Authors: Carly Phillips
To the readers who made the Serendipity series
possible. Thank you!!!
is published by
521 Fifth Avenue,
New York, NY 10175
Copyright 2011 by Carly Phillips
Cover Design by
Cover Photo by
eBook Format by
Smashwords Edition, 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced in any form by any means without the prior written
consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
A NOTE FROM CARLY:
The town of Serendipity has many colorful
characters who deserve to have their stories told.
Lissa Gardelli's story and I hope you enjoy!
For information on the rest of the
Serendipity series and all of my other books visit my website:
On a mission, Elisabetta Gardelli walked
into Consign or Design, a small shop off Main Street in downtown
Serendipity known for high-end outfits bought on consignment and
unique items created by the owner, April Mancini. The bells rang
over Lissa’s head as she entered and the yapping bark of a small
Yorkshire terrier greeted her.
“Hey, Lucy.” Lissa bent down to pet the head
of the small dog, whose little tongue licked her, showering her
with undying affection.
“Can I help you?” April walked out of the
back room. “Oh, Lissa! Long time no see.”
Lissa waved a hand and rose to her feet. “I
know. Until now I’ve been able to make do with the clothes in my
closet.” She hadn’t had the extra money to splurge on herself.
April smiled. “That’s because you’re a good
mom and give everything you can to your gorgeous daughter.” She
tucked her vibrant, layered red hair behind her ear.
At the mention of Olivia, Lissa smiled. It
was true she’d rather spend her hard-earned money on her
ten-year-old than on herself.
“I still think you should have taken Bradley
to the cleaners,” April muttered, speaking of Lissa’s no-good,
cheating ex, whom she’d married right after high school
“If I could have proven he had access to his
family’s money, maybe I would have.”
Throughout their marriage, it had looked
like they had money. The Banks family had all the superficial
things covered—a nice house, a Lexus to drive, all the things that
looked good to the town. In reality, Brad earned a salary at his
father’s dealership that paid for the bare bones of what they
needed to live, and he’d kept her on a tight budget. Meanwhile, his
parents had financed any and all extracurricular activities Brad
wanted, including country club membership and expenses.
Lissa had been the stay-at-home wife and
mother Bradley had married out of obligation while he’d continued
to live a single lifestyle. Even knowing he had affairs, she’d
stayed so her daughter could have a stable childhood, two parents
living under one roof. But as Olivia grew up, Lissa realized that
if the rest of the town was aware of her husband’s mistresses, it
was only a matter of time until Olivia discovered the same. Lissa
didn’t want her baby subjected to gossip, nasty comments, and
laughing behind her back at school. Finally, enough was enough and
Lissa had walked out.
The good news was, their daughter wanted for
nothing. Grandma and Grandpa Banks saw to that. At least Lissa had
been smart enough to obtain her online college degree. In between
colic, feedings and toddlerhood, a B.A. in journalism had taken her
more than five years. When it came to the divorce, she’d received
exactly half of what Bradley earned, which had only been enough for
her to put a down payment on a house for herself and Olivia. She
lived on what she earned. The child support went for her
These days, she only wanted to reach for the
goals she’d shelved when she’d stupidly gotten pregnant as a senior
in high school. Though Lissa wouldn’t trade Olivia for the world,
since her divorce she’d done a one-eighty, determined to teach both
herself and her daughter about self-respect.
“Well, I admire you,” April said, unaware of
the direction of Lissa’s thoughts. “You’re proof that hard work
pays off. I read your interview with Faith Harrington in the
. And I’m sure things are looking up for our
resident big-time journalist now,” April said warmly.
Lissa marveled at the description. She still
thought of herself as a small-town coffee-server-slash-obit-writer,
not a legitimate newswoman. But ever since Faith Harrington had
given Lissa the interview every newsperson on the planet coveted,
Lissa had arrived in her chosen field.
“Things are definitely looking up. I’ve been
hired to do a series of interviews for the
Thirty Under Thirty, they’re calling it—about men of Fortune 500
companies and entrepreneurs who’ve made their mark at an
impressively young age.”
“You go, girl!” April pulled her into a huge
Lissa wasn’t a warm and fuzzy kind of
person, but April was—and in this store, April’s rules applied.
Lissa allowed the embrace for as long as she was comfortable, then
“So what can I do for you?” April asked.
Lissa was supposed to meet her friend Kate
Andrews for this shopping expedition, but as usual, Kate hadn’t yet
arrived. Lissa glanced at the items hanging from hooks on the light
green walls. Though Lissa couldn’t afford a new couture suit, she
knew April would be able to put together the perfect outfit at a
She’d just have to start without Kate. “I
need a kick-ass designer suit in order to make a good impression,”
“On one of those Fortune 500 guys?” April
Lissa drew a deep breath, still unable to
believe the subject of her first interview. Just the thought of him
set her nerves tingling. “One guy in particular,” she murmured.
“Anyone famous I’d know of?” April
Before Lissa could answer, the bells over
the door rang again and Kate came bursting through, out of breath.
“I’m here. Sorry I’m late, but I’m here.” Kate’s long hair was in
wild disarray, her cheeks flushed pink.
“Let me guess. You overslept?” Lissa
laughed, knowing that wasn’t the reason.
Kate exhaled long and hard. “I had to stop
by my mom’s, and she started talking, and I just—”
“—lost track of time,” they both said
Kate couldn’t manage to account for her time
and was chronically late, but Lissa could never be mad at her. Kate
was one of the good people in this world. They’d both grown up in
Serendipity, gone to the same elementary, middle, and high
schools—and had never spoken to each other. Oh, they glared plenty,
Kate being one of those girls with money, like Faith Harrington.
Lissa had been a townie without.
To her shame, Lissa had carried that
attitude into the present, at least where Faith was concerned, and
she cringed at the memory of how badly she’d treated the other
woman when she’d returned to town. Even though Faith’s father had
been convicted of running a Ponzi scheme that rivaled Bernie
Madoff’s, Lissa had thought Faith’s life had been easy. How wrong
Thank goodness Faith had seen through
Lissa’s bitterness about her own life and given her a chance
despite her attitude. Faith had taught Lissa the meaning of
generosity and of rising above it all. Lissa was more grateful for
that hard lesson than for the actual interview.
April clapped her hands, capturing her
attention. “Lissa was just about to tell me why she needed a
kick-ass designer suit. And which Fortune 500 guy she wanted to
impress.” April lifted one perfectly penciled eyebrow.
“Well? Are you going to tell her?” Kate
asked. “It’s Trevor Dane!” she said, blurting out the news before
Lissa could do it herself.
April’s eyes opened wide. “Trevor Dane. Your
... I mean ...”
“My high school sweetheart,” Lissa said. The
only man she’d ever truly loved and the one she’d hurt beyond
interviewees was set in stone. She had no choice but to face Trevor
again for the first time since telling him she was pregnant with
Bradley Banks’s baby, ten years before. Although Faith Harrington
had been given a second chance with Ethan Barron, another man Lissa
would be interviewing, she already knew she had royally screwed up
any shot with Trevor Dane a decade earlier.
She didn’t deserve another.
And to put an exclamation point on that old
statement, Trevor had gone away to college; he lived in Manhattan;
and though he’d visited Serendipity and his family over the years,
when it came to Lissa, he’d never looked back.
magazine wants to
interview you,” Alexander Wittman, president and CEO of Wittman
Financial Management and the son of the firm’s founder, said as he
walked into Trevor Dane’s corner office.
Trevor didn’t turn. Instead he stared out at
the streets of Manhattan from the luxury high-rise office building
on Broad Street, wondering how a kid from the wrong side of the
tracks had arrived at this point. Brains, hard work, and a helluva
lot of luck. That and a burning desire to get out of his hometown
of Serendipity, New York, and rarely go back. It’d be
if not for his family, Trevor thought wryly.
“Did you hear me?” Alex asked.
Trevor pivoted to face his boss and mentor.
“I was just taking it in.
, huh?” Like
, the magazine was a must-read in the business
“You’re an up-and-comer,” the man said
“Thanks. I owe it to you.” A decade older
than Trevor, Alex had been his mentor since he’d interned with him
one summer. “My secretary gave me a schedule of events the reporter
will be attending with me. Apparently she wants to follow me around
even in my off hours,” he muttered.
She was even supposed to attend the annual
charity gala the firm was sponsoring on Friday night at the
Waldorf. Though Trevor wasn’t pleased, it did save him the hassle
of finding a date, the need for which he’d been ignoring.
“The price we pay,” Alex said on a laugh.
“Maybe she’ll be a beauty.”
Trevor raised an eyebrow. “I’m not about to
get us slapped with a sexual harassment suit by coming on to the
“You know what your problem is?” Alex
“Wasn’t aware I had one.” Trevor folded his
arms across his chest. “Care to enlighten me?”
“You’re all work and no play. You don’t want
to end up old and alone, not when the alternative is so much
better.” Alex ran a hand through his thick black hair and eyed
Trevor with a knowing look that meant he wouldn’t drop the subject
easily. The man was always after Trevor to look harder at the women
he dated, give them more than a couple of chances before deciding
to break things off.
But Alex had married his college sweetheart
and hadn’t looked at another woman since. Trevor wished he’d been
so lucky. Every woman he dated left him cold because no one could
live up to the memory of the one who got away—breaking his heart
and ruining him for anyone who came after her.
“Give me a break. You like how much money I
bring in and that takes up all my time.” Trevor walked around his
desk and placed a hand on the other man’s back. “So it’s time for
you to let me do my thing before the reporter arrives.” In fact,
she was due any minute.
“Fine. Subject dropped. For now. But Emma
insists you come to dinner Saturday night at our penthouse. She
said she won’t take no for an answer.”
“As long as she’s not trying to set me up
with one of her friends,” Trevor said, accepting. He loved Alex’s
wife and wouldn’t deny her a thing.