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Her love walked away beside the one competitor she could never equal. They were so happy, so mercilessly oblivious of the pain they had inflicted. No, that wasn't right. Jane was perfectly aware of the pain she'd inflicted. Why did they deserve a future together? Why did he choose her? She didn’t love him any more than she loved the other boys. Jane flirted shamelessly with everyone.

It had to be status; that was the only halfway sensible reason. Elijah couldn’t be so ridiculous as to prefer her looks. He'd laughed at her looks for months. Jane's hair was too blond and her eyes were too close together, but that was then and Jane was rich. Her father owned the bank, the general store, and half the town. What did she have to offer as her dowry? She had nothing that might compare to Jane’s money and land.

She was born into life on the opposite side of wealth. They had a tiny dirt farm and much love in Hickory Hollow, but nothing of monetary worth. Elijah had looked out for his own future—a future that didn’t include a farm girl with gray eyes. Despite the public humiliation, her mind still couldn't accept their relationship was over. He'd become a comfortable habit during the previous year. She could almost set a watch by his regular visits. How could he hide such hypocrisy? There were so many times had he said money was nothing and every utterance seemed as sincere and genuine as the one before. He claimed he knew, by experience, that money brought more melancholy than anything did.

She soothed those tender wounds in silence as she walked out of town. She hated self-pity. Pity was despicable as a whole, a ridiculous emotion that didn’t accomplish anything, but she was in pain. She wouldn't have guessed her heart could hurt so much. She would keep that pain to herself. He would not have the satisfaction of seeing her hurt. Elijah had courted her, but he didn't slip through her fingers and she wouldn't think of their relationship in that way. The truth was that no embrace could be tight enough to distract him from Jane’s money; all the strolls and picnics combined couldn’t profit him a single penny. Her mother had been right: townspeople and rural people didn't mix. They were too different. She'd taken him to be a decent young man, but apparently, he was just like his father. In a few years, he'd be an attorney like his father and have the same ill repute.

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