Christmas Rainbows

 

Philadelphia, June, 1868

 

Miranda made a beautiful bride.

 

Lissa Thornhill’s heart ached as she watched her dearest friend float up the aisle of the old Philadelphia church. Miranda clutched a bouquet of red roses in unsteady hands, her long dark curls threaded through with tiny pink rosebuds. Lissa just caught her tremulous smile through the floss of her mother’s lacy veil.

 

Lissa blinked back tears, determined not to spoil this day for the girl who, to all intents and purposes, had saved her life. Miranda must not suspect that Lissa’s heart shattered even as Miranda’s own dreams came true.

 

Stephen Waldenbrook was a good man, a rising star on the financial market, steady and serious, well-liked by his peers and possessed of a quick, dry humor. He was handsome, too. And he adored Miranda.

 

But most of all, Stephen was Lissa’s friend. No matter where he escorted Miranda—a ball, the theatre, a musicale, a dinner party—he always tried to include Lissa.

He was the big brother she’d never had.

 

And now she was losing them both.

 

Before the stinging moisture could slide down her cheeks, Lissa shifted her gaze to Miranda’s father. Dear Marcus. How proud he looked, standing as straight and tall as his canes would allow, his beloved daughter’s hand tucked into the crook of his arm. He’d made such progress. He was determined to leave his invalid chair behind, to walk his daughter down the aisle.

 

Lissa’s throat tightened with envy. Oh, if only she could…

 

No. No sadness. Not on Miranda’s special day.

 

And she wasn’t really losing her friend. They’d see lots of each other once Stephen and Miranda came back from their honeymoon.

 

But Miranda had left her in a fundamental way.

 

And Lissa was alone again.

 

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