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In a drunken stupor, Brandon O'Malley frightens his brother Aidan's girlfriend, enraging his brother and the rest of his family. Aidan offers Brandon the choice of rehab or jail, and Brandon reluctantly enters treatment. While in rehab, he confronts the lifetime of secrets and resentments that fueled his spiral into alcoholism, and these revelations have a major effect on In a drunken stupor, Brandon O'Malley frightens his brother Aidan's girlfriend, enraging his brother and the rest of his family. Aidan offers Brandon the choice of rehab or jail, and Brandon reluctantly enters treatment. While in rehab, he confronts the lifetime of secrets and resentments that fueled his spiral into alcoholism, and these revelations have a major effect on his entire family. When he returns home expecting to resume his supervisory role in the family’s construction business, Brandon learns his father has retired and put his younger brothe, Colin, in charge. Brandon is unhappy to be given the job of renovating an apartment building where he loses his heart to an adorable five-year-old tenant named “Mike.” After he falls hard for Michaela, Brandon becomes involved with her mother Daphne, who is running from a past that will later test his sobriety and his mettle as a man.


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In a drunken stupor, Brandon O'Malley frightens his brother Aidan's girlfriend, enraging his brother and the rest of his family. Aidan offers Brandon the choice of rehab or jail, and Brandon reluctantly enters treatment. While in rehab, he confronts the lifetime of secrets and resentments that fueled his spiral into alcoholism, and these revelations have a major effect on In a drunken stupor, Brandon O'Malley frightens his brother Aidan's girlfriend, enraging his brother and the rest of his family. Aidan offers Brandon the choice of rehab or jail, and Brandon reluctantly enters treatment. While in rehab, he confronts the lifetime of secrets and resentments that fueled his spiral into alcoholism, and these revelations have a major effect on his entire family. When he returns home expecting to resume his supervisory role in the family’s construction business, Brandon learns his father has retired and put his younger brothe, Colin, in charge. Brandon is unhappy to be given the job of renovating an apartment building where he loses his heart to an adorable five-year-old tenant named “Mike.” After he falls hard for Michaela, Brandon becomes involved with her mother Daphne, who is running from a past that will later test his sobriety and his mettle as a man.

30 review for Starting Over

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Overall rating: 4 "Second Chance" stars! Triggers: Cheating: (view spoiler)[ no (hide spoiler)] Love triangle: (view spoiler)[ no (hide spoiler)] Sex with om/ow: (view spoiler)[ no (hide spoiler)] Intimate pasts: (view spoiler)[ Just like the rest of the books in this series, there are two main couples of this story. Brandon we met in the last book. He is Aiden's brother who hits rock bottom with his alcohol addiction and ends up in rehab for a month. His intimate past is not really talked about h Overall rating: 4 "Second Chance" stars! Triggers: Cheating: (view spoiler)[ no (hide spoiler)] Love triangle: (view spoiler)[ no (hide spoiler)] Sex with om/ow: (view spoiler)[ no (hide spoiler)] Intimate pasts: (view spoiler)[ Just like the rest of the books in this series, there are two main couples of this story. Brandon we met in the last book. He is Aiden's brother who hits rock bottom with his alcohol addiction and ends up in rehab for a month. His intimate past is not really talked about honestly. The only thing that is mentioned is when he remembers once waking up after a bender (years ago) with some woman. That was it. Nothing else was mentioned. He doesn't seem like the type of guy to do casual sex. He had a relationship even that lasted 5 years, but he wasn't in love with the girl. There is no mention of "needing to get laid" or anything once he is out of rehab and the minute he meets Daphne and "Mike" he is in love. Daphne hasn't had sex since she had Mike, 5 years ago. Our next couple was Colin, another O'Malley brother, who is so focused on work he doesn't have time for a relationship or sex I guess. It's never mentioned. He was once engaged and she left him. It was a case of he "thought" he was in love but really wasn't because of how he feels about the heroine. The heroine in this story for him (I forgot her name - Melissa???) Anyway it's been quite awhile for her too. (hide spoiler)] HEA: (view spoiler)[ Yes! (hide spoiler)] My review: Let me preface my review by saying this - one of the things I love about this series is the absence of manwhores. I am talking NO ONE, not even any of the secondary characters - including brothers and friends are manwhores and it is so damn refreshing it is unbelievable! Also, one's sexual past is not even thrown in your face. It is a NON-issue! Which I absolutely love! This book was different than the first two because this book, although it contains many of the same recurring characters, is focused on some newer characters. If you read book 2, you know Brandon is Aiden O'Malley's brother (Clare's new man) and you will remember that scene that caused him to hit rock bottom with his alcohol addiction and landed him in rehab for a month. I loved reading about his experience and rehab and how he wanted to make amends. Brandon turned to alcohol years ago as a coping mechanism to deal with two very deep secrets he has been hiding for years. (view spoiler)[ 1. He always felt trapped in his job (working for his Dad's) company with no way out. He has always wanted to be a navy seal and at this point in his life, it is now too late for that. 2. He has been in love with Aiden's deceased wife since he met her when he was 11 years old. (hide spoiler)] I loved how when he got out of rehab, he didn't beat around the bush and addressed his issues with his family. He was a standup guy and can I just say I loved how he was with "Mike." That little girl was hilarious. I just LOVED her. I found myself laughing out loud a few times with the things she would say. He was always attracted to Daphne as well - as soon as she met him, but she acted like a bitch aka the ice queen (with good reason come to find out). I loved seeing Colin move on as well and take the chance on someone other than work for a change. Their secondary romance was cute. I even loved how their other brother Declan got engaged as well! :) Unlike the other two books, this one did have a slightly suspenseful section to it, as well as some sadness. (including one of my small triggers (view spoiler)[ loss of a pregnancy (hide spoiler)] This book has no other woman drama at all. The epilogue was super sweet and I loved it! Although, I can't wait to read more from this group of people - including Kate and Reid's story!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chele

    Why the one-star when Marie Force is one of my top three favorite authors? I could not get into this story line. I could tell that the author did a lot of research about AA but the story contained too many details that I got bored. I also did not connect with the H. Books 1 and 2 were so amazing, full of angst and heartbreak. I hope my rating of the book doesn't discourage any to try it. It might be your cup of tea. Marie is a wonderful author. I just did not connect with this story, hence the ra Why the one-star when Marie Force is one of my top three favorite authors? I could not get into this story line. I could tell that the author did a lot of research about AA but the story contained too many details that I got bored. I also did not connect with the H. Books 1 and 2 were so amazing, full of angst and heartbreak. I hope my rating of the book doesn't discourage any to try it. It might be your cup of tea. Marie is a wonderful author. I just did not connect with this story, hence the rating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Authors please pay attention- if you want to know how to write the kind of epilogues that readers want, read Starting Over's. Not only was the whole book wonderful, the epilogue had everything, I mean everything I want- it had a heartwarming twist, it provided updates for the series'major characters [a must for the readers], and it required a few tissues. Thank you Marie Force for ending this lovely trilogy on a perfect note!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Splage

    I so enjoyed this whole trilogy and highly recommend it! Marie Force is a favorite author of mine because her stories are deeper, a little edgier in plot line (this one was about and alcoholic) and evoke so much emotion from me - I can always count on a good cry and an uplifting HEA. She is also the queen of Love at First Sight story lines, which I don't always want, sometimes I like the "I love you's" to take awhile, but sometimes they are exactly what I need. Starting Over has two, slightly th I so enjoyed this whole trilogy and highly recommend it! Marie Force is a favorite author of mine because her stories are deeper, a little edgier in plot line (this one was about and alcoholic) and evoke so much emotion from me - I can always count on a good cry and an uplifting HEA. She is also the queen of Love at First Sight story lines, which I don't always want, sometimes I like the "I love you's" to take awhile, but sometimes they are exactly what I need. Starting Over has two, slightly three love stories intertwined. The main one is Brandon O'Malley, who was introduced in book 2 when his brothers took him to rehab. It was a very touching part of this book to watch him go through all the steps and stages. I didn't feel some of the conclusions Brandon came to as to what caused his downward spiral were as strong as I felt necessary, but I loved how his family rallied around him (both good and bad) and supported him. The scene stealer for me was Mike, the 5 year old daughter of Daphne, Brandon's love interest. She was so adorable, with her blond ringlets, chubby legs, and boys name. What was the best was that Brandon fell in love with her first and she just melted his heart with her love. There also was a love story for the two other brothers which was good, nothing too deep in development though. Treading Water (Book 1) was my favorite story of the series, but I LOVED the epilogue at the end of Starting Over. A bunch of books I have read lately have had some incredible epilogues. When an author really takes the time, as in this series, to give you a thorough HEA, it makes me want to read everything on her book list. And this Epilogue was the bomb and had to reread it a couple of times because it was so good, yet a little sad.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anne OK

    Book Three in Treading Water Trilogy An excellent conclusion to the "Treading Water" trilogy. Once again, Marie Force offers her readers another extraordinarily interesting and entertaining storyline which includes sizzling romance and intriguing characters who'll make you cry, laugh and love right along with them. "Starting Over" features Brandon O'Malley who, despite his refusal to acknowledge he has a drinking problem, lands in rehab after he attacks his brother's girlfriend. Getting his life Book Three in Treading Water Trilogy An excellent conclusion to the "Treading Water" trilogy. Once again, Marie Force offers her readers another extraordinarily interesting and entertaining storyline which includes sizzling romance and intriguing characters who'll make you cry, laugh and love right along with them. "Starting Over" features Brandon O'Malley who, despite his refusal to acknowledge he has a drinking problem, lands in rehab after he attacks his brother's girlfriend. Getting his life back on track is going to be harder than he thought. But when he meets Daphne and her daughter, "Mike" who have secrets of their own, life begins to take on new meaning and make sense once again. The author demonstrates her versatility and talent by creating a story that will draw the reader's attention from the beginning to the ending. The relationship that builds between these three characters is quite compelling and endearing. When you think this book can't get any better, you'll arrive at the Epilogue and find you were oh so wrong! It's simply terrific and will touch your heart deeply. I highly recommend the entire "Treading Water" trilogy because it is outstanding from the first word through the very last word.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Yes –(4 stars) Definitely enjoyed Brandon and the story surrounding his troubles with alcohol and journey to higher ground. The scene with him at the cemetery was a heart grabber and a Kleenex moment. No – (2.5-3 stars) Didn’t care for the whim, wham of the (and I hate to say this because I love Marie Force’s books) sappy love stories here. Again, as with Marking Time I feel like this story was another Lifetime movie and these lives are on a quick time table to meet fall head over heels in love Yes –(4 stars) Definitely enjoyed Brandon and the story surrounding his troubles with alcohol and journey to higher ground. The scene with him at the cemetery was a heart grabber and a Kleenex moment. No – (2.5-3 stars) Didn’t care for the whim, wham of the (and I hate to say this because I love Marie Force’s books) sappy love stories here. Again, as with Marking Time I feel like this story was another Lifetime movie and these lives are on a quick time table to meet fall head over heels in love and marry in a 2 hour allotted movie. I adore Marie Force but these last 2 books were disappointing making me wonder WTH?!? For instance with Brandon/Daphne…would an already freaked out parent allow their 5 yr old child to get in a car to go to someone else’s house with a man they hardly know!?!!? That was a definite stretch. And Colin and Meredith!?! Are you kidding me?!? I meet you, I love you, I want to marry you – after one date?!? Over the top sappy. Both couples love stories were just too unbelievable for me. Down but not out, I know I can count on Marie Force to deliver with Nick/Sam come Fatal Flaw in 2012, or with the Gansett Island crew. Not overly disappointed that out of the 17 of her books read only 2 disappointed, that’s not bad at all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    LOVED this book! The O'Malley's are such an amazing family. I laughed out loud at Dennis' fear of Daphne...so funny to imagine a big tough guy, whos raised 5 kids being scared of one woman. I absolutly loved Mike and Brandon's relationship. She was the star of the book for me. The epilogue...tissues please!!! I loved seeing Colin and Declan get their HEA's. Especially Colin, the steadfast "good kid", it was time he had something special just for himself. On a side note, I was a little sad not to s LOVED this book! The O'Malley's are such an amazing family. I laughed out loud at Dennis' fear of Daphne...so funny to imagine a big tough guy, whos raised 5 kids being scared of one woman. I absolutly loved Mike and Brandon's relationship. She was the star of the book for me. The epilogue...tissues please!!! I loved seeing Colin and Declan get their HEA's. Especially Colin, the steadfast "good kid", it was time he had something special just for himself. On a side note, I was a little sad not to see the resolution of Kate and Reid's relationship. I guess it one of those relationships where they loved each other, but wasn't meant to be. I think I wanted it to work out mostly because of Reid he needs some love. Its going to be hard deciding what to read next after 3 such amazing books...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dawn ♥ romance

    An engrossing story with lots of information on alcoholism and enough romance including love at first sight secondary romances. Plot, pace and action all good with exciting ending. Recovering alcoholic Brandon meets Daphne and her precocious daughter living in the building he is restoring.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    There are certain things that shouldn't be rushed. One of them is romance with a recovering alcoholic when you have a 5 year old. Also, why are you letting this dude you've know for a couple months, be alone with your kid? idk. The other subplots are also rushed and silly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Tear Jerker Deluxe! This book could have been a series all on its own WOW! To say I loved it is an understatement it was amazing, absolutely amazing. Forgive me for gushing but I seldom find a book that truly takes my breath away and this one has. Brandon, Daphne and Michaela’s story is one for the ages from the moment they meet.... The entire O’Malley clan take part in this superb story filled with angst, love, and serious issues,beautifully handled. Kudos to Ms. Force for her research and insig Tear Jerker Deluxe! This book could have been a series all on its own WOW! To say I loved it is an understatement it was amazing, absolutely amazing. Forgive me for gushing but I seldom find a book that truly takes my breath away and this one has. Brandon, Daphne and Michaela’s story is one for the ages from the moment they meet.... The entire O’Malley clan take part in this superb story filled with angst, love, and serious issues,beautifully handled. Kudos to Ms. Force for her research and insight. I Highly recommend this book that can be read as a stand alone but you should read the preceding books in this series you will be glad you did, 5 STARS ALL THE WAY WISH I COULD GIVE IT 11!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Judy Churchill

    I liked this book but it didn’t have the character development books 1 and 2 had. Too much happened too fast.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Smith

    Starting Over Another book in the series that has you bawling your eyes out one moment and smiling and laughing the next. While this book is mostly Brandon's story you still get caught up with the rest of the family. This book can be read as a standalone but some parts won't make as much sense and besides you don't want to miss any of the story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Filipe

    I have to agree with a few of the other ladies that said Starting Over was their Favorite of the Treading Water Trilogy. I can honestly say that Brandon stole my heart in this book and I think might hold onto it for a while. I tend to be a woman who always went after the man who needed to be "saved". So in Starting Over I found myself feeling so bad for Valerie, Brandon's ex, who put so much of herself into the relationship with a man who was lost. The book starts out with a lot of heavy baggage I have to agree with a few of the other ladies that said Starting Over was their Favorite of the Treading Water Trilogy. I can honestly say that Brandon stole my heart in this book and I think might hold onto it for a while. I tend to be a woman who always went after the man who needed to be "saved". So in Starting Over I found myself feeling so bad for Valerie, Brandon's ex, who put so much of herself into the relationship with a man who was lost. The book starts out with a lot of heavy baggage and as the book goes on, we are able to join Brandon on his road to recovery, shedding the pain and resentment along the way. I wanted so bad for Brandon to find his HEA, to find someone who would accept him fully, as is, and Daphne was just the person for the job, even tho she tried her hardest to stay away. But when your five year old daughter falls for a man who looks like him...ummm yummy, how can your defenses not be lowered. Marie Force created an amazing story with Starting Over that gives us hope that no one is ever lost, they just need someone to care enough to find them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Eh, glad I only borrowed this one. This was one of those quick, easy contemporary reads that I like to gobble down once in awhile. I liked the first two books in the series they yanked a lot of outrage chains and they were super fun to read. This one fell all over itself in it's earnestness. Part of he problem is that the first part of the book felt like it was a by-the-book primer on AA and Al-Anon. I felt like I was reading a manual, not a story about this person's experience with alcohol addi Eh, glad I only borrowed this one. This was one of those quick, easy contemporary reads that I like to gobble down once in awhile. I liked the first two books in the series they yanked a lot of outrage chains and they were super fun to read. This one fell all over itself in it's earnestness. Part of he problem is that the first part of the book felt like it was a by-the-book primer on AA and Al-Anon. I felt like I was reading a manual, not a story about this person's experience with alcohol addiction. After the initial pedantic chapters, the story finally settles into itself and gets better. I have decided that I just need to roll with the fact that MF allows her characters to fall in love almost instantly without a lot of build up -- a lot of tell, only a little of show. I like aspects of her writing enough that I'll live with what will always largely be an issue for me. This book features not just one but two insta-loves. And I while I could kinda believe Brandon/Daphne, the meet-love-marriage with Colin & Meredith was too quick. Their "love-story" probably had the word-count equivalent of two chapters at most. Not one of her best, imo.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was a wonderful addition to this series! I loved really getting to know the rest of the O'Malley family (Aidan's siblings and parents). This book focuses on Brandon, who is working to stay sober after events from Marking Time occur. Shortly after returning from rehab, he meets a little girl named Mike who takes a liking to him. Then he meets her mother. This book is more than a love story- more than that, I loved watching Brandon in his recovery, making his amends, and truly learning so muc This was a wonderful addition to this series! I loved really getting to know the rest of the O'Malley family (Aidan's siblings and parents). This book focuses on Brandon, who is working to stay sober after events from Marking Time occur. Shortly after returning from rehab, he meets a little girl named Mike who takes a liking to him. Then he meets her mother. This book is more than a love story- more than that, I loved watching Brandon in his recovery, making his amends, and truly learning so much. I loved Colin and how he understood that alcoholism is a family disease and that it affected everyone. The rest of the O'Malleys are what you would expect from a large, Irish Catholic family! I loved them! Definite reread!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    My grade: C+. This is the third book of a trilogy. I didn't read the first two books but had no trouble keeping all the characters and backstories straight. The book starts with Brandon starting a 30 day rehab. All 4 O'Malley brothers had relationships to fix, and all issues were rather quickly resolved near the end. I liked Brandon's journey: accepting his alcoholism and his struggle with sobriety. That was unusual in a romance and I appreciated the research Force did. I liked Brandon and 5 year My grade: C+. This is the third book of a trilogy. I didn't read the first two books but had no trouble keeping all the characters and backstories straight. The book starts with Brandon starting a 30 day rehab. All 4 O'Malley brothers had relationships to fix, and all issues were rather quickly resolved near the end. I liked Brandon's journey: accepting his alcoholism and his struggle with sobriety. That was unusual in a romance and I appreciated the research Force did. I liked Brandon and 5 year old Mike. I wish I'd had the POV of Daphne and less skipping from brother to brother. And all in all, a book I enjoyed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janell

    I really didn't think I was going to like this book as much as the first two, as the storyline is a little bit of a deviation from the others. (My plan was to rush through it so I could get to the 4th book and catch up with the other characters). Boy was I wrong! This book turned on the water works BIG TIME! I enjoyed all of the book, but I'd say the last 1/4 or 1/3 (not sure) I simply COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN and that Epilogue!!!! I got 1/2 way through it and had to start back reading it from the I really didn't think I was going to like this book as much as the first two, as the storyline is a little bit of a deviation from the others. (My plan was to rush through it so I could get to the 4th book and catch up with the other characters). Boy was I wrong! This book turned on the water works BIG TIME! I enjoyed all of the book, but I'd say the last 1/4 or 1/3 (not sure) I simply COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN and that Epilogue!!!! I got 1/2 way through it and had to start back reading it from the beginning. (It even has a little bit of a Fatal feel from time to time....) Another amazing book by Marie Force!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mareli

    Another O'Malley here, after Aidan in the previous book, we meet Brandon, who has serious alchol issue. After 30 days in rehab Brandon has to begin again with his family, his brothers and all the people he hurt in his drunken fog. But he meets Mike, a wonderful 5 years old girl, who needs a father and her mother, who needs a friend and maybe someone who'll love her. For those two woman Brandon becomes finally the man all his family wanted him to be. Very emotional and sweet. A great trilogy, recomm Another O'Malley here, after Aidan in the previous book, we meet Brandon, who has serious alchol issue. After 30 days in rehab Brandon has to begin again with his family, his brothers and all the people he hurt in his drunken fog. But he meets Mike, a wonderful 5 years old girl, who needs a father and her mother, who needs a friend and maybe someone who'll love her. For those two woman Brandon becomes finally the man all his family wanted him to be. Very emotional and sweet. A great trilogy, recommended!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    My favorite and a wonderful third book in this series. Realistic situations, beautifully packed together. I love the O'Malley clan! The relationship they all have is what - for me - was the core of this book and what made it work so well. But I have to say Mike & Brandon's relationship is the killer :) That kid slays me!! My favorite and a wonderful third book in this series. Realistic situations, beautifully packed together. I love the O'Malley clan! The relationship they all have is what - for me - was the core of this book and what made it work so well. But I have to say Mike & Brandon's relationship is the killer :) That kid slays me!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jan Mcleod

    Multiple plots involving the O'Malley family and the women the O'Malley sons love; an alcoholic son, Brandon, and his fight for sobriety; kidnapping of Brandon's fiancee's daughter; a powerful senator; and several other sub-plots. ALL are woven together with the hand of a master that you won't want to put down once you start to read this one!.

  21. 5 out of 5

    KK

    So, SO amazing! This book has it all. As in all Marie Force books, there is definitely romance, but there is also a solid dose of humor, drama, and lots of tissue moments. You will fall in love with the O'Malley's and the people around them.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Loved all the books in the Treading Water Series, but by far my favorite was this book! Brandon and his brothers showed the true meaning of brotherhood in this book, I wanted to belong to their family. I was torn when I realized that I would not be reading more on the O'Malley's!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cocktails and Books

    Absolutely fabulous. Look for review on Night Owl Reviews Absolutely fabulous. Look for review on Night Owl Reviews

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    This is the BEST series I have read to date! This book was an emotional ride full of LOVE! Highly recommend.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura's Book Addiction

    Starting Over is AMAZING my favourite of the series even my favourite book by Marie Force EVER!!!!!!!!!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ju

    This was a wonderful story. I loved the brothers and Mike was adorable. I really loved the ending.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ms bookjunkie

    Amazing book, real issues. Not my favorite in the trilogy but compelling, emotionally satisfying. Trigger warning: Realistic description of an alcoholic's revelations in rehab.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    What a great story. I wasn't sure how I felt about Brandon in book two. But damn does this boy redeem himselfin this book. The epilogue still has me in tears. I love the wrap up.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Brocious hughes

    Tears abound, where's the kleenx This book takes you on a heartfelt rollercoaster ride of emotions and ends perfectly. Marie is a master story teller

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Cunningham

    I love Daphne and Brandon story. Another great Marie Force,and I would read it again. ENJOY EVERYONE📚💜 Brandon faced the mirror to adjust his bow tie and brush some lint off the shoulder of his black tuxedo. He ran a trembling hand through hair streaked with the strands of silver that began appearing after the kidnapping. The butterflies that had stormed around in his stomach for days had grown into bats overnight. He reached for the roll of antacids in his pocket. How will I ever do this? “Dear I love Daphne and Brandon story. Another great Marie Force,and I would read it again. ENJOY EVERYONE📚💜 Brandon faced the mirror to adjust his bow tie and brush some lint off the shoulder of his black tuxedo. He ran a trembling hand through hair streaked with the strands of silver that began appearing after the kidnapping. The butterflies that had stormed around in his stomach for days had grown into bats overnight. He reached for the roll of antacids in his pocket. How will I ever do this? “Dear God,” he said to his reflection in the mirror, comfortable now with the daily requests he made to his higher power. “Please help me get through this day without embarrassing myself.” He made one last unsuccessful attempt to straighten his bow tie and left the men’s room in the back of Holy Redeemer Church. His mother came out of the room reserved for brides, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye. “She looks beautiful, love.” “So do you, Mum.” “Thank you,” she said. “She’s making us all cry in there.” He smiled. “She’s holding up okay?” “Cool as a cucumber. Just what you’d expect of her. How’re you?” He popped another antacid into his mouth. “I’m kind of a wreck, to be honest.” Colleen patted his face. “You can do it, love. I’ll be pulling for you.” “Thanks, Mum.” He kissed her. “I’ll see you in there.” The door to the bride’s room opened again. Seventeen-year-old Isabel and fifteen-year-old Emily emerged in strapless dark green gowns. Isabel’s chestnut curls were swept up into a glamorous style that left him breathless. When had she become a woman? Emily’s light blonde hair, so much like her mother’s and Mike’s, was twisted into the same elegant style as her sister’s. “Daddy, she’s asking for you,” Isabel said, kissing Brandon’s cheek and adjusting the wayward bow tie yet again. “You look dashing.” “And you, my ladies, are stunning. The maids of honor are not supposed to outshine the bride.”They giggled. Daphne, exquisite in a dusty rose silk gown, emerged from the bride’s room wiping her eyes. “Hey.” Brandon kissed her. “Are you okay?” Daphne nodded. “She’s ready for you.” Brandon glanced at the closed door and then at his wife. “Am I ready for her?” She laughed. “I doubt it.” “You’re still a goddess,” he whispered in her ear, curling a lock of her now shoulder-length hair around his finger. “Love you.” She went up on tiptoes to kiss him. “Love you, too.”

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