Second Chance Shifter - Women mean nothing to me—except the one that got away.
I try to tell myself I am over her, but it’s a lie.
When I see her unexpectedly, my world is turned upside down.
She is mine, and I will claim her as my own.
***
I thought it would be safe to go back.
So much time had passed.
I was wrong, though.
One last night with Forrest was all I wanted.
One year later, and my baby and I are in more danger than ever.
I have to get to Forrest before my past catches up with me.
I know he will help me.
I just hope he can forgive me.

 

Second Chance Shifter by Lola Gabriel Book Chapter One

 

Forrest realized his mistake too late. His eyes locked onto a pair of beautiful golden-green eyes that he would know anywhere. For a second, Forrest couldn’t breathe, and his heart thumped wildly in his chest.

It couldn’t be her, but it was. He knew it without looking away from her eyes and confirming it, but he did so anyway. He had to because as much as his heart knew it was her, his head insisted it wasn’t possible.

Why was Hazel at Forrest’s identical twin brother’s wedding? Forrest looked away and glanced at his twin brother, Eliot, whose eyes were fixed on his blushing bride, Ashlyn.

Why would Eliot ever invite Hazel to the wedding?

Forrest looked back to where Hazel sat and met her eyes once again. His palms started to sweat, and the room started to spin. He took a deep breath and tried to regain his composure.

Forcing his eyes off of Hazel’s mesmerizing orbs, he took in her shoulder-length, dark brown hair, her tanned skin, her cheeks that he knew would dimple slightly when she smiled. Hazel. It really was her. She was really here. His heart had known what his head had refused to accept. But what the hell was she doing here? And why hadn’t Eliot warned him she was invited?

He supposed he knew why Eliot hadn’t given him a heads-up. Eliot wouldn’t have known there was any reason to warn him that Hazel was going to be here. Hazel had been Forrest’s high school sweetheart, sure. They had been together from the age of sixteen until high school ended, and they’d had their whole futures mapped out together at one time. Then Hazel had sat Forrest down, and through tears, told him she had changed her mind about him, about their life together.

She had decided to go to college, and she didn’t expect to return to Hidden Pines, to him. And she hadn’t. Until now. Only now, Forrest was sure she had returned only to the place they had grown up together, not to him.

Forrest could even understand why Eliot had invited her to the wedding. Hazel had been a big part of their lives at one time, and she had always been in their small circle of friends.

However, Eliot couldn’t have possibly known that Hazel still consumed Forrest’s thoughts, even though it had been more than ten years since they had graduated from high school. Eliot had no idea that Hazel was the reason why Forrest had never been able to seriously commit to anyone, and instead prided himself on one-night stands and meaningless hook-ups. Hazel was the one who got away, and the only one who had ever really had Forrest’s heart.

And now she was here, at his brother’s wedding looking as flawlessly beautiful as always.

Forrest mind tuned out the wedding ceremony and wandered back to when Hazel had first ended things with him. He had been humiliated, embarrassed to tell anyone the love of his life had dumped him, so he had told everyone that they had decided it mutually, that they had always known this moment was coming. Eliot hadn’t believed him at first, but he finally came around to Forrest’s way of thinking, meaning he would have had no idea that seeing Hazel would set off a thousand memories in Forrest, a thousand tiny knife points of pain in his heart. He likely hadn’t even given Forrest a second thought when he had decided to invite Hazel to the wedding.

The irony of that was if someone had asked him how seeing Hazel would have affected him before it actually happened, Forrest would have said it wouldn’t affect him at all, just like Eliot had likely assumed he would feel. He hadn’t seen the girl for more than a decade. He had more than moved on. And yet here she was, blowing his mind as surely as if it was only yesterday that she had broken his heart.

It didn’t help that she had barely changed since then. Her breasts had filled out slightly and her face looked a little fuller, but other than that, she could easily still be that eighteen-year-old girl he had loved.

Forrest felt anger bubbling up inside of him. He was angry at Hazel for ruining what they had, for breaking his heart, for not coming back and being a part of his life once more like a large part of him had always hoped that she would do. But he was also angry with himself for letting her hold so much power over him. Even now, the effect she had on him was immense, and he was angry with himself for letting her get under his skin. That anger only intensified when he realized that he was concentrating on a part of his past instead of his brother getting married to Ashlyn.

“Forrest,” Eliot hissed, pulling Forrest’s attention away from Hazel and turning his focus back to the wedding, proving Forrest’s last point for him.

Eliot looked pissed off, and with a start, Forrest realized that the officiant was asking for the ring. He quickly dug into his inside pocket and produced the ring. He didn’t just hear the sigh of relief go up around the room; he felt it inside of himself. He forced himself to keep his attention firmly on Eliot and Ashlyn from that moment on as they exchanged their rings and said their vows. He resisted the urge to glance into the congregation and look for Hazel again.

Fuck her, he thought to himself. It’s been more than ten years. What’s another ten minutes?

After what felt like an excruciatingly long time, the officiant smiled and pronounced Eliot and Ashlyn husband and wife and gave them permission to kiss. They leaned in to each other, and at first the crowd smiled and clapped quietly, but then the kiss went on for just a little bit too long, and it was just a little bit too passionate, and Forrest knew that he wasn’t the only one who began to grow uncomfortable.

Finally, when Forrest could stand it no longer, he cleared his throat loudly. It seemed to do the trick and remind Eliot and Ashlyn that they had an audience. Their kiss finally broke, and after the newly married couple exited, everyone began to file out of the room to head to the reception at the Belmont Hotel.

Forrest couldn’t help scanning the crowd for Hazel as they moved, but he had lost sight of her in the sea of moving bodies. He shrugged. He would see her again. It was inevitable at this kind of event.