If the Shoe Fits (Meant To Be #1) - Julie Murphy Page 0,1

with me trying to replace our life…or your mother. No one could replace her. I know that all too well.”

“Dad, just say it. It’s okay. Just say it, please,” she pleaded, remembering the fear she felt when her dad was so upset about her mother that he could barely get the words out. She knew her mother was gone, and all she wanted was for the news to come fast. To rip it off like a bandage.

“I met someone. Someone I really like.”

Cindy nodded as she snuck Mac a piece of crust, though he promptly spat it out after realizing it wasn’t pepperoni. “What do you mean? You’ve met someone? Like, at the store?”

“I’ve—I’m dating someone. And it’s quite serious, actually.” Simon chuckled, as though that surprised even him. “She has two daughters around your age. I think the three of you might really hit it off. If…If things work out, you’d have the sisters you always wanted.”

Discomfort bubbled in Cindy’s stomach. She had always wanted a sister or two, but that was back when her mom was alive to make that dream come true.

“I was thinking maybe we could all get together for dinner soon,” he said.

“Here?” Cindy asked, glancing over to the kitchen, where she could so easily remember her mother and father cooking and fighting and dancing and doing all the things that made this little house feel like home.

“Well, no,” he said, watching Cindy’s gaze. “Not if you don’t want to. Maybe we could start out on neutral ground. Maybe that mini golf place down the road with the great taco truck?”

Cindy nodded. Through all of this, her father had been her pillar. She knew he deserved to have someone to lean on too, but the thought of him with someone else…hugging, kissing, laughing, moving on…All of it meant one thing: Her mother really was gone.

“We’ll take it slow,” he said, seeing all the hesitation and anxiety furrowing in her brow. “And no matter what, we’ll always have each other. Anyone else who comes into our life is just the cherry on top.”

Cindy grinned. “I like that. The cherry on top.” She couldn’t help but wonder about her new potential sisters. Were they pretty? Smart? Thin? Funny? Mean? Cindy looked down at her round tummy and her mismatched pajamas. Would they like her? Cindy was a little bit of a loner. It was part of her only-child DNA.

Simon leaned back in his armchair with a worn paperback in hand and Mac in his lap, leaving the remote to Cindy. She flipped through the channels until a lineup of glittering women caught her eye. It looked like a beauty pageant, but these women weren’t onstage. They were in front of huge white château that looked more like a castle than a house, with a stunning staircase leading to the massive front door and two turrets on either side.

Each woman wore a dramatic evening gown paired with the perfect high heels that made their legs look like they went on forever. There were ruffling hems and studded shoes, some with straps that went up around ankles like pointe shoes and others that were sleek and quiet in the same way a sports car could be.

A man with rippling black hair in a crisp tuxedo stepped out in front of the women and faced the camera. “Good evening, and welcome to the series premiere of Before Midnight. I’m your host, Chad Winkle. Tonight, I’m proud to bring you a groundbreaking social experiment from groundbreaking producer Erica Tremaine.”

Simon looked up as Chad continued. “Twenty-four women and one very eligible suitor. Will they find love before the clock strikes midnight? Stay tuned.”

The camera swept down the line of women, showcasing their rainbow of dresses and shoes once more, and Cindy, who was absolutely bewitched, let out a gasp. “All those shoes.”

Simon put his book down, perplexed. “How do they balance in those things? Some of them look like they’ve got knives strapped to their feet.”

“They’re beautiful.”

Simon chuckled. “Not as beautiful as you.”

Her jaw dropped in feigned disgust, but her blushing cheeks couldn’t lie. “Gross, Dad. I was talking about their shoes.”

“When I met her, your mother had a closet full of shoes she never wore,” he said. “She said she liked the idea of them.”

“What?” Cindy asked. “What are you talking about? The only fancy shoes Mom ever had were those blue ones from your wedding.”

The satin pointy-toe heels had been dyed the perfect shade of blue for their wedding day,