A Classic Romance from CRR Publishing 

A Second Splendor by Barri Bryan


A Second Splendor - Barri Bryan


Julie Anderson is not happy that her ex-husband is coming home to attend their daughter’s wedding. Max has broken her heart in the past - not once, but twice. Thank goodness she’s too wise to fall under his spell again, or is she?

Max Anderson has some reservations about his daughter’s coming marriage to the son of his ex wife’s business partner. He shows up early and walks into a situation that begs him to intervene. When he does all hell breaks loose.

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    Julie held onto Max's arm as they walked through the front door of the Community Center. "Isn't it a lovely night? She lifted her head and stared toward the heavens. Now and then a stray star spiked through the murky darkness. "Look, there's a lovely star." She swayed as she turned to ask, "Isn't it lovely?"  

    "Yes, lovely," Max agreed, and then said, "Watch your step."   

    A cool night breeze ruffled Julie's hair and blew across her flushed face. "That's good advice." She danced down the steps. "I had a lovely time." Her unsure feet missed the last step causing her to stumble.
    Max caught her just in time. "Julie, sweetheart, I do believe you're tipsy."

    Maybe she was, a little. She was also more relaxed than she'd been in a long time. "I'd forgotten how lovely it is to forget your worries and go out and have fun. I could almost—" Julie stopped. Even in her present euphoric state, she realized it would not be wise to let her defenses down with Max so near.

    He laughed low in his throat. "You did have fun tonight, didn't you? So did I. It was almost like old times." He felt in his pocket for his car keys.

    Julie waved her arms in an all-encompassing gesture. "This was a lovely party." Somewhere in the back of her mind came the troubling thought that she would be sorry tomorrow for some of the things she'd said and done tonight. "Did you mind me telling Mitzi to get lost when she asked you to dance a second time?"

    Max smiled as he helped Julie into the car. "I didn't mind at all. But I don't think Mitzi appreciated being told to find her own man."

    Julie giggled. "Did I really say that?"

    Max closed the door and came around the car. As he slid under the wheel, he chuckled. "That and much more."

    Julie laid her head on the back of the seat. "She had it coming; she's been insulting me for years."

    Max wheeled the car out of the parking lot and onto the street. "The town is deserted. Where has everyone gone?"

    "Home, I imagine." Julie put her hand over her mouth to stifle a yawn. "We were the last ones to leave the dance. I think the band was about to ask us to go when we decided to call it a night."

    Max shook his head. "You are a little out of it. They did ask us to go. They said their gig was supposed to end at one o'clock." The clock in the courthouse tower struck two.

    "I have to get up in two hours." Julie giggled. "How can I get up if I don't go to bed?"

    "That would present a problem." Max looked around the dark, deserted street. "Is there an all-night diner around here where we can get some coffee?"

    "There's a place out on Highway Sixteen." Julie didn't know if she wanted coffee. Tomorrow seemed soon enough to face sobriety and remorse.

    Max made a left onto Main Street and drove in the direction of the highway. "Remember when we used to sneak off from school and park by the gravel pit off Highway Sixteen?"

    Nostalgia swept over Julie. They had called that ugly, land scarred place their secret haven – and for them, it had been. "We missed a lot of classes parked on the side of that pit." It was beside that gravel pit that Max and Julie had first made love. "The place is deserted now but the pit's still there. It's full of water."

    Max frowned in her direction before looking back at the road. "Don't tell me you still go there."

    Julie made an admission that wild horses couldn't have dragged from her if she had been sober. "I used to go there often."   

    "With whom?" Max's frown deepened.

    "I went with Shannon sometimes. Mostly, I went alone."

    "Why?" Max asked incredulously.

    In her present state it didn't occur to Julie to lie. "I went to remember and to wish and to think, once in a while to pray." She sat up in her seat. "I just had a lovely idea! Let’s drive out there now. I want to see if it still looks the same."

    Max seemed uncomfortable with that suggestion. "I don't think we should. It's late."

    "It's never late until two and then it's too late and it's already too late because it's past two." Julie's giggle surfaced again. "Does that make any sense?"

    Max was still frowning. "How many champagne cocktails did you have?"

    Julie wagged a finger in his direction. "I don’t remember."

    "Don't you have to open the restaurant tomorrow," Max corrected himself, "Today?"

    "We can be back in time for me to do that."

    Max shifted gears and pulled off the highway onto a deserted farm-to-market road. "Now that I think about it, I'd like to see the old place myself." "How long since you've been out here?"

    Julie closed her mind and her heart to a torment too painful to bear, even now. "I've forgotten."