“How could you even think of doing this to Mom? Or to me?” Julia Windsor folded her arms and turned her back to her father. An opaque curtain of tears blurred her vision. She would not cry. Not here, not now.
Her father stroked her bare upper arms. “I loved your mother with all my heart, but she’s been gone eight years. Don’t you think she’d want me to be happy?”
The sweet, consolatory tone of her father’s voice couldn’t ease the pain his shocking news inflicted. Her heart couldn’t be more shattered if it were made of glass. She shrank from his touch and stepped forward. “Why’d you have to ruin everything and ask Kara to marry you?”
Gentle hands guided her shoulders back around, cupped her cheeks, and lifted her face. Sadness filled her dad’s beautiful eyes—eyes the color of an azure sea on a cloudless day. “I love you, Jules.” A wistful smile barely lifted his lips. “And I love Kara too.”
Julia tried to pull away.
Her father held fast. “You’re twenty-three…hardly a little girl anymore. You’re a beautiful and intelligent woman. When you least expect it, a man will come along and capture your heart. You’ll be consumed with thoughts of him and him alone.” He smiled a little bigger. “Maybe then you’ll understand how I feel about Kara.”
Julia pushed his hands away. “I can’t deal with this. I just can’t.” She ran out of her father’s study, up the staircase that curved around the grand entryway, and hurried into her room. The click of the door latch triggered an avalanche of tears. Julia sat on the bed, took the framed picture of her mother from the nightstand, and held it on her lap. “Why did God have to take you from me? Who’ll primp my gown and fluff my veil on my wedding day? Who will I call when my baby gets sick in the middle of the night and I don’t know what to do? Oh, Mom, I miss you so much.” She hugged the portrait to her chest and wept more.