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Waverly book #4: first chapter

I shot straight up in bed.

My hands were sweating.

My pulse was racing.

When I realized where I was, I pressed my palms hard against my eyes and forehead.

Was it just a dream?

After a few moments I regained control of my breathing, then removed my hands from my eyes and slowly looked to my left.

The side of the bed where Jake had spent so many nights keeping me warm was empty.

Dazed, I turned my head the other way and squinted at the clock on the nightstand.

It was 5:21 a.m. Everything was dark except for the soft glow of the sun rising outside my bedroom window.

I put my hands on my temples.

What?

My brain flooded with fresh memories.

The walk in the park…

The ring of trees…

The unexpected question that made me laugh and cry at the same time.

Huh?

I blinked a few times.

Did none of that happen?

I slowly lowered my hands and gazed at my left hand.

It was bare.

Bare?

Was it really just a dream?

I’d never had such a vivid dream.

I’d never had a dream that had left me so utterly confused.

Still half-asleep, I pulled the covers to one side and swung my legs onto the hardwood floor. I wiggled my feet into a pair of slippers and shuffled into the kitchen. I opened the cupboard and reached for a glass, then held it under the faucet until it was nearly full. I downed the water in a few gulps and slogged back toward the bedroom. Dream or no dream, I was determined to get a few more hours of sleep.

I was three feet from my bed when my brain finally kicked into gear.

Oh my God.

Oh my God.

It wasn’t a dream.

I turned around and sprinted into the living room. I skidded to a halt in front of the bookcase, then reached for the top shelf. I carefully pulled down an antique wooden box with an image of a lush green forest glazed on the lid. The box was pretty much the only thing I’d inherited from my mother. Inside I’d kept the few photos I had of her, including one of her smiling in her wedding dress and one of her and my dad holding me as a newborn at the hospital.

She died just a couple years later.

I smoothed my hand over the top of the box, then carefully opened the lid.

The moment I saw it, I felt tears welling up.

I smiled and exhaled.

It wasn’t a dream.

Tucked neatly beside the photos was another box.

A small box.

A velvet box.

A ring box.

I reached for it, then slowly opened the lid. Inside was a diamond ring.

I felt my cheeks flush with heat.

It’s real.

I’m engaged.

I gently slid the ring onto my finger and held up my hand in the soft morning light.

***

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