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Since the Day We Danced (Hadley Cove Sweet Romance: Book 1)

Since the Day We Danced (Hadley Cove Sweet Romance: Book 1)

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A wounded divorcee, a grieving widower, and the rescue dog who shows them that second chances do exist.

Main Tropes

  • Second Chances
  • Small Town
  • Later in Life Romance


From the bestselling author of Pawprints On Our Hearts comes a captivating story of love and redemption that will leave you cheering for second chances and stay with you long after the final page.

Emma Wright’s world came crashing down when her husband served her with divorce papers on their anniversary and left her for a younger woman. Starting over at forty, she moves into a quaint beachfront cottage on the other side of Hadley Cove with her beloved rescue dog, Riley. But just as she’s picking up the shattered pieces to her life, Riley goes missing.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, widowed father Luke Grayson vows to repair the strained relationship with his teenage son, Jeremiah. In search of new beginnings, he moves them to the picturesque small coastal town of Hadley Cove, Georgia. While they're getting settled, an unexpected visitor arrives at their doorstops, and seems to believe this is his home.

As destiny weaves Emma and Luke’s paths together in unforeseen ways, their lives will change forever.

Will they find the courage to open their fragile hearts to a second chance at love? Or will the scars of the past keep them from their happily ever after?


Each book in theHadley Cove Sweet Romance series can be read as a stand-alone novel that ends with a happily-ever-after and no cliffhangers. If you enjoy sweet, clean and wholesome, swoonworthy romance stories, you'll want to binge them all.

❤️Book 1: Since the Day We Danced

❤️Book 2: Since the Day We Fell

❤️Book 3: Since the Day We Kissed

❤️Book 4: Since the Day We Wished

❤️Book 5: Since the Day We Left

❤️Prequel: Since the Day We Promised

Intro Into Chapter 1


Hadley Cove, Georgia

Emma Wright couldn’t stomach another bite of the veggie sandwich in front of her, unable to shake off the image of her soon-to-be ex-husband, Chad, and his new girlfriend, Ashley, leaving the courtroom arm-in-arm. A sigh escaped her lips as she reclined in the chair, her fingers sweeping the auburn curls away from her face. She had taken great care in preparing herself for the day’s court appearance, aware of the inevitable encounter with the man who had vowed to love her forever and the young woman who now had stepped into the role that was once hers.

At the dignified age of forty, Emma bore a beauty that had ripened with time. Her features, though etched with the subtle lines of life’s experiences, held a charm that was alluring. Yet, in the glow of Ashley’s youthful radiance, she felt the weight of the years she had weathered. Ashley, fifteen years Emma’s junior, carried sun-kissed blonde locks and a vitality that accentuated the striking contrast between her fresh bloom and Emma’s seasoned grace—a poignant reminder of the relentless march of time.

“Aren’t you gonna try to eat? We have to head back soon,” Lisa said, the contours of her face shaped by worry.

“I don’t think I can. I just want this all to be over.”

“It will be soon. We just gotta head back in there and listen to the judge’s ruling on the divorce. That’s it; pretty soon today will be nothing but a distant bad memory.” Lisa gave Emma’s arm a comforting squeeze and rose to her feet, picking up the red plastic basket. “I’ll go up to the counter and have them wrap this up. You can eat it later.”

Emma nodded as she walked away, barely hearing what her friend had said. She stared out the deli window, sipping down the last bit of water from her Styrofoam cup. Her brown eyes gazed toward a tree, where she saw two birds swoop by. She watched in envy as they soared through the air, landing gracefully on the rooftop of the Hadley Cove courthouse. Unlike the birds, Emma’s life hadn’t been so smooth over the past few months. She never imagined this day would arrive when she took her wedding vows sixteen years ago.

“Alright. You ready?” Lisa asked upon returning.

Emma stood up and grabbed her purse. “I guess it’s time to get this over with.”

Back at the courthouse, she walked toward her lawyer and sat down next to him. He wasn’t one of the most prominent attorneys in coastal Georgia, but he was all she could afford on her own.

Emma turned toward Lisa, who had taken a seat behind her in the gallery and was met with a soft smile that had felt like a silent reassurance. But when Chad strolled in with Ashley hanging from his arm, Emma’s heart raced, pounding like a resounding drumbeat throughout her body. Why did he bring her with him? And why did she agree to come? As she continued watching them, Ashley reached up to Chad’s lapel, picking off a piece of lint and kissed him on the lips. Then as she took her seat, he gave a light tap on her behind.

The color drained from Emma’s face as she turned around and drew in a deep, shaky breath, fighting off the tears that had begun to sting her eyes. Years that seemed like a lifetime, spent beside this man, filled with the memories and the relationship she thought she had—and this is how it all would end.

“Don’t let him and that homewrecker get to you,” Lisa said, placing a hand on her shoulder, gently kneading to alleviate the built-up tension. “You’re worth more than both of them put together.”

Emma looked back and mouthed the words, “Thank you.” Digging into her purse, she grabbed a tissue to dab at her eyes, and noticed her lifelong friend staring daggers at Chad.

“What a total jerk. I’m about to go over there and tell him to make that girl leave.”

“Lisa, I love you, but please don’t. I want today to be as drama-free as possible. There’s already been enough arguing and shouting between us.”

Lisa sighed. “Okay. I won’t. But let me know if you change your mind. I have no problem telling Chad exactly what I think of him.”

A smile shined through despite Emma’s somber mood. “I know.”

At that moment, the judge walked back in from his chambers. An officer followed him out and stood to the left of the bench. “Court is now back in session with the honorable Judge Williams presiding. All rise.”

Emma stood, smoothing out the knee-length black skirt she was wearing, and kept her eyes straight forward. The last thing she wanted to do was look at Chad again knowing she wouldn’t be able to control her emotions. It was bad enough her eyes were probably red and puffy looking. If only she could run to the bathroom to fix her face, she thought. But there was no time for that now.

“Please be seated.” Emma’s heart thudded against her chest as Judge Williams spoke.

“Now that we’ve had a recess, it’s time to finalize the divorce between Chad Alan Jones and Emma Leigh Wright.”

The judge shuffled through the papers in his hands and began to read. “The combined assets of Mr. Jones and Ms. Wright, acquired during the time of their marriage, furniture, jewelry, etc., shall be sold, and the profits will be equally divided. Since Ms. Wright has refused alimony from Mr. Jones, she will keep all her personal belongings, as well as full custody of Riley, the rescue dog they adopted together. Next, their place of residence at fourteen twenty-two Muscadine Drive will be sold, with the profits being equally divided between Mr. Jones and Ms. Wright. This will conclude all conjugal property...”

A solitary tear rolled down Emma’s cheek at the mention of her house. The mere thought of selling it tugged at her heartstrings, as it had been her grandfather’s home before gifting it to her as a wedding present. The house held countless cherished memories; its walls steeped in the moments that shaped her journey. She had always envisioned it as the place where she would grow old and spend her twilight years sitting on the porch and watching the sunset every evening. Then again, Chad had always been in that picture too. At that point, Judge Williams had finished reading and banged his gavel on the wooden block in front of him, declaring the court session over.

Emma’s gaze shifted to Chad, curious about his response to the judge’s ruling. She felt a knot growing in her stomach, watching the wry smile stretch across his face as he shook hands with his lawyer. Turning toward Emma, he shrugged his shoulders and flashed her a smirk.

Unable to bear the sight, she turned away, closing her eyes. She focused on her breathing, inhaling and exhaling in measured rhythm. Silently, she began to count down from ten to recenter herself. Before she could finish, Lisa came to her side.

“Are you alright?”

“No, not really. I just need to get home. While it still is home, anyway.”


A few days later, Emma was in her bedroom, packing a few knickknacks and books into a box. Her heart sank into a bottomless pit when she came across the snow globe that Chad had given her on their second date. With trembling fingers, she grazed the smooth surface of the glass dome as if it had held all her broken dreams inside.

Just then, Lisa entered the room with an empty box. “How are you holding up?”

“I think I’m okay. It’s the packing.” Emma set down the globe and collapsed onto the bed. “I’m feeling a bit...I don’t know. This is all just a lot.”

Lisa walked toward the bed, taking a seat beside Emma. “Well, how about a break? I’ll make us tea.”

“Sure,” Emma said, her voice almost too quiet to hear.

“Or we can go out. We could get all dressed up and grab some drinks.”

“It’s tempting...” A hint of interest flickered in Emma’s eyes as she paused, almost tasting the long-overdue strawberry margarita. “But not tonight. I’d rather stay in. I don’t have much time left here.”

“How about a movie night then? We can watch something funny, get our minds off things. I can go grab some ice cream—the chocolaty kind with the peanut butter chips that you love.”

“Okay, I guess. I’m not hungry though.”

“You might be in a little while. For starters, let’s go downstairs and pick out a movie. We can finish packing tomorrow.” Lisa grinned, extending a hand to Emma. “Come on, let’s go get our Netflix on!”

Before Emma stood up, all seventy pounds of Riley bounded onto the bed, sending tremors through the mattress. He scrambled onto her lap, his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he whined for attention. It was as if he had forgotten he was no longer the little golden retriever pup she adopted five years ago. “Riley, be careful, boy. You’re squishing me.”

“Ah, canine therapy,” Lisa said. “Works every time.”

Emma chuckled at Riley’s antics and reached down to rub his belly, feeling the soft fur beneath her fingers. She couldn’t imagine life without him. The judge had been right to give her custody. Chad had never been a fan of animals and had even scolded her when she picked him up from the rescue. But since Riley kept her occupied and out of his business, he tolerated him being around.

The divorce proceedings had brought to light the signs that were there all along but were difficult for her to see. Deep down, she had known their marriage was crumbling. Although she tried to hold on, to believe that things would get better, they never did. Chad, the man she had once fallen in love with, had changed over time, and the reality of it all was too painful to bear.

Emma glanced at the boxes on the ground that still needed to be filled.

“So have you thought about what you’re gonna do?” Lisa asked, sinking back on her elbows.

Emma moved up to Riley’s ears, scratching behind them, and looked up at the wall. There, above the side of her bed, hung a painting of the ocean that she hardly noticed anymore. “I think I’m gonna look for a place closer to the water. A small cottage for me and Riley. We don’t need a big place...just something cozy and quiet.”

“That sounds lovely. Have you started looking yet?”

“No, not really. I guess I should though. It’s a lot to think about right now.”

“Don’t let this stress you out.” Lisa took Emma’s hand. “I’ll text a few of my realtor friends to see if they have any listings near the water. I’m sure we can find you a place in no time.”

“I can’t thank you enough.” A lump formed in Emma’s throat and her voice began to quiver. “Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Lisa leaned in, giving Emma a quick hug. “That’s what friends are for. Now let’s go and pick out that movie.”

She nodded and followed Lisa out of the room. As she closed the bedroom door, her thoughts ventured to the prospect of moving into a beachside cottage. The idea filled Emma with hope and excitement, a glimmer of happiness amidst the chaos of her divorce. A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she pictured herself walking along the shore with a salty breeze in her hair, basking in the serenity of her new coastal sanctuary.

A growing sense of peace and possibility settled within her as she descended the stairs. This was her chance for a fresh start. It’s going to be good, she reassured herself, feeling her heart thrumming with anticipation. Although Emma knew the road ahead would be challenging, she was determined to forge a brighter future alongside Riley—and leave behind the life she thought she’d always have.

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