Book #6 in the Whiskey Creek seriesWhen Presley Christensen returns to Whiskey Creek with her little boy after two years away, she has completely changed her life. She's made peace with her past and overcome the negative behavior that resulted from her difficult childhood. Now she's back in the small town that was the closest thing to "home" she ever knew—the town where she can be with the sister who's her only family.There's just one catch. Aaron Amos still lives in Whiskey Creek, at least until he moves to Reno to open a branch of the Amos brothers' auto body shop. And no matter how hard she's tried, Presley hasn't been able to get over him. Seeing him again makes the longing so much worse. But she hopes she can get through the next few months, because she can't fall back into his arms…or his bed. She's come too far to backslide now. And there's a secret she's been guarding—a secret she'll do anything to protect.
He grimaced. “Except that when your world falls apart, you should be able to wake someone you’ve been…intimate with.”
“No. I understood the rules.”
“The rules?” he repeated.
“How you really felt about me. Moving on had to happen one way or another. How else could our…arrangement have ended?”
He seemed to feel sincere regret, so she smiled in an effort to ease his conscience. “I’m okay,” she said. “Stronger than ever.”
With a jerk of his head, he indicated all the tools Riley had left behind. “And with prospects.”
“I’ve finally arrived,” she teased.
“So…are you going to date him?”
“I think so.”
“Is there some reason I shouldn’t?”
He raised his hands. “Of course not. Riley’s the best Whiskey Creek has to offer.”
She didn’t join in his sarcasm; she didn’t feel it was fair to Riley, who’d also done a lot to help her today. The reception desk was only partly finished, but she could tell it was going to be far nicer than anything she could’ve built. “Did he say when he’d be back?”
“Tomorrow. He’s bringing Jacob to help him finish up.”
“I’ll have to put his pie in the fridge, then. Or maybe drop it off at his house—if Cheyenne will let me borrow her car.”
“I’d let you take mine, but I don’t really care if he gets a pie.”
“You don’t like Riley? Since when?”
“He’s fine,” he said, but she couldn’t tell if his indifference was real or feigned.
She pulled the stroller closer. “I made you a pie, too. It’s not much but…I wanted to thank you for painting.”
When she tried to hand it to him, he made no move to accept it. He just stared at her as if he was still hoping to tear off the polite mask she was trying so hard to keep in place. “You used to like my apple pie,” she added lamely.
“I liked a lot more about you than your pies, Pres.”
Suddenly, she was no longer grateful they were alone. The same privacy that allowed them to talk without being overheard made other things possible, as well. The spike in her pulse suggested several alternatives—all of them physical—and she knew that would only enslave her again.
“That’s nice of you to say,” she responded.
“Quit being so damned courteous,” he snapped. “I’m not just stroking your ego!”
He was getting irritated, and she understood why. He didn’t see any reason they couldn’t resume the relationship they’d had before. But that was impossible. Even if she didn’t have Wyatt, why would she settle for someone who couldn’t love her?
She’d rather spend the rest of her life alone.
Meet Author Brenda Novak: