of your hair.”

     “Hope your day goes well.” She waved, glad for the few minutes alone.


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