Read Unexpected Chances Online
Authors: Carly Phillips
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Copyright © Karen Drogin 2014
CP Publishing 2014
Cover Design: The Killion Group Inc.
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Will they take an Unexpected Chance…
High school sweethearts, Dylan North and Holly Evans believed their future together was a done deal. But right after graduation, Dylan took off, leaving nothing behind except a hastily written note and Holly’s broken heart. Ten years later, Dr. Holly Evans has a great career and a fulfilling life. The last thing she needs is Dylan’s visit stirring up old feelings. Especially when she knows the Hollywood superstar can’t possibly want to stay. Dylan might have everything money can buy but his life is empty without Holly. Can his unexpected return reignite their love … or does happily ever after only happen in the movies?
* * *
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 reviews.
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 coincidental.
Welcome to “Carly Classics”, books I wrote earlier in my career that have been modernized for your reading enjoyment. These stories hold a very special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to be able to share them with you now.
All the best,
New England Express
Daily Dirt Column
The pride of Acton, Massachusetts, returns! Welcome banners drape the streets of the small New England town when favorite son and Hollywood action hero comes home for Christmas. But are all residents really as thrilled as appearances imply?
Stay tuned as events unfold.
ylan North walked down the streets of Acton, savoring the familiar sights. Old man Roscoe still sat outside the diner, refusing to give up his spot on the bench for people who were waiting to be seated. In his hometown, the cars ran at a slow pace, the people even slower. As a kid, Dylan couldn’t wait to get the hell out and never look back. As an adult, he appreciated everything he’d once hated because this place possessed the peace and tranquility that were nowhere to be found in L.A.
As he strode down the street, destination in mind, one more important thought struck him, cementing his reason for coming back now. Everywhere he went reminded him of Holly Evans.
Dr. Holly Evans
, he thought, shaking his head. Damn, but he was proud of her. She may not know his feelings, but by the time his short trip home was over, she’d know that and a whole lot more. But first he needed to find firm footing. To see where he stood with Holly now. They hadn’t spoken in over ten years, and Dylan understood that the girl he’d left behind might want nothing to do with him. He also realized that his own feelings might have changed, too. He doubted it, but he needed to keep an open mind.
He understood these things deep in his gut, in a way he couldn’t have managed in his youth—and not just because his manager, his publicist and his personal assistant all told him he was an ass to turn his back on the beautiful actresses at his beck and call. Specifically, Melanie Masterson, his latest and longest-lasting relationship. Melanie desperately wanted a reconciliation, but only, he thought, because being on his arm benefited her career. But he was finished hanging on to Melanie or any other woman in a futile search for the normalcy he’d experienced only once before. With Holly.
He wasn’t a man prone to believing in omens, but a month ago he’d dreamed of Holly—which wasn’t unusual since he dreamed of her often. But this time had been more vivid. In the dream, it was Christmas Eve and they sat in his house, opening gifts they’d bought for each other with their hard-earned money. Feeling warmer and more content than he could ever remember, he’d drowsily reached for Holly only to find Melanie in bed beside him.
The shock to his system had been greater than if he’d crawled into a cold bed all alone. It was a wake-up call he’d taken seriously.
So now, he entered the office that had once belonged to Holly’s father and glanced around, noting that although much was the same, such as the old doctor’s diplomas and the black-and-white photos, Holly had added her own touches too. Aside from the Christmas tree in one corner, tinsel draping the walls and decals on the windows, there were more permanent fixes. She’d painted the place a cheery yellow color, a corner of the waiting room held a large toy box and a shelf filled with children’s books, and an array of magazines lay on the center table.
Doc Evans had a great bedside manner, but he’d never updated the decor. His daughter had. Dylan wondered if the old man had lived to see it. Today, Dylan had learned that the dad Holly adored had passed away last year, and right now her mom was out of town visiting her sick sister. Dylan hadn’t been here to cushion the loss of her father. Had anyone? he wondered. The thought caused a cramping in his gut.
How many other major events had he missed in her life? And was it too late to even approach her now? So many questions.
“Can I help you?” a red-haired woman he didn’t recognize asked, interrupting his thoughts as she grabbed her coat from one of the hooks in the hall.
“I’m looking for Holly—I mean Dr. Evans.”
Without looking up, the other woman shrugged her coat over her shoulders. “Dr. Evans is in the back, but we’ve seen our last patient for the day unless it’s an emergency. Is it an emergency?” As she spoke, she finally glanced into his face for the first time. “Oh my
! You’re him! I mean, you’re Dylan North. The actor.”
Used to this reaction, Dylan merely treated her to his stock fan smile and reached out a hand in greeting. “Pleased to meet you.”
She pumped his hand with enthusiasm until he thought his arm might fall off.
He eased his hand out of her grip. “And you are? Your name, I mean?”
“Oh, sorry,” she said, her cheeks turning as red as her hair. “Nicole. Nicole Barnett. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you’re standing here.”
She gushed like every other fan he met, and though Dylan understood the reaction, he hoped that the more time he spent here, the more people would get used to him and treat him no differently than anyone else. Funny how after craving the spotlight, he now wanted the ordinary.
But Nicole continued to ramble in the face of idol worship. “I’d heard you were in town, and of course Holly’s been talking about you, but I didn’t think I’d meet you in person. Oh my gosh, this is so exciting!”
“Holly’s been talking about me?” His heart rate kicked up a notch. That his return was on her radar had to be a good sign.
“Your return is all anyone can talk about. Our patients keep reminding her that you two used to be an item, not that she
to remember….” Nicole’s voice trailed off as she realized that in her excitement, she’d slipped big-time. “I’m sorry. I really do need to get going. Should I tell Holly you’re here first?”
He shook his head. “I’d rather surprise her.”
Nicole grinned. “Good idea. And if you don’t mind a suggestion, if she gives you a hard time, just say you’re here for a flu shot. Holly can never turn down a patient in need. Unless you’ve already had one?” She raised an eyebrow in question.
“No, haven’t had one.” Nor did he desire a shot, but he supposed the cause was worthwhile. “I’ll keep your idea in mind.”
Nicole smiled. “It was really nice to meet you, and good luck,” she told him, with eyes still impressionably wide, she slipped out the door.
Dylan exhaled hard. He hung his coat on a hook in the hall, then turned the lock, ensuring his reunion with Holly wouldn’t be interrupted. In silence, he headed for the back room.
Holly stood with her back to him. Her silky blonde hair had been clipped back into a ponytail that hung to her shoulders, a huge difference from the long cascading hair she had favored in high school. He couldn’t wait to see it framing her beautiful face.
Since she hadn’t heard his approach, he took a minute to watch. To cement his certainty that the emotions and feelings in his heart weren’t shadows of the past. And doing so, he was more certain than ever that they were just as intact today as they once had been.
She scribbled in a chart and then glanced at the calendar on the wall. For a brief second, he caught a glimpse of the profile he remembered, her features more defined and grown up but still the same. Her makeup had faded from a day of hard work, something the women he knew would rarely let happen, hence the entourage of traveling makeup artists to handle touch-ups and constant trips to the restroom to powder their noses.
The woman before him was real, and he wanted her to be his again. This time forever. Steeling himself, he cleared his throat and knocked twice on the doorframe.
“I thought I told you it’s okay to go home,” Holly called without glancing up from replacing the paper on the examining table. “I can clean up the last few things and get the office ready for tomorrow. Go get ready for the Christmas party at Whipporwill’s tonight.”
Her voice hadn’t changed either. The light sound was still capable of sending rippling waves of desire through him, especially when she laughed. If he accomplished nothing else on this first encounter, he wanted to make her laugh.
“It’s not Nicole,” Dylan said, drawing attention to himself at last.
She inhaled sharply and turned around fast. Shock, pleasure and anger all flashed across her features until finally she folded her arms across her chest, schooling her face into a blank mask. Just not soon enough to prevent him from discovering she still had a variety of feelings for him, and he hoped to tap into the more pleasant ones.
“Dylan,” she said, having regained her composure.
He inclined his head. “Holly. How’ve you been?”
She narrowed her gaze, obviously assessing him. “Is that really the best opening line you could come up with?” she asked, then chuckled, a sound he knew was forced because it lacked the warmth and genuineness he remembered.
It didn’t count as the laugh he’d promised himself. He shrugged. “I didn’t think you’d appreciate it if I tossed some old line your way.”
* * *
Holly nodded slowly, still unable to believe Dylan had come to see her here. She knew all about his return; how could she not when it was all her patients could talk about? But she didn’t think he’d bother to look her up.