That cup of coffee led to many more. Always on the sly because, although Evie had assured Jess that her parents would come around, they seemed to get angrier with each passing day.
And she knew that they would never approve of her friendship with Jess the day her mother came home from the grocery store fuming because she’d seen the wife of ‘the murderer.’ How dare she show her face in public after what her husband had done to their family?
She knew they wouldn’t approve of her falling in love with him either. But she had. Deeply, passionately-with the son of her parents most hated ‘enemy.’
When Jess proposed, Evie hoped that maybe their love could be the catalyst to healing between their families. But it only served to exacerbate the hostility the Elliston’s harbored toward the Monroe’s. So much so that Evie’s parents gave her a choice.
Them or Jess.
Two of her brothers and her only other sister joined forces with them, leaving only Brett, her oldest brother, on her side. And Evie was brokenhearted. She couldn’t give up her family. But she couldn’t bear to give up the love of her life either.
She and Brett discussed the situation for hours and they both believed that, eventually, the rest of the family would come around. They loved Evie, after all, and they’d already lost one daughter. They wouldn’t want to lose another.
And so Evie made her choice, crying as her brother walked her down the aisle on her wedding day, the only guests being Jess’ family, a couple of cousins and a few friends.
Her parents still hadn’t forgiven her when Spencer, was born two years later. Or when Heidi Anne came along two years after that. And when Evie tried to call her father, in the hospital and dying of cancer, just a few days before his death, he’d hung up on her.
Apparently he would take his hatred of her with him into eternity.
“I wondered if you’d have the nerve to show up,” Maddy Elliston said quietly, from somewhere behind her. Evie turned and had to steel herself against the coldness in her mother’s eyes.
‘I slipped in the back of the church for the service,” she explained softly. “Then I waited to say good-bye until after everyone else had gone back for the dinner.”
“You said your good-byes twelve years ago. He didn‘t want you here.”
“Don’t start, Evie. You made your choice. You chose him instead of us.” She nodded her head toward the tree where Jess stood waiting with the kids.
“I shouldn’t have had to choose, Mom. I should have been able to marry the man I fell in love with. With your blessings. Yours and Dad’s.”
“You knew how we felt about him.”
“But he didn’t do anything!”
“I’m not going to argue about it. What’s done is done.”
“And you’re never going to forgive me for it, are you?”
“No. Your father wouldn’t and I can’t.”
“What you mean is that you won’t. Because you could if you wanted to.”
“I mean it, Evie. Finish saying your good-byes so I can sit with my husband for a while.”
“Don’t you ever miss not knowing your grandchildren?”