My heartbeat came to a screeching stop and then jumpstarted with a hard kick. I’d know that voice anywhere. Through the jumble around me with Tank leaning over to ask if I was okay, that voice rang like a loud bell inside. One man. Only one man had ever looked at me with heat in his eyes, heat so hot it singed me. That man spoke my name now. I didn’t have to open my eyes to know. I did anyway. Because I couldn’t bear not to see him.

            Cade Masters stood at the edge of the circle gathered around me, another man in a bar crowded with men. Shaggy dark brown hair, green eyes, and a body of raw muscle stood before me. My heart felt as if it had been split open. I’d loved Cade in that wild headlong way that only youth allowed. No more than seven years had passed since I’d seen him, but it felt like forever. Cade had broken my heart and walked out of my life when I was twenty-two. He hadn’t just broken my heart, he’d betrayed me.

          Anger flashed hot and high inside, yet I couldn’t look away. My eyes ate Cade up. He wore faded jeans, the fabric so worn it hugged his muscled legs like a caress, and a denim jacket over a black t-shirt. He had something of an outdoorsy, biker vibe. Once upon a time, he’d taken me on long rides on his motorcycle through the nearly empty highways in Alaska surrounding our hometown. He stepped through the crowd and knelt at my side, his green gaze coasting over me. “You okay?” he asked.

          I nodded without really thinking about it. He lifted a hand and ran the backs of his fingers along my cheekbone. Oh right, some guy had just punched me in the face. Cade’s presence had wiped my mind clean of everything else. With barely a brush of his touch, my heart fluttered and heat tightened inside.

          “You sure?”

          I swallowed, suddenly aware of my throbbing cheek. My entire day flashed through my mind. A gloriously awful day. I fought against the tears, but they welled up, unbidden and beyond my control. One tear rolled down my cheek and then another and another. Of all the times and places to encounter the one and only man who still held a piece of my heart, this had to be the absolute worst.

          Cade’s eyes never left mine. Something flickered in the depths of them, but I didn’t know how to interpret it. Without a word, he slipped his arm around my waist and lifted me up, bundling me into his arms as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do. “Let’s get you out of here,” he said and started to stride away.

          He paused once we were outside on the sidewalk and glanced down, his gaze catching mine. “Why are you wearing a wedding dress?”


         “I was supposed to get married today. I didn’t,” Amelia said.

          I stared down at her and tried to collect my thoughts into something sensible. But there was nothing sensible about me when it came to Amelia Haynes. Right now, in fact, I was wondering if maybe I should carry her down the street to the courthouse and marry her. I wanted to.

          I tried to think. Her eyes were like honeyed cognac. Her hair, amber flecked with gold, fell in tousled waves around her shoulders. It was a mess really. All of her was. Her wedding dress was dirty, a bruise was forming on her cheek just under her eye.

          She stared back at me, and I realized I hadn’t said a thing since she made her announcement. “You were supposed to get married today?”

          “Yup.” She nodded forcefully. “Sure was. I walked out. Couldn’t do it. You know why?” she asked, a mulish tone to her question.


          She poked me in the chest with her index finger. “It’s all your fault.”

          A familiar electricity arced to life. This was Amelia. This was us. Nothing had faded between us, if anything, it burned hotter than it ever had. In a distant corner of my mind, I tried to tell myself not to do this. If I wanted to make things right, I had to go slow. Yet, with her held against me and her amber eyes flashing fire, I did the only thing I wanted.

          It was as if no time had passed, well except for the fact I was pouring seven years of longing into our kiss.

          She arched into me and threaded a hand roughly into my hair, moaning in my mouth with every stroke of her tongue against mine. I couldn’t stop kissing her. She felt so good, so damn good.