Small town vet Abby Benson has fled to the country to put her shameful past behind her. She’s just beginning to find her feet again when handsome stranger, Rue Thorn, arrives in town and begins to stir things up. Rue is gorgeous, kind and thoughtful and the two share an instant attraction. But convinced he’ll despise her if he learns about her history, Abby reluctantly keeps him at arms length.
Determined to win Abby over, Rue tries to reshape himself as the sort of guy he thinks she might be interested in. And for a while it seems his act is working. But when he finds out that Abby has been lying to him, it isn’t long before everything start to unravel…
A moving story of trust, forgiveness and the power of love from the author of Uncovered by Love and The Playboy’s Dark Secret.
Wednesday morning, Abby checked her watch as she hurried out of the bakery, paper bag in hand, ten minutes late for work. All Rue’s fault. If he would stop being seen around town – browsing the market, inquiring about nature walks, eating lunch with a healing Spindle in tow – everyone would leave her alone. But this was the third morning in a row that she’d been sidled up to and asked whether he’d persuaded her yet.
These people seriously had no shame.
She slid the change into her wallet and glanced up to see Rue leaning against her four-wheel drive, parallel parked on Main Street. She halted, stomach hitching. He was looking away, one ankle crossed over the other, hands in the pockets of those faded denim jeans. He wore sunglasses, the burnt brown lenses and thin gold rims working with the disheveled hair to push him into clandestine superstar territory.
He’d been detected. Curious faces peered through shop windows, and Tanya loitered on the street corner, typing on her phone with eyes set on Rue. When she noticed Abby, she gave an outrageously obvious wink.
This was going to necessitate an official change in her working hours.
Abby hadn’t seen Rue since he’d visited the vet. Two days with nothing but a light on across the street to show he was still in town. Two days to remember how darkly she could hurt people and know for absolute certain she couldn’t run the risk of hurting him too.
As she considered hightailing it, he spotted her. He pushed off the car and started towards her. His walk was smooth, assured. The possibility that he was going to ask her out again sent nerves sprinting from her heart to her toes and back again.
She would have to say no.
No to that determined stare meeting hers as he shoved his shades onto his head. No to that kind heart and beautiful body. No to everything she wanted. Just no.
When he was a few strides away, she inhaled. ‘Rue—’
‘Hold that thought,’ he murmured as he reached her, sliding a hand behind her head and bringing his mouth down to hers.
Startled, Abby dropped the bakery bag. His body came closer, hand still cradling the back of her neck, the other skimming down her waist to tug her fully against him. Heat and contact met her skin and shot deeper, raging in her chest, tangling in the base of her stomach. He slanted his head and the warmth of his mouth shifted, tongue sliding over her bottom lip, not demanding entrance, but working for it. Working, playing, teasing – whatever he was doing, he did it like no man had before.
She could smell his skin. Hear the pounding of her pulse. His thumb caressed the hollow behind her ear and the tenderness of that touch tore through her body like a scream.
Deafened by it, she opened her mouth and drew him in.
His taste was an ache against her tongue, so pure and perfect that she missed it even as he pushed deeper. She circled her arms around his middle, holding on, feeling her breasts and belly and thighs press against muscle. She felt like she could never speak again and that would be all right, if she could stay right here. No lies, no restraint, just Rue’s kiss and the truth of her body’s response.
He’d probably be okay with that.
Those wide hands slid down to grasp her hips. Holding her steady, he broke away from her mouth and kissed up and along her right cheekbone. Abby closed her eyes as his lips reached her ear, tingles breaking out down her spine.
‘I hardly know you,’ he murmured, nudging the curl of her ear with his nose. ‘So how is it that I feel like I’ll always know you?’
She didn’t speak. Didn’t dare.
‘I can feel you in my head,’ he said, forehead on her temple. ‘You make me feel like there’s something urgent I haven’t done yet, and I can’t put my finger on what it is, but every day that I get closer to leaving this place, I get more uneasy. So I need to do something about it. About you.’
His mouth found hers again and it occurred to Abby that everything Rue knew about her was real. There was a pit of things he didn’t know – but the things he did know, those were real.
She had never kissed a man who knew real things about her.
He pulled back again, tucking hair behind her ear, and her pulse tumbled. ‘You must like being the subject of gossip,’ she murmured.
His back was to the street. A sparkle lit his eyes. ‘Observers?’
‘All armed with opinions about such a lascivious public event?’
‘Over-armed, I imagine.’
‘Friday,’ he said. ‘I’ll pick you up at seven.’
‘Okay, seven-thirty.’ Then, as suddenly as he’d kissed her, he lowered his sunglasses and turned away, cutting past the delighted spectators. Abby watched his retreat, breath short. Arousal kneaded at her body from the inside out, like greedy fingers reaching after him.
As far as truth went, her response to Rue was absolute. It felt whole and untainted, pounding hot through her veins. It felt honest.
‘Well,’ she said, accepting her fate. ‘Seven-thirty, then.’
About the Author
Madeline lives and writes in Melbourne. She is an author with Destiny Romance and Tule Publishing.
Online, she calls madelineash.net home, although she does have capricious blogging tendencies so might not always have fresh tea ready for visitors. That’s not to say she doesn’t welcome company.
She writes contemporary romance.